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THE WEEK AHEAD: Israeli President Herzog visits Bahrain amid protests, Netanyahu strives to form new government and top 16 compete in World Cup

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog departs for a state visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dec. 4, 2022 (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
  • President Herzog visits Bahrain

  • Netanyahu’s government

  • FIFA World Cup Qatar

  • Gasoline price increase

  • Kyiv embassy reopens

  • J Street conference

PRESIDENT HERZOG VISITS BAHRAIN

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to embark on a two-day tour to the Gulf on Sunday, Dec. 4, but he is facing opposition and protestors in Bahrain, his first stop. Security for the president has been beefed up after a Channel 12 report showed an ad in Bahrain that said, “Criminal. You are not welcome in Bahrain” in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

Another post said: “All normalization is an act of treason. Do not come.”

The ads accompanied protesters who demonstrated against the Israeli official’s visit.

In Bahrain, Herzog was invited to meet with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – the first Israeli head of state to visit the kingdom.

Herzog will continue to the United Arab Emirates where he will attend President Mohamed bin Zayed's Abu Dhabi Space Debate in Abu Dhabi on the following day, Monday, Dec. 5. This will be their fourth meeting since the president entered office. The leaders will discuss strengthening Israel-UAE relations, the importance of peace and the expansion of bilateral cooperation, according to Herzog’s office.

NETANYAHU’S GOVERNMENT

Israel’s next government is gradually taking shape. Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of three right-wing parties are slowly signing agreements to form the coalition which could be sworn in this week. But if the process is further delayed, Netanyahu can ask President Isaac Herzog for an extension into next year.

Last week, Netanyahu signed one agreement – the controversial appointment of a far-right lawmaker to a deputy minister position. Avi Maoz, head of the extreme Noam party, will be in-charge of a new "National-Jewish Identity" department. Maoz is known for his anti-LGBT and anti-Arab positions and wants to segregate public events by gender.

This comes after Netanyahu appointed far-right Jewish Power chairman Itamar Ben Gvir as police minister with expanded authorities. Former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer is rumored to become Israel’s next foreign minister. In a recent podcast, Dermer slammed Biden’s policy on Iran.

FIFA WORLD CUP – QATAR

The next stage of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar began yesterday, featuring the top 16 teams. The U.S. national team has qualified from Group B after beating Iran 1-0 in a politically charged match, but lost to the Netherlands 3-1. Some 10,000 Jews and Arabs from Israel flew to Doha to attend the games.

Israeli journalists covering the tournament reported being treated hostilely by locals and some Muslim fans. They were yelled at, interrupted in their broadcasts by pro-Palestinian protesters and shunned by service providers and fans, who explicitly said they were “not welcome.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Morocco’s national teams are responsible for the biggest upsets in the tournament so far, beating Argentina (2-1) and Belgium (2-0), respectively. Morocco’s victory was “celebrated” by rioters in Brussels and the Dutch cities of Rotterdam, Hague and Amsterdam by setting cars and electric scooters ablaze, throwing bricks at vehicles and causing mayhem. Police deployed water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested dozens of people. Some media reports indicated that the rioters in European cities were of North African descent.

GAS PRICE INCREASE

Israelis are expected to pay more at the pump starting this week, but there is a silver lining: The rise in price was supposed to be steeper. The country’s Energy Ministry announced on Wednesday that the price of gas will stand at 6.85 shekels per liter which – in American terms – means that Israelis will now pay almost $7.57 per gallon. 

KYIV EMBASSEY REOPENS

Israel’s embassy in Kyiv will temporarily reopen this week for 10 days, the Times of Israel reported. The security situation – given the ongoing war with Russia – forced the embassy to close its operations in late September. The report said that three diplomats, including Ambassador Michael Brodsky, will work out of the embassy when the office reopens.

J STREET CONFERENCE

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will be a keynote speaker at the J Street National Conference which begins on Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C. and will last four days. The progressive pro-Israel group will host various discussions that will focus on the 2022 midterm elections and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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

  • ... What will the consequences be if Israel adopts the central banking digital currency?

  • ... Will Trump’s hosting of two anti-Semites at Mar-a-Lago harm his presidential campaign?

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

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