Netanyahu’s off to London: After an extravagant Australian celebration marking 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, the Prime Minister is heading to more historical festivities. Netanyahu and his wife will fly out of Israel later today, for a four-day visit to the United Kingdom, marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The visit will begin with official meetings with British PM Theresa May and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson tomorrow, who are expected to join Netanyahu, the Balfour family, Jewish leaders and other senior officials in the main event tomorrow evening, hosted by Lord Rothschild. Despite the celebrative Israeli mode, Palestinian and Arab pressure prevailed, and the Brits are not actually hosting an official event marking the Balfour Declaration, but rather only guests at the private Rotschild dinner. Netanyahu has a busy schedule for the weekend: on Friday he will give a Chatham House address and hold some business events at the London Stock Exchange, and Sunday will be dedicated to meetings with the Jewish community.
In between, he will have a calm and quiet London weekend, in which he and Sarah will be able to stroll through Hyde Park and enjoy a fancy meal – just in time for Sarah’s 59th birthday, which is on Sunday. They will also be accompanied by a close friend, Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has been invited to join the Netanyahus during their travel. Regev is considered very close to Sara Neyanyahu, and last week, at Bibi’s birthday celebration, she delivered an admiring toast in honor of the couple. Two days later, she was granted the prestigious title of interim PM, while Bibi was going through a medical procedure, raising eyebrows and sparking Twitter jokes. Regev couldn’t care less about the haters and is probably delighted to help Sara blow out the birthday candles.
Fighting over unity: Today is former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s 22nd Yartzheit, and the day the Knesset remembers him and his assassination. There’s always heightened political tension ahead of the Rabin memorial, and this year is no exception. Politicians are heated up about Saturday night, when the annual public event in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the site of his assassination, will take place. This year, the rally is organized by Commanders for Israel’s Security and Darkenu, formerly known as V15, and they’ve titled it “We Remember: We are one people.” Many on the Left are angry that the word “murder” or “assassination” is not mentioned on the promotional materials, and that settlers will be speaking. One of the planned speakers, Esther Brot, who was evacuated from her home in the Ofra settlement earlier this year, said in a radio interview this morning that there was “incitement on both sides,” and mentioned that Rabin had called settlers “a cancer in the body of the nation.”
Meretz responded by calling on the organizers to disinvite Brot. Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz said it is important “not to let anyone blur the meaning of political murder…I have no intention to forget or forgive.” In the same party, MK Eitan Broshi, who had been an aide to Rabin when he was defense minister, called out his fellow left-wing politicians, saying: “Whoever wants to talk about changes in Judea and Samaria for a [peace] agreement, but isn’t able to hear people from there speak in the center of Tel Aviv should think again.” Meanwhile, Likud MK Yehudah Glick plans to go to the rally, specifically because of its unifying (or at least, meant to be unifying) message, and others on the Right said they are considering attending, as well. Even Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, perhaps the most-right-wing member of the cabinet, said he’s thinking about it. However, Ariel expressed the concern of many on the Right, that “the speakers will forget the message of unity that was discussed, and it will turn into a left-wing rally against the Right,” as the Rabin rally has been in the past.