Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (May 24)

editor - 24 May 2019

Plenty of developments this week, as Israel struggles to fulfil the vision of the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence. The Declaration, which can be seen as the blueprint for the Zionist ideal, stated that the State of Israel will “foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”


Fires raging in Israel

Before getting into the political and legal challenges of fulfilling Herzl and Ben Gurion’s dream, there are many more immediate challenges.

Times of Israel reported yesterday that “some 800 fires that ravaged the heat-stricken country Thursday, forcing some 3,500 Israelis to evacuate their homes, with dozens of them returning Friday morning to find everything they owned had been incinerated.”


PM Netanyahu struggling to form a coalition

Despite his clear win in the ~April elections, PM Benyamin Netanyahu is struggling to form a coalition government. The President has given PM Netanyahu until 28thMay to form a workable majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset. He is running into difficulties meeting the various demands of the parties with whom he is negotiating. The challenge is greater now Avigdor Liberman decided yesterday to pull out of the talks.

Times of Israel reports: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his prospective coalition partners on Thursday vowed to push ahead with attempts to form a government, even if they can’t muster a majority without Avigdor Liberman, who boycotted the talks. The decision was made at an urgent meeting called by Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem as he battled to finalize his new government with only five days to go. Earlier reports had said Netanyahu was also considering heading to another general election.”

It is possible that new elections will have to be called.


Is Israel’s democracy in danger? PM pushing for Knesset to grant him immunity, and for “override clause” to limit the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court

In light of the Attorney-General’s decision to indict PM Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust, the PM is planning to seek the Knesset to take a decision granting him immunity. In addition it is understood that “Netanyahu and his intended new coalition partners have agreed that the incoming government will legislate a far-reaching constitutional change to curb the powers of the Supreme Court — giving Knesset members the authority to re-legislate laws that the court has struck down, and preventing the court from intervening in administrative decisions”.

Senior Likud party members and several leading current and former ministers, including Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, have reacted in outrage at these reports.

Former Justice Minister Meridor is reported to have stated: “The idea of an override clause — that we won’t be a democracy, that there will be a dictatorship and the majority can do whatever it wants, that the court can’t say anything and there are no checks and balances — is a dangerous anti-democratic idea. There is not a single parliament in the world without checks and balances.”

The charges against Netanyahu relate to deals worth many millions of dollars.


World Health Organization singles out Israel as world’s only violator of health rights

The UN continues to demonstrate it has become a theater of the absurd. UN Watch reported on Wednesday 22ndMay:

“The annual assembly of the UN’s World Health Organization today voted 96 to 11 for a resolution—co-sponsored by the Arab bloc and the Palestinian delegation—that singled out Israel over “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Unlike previous years, Germany for the first time voted against the measure. This followed a sustained campaign in the Bundestag led by MPs Frank Müller-Rosentritt and Bijan Djir-Sarai of the FDP, supported by UN Watch, which helped to make the case in German media, government circles and civil society.

Out of 21 items on the meeting’s Agenda, only one—Item No. 14 against Israel—focused on a specific country. There was no agenda item or resolution on any other country, including Syria, where hospitals and medical infrastructure have suffered devastating bombings by Syrian and Russian forces; Yemen, where 19.7 million people lack access to health care service due to the current crisis; or Venezuela, where the health system has collapsed, causing millions to flee the country.

The UN reached new heights of absurdity by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals provide life-saving treatment to Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks.”


Anti-BDS motion passed in German Bundestag 

Notwithstanding the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, there are also signs of hope. The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) reported on 23rdMay:

“On Friday 17 May, the German Bundestag became the first national parliament in the European Union to adopt a motion denouncing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for its anti-Semitic ‘pattern of argument and methods’. The German government is urged to resolutely condemn all calls to boycott Israel. This non-binding resolution was tabled jointly by the country’s governing coalition (Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union and the Social Democrats), along with two mainstream opposition parties (the Greens and the Free Democratic Party), and passed by an overwhelming majority.”

“Around 60 Jewish scholars had criticized the motion in a joint statement for conflating BDS and antisemitism, and for potentially limiting freedom of speech. They also consider it unfortunate that the motion does not distinguish between Israel proper and the settlements, and warn that this motion will only encourage Netanyahu’s right-wing government to further delegitimize Palestinian rights.

The Jewish and Israeli scholars state that ‘the BDS movement does not advocate for a particular political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it campaigns for the implementation of international law, often with regard to Israel’s occupation and settlements’. This is simply incorrect – the BDS movement does advocate a particular political solution – one in which Israel withdraws from ‘Arab land’ and allows all ‘Palestinian refugees’ to return. The problem is that the BDS movement claims that this solution is required by international law. This, in the view of thinc., is a misrepresentation and misuse of international law. International law does not require Israel to withdraw from the territories that were occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967, and it does not give the ‘Palestinian refugees’ a right of return (see The Hague Statement of Jurists on the Israel-Palestine conflict).”


Is the “Deal of the century” a Trojan horse?

Here’s an interesting take on the so-called “deal of the century”. It basically argues that the plan, under leadership of Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, carries within it an existential threat to the presence of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria. Greenblatt and Kushner know that the PLO is irrelevant and an impediment to a peace deal, so their strategy over the last couple of years has been is to marginalize and dismember the PLO (Abbas and the other Palestinian leaders are conveniently obliging). But the danger of the plan is that in order to get the agreement of the Arab states, Israel will have to compromise on its presence in Judea and Samaria.


Our continued prayers are needed this coming week for PM Netanyahu and for all the elected members of the Israeli Knesset.  

May they put aside all self-interest to work together to fulfil the dreams of their forefathers – a Jewish state for the benefit of all its inhabitants, based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.  

Shabbat shalom,

Andrew Tucker
Israel & Christians Today

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