News Digest — 5/4/21

What Happens When Netanyahu’s Mandate Expires At Midnight?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate to form a government is set to expire Tuesday (4th) at 11:59 p.m.  Barring a dramatic development during the day, it appears that President Reuven Rivlin will need to choose another candidate to task with creating a coalition.

While technically Rivlin could grant Netanyahu an extension of his mandate for an additional two weeks, that is unlikely.

On Wednesday morning (5th), Rivlin will meet with all the party heads to hear their recommendations for the next candidate who should be granted the mandate.  He will likely grant it to a new candidate either Wednesday evening (5th) or Thursday (6th).

Theoretically, Rivlin could simply hand the mandate back to the Knesset and open up the possibility for any Knesset member who receives 61 recommendations from his peers to form a government.

Typically the candidate with the most recommendations is given the mandate, but Rivlin can use his own judgment and grant it to the candidate he believes has the greatest chance of successfully forming a government.

If a second candidate also fails to form a government within 28 days, the mandate will be returned to the Knesset.

At that point, any Knesset member who could successfully form a government within 21 days, with a total of 61 recommendations from his colleagues, may become prime minister.

But if 21 days pass with no coalition agreement, Israel will head to its fifth election in a two and a half year span.



Israel, Lebanon Returning To Maritime Border Talks Tuesday

Israel and Lebanon plan to resume negotiations on their maritime border on Tuesday (4th), after talks broke down last year.

The talks will take place, with US mediation, at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Base, in Naqoura, near Rosh Hanikra, as they did in October and November 2020.

Energy Minister Director-General Udi Adiri will lead the Israeli delegation, which also includes high-level representatives of the Foreign Ministry and IDF.

“The goal of the delegation in the meetings,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s spokesman said, “is to examine the possibility of reaching an agreement on setting the maritime border between the countries and to find a solution that will allow for the development of natural resources in the region for the welfare of residents of the area.”  

Jerusalem and Beirut entered negotiations in October for the first time in 30 years, holding four meetings before talks stopped.

The border dispute is about a triangular area of the Mediterranean Sea that starts at the countries’ land border, and is 3.5 miles wide on average.  The area constitutes about 2% of Israel’s economic waters.

During last year’s negotiations, Lebanon upped its demand with a line extending much further south, increasing the disputed area from about 332 square miles. to 888 square miles.

Two weeks ago, Lebanese Public Works and Transportation Minister Michel Najjar announced that the greater demands would be submitted to the UN, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun stopped the process.

Israel drew its own map in response to Lebanon’s increased demands, claiming more than double the area of the Mediterranean Sea that is currently in dispute.  The map was first published by  The Jerusalem Post last week.



European Intel Agencies Report: Iran Sought Nuclear Weapons Technology In 2020

Iran sought on multiple occasions in 2020 to obtain technology for its nuclear-weapons program, intelligence agencies from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany said, according to a Fox News report on Monday (3rd).

The General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands stopped “multiple acquisition attempts,” the agency wrote in its April report.

“The joint counter-proliferation unit of the AIVD [the General Intelligence and Security Service] and the MIVD [ the country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service] is investigating how countries try to obtain the knowledge and goods they need to make weapons of mass destruction.  Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year,” said the report.

The Swedish Security Service said in its 2020 intelligence report that Iran tried to attain technology from its country for its nuclear weapons program.

“Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish high-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs.  Iran is investing heavy resources in this area, and some of the resources are used in Sweden,” the report said.

Germany’s Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state, said in its 2020 report: “Proliferation-relevant states like Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan are making efforts to expand on their conventional arsenal of weapons through the production or constant modernization of weapons of mass destruction.”



Doctors Fighting For Shooting Victims’ Lives

Doctors at Beilinson’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah are fighting for the lives of two of the Israeli victims who were shot and critically wounded during a shooting attack at Tapuach Junction in Samaria Sunday evening (2nd).

Beilinson Hospital stated Monday morning (3rd) that the two victims  are still hospitalized in intensive care.

Yehuda Guetta, 19, is in critical condition and there is an immediate danger to his life.  Benava Peretz, 19, is also in very serious condition.

The third wounded Israeli, Amichai Challah, 19, was released to his home after sustaining light injuries.

The three Yeshiva students were waiting at a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction when terrorists drove by and fired at them, seriously injuring them.

Soldiers securing the junction fired back, hitting the car, which got away.

IDF forces found the car torched, south of Shechem, on Monday (3rd) but are still looking for the terrorist (s).

In accordance with the IDF’s assessment of the situation, it was decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria Division with more combat forces.

Member of Knesset Avi Dichter stated after the attack that “the escalation of violence in Judea and Samaria, and the attempt to murder Jews is the result of incitement that accuses Israel of the cancellation of parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority.”

PA head Mahmoud Abbas postponed PA elections Friday (4/30) stating Israel’s refusal to allow voting in Jerusalem.

Abbas knew Hamas would win if the elections were carried out as planned, so many felt that blaming Israel gave him a safe way out.

But criticism is growing against him from both outside and at home, as he faces Hamas’ attempts to destabilize the PA. 



Calls For Abbas’ Resignation Following Postponement Of PA Elections

In a surprising announcement, on Monday (3rd), former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani called for PA head Mahmoud Abbas’ resignation and the transfer of power to the younger generation.  In a tweet, al-Thani stated that “with the announcement of the postponement of the parliamentary elections, the Palestinians have returned to zero, and although the reasons that led the Palestinian head to postpone the elections are clear, I say that it is his duty and by virtue of the the current circumstances at this stage of his life, to transfer power in a peaceful and democratic manner.”

The announcement is surprising due to Abbas’ close relationship with the Qataris and due to the fact that his family maintains personal and business ties in Qatar. A source in Ramallah said that Abbas broke his promise to the Qataris to go to reconciliation with Hamas.

It is not just Qatar that is calling on Abbas to leave.  The Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which has good sources in Hamas, also called on Abbas Monday (3rd) to resign and to establish an “alternative leadership.”

A PA source told TPS that even political figures in Europe are angry about the postponement of the elections and especially after Abbas pledged to a senior British representative two days before announcing the postponement that the elections would be held.

Former UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nikolai Mladenov, said that the cancellation of elections was a dangerous and unjustified matter.  He said “there was no legitimate reason to cancel the election and deprive the Palestinians of the right to elect their leaders.”

The European Union also criticized Abbas, saying the decision to postpone the planned elections, scheduled for May 22, “is very disappointing.”



Miami-Based Imam Said Israel Is Land Of Islam

During a sermon last month, a Miami-based imam said that Israel is the “land of Islam” and that Muslims would take the land back, while Israelis run away “like mice,” according to a video posted by MEMRI.

Imam Dr. Fadie Yousef Kablawi gave the sermon on Friday, April 16 at North Miami’s Masjid as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah Mosque.

He further said that, “every true Muslim should talk to himself about dying as a martyr for the sake of Allah,” labeling the act, “the greatest spiritual level that you can attain.”

He said that “Palestine is the land of Islam – and we will take it back.”

Referring to Jews, Kablawi asked: “If you are loyal to your land and claim it’s yours, why did you leave it twice?  Why did you run away?”

The imam also denounced Western civilization.

“They fought us in every single thing, they took away from us every single thing,” he said.  “Who are they?  The disbelievers, the West, the Jews and the Christians.  This is history,” he continued.

Kablawi went on to accuse the West and the Jews of, “taking every single thing you can think of.”  “The only thing they failed to take is Islam, and don’t ask if they have tried.  Oh, they have been trying from the very beginning,” he complained.