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Friday Feature - Dire Straights, the Standoff With Iran

Thursday saw the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ordering the release of an Iranian oil tanker which had been seized by that territory’s police force, with assistance from British Royal Marines, as it attempted to pass through the strategic waterway because of suspicions that Iran was attempting to send oil to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in violation of US and EU sanctions. The order to release the Iranian tanker was the latest move in a geostrategic chess match between Iran and the US, which also involves several other global powers including Israel.

The original seizure of the Iranian tanker on 4 July sparked a series of events including the shoot-down of a US military drone over the Persian Gulf and sabotage attacks on oil tankers flagged by several countries, as well as seizures of British-owned oil tankers by naval units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the pretorian armed faction which answers to no one but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khemenei and in the assessment of many analysts the force which controls much of Iran’s economy and government. The British tankers were seized under legally nebulous circumstances as they attempted to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway separating Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. 20% of the World’s daily energy supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz and Iran has historically made use of threats to close it in order to gain leverage in its geostrategic position. Should Iran ever follow through on those threats and close the Straits of Hormuz, even for a short time, the global economy would suffer a terrible shock.

Another strategic waterway playing a role in the crisis is the Bab al Mandab, the southern gateway into the Red Sea through which ships travelling to and from the Suez Canal must pass. Hundreds of ships a week go through this chokepoint including tankers carrying oil from the Gulf to Europe as well as cargo vessels taking goods and people between Europe and Asia. Iran’s role in supporting Yemen’s Houthi rebels gives it the ability to harass ships traveling through the Bab al-Mandab while allowing it to plausibly deny that it is doing so.

Last but not least, military ships pass through and guard all of these strategic chokepoints, and that’s where Israel comes in.

The IDF, along with the US, France, China and others, maintains a military base in Djibouti, the tiny rump state on the African coast across from Yemen. This base allows Israel to play a role in maintaining the security of international shipping through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, much to Iran’s irritation. But it was the possibility that Israel would join an international coalition, led by the US and UK, to maintain sea lines of communication in the Strait of Hormuz which ignited the full fury of Iran’s leaders in recent days.

In sentiments echoed by several other senior Iranian officials, Commander of the IRGC Navy, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, told the Lebanese news agency Al Mayadeen this week that "Any kind of presence of the Zionist Regime (Israel) in Persian Gulf is illegal as it may trigger war and conflict in the region."

In this context, the Iranian-backed Lebenese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, fresh from its successful military intervention in the Syrian civil war, has been making threatening statements that it is prepared to unleash its vast arsenal of rockets on Israeli cities should a conflict involving Iran erupt, whether Israel is directly involved or not. The Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has made similar threats, making a two-front rocket barrage against Israel a very real possibility.

Hovering over all this geostrategic drama is the increasing tension over Iran’s renegade nuclear program and the unraveling of the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement which was meant to address it. A related trend is the budding military, intelligence and even diplomatic relationships between Israel and the Western and Arab governments which are also opposed to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and regional hegemony.
 
With all these unfolding developments on multiple fronts across different dimensions, one of the few things which can be known for certain is that the world is, both literally and figuratively, in the midst of Dire Straits. Israel, as always, is poised to play a crucial role while also being potentially threatened by devastating consequences for a mistake or miscalculation by any number of players.

Here are two videos giving some analytical context to this story



Archeological Dig Uncovers Proof of Biblical Accounts

A team of archeologists from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, announced this week that they have uncovered ancient relics supporting the Biblical account of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 587/586 BC. "The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found -- pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period," the UNC archaeological team wrote in a statement.

"Alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated," the researchers claim in their release. "Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse. Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down.” A further exposition gave details of some of the “Scythian arrowheads” that had been found at the site, that "They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors. Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BC."

UN Committee Calls out PA for Anti-Semitism
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held a session in Geneva on Tuesday which included a statement calling the Palestinian Authority to task. “Several NGO reports pointed out antisemitic and anti-Israel prejudice and incitement to hatred, especially in the [Palestinian] media and speeches of state officials. Can the state party [the PA] provide any explanation in this regard?” asked committee member Chinsung Chung of South Korea, who serves as the special rapporteur for the PA review by the committee. “Our convention obliges state parties to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in education,  to combat racial discrimination and prejudice between different racial and ethnic groups, over jurisprudence,” Committee member Silva Albuquerque added.

Questions were also asked about various human rights issues and the lives of minorities such as the Druze and Circassian populations living in PA administered areas.

PA Foreign Ministry representative Ammar Hijazi responded with a statement that such questions were “regrettable” adding that “We do not discriminate against any of our citizens based on ethnicity and religion or sex. We are a state that is trying to find its path and still formulating its laws.” He added an accusation that the committee members who had asked the questions were reacting to false charges by NGOS which were “founded and funded to deny Palestinians their rights, their narrative and to spread untruths about them.”

Meanwhile, UN Watch’s legal adviser Dina Rovner told the committee that the PA media “perpetuates antisemitic stereotypes such as that Jews are greedy, that they are part of a conspiracy to control the world, that they are baby killers, and that they poison Palestinians and steal their organs. The Palestinian media also glorifies and encourages martyrdom in the fight to liberate Palestine from the River to the Sea – meaning to eliminate Israel – and broadcasts songs and videos advocating to kill Jews and Israelis.”

In related news, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Essawi Frej and Noa Rothman, candidates for the next Knesset from the Democratic Union faction, at his office in Ramallah, on Tuesday. Frej told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting that Abbas “is eagerly waiting for the Israeli election. He complained that Netanyahu has barely spoken to him over the past decade and that he hopes the next government begins a new peace process.” He added that the candidates had met with Abbas “to return hope. We in the Democratic Union believe the Palestinian issue needs to be a top priority.”

Netanyahu posted a link to the article about the meetings in the Jerusalem Post with a caption saying: “If anyone needed another reason to vote for Likud...”

Israel’s Response to Hamas Protested
A demonstration against Israel’s policy regarding the Hamas terror militia which rules the Gaza Strip took place outside the main public entrance to the Knesset on Wednesday, highlighted by a 10-meter tall inflated chicken with the words "putting an end to fear, demanding an Israeli victory" emblazoned on its chest. The balloon was placed at the protest by an NGO called the Israel Victory Project (IVP) and follows threats by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who told a crowd in the Gazan city of Khan Younis on Tuesday evening that Hamas would “shower” Israeli cities with missiles in any future confrontation.

“We will break the defeated occupation army if it crosses into the Gaza Strip. We know what we say and mean what we say,” Sinwar said in a speech celebrating the Eid al-Adha religious holiday. “If Israel launches a campaign in Gaza, we will shower their cities with hundreds of missiles in one go. If a war occurs, we will strike on the occupation army and break its power once and forever. We are not joking.”

Here is another video which shows how Israel is blessing the world

Iran Blames Israel for Gulf Tensions

Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, recently told the Lebanese news agency Al Mayadeen that "Any kind of presence of the Zionist Regime in Persian Gulf is illegal as it may trigger war and conflict in the region." Without citing any reasons why he might think there were Israeli warships in or near the Persian Gulf, he added that his government is doing everything it can to maintain peace and stability in the region despite unending “provocations” by Israel, the US, UK and Iran’s Arab neighbors. These sentiments were echoed by other Iranian officials in recent days.

In related news, Reuters reported on Monday that Germany’s exports to Iran have dropped by nearly 50% in the first six months of 2019 while Iranian exports to Germany fell by nearly the same amount, in a sign that US-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic are having their intended effect.

Here is a video about Iran’s threats to its neighbors



IDF Navy Leads Large Multi-National Earthquake Drill
In yet another defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, the IDF Navy hosted ships from 10 foreign navies in recent days for a massive joint disaster response exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean. Operation “Mighty Waves” brought together ships, aircraft and sailors from Israel, the US, Greece, France, Cyprus, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Britain and Chile, as well as a delegation from NATO, to practice procedures for assisting recovery efforts from a large-scale earthquake. Other branches of the IDF as well as the Haifa Port and civilian emergency response agencies also took part in the five-day exercise.

“Israel has to prepare for an earthquake. Statistically it occurs every 100 years and this is the right time to prepare and carry out such a drill,” Maj. Amichai Rahamim, head of the exercise section in the doctrine department of the Israel Navy told The Jerusalem Post. “We are sure that the navy will be in charge of humanitarian aid…after an earthquake, we will need to bring humanitarian aid to Israel and we know that Israel, which has many allies, will need them to come help. It’s going to be a coalition event and more countries than those who participated in the drill will likely send humanitarian aid.”
 
In related news, the IDF Ground Forces announced this week that it is cancelling several large-scale exercises planned to take place in coming months due to budget cuts. Some commanders expressed concerns that this would negatively effect the IDF’s preparedness for a renewed round of conflict, especially in the North.

US Army Formally Purchases Iron Dome Batteries
An official with the US Army’s air and missile defense modernization program confirmed on Monday that the Pentagon has signed a contract to purchase two batteries of the Iron Dome system, which was jointly developed by US company Raytheon and Israeli defense firm Rafael. The IDF has deployed the Iron Dome system and credited it with shooting down hundreds of incoming rockets in recent conflicts with terrorist organizations in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Several other militaries around the world are reportedly interested in acquiring the system.

Casspi Officially Signs Contract with Macabbi Tel Aviv
Israeli athlete Omri Casspi formally announced on Tuesday that, following a 10-year career in the NBA, he is returning to Macabbi Tel Aviv with a three year contract. “I am coming home to Maccabi Tel Aviv, back to where I grew up and learned how to play basketball,” he said. “I was 13 years old when I first arrived here and I am proud and excited to once again be wearing the Maccabi jersey with the Magen David on its back. This is a great privilege.”

Netanyahu Congratulates New President of Guatemala
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Tuesday morning, saying “I congratulate Alejandro Giammattei on his election as President of Guatemala. He is a friend of Israel and I am convinced that together we will strengthen the excellent cooperation between the countries. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend, President Jimmy Morales. During his tenure, relations between Israel and Guatemala reached new heights, thanks also to his correct and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the Guatemalan Embassy there.”

Riots Break Out on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

On Sunday, Jews around the world marked Tisha Be’Av, a date on the Hebrew calendar when a long list of calamities have afflicted the Jewish People throughout history, including the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The Western Wall in the capital’s Old City was the site of a procession at the start of Tisha Be’Av on Saturday evening, while riots broke out on the nearby Temple Mount Sunday as Moslem protesters gathered to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha attacked Jewish visitors to the site. Several Israeli political leaders decried the situation whereby Jewish worshipers are unable to visit their holy sites on their holy days without fear of being attacked.

A police statement that visits to the site had been barred by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to the presence of thousands of Moslems was met with fierce denunciations by some of Netanyahu’s political rivals on the right, including former justice minister Ayelet Shaked and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who declared that the “decision to capitulate to Arab terrorism and violence at the holiest place for the Jewish people is the root of the loss of deterrence in other areas.”

Netanyahu later denied issuing the order to keep Jewish worshippers off the Temple Mount, dismissing the condemnations as political posturing by his opponents.

Here is a video about the upcoming elections in Israel



Meanwhile, Palestinian groups also weighed in, with officials from terror militias Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas echoing statements by PA officials blaming Israel for the violence on the Temple Mount and warning that a regional sectarian war could be sparked by it. However, aside from Jordan, which an Israeli official noted always felt obligated to condemn Israel when such incidents occurred, most Arab governments declined to comment or else offered only muted, formulaic criticism.

Gaza Border Forces on Alert Following Weekend Attacks

IDF units deployed along the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip were on high alert Monday morning after intercepting several attempts by terrorists to infiltrate into Israel over the weekend. A total of five terrorists were shot dead by IDF troops while attempting to breach the border fence in two separate incidents on Saturday and Sunday morning, respectively. “Your job is to defend the state’s borders and its citizens, and that is what you did here – very successfully – due to a quick assessment, precise use of weapons, a correct solution, fighting spirit and determination,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a group of soldiers while touring the border region.

Here is a video about the incident Saturday morning



Dissent Growing in Iran Despite Crackdown
Reports out of Iran over the weekend indicate that security forces have begun a crackdown on activists opposing the continued rule of the clerical regime headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An open letter posted by activists in June called for reforms, saying among other things that elections held for the national parliament are a sham because only candidates who have sworn personal allegiance to the Supreme Leader and pledged to support his agenda regardless of what ordinary citizens might want or need are allowed to run for office. Despite the crackdown, demonstrations against the regime have continued in several cities.
 
Here is a video about the Iranian regime’s threats to its neighbors



Suspects in Murder of Yeshiva Student/Soldier Arrested
Several Palestinian men and one woman suspected of participating in the murder of 19-year old IDF Cpl. Dvir Sorek and dumping his lifeless body near the community of Migdal Oz, south of Jerusalem, were arrested by Israeli security forces over the weekend. Sorek was part of the Hesder programs Machanayim Yeshiva in Migdal Oz, which allowed him to combine Yeshiva study with military service, an option popular among Israel’s Modern Orthodox community.

Muslim Brotherhood Frets ‘Isaiah 19 Highway’ Vision

Recently, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) came across a very unusual commentary in the Egyptian press. In late July, they reported that Sayyed Tawakkul, a journalist affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, referred to President Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi as “General Israel” and accused him of seeking to destroy Egypt in line with the vision of the Hebrew prophet in Isaiah 19. President al-Sisi, of course, is the Egyptian army commander who assumed power in 2014 when the nation rose up and demanded the removal of Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, after only one year in office.

Now the extremist Islamist group has been very vocal about its opposition to the current president of Egypt, but it was quite odd for them to cite a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 19 speaks of God putting Egypt through a period of judgment, but in the end the nation serves the Lord and becomes a blessing, along with Israel and Assyria, in the midst of the earth. Many Evangelical Christians today have caught this vision and believe it will come into its ultimate prophetic fulfilment soon.

Apparently, the Muslim Brotherhood also has become aware of this rising prophetic hope for reconciliation in the region, and it has them unsettled.

In our latest Word From Jerusalem magazine, ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler wrote about the vision of the ‘Isaiah 19 Highway’ in his feature commentary “Egypt My People!”, and how the ICEJ is involved. For more, you can read it HERE

Economic Situation in PA Areas Worsening

Reports out of the Palestinian Authority administered areas indicate that difficult economic conditions are having an increasingly negative effect on the lives of ordinary people. “For the last seven months, we have been paid half of our salaries. Teachers and public employees can barely buy basic goods for their families,” Hilmi Hamdan, general secretary of the Palestinian Teachers Union, told The Media Line. He added that despite the hardships, the majority of Palestinians support the PA’s position of refusing to accept tax revenues and import duties collected by Israel.

“The Palestinian people as a whole are being affected due to Israeli occupation policies and its financial blackmail of the PA. Israeli policies" Hamdan continued, "aim to pressure our leadership to accept the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ [the Trump Administration's peace plan] and end the Palestinian cause…we stand with the PA and its position.”

Tensions Escalating Over Iranian Tanker Seizures
Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih met on Tuesday in Washington with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Following the meeting, he tweeted that  it "dealt with the two countries' concern over threats targeting freedom of maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf. We affirmed our determination to work together to ensure the security of global energy supplies." Also on Tuesday, the owner of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero issued a statement that the continued detention of the ship and its crew by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was "unacceptable and unjustifiable."

The statement by Stena Bulk's chief executive and president Erik Hanell also said, speaking of the crew, that "although they remain in good health considering the circumstances, we continue to be concerned about their welfare given the amount of time they have been in confinement."

Here is a video about the current situation with Iran and Israel’s role in it



Israeli Satellite Successfully Launched Into Space
The Amos-17 communications satellite, a project of Israeli firm Spacecom, was successfully launched into orbit from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station overnight Tuesday. "As a leading multi-regional satellite operator, Spacecom is introducing the most technologically advanced satellite with HTS beams to service Africa where AMOS-17 will deliver a large selection of services to a variety of broadcast, broadband and telecom clients," Spacecom CEO and president David Pollack said.

Litzman Receives Support Following Indictment Recommendation
Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) leader Rabbi Ya'acov Litzman, who police have recommended be indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust for the role he allegedly played in interfering in the extradition to Australia of alleged pedophile Malka Leifer, received strong support Tuesday from several prominent leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (haredi) and Religious-Zionist communities. Litzman is also facing charges of fraud, obstruction of justice and breach of trust in another case.

A statement released by his office Tuesday said that "[Deputy] Minister Litzman has worked throughout his years for the benefit of Israeli citizens, with complete transparency and by law. The office of Litzman has a clear, open-door policy to assist the public. This is without discrimination against anyone, and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance, except under the law and [with] integrity."

Turkey Poised to Invade Northeast Syria

Despite a warning from the Pentagon against any Turkish ground incursion into northeastern Syria, currently under the control of US-backed Kurdish YPG militias, reports from the border region on Monday indicated that preparations for such an incursion are underway. Further complicating the picture, local Arab militias have said they are ready to assist the Turks in an invasion, while US-backed groups condemned the Turkish moves and vowed to resist any military offensive. In related news, reports out of Turkey indicate that authorities have begun to crack down on Syrian migrants in the country, demanding that they leave major cities like Istanbul and Ankara and return to refugee camps along the border. Many people have been arrested by authorities and their relatives say they can’t find out where they have been taken, while some refugee assistance groups claim the government is forcing them to return to war torn Syria.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, under the leadership of Russian military units, has resumed an air, artillery and ground campaign against rebel positions in northwest Syria. A regime spokesman blamed Turkey for failing to keep conditions under which a truce had formally paused fighting in the region.

Israel Having Another Record Tourism Year
In the latest defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) issued a report Monday showing that almost 2.6 million tourist entries into Israel have been recorded since the start of 2019, an increase of 9.8% over the same period in 2018. “Summer begins with a hike in tourist arrivals to Israel,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “I have no doubt that this momentum will continue into the coming months.”

Here is a video about a fun place to visit on your next trip to Israel



Israeli Basketball Team Wins Championship
Israeli sports fans had something to cheer about this weekend as the national Under-18 Basketball Team won the FIBA Division B European Championships, beating the Polish team by a razor-thin score of 81-79 in the final game of the tournament in Oradea, Romania. “I’m very happy and proud that we were able to have such a wonderful tournament,” said head coach Oren Aharoni. “I’m very happy for Israel basketball.”

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Continues Legal Dispute
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem filed an indictment with the Jerusalem District Court on Monday, demanding an annulment of an earlier decision by Israel’s Supreme Court regarding its years-long dispute with the Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim over ownership of land in Jerusalem’s Old City. The properties in dispute “are for the service of pilgrims and visitors of the Holy City, especially those on the pilgrim route to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” the Patriarchate said in a statement. “The Patriarchate will continue to exercise its right and duty of defending itself, the holy sites and the Church heritage."

Israel Blesses the World
Researchers at Tel Aviv University announced this week that they believe they have developed a nano-vaccine for Melanoma, one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer. A spokeswoman for the University said that clinical trials of the technique have proven successful and the technique would soon be on its way to full development.

Here is a video about other ways Israel is blessing the world



Egypt Suffers Massive Terrorist Attack
Egyptian authorities on Monday were calling an explosion which killed 20 people and wounded 47 others at the National Cancer Institute in Cairo on Sunday evening a “terrorist incident” despite earlier reports that it had been a simple car accident. In addition to casualties, the medical facility was severely damaged in the incident which authorities were blaming on an armed group affiliated with the Moslem Brotherhood organization.

Iran Threatens US and Israel

Iranian President Hassan Rohani gave a fiery address on Tuesday morning during a live national TV broadcast, declaring among other things that "peace with Iran is the mother of all peace" and "war with Iran is the mother of all wars" adding that "Iran favors talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions." The address came a day after a senior Iranian military commander thundered that the Islamic Republic has forces on Israel’s borders ready to attack at a moments notice.

“Our defensive depth has stretched to the Mediterranean Sea and our front has extended to the borders of the Zionist regime [of Israel],” Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. Mehdi Rabbani told Iran’s Fars News Agency over the weekend. “Today, Hezbollah and Hamas have gained great power and do not need our help anymore, and all of their [Israelis’] locations are within reach of the Lebanese Hezbollah.”

In related news, officials in the clerical regime which rules Iran have made repeated demands in recent days on European governments to find ways to circumvent US economic sanctions, or they would continue to incrementally violate the terms of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement. Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, declared over the weekend that "What is certain is that by putting aside or suspending our commitments we will increase the speed of our nuclear activities."

Meanwhile, the UK said on Monday that it will join the US in providing warships to the “international maritime security mission" to protect merchant vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. Other traditional US allies have balked at the idea while Germany has explicitly refused to participate in such an operation.

Here are some videos about th difficult conditions for people living in Iran



Netanyahu Scores Political Victory As Elections Heat Up

Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a strong endorsement on Sunday from the lawmakers in his own Likud Party, with the top 40 candidates on its list for the upcoming elections signing a petition declaring their support for him as the next Prime Minister. The move came following political maneuvering by some of Netanyahu’s opponents both within Likud and in smaller satellite parties which he publicly fretted were part of a plan to replace him as leader of the Right. “Thanks to the Likud members for their unequivocal support. We are always united!” Netanyahu tweeted in response to the petition.

In a related development, United Right leader Ayelet Shaked gave a more guarded endorsement of Netanyahu in an interview with Ynet on Sunday, saying she would continue to support him as he is the leader of the Right “at the moment.”

Netanyahu’s political opponents were quick to respond to Sunday’s events.

"The Likud Party officially became Netanyahu's puppet party yesterday," the Democratic Union leaders Nitzan Horowitz, Stav Shaffir and Ehud Barak said on Monday. "The same puppets signed a document yesterday declaring that they had lost all ideology, independent thought, and in particular preferred their loyalty to Netanyahu over their loyalty to the State of Israel and its citizens."

Delegation of US Lawmakers Visits Israel
In another defeat for the effort to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, a delegation of 41 Democrats from the US House of Representatives, led by Majority leader Steny Hoyer, landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday for a trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical US ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” Hoyer said. “Seeing the region firsthand and meeting with key Israeli and Palestinian leaders gives Members insights into a region that is vital both to our own national interests and to global security.”

A group of Republican lawmakers led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is scheduled to arrive on Friday for a similar tour.

Here is a recent podcast giving some analysis of issues related to the US-Israel relationship



Eilat Receives Boost from Cabinet Meeting
The Red Sea resort city of Eilat was the site of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing the launch of a massive NIS 500 million package of infrastructure projects for Eilat and the neighboring Eilot Regional Council. One of the cornerstones of the development plan is a designated area for research into aquaculture and marine biotechnology, focusing on methods for producing food from the sea.

Today's video shows some of the many ways Israel is blessing the world

 

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