This week’s rundown of news from Israel
MKs who are part of Israel’s coalition government cheered the passage of the state budget, something which has not happened since 2018. After deliberating through the night, the 2021 budget was finally passed in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Much was riding on the line, since if the deadline was not met, the current government would dissolve, and snap elections would be called for. To the surprise of many, the budget for 2022 was passed a short time later, making this the first budget that the state of Israel has seen approved in more than three years.
The Raam party, who broke away from the Joint Arab List to join Naftali Bennett’s coalition, was surprisingly supportive, even offering to give 100 million shekels from their own budget designation to the Haredi parties (who are not in the coalition). The Raam party is led by Mansour Abbas, who despite being a controversial figure, has kept a very peaceful profile since joining the coalition. Nevertheless, his membership in the southern branch of the Islamist Movement in Israel leads many to accuse him of having ulterior motives as well as ties to terrorist organizations. The northern branch of the Islamist Movement has had direct ties to terrorists and terrorism in the past.
In the meantime, the United States Senate just confirmed Thomas Nides as the new US Ambassador to Israel. Many are hailing Nides as a friend of Israel, even though J-Street, a notorious left-wing organization that supports the BDS Movement, lauded his appointment. Americans for Peace Now also congratulated Thomas Nides, and said they looked forward to working with him.
Nides’ record is definitely one of moderate Israel support. In his confirmation hearing in the Senate, he said replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is in the best interest of national security. He also vowed to support the Abraham Accords, as well as oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
Even though Nides has had a fairly moderate career in his work with Israel, the fact that J-Street and Peace Now have endorsed him shows that they have great hopes that he will support their causes. These include: opposing Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, supporting BDS and having a weak position toward terrorism in Israel.
Israel also approved more than 3,000 housing units to be built in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, earning the harsh criticism of the US State Department. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz tried to appease America by boasting of the fact that he also approved 1,300 housing units for the Palestinians to be built in Area C, something which has not happened in over a decade. To be clear, the Arabs can already build in Area A and B, in addition to illegally building in Area C. Jews are only allowed to build in Area C, and only with the signature of the defense minister.
This morning 3,000 runners from all over Israel gathered in ancient Shiloh to participate in the Bible Marathon. Runners participated in the full marathon, ½ marathon, 10K, and 5K. The race took runners through the beautiful vineyards and olive groves of the Shiloh bloc, past the Gvaot Winery, through the community of Givat Harel, and past two local springs. Even though there were no tourists from outside Israel participating in the races, “The Israel Guys” had a team of nine people running in the ½ marathon and 10K! Several of our team even won prizes in their categories!
Participating in the Bible Marathon is our way of standing with Israel’s right to sovereignty in the biblical heartland of Israel. And it seems as if 3,000 Israelis would agree!
Please continue to pray for Israel’s leaders, government and most importantly, the peace of Jerusalem.