ELECTION HANDSHAKE: 14 Days in review

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz greets Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two days after Israel’s Election Day.

September 24, 2019 14:22
3 minute read.
ELECTION HANDSHAKE: 14 Days in review

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz greets Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two days after Israel’s Election Day. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

ELECTION HANDSHAKE Blue and White leader Benny Gantz greets Likud leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two days after Israel’s Election Day, at a memorial ceremony on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl marking three years since the death of former president Shimon Peres. Blue and White won the election with 33 seats compared with Likud’s 31, but neither party could immediately garner the support of 61 of the 120 seats in what will be the country’s 22nd Knesset, triggering calls for a national unity government. The final results were to be published on September 25, and President Reuven Rivlin was set to choose a candidate to form a government after consulting with the nine parties that crossed the election threshold.

IRANIAN DISCLOSURE Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled on September 9 a previously unknown site connected to Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu showed a satellite image of what he said was a site near the city of Abadeh, south of Isfahan, where Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons. Although he didn’t provide any time references, a spokesman said the site was operational from as early as 2003. Once Iran realized that Israel had uncovered the site, “it destroyed the evidence, or at least tried to destroy the evidence,” Netanyahu said.

ARMENIAN EMBASSY Armenia will open an embassy in Israel in the near future, the Foreign Ministry announced on September 19. “This decision reflects well the significant progress in bilateral relations between the two states over the past year,” it said in a statement. “The opening of the embassy is a new and important chapter in bilateral relations, and we are confident that this will further strengthen the friendship between the two peoples and enhance cooperation between the states in all areas.” Diplomatic ties between the countries were established in 1992, and Israel appointed a non-resident ambassador to Armenia in 2017.
BASEBALL HIT Israel’s national baseball team qualified for the 2020 Olympic baseball tournament for the first time by winning the six-team Europe/African grouping. It beat South Africa 11-1 in its last qualifying game in Parma, Italy on September 22. It will be the first team sport that Israel will participate in at the Olympic Games since the national soccer team competed in 1976. In another achievement for Israel, gymnast Linoy Ashram took home six medals at the world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, in September, making her the top Israeli hope for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

PARALYMPIC RECORD Israeli Paralympics swimmer Mark Mallar set a world record on September 10 at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London. The 19-year-old Mallar, who has cerebral palsy, won the gold medal in the men’s 400m freestyle in a time of 4:33.64, beating the old world record by six seconds and qualifying him to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. The International Paralympics Committee moved the competition to the UK after Malaysia refused to allow Israeli athletes compete.

LABOR LEADER Yisrael Kessar, a former cabinet minister, Knesset member and secretary general of Israel’s Histadrut labor federation, died on September 8 at the age of 88. Kessar, who was born in Yemen and lived in Rishon Lezion, served as deputy prime minister and transportation minister from 1992-96 in Yitzhak Rabin’s government, and previously served as Histadrut chief (1984–1992) and as a member of Knesset for three terms for the Alignment Party and its successor, the Labor Party. “His many years of work for the people and the state inspire public servants wherever they are,” President Reuven Rivlin said.

SIGNIFICANT SEAL A 2,600-year-old seal was found recently by an Israeli teenager named Batya Howen north of the City of David in Jerusalem bearing a name that appears in the Bible as one of King David’s sons, Adenyahu. The tiny bulla is signed in Hebrew by “Adenyahu, head of the ministers at the Royal House of the Kingdom of Judea,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said. “I began sifting through the bucket of dirt by washing it under a stream of water, and suddenly I recognized a small black-colored piece of metal,” said Howen. “To hold such a significant find from 2,600 years ago, from the time of the Kingdom of Judea, is an amazing thing.”

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