Israel News for December 15, 2016

Amona Rejects Compromise
Amona residents voted 59-20 against accepting a compromise proposal proposed by the government which would transfer their homes to a plot of land adjacent to the current settlement. The residents justified their decision on the grounds that the proposal contained no concrete guarantees that all those currently residing in Amona would be permitted to remain on the mountain. They did, however, express their willingness to accept other proposals by the government. But the government has already stated that they have no other proposals to offer. That means the evacuation of Amona will take place, as scheduled, on December 25th.

Thousands of supporters have arrived in Amona to resist the evacuation. They have begun barricading roads, but claim that all resistance will be non violent. In the words of one activist, “It isn’t an active resistance rather than a passive one. In other words, we won’t hit anyone or curse the police, but we won’t enable them to remove us so easily. They will need to drag me from the buildings. They will need to chase me and maybe even throw me from the rooftops. It won’t be easy for them, but the resistance will not include illegal acts or hitting the police.”

Right wing leaders including Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennet, who supported the compromise, are upset and disappointed at the decision of the Amona residents to reject the compromise, which they felt was fair as it provided the residents with alternate housing on the same mountain. But the Amona residents insist on keeping their homes and making a statement that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the land of Israel.

For further reading click here.

ISIS Rocket
ISIS claimed responsibility for a rocket that was fired at Israel on Tuesday but ended up falling short and landing in the northern Sinai. ISIS claimed that they were retaliating for three airstrikes that they accused Israel of launching against targets in Sinai. The claim was uncorroborated by any source.

For further reading click here.

Happy Anniversary
Did you know that it was the 29th anniversary of the founding of Hamas? They didn’t forget in Gaza. Tens of thousands of Gazans, including hundreds of masked armed terrorists, marched through the streets of Gaza firing weapons, carrying signs and blasting anti-Israel messages through loudspeakers. Signs in Hebrew and Arabis proclaimed, “Coming from Underground” referring to the terror tunnels.

To see photos of the event click here.

Rabbits and Tigers
During his meeting with the president Kazakhstan, PM Netanyahu responded to a prediction by Iran’s supreme spiritual leader that Israel was cease to exist within 25 years by saying, “Don’t threaten us, we are not a rabbit, we are a tiger.” [ No, he did not follow that with a roar. ]

The PM also signed agreements for economic and technical cooperation between Israel and Kazakhstan and urged the president to support Israel’s bid to obtain a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.

Kazakhstan has a Muslim majority of 70% and a Jewish community numbering between 20 and 30 thousand. It is the 9th largest country in the world by area but has a population of only 18 million.

For further reading click here.

Skirt Protest
In protest of the recently revised Knesset dress code that prohibits short skirts, 15 Knesset aides arrived wearing short skirts and were denied entry by Knesset guards. Several Knesset Members joined the women in a show of solidarity. MK Manual Trajtenberg (Zionist Union) really got mad when his aide was asked to remove her overcoat so that her skirt could be checked, and removed his shirt saying, “If I can enter the Knesset like this, so can you!” [ did he mean that she should be allowed in without wearing a top? Whatever, you get the meaning behind his words…] He also reportedly said, “Tomorrow all of you will have a burqa.”

In the end, after 6 hours, all the aides were allowed into the building. Knesset Speaker Uli Edelstein announced that he will set up a taskforce to review the dress code. Until further notice the new dress code regulations are suspended.

Responding to the protest the Knesset released a statement saying, “Today’s event was no more than a premeditated provocation that respected no one. Despite this, and as opposed to several reports on the matter, all aides were allowed to enter, apart from one. The women and men of the Knesset Guard standing at the entrance are dedicated to their work, which they do based on a dress code that has been used at the Knesset for years, which aims to protect the Knesset’s dignity and distinction.”

For further reading click here.

More Watching
If you need more stuff to watch in addition to cable TV and Netflix, you’re in luck. Amazon Prime Video is launching in 200 countries including Israel. The service will cost $3 a month, at least for the first 6 months. Netflix is $10 per month.

For further reading click here.

Winter Weather
Severe winter weather is rocking Israel with heavy rain from the Golan down to Eilat. There are also high winds, cold temperatures, some snow and poor visibility, all of which is wreaking some havoc in a country not used to the joys of the winter season. But how can you complain about rain in Israel?

To see photos click here.

Israel News for December 14, 2016

Terror in Jerusalem
A terrorist approached police officers in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and stabbed a 35 year old police officer in the head with a screwdriver. Another officer shot and wounded the terrorist, neutralizing him. A 12 year old male resident of East Jerusalem was brought to paramedics at the scene with a head injury that he claims he got from the terrorist, but the exact cause of the injury is still not clear. The wounded police officer, terrorist and boy were all taken to Hadassah Hospital.

For further reading and to view images and video, click here.

Amona Demonstration
Thousands of people gathered outside of the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem last night to protest the evacuation of Amona, which is scheduled to take place on December 25th. Protestors waved flags and held signs that read “the land of Israel is not up for debate” and “we don’t give up Israel!”

The government has presented a compromise agreement by which the 40 families residing in Amona would move to an adjacent plot of land on the same mountain, on the condition that they agree to evacuated their current homes. Residents will meet today to decide whether to accept the compromise agreement.

For further reading click here.

PM Diplomacy
PM Netanyahu signed a series of agreements yesterday with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev during Netanyahu’s official visit to the country, which has a Muslim majority.

Israel already exports $4.5 billion of military equipment to Azerbaijan and imports oil. Israel hopes to export more technology, particularly in the field of agricultural.

The PM and his wife met with representatives of Azerbaijan’s Jewish community at a Chabad school. There are less than 10,000 living in the country, with six synagogues and the Chabad center. There are 70,000 Azerbaijani Jews living in Israel.

The PM continued his trip with a visit to Kazakhstan today, where he met with the countries and president and urged him to support Israel’s bid to gain a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

For further reading click here.

Right to Remain Silent
The right to remain silent, part of the Miranda law, is a privilege of anyone arrested in the US. Now Israel might finally give its citizens the same right.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked drafted a new law that would protect suspects from self-incrimination, giving them the right to remain silent and the right to counsel. The proposed law, called the Suspect interrogation Law, will be submitted for government approval next week.

The law includes wording saying, “before an interrogation of a suspect, an officer will be required to clearly state to the suspect—to the extent possible under the circumstances—the main facts concerning the allegations against the suspect along with general rights to avoid self-incrimination: ‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be documented and used as evidence in court, but know that the court can take your silence into account. It is your right to consult with an attorney before your interrogation, subject to the restrictions prescribed by law, and it is your right to consult with a public defender if you are entitled under the law.'”

Included in the law are regulations relating to interrogations. The regulations stipulate that suspects have the right to sleep, eat and drink, take breaks during interrogations, communicate with loved ones and practice their religion.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 13, 2016

Breaking News
A Palestinian women attempted to ram her car into soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem. After soldiers fired in the air the women emerged from her car holding a knife and screaming “Allahu Akbar”. The soldiers quickly arrested her without any injuries.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
Kellyanne Conway, a senior aide to Donald Trump, confirmed in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that Trump intends to fulfill his promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv To Jerusalem.

Conway said, “That is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump. He made it very clear during the campaign, Hugh, and as president-elect I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

Presidents Bill and Clinton and George H. W. Bush both promised to move the embassy during their campaigns but then backed down during their presidency. But Conway expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to follow through on his promise saying, “It is a great move. It is an easy move to do based on how much he talked about that in the debates and in the sound bites.”

In 1995 Congress passed a law mandating the embassy move but included a presidential waiver that lapses every six months. Each president since then has exercised the waiver, with President Barack Obama doing so as recently as last week. The waiver requires that the president assess that moving the embassy would pose a national security risk to the United States.

For further reading click here.

Israel Gets Aircraft
Israel yesterday received the first two F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to be sold to any country outside of the US. The aircraft cost $110 million each and are first of 50 planes Israel has ordered at a total cost of $5 billion. That will come out of the $38 billion military aide package Israel received from the US, and go right back into the US economy.

While the F-35 is not faster and cannot carry more missiles and bombs as the F-15 and F-16 jets that Israel currently flies, it can fly undetected. Israel generals call that a game changer, since it will allow the aircraft to be mostly invisible to enemy aircraft and ground-based antiaircraft batteries.

Israeli officials say the F-35 will be used for all its air force missions, including in possible future confrontations with Iran and the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

The F-35s were greeted by PM Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and senior IDF officers, MKs, businessmen and other officials.

Netanyahu thanked the US administration for its staunch commitment to Israel security and added, “Our long arm has now become longer and mightier.” He also said, “I want to be clear: Anyone who thinks of attacking us will be attacked. History has taught us that only strength brings deterrence, only strength brings peace and respect.”

Carter reiterated that Israel is the first country to receive the aircraft and said, “Together, we will dominate the skies. With the turmoil in the region, we’re more dedicated to Israel’s security today than ever before.”

For further reading and to watch a video, click here.

New Kotel Bill
A new bill has been submitted to the Knesset, which would place the entire Kotel area under the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate and prevent any form of prayer that does not conform to Orthodox practice. The bill is supported by the Ultra Orthodox parties along with some members of Bayit Yehudi and Likud.

The bill would destroy the compromise agreement reached by the government and the non Orthodox Jewish movements to form an egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Kotel, near Robinson’s Arch. It would also impose a fine of around $2,500 or a six-month prison sentence on participants in egalitarian prayer services or on women who use a tallit or tefillin.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky slammed the bill saying, “This bill makes a mockery of all the efforts made by recent governments to ensure that the Western Wall is a place that unites, rather than divides, the Jewish people. This bill’s passage would have grave consequences for the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Based on the Prime Minister’s strong personal commitment to strengthening the Israel-Diaspora relationship, it is my fervent hope that this damaging bill will be summarily dismissed by a majority of the coalition and of the Knesset.”

For further reading click here.

PM Trip
PM Netanyahu embarked today on a two day visit to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The PM remarked, “These are two large and significant countries in the Islamic world and our goal is to strengthen diplomatic, security and economic relations with them.” Both countries have vast natural resources.

For further reading click here.

Snubbing Sweden
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but Israeli leaders will not be around to meet her. Wallström has become famous for her pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel comments, and the government is letting her know that they won’t stand for them.

Wallström asked to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with other Israeli ministers but the official response she received was that the Israeli officials could not fit her into their schedule. The Swedish foreign minister decided to go ahead with her planned visit and meet with officials in the Palestinian Authority.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 12, 2016

Refusing Orders
With less than two weeks left until the scheduled date for the evacuation of the settlement of Amona security forces are training for the sensitive operation, which will undoubtedly be met with some form of resistance, hopefully nonviolent. But some soldiers are expressing their intentions to disobey the evacuation order and refuse to participate in the operation, which they believe is contrary to the Torah.

A Facebook group has been established for soldiers who plan to refuse to participate in the evacuation. Since disobeying orders in the IDF is a crime, the group does not display photos of soldiers but only photos of unit emblems, uniforms and written notes.

An IDF spokesman said, “The IDF condemns and prohibits any expression [in favor of] refusing orders and takes this very seriously. The IDF is the army of a democratic state and will obey the civilian leadership and carry out any mission given to it in accordance with the law.”

While most rabbis have clearly prohibited soldiers from disobeying orders to evacuate Jews from Amona, a small minority have not.

Meanwhile, Amona residents are holding demonstrations in a last ditch effort to avoid the evacuation.

For further reading click here.

Women in IDF
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef expressed his opposition to women serving in the IDF, even in non combat positions, in his weekly torah class on Saturday night. R. Yosef was simply echoing the official position of the Chief Rabbinate. He also spoke out against women doing National Service (Sherut Leumi), which the Chief Rabbinate does not oppose and which most National Religious rabbis recommend.

For further reading click here.

Police Warning
The Israel Police is opposed to the bill that’s making its way through the Knesset which would prohibit mosques from broadcasting their call to prayer through loudspeakers. The police is warning that the law, if passed, could instigate violent protests from Arab citizens throughout Israel.

According to a police report, “From a police perspective, it would be a mistake to legislate or otherwise focus on the muezzin. The issue of the muezzin is an extremely sensitive one, and we have decided not to make it into one of the foremost things we do in the Arab sector, since there are nationalistic priorities, such as razing terrorists’ homes.”

For further reading click here.

Hamas Missiles
A senior Hamas official told Al-Aqsa TV that Hamas is offering to share its missile arsenal with any Arab army that will use them against Israel. It’s unclear who that army might be or how Hamas would get the missiles to them, but it’s the thought that counts. The only “army” that would possibly be interested is Hezbollah, but they already are estimated to have over 100,000 missiles of their own.

For further reading click here.

Tragedy and Hope
On Friday a 10 year old boy and his father both fell of a cliff while hiking in the Judea desert. The father died later that day. The boy, Ilan Nir, survived until Sunday afternoon, when he succumbed to his injuries. But he went on to save lives after his death.

Ilan’s heart was transplanted into an 8 year old boy who needed an immediate heart transplant to save his life. The boy is currently in stable condition and recovering. Ilan’s liver was transplanted into a 4 year old girl from southern Israel and his lungs were transplanted into a 55 year old woman. Ilan’s kidneys will also be transplanted into a patient suffering from renal failure.

For further reading click here.

No Dougnuts
Israel’s Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) has urged the public to refrain from eating too many jelly doughnuts this Hanukkah. The doughnuts, called sufganiot, are a traditional Hanukkah food that represents the miracle of the oil. They are also usually at least 400 – 500 calories each. Litzman said, “It’s possible to find substitutes for everything today, and there is no need to stuff our children with sufganiyot, which don’t meet the standards of proper health and nutrition.” But Litzman did not say anything against potato latkes — so enjoy!

For further reading click here.

terror and abbas

Israel News for December 9, 2016

Terror Arrests
The Shin Bet and Israel Police announced today that they arrested eight Arab Israelis in East Jerusalem for being part of a terror cell. The terrorists were planning to carry out shooting attacks in Jerusalem. Most of the terrorists arrested were minors and some were members of Hamas. The cell was formed while the suspects were serving prison sentences for participating in violent demonstrations.

The Shin Bet stated, “Thwarting the network prevented the realization of serious terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, and its exposure again demonstrates the great risks of terrorists with Israeli identity cards who enjoy freedom of movement, access to means of warfare, and the relative ease of carrying out attacks.”

For further reading click here.

Regulation Bill Postponed
Sources report that PM Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennet have agreed to postpone the second and third readings of the controversial Regulations Bill in the Knesset until after Donald Trump is inaugurated as US President. The bill, that would legalize settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land, has already passed its first reading.

The PM has expressed his opposition to the bill but is supporting it based on an agreement he reached with Bennet, in order to hold the coalition together. The Attorney General has also stated his opinion that the bill will not hold up before the Supreme Court.

The government’s plan, based on a suggestion by Defense Minister Lieberman, is to avoid passing the bill while Obama is still president, and avoid the risk of him taking action against Israel at the UN. The government is assuming that the international repercussions against Israel will be muted with Trump as president.

Meanwhile, security forces are training for the evacuation of Amona, which is scheduled for December 25th. A clause specifically legalizing Amona was removed from the regulations bill as a condition for getting the Kulanu party to vote for the bill. Residents of Amona, along with hundreds of supporters, are preparing to resist.

For further reading click here.

Was it Arson?
In the aftermath of the massive fires that raged throughout Israel last month, only 3 indictments against 6 Israeli Arabs have been filed for involvement is setting minor fires, not the major blazes that caused extensive damage to Haifa and Zichron Ya’acov.

Fire authorities are reluctant to say what proportion of the blazes were the result of arson, and Police declined to comment on Fire and Rescue Authority statements regarding the arson investigations.

A police source said, “There is a difference between the Fire Authority investigation and criminal law, and evidence that a specific person lit a fire because of specific reason. Maybe there are cases that the Fire Authority says that they have evidence of arson, but we cannot say if someone did it.”

At the time of the fires the Prime Minister and other government ministers classified most of them as arson and terrorism. Investigators are working hard to determine whether those claims were true.

For further reading click here.

Birds Return
Over 42,000 flocks of cranes migrate from Africa to Europe every year. They stop off at Israel’s Hula Lake along the way.

To view some incredible photos of this, click here.

Israel News for December 8, 2016

Terror Attack
Early this morning an 18 year old terrorist got off a bus at the Tapuach junction in Samaria (West Bank) and began running towards soldiers brandishing a knife. After first warning him to stop, the soldiers opened fire and killed the terrorist. There were no other casualties.

For further reading click here.

Terrorists Busted
The Shin Bet and IDF arrested three terrorists who committed four shooting attacks over the past couple of months. The terror cell was planning another attack on the settlement of Ofra. Security forces also arrested family members who were involved in hiding weapons for the terrorists.

The Shin Bet commented that the “attacks the cell planned and committed, which were revealed during the course of the investigation, demonstrate the high level of threat that local terror activities pose, especially with the access to weapons and/or the means to produce them.”

For further reading click here.

Hamas Tunnel
Hamas has reported that two of its operatives were killed when the terror tunnel they were digging to infiltrate into Israel collapsed.

For further reading click here.

Germany Attacks
Germany strongly criticized Israel’s attempt to pass the “regulation bill”, which would legalize settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land, saying that it would break international law and undermine chances for a two-state solution. The regulation bill has already passed its first reading in the Knesset.

Asked whether Germany and the European Union should punish Israel with economic or diplomatic sanctions, a German spokesman said: “We don’t think that sanctions would be the right path in this case to make headway in the Middle East peace process.”

For further reading click here.

El Al Again
Just when you thought that EL Al’s problems were over, after reaching an agreement with its pilots, the airline is now having issues with its flight attendants. El Al Flight attendants are gearing up for a legal battle against the airline to fight for better pay and working conditions. They claim that most of them make less than minimum wage. So although your El Al flight might be on time now, the service you get on the flight might be a bit less than you expected.

For further reading click here.

Israel Funding Diaspora
The norm has been for the diaspora to fund programs in Israel. But that’s changing. For the first time, the Israeli government will be funding educational programs in diaspora schools.

Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs ministries, both headed by Bayit Yehudi MK’s, plan to spend as much as 136 million shekels ($35.8 million) over the next four years to develop programs for Jewish schools overseas. The funds will be used to develop programs on Israel, the Hebrew language and Jewish history as well as provide schools with expert advice, teacher training and pedagogical services. The program will initially be offered to 65 Jewish schools in Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union.

According to the ministries the goal of the program is, “to strengthen Jewish identity and connection to Israel on the part of students at Jewish schools around the world by building a systematic pedagogic strategy in these areas inside Jewish schools.”

For further reading click here.

israel air force

Israel News for December 7, 2016

Israel Bombs Damascus
A Syrian military officials claimed that Israel attacked the Almaza Air Base in western Damascus earlier today, causing several explosions. No injuries were reported. The official told the official Syrian government new agency, “The Israeli enemy launched at 3am several surface-to-surface missiles from Lebanese territory towards western Tel Abu Al Nada. The missiles fell in the area of the Almaza Air Base. As a result, fires broke out at the base with no injuries.”

The Hezbollah media outlet reported that Israeli warplanes attacked the base from Lebanese airspace. Other Arab media outlets including Al Jazeera and AL Arabia reported the explosions but did not confirm the cause.

The Almaza Air Base is considered one of the most secure regime-held areas of the Syrian capital and houses several arms and ammunition depots.

The IDF neither denied nor confirmed the reports saying, “We do not respond to foreign reports.”

For further reading click here.

Insufficient Defense
Israel’s State Comptroller has just released a report that claims that over two million Israelis lack adequate shelters in the event of rocket attacks from the north or south. The report stated that, “Although the military has envisaged a scenario in which Israel would be the target of thousands, or even tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, it is doubtful whether it has adequate capacity to defend the country properly.”

The IDF responded to the report as well, saying, “The IDF welcomes the comptroller’s report, will study its main points and will generate the necessary lessons. The Home Front Command will continue to work with state institutions to prepare the citizens of Israel for a variety of emergency situations.”

For further reading click here.

French Invite
French President Francois Hollande invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris. The meeting would take place in two weeks, immediately following a Paris foreign ministers’ summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel informed France several weeks ago that it opposes the foreign ministers’ summit and it will not participate if it occurs. It has not yet responded to the French invitation, although Netanyahu has stated on numerous occasions that he would be happy to meet directly with Abbas.

For further reading click here.

Cult Uncovered
A twenty year old women came before the Tel Aviv rabbinical court begging for help to get out of her marriage. After investigating the case the court discovered that the woman had been drawn into a cult that believes in reinstating polygamy, which is technically permitted by Jewish law but was banned by Ashkenazic rabbis over 1,000 years ago and by Sephardic leaders at the time of the founding of the State of Israel.

The young woman had become religious and was studying at a seminary and living with a religious family. After several months the husband and wife began trying to convince the woman to become the husband’s second wife. The couple, which has 10 children, revealed that they were part of a secret cult-like religious group calling itself “Complete Jewish Home” that believes that polygamy is essential to the ultimate redemption of Israel.

In September the woman finally married the husband in a secret ceremony. Soon afterwards, before she actually lived with the man, she regretted her decision and told her relatives, who urged her to get a divorce. The rabbinic court summoned the husband and wife and witnesses to the marriage. The judges issued a restraining order on the husband as well as orders on him and his wife to prevent them from fleeing the country. The husband agreed to grant the divorce.

In the aftermath of the case, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made a statement denouncing the cult and unequivocally prohibiting polygamy.

For further reading click here.

Galid Shalit
Remember Gilad Shalit? He was the soldier kidnapped and held by Hamas for several years until he was finally released in exchange for over 1,000 terrorists 5 years ago. Well, he just got his first job. Shalit will be working at Israel Discount Bank. Best of luck!

[ It’s not really “news”, but we thought you’d want to know. ]

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 6, 2016

Attack Thwarted
IDF forces arrested arrested several Palestinians next to Highway 60, south of Bethlehem, as they were preparing to throw Molotov cocktails over the security fence at passing vehicles. The IDF also arrested 10 suspected terrorists in the West Bank overnight.

To watch a video of the molotov cocktail arrests, click here.

Regulation Bill Passes
After the compromise agreement reached between PM Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennet that removed Amona from the Regulation Bill, the bill passed its initial reading in the Knesset by a vote of 60-49 last night.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog ripped up the bill during his speech shouting, “This is another dispute that will be remembered in the history of the state. This is a bill for the creation of a bi-national state. This is a deal of rhinos. You know that it endangers IDF commanders, state leaders and the state’s character. You know that this is contrary to the opinion of the Attorney General. This bill is a black day for the Knesset.

The Attorney General spoke out against the original “pre-compromise” version of the bill, but is still unsure as to whether the new version will be upheld by the Supreme Court.

MK Benny Begin (Likud) was the only member of the governing coalition to oppose the bill. The bill still must pass three more readings in the Knesset to become law.

In its current version the bill would permit settlements that were formed with government support to maintain possession, but not ownership, over Palestinian owned land. The land owners would receive compensation. This would in essence legalize almost all of the settlements and remove them from the threat of evacuation.

The bill would not, however, prevent the evacuation of Amona, which is scheduled for December 25th. The government is planning to petition the Supreme Court for a 30 day postponement of the evacuation in order to provide Amona residents with housing on nearby land, as recommended by the Attorney General.

The adjacent land parcels have been assumed to be unclaimed land, although several Palestinians have just this week filed ownership claims over the parcels.

For further reading click here.

Shorter Army Service
Last year the government shortened the mandatory IDF service for men to 32 months from the previous 36 months. Now the Knesset is in the process of passing a bill that would further shorten IDF service for men to 30 months. The bill has already passed through three readings, with just one more to go. The bill is meant to stimulate the economy by enabling thousands more men each year to join the workforce.

For further reading click here.

Strange Partnership
Israel recently signed a contract with a German company to manufacture four new warships for the Israeli navy. It turns out that the shipyard where the warships are being constructed is operated by an Abu Dhabi-based company. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has no diplomatic relations with Israel and prohibits Israeli passport holders entry into the country.

A third of the UAE company is owned by a Lebanese Christian businessman, who assisted Israel in its search for missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad in the 1980’s.

So an Arab owned company is helping the Germans build warships for Israel. Who would have thought?

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu in Gold
An artist has erected a 13 foot tall gold (painted) statue of PM Netanyahu in Rabin Square, just outside the Tel Aviv municipality building. The statue is meant to replicate similar types of statues of dictators in other countries.

The artist, Itay Zalait, remarked, “The most important thing is to make people think and to not take things for granted. To imagine – without saying its good or bad – how does it feel to live in a country where a statue of the leader is in the center of the town? Right now this feels like provocation but it could become reality.”

The Tel Aviv municipality has ordered the statue removed, since it was placed there without authorization.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 5, 2016

Amona Compromise
PM Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennet have a reached a compromise regarding the Regulation Bill that would allow the bill to be passed in the Knesset, but would remove the clause that specifically relates to Amona. That means that while all settlements built on private Palestinian land would be safe, the settlement of Amona would still need to be evacuated.

The Attorney General is working on a plan which would move the residents of Amona to unclaimed Palestinian land right near the current settlement, dubbed “Amona North”.

The attorney general is making use of a plan formulated 20 years ago by then-Military Advocate General Uri Shoham, who determined lands belonging to absentee owners can be used for a defined purpose over a short period of time. According to Shoham’s legal opinion, the lands can be “leased” for no more than three years.

Meanwhile the government will once again petition the Supreme Court for a 30 day extension to the evacuation order, which is scheduled for December 25th, which just happens to be the first day of Hanukkah.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) praised the compromise saying, “We think that the Regulation Law is an extraordinary historic achievement, even without the Amona clause. The residents of Amona are paying a very heavy price, but this price isn’t being paid for nothing; we’re getting in return normalization for the entire settlement [movement] in Judea and Samaria.”

Amona residents, however, condemned the compromise. Rabbi Yair Frank, the rabbi of the settlement, said, ““This solution is not a solution, it’s a disgrace.”

Kerry Bashes Bill
In a speech yesterday at the Brookings Institute Saban forum, US Secretary of State Kerry bashed the regulation bill. While he conceded that settlements were not the “reason and the cause” for the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, he did say that they are a barrier to peace.

Kerry said that those that support the regulation bill, “don’t want peace. They believe it’s the Greater Israel. They are pursuing a policy of greater Judea Samaria, building out into the West Bank, because they believe it belongs to them. And they want it to block the peace because they want those places to belong to Israel. That’s the history of the settler movement, my friends.”

For further reading click here.

Mother Sues
Rachel Frankel, whose son Naftali was kidnapped and murdered along with two other boys in 2014, will take the witness stand in an American court on Tuesday as part of the lawsuit she filed against Iran and Syria for funding Hamas terror. The suit is claiming $340 million in damages. Frankel is an American citizen.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints General
President elect Trump has announced that he will nominate 66 year old retired Marine General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Mattis, nicknamed Mad Dog, retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013 after service over 40 years in the Marine Corps.

Even though Central Command does not encompass Israel, Mattis made a point of visiting Israel on many occasions to discuss military matters.

However, Mattis has made statements in favor of a two-state solution, calling the alternative “apartheid”. He also indicated that US support for Israel has hurt it in dealings with the Arab world and made military operations in the Middle East more complicated.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a Right leaning organization, has called Mattis’s remarks, “hostile to Israel, and revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.”

While Mattis has taken a tough stance against Iran, which he has called the biggest threat to stability and peace in the Middle East, he has also said that “absent a clear and present violation,” he did not see how the US could back out of the Iran deal, since reinstating sanctions would not have the intended effect if the other signatories to the agreement would not reimpose their sanctions. While Trump has promised to scrap the Iran deal, it’s unclear whether he will actually do that as president.

Mattis will require a special waiver from Congress to be able to serve as Secretary of Defense, since the current law states that the office must be held by a civilian who has not been in uniform for at least 7 years prior to taking the job. Mattis retired from service just under 4 years ago.

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Lieberman in NY
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed a group of UN ambassadors hosted by Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. The ambassadors were from Canada, Russia, India, Italy, Senegal, Singapore, Rwanda, Greece, Cyprus, Holland, Bulgaria and Argentina. The DM briefed the ambassadors on the security threats in the Middle East and warned that the UN and other international agencies have no real power to stop them. Instead, they spend their time passing anti Israel resolutions. He said, “All this proves that the United Nations, including the Security Council, do not perform their duties and are not relevant to the rest of the world.”

Ambassador Danon explained the purpose of the meeting saying, “We are strengthening our ties and cooperation with many countries and there is a clear understanding among our allies that Israel is an island of stability in a turbulent Middle East.”

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Rabbi Takes Post
Brig. Gen. Rabbi Eyal Karim officially took his position as Chief Rabbi of the IDF last night at a ceremony attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Eisenkot remarked, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late. I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”

Eisenkot was referring to the controversy that surrounded Karim’s appointment as a result of statements the rabbi made that were understood by some as being anti-women and anti-gay. The Supreme Court even got involved by ordering Karim to clarify his statements, which he did.

Rabbi Karim spoke at the ceremony saying, “The military rabbinate needs to be a force for unity. We will only have one army, an army of the people, that all soldiers can find their place in. The military rabbinate, by its very nature, is firmly rooted in Jewish law, values, morals and thought.”

One controversial issue that the new IDF Chief Rabbi will have to face is the proposal by the IDF to assign women to serve in tanks alongside men. The proposal has already garnered harsh reactions from senior rabbinic figures including the Chief Rabbis of Israel.

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More Rain
Heavy rains, with strong winds, are expected to continue throughout Israel over the weekend. The first snowfall hit the Hermon this morning dropping close to 8 inches of snow. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day. Good news for the Mount Hermon Ski Resort.

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