Israel Roundup: Nation on Alert, Netanyahu in Limbo

  • Netanyahu praised America for its attack on Iran forces in Iraq and Syria.
  • Israel is trying to make peace with the Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank.
  • Israel has made trade agreements to supply natural gas to Egypt, Greece, Jordan and Cyprus.

Following the assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, stationed near Iraq’s international airport, Israel is on top security alert. Members of Hezbollah, in Lebanon, have given the America and Israel a warning of a response to this attack on American locations in the Middle East, and even on Tel Aviv.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a ceremony marking the 55th foundation anniversary of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Dec. 31, 2019.

Israel is in the middle of a five-year peace agreement with Hamas in Gaza, and has given leniencies to them, such as increasing fishing rights and allowing workers from Gaza to enter Israel. In the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the head of intelligence warned the cabinet against further leniencies, and spoke against restricting the Palestine Authority in Judea and Samaria who are much less problematic and potentially more dangerous. He said that relaxing security in the south may give Hamas time to rebuild its forces, like Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Israel has added certain restrictions on funds to the PA for giving financial support to families of terrorists.

Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the streets in the West Bank city of Ramallah to mark the 55th anniversary of the Fatah movement, led by President Mahmood Abbas. Fatah was established by Yasser Arafat in 1965, who led the armed struggle against Israel for decades.

In 2019, 349 people were killed on the roads in Israel, in 314 accidents.  On average, a pedestrian is killed every four days in road accidents, and a motorcyclist is killed every 20 days.  This is rise in catastrophes on the road from 2018.  The national road safety authority sees government commitment and funding important to prevent these accidents.

The High Court is in the middle of a debate whether indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government. Netanyahu has asked for the courts to give immunity for himself and other public officers while in duty. In preparation for indictment proceedings, he has resigned from all cabinet positions except for the position of Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis (center), and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis meet in Athens on January 2, 2020, ahead of the signing of an agreement for the EastMed pipeline project designed to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

Last week, Netanyahu made a trade agreement with Egypt for the use of its natural gas reserves. Israel is also supplying natural gas to Jordan. This week, Netanyahu traveled to Athens to make a natural gas trade agreement with Greece and Cyprus to create an East Med gas pipeline. They signed this agreement on Thursday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has become an enemy of Israel, remarked that Israel is stepping on their feet by trespassing in this area.

In 2009, Israel discovered a tremendous amount of natural gas in the deep water of the Mediterranean, located west of Haifa. They began production of natural gas from this field, called Tamar, in 2013.  Another natural gas discovery was made south west of the Tamar gas resource, with even larger potentials. The field, called Leviathan, has recently gone onlin,e and will be active to supply Egypt, and later Greece and Cyprus. The citizens of Haifa made a court case before opening production, claiming that the Leviathan would produce carbon pollution in the air of Haifa, which could be dangerous. The court overruled this decision and production is on the way.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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