Israel News

News Digest — 11/25/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Breaking The Deadlock: Likud MK Proposes Bill For Direct Elections Of Prime Minister

Likud MK Shlomo Karai is drafting a bill that would end the political deadlock in Israel by making it possible for voters to directly elect a prime minister, Yediot Ahronot reported on Monday (25th).

Karai says he has the green light from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to proceed with the bill.

According to the plan, elections would take place in the same format they are today, but with a new condition added that if a coalition government can’t be formed and the Knesset dissolves, a direct election for prime minister will be held preventing a possible fourth election.

The winner would receive parliamentary power amounting to an additional 10 percent that would be equal to 12 Knesset members that the victor could distribute among his coalition partners.  Those Knesset members would serve until the next elections.

“The idea is that if we don’t succeed in realizing the unity that is the will of the voter,” Karai said, “then we return to the voters so they can choose which narrow government they prefer.”

The bill would require 61 Knesset votes, meaning that it would need the support of at least some opposition members.

This appears possible as last week New Right leader and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said his party would advance an amendment to the Basic Law to allow for direct prime ministerial elections.  He said that the Blue and White party would support the amendment.

The Shas party, led by Aryeh Deri, was the first to bring up the idea of direct elections earlier this month.



Netanyahu: We Will Stop Iran’s Attempts To Use Yemen, Iraq Against Israel

Israel will take action to thwart Iranian efforts to turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for rocket and missile attacks against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday (24th) during a tour to the Golan Heights.

“Iran’s aggression in the region and against us continues,” Netanyahu said at Mount Avital.  “We are taking all the action necessary to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in the region.  This includes action necessary to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons from Iran to Syria, via the air or sea.”

Netanyahu, who was accompanied by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, said that Israel’s responsibility and willingness to fight against Iranian aggression is “absolute,” and that Jerusalem is using all means to keep Iran from achieving its aims.

“I cannot provide any more details. But this is a process taking place all the time,” he said.

Netanyahu’s words came days after Israel and Iran traded blows in the north, with four rockets fired on Israel from Syria after an attack on an installation near Damascus.  Israel responded by hitting some 20 targets in Syria.  

Bennett said that the “Iranian terror units have nothing to look for in Syria.”  Should they attempt to establish their presence there, he said they will “find a strong and powerful IDF that will hurt them.”

He suggested the Iranian authorities focus on their own citizens by improving the lives of those who reside in Iran “and not on the useless attempt to harm Israeli citizens.”



Top US General Meets Israeli Brass Amid Iran Tensions

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met Sunday (24th) with Israeli counterpart Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.  Israel’s military said in a statement that Milley’s visit was a sign of “the depth of the partnership between the forces and its importance in promoting regional stability.”

Milley’s visit comes amid rising tensions between Israel and regional rival Iran.

Milley’s visit is the latest in a series of top US military visits to the Jewish state in recent weeks.

Last week, US Air Force Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein visited Israel to participate in the Blue Flag joint military exercise, which pitted 70 combat planes from five air forces against each other in 19 sorties across six locations around the country.  For two participating militaries, Israel and Italy, it marked the first-ever use of the new stealth F-35 in an international exercise, making it “the most advanced international exercise ever held in Israel,” according to the IDF.

On November 10, Gen. Kenneth Mckenzie, commander of American military forces in the Middle East, arrived in Israel for meetings with the IDF’s top brass.

Last week, Israel struck dozens of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in response to rockets at the Israel-controlled Golan Heights a day before.

The strikes were the latest Israel attack against Iran-linked targets in Syria in recent years.  Israel has warned against a permanent Iranian presence near the frontier.



Terrorist Who Murdered Father Of Four Sentenced To Life In Prison

On Sunday (24th), the Lod District Court sentenced the Arab-Israeli terrorist who killed father of four Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, handing him a life term in prison and requiring financial restitution to the bereaved family.

Abdel Hakim Bin Adael Assi, 19, brutally stabbed Ben-Gal at the entrance to the city of Ariel in Samaria, on February 5, 2018.

Ben-Gal escaped into the city, where he collapsed just after calling for help.  He was evacuated by a medical team to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and subsequently died of his wounds.

Ben-Gal, 29, was a father of four and worked as a teacher at the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Givat Shmuel.

During the hearing, the terrorist commented, “I did it with my whole head  – Israelis are the terrorists, not us.”

At the sentencing, the judges were handed a letter written by Ben-Gal’s parents asking the court to give Assi the maximum sentence, Israel Hayom reported.

“We know that you cannot impose the death penalty, but we ask that you sentence him to a prison sentence that will cause him to rot there until his last day, and that he will no longer be able to see the light of day.  We ask that you determine that, under no circumstances, will he be included in any future terrorist release deal,” the letter said, according to Israel Hayom.   

Assi was known to Israel’s social services because he lived at the Shanti House for runaways, a homeless shelter in Yafo.  he decided to leave the Shanti House and was offered other options, but turned them down.

His mother is an Israeli Arab from the north and his father is a Palestinian from Shechem (Nablus).  

He was arrested in Shechem after a six-week manhunt by the Shin Bet and IDF.



Wikipedia’s Anti-Israel Editors Unmasked – Adam Kredo

A pro-Israel organization has exposed the identities of top Wikipedia editors who use the online encyclopedia to promote anti-Israel bias and causes, a first-of-its-kind effort that is unmasking a global online network of Israel critics.  

The Israel Group, a non-profit organization that combats anti-Israel bias, is set to launch next year a database that will expose the true identities of many leading Wikipedia editors who harbor anti-Israel bias and have implanted this viewpoint across the website through more than 325,000 edits during the past 10 years.  It has already listed the identities of several of these editors.

The new effort, dubbed Wiki-Israel, seeks to provide accountability for the numerous and often anonymous editors who control all of the content that exists on Wikipedia.

Leaders of the Israel Group accuse these individuals of acting as “a cabal of virulently anti-Israel anonymous editors” who are “responsible for decimating virtually the entire pro-Israel editing community.”

Leaders of the Israel Group view Wikipedia, with its global reach and wide readership, as a central battleground in the fight to combat the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

“Trying to teach anyone the truth and facts about Israel is a futile effort as long as Wikipedia, the number one online educational resource globally, substantiates the lies and propaganda promulgated by the BDS movement,”Jack Saltzberg, founder and president of the Israel Group told the Washington Free Beacon.

“Stopping Wikipedia’s anti-Israel bias should be the most important battle against BDS.  There is no close-second.”

Wikipedia editors routinely promote falsehoods about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and portray Israel in a negative light, according to the Israel Group.

“For more than a decade, Wikipedia – the number one online educational resource globally – has allowed anonymous anti-Israel editors to falsely and negatively alter Israel’s factual history in Wikipedia articles pertaining to the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts,” Israel Group said in a statement promoting the new endeavor, which will officially launch in January 2020.

“Volunteer ‘administrators’ (with lifetime positions), responsible for overseeing the editing process of Wikipedia, have not only allowed anti-Israel editors freedom to take over Wikipedia, they have participated by blocking and banning predominantly Jewish and pro-Israel editors,” the group said.

“For anyone concerned about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel, Wikipedia is now the number one global source that actively substantiates the lies and false propaganda being disseminated about Israel.”

The organization has been working for years to find the editors responsible for anti-Israel content and unearth details about their identities.

Already, the Israel Group has listed the details of the top five editors it deems leaders of the anti-Israel effort.

The number one anti-Israel leader, according to the Israel Group, is an Australian computer scientist named Brendan Mckay, who is also a Wikipedia administrator.  Second leading anti-Israel editor is another Australian named Peter Nicholas Dale, who has performed more than 60,000 Wikipedia edits and has “never once benefited Israel,” the group claims.

When the initiative launches in 2020, the Israel Group will begin posting a more complete list of the editors it claims are responsible for Wikipedia’s anti-Israel bias.