News Digest — 7/24/23

Report: Netanyahu Discharged From Hospital After Pacemaker Surgery

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discharged from Sheba Medical Center on Monday morning (24th) after two days of recovery in the hospital, according to Israeli media.

The prime minister underwent surgery at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer to receive a pacemaker on Saturday night (22nd).

“I feel great, but I’m listening to my doctors,” said Netanyahu in a video posted to social media ahead of the surgery.  The doctors said I’ll be released  from the hospital tomorrow by the afternoon and I’ll be able to arrive at the Knesset for the vote.”

Last week, Netanyahu was admitted to Sheba Medical Center after losing consciousness and hitting his head at his home in Caesarea.  After a series of tests, the prime minister was released from the hospital with a holter-monitor, a type of portable electrocardiogram for cardiac monitoring.

On Saturday night (22nd), the holter-monitor detected an issue with his heartbeat, leading to Netanyahu’s doctors advising him to have  immediate surgery to get a pacemaker, the prime minister said in the video. 



Herzog Convenes Emergency Meeting With Netanyahu In Hospital To Discuss Judicial Reform

Israeli President Isaac Herzog convened an “emergency meeting” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sheba-Tel Hashomer Medical Center on Sunday evening (23rd), his office said in a statement.

Netanyahu underwent  surgery earlier in the day to receive a pacemaker after collapsing in his home last week.

The visit came after the Likud party rejected a compromise by the chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, Arnon Bar-David, and business sector chair, Dubai Amitai, to change the reasonableness bill.

“This is an emergency – we must reach an agreement,” Herzog said according to the statement, which also said he planned to meet with opposition leader Yair Lapid later in the evening. 

Earlier Sunday evening (23rd), Herzog said he was making a last minute attempt to push negotiations between the coalition and opposition.

Bar-David said he was holding off on a decision to halt the economy, to allow for a compromise to be reached.  At the same time, the “Business Forum,” which consists of over 150 economic leaders, convened an urgent meeting on Sunday morning (23rd), announcing that they were ready to suspend the economy if needed.  Later, they said they would await the Histadrut’s decision before taking any further steps.

The Likud party declined to endorse Amitai and Bar-David’s proposal, stating it was a “one-sided acceptance of the opposition’s position.”  Protest leaders also voiced their objections to the proposal, arguing that “this compromise will not necessarily prevent the dismissal of gatekeepers.”   Labor party leader Merav Michaeli likewise rejected it, saying “There is no compromising on democracy.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said he would have considered the proposal, saying it provided “a foundation for a common dialogue.”



‘We Came To Fight For Democracy And Against A Military Coup’: 200,000 Pro-Judicial Reform Protesters Gather In Tel Aviv

Over 200,000 supporters of the proposed judicial reform gathered on Sunday evening (23rd) on Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street, until now the main location for the weekly anti-reform protests.

The demonstration coincided with the reasonableness standard bill’s expected second and third readings in the Knesset as well as several anti-reform protests happening in Jerusalem.

Protesters came from all over the country.

Protester Gadi Dayan said, “This is what we voted for – I hope they don’t stop the [reasonableness] legislation and that it passes exactly as they planned it, because there’s no better alternative.”

“We came to fight for democracy and against a military coup,” another demonstrator, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu addressed the rally, saying, “We say to the fans of the Supreme Court, we don’t want your reasonableness.  You have intervened with the wrong generation.  We love the State of Israel.”



IDF Finds Minefield Near Tulkarem

A month after the IDF counterterrorism to uncover minefields and arrest suspects, IDF forces conducted a counterterrorism overnight Sunday (23rd) in Nur al-Shams near Tulkarem in Samaria.

During the operation, which involved soldiers and heavy engineering vehicles, the area was uncovered and contained more than 10 explosives, some of which were planted in the ground, as was found in Jenin.

Terrorists activated several explosives on IDF forces during the operation.  No soldiers were harmed.

In addition, the forces also interrogated wanted terrorists and searched for explosives labs and additional minefields.

The IDF stated Monday morning (24th) that this is another operation against terrorist instruction in Samaria, and that the operation would continue in other areas as well.

The military is denying reports that claim the IDF will no longer enter Jenin due to an agreement with the PA, and it declared that it “will operate at any time and on any front that requires operation.”



Islamic Jihad: We Must Use Crisis In Israel For War Against It

Nasser Abu Sharif, a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group’s political wing, has called on Palestinian Arab groups to unite in a war against Israel.

Abu Sharif stressed, “The Zionist entity is facing real crises and suffering from significant  internal disagreements.  Therefore, the Palestinian nation is facing a new stage, and standing before a historic opportunity which it must utilize for fighting the conflict for the sake of the Palestinian problem, and to achieve victory and remove the occupation from the Palestinian land.”

Speaking to Al-Quds Radio, which is affiliated with the Islamic Jihad, Abu Sharif said that the Palestinian struggle is continuing and even intensifying in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, because the Palestinian people see the struggle as the way to fight the Zionist operation which executes policy of “Judaizing” the land.

“We are facing a dilemma and a great danger.  We have no solution other than battle and conflict.  We are facing an historic moment in which we need to unite behind this path.  Unfortunately, the internal disagreement between us and the internal problems we have still exist, since the Palestinian Authority continues to repress, bring to trial, and stop the fighters of the Palestinian opposition, while using its old tactics.”

He also called on the Palestinian Authority to stand by the “Palestinian nation” in its conflict against Israel, and provide it with everything necessary to manage the war against the “Zionist occupation, the plans of Judaizing and the settler herds.”

“We are standing before an historic moment which we must utilize for war against the Zionist entity, which is facing a real and large crisis.” Abu Sharif emphasized.



Hamas Accepts PA’s Invitation To Unity Talks After Top Official Released

The Palestinian security forces on Sunday (23rd) released a senior Hamas official who was arrested last Thursday (20th) on charges of slandering Palestinian officials and fomenting sectarian strife, paving the way for the Gaza-based terror group to participate in a meeting of faction leaders in Egypt at the end of this month.

The move came after Hamas and other Palestinian groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, threatened to boycott the planned meeting of Palestinian faction leaders in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on July 30 to discuss ways of achieving national unity.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had invited the leaders of the factions to the meeting in response to the Israeli military operation in the Jenin area earlier this month.

Palestinian officials said Abbas, who himself might participate in the Cairo discussions, is hoping to convince Hamas and other Palestinian groups to join a new unity government that would end the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Islamic JIhad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh announced on Sunday (23rd) that his group would not attend the meeting unless all the PIJ detainees were released from PA prisons.  The group recently claimed that the PA security forces arrested five of its members in the Jenin area.

Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives were also arrested by the PA security forces on the first day of the Israeli operation.  According to their friends, they were arrested while on their way to Jenin to join the fighting against the Israeli troops.  Another two PIJ operatives were arrested by the PA forces last week in Tulkarem and Hebron.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said concerning the upcoming get-together in Cairo, “it provides an opportunity for achieving national unity, and Hamas will do its utmost to ensure success of the meeting.”



Saudi Arabia Will Allow Israeli Officials To Enter Kingdom For First Time

Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with UNESCO to allow delegations from all member states, including Israel, to attend the World Heritage Committee’s meeting in Riyadh in September, according to an Axios report.

If Saudi Arabia follows through on the commitment, it will mark the first time members of the Israeli government have officially and publicly entered the Sunni Muslim kingdom.

Axios reported last month that Riyadh was refusing to sign a “host country agreement” with UNESCO, with Israeli participation in the upcoming event being the main sticking point.

Without such an agreement, preparations for the meeting in the Saudi capital cannot begin.

UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay told Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen during their meeting in Paris last week that the negotiations with the Saudis were successful.

Invitations for the meeting will be sent in the next few days to all member states, including Israel, although Jerusalem remains concerned that Riyadh will attempt to backtrack.

In March, the Saudis blocked a group of Israeli Muslims from attending a United Nations event held in the Gulf Arab state.  

The UN World Tourism Organization had invited villagers from the Circassian town of Kfar Kama in the lower Galilee region of northern Israel to the event honoring their village, but Saudi authorities denied them visas.

The Netanyahu government is attempting to persuade Riyadh to join the Abraham Accords, the Trump administration-brokered deals that normalized the Jewish state’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February said he was actively courting Saudi Arabia as that would constitute a “quantum lead” towards regional peace.

But Riyadh is reportedly demanding security guarantees from the United States before it enters into any normalization deal, along with US assistance in building its civilian nuclear program.

Earlier this month a team of Israelis arrived in Saudi Arabia to participate in a global video game competition.

Three gamers, their coach and manager, entered the Gulf state via the United Arab Emirates using their Israeli passports.

Team manager Zvika Kosman told Israel’s public broadcaster that he worked in conjunction with FIFA, which hosts the event, to ensure the Saudis allowed the team to participate.

He said there was no direct contact between Jerusalem and Riyadh during the negotiation process, adding that the team had agreed not to express their Israeli identity outwardly in public.