THE WEEK AHEAD: Netanyahu goes to London, China's attempts at Russia-Ukraine mediation, and earliest near-complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible on display in Tel Aviv
Here are the stories we are watching...
Netanyahu in the UK
Israel’s chief statistician
China’s leader in Russia
NETANYAHU IN THE UK
For the third consecutive week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Europe. Following his recent visits in Rome and Berlin, he will arrive in London this week for the first time since retaking office. Netanyahu is expected to meet with his counterpart, Rishi Sunak, and spend the weekend in the United Kingdom.
According to reports, one of the issues Netanyahu has been discussing with European countries is the proposal for a pipeline that would transfer natural gas from Israel to Europe through Cyprus, Greece and Italy. The ambitious project, if materialized, will generate for Israel an estimated income of more than $5 billion a year over the next 15 years.
Netanyahu’s trips to Europe take place while, back home, his government keeps advancing legislation within the controversial judicial reform. Some relevant bills could be nearing their final votes in the Knesset this week. A compromise proposal put forward by Israeli President Isaac Herzog last week has been rejected by the coalition and labeled as “biased” and “one-sided.”
Meanwhile, calls to stop the process and negotiate a broad compromise are increasing. Israeli expats and others who oppose these steps are planning to hold rallies in the British capital, similarly to ones held in Italy and Germany. A long list of Israeli writers, artists and intellectuals wrote letters to the German and British ambassadors in Israel, calling on them to cancel the Israeli premier’s visits. Protesters have also tried to block the roads to Ben-Gurion International Airport to disrupt Netanyahu’s trips and held another “Day of Disruption” protest.
ISRAEL’S CHIEF STATISTICAN
The selection committee intended to vet candidates for the role of Israel’s chief statistician will convene for the first time this week. This comes after reports that Netanyahu ordered the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics to halt all hiring until he chooses a confidant to lead the organization. Opposition leader Yair Lapid claimed that Netanyahu aims to gain control of the data that reaches the public and manipulate statistics – an accusation that was denied by the premiers’ office.
CHINA’S LEADER IN RUSSIA
After brokering a restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, could China be aiming for the bigger prize? China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week.. He is also expected to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine, according to reports.
Any mediation efforts to stop the deadly war in Ukraine would be a blessing. However, if the negotiations are facilitated on behalf of China, such efforts would potentially deal another blow to the United States and its western allies in the greater power-play of global alliances.
The Codex Sassoon, considered the earliest near-complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, will go on display from March 23-29 at Tel Aviv’s ANU Museum of the Jewish People. The manuscript will go on auction at Sotheby’s in May and is expected to sell for between $30 and $50 million.
The Bible manuscript is dated to the ninth century and is more than a 1,000 years old. According to experts, before the Codex Sassoon was discovered, only fragments of biblical texts existed in the form of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The missing portion of the Bible includes the first 10 chapters of the Book of Genesis, according to a New York Times report.
This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:
... What should Israel make of 2024 GOP hopefuls expressing reserved support for Ukraine?
... What is Israel’s connection to the Silicon Valley Bank collapse? Will Israeli banks collapse too?
... Why did Morocco's royal court feel the need to defend its relations with Israel?
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.