News Digest — 7/21/23

Prime Minister Urges Consensus Ahead Of Key Vote, Vows Israel ‘Will Remain A Democracy’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there are ongoing efforts to reach consensus ahead of the crucial Knesset vote on a bill aimed at curtailing judges’ discretion in certain cases.

The bill is set to be passed by parliament in the coming days as part of the government’s judicial overhaul plan, which has sparked protests domestically and abroad.

A major opposition leader, Benny Gantz, called on Wednesday (19th) for compromise talks facilitated by the president.  “Even in these moments…efforts are being made to achieve consensus,” Netanyahu said in an address to the press.

“I truly hope these efforts will succeed but even if they don’t, the coalition’s door to the opposition will remain open always,” Netanyahu added.

Proponents of the legislation say it would restore balance to the branches of government while those against say it removes checks and balances on government powers.

Netanyahu said Israel “would continue to be a democracy,” adding statements by reservists that they would refuse voluntary service if the overhaul passes would be harmful to the country.

Protest organizers held a night of demonstrations on Thursday evening (20th) as local media reported protests in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa with some roads in those cities closed.



Man Stabbed, Seriously Hurt In Suspected Terror Incident In East Jerusalem

A man was seriously injured Thursday (20th) in a stabbing in the Gilo neighborhood in East Jerusalem, with authorities saying that the incident is likely terror-related.

Paramedics brought the man in his 30s, who was conscious but in serious condition, to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital for treatment.

The hospital said that upon arrival, the man was in very serious and unstable condition, and was taken to surgery.

Walla news cited eyewitnesses as saying there was a brawl between Jews and Arabs at the scene of the stabbing.

Police said in a statement that they had arrested one suspect, and were investigating if he was involved in the incident.  According to Hebrew media, the Shin Bet is involved in the ongoing investigation and questioning.

“Police forces, including helicopters, were deployed in the search for suspects after two knives were found at the scene, one of which was used in the stabbing,” police said in a statement.

Jerusalem district police chief Doron Turgeman was holding a situational assessment at the scene, police added.

The incident comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been high across the region for the past year and a half, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.



Israel’s Very Existence Is An Act Of War Against Lebanon

Sadek Al-Naboulsi, a Lebanese cleric who is affiliated with Hezbollah, said on a show that aired on Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed TV on July 6 that the very existence of Israel is an act of war against Lebanon.

He said that war with Israel can be the “best way” to change the equation and bring Lebanon out of its political crisis.  Al Naboulsi also said that Hezbollah and the “resistance” should not be ashamed to say that it wants to “change the balance of powers in Lebanon and in the region.”

The comments were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“The existence of Israel is an act of war against us.  A war with Israel can deliver us from our crisis.  Some people may ask how a war with Israel may bring us out of this crisis,” he said, before detailing, “If despite dialogue,understandings, and initiatives, we are unable to reach a formula for electing a president, war could turn out to be the best way to change the equation.”

“War is essentially a political act that seeks to change the balance of power…We want to change the current destructive and stagnant balance of power inside Lebanon,” said Al-Naboulsi.

The comments follow recent provocations from Hezbollah against Israel.  Last week Hezbollah terrorists demonstrated at the Israel-Lebanon border, when several of them attempted to damage the fence.

Before that, Hezbollah terrorists illegally erected tents on sovereign Israeli territory.  The tents were placed about a 100 feet inside Israeli territory, and generators were placed there to allow Hezbollah terrorists to stay in the compound.

At the start of July, Hezbollah evacuated one of the two tents it had set up.



Erdogan To Host Netanyahu And Abbas In Turkey Next Week

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to separately host both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara next week.

The visit will mark Netanyahu’s first prime ministerial trip to Turkey and is one more sign of the renewed diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Ankara has not hosted an Israeli prime minister since Ehud Olmert visited in 2008.

Diplomatic ties with Turkey and Israel broke down following a 2010 IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara as it attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.  Also tensions have been high in the past due to Erdogan’s strong support for the Palestinians and his sharp anti-Israel comments, including at the United Nations.

Ties were restored last year, a move that was cemented with a visit by President Isaac Herzog.  Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also met with Erdogan in the fall on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Prior to the breakdown of relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, Turkey had been one of the countries along with Egypt that had served as a regional mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly with Hamas.

The Turkish invitation, which follows the one extended this week by Morocco, comes amid increased Israeli-Palestinian violence.

It also immediately follows a visit by Netanyahu to Cyprus next week.  Israel has looked to Cyprus to develop natural gas projects, including with Greece.

A trilateral project between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece to develop an underwater pipeline by which to export Israel’s natural gas to Europe has been put on hold pending an EU feasibility study.  It also risked sparking tensions with Turkey , which claimed that a portion of the project was under its territorial waters.

Cyprus and Israel have also separately discussed natural gas projects, including one in which Israel’s natural gas would be sent to Cyprus via an underwater pipeline and then liquified at a special plant built there and shipped to Europe from a nearby port.

Turkey would similarly like to develop a natural gas project with Israel, in which it would act both as a transit state to other sites and sell the commodity domestically.

The European need to seek alternative natural gas markets to replace the gas it had exported from Russia, has opened up new commercial possibilities for countries such as Israel.

The enmity between Ankara and Nicosa over Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus has however made it impossible for Turkey, Cyprus and Israel to pursue any joint projects.

Energy expert Gabriel Mitchell of the MITVIM Institute said that he was certain that Erdogan would raise the issue of a joint Israeli-Turkish gas project during the visit.

“Energy will come up whether Netanyahu wants to bring it up or not because it is in Erdogan’s interest to mention energy,” Mitchell said.



 Foreword – The PLO And PA Political Warfare And Israel’s Response – Dan Diker

As the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords approaches, these agreements have not materialized as their proponents had hoped.  The scholars and analysts at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), who have scrutinized the unfolding of this process over three decades, have written a series of articles expounding on the failures of Oslo.  They expose, explore, and assess how the Oslo diplomatic process, particularly Israel’s concessionary approach and passivity towards PLO and PA financial incentivization of terror, corruption, and international defamation of Israel’s legal and diplomatic rights, have enabled the PLO-PA to assault Israel and defame its international standing

This “Oslo at 30” compendium concludes with a series of recommendations for a more effective pathway for Israel to hold the PA accountable, in order to achieve a more secure and viable approach to Israel-PA relations.

The Oslo Accords were designed to end PLO terrorism, terror incentivization, hate indoctrination, anti-Semitism, radicalism, and political warfare.  Ironically, the Accords  have brought the opposite outcome.

The writer is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



50 US Lawmakers Call On Biden To Negotiate End To Palestinian “Pay For Slay”- Andrew Bernard

A bipartisan group of 50 members of Congress on Tuesday (18th) wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to negotiate an end to the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” program.  The letter, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), notes that the Palestinian “Martyrs Fund,” which makes official payments to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the families of “martyrs” killed in attacks on Israelis and to injured Palestinian militants, make up 8% of the Palestinian Authority’s total budget, costing $300 million a year.

The letter says, “The Palestinian Authority has clearly continued down the path of more hatred, violence, and terror, without regard for the damage inflicted, or for their role in diminishing the prospects for peace.  But, so long as they pay citizens to murder Jewish civilians, they will do so without benefiting from the support of the United States taxpayers.”  Under the Taylor Force Act of 2018, the US government is prohibited from funding the Palestinian Authority so long as it maintains the pay-for-slay payments.



What I Saw In Israel Reveals Abraham Accords In Action – Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla)

Earlier this month I was in Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to see the impact of the Abraham Accords.  These agreements spur economic growth, innovation, sharing of technology, and trade among former rivals.

The Accords increase defense cooperation among partners that deters America’s enemies, like Iran, and will help us defeat them if necessary.  Most importantly, the Abraham Accords have defeated the false narrative that Israel was the cause of conflict in the region.

It has always been the case that instability in the Middle East was driven by Iran, Syria, and terrorist groups determined to destroy Israel and attack and undermine any country that accepts the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

We can never forget that Israel is a shining example of diversity in the region.  Across Israel, Jews, Christians and Muslims work and live side by side.  In fact, it’s Israel’s diversity that makes it such a target for terror from religious extremists like those in Hamas. These killers want to destroy Israel because it represents a modern world where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live together, enjoy each other’s cultures and work hand-in-hand to advance their society.