Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-22-2019

Israeli security forces and demolition crews began demolishing dozens of abandoned apartments and buildings in Sur Baher, which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem next to the West Bank barrier. Around 72 apartments in 12 buildings were demolished so far. Israel says the buildings were built illegally too close to its West Bank separation barrier.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the structures violated a construction ban. The deadline for residents to remove the affected buildings, or parts of them, expired on Friday. According to Ir Amim, an Israeli advocacy group that promotes equality and coexistence in the city, Israel has stepped up demolitions of unauthorized Palestinian properties in east Jerusalem. It said Israel demolished some 63 housing units in the first half of this year, compared to 37 during the same period last year.

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New Leader
Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked announced yesterday that she will lead the New Right party in the upcoming elections, taking the place of Naftali Bennett, who will be second on the list. Shaked said that she was prepared to lead a joint list of all the parties to the right of Likud, which includes the Jewish Home and National Union parties (who ran jointly last time around).

Shaked has the support of the 2 most influential rabbis in the right wing political camp, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Eli Sadan. The rabbis are calling for Rafi Peretz, the current education minister and head of the joint right wing list, to step down in favor of Shaked.

However, PM Netanyahu apparently wants Peretz to stay on as party head and therefore keep the extreme right parties from uniting the Shaked’s New Right party, because he fears that a united right list will cause the Likud to lose votes.

According to the latest poll, neither the right nor the left block will win enough seats to form a government, without the support of Avidgor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party (which would bring us back to the same situation that caused the upcoming repeat election).

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Hezbollah Freeze
Argentinian authorities ordered the freezing of Hezbollah assets in the country last week and effectively designated the Lebanese Islamist group, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, a terrorist organization. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later praised the move.

The announcement coincided with a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as Argentina marks the 25th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Argentina blames Iran and Hezbollah for the attack. Both deny any responsibility. Argentina also blames Hezbollah for an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people.

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Arab Journalists
A group of six Arab journalists – including for the first time from Saudi Arabia and Iraq – arrived on Sunday via the Allenby Bridge for meetings in Israel. The media delegation also includes a representative from Jordan.

Hassan Kaabia, the Foreign Ministry’s Arab-language spokesman, said that the visit was organized without the knowledge of the states from where members of the delegations came, and that this is the first time this type of delegation has come directly to Israel from countries with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations.

The six journalists will tour Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Nazareth, as well as meet with Knesset members, Foreign Ministry officials, and academics.

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