Weekly News Summary: January 18th-24th 2020

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Israel retaliates to Hamas rocket:
On Sunday, Palestinian media reported that the IDF fired a shell against a Hamas observation post near the border. The strike was apparently in retaliation to the launching of a “balloon-borne device” launched from Gaza. The balloon had denotated over Sderot, causing no injuries The strike was not confirmed by the IDF.

Jordan parliament votes to ban Israeli gas:
On Sunday, Jordan’s parliament voted in favor of banning gas imports from Israel. Earlier this month, the Leviathan Natural Gas Field began exporting from Israel to Jordan.  The agreement on exports is for 15 years and $10 billion. The measure will be sent to the government in Amman, which can approve or veto the motion. It is unclear what they will do. A week ago, after the imports from Israel had begun, hundreds of Jordanians had protested against importing gas from Israel.

Knesset speaker and Likud-member permits formation of committee that could harm Netanyahu, get’s backlash from Likud:
On Sunday, Knesset Speaker and Likud-member Yuli Edelstein decided to allow the formation of a Knesset House Committee that will examine the issue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immunity request. Since a majority of current Knesset Members are opposed to the request, it will likely be turned down, which means he will probably be indicted before the next election. 

The response from Likud was immediate.  A senior Likud member expressed that the decision “may cost him [Edlestein] the Presidency.” Another one (both of these were anonymous) claimed that “Edlestein has sold us [Likud] out for the cheap.”

The issue of immunity is contentious in Israel, where polls indicate most people are opposed. The proposal would reform the Israel system to be similar to the United States, where a sitting president cannot be indicted unless first impeached.

World Holocaust Forum held in Jerusalem
On Thursday, 30 world leaders attended the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem. The Speakers at the event included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian President Vladamir Putin, US Vice President Mike Pence, Frech President Emmanuel Macron, British royal Prince Charles, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Promises from Netanyahu and Putin, but so far no release, for Israeli backpacker jailed in Russia:
Hope is rising in Israel that Russian President Vladamir Putin will soon release jailed Israeli backpacker Naama Issachar, held in Moscow. Issachar was arrested at the Moscow Airport earlier this year for carrying a small amount of Cannabis in her luggage. For the offense, she was sentenced to 7 years in jail.  Early in the week, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both signaled that the chances the Issachar would be released are high. Then, on Thursday while attending the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, Vladamir Putin spoke with Naafa Issachar’s mother, Yaafa Issachar, and told her “all will be OK.” 

Trump expected to release peace plan soon:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz will both be in Washington on Tuesday to meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump iis expected to release his Middle East Peace Plan before they arrive, which thus far has been delayed due to Israel’s non-government. The Peace Plan could affect the deadlocked Israeli Elections. It is expected to heavily favor Israel’s perspective.