Israel Weekly News Roundup May 27 2022
5 Things you need to know
Bennett-Lapid Coalition Is More Fragile Than Ever: The government coalition, that is based on 60 (out of 120) Knesset members, faces time and again pressures from single MKs who threaten to vote against the coalition thereby causing it to fall, unless their demands are immediately addressed.
Last week it was Ghaida Rinawi-Zoabi from the left wing party Merez, who announced that she no longe sees herself as a member of the coalition. Later she agreed to reverse her decision after she received a promise that hospitals in Nazareth (her hometown) will receive an immediate budget supplement.
Earlier this week another MK announced he will no longer vote with the coalition, unless the Ministry of Transportation will adjust the new reform for public transportation to be more “friendly” to people living in Israels’ periphery. Michael Bitton from Kahol-Lavan (Blue-White, led by Benny Gantz) said in his announcement that he will not support any vote that will cause the coalition to fall. This crisis is still ticking, and that means that the coalition will face an added challenge to pass any legislation that is not supported by members of the opposition. It is important to mention that the 60-60 balance in the Knesset goes in favor of the coalition, but it is very fragile as any single coalition member can play with it.
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Israel Responsible for the Assassination of Senior Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) According to US Officials Iran's Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was killed earlier this week in broad daylight in Teheran. The assassination, which was attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s secret service, was part of an effort to convey a message to the Iranian regime regarding the continued operation of a clandestine unit that carries out kidnappings and assassinations outside of Iran, including Israeli citizens. Later in the week, the New York Times reported that Israel told US officials that it was behind the assassination of Khodaei. Israeli officials voiced their anger at the US sources and claimed that attributing sole responsibility for the assassination to Israel is designed to cover the US’s own involvement in the operation. Analysts commented that Khodaei’s assassination marks a shift in Israel’s policy towards Iran, especially the Mossad. This, because to date, Israel targeted mostly senior Iranian nuclear scientists or sabotaged nuclear sites.
Cost of Living in Israel Continues to Spike Following Another Increase in a Key Interest Rate: Earlier this week, the Bank of Israel increased a key interest rate by 0.4%, to 0.75%, due to rapid inflation, 4% in the first five months of 2022, despite a much lower forecast of 1.6%. The Bank of Israels Governor also cited the spike in housing prices, low unemployment rates and the need to boost continued economic growth as reasons for the decision. Israel has seen a spike in the prices of gasoline, electricity, and food products as it emerged from the recent wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mortgage and loan rates spiked as well, as the Shekel, the local currency weakened against the US dollar, due to the rigorous central bank policy designed to slow the weakening of the dollar against the local currency. This resulted in an increase in the prices of imported goods.
Arab Students at Ben Gurion University Mark Nakba Memorial Day: dozens of Arab students at Ben Gurion University in Be’er-Sheva marked the day of the Nakba, which represents the destruction of the Palestinian society and homeland in 1948. The Arab students waved the Palestinian flag and chanted a song representing the hope for the return of Palestinian refugees. The Jewish student cell of “Im Tirzu”, a right-wing movement that targets left leaning professors on campus, held a counter rally, waving Israeli flags and chanting “Temple Mount is ours”, “give up your citizenship”, and “go to Syria”. Police forces separated the two vigils. Politicians from the right and center, as well as the mayor of Be’er-Sheva were quick to criticize the university’s decision to allow the Nakba Day vigil to take place and the display of Palestinian flags. The Minister of Education said that images of Palestinian flags at an Israeli public university were “unacceptable” and that the matter will be brought before the legal department of the Council for Higher Education. The president of Ben Gurion university issued a statement stipulating that the vigil was approved following a consultation with the legal advisor, who allowed the use of the Palestinian flag since it represents the Palestinian Authority, an entity recognized by the State of Israel. He also expressed pride in the university, its faculty, and students, for holding the event, as difficult and painful as it was, without resorting to violence. Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu) said that he is considering cutting the BGU budget, claiming that during the rally, some students chanted slogans that challenge Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
A Heated Debate Over Legislation to Provide Veteran Combat Soldiers With a Meaningful Subsidy for Higher Education: The Minister of Defense introduced the law, which is supported by the majority of opposition members. Due to the fact that the opposition want to make the coalition lose in all votes, they initiated an intensive campaign against the legislation. In addition, a recording from the Likud party meeting (Likud is led by Netanyahu and is the main opposition party), exposed the manner in which senior members speak. MK Miri Regev, who is one of the most vocal opponents of the current government, was recorded saying: “So there is no queasiness [when voting against] the disabled, and there is no queasiness with cases of rape, and no queasiness with battered women, and no queasiness with soldiers, because we all understand that this is the rationale.” Another MK said similar things. Eventually there was a compromise and the law passed.
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