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Caught in the Net, Border Boil Over, Cool in Korea

Police Recommend Charging Netanyahu for Taking Bribes from Mogul, Publisher

Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, February 13th 2018


Police recommended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for a series of corruption charges including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, believing they collected enough evidence to bring the cases to trial.

The Context:

  • One case centers on an allegation that Netanyahu asked the publisher of an Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, for favorable coverage in exchange for help in subduing a rival publication. The second charge centers on a claim that Netanyahu received gifts worth at least $283,000 from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and other supporters [1].

  • While the recommendations do not actually charge Netanyahu, they do indicate evidence to substantiate suspicions [2]. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will decide whether to file formal charges [3].

  • Netanyahu’s fragile coalition holds 66 of 120 seats in the Knesset. A collapse in solidarity could dissolve the union however two key stakeholders, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, expressed their support for the Prime Minister [4].

  • Netanyahu called the allegations "baseless" and his government "stable" saying, "over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 inquiries and this time again they will come to nothing." Netanyahu has served as Prime Minister for 12 years [5].

  • Ayman Odeh, chair of the Joint List, a bloc of Palestinian political parties, said Netanyahu was "dangerous" and that "Netanyahu must go home [6]."

  • Elections are scheduled for November 2019 [7].

Conversation Points:

  • If previous investigations yielded no convictions, is Netanyahu right to deem these probes a witch-hunt?

  • Will Netanyahu’s supporters jump ship if a conviction is imminent?

  • Who is next in line to be Prime Minister?

Israel, Iran Lurch Toward Confrontation as Border Region Boils

Donna Abu-Nasr and Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg, February 10th 2018


Israel and Iran moved closer to a confrontation in Syria as rising tensions erupted into the most dangerous standoff since the Syrian civil war began seven years ago.

The Context:

  • Iran and its proxies have fought alongside Syrian government troops since 2011. Israel is active inside Syria, targeting military posts and arms shipments bound for Hezbollah.

  • This week, Israel struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran, after an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace in a “severe violation of Israeli sovereignty [8].” An Israeli F-16 fighter plane later crashed in northern Israel after taking fire from Syrian anti-aircraft missiles. If the aircraft was indeed shot down by enemy fire, it would mark the first such instance since 1982’s Lebanon war [9].

  • Israel’s offensive was designed to limit Syria's ability to launch future attacks against Israeli aircraft [10].

  • The US State Department issued a statement reaffirming "Israel's sovereign right to defend itself [11]” and the Russian government, who has fought alongside the Syrian regime since 2015, said they were "seriously concerned" by the conflagration [12].

  • Iranian officials rejected Israel's drone claim and reiterated that their presence in Syria was strictly "advisory... at the request of the country's legitimate and constitutional government [13]".

Conversation Points:

  • Will Iran’s expanded role in the region trigger a Cold War type of conflict between the US and Russia?

  • Does Israel have the right to attack military sites in Syria?

  • Does Iran have the right to operate in Syria if the Assad regime welcomes it support?

Israel’s Largest-Ever Winter Olympics Squad Heads to Korea

Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, February 5th 2018


Ten Israeli athletes are representing Israel at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games including eight skaters, an Alpine skier, and a skeleton racer. Israel has never won a Winter Olympics medal.

The Context:

  • This year's Winter Olympics delegation is Israel's largest since it first participated in 1994. Only three of the Olympians are Israeli natives.

  • Israel is one of ten nations to quality for a team figure skating competition. “I’m really excited,” said figure skater Alexei Bychneko, “I’m always proud to represent Israel wherever I compete. It is a great responsibility, and I promise to represent Israel as best as I can [14].”

Conversation Points:

  • Will future Israeli delegations stand a chance of winning medals at the Winter Olympics as more Jews from colder climates immigrate?


  1. Israel PM Netanyahu defiant in face of bribery allegations, BBC, 14 February 14th 2018

  2. Netanyahu investigations: 'It's all fake news', Yoni Kempinski & Mordechai Sones, Israel National News, February 14th 2018

  3. Netanyahu, Defiant, Calls Bribery Case ‘Full of Holes, Like Swiss Cheese’, DAVID M. HALBFINGER, NEW YORK TIMES, FEBRUARY 14TH 2018

  4. Ibid.

  5. Israel PM Netanyahu defiant in face of bribery allegations, BBC, 14 February 14th 2018

  6. Netanyahu: I will not resign, Al Jazeera, February 14th 2018

  7. Israel PM Netanyahu defiant in face of bribery allegations, BBC, 14 February 14th 2018

  8. Israel military targets Iranian drone and strikes Syria, F-16 crashes, Lucia I. Suarez Sang & Kathleen Joyce, Fox News February 10th 2018

  9. Ibid.

  10. Israeli assessment: Next bout with Iran only a matter of time, JUDAH ARI GROSS, TIMES OF ISRAEL, February 11TH 2017

  11. Israel military targets Iranian drone and strikes Syria, F-16 crashes, Lucia I. Suarez Sang & Kathleen Joyce, Fox News February 10th 2018

  12. Israel jet downing ratchets up regional tensions, Al Jazeera, February 10th 2018

  13. Iran dismisses Israeli drone claim as ‘ridiculous’, Tehran Times, February 11th 2018


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