Israel News for September 30, 2016

In Tribute
World leaders and dignitaries from 70 countries attended the funeral of Shimon Peres today in Jerusalem. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivered the first eulogy, followed by PM Netanyahu, who thanks the world leaders for attending and said, “Shimon lived a life of purpose, he soared to many heights…he was a great man of Israel he was a great man of the world. We find hope in his legacy, as does the world.”

Former US President Bill Clinton then paid tribute to Peres, calling him a “dear friend who inspired awe by refusing to lose hope in the dream of peace and coexistence.” He added, “I always was in awe of his endless capacity to look beyond even the most crushing setbacks in order to seize the opportunities of each new day.”

Peres’s children spoke next, followed by author Amos Oz. The final eulogy was delivered by US President Obama.

Obama said, “I could not be more honored to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend, to Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea. A free life in homeland regained, a secure life of a nation that can defend itself by itself, a full life of a friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always…. this was Shimon Peres’s life. This is the state of Israel. This is the story of the Jewish people.

Obama praised Peres for his efforts in trying to make peace with the Palestinians, saying, “Even in the face of terrorist attacks, repeated disappointments at the negotiating table, he insisted that Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews and therefore equal in self-determination. He believed that Israel would be best protected when Palestinians had a state of their own.” 

Obama concluded with the hebrew words, “Toda raba, chaver yakar” — thank you dear friend.

For further reading click here.

Big Handshake
Palestinian Authority President Abbas and PM Netanyahu shook hands at the funeral of Shimon Peres today. Abbas remarked, “We haven’t met for a long time” to the PM and Sarah Netanyahu after the handshake. The PM replied, “I very much appreciate that you came to the funeral.”

Abbas was given a front-row seat, at the request of the Peres family, between European Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. President Obama briefly greeted the Palestinian leader with a kiss on each cheek before walking down the line to stand next to Netanyahu.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan and the Foreign Minister of Egypt also attended the funeral.

For further reading click here.

Cyber Police
The Israeli government has launched a new initiative called “the prevention of violence and crime on the internet” to protect children and young people from internet based crimes and cyber bullying. The initiative will include the participation of 131 policemen and civilians, dedicated police units and a 24/7 emergency center. It will be allocated an annual budget of NIS 50 million and will be managed by the Internal Defense Ministry.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised initiative, saying it would constitute a digital “iron dome” which will protect children in Israel on the internet.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 29, 2016

Peres in State
The casket of Shimon Peres is laying in state outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem as dignitaries and thousands of ordinary Israelis pay their respects. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein were first to pay their respects, followed by a procession of Knesset members. Former US President Bill Clinton also paid respects.

The funeral will take place Friday morning. Many world leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend including US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, King Felipe VI of Spain and the presidents of Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Latvia and Mexico.

Peres will be buried on Mt. Hertlz, in between former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir. His wife is buried in Moshav Ben Shemen. The shiva will only last until Sunday afternoon and be terminated by the onset of Rosh Hashanah.

For further reading click here.

Arab Reaction
The reaction to the passing of Shimon Peres by Arab leaders has been muted, save for a couple of exceptions. Today Bahrain’s Foreign Minister tweeted, “Rest in peace President Shimon Peres, a man of war and a man of the still elusive peace in the Middle East.” Bahrain has no official diplomatic relations with Israel.

Yesterday PA President Abbas tweeted in Arabic, “Shimon Peres’s death is a heavy loss for all humanity and for peace in the region.” He also sent a condolence letter to the Peres family in which he said that Peres had been partner to the “peace of the brave” signed by former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993 and that he had striven for peace until the day he died.

Representatives of Egypt, Jordan and Morocco are expected to attend the funeral. A Jewish adviser to the king of Morocco will represent his country, but it is still not known who will represent Egypt or Jordan.

For further reading click here.

Flag Tribute
In an extremely rare show of honor to a foreign leader, President Obama has ordered that American flags at all government buildings and grounds and all military installations, bases and ships be flown at half-mast tomorrow in tribute to Shimon Peres.

The last two foreign leaders to receive that honor were Nelson Mandela in 2013 and Pope Joh Paul II in 2005.

Upon hearing of Peres’s passing, Obama released a statement saying, A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever. Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.”

For further reading click here.

Victims Compensated
In 2001, 23 people were killed and 250 injured when the dance floor at the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem collapsed. The construction method used to build the floors of the hall were banned prior to the construction after being proven to be unsafe.

In addition to this, the Versailles hall was designed to be a two-story structure, but a third story was later added. The story on which the wedding party took place was therefore intended to be a roof, and was not designed to carry the same load as the other floors.

After years of lawsuits and disagreements regarding the allocation of compensation, the State has finally agreed to distribute all of the compensation funds without any admission of guilt.

According to the compensation outline, whoever wasn’t physically injured will receive NIS 50,000 plus interest, while those more than 20% handicapped with receive NIS 6,000 for every additional percentage of disability. The estates of those killed in the incident will be compensated with NIS 75,000 along with an additional NIS 10,000 for every year of expected decrease in life expectancy. Upon passing of victims, NIS 10,000 plus interest will also be provided for funeral expenses.

The three owners of the hall were convicted in 2004 of negligence and wrongful death and sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

For further reading click here.

Startups of the Year
The Israeli business publication “Globes” has named WalkMe, the enterprise guidance and engagement platform, as Israel’s most promising startup for 2016. The Globes also named 15 other Israeli startups as the most promising for 2016. The startups are divided into five different industry groupings including medical technologies, cyber securities, internet technologies, big data and transport.

To see a list of the companies and what they do, click here.

Israel News for September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres Passes
Israel former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres passed away last night at the age of 93. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago and was in a medically induced coma.

Shimon Peres, considered to be one of the last of the founders of the state, played a major role in the history of the State of Israel.

Peres was born Szymon Perski in 1923 in the Polish town of Vishnyeva (now part of Belarus). His father Yitzhak was a wealthy timber merchant and his mother Sara was a librarian and a teacher of Russian.

The family immigrated to the Land of Israel (then Palestine) in 1934. Peres studied at Balfour Elementary School and High School and the Geula Gymnasium (a high school for commerce) in Tel Aviv. At the age of 15, he transferred to the Ben Shemen Agricultural School. In the 1950s, he studied at New York University and later at Harvard University.
Between the years 1941 to 1944, Peres served as the national secretary of the “Working and Learning Youth” group. It was while serving in this post that Peres became acquainted with the heads of the Jewish settlement in Palestine and became David Ben-Gurion’s political protégé.
In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, where he was responsible for personnel, defensive acquisitions and military research. In 1949, he was appointed the head of the naval service in the Defense Ministry, and in 1950 he was made the director of the Defense Ministry’s delegation in the United States.

In 1952, Peres returned to Israel and was appointed the deputy director-general of the Defense Ministry. A year later, he was made the director-general. It was as part of this role that he promoted the construction of a nuclear reactor in Dimona, helped develop Israel’s aviation industry, and played an instrumental role in establishing close relations with France.

In 1959, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of Mapai and was appointed the deputy defense minister. Over the next two decades Peres held various ministerial posts and was instrumental in the formation of the Labor part. As defense minister in 1976, he connived then Prime Minister Rabin to launch the famous raid on Entebbe (Operation Thunderbolt).

After Rabin was forced to step down from office in 1977, Peres was appointed as acting Prime Minister and took over the leadership of the Labor party. In that same year Labor, for the first time in its history, lost the election to the Likud and Menachem Begin. It lost to Begin again in 1981.

After the 1984, Peres and Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir agreed to a rotating Prime Ministership, with each man serving a two year term. During his term Peres implemented an Economic Stabilization Plan, which saved the Israeli economy from collapse and reduced the hyperinflation that reached 400% a year. He also oversaw the IDF withdrawal from most of Lebanon. In 1987 he negotiating a peace agreement with Jordan, which was rejected by Shamir because it gave Jordan joint administration over the West Bank with Israel.

In 1988, in the second unity government, Peres served as the deputy prime minister and finance minister. In 1990, Peres attempted to form a narrow government made up of the left-wing factions and the ultra-Orthodox parties. But the move, known as “The Dirty Trick,” failed when the ultra-Orthodox parties backed out, leaving Peres no choice but to resign from the unity government.

In 1992 Yitzhak Rabin replaced Peres as the head of the Labor party and went on to become Prime Minister. Despite the intense rivalry between the two men, Rabin appointed Peres as Foreign Minister. During his term Peres carried out secret negotiations with Yassir Arafat that led to the signing of the Oslo accords. Along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

After Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, Peres became the acting prime minister, as well as the defense minister and the economy and planning minister. In the 1996 elections, in which people voted directly for Prime Minister, Peres lost to Benjamin Netanyahu by a small margin.

Under the Prime Ministership of Ehud Barak in 1999, Peres served as Minister of Regional Cooperation. Under the unity government led by Ariel Sharon in 2001 he served as Foreign Minister and in 2005 as Deputy Prime Minister.

In 2005 Peres left Labor and joined Ariel Sharon’s new Kadima party. He was elected to Knesset in 2006 and appointed Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In 2007 Peres won the election for President of Israel, and served in that role until 2014. He was known internationally as an ambassador of peace and a proponent of economic development.

Peres was married to Sonya Gelman Peres for 75 years, until her death in 2011. Peres leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

May his memory serve as a blessing.

To see historical and personal photos of Shimon Peres click here.

Leaders Mourn
Israeli leaders along with world leaders mourned the passing of Shimon Peres.

PM Netanyahu said:

“Shimon dedicated his life to the independence of our nation. As a visionary, he looked to the future. As a man of defense, he fortified the strength of Israel in many ways—some remain unknown to this very day. As a man of peace, he worked up to his final days to promote reconciliation with our neighbors and a better future for our children.”

“In his seven years as the president of Israel, he’s done much to unite the people, and the people responded with great love. There aren’t many people in our history who contributed so much to the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”

“I met Shimon for the first time 40 years ago at the grave of my brother Yoni. I will never forget his warm treatment of me, my brother Iddo and my parents, at the time of our loss.”

“And now, Shimon, the beloved of the nation, is saying goodbye to us. But he will never be away from our hearts and memories. Shimon Peres’s name will be forever etched in the story of the Jewish people’s independence, as one of the great leaders and founding fathers of the State of Israel.”

To read what other Israeli leaders said about Peres, click here.

To read what President Obama and other past Presidents and world leaders said, click here.

Israel News for September 27, 2016

Bus Collision
Early today a bus collided head on with a car near the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. Twenty three people were injured, including a 7 month old baby.

For further reading click here.

Facebook is Sorry
Facebook has apologized for temporarily disabling several pages related to Palestinian media agencies last Friday. The agencies, the Quds News Network and the Shehab News Agency, have millions of likes and are “critical” (to say the least) of Israel.

Facebook released a statement saying, “The pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about this mistake.”

Palestinians accused Facebook of censorship and blamed Israel for being behind the closures.

Israel has been in discussions with Facebook to try and get the company to stop incitement on the site.

For further reading click here.

Saudi Editorial
The English language Saudia Arabian daily newspaper the Saudi Gazette published an editorial on Sunday saying “that the Palestinians “should not be too quick to dismiss the invitation extended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to address Israel’s parliament.”

The editorial said, “Netanyahu’s gesture was quickly rejected by the Palestinians as a ‘new gimmick,’ but the invitation is reminiscent of the one issued by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to visit Israel — and the rest is history.”

Given that the Saudi Arabian press is under the firm control of the royal family, the editorial could possible reflect a change in Saudi Arabian policy.

For further reading click here.

Surprise Meetup
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is on a business trip in NYC this week. Yesterday he happened to run into Jonathan Pollard, who was having coffee at a Manhattan cafe with his wife. This was the first time any Israeli official has met Pollard since his release from prison last year.

The mayor had awarded Pollard a medal as an “honorary citizen of Jerusalem” prior to his parole, which Pollard never received. So on Monday the mayor removed his own Jerusalem pin from the lapel of his jacket and pinned it to Pollard’s suspenders. He said, “If Jonathan cannot come to Jerusalem, then Jerusalem will come to him in New York or anywhere else in the world.”

To watch a video of the incident, click here.

Bibi on Broadway
While PM Netanyahu was in NYC this past week, he managed to catch a performance of the hit Broadway show Hamilton. But just before the performance two women approached him, shouting “free Palestine”. They were pushed aside by the PM’s robust security detail, the same one that apparently accompanied him to the bathroom of a Manhattan restaurant in full force.

Netanyahu received applause as well as boos from the theatre crowd. The boos might have been more related to the balagan (big mess) he caused at the theatre (with the huge security detail) than to the fact that he was the Israeli PM. Getting seats at a hit show is hard enough as is!

One theater goer wrote,  “It isn’t enough that it is hard to get tickets to a Saturday night show. Netanyahu’s arrival turned the theater into an airport.”

The PM’s Office had no comment as to whether the PM enjoyed the show or not.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 26, 2016

Netanyahu Meets Clinton
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in NY yesterday for about an hour.

Clinton reaffirmed her strong commitment to Israel’s security and emphasized that if elected president, she “will continue to strengthen the security and intelligence bond between the two countries, and will work closely with Israel in order to ensure Israel’s military advantage.” She also emphasized her, “commitment to dealing with attempts to delegitimize Israel, including through BDS.”

Netanyahu laid out Israel’s position “on regional issues related to the security of Israel and its efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region,” and Clinton promised to work closely with Israel to enforce the Iran nuclear deal and to combat Iranian sponsored terrorism.

According to a statement released by the Clinton campaign, “Clinton has confirmed her commitment to work towards a two state solution and to direct negotiations between the parties to ensure the future of Israel as a Jewish, secure and democratic state with recognized borders, which would provide the Palestinians independence, sovereignty and dignity. Clinton reaffirms her opposition to any attempt by external forces to impose a solution, including the UN Security Council.”

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu Meets Trump
PM Netanyahu met with Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump yesterday at Trump’s NY home in Trump Tower. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the meeting, along with Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.

Among the topics discussed were the nuclear deal with Iran, the battle against ISIS, military assistance provided by the US to Israel and other security issues.

According to a statement released by the Trump campaign, “Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism. He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”

Trump also promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise that many presidents have made prior to being elected but none have followed through on.

Of course, they also discussed Israel’s wall building expertise and experience and Trump promised, “extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries” if elected.

Trump and Netanyahu have a long and friendly relationship. In 2013 Trump endorsed Netanyahu during the Israeli elections. Netanyahu will not be endorsing either of the US presidential candidates this time around.

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Barrier
A senior IDF official said yesterday that the tunnel barrier being built along the Gaza border should be completed in the next few months. The 60-kilometer underground barrier is expected to stretch dozens of meters deep and block Hamas terror tunnels attempting to penetrate into Israel.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the Israeli efforts would fail. “They must realize that they will not enjoy security as long as the Palestinian people don’t enjoy it.The language of threats no longer terrifies our people.”

[ Who said anything about threats? ]

For further reading click here.

IDF Order
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has issued a new order granting unit commanders the power to issue waivers to soldiers who request to be exempt from unit events due to religious convictions. The new order was in response to a growing number of instances where religious soldiers would refuse to attend ceremonies or events that included female singers or women they considered to be immodestly dressed.

Now, each commander will be able to decide to grant exemptions from being present at events that they determine will offend the sensitivities of religious soldiers. The order does include official IDF ceremonies, including Memorial Day ceremonies or those attended by the chief of staff.

The order also mandates separate swimming hours for men and women in units where the situation warrants it, and it permits religious soldiers to request a male instructor for activities requiring physical contact.

A senior IDF officer explained, “The new order is based on the IDF’s being a state army, the army of the people, in a Jewish and democratic state, without damaging the dignity of those serving.”

For further reading click here.

China Route
Travel between Israel China is steadily increasing. China’s Hainan Airline has added a fourth flight from Tel Aviv to Beijing, since launching it’s service in April. The average coach ticket for a round trip flight is $600. According to the company 70% of the passengers on the flights are Israeli and 30% Chinese. El Al and Turkish Air also fly from Tel Aviv to Beijing.

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism wants to drastically increase tourism from China from the current 50,000 visitors a year. Hotels are preparing for Chinese guests by adapting their rooms and menus, and the tourist websites will have information translated into Mandarin Chinese.

The potential is obviously enormous.

For further reading click here.

Play Ball
Israel will for the first time be represented in the World Baseball Classic tournament, to be held in South Korea next March (2017). The tournament is held every four years, modeled after the World Cup soccer tournament. The Israeli team routed Great Britain 9-1 in a game in Brooklyn yesterday to win the final spot in the tournament.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 23, 2016

Terror Attack Stopped
A 14 year old Palestinian tried to stab soldiers at the Elias junction in Kiryat Arba today, but he was shot in the leg and neutralized before causing any harm.

For further reading click here.

Abbas Addresses UN
PA President Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly yesterday and called for the return to the borders originally proposed in the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan, which divided the then British mandate of Palestine into to countries, one Arab and one Jewish. He said, “Regrettably, however, the Security Council is not upholding its responsibilities to hold Israel accountable for its seizure of the territory allotted to the Palestinian State according to the partition resolution. I appeal to you read this resolution once again.”

Apparently Abbas forgot to mention that the Arab nations and the Palestinians rejected that UN partition and attacked Israel in 1948 to try and wipe it off the map.

Abbas also called on the UK to apologize for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which expressed Britain’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel, and asked the UK to recognize the state of Palestine. He said that the Balfour declaration had lead to, “the perpetration of the most heinous crimes against a peaceful people in their own land that never attacked anyone or partook in a war against anyone.”

He called on the international community “to exert all efforts, more than any other time in the past, to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine, which, as you all know, is the longest and last occupation in contemporary history.”

Abbas concluded by asserting that “there is no way to defeat terrorism and extremism, no way to achieve security and stability in our region, without ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine and ensuring the freedom and independence of the Palestinian people. As such, terrorism will end.”

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu Addresses UN
PM Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly shortly after Abbas, and invited the Palestinian leader to speak at the Knesset. He said, “You have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred, as you did today, or you can confront hatred and work with me today. President Abbas, I invite you to come and speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem and I will gladly come to speak at the parliament in Ramallah.” He added, “The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.”

Responding to Abbas’s call for a return to the 1947 UN partition borders, Netanyahu reminded the audience that had the Palestinians and Arab nations accepted the partition and not attacked Israel, they would in fact have had those borders with their own state.

Regarding Abbas’s attack against the UK for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the PM asked sarcastically, “Why not bring a class action suit against Abraham for buying land in Hebron?” [comment: does sarcasm really work in a speech to the UN? I’ve been told it doesn’t go over that well in a daily newsletter…]

Netanyahu denied that settlements were the main obstacle to peace, claiming instead that “the Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state in ANY boundaries” was the core and ongoing reason for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said, “The real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv.”

The PM said, “the State of Israel is ready. I am ready to negotiate all final status, but one thing I will never negotiate is the right to a one and only Jewish state.” When met with applause he remarked, “Prolonged applause for the prime minister of the State of Israel in the United Nations General Assembly? Change may be coming sooner than I thought!”  

Netanyahu reinforced his support for a two-state solution but rejected attempts by the UN to impose its own peace plan saying, “Does anybody really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security? We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel,”

He continued to blast the UN for its seemingly endless condemnations of Israel, noting that the UN has passed 20 resolutions against Israel, and three against “the rest of the countries on the planet.” He said, “as women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world—which is the only country that the UN’s commission on women has condemned? Yup. You guessed it: Israel.”

The PM praised the US, condemned radical Islam and proclaimed that “Israel will not allow Iran to establish nuclear weapons. Not now, not in a decade, not ever.” He also called on the international community to pressure Hamas to release the remains of Israeli soldiers being held in Gaza.

Netanyahu concluded by saying, “Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future. I call on all of you: embrace Israel. Dream with Israel. A future of security, prosperity and peace. A future where even at the UN, even in this hall, where Israel will take its rightful place among the nations.”

For further reading click here.

PM Meets Africans
PM Netanyahu and his wife Sarah participated in a special event with over 15 leaders of African Countries in the the wake of the UN General Assembly gathering. The PM addressed the group saying, “I believe that Israel can be a great partner to your nations,” and said that Israel wanted to share its technology with them. Sarah Netanyahu was them invited by the First Lady of Rwanda to participate in a conference on women’s rights in Africa.

For further reading click here.

Satellite Working
The Israeli-made Ofek 11 satellite that experienced major technical difficulties after being launched on September 13th is reported to be working fine now, exactly as designed. Officials have described the Ofek 11 as the Israel’s most sophisticated spy satellite, which will keep tabs on Iran and other adversaries.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 22, 2016

Anti-Terror Raid
Police conducted massive raids in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shuafat and Isawiyah in search of weapons and terror and criminal suspects last night. Twenty three people were arrested for various crimes including rioting, popular terror, illegal possession of fire arms, drugs or property.

For further reading click here.

Obama Netanyahu Meet
PM Netanyahu and President Obama met for a half hour at the UN General Assembly yesterday. According to a senior American official, Obama raised “profound U.S. concerns about the corrosive effect that that settlement activity, that is continuing when the occupation enters its 50th year, is having on the prospects of two states solution.” Netanyahu pushed back.

A senior Israeli official described the meeting as positive and said that it actually lasted for over an hour. He said that Netanyahu reiterated that the settlements are not the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Netanyahu also discussed his belief that it’s possible to leverage the developing ties between Israel and the Arab world to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.

At the outset of the meeting Netanyahu remarked, “The greatest opportunity is to advance peace and this is something that I and the people of Israel will never give up on.”

Netanyahu thanked Obama for the new military aid agreement saying, “The military aid deal fortifies Israel’s security and makes sure it can defend itself by itself against any threat. Israel has no better friend than the U.S. and the U.S. has no better friend than Israel. It is an unbreakable bond based on common values and interests.”

Obama also referred to the agreement saying, “It is important for America’s national security that we have a safe and secure Israel that can defend itself. The aid deal provides assurance that the cooperation between us will continue and it allows Israeli planners the kind of certainty at a moment of very little certainty in the region. We want Israel to have all the capabilities it needs.”

The issue of whether Obama would try to push through a Security Council resolution related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was not brought up by either leader.

Finally, Netanyahu referred to Obama’s post presidential life saying, “I know you will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself and to live as a Jewish state. You will always be a welcome guest in Israel.”

For further reading click here.

University Ranking
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which rates the 980 leading institutions for higher education in the world, were released yesterday. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was the only Israeli institution to make the top 200, coming in at 178 (same as last year). Tel Aviv University ranked in the 201-250 slot, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa ranked between 251 and 300, and Bar Ilan University ranked between 401 and 500. Ben Gurion and Haifa universities ranked between 501 and 600.

Oxford University took first place with Caltech coming in second and Stanford coming in third, followed by the University of Cambridge, MIT, Harvard and Princeton. Imperial College London came eighth, followed by ETH Zurich. Berkeley and University of Chicago tied in tenth place. Columbia and NYU came in 16 and 32 respectively.

The World University Rankings is published by Britain’s Times Higher Education and uses data from Thomson Reuters.

To view the entire rankings list click here.

No More Horseplay
Last month Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon announced that slot machines and betting on horses would be banned next year under legislation contained in the Budget Arrangements Law. He called the 460 million shekels ($121.8 million) generated from betting on horses every year by the Council for Organized Sports Betting, popularly known as Toto, as “tainted money.”

But the British company that manages the Toto’s horse betting system has cried foul, since their contract is effective through 2018. It is lobbying hard to get the ban removed from the legislation before it gets approved by the Knesset later this year. The companies basic argument is that betting on horses isn’t really such a bad thing.

The government is planning to offer the company a settlement. The company currently makes around 20 million shekels per year from its Israel operations.

For further reading click here.

Chicken Dilemma
As we reported last week, the recent Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha caused Muslim workers to take a few days off which, in turn, caused the temporary shutdown of many slaughterhouses, where Muslims constitute the vast majority of employees. That caused a fresh chicken shortage in stores, which experts say will continue throughout the High Holidays and Sukkot. The Israeli Poultry Farmers’ Association has recommended that people buy turkey or frozen chicken, which there is no shortage of.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 21, 2016

Turkish Attack
A Turkish man shouting “Allahu Akbar” and holding a knife and carrying a bag was shot in the leg by a security guard outside of the Israeli Embassy in the Turkish capital of Ankara today. Authorities are in the process of checking the bag for explosives. The man is thought to be mentally unstable and not connected to any terrorist organization.

For further reading click here.

Child Terrorist
A 13 year old Palestinian girl approached guards at the Eliyahu checkpoint near the settlement of Alfei Menashe in Samaria (West Bank) yesterday carrying a bag. The guards ordered the girl to stop. When she didn’t they fired warning shots into the air, but she continued approaching them. Then she put her hand under her shirt and the guards shot her in the leg, lightly wounding her. When she was subsequently questioned she said, “I came here to die.” No weapons were found on her.

For further reading click here.

Change the Deal
Just a week after the US and Israel officially agreed on a ten year $38 billion military aid package, some US senators are calling it a raw deal for Israel and promising to do better.

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Ted Cruz have voiced their opposition to terms in the agreement they say are unfair to Israel and have promised to pass legislation to remedy the situation.

The senators are against the clause in the agreement that prohibits Israel from requesting more aid and obligates Israel to return any additional funds it does receive from Congress. They are also against the clause that prohibits Israel from spending any of the aid on purchases from Israeli military contractors.

The senators plan to append their legislation to a bill expected later this year calling for the renewal of sanctions against Iran.

Graham, who oversees the US foreign aid budget, said last week that Israel made a mistake by signing the agreement with the Obama administration. He said, “This is a very dramatic moment in the US-Israel relationship between Congress and the State of Israel. Congress is not going to sit on the sidelines,” and added, “Now is not the time to say that we’re going to nickel and dime Israel.”

For further reading click here.

UN Speeches
In his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, Egyptian President al-Sisi called on the Israelis and Palestinians to make peace. He asked the Palestinians to follow the example set by Egypt, in its peace treaty with Israel. He also directly addressed the Israeli government and people saying, “We have a real opportunity to write a bright page in the history of our region, to move toward peace.”

President Obama referred to Israel in his UN address saying, “And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

To read the full text of Obama’s speech click here.

Condolence Call
The family of Sayid Amro, the Jordanian terrorist who was killed attempting to stab Israeli civilians and police officers in Jerusalem on Friday, received a condolence letter from Palestinian Authority President Abbas. In the official letter, Abbas describes Amro as, “a martyr who has quenched the land of Palestine with his pure blood.”

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned Israel called the killing of Amro “an act of barbarism.” This is after Israel sent the Jordanians video footage of the terrorist in action.

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Israel News for September 20, 2016

Terror Attacks
This morning a terrorist attempted to stab a soldier at the checkpoint at the entrance to the Arab town of Bani Na’im, east of Hebron. The soldier, a member of the 605th Engineering Battalion, managed to shoot the terrorist before he could cause any harm.

Last night a man was arrested in Hebron who was carrying a knife and planning to attack soldiers. Also last night, a bus traveling in East Jerusalem was stoned and the bus driver was lightly wounded.

All this follows two other terror attacks that we reported on yesterday. In one, two terrorists attempted to stab soldiers at The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and were shot and killed. In the other, two police officers were seriously wounded when they were stabbed by a terrorist near the Old City of Jerusalem.

IDF forces conducted raids in several Arab villages overnight in search of terror suspects and weapons. In total 27 suspects were arrested and numerous weapons confiscated.

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Letter to Obama
Ahead of President Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly and his planned meeting with PM Netanyahu tomorrow, a group of 88 Republican and Democratic senators sent Obama a letter calling on him to veto any “one-sided” resolution brought before the UN Security Council during the remainder of his term.

The letter, initiated and sponsored by AIPAC, was spearheaded by Republican Senator Michael Rounds from South Dakota and Democratic Senator Kristen Gillibrand from New York.

The letter said, “We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.”

Israeli officials are worried that Obama might attempt to push through a UN Security Council resolution related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the November presidential election.

In the letter the senators supported a two-state solution and stressed that a resolution could only be reached through direct dialogue between the sides.

They wrote, “At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for a meaningful progress. Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”

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Shabbat Laws
The Jerusalem municipality indicted eight grocery shop owners for keeping their shops open on Shabbat, in violation of the city law that prohibits stores in the city center from operating on Shabbat.

Lawyers for the store owners accused Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat of caving in to ultra-orthodox pressure.

Barkat’s office responded that its decision did not stem from political pressure, but from the legal problem posed by a High Court of Justice ruling in a case involving Tel Aviv groceries that opened on Shabbat in violation of municipal bylaws. In that case, the court ruled that Tel Aviv could either enforce its bylaws or amend them, but could not simply keep allowing businesses to open in violation of the law.

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Sirens Blaring
The IDF Homefront Command will test it’s early warning siren system throughout the country today. During the sirens, citizens are instructed to retreat to shelters in their homes, workplaces and schools. Sirens will be sounded in different regions between 11:05am and 11:15am, and then at 7:05pm for the entire country.

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Israel News for September 19, 2016

Terror Attack
A terrorist stabbed and seriously injured a male and female police officer near Herod’s Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem this morning. The male policeman managed to shoot and seriously injure the terrorist. The 47 year old policeman was evacuated in serious condition and the 38 year old policewoman in critical condition. The terrorist, a resident of East Jerusalem in his 20’s, is in critical condition.

This is the sixth terror attack in the past four days. PM Netanyahu held an emergency meeting with security officials last night, to work on preventing a new surge of attacks before the High Holidays.

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Hebron Attack
Also today, two terrorist attempted to stab Border Police stationed near The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The officers shot at the attackers, killing one and critically injuring the other. One police officer was lightly injured in the hand.

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Defense Firms Hit
While the recently signed military aid package signed between the US and Israel is the largest ever, many defense manufacturers and contractors in Israel might be forced to close down and layoff thousands of employees because of it.

According to the agreement, which will take effect in 2018, the US aid will not be able to be used to purchase military equipment from Israeli companies. Purchases will only be permitted from US companies. The current aid package allows Israel to spend up to 26% on purchases within Israel.

Avraham Bar David, the chairman Manufacturers Association of Israel Merkava tank industries forum, which includes 212 small and midsize companies, explained, “Enterprises producing small components as subcontractors of the large companies will be the first to suffer. Once Israeli procurement is done in the US, these companies will either switch to other fields or close down. Not only will the country lose many jobs, it will also lose priceless know-how accumulated here over many years. A few years after these companies close down and the state needs new development, it is liable to find itself in a hopeless plight. If the state wants to retain this know-how and enable it to continue developing the most up-to-date and best products for its defense needs, it will have to find alternative sources for the billions of shekels that will not be available because of this agreement.”

So in order to save these companies from going under, Israel will have to add billions of shekels to its already huge defense budget. Where is that money supposed to come from? Not so simple.

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Duty Free
There’s nothing that gets international airline travelers more excited than the words “Duty Free”. This is especially true for Israeli travelers, since the “duty” or taxes on most imported products in Israel is so high. For example, an electronics device that costs $200 in Israel might only be $150 in “duty free”. Get the idea. Unless you’re traveling out of the country, you can’t take advantage of duty free pricing. But that is about to change.

The Ministry of Transportation has announced that the new Ramon Airport scheduled to open in Timna (outside of Eilat) in April 2017 will permit Israeli’s to buy duty free when flying to an from Eilat, without ever leaving Israel. The Minister of Transportation said, “The purpose is to strengthen Eilat, and make Israelis prefer it to overseas destinations. I’m convinced that a great many Israelis will prefer Eilat as an alternative to other places.”

In fact, it might even be worth taking the inexpensive flight to Eilat just for the duty free savings!

Ramon Airport in Timna is the first civilian airport built in Israel since independence. The new airport, which will replace the old Eilat Airport, will be Israel’s second international airport, mainly for flights to and from Europe and internal flights. The terminal will have a capacity of two million passengers annually, with parking facilities for wide and medium-bodied airplanes, operations areas, roads, and a parking lot for 600 private vehicles.

The old Eilat Airport, which is located right in the middle of the city near the hotel district, will become a very valuable piece of real estate.

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