THE WEEK AHEAD: US Secretary of Defense will visit Israel in an effort to defuse West Bank tensions, top Israeli officials discuss Iran’s imminent threat in Washington and Jews celebrate Purim
Here are the stories we are watching...
West Bank tensions
Lloyd Austin visits
Top Israeli officials in the U.S.
WEST BANK TENSIONS
Another week begins with high tensions in the West Bank in the wake of recent violence and clashes between Palestinians, Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces. Israel is reeling from a wave of Palestinian terrorism which resulted in three fatal casualties last week, including two Israeli brothers and a U.S.-Israel dual citizen. The IDF is still looking for the terror suspects who managed to escape. Meanwhile, the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank is recovering from revengeful settler riots that damaged property, cars, houses and businesses. One Palestinian was killed and hundreds were injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
LLOYD AUSTIN VISITS
The Biden administration keeps calling for calm between Israel and the Palestinians and encourages the two sides to cooperate on security issues, especially around the historically volatile period of Ramadan. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to arrive on Wednesday for a two-day visit in an effort to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, Axios reported. He will become the fourth administration official to visit the country, since Netanyahu’s government was sworn-in. Last week, at a regional summit, the U.S. facilitated security talks in Jordan between the Israeli and Palestinian officials. It was a meeting that hadn't taken place in years.
TOP ISRAELI OFFICIALS IN THE U.S.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Council chief Tzachi Hanegbi are slated to travel to Washington this week to discuss the Iranian threat, Walla! News reported. The top officials will hold meetings with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The visit takes place after a senior Pentagon official said that Iran could produce enough material for one nuclear bomb in "about 12 days."
While the Israeli government continues to advance a controversial reform to overhaul the country’s judicial system, this week is expected to see a significant slowdown in the process. According to local Kan 11 news, the coalition is making overtures towards the opposition in order to start a discussion. So far, the opposition has refused to negotiate a compromise on the reform, as long as the coalition won’t halt the legislation. Coalition members said they wish to open the bills for discussion without any pre-conditions.
After nine weeks of mass anti-government protests, some members of Netanyahu’s Likud party, along with members of Knesset Member Benny Gantz’s National Unity party, have issued a joint statement calling for an urgent dialogue to reach a compromise. More large-scale demonstrations are expected to take place throughout the week.
Israelis and Jews around the world will have a chance to seek some refuge from the political crisis and security tensions when they celebrate the holiday of Purim this week. It commemorates the events that appear in the Book of Esther, traditionally read on the eve of the holiday (Monday, March 6.) The megillah, scroll in English, tells the story of the Jews of the ancient Persian Empire who were saved from persecution. Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai turned saviors of the Jews, when they outsmarted the Persian King’s evil advisor, Hamman, who wanted to annihilate all Jews in the kingdom. One of the holiday rituals includes eating Hamantaschen, known as “ears of Hamman” in Hebrew. Other aspects of the celebration include exchanging food and goodies baskets (mishloach manot) and wearing costumes to carnivals, as in Halloween or Mardi Gras.
The popular European song contest – ‘Eurovision' – will take place in Liverpool in the U.K., in two months. Each participating country traditionally sends an original song to the competition and gets to rank the other songs. This year, pop star Noa Kirel will represent Israel with the song ‘Unicorn’ that leaked online last week and will be officially revealed on Wednesday. Many Israelis and Europeans alike are obsessed with Eurovision buzz. The song contest generates even greater viewership than the American Super Bowl.
This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:
... How did Ezekiel’s prophecies lead to Israel’s miraculous resurrection? New video illustrates
... Why did Joel Rosenberg say he absolutely loved the movie “JESUS REVOLUTION”?
... What did Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich say about the Huwara riots that drew condemnation from the Biden administration?
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.