News Digest — 12/9/22

Netanyahu Officially Asks President Herzog For Extension To Form Government

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night (8th) officially asked President Isaac Herzog for a two-week extension to form a governing coalition.

In his letter, Netanyahu described the intense talks with the various factions that have been conducted so far.  “Intense negotiations were conducted between Likud representatives and the negotiation teams of each of the factions.  First, the negotiations focused on fundamental issues, including the basic principles and guidelines of the government which is to be established.  Afterwards meetings were held between the parties regarding the distribution of roles in the 37th government.  The meetings were intense and lasted until the wee hours of the night.”

He added that “at this point, appendices or letters concerning positions in the 37th government were signed with all the factions that recommended me for the position of Prime Minister (64 MKs).  These documents were placed on the Knesset table in accordance with the law.”

“Nevertheless, there are still issues in the field of positions that have not been agreed upon (for example, with the Shas and United Torah Judaism factions, there is still no detailed job appendix but only a letter) and because of all this, the aforementioned factions demand the signing of full coalition agreements as a condition for the distribution of positions in the government.  These agreements include reference to many and complex issues of principle,” he said.

Netanyahu noted that the talks are progressing but have not reached the final stage.  “As mentioned, the negotiations are in full swing and a lot of progress has been made – however, according to the progress so far – I will need all the days of extension which are within your authority to give me according to law in order for me to form the government.”

He concluded his letter with a request of President Herzog: “In light of the above, the Honorable President of the State is requested to extend the period for forming the government by fourteen additional days, and this by virtue of the authority of the President of the State according to the provisions of Section 8 of the Basic Law: The Government.”



Shin Bet Arrests Hamas Spy From Gaza, Had Israel Work Permit

A Gaza man who had a permit to legally work in Israel was arrested by the Shin Bet Intelligence agency for spying on behalf of the Hamas terror group.

The man named in a statement by the Shin Bet was 18-year-old Thaber Mahmoud Yosef Abu Thabat, who was arrested in early November.  A gag order barring the media from reporting on the arrest was lifted on Thursday (8th).

After being granted an Israeli work permit, Abu Thabat was reportedly recruited by Hamas and met with handlers from the terror group multiple times before crossing the border into Israel.

Security officials stressed that Abu Thabat fully intended to “gather intelligence and carry out missions in Israel” and that he had not been duped or threatened into spying.

“As part of his interrogation, and due to his activity in Hamas and the knowledge he was exposed to, a vast amount of information was obtained about the operating methods of Hamas’ intelligence mechanism, including the identity of operators, locations of tunnels, weapon stockpiles, and military locations from which the organization operates,” the Shin Bet said.

“The Shin Bet views any direction of terrorist activity and espionage from the Gaza Strip with great severity, and will continue to work together with the Israel Police and the IDF in order to locate and thwart in advance any hostile activity by all parties operating on behalf of Hamas,” the agency said in a statement.

In late October, another Gazan man with a permit to work in Israel was arrested by the Shin Bet agency for planning to bomb a bus in southern Israel.

The man was reportedly recruited by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and handlers from the terror group taught him how to assemble an explosive device.

The Shin Bet said it seized bomb-making materials from the man’s residence  when he was arrested.



UN Says Israel Must Give Up Nuclear Weapons In Lopsided Vote

The United Nations General Assembly affirmed that Israel must give up its nuclear weapons in a 149-6 vote taken on Wednesday (7th).

An earlier version of the text was approved in the UNGA’s Fifth Committee in October with a 152-5 vote.

Ukraine had voted against Israel in the Fifth Committee, but this time around was absent from the proceedings after it had been criticized for standing against Israel.

Those who opposed the resolution were: Canada, Israel, Micronesia, Palau and the United States.  Liberia, which had been absent from the vote in October, changed its position and opposed the text.

Another 26 countries, including India and many European states, abstained from the resolution which is part of an annual package of over 15 anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian texts UNGA approves.

Israel is the only country subject to that many resolutions.

Does Israel actually have nuclear weapons?  The Jewish state is believed to be the only one of nine countries to possess nuclear weapons and the only one in the region, even though it has never admitted to having such an arsenal.

The resolution presumes that Israel has such weapons.  It calls on Israel to “not develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons” and to “renounce possession of nuclear weapons.”    

The resolution also called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty and to place “all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy safeguards.

Israel, along with India, Pakistan and South Sudan has not signed the treaty.

The resolution was put forward by the Palestinian Authority and 20 countries, including Israel’s allies in the Middle East such as Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It was voted on just as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and his Emirati counterpart are leading a joint mission of ambassadors to the UN on a visit to the Jewish state.

The resolution itself was part of a slew of dozens of texts that deal with the issue of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation, in which Israel at times opposed or abstained.

It was the only country to vote against a resolution calling for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, a text that had the support of 175 out of the UN ‘s 193 nations.

Two countries abstained from that vote, the United States and Singapore. 



Does The Moral High Ground Belong To The Side That Loses More People? – Akiva Van Koningsveld

As Israel struggles to contain the deadliest surge in Palestinian terrorism since 2008, the media is resorting to the dubious practice of presenting Palestinian and Israeli casualty numbers like a sports scoreboard.  Yet the raw numbers fail to acknowledge that while Israeli fatalities have largely been innocent civilians, the majority of Palestinians killed were engaged in acts of violence.

According to an HonestReporting count, 61.6% of the 143 Palestinians who died in the West Bank this year were shot while attacking Israeli civilians or security forces with guns, knives, explosives, firebombs, rocks, or cars.  An additional 27.3% died during violent riots.  Almost half were members of US-designated terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

The moral high ground does not necessarily belong to the side that loses more people – particularly if those people are killed trying to slaughter innocent civilians.  By uncritically echoing the Palestinian death tally, the media is making the latest Palestinian assault on Israelis look like a campaign of aggression by Israel. 



The Meaning Of The Palestinian Focus On “Nakba Day” – Adi Schwartz

The decision of the UN General Assembly to mark the Palestinian Nakba day (“catastrophe”) is actually a decision to mourn the establishment of the State of Israel.  It reflects why Israel never succeeded in signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Nakba Day was not intended to mark the alleged humanitarian disaster that befell the Palestinian people in the 1948 war, but rather the fact of Jews gaining independence.

The thought that 600,000 Jews managed to defeat 60 million Muslim Arabs at the time was and still is unimaginable to the Arabs.  This is a great humiliation, and the source of frustration, rage, and violence directed toward the State of Israel.  This is the true meaning of “nakba,” the disaster of the Jews’ success to declare a state despite all the efforts by the Arabs to prevent them from doing so.  The fact that Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day on May 15 – the date of the declaration of Israel’s independence – is a clear indication of this.

The settlements were not on the agenda at the time of the War of Independence.  The Arabs saw the establishment of Israel as a “nakba.”  Even when they were offered an independent Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians turned it down.  The explanation for this is that the war for Israel’s existence is still ongoing for them.  It’s not Israel’s alleged occupation that is the problem for the Palestinians, but its very existence.



Evidence Of Maccabee-Era Battle Unearthed In Central Israel

New research has revealed a lead sling bullet from the Hellenistic period, rare of its kind in Israel, with an inscription in Greek intended to ensure victory in battle.

The 2,200-year-old sling bullet, which bears the inscription – “Victory of Heracles and Hauron.” was uncovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Yavne as part of the Israeli Lands Authority initiative to expand the city, in cooperation with the Yavne Municipality.

The length of the sling bullet is 1.7 inches, and it was intended to be used in an early sling.

The pair of gods Hauron and Heracles were considered the divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period,” said Prof. Yulia Ustinova from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, who deciphered the inscription.

“Actually, the inscription on the sling bullet is the first archeological evidence of the two guardians of Yavne, discovered inside Yavne itself.  Until now, the pair was only known from an inscription on the Greek island of Delos.”

As a couple, the gods  Heracles and Hauron were considered a combined team of victory givers.

“The announcement of the future victory of the two gods was a threat directed  towards adversaries,” Prof. Ustinova said. 

“Lead sling bullets are known in the ancient world beginning in the 5th century BCE, but in Israel few individual sling bullets were found with inscriptions.  The inscriptions convey a message of unifying the warriors with the aim of raising their spirits, scaring the enemy, or a call intended to magically energize the sling bullet itself.”

“These inscriptions were part of psychological warfare, the main purpose of which is to terrorize the opponent – and to raise the spirits of the warriors – uniting them.

“It is possible that this sling bullet belonged to a Greek soldier and that it is related to the conflict between the Greeks and the Hasmoneans,” said directors of the excavation, Pablo Betzer and Dr. Daniel Varga, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In the 2nd century BCE, pagan Yavne – which was an ally of the Seleucids ( the Greeks who ruled Eretz-Israel), were subject to attacks by the Hasmonean armies.”

“The Hasmoneans sought to subjugate the other nations and create a homogeneous and ‘pure state’ from a religious point of view.  The tiny lead sling bullets announcing the imminent victory of the gods of pagan Yavne, is tangible evidence of a fierce battle that took place in Yavne at that time.”

“One can only imagine what that warrior who held the sling bullet 2,200 years ago thought and felt, as he held on to hope of divine help,” said Eli Escusido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.  The Yavne excavation is a ‘mega’ excavation – one of the largest conducted by the IAA.