New Elections Move Ahead
COALITION TO BEGIN PROCESS ON WEDNESDAY FOR DISSOLVING KNESSET, NEW ELECTIONS: The coalition on Tuesday, June 21, pushed up its timeline for the Knesset’s disbandment and new elections, adding its dispersal bill to Wednesday’s legislative agenda.
The Knesset Presidium approved the addition, and the Knesset House Committee granted the bill an exemption from the traditional 45-day waiting period between submission and an initial vote. The earliest the Knesset can disband was Wednesday, although a more likely scenario would be Monday of next week, as the legislation must pass four plenum votes and two committee reviews. If it proceeds as planned, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over as prime minister next week, possibly on Tuesday, and will hold the post through elections in the fall and until the formation of Israel’s next coalition government. “We hope that within a week we will complete the process,” Welfare Minister Cohen told Kan Radio. “The intention is to finish it as soon as possible and to go to elections.” On Monday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid surprised the nation — and many of their own coalition members — by announcing their intention to voluntarily disband their own government and send the country back to its fifth election since 2019, likely in late October or early November. They said they did so after coming to a conclusion that there was no way to maintain the current government. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL AND TURKEY FOILED MULTIPLE IRANIAN TERROR ATTACKS IN RECENT DAYS: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday, June 20, that Israeli and Turkish security officials have worked together to foil terrorist attacks on Israelis in Turkey.
“The operational efforts alongside Turkish security forces have borne fruit,” Bennett said. “In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of attacks, and a number of terrorists were arrested on Turkish soil.” The prime minister did not include details on the number of attacks, how many individuals were arrested, or the nationality of the terrorists. Israel is “working closely with Turkish officials to thwart attempts to strike Israelis and Jews,” said Bennett. Bennett spoke in his office to Israeli reporters hours before he and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would be dissolving the Knesset. Senior Israeli leaders have sounded a series of warnings since last week that Iran is trying to carry out terror attacks against Israelis on Turkish soil. “The goal is to return the situation to normal as quickly as possible,” Bennett said. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES EVACUATE ISRAELIS FROM TURKEY AFTER THREAT: Israeli security forces evacuated Israeli citizens from their Istanbul hotel last week, allegedly ahead of an Iranian hit squad that was intent on kidnapping or killing them.
The real-life drama played out amid reports that the Iranians were targeting Israeli tourists in Istanbul as retaliation for last month’s murder of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a Revolutionary Guard colonel, which Iran has blamed on Israel. But far from sowing panic, the evacuation order and subsequent warnings were met by confusion, and some apathy, on the ground in Turkey among both local Jews and Israelis visiting the country. The warnings come at a time when Turkish-Israeli relations are warmer — or at least less chilly — than they have been in over a decade. Earlier this year, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with his counterpart, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and last month, Turkey’s foreign minister traveled to Jerusalem to meet with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid. Israel reportedly put off issuing the warning for some time in order to give Turkish authorities a chance to resolve the threat internally. Ultimately the evacuation was done in cooperation between Mossad and Turkish authorities, whom Prime Minister Bennett praised this week. (JPost/VFI News)
AFTER TERROR ATTACKS, ISRAEL REINFORCES PART OF WEST BANK BARRIER WITH WALL: Construction work began Tuesday, June 21, to upgrade a section of the West Bank security barrier, months after a series of deadly terror attacks were committed by Palestinians who illegally entered Israel, defense officials said.
The Defense Ministry said the 9-meter (30 foot) tall concrete wall replaces a 45-kilometer (28 miles) stretch of fencing from an area in the northern West Bank to Israel’s Bat Hefer region — one of the first sections of the barrier ever built, some 20 years ago. NIS 300 million (some $93 million) was allocated toward the plan in April. Separately in April, work to fix up holes over dozens of kilometers of the fence began, following a spate of deadly terror attacks in Israel, including several in which terrorists from the northern West Bank entered Israel via large holes in the barrier. On April 7, a Palestinian gunman — who entered Israel through a gap in the barrier — shot dead three people in Tel Aviv. A week earlier, a Palestinian who also crossed through the barrier illegally — with a vehicle — shot and killed five people in Bnei Brak. And on May 5 in Elad, two Palestinians who entered Israel illegally killed three people in an ax attack. “We are continuing our defensive efforts in the north by strengthening the Judea and Samaria security barrier and providing solutions for the Israeli home front,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement published by his office on Wednesday. “These efforts constitute an integral part of our operational activity. Along with this, we will continue to operate against all threats we face in order to maintain the security of Israel’s civilians,” he added. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN CLAIMS IT DETAINED MOSSAD CELL PLANNING TO KILL NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS: Iran claimed on Tuesday, June 21, that it had arrested Mossad agents who were planning to assassinate nuclear scientists in the country.
The announcement did not detail the alleged agents’ nationalities or how many people had been detained. There were no further details given on the alleged plot. “The arrest of these Mossad operatives came after a complicated intelligence operation that lasted for eight months of monitoring them,” said Mehdi Shamsabadi, the prosecutor general of Sistan-Baluchistan province, according to Iranian news outlets. Shamsabadi said the investigation was ongoing and that the individuals would be charged in the near future. “The case is currently in the preliminary investigation stage and an indictment will be issued and sent to the court soon,” he said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. Three people had been arrested two months earlier on suspicion of leaking classified information related to Iran’s nuclear program. The report said the three — named M.S., M.Z., and A-Gh — were linked to Israeli intelligence services. It said one of those arrested was a woman who held a government position in an Iranian province but had previously worked for an organization linked to the presidency. Another individual arrested had tried to access confidential information through “administrative and executive authorities.” Iran often detains individuals it claims are linked to foreign intelligence services without providing public evidence. (TOI / VFI News)
OVERLOAD AT BEN GURION AIRPORT WORSENS AS LINES STRETCH OUT OF TERMINAL: Months of heavy congestion and an overall sense of chaos at Ben Gurion Airport seemed to worsen on Wednesday, June 22, with long lines reaching outside the airport and attempts to ease the crowding by using a secondary terminal failing to address the thing needed most — more staff.
Scenes of chaos at Israel’s main international airport have become the new normal over the past few months. Pictures published on social media on Wednesday showed long lines of travelers stretching outside the airport. In an attempt to ease the congestion at the main terminal building (Terminal 3), the Israel Airports Authority diverted some international flights to Terminal 1, which only seemed to create further disorder as the congestion spread. The airport authority has said the situation is not expected to change until next year, with travelers advised to arrive four hours ahead of their flights instead of two to three hours as is usually recommended. (TOI / VFI News)
VICTORIA FIRST AUSTRALIAN STATE TO BAN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF SWASTIKAS: Victoria became Australia’s first state to pass a bill banning the public display of swastikas this week.
Chairman of Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission Dr. Dvir Abramovich, who was at the helm of a five-year campaign to get the bill passed, was the only member of the public present at the passing of the bill in the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council. The passing of the bill means it will now be a criminal offense for any person to deliberately display a swastika publicly, which can lead to fines of up to 22,000 Australian Dollars ($15,100 USD) and/or imprisonment. The bill contains exemptions for members of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain religions to whom the swastika is historically a symbol of peace. (JPost/ VFI News)
ITALY SCOUTS FOR ISRAELI WATER TECH AS DROUGHT CONCERNS MOUNT: A large delegation of Italian water utility companies recently wrapped up a visit to Israel to scout for collaborations and partnerships on water technologies, meeting with startup representatives, government authorities and business entities as Italy battles the country’s worst drought in some 70 years.
The delegation of 22 Italian water utility companies and three engineering firms was hosted earlier this month by the Israel Export Institute, a government agency tasked with facilitating trade opportunities, partnerships and strategic alliances under the purview of the Economy and Industry Ministry. The parties met in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the Israel Water Innovation Technology Summit and toured water desalination, purification, and conservation plants by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company which says it supplies about 1.7 billion cubic meters of water (or about 450 billion gallons) per year. (TOI/ VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff