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Israel President Rivlin Selects Netanyahu To Form A New Government

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — April 6, 2021 … President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today nominated Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party, Member of Knesset Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government.

Rivlin signed a letter of appointment, giving Netanyahu 28 days to form a government. 

“My fellow citizens, this past Sunday, to mark Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, I listened here, at Beit HaNasi, to the shocking testimony of former President of the Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak as a young child in the Kovno Ghetto. As he told his story, even when he described the most terrible and dreadful moments of the selection of children in the ghetto, of living behind a wall in the house of a Lithuanian farmer, Aharon Barak maintained his composure. But his voice wavered when he described meeting soldiers of the Jewish Brigade on whose sleeves was the badge of the blue and white flag.

The State of Israel is not to be taken for granted. It was certainly not to be taken for granted during the history of the Jewish people and not even 75 years ago. We hold, you the citizens of Israel hold, the greatest treasure of the Jewish people. Your decision, your vote, is what determines the nature of this country, what its future will be. On election day, voters’ day, the people, the public entrusts its representatives with the power to determine a wide range of issues.

But there are things that even 12 Knesset Members cannot change. 120 Knesset Members cannot undermine the democratic foundations of the State of Israel. And 120 Knesset Members cannot undermine the State of Israel’s Jewish nature. It is in that tension, in the hyphen between Jewish and democratic, that our discourse is held and will continue to be held. Sometimes, it will veer to the right, and sometimes to the left. But it will always connect the margins.

I was elected President of the State of Israel by a majority of members of the 19th Knesset. Since then, over the period of seven years, there have been five further Knesset elections, four of them in less than two years. I did not imagine and I did not expect that, time after time, five times, I would be faced with the difficult task of deciding who to entrust with forming a government. I would also like for Beit HaNasi not to be so directly involved in the political system. But that is my role, and as part of that role I undertake this task. Basic Law: The Government obliges me as President of the State of Israel to entrust the role of forming a government to a Knesset Member who agrees to do so.

Israel’s democracy is nourished entirely by the will of the voter. The role of the president in selecting a candidate to entrust with forming a government is primarily one of giving expression to the will of the voter. Therefore, as I have said repeatedly in previous election campaigns, and again in recent days, the principal consideration that Israeli presidents must bear in mind when deciding who to entrust with the task of forming a government is which candidate has the best chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the new Knesset.

The results of the consultations, that were open to all, lead me to believe that no candidate has a realistic chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the Knesset. In fact, if the law would allow me to do so, I would give the decision back to the representatives of the people, to the Knesset. But as I have said, I cannot do so according to law. In the position in which we find ourselves today, the law obliges me to entrust one of the candidates with forming a government.  

After consulting with the representatives of all the factions in the Knesset, the following picture has emerged: 52 MKs requested that I entrust MK Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a government. 45 MKs requested that I entrust MK Yair Lapid with forming a government. 7 MKs requested that I entrust MK Naftali Bennett with forming a government. 16 MKs did not make any recommendation to me.  

Given this state of affairs, when there is no majority of 61 Knesset Members supporting a particular candidate, and without additional considerations indicating the chances of the candidates to form a government, I have come to a decision based on the numbers of recommendations, which indicates that MK Benjamin Netanyahu has a slightly higher chance of forming a government. Accordingly, I have decided to entrust him with the task of doing so.

This is not an easy decision on a moral and ethical basis, in my mind. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the State of Israel is not to be taken for granted. And I fear for my country. But I am doing what is required of me as President of the State of Israel, according to the law and to the ruling of the court, and realizing the will of the sovereign – the Israeli people.

My fellow Israelis, allow me to conclude my remarks by quoting President Abraham Lincoln of the United States as my teacher and guide Menachem Begin did in his victory speech in 1977: ‘With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, … let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.’ Bless you.”

Netanyahu will begin meeting with right-wing leaders on Wednesday in an effort to form what he called a “strong and homogeneous government.”

Netanyahu vowed to stop the political paralysis. He said he will be “the prime minister of everyone” and in a reference to New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar, called for an end to political boycotts.

Netanyahu is credited for addressing and controlling the Coronavirus pandemic as well as signing peace agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Who Will Be Israel’s Next Prime Minister?

Even after successfully containing the Coronavirus and signing peace agreements with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, Netanyahu’s fate is unknown. The extreme Right religious parties and Israeli Arabs could very well become the king makers of the Jewish state.

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — March 29, 2021 … Israel President Reuven Rivlin will commence consultations next Monday with all political parties elected to the Knesset and will then continue to talk with candidates recommended by the various parties to be entrusted with the task of forming a government.

Israel Director-General of Beit HaNasi Harel Tubi this afternoon, sent official letters to representatives of the parties elected to the Knesset, informing them that President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin would hold a round of consultations with all political parties on Monday, April 5, 2021 and that the task of forming a government would be assigned to one of the candidates by Wednesday on April 7, 2021.

At the end of the round of consultations, and if required, Israel’s president will hold further conversations with the relevant candidates to form a government according to the recommendations of the parties.

As happened for the first time in the 2019 elections, the president has instructed that his meetings with the various parties should be broadcast live on all domestic and international media, in order to make the process transparent to all Israeli citizens.

As in previous rounds of consultations, Beit HaNasi will have a large media center open to all those with a Green (Vaccination) Pass. Heads of party factions wishing to give statements to the media will do so immediately following their meeting with the president at the press center, where journalists will have all necessary technical means, as well as broadcast stand-up positions for live reports from Beit HaNasi.

The consultations themselves, held in the Jerusalem Room of Beit HaNasi, will be covered by Government Press Office only and other media will not be permitted to enter. As well as the GPO’s livestream, stills photos will be made available by the GPO and by a pool photographer to be determined. The live stream will be screened in the media center for those covering the consultations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party has emerged as the largest party with the all votes counted in Israel’s unprecedented fourth election in two years.

However, Netanyahu still does not have a clear path to a 61-seat majority needed to form a coalition.

Netanyahu Meets with First UAE Ambassador to Israel

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — March 4, 2021 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, met with the first United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Al Khaja.

Netanyahu told the ambassador that he was very pleased to see him and congratulated him on his arrival in Israel.

“We’re changing the Middle East. We’re changing the world,” the Prime Minister said.

The two discussed the potential in developing joint regional and bilateral projects in a broad range of fields.

Israel National Security Council director Meir Ben-Shabbat and additional senior officials also attended the meeting, which was warm and friendly.

The Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially known as the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020.

The UAE became the third Arab nation, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel, as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.

The agreement normalized what had long been informal but robust foreign relations between the two countries. The agreement was signed at the White House on September 15, 2020. It was approved unanimously by the Israeli cabinet on October 12 and was ratified by the Knesset in Jerusalem on October 15. The UAE parliament and cabinet ratified the agreement on October 19.

Netanyahu, Health Minister Edelstein Meet 4,000,000th Person Vaccinated in Israel

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — February 16, 2021 … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, today at the Leumit Health Care Services Covid vaccination facility in Jerusalem, met the 4,000,000 person to be vaccinated in Israel. Also participating in the visit were Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Leumit Chairman Yaakov Edri and Leumit CEO Haim Fernandes.

“I would like to appeal from here to the 570,000 people over 50 who have yet to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus,” said Netanyahu.

“Almost 100 percent of the deaths and severe cases are concentrated in this group.

When you do not go to be vaccinated because of this small jab, which is insignificant, in the worst case the side effects are a few hours’ discomfort – you take upon yourselves the risks of death and severe illness with effects that could be for life.”

“The first reason to go be vaccinated against Covid is the danger of not being vaccinated which is far greater than the slight discomfort of the jab of the vaccination.

The second reason to go be vaccinated is that we are now opening the Green Passport plan. Whoever has been vaccinated will be able to go and enjoy the theater, the cinema, sports events, flights abroad, restaurants and more.

The third reason is even more important: Not only are you saving yourselves, if you do not go to be vaccinated then many of you will become very sick and you will be a challenge for our hospitals and then we will be compelled to impose a new lockdown.”

Netanyahu concluded: “Then it is worthwhile to preserve life and allow all of us to get back to life; go be vaccinated. Please, do so now and we will exit from the Coronavirus, not with the Green Passport or any other passport. We can completely exit if 570,000 people will go be vaccinated. Go be vaccinated. That is my message.”

Free food including pizza, hummus, pastry and a cup of coffee were on the menu today to entice Israelis to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Working with local restaurants, Tel Aviv offered the food at two pop-up vaccination centers, hoping to persuade inoculation holdouts to take a shot.

Israel leads the world in the speed and number of citizens receiving Covid-19 vaccinations.

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Sheldon Adelson, Champion of the Jewish People, Israel, Has Died at 87

Sheldon Adelson speaks at the “Facing Tomorrow” Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — January 12, 2021 … He was a giant among Jews. He had a warm and dedicated heart that funded medical research, Jewish culture, Aliya to Israel, victims of terrorism, helped the needy and did all he could to make sure that Israel remained secure.

Sheldon Adelson owned Israel’s largest daily newspaper; donated to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem, helped support Birthright Israel, which pays for educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults and had front-row seats in 2018 as US officials opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem .

In a White House ceremony in 2018, his wife, Israeli-born Miriam Adelson, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The White House cited her work to support medical research and Jewish causes.

Adelson, who was born August 4, 1933, in Boston, sold newspapers on street corners at 12. At 16, he had invested in candy machines. He served in the U.S. Army, sold condominiums, worked as a mortgage broker and as a venture capitalist, became the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Casino and a major donor to Republican politicians. He passed away late Monday following complications related to his cancer treatment. He was 87.

“Sara and I are heartbroken by the passing of Sheldon Adelson,” said
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“He was a wonderful friend to us personally and an incredible champion of the Jewish people, the Jewish state and the alliance between Israel and America.

Sheldon unabashedly loved America and cherished the freedom and opportunity it gave him. He worked tirelessly to ensure that very same freedom and opportunity would be given to others in America and around the world.

The warmth of his heart, the clarity of his thinking and the decisiveness of his actions were truly exceptional.

From humble beginnings in a suburb of Boston, he rose to be one of world’s greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

With his wife Miri he contributed endlessly to strengthening the Jewish people and the Jewish state, funding breakthroughs in medicine and science and advancing higher education. He gave anonymously to help victims of terror and countless other people in need.

Sara and I join Miri and the family in mourning a great friend, a great man, and a great Jewish patriot.

We will never forget him. May his memory be blessed.”

Adelson’s funeral will be held in Israel, the birthplace of his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson. Plans for a memorial in Las Vegas, where he operated the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, will be held at a later date.

Israel’s Renews Relations With Morocco

The national flags of Morocco, Israel and the United States on an El Al plane to Morocco flying a delegation to finalize a normalization deal between Jerusalem and Rabat, at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, December 22, 2020. (Photo: Judah Ari Gross)

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — December 22, 2020 … Israel has renewed diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco. Both sides celebrated the first flight from Israel to Morocco with the historic El Al flight 555 flying from Tel Aviv to Rabat.

Upon landing, tea and fruit juices were served as members of the delegation waited for a nose or throat swabbing to test for the coronavirus. The delegations were welcomed by the regional governor, a royal protocol representative and a representative of the foreign ministry. During the day, the delegation visited the graves of King Mohammed V and King Hassan II.

The delegations held joint working meetings in various fields with their Moroccan counterparts signing agreements on visas, aviation, water, and finance and investments.

Israel National Security Council head Ben-Shabbat: “We arrived in Morocco pursuant to the historic agreement between the leaders: US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King of Morocco Mohammed VI. We left on a direct and historic Israeli flight to Morocco with the intention of adding tangible agreements to the diplomatic achievement that has been made. History is being written before our eyes.”

The two nations have maintained low-level ties from 1975 to 2000, until Morocco called them off with the Palestinian outbreak of the Second Intifada terror uprising in Israel. The liaison offices, which never shared embassy status, that Israel and Morocco plan to open in the coming weeks in each other’s countries are the same facilities used during that period.

During their meeting, which was held in Moroccan Arabic, they discussed the relations being forged between the countries. King Mohammed VI said that he favors deep, full and long-term relations between the two countries.

In the palace, behind closed doors, Ben-Shabbat, Kushner and Bourita signed a trilateral declaration, calling for Morocco and Israel to formalize ties by the end of next month.

Representatives of the two countries signed agreements on visa exemptions for diplomatic and service passport holders, cooperation on water issues, cooperation in finance and investments, and cooperation on civil aviation and direct flights between the countries.

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Lior Haiat at the King’s palace stated: “Another historic visit and another peace agreement in the Middle East. Busy and fascinating days in Rabat, the capital of Morocco that peaked with the first visit of an official delegation from Israel that arrived on the first direct ElAl flight.”

Israeli NSC head Ben-Shabbat stated the following:

“I would like to thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the privilege of being included in the Israeli delegation that has been charged with the mission of adding tangible agreements to the diplomatic achievement. Relations with Morocco are especially significant, beyond the diplomatic and economic aspects. Many Israeli citizens, members of the Moroccan community, have longed for this moment. Like myself, many from the second and third generation of olim from Morocco, who live in Israel, uphold – and are continuing – the heritage of our forefathers.”

Though Israelis could already enter Morocco as part of organized tours before, now they will be able to travel individually and have an easier time obtaining visas. The path between the nations will be further enhanced by planned direct flights. 

The renewed relations with Morocco were the fourth, following similar agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Israel On Alert Following Terror Attacks

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — December 22, 2020 … Following the brutal terror attack on Esther Horgen, an Israeli civilian who was murdered near Tal Menashe, a settlement in northern Samaria, the IDF on Tuesday said it is increasing security measures in the West Bank.

The IDF “will reinforce troops in Judea and Samaria today [Tuesday] to enhance the defense of communities and roads in the region,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

All soldiers in the Judea and Samaria Division will be under curfew until Friday. Also on Monday, a terrorist attack took place in Jerusalem’s Old City near Lions’ Gate. The suspect, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Kabatiya, near Jenin, was armed with a submachine gun and shot at police before being neutralized by Border Police (MAGAV) officers, the police said.

The husband of Esther Horgen, whose wife was found dead in a northern West Bank forest, called for an increase in settlement building and “an appropriate security response” to the terror attack. The head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, said that Horgen was murdered with a large rock.

“Esther raised a beautiful family and loved her grandchildren, and now they will have neither a mother nor a grandmother. Esther will be missed by us all, her family and everyone who knew her,” Benjamin Horgen told reporters outside his home in the Tal Menashe settlement.

His wife Esther, 52, a mother of six, had gone out for a run in the Reihan forest near their house Sunday afternoon and did not return, whereupon Benjamin called police. Her body was found overnight in the forest with signs of violence on it.

Esther’s daughter Odelia mourned the loss of her mother and in tears said that she would not be at her future wedding.

Esther Horgen, 52, who was found dead in the northern West Bank from a terror attack on December 20, 2020.

“My mother is my best friend. She came to visit me at the end of the world, in Australia. Where are you now, mother?” said Odelia. “I am sorry that you will not dance at my wedding.”

Dozens of mourners attended Esther’s funeral including Settlements Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.

Israeli forensics and police officers at the scene where Esther Horgen was found dead in a forest in the northern West Bank.
Photo by Meir Vaknin/Flash90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “The late Esther Horgan was brutally murdered when she went out for a run near her home. The Israel intelligence and security forces will apprehend the murderers as quickly as possible and we will settle accounts with those responsible. I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family.”

“Every city, town, park and nature trail will have a combination of armed security forces, cameras and or drones monitoring the area,” said an Israeli security official.

“Those responsible for terror attacks will be found and addressed. And we will make sure that those who murder Jewish civilians are not rewarded in a pay for slay arrangement by the Palestinian Authority, ISIS, Hamas and or Islamic Jihad. We trust that the Biden administration will not provide aid to the Palestinians which will then reward the murder of Jews.”

Netanyahu Interviewed by Dubai TV on Nobel Peace Prize

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — November 27, 2020 … Dubai state television correspondent Marwan al-Hal, at Ben-Gurion International Airport, at the welcoming ceremony for the first Flydubai commercial flight from Dubai, held a short interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him about his candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Dubai state television correspondent Marwan al-Hal asked: “We would like to congratulate you on the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. Congratulations! What do you say about that?”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “To be so nominated by David Trimble, a genuine peacemaker who received the Nobel Peace Prize for a very good reason is a great honor, which I am honored to share with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.”

The Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially known as the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel, was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020, officially referred to as the Abraham Accords.

The UAE thus became the third Arab nation, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel, as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.

Israel Congratulates Biden

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — November 8, 2020 … At today’s Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

“I would like to start with congratulations for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I have a long and warm personal connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him as a great friend of the State of Israel. I am certain that we will continue to work with both of them in order to further strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the US.

For myself and for all citizens of the State of Israel, I again thank President Trump for the great friendship he showed the State of Israel and me personally. I congratulate him on recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, for his stand on Iran, for the historic peace accords and for bringing the alliance between Israel and the US to unprecedented heights. Thank you, President Trump.”

President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin posted a message of congratulations on his YouTube channel to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, saying:

“I send my blessings and the blessings of all the people in Israel to our friend Joe Biden on your election as the 46th President of the United States of America, and also to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. I wish you congratulations and much success.

Mr. President-elect, I was pleased to welcome you to Jerusalem as Vice President and I look forward to welcoming you to Jerusalem as President of the United States. As a long-standing friend of Israel, you are now going to be the leader of the free world and of Israel’s closest and most important ally. Our bond is more than friendship. It is based on values, on our shared commitment to freedom and democracy.

I also want to thank President Trump for four years of partnership, strengthening Israel’s security, and to thank the American people for their support and friendship. I have no doubt that we will continue to grow and flourish in the future. God bless America. God bless all of you.”

Sudan, Israel Agree To Normalization of Relations

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Washington — October 23, 2020 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed today that Israel was moving quickly to normalize relations with Sudan. Netanyahu called it the start of “a new era” in the region.

“Today we announce another dramatic breakthrough towards peace,” he said. “Today Khartoum says yes to peace with Israel, yes to acknowledging Israel and yes to normalization with Israel. This is a new era, an era of true peace.”

Netanyahu said that Israeli and Sudanese delegations would soon get together to discuss commercial, agricultural, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples.

“The skies of Sudan are now open to Israel, which allows direct and short flights between Israel, Africa and South America,” Netanyahu said.

The White House informed the US Congress of its intent to formally rescind Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

“This follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families,” a statement by Judd Deere, the White House Deputy Press Secretary read. It also noted that yesterday, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families.

“By finally serving justice for the American people, the White House was able to achieve what previous administrations could not – the resolution of longstanding claims of victims of the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the murder of USAID employee John Granville,” the White House said in a statement. “This is a significant achievement for the President and his Administration and brings a measure of closure to many to whom it has long been out of reach.”  

The agreement was negotiated on the US side by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security aide Miguel Correa. Kushner called the normalization deals the start of a “paradigm shift” in the Middle East. He said Sudan’s decision was symbolically significant because it was in Khartoum in 1967 that the Arab League decided not to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Stuart Newberger, an attorney at Crowell & Moring who represents US victims of the 1998 terror embassy bombings and their families, said Congress must pass legislation because the agreement between Washington and Khartoum “requires that Sudan be basically relieved of being sued in US federal court as a sponsor of terror under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. So that’s why Congress has to get involved to provide Sudan what’s called ‘legal peace.’ The President can’t do that on his own; that’s something only Congress can do,” he said. Such legislation must be passed before the $335 million can be paid out.”

Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the US government since 1993, and it is one of only four nations total designated as such. Iran, North Korea and Syria are also listed. As a result, Sudan faces a series of restrictions including a ban on defense exports and sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.

Israel, which recently signed peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, is expected to sign further peace agreements with Oman, Morocco and Saudi Arabia in the near future.