Weekly News Summary: Top Stories from December 1st-6th

News Summary

Glim outlook on new elections:
According to recent polls, if Israel returns to a third election, the results will still not be conclusive. A poll was conducted by the Maagar Mohot Institute for Radio 103FM, consisting of 503 respondents online, and found that the next election will bring a Netanyahu-lead right-wing bloc with 58 seats, and the left including the Arab Joint List will win 54 seats. Yisrael Beiteinu will continue to hold the swing-vote. 

Israel’s 3rd-straight elections may be held as early as February 25th. The deadline to form a government and avoid elections is Wednesday, December 11.

Netanyahu speaks with Trump on phone, meets Pompeo in person:
Netanyahu spoke with US President Donald Trump over the phone on Monday, and on Wednesday met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon. Both conversations reportedly centered around Iran, and Netanyahu spoke about Jordan Valley annexation with Trump.

Netanyahu and Pompeo also discussed a possible defensive pact between the two countries that would see further military cooperation. 

Video shows Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount:
According to Jerusalem Post, a group of religious Jews are ascending to the Temple Mount daily to hold regular Jewish prayers. The police claim that nothing has changed, but it appears that the ban on non-Muslim prayer is not being upheld. Typically, non-Muslims who pray on the Temple Mount are arrested and removed from the site by the IDF. According to the video, that may have quietly changed. However, non-Muslim prayer books are reportedly still being banned from the Temple Mount.

To save the Right, Netanyahu attempts to strengthen Bennet:
According to Channel 12 News and reported by Arutz Sheva, Netanyahu is pushing for the New Right party (lead be Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked) to run separately from a union of right-wing parties that they joined together with during the last election. He is reportedly even agreeing not to attack them during the elections, which he did during the previous one.

Netanyahu made Bennet defense minister last month, a move that could help to strengthen Bennet’s image and clout. Netanyahu appears to be pushing for stronger minority parties on the right. In the previous rounds of elections, Netanyahu pushed only for a stronger Likud and attacked the smallar parties. His new position, it appears, is to strengthen the minority parties to together with them hope to bring a right-wing coalition of 61 seats into the Knesset, without needing to rely on Yisrael Beiteinu or any type of unity deal.

Deal with Hamas?:
What was previously thought impossible is now beginning to be discussed seriously. According to the IDF, Hamas wants to form a long-term deal with Israel, and there are signs that such a deal is beginning to be actively discussed. Egypt is involved, reportedly pushing for a five-year deal according to Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.