Prime Minister Yair Lapid came out in support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an address to the UN General Assembly on September 22, saying Israel had only one condition – “That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel.” In response, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused Lapid of “endangering” Israel’s future by renewing the discussion of Palestinian statehood. “Lapid is bringing the Palestinians back to the forefront of the world stage and putting Israel right into the Palestinian hole,” Netanyahu said.
Shulamit Rachel Ovadia, 84, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Holon on September 20. After an extensive manhunt, the terrorist was found dead after he hanged himself in central Tel Aviv the next day. Police identified him as Musa Sarsur, 28, from Kalkilya and said he had a valid permit to work in Israel although he had been detained twice in the previous two weeks by police officers. On September 28, the IDF said soldiers killed four Palestinian gunmen in a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Two of them had been responsible for a series of shooting attacks in recent months, and had been planning “more significant attacks in the future.” The army said the wanted gunmen detonated a large bomb as troops were about to enter a home, but there were no Israeli casualties.
US envoy Amos Hochstein conveyed a written proposal to Israel and Lebanon in early October to resolve a maritime border dispute between them. Prime Minister Lapid told a cabinet meeting on October 2 that Israel would receive royalties from gas that Lebanon extracts in the Qana gas field in the Mediterranean Sea., saying the proposal “safeguards Israel’s full security-diplomatic interests.”. Likud leader Netanyahu accused Lapid of “handing Hezbollah a sovereign territory of Israel with a huge gas reservoir.” Lebanon submitted several requested changes to the US proposal,.
Israel’s population totaled 9,593,000 just before Rosh Hashanah, a growth of 187,000 over the last year, according to the annual report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Of the total, 7,069,000 are Jewish (74% of the population), 2,026,000 are Arab (21%), and 498,000 people are neither (5%). During the past year, 177,000 babies were born and 53,000 people died (4,400 from corona), and the country welcomed 60,000 immigrants. The report predicts that the population will reach 10 million in 2024.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on September 31 rejecting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories. “Israel supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; we won’t recognize the annexation of the four areas by Russia,” the statement read, echoing an earlier one by the ministry when the referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia were taking place. “Israel recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” it said.
Hungarian-born Judah Samet, who survived Bergen-Belsen during the Holocaust and the attack on his Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, the Tree of Life, died on September 27 at the age of 84. After WWII, he made aliyah, served in the Paratroopers Brigade, then moved to Canada and finally to Pittsburgh, where he married Barbara Schiffman, whose family owned Schiffman’s Jewelers, which he ran for many years. In 2019, Samet was a special guest at then-President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address and was interviewed afterwards at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York. Quoting from a Sabbath Musaf prayer, he told the audience, “Anybody who does anything for the Jewish people in good faith is more than blessed; he is blessed by God Himself.”
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic won the inaugural Tel Aviv Watergen Open men’s ATP tournament on October 2, beating Croatian Marin Cilic 6-1, 7-6 (7/3). “I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set,” said Djokovic. “I must say I was quite emotional on the court today.” He won the hearts of the Israeli crowd by opening his greeting in Hebrew, “Shalom, ma nishma?”
One of the highlights of this year’s Israel Festival was “Svoboda,” a word in both Ukrainian and Russian for freedom. It featured both Ukrainian and Russian performers and artists who had fled the war and made their way to Israel, where they could continue their creative careers in more tolerant conditions than those they left behind. Singers, performers, photographers, writers and others presented themselves on the stage of the Rebecca Crown Theater in Jerusalem, telling their own stories and explaining their particular art forms.