A “Coalition of Firsts” in Israel’s Government
Last week, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett signed an agreement with six other political parties, known as the “change bloc,” to form a government. In the agreement, Naftali Bennett would serve as prime minister first with Yair Lapid to follow in September 2023. The agreement would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power after leading Israel for twelve consecutive years. Bennett would be the first religiously observant, yarmulke-wearing prime minister in Israel’s history. At the age of forty-nine, he would be the second-youngest prime minister to serve. Netanyahu was the youngest at age forty-six when he served in 1996.
Also, Bennett’s Yamina party, with only seven seats in the Knesset, will have the smallest number of seats of any other party to appoint a prime minister. It was Lapid’s party, Yesh Atid, who received the mandate to form the government, but it will be the first time ever that someone else will become prime minister instead of the one holding the mandate. A record-breaking eight women will hold influential ministerial portfolios. Many of the party heads and senior aides had previously served with Netanyahu and have since broken away from him and his party. It is predominantly a right-wing government, even though Netanyahu and others claim it will be “left.” Finally, there will be eight Arab members of the Knesset in the coalition, including the Ra’am party, which had a key role in the formation of the coalition. The new government hopes to be sworn in within ten days.
Please pray that this new government will be approved and for the prime ministers to govern wisely, patiently, and practically, forgoing ways to build themselves up and focusing on building the country instead.
Isaac Herzog Elected President
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s term will end on July 9. Knesset member Isaac Herzog was recently elected Israel’s eleventh president. All members of the Knesset were eligible to vote in a secret ballot, and Herzog received eighty-seven votes, the most any candidate has ever won in any presidential election. His opponent won twenty-six votes. Three abstentions, three disqualifications, and one no vote account for the remainder of the 120 possible votes.
Isaac Herzog comes from a distinguished line of leaders. His grandfather was the first chief Ashkenazi rabbi in Israel, and he is the son of Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president and an Israel Defense Forces major general. Herzog is the chairman of The Jewish Agency and was the leader of the Labour party, which lost in the 2015 elections against Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The president is mainly a ceremonial position but holds a key role in deciding who gets the mandate to form a government following elections. The president also has the power to pardon people and grant clemency, something that could become a key issue if Netanyahu is convicted.
Please pray for Isaac Herzog, Israel’s new president, that he would act in a wise and gracious manner for the people of Israel.
Israel Lifts Most Restrictions
Israel recently lifted most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions. Previously, only those who were vaccinated or recovered could enter certain venues, and there were caps on the number of people for inside and outside events and businesses. Since June 1, there have been no caps, and anyone can enter.
Some workplaces still have the mask mandate, and schools still require children to wear masks, but with the vanishing virus cases, these last rules might soon disappear as well. Israel routinely has daily virus counts of fewer than ten people in the whole country.
Some experts have said that Israel has reached herd immunity. Regardless, there are still tight restrictions at the airport for those who enter the country. Everyone must be strictly tested, and anyone not vaccinated must enter ten to fourteen days of quarantine.
Please pray for Israel’s leaders to have wisdom in shielding Israel from the virus as well as helping her neighbors who still are fighting against it.
Defense Minister Gantz Flies to USA
Defense Minister Benny Gantz made a snap visit to Washington, D.C. to talk with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior administrators. They talked about the eleven-day Gaza conflict, concerns about Iran, and immediate humanitarian aid reaching the people of Gaza. Gantz agrees with the Biden administration’s policy of “quiet diplomacy,” that is, “open dialogue behind closed doors” on issues regarding Iran.
Even recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced a more confrontational approach, publicly lobbying world leaders for support. Gantz also spoke with his American counterparts regarding President Biden’s promise made shortly after the ceasefire to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome rockets. More than 4,000 rockets were sent from Gaza, and the Iron Dome intercepted most of them, preventing them from landing on civilians.
Praise God for the partnership and help that Israel has from the United States! Please pray that this friendship will continue to grow.
Returning to “Normal”
Our Chosen People Ministries—Israel team is moving ahead toward some of the more usual events and ways we minister to people. We will still keep some events online since we realized our digital meetings were reaching a wider audience. In Tel Aviv, we have scheduled our first in-person Sabbath dinner and look forward to seeing people face to face while enjoying food, fellowship, and the freedom to be together and listen to the Word! We will also host our first music evening, which we are praying will bring in many not-yet believers. We are just as excited to be holding these events as those who will be coming!
Please pray with us for our big June events. Pray also that we can be a blessing to many and share about Yeshua!