All Israel

THE WEEK AHEAD: Christmas in Bethlehem, Netanyahu finalizes his new government and a new stream of desalinated water reaches the Sea of Galilee

Here are the stories we are watching...

Lighting of a Christmas tree at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
  • Christmas in Israel

  • New Israeli government

  • The Sea of Galilee gets more water

  • The New Year

CHRISTMAS IN ISRAEL

Merry Christmas from the Holy Land to the readers of ALL ISRAEL NEWS. The Israeli Tourism Ministry is expecting some 120,000 Christian tourists during the week, and the city of Bethlehem is preparing to welcome them, after two years of slow tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While various Bethlehem residents take issue with Jewish symbols on display, experiencing a Christian Christmas in Bethlehem is possible. The special atmosphere can be felt in Nazareth, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo, with Christmas markets and glittering decorations to be enjoyed. But one thing is missing to make it complete: An actual winter. This December, temperatures during the day have still been hovering around 70 F.

In the spirit of the holiday, ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg will dedicate a special program from Bethlehem and Jerusalem highlighting the work that Joshua Fund, his not-for-profit organization, does in the region. The fund’s board members will discuss the challenges that Christians face in the Middle East and the various ways to help them and other marginalized communities. You can catch this episode of “The Rosenberg Report” on TBN on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m. EST.

NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT

Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally announced last Wednesday — just before the midnight deadline — that he succeeded in forming his new government after long negotiations and one mandate extension from Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Netanyahu is expected to officially present the new government before the Knesset plenum on Monday, Dec. 26. The swearing-in ceremony of Israel’s most right-wing government likely will take place at the end of this week and no later than Jan. 2.

Meanwhile, the 64-seat majority coalition plans to vote on bills that would confirm the appointments of three of Netanyahu’s more extreme designated ministers. Shas leader Aryeh Deri will serve as health minister and interior minister, despite a conviction of tax fraud earlier this year. Jewish Power party leader Itamar Ben Gvir is the expected national security minister. Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich will serve as finance minister and oversee the country’s policy in Judea and Samaria under his second hat in the Defense Ministry.

THE SEA OF GALILEE GETS MORE WATER

For the first time ever, Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) will begin receiving desalinated water this week through a new water-transfer project launched by Israel's national water company, Mekorot.

Israel produces about 30% of its water supply from the Sea of Galilee. For many years, Israelis dreaded hearing that the lake was nearing its “red line” or “black line,” which implied it was drying up after a meager rainy season. 

The construction of the new water-transfer project began more than five years ago, amid a 2018 drought. It was approved as an emergency plan to address the growing water shortage of the time. Today, desalination provides Israel with some 70% of its drinking water. Experts say the new project will improve the quality of the water in the lake.

THE NEW YEAR

Believe it or not, celebrating the New Year in Israel has never been a big thing. Some people go to parties or raise a toast at home, but Jan. 1 is not a national holiday in the Holy Land as it is in many Western countries because the Jewish state marks the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah in September, and not according to the Gregorian calendar.

Here, on ALL ISRAEL NEWS, we welcome the New Year by highlighting the top stories that made 2022 and turn the spotlight to 23 prominent Israeli figures to watch in 2023. Be on the lookout for our upcoming lists!

This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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