Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-28-2019

New Elections
With less than 2 days left to PM Netanyahu’s deadline for forming a new government, the Knesset passed its initial reading of a bill to dissolve itself and call for new elections, which would most likely be held on September 17th.

The main obstacle to forming a new coalition is the deadlock between the Haredi parties, who insist on a draft law to exempt yeshiva students from IDF service, and Avigor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, which opposes the draft bill and other regulations they view as religious coercion.

The Haredi parties have reportedly accepted a compromise presented by PM Netanyahu, but Lieberman has rejected it, calling it a “scam”. Without Lieberman’s party, the coalition only has 60 seats, which is one short of the majority required.

Lieberman said, “The sole motive of Yisrael Beytenu is to uphold the principles and commitments given to the public before the elections, during the elections and after the elections. We are not looking to bring down Netanyahu and we are not looking for an alternative candidate, but we will not give up our principles and promises to the citizens of the State of Israel.”

The Knesset vote to disband was 65 to 44 with 5 abstentions. If the PM fails to form a government by Wednesday, the Knesset will likely pass the second and third reading and call for new elections.

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Golan Attack
The IDF attacked a missile launcher on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights Monday, after a missile was fired at an Israeli fighter jet flying a routine mission over northern Israel. The missile landed in Syrian territory and did not harm the aircraft. Syrian media reported that one Syrian soldier was killed and another injured.

PM Netanyahu tweeted, “A short while ago the Syrian army attempted to hit an Israeli plane; it did not succeed. In response the air force destroyed the launcher that fired on the plane. Our policy is clear – we will not tolerate any aggression against us, and we will respond forcefully.”

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Lebanon Talks
Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs David Satterfield and was updated on his recent talks with Lebanon concerning its maritime border with Israel. Steinitz agreed to talks between Israel and Lebanon, with US mediation, with the aim of drawing an agreed maritime border that will enable both countries to develop gas and oil reservoirs adjacent to it.

The two countries are in dispute over an area of 860 square kilometers, mainly in the region of Block 9. This area is estimated to hold large quantities of gas, similar to those of Israel’s Tamar reservoir, and both countries claim ownership of it.

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