Israel’s Fourth Elections
Israel held its fourth election in two years this past Tuesday. Final results were published Friday morning just in time to be the focus of much table talk during the weekend’s Passover celebration. The country is waiting for news updates from the politicians once work resumes on Monday after celebrating the Passover Seder. As it stands right now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party came out with thirty seats, and his right-bloc (comprised mainly of ultra-Orthodox parties) has a total of fifty-two seats. Sixty-one seats are needed to create a majority. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party was the next highest earner, winning seventeen seats, but the left-bloc has a combined fifty-seven seats. There were many surprises in the outcome, as several of the smaller parties did better than expected. The two biggest bombshells were the far-right Religious Zionism party, which received six seats, and the Islamist party, Ra’am, which won four seats. Both parties are new to the Knesset. What the people of Israel are waiting to see is whether or not Ra’am will join with Yair Lapid and the left block to form a coalition and a new government without Netanyahu. Netanyahu is fighting for his political life. He has been Israel’s leader since 2009 and is trying hard to convince Ra’am and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party with seven seats to form a government with him. Netanyahu is also trying to woo people that have left Likud to return to his party with big and lofty promises of high positions, which could be a possibility. Another scenario is that Bennett will side with Lapid, sending a big blow to Netanyahu. If this happens, Bennett will likely become the next prime minister. There are many scenarios that could play out, but the bottom line is that there is no clear winner. The country is tired of elections and fears the possibility of a fifth election in the fall.
Please pray for Israel’s political decisions.
Israel’s Vaccinated Population
Israel’s massive vaccine rollout has reached a milestone: more than half of its population of 9.3 million people have now been vaccinated with two Pfizer shots. Israel started vaccinating its older and more vulnerable population in December but quickly reduced the age of eligibility for the vaccine, eventually making the inoculation available to everyone over the age of 16. Masks, social distancing, and other rules are still in place, but everyday life has largely resumed. After three harsh lockdowns and massive rises in cases and deaths, Israel is now seeing just a little more than 400 positive coronavirus cases a day, and the infection rate stands at just 1 percent. Israel is also giving the vaccination to Palestinian workers in Israel and residents of East Jerusalem. Foreign tourists still cannot enter the country, but even that may change soon. Tourism is a major part of Israel’s economy, and reopening the borders will be a huge blessing for the nation.
Please pray for those who are still in hospitals recovering from the virus, and please pray for those who are unable to get the vaccine, that they would stay safe and healthy.
Strange Passover Weather
Israel has experienced strange weather recently with some late-season rains filling the Sea of Galilee and bringing it even closer to the upper red line. Across the country, temperatures dropped just in time for Passover weekend and even brought snow to the top of Mount Hermon. At the beginning of the week, as people were busy cleaning their homes for Passover, a massive dust storm blanketed the country, creating horrible visibility and air quality. This is the same dust storm that supposedly knocked the massive container ship in the Suez Canal in Egypt off course causing it to run aground, blocking the Suez Canal to any movement in either direction.
Please pray for safety on the roads as the weather has been unpredictable. Praise God for the late season rain!
Passover Preparations and Feasting
In stark contrast to last year, Israelis were able to celebrate Passover together with family and friends over the weekend. Last year at this time, the country—and the world—was just beginning to respond to all of the unknowns regarding the novel coronavirus and implementing safety conditions. Israel was in a strict lockdown as well with an overnight curfew—no one could leave their homes. Passover is usually a highlight of the year with people gathering around family tables that are laden with food. There is joy and hope in celebrating the redemption and freedom from slavery and seeing God’s miracles for the Israelites in Egypt and in the desert. This year, after weeks of cleaning, shopping, and cooking, people were relieved to rejoin the sacred traditions. Our staff in Israel were glad to celebrate with family and friends and to rejoice in health and freedom. We wish you a happy Passover, knowing that the perfect Passover Lamb has been slain, His blood put on the doorposts of our hearts, and as a result the angel of death will pass over us. God has forgiven our sins and promised eternal life with the Lord. What a time to rejoice!
Please pray that all those who are celebrating the Passover— in Israel and worldwide—will find the hope and joy in Messiah, the Passover Lamb of God!