14 Days: Merkel visit

Israeli news highlights from the past two weeks.

 Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posing with all of Israel's female ministers in the 36th government. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posing with all of Israel's female ministers in the 36th government.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)


Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen here Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the women in Israel’s cabinet, said on October 10 that Iran should rejoin negotiations to renew its deal with world powers. Speaking at a news conference with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem after attending a special cabinet meeting during her farewell visit to Israel, Merkel said: “The nuclear agreement is not ideal, but we are now in a difficult situation because the Iranians are not entering talks and are continuing to enrich uranium. Without an agreement, we’ll be in a worse situation.”


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that went on for some five hours on October 22, forcing him to delay his return to Israel until after Shabbat. Bennett called the talks excellent and extremely in-depth. “With the Sochi beach in the background, Putin and I spoke about a wide range of issues, from his special relationship with the Jewish people to ways to deal with Islamic fundamentalism,” said Bennett, who was accompanied by Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who served as his translator.


Israel and Sweden have a chance to strengthen their relations, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his counterpart from Stockholm, Ann Linde, said in Jerusalem on October 18, during the first visit to Israel by a Swedish foreign minister in a decade. “We both see a real opportunity to deepen our dialogue further and develop long-standing cooperation when it comes to innovation, culture and trade, as well as fighting antisemitism,” Linde said. Following a meeting with PA leaders in Ramallah, Linde made a rare rebuke of widespread corruption in the Palestinian Authority, saying it was hindering Swedish support. 


Cabinet ministers approved the entry to Israel of tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease starting November 1. However, only visitors from countries that aren’t defined as “red” due to high infection rates are being allowed in. Meanwhile, Israel surpassed 8,000 coronavirus deaths on October 19, the Health Ministry reported. It also noted that an 11-year-old boy returning from Moldova was identified as carrying the novel Delta variant AY4.2, the first recorded case in Israel of the new strand of the virus.


Israel issued tenders on October 24 to build 1,355 homes in West Bank settlements, triggering concern from the US and condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. A Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman called the move “a violation of internatonal law and Security Council resolutions.”  Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin praised the decision, saying “strenghtening and expanding Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is a necessary and important thing in the vision of the Zionist enterprise.”

The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)


The Jewish Agency’s selection committee decided on October 18 to allow new candidates to join the race until November 17, immediately after the deadline for the government to pass the state budget. The selection committee rejected a request by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of four additional months for the government to field a new candidate to replace Intelligence Services Minister Elazar Stern, who quit the race after a scandal over his shredding of anonymous complaints when he was a senior IDF officer. 


David Sompolinsky, a prominent microbiologist who helped rescue hundreds of Jews in Denmark during the Holocaust and whose story was featured in the last issue of The Jerusalem Report, died on October 13 at the age of 100 in Bnei Brak and was buried in Rishon Lezion.Sompolinsky, whose wife Ilona predeceased him, is survived by 10 children, 83 grandchildren, and hundreds of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.