Israel-Syria Border Tensions ‘More Explosive’

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The two-year civil war in Syria has often threatened to spill across the borders into other nations. This week that threat moved even closer to reality as Syrian troops (intelligence reports indicate these were government troops rather than rebels) fired on an IDF patrol jeep near the Golan border. Syria claims to have attacked the jeep inside their territory, but Israel insists the jeep was on Israeli land. Israel responded to the attack with a missile that destroyed the stronghold from which the shots were fired.

In a bluntly worded statement, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz said, “Israel cannot allow the Golan Heights area to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from. If he causes [the situation on] the Golan Heights to deteriorate, he will have to bear the consequences.” One reporter described the situation as “more explosive” than anything seen in recent years. (more…)

Political Turmoil Continues as No New Israeli Government Formed

Photo by Andy Frank

Photo by Andy Frank from the 2012 Jewish Voice Israel Tour.

January’s elections in Israel produced a sharply divided government. With eleven different political parties having seats in the new 120-member Knesset, reaching a majority coalition is proving to be extremely difficult. The deadline for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who received the most votes for Prime Minister even though his party saw a steep decline in representation in the Knesset, to form a new government is next week—March 15. So far he has been unable to put together a program that will attract enough members to reach a majority.

If the government cannot be formed by a week from tomorrow, Netanyahu can petition President Shimon Peres for additional time. Peres also would have the option of giving one of the other party leaders—most likely Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party got the second highest vote total in the new Knesset—a chance. Lapid is some distance to the left of Netanyahu on economic and security issues, and it is unclear what type of coalition he would lead and how that government would function. (more…)

President Obama Sets First Visit to Israel

703374_10151354792369532_756212979_oAs Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to struggle to try to form a new governing coalition after Israel’s elections last month left the Knesset sharply divided, Mr. Obama has announced his first visit to the Jewish state as U.S. President. The March visit is expected to continue a second term push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The President is expected to also meet with Palestinian leaders, and continue his call for Jerusalem to be divided with the Palestinian portion to serve as the capital of the new state he wants to see established for them.

Mr. Netanyahu has until March 15 to form a new government, but so far little progress has been made toward establishing a governing majority. Different groups have stated conflicting demands, and it is going to be very difficult for the current prime minister or any other political figure to build a lasting government given the election results.

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Ahmadinejad Claims Iran Is ‘Already a Nuclear State’

In an interview with Egyptian media published yesterday, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is making the first visit between leaders of the two nations since the Iranian revolution in 1979, declared that Iran is “already a nuclear state.” He vowed that Iran would resist those who want them to “go backward.” In addition, he spewed out a number of anti-Semitic remarks, including the claim that the “Zionists are taking over the places of wealth, money, and politics in deceiving the world.” (more…)

SpITxyKivbS3oRYmndonBrCvmsItzFgAo-TD1bC9ZLQThe bitter and brutal civil war that has been raging in Syria for months has left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. The government of Israel has publicly expressed their concern over Syria’s ability to control the large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons they are known to possess. Certainly having these in the hands of Hezbollah or some other terrorist group would pose a grave danger to the Jewish People. (more…)

New Israeli Government Reflects Deep Divisions in the Nation

703342_10151354716659532_805503157_oThe results of this week’s elections for a new government for Israel revealed deep divisions within the political life of the Jewish state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the most votes for Prime Minister, but his political party and their allies lost a number of seats in the Knesset. Although official results will not be released for several more days, the early numbers indicate the new Parliament may be divided 60-60 when the minor parties align around their respective ideological allegiances.

This is likely to create a highly unstable governing coalition. Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to be given the first attempt to gather enough partners to create a government (under the Israeli parliamentary system, governing requires a majority in the Knesset), but his success is not assured. Even if he can gather together a majority from some of the minor parties, the political concessions and maneuvering are likely to present major headaches for the new government. (more…)

High-Grade Explosives Smuggled into Israel by Hezbollah

Israeli intelligence has arrested eight people connected with a terrorist smuggling operation that brought 20 kilograms of C4 into Israel from Lebanon as part of a Hezbollah effort to put the pieces in place for a major series of attacks inside Israel. The explosives, which were apparently brought into the country by drug smugglers who had been paid to transport them, were discovered in a field outside of Nazareth. (more…)