Israel News for February 28, 2017

Suspected Terrorist Shot
Soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem shot a 20 year old Palestinian woman they suspected of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. The woman approached them on a road meant for vehicles while holding an unidentified object in her hand. When the soldiers ordered her to stop she continued walking towards them while holding her bag in a way that raised their suspicion. When she was searched after being shot and lightly injured, no weapons were found in her possession.

For further reading click here.

Evacuation Protests

Hundreds of protesters, mostly young men and women, have gathered in one of the nine houses in Ofra slated for demolition on Wednesday. The deputy commander of the Judea and Samaria Division of the Israel Police yesterday came to the junction where the nine homes are built and officially pronounced the evacuation order. Police then began physically evacuating people. Clashes between police and protesters began early today. Two protesters has been arrested for attacking police, and five police officers have been injured thus far. The Supreme Court had ordered the evacuation and demolition of the nine homes, ruling that they were built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land.

For further reading click here.

Trump and Settlements

PM Netanyahu told Likud MKs in a closed meeting on Monday that Israel and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have not reached an agreement regarding settlement construction. He said, “Things are not as simple as you think.” The PM added, “We will develop a mechanism to try to reach understandings… [but] on this specific issue, there is no agreement.”

Several sources described a heated argument at the Likud Knesset meeting, between MKs who support Israeli annexation of the West Bank and those who seek a withdrawal from most of the occupied territories along with security arrangements.

The PM reportedly said that he agrees that Trump’s presidency is “historic,” but noted that “we should know what the limits of this opportunity are.”

For further reading click here.

Azrieli Online

Azrieli Group Ltd., the large Israeli shopping mall operator, has launched an online shopping website at The website is offering free delivery and interest free installment payments to attract customers. This summer the BIG shopping mall operators will be launching their own commerce site. Competition is good for consumers!

For further reading click here.

Good Stats

According to statistics recently released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 89 percent of Israelis who are over the age of 20 claim to be satisfied with their lives. At the same time, 27% claimed to feel depressed occasionally (who doesn’t?) while 7% claimed to be depressed often. On the bright side, 88.4% of Israelis felt satisfaction from their jobs and 81% felt safe walking alone at night in their neighborhood.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for February 27, 2017

Rockets Strike
A rocket apparently fired from Gaza exploded in an open area in southern Israel last night. There were no physical injuries or damages. No one claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Today the IDF attacked five Hamas military outposts and infrastructure targets, including a concrete factory, in Gaza in response to the attack.

Hamas said in response that it “won’t stand by in the face of continued Israeli aggression against the forces of the resistance and the intentional escalation on Israel’s part.”

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories, Major-General Yoav Mordechai, said in a Facebook post that “Israel isn’t interested in escalation, but cannot ignore rockets fired toward its sovereign territory. This is why the IDF retaliated.”

Also over the weekend, Egyptian forces detonated a Hamas tunnel under the Rafah border killing three and injuring five. In its condemnation of Saturday’s anti-tunneling operation, Hamas renewed its call to permanently open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, portraying Cairo as complicit with “Israel’s unfair siege on Gaza Strip.” The Egyptians are looking to Hamas for help in dealing with the Islamist terror groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli government sources have reported that there are currently at least 15 Hamas terror tunnels that cross the Gaza border into Israel.

For further reading click here.

Ofra Evictions
Security forces have begun evicting residents from nine homes in Ofra (Samaria – West Bank). The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the homes were built without the proper construction permits, on privately owned Palestinian land.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Stabber
A Jewish Israeli, Shlomo Pinto, was convicted for attempted murder and sentenced to 11 years for stabbing a Jewish supermarket worker who he thought was an Arab.

The attack took place in October 2015 during the height of a wave of stabbing terror attacks that swept the country. Pinto entered a supermarket in Kiryat Ata armed with two knives. After observing Uri Rizken, a worker at the supermarket, Pinto concluded he was Arab and stabbed him several times in the back and waist before chasing him through the store and seriously wounding him.

In their ruling, the Haifa District Court judges said that the perpetrator, Shlomo Pinto, “acted out of a sense of revenge and ideology in order to inspire people to act like he did, when the only goal is to kill an Arab victim.” The 11 year sentence was in line with that given to terrorists convicted of attempted murder.

For further reading click here.

IDF Integration
The IDF is integrating women into many IDF units and making certain bases “egalitarian”. Not everyone is happy about that. A group of senior religious Zionist rabbinic leaders have criticized IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot over the policy, claiming that it changes the spirit of the IDF, which agreed to conditions for the service of religious soldiers (that includes separation of the genders).

A senior religious Zionist rabbi told Arutz Sheva: “Eizenkot has been deceiving the IDF chaplains and the religious Zionist rabbis for a long time. In closed discussions, Eizenkot has said that he is very afraid that religious soldiers seek to change the spirit of the IDF, and he has therefore decided to respond to this phenomenon and try to put a stop to it now.”

The rabbi added: “The Chief of Staff has declared war on the world of Torah. We will sit together and decide how to deal with this new conduct of Eizenkot, which threatens to harm thousands of religious and traditional soldiers.”

An IDF Spokesperson replied: “These are fake arguments which seek to divide the army and belittle women who serve in it. The quotes attributed to the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, are without any foundation.”

For further reading click here.

Knesset Unit
The elite Knesset security unit conducted an anti terror training exercise yesterday.To see photos click here.

Israel News for February 24, 2017

Drone Destroyed
The Israel Air Force (IAF) shot down a Hamas drone yesterday as it left Gaza on its way to infiltrate Israel. The drone fell into the Mediterranean. An IDF spokesman said, “the IDF will not allow any airspace violation and will act resolutely against any such attempt.”

For further reading click here.

Iron Dome
An upgraded version of the Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully passed a series of tests in recent days, in which the new Tamir interceptor missile destroyed several projectiles. The tests were conducted in the south and meant to test the ability of the Iron Dome to intercept a variety of targets fired simultaneously at different ranges. The Tamir contains components that were jointly designed and built by both Israel and the United States under an agreement signed in 2014.

To watch a video and see images of the test, click here.

Missiles to India
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the $2.5 billion purchase of Barak 8 advanced anti-aircraft missile system. The system was jointly developed by India’s Defense Research & Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries. It is designed to defend against airborne threats including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, UAVs, cruise missiles and fighter jets at a strike range of about 30-45 miles.
The system is scheduled to be deployed by 2023.

In addition to the Barak 8 system, Israel and India are also cooperating on a long-range surface-to-air system, which will be deployed on Indian Navy warships.

In 2014, India bought 8,356 Spike anti-tank missiles and 321 launchers from Israel in a deal worth 32 billion rupees ($525 million). India’s foreign minister has said that his country intended to further strengthen its ties with Israel, stressing the relationship is of “utmost importance to the Indian people.”

For further reading click here.

More Gas
Texas-based Noble Energy will begin developing Israel’s offshore Leviathan gas field. The company will begin immediately with the first phase of the project, and said in a statement issued Thursday that it expects the first gas to flow in 2019.

Leviathan, discovered in 2010 in the Mediterranean Sea west of Haifa, is estimated to hold 16 trillion to 18 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Noble CEO David Stover said, “Bringing Leviathan online will expand Israel’s supply of natural gas, further support the State’s commitment to convert coal-fired power generation facilities to cleaner burning gas, and provide affordable energy resources to Israeli citizens and neighboring countries in the undersupplied region.”

PM Netanyahu tweeted, “This is a day of good news for the Israeli economy and Israeli citizens. The process will provide gas supply to Israel, and will advance cooperation with regional states.”

For further reading click here.

Hospital Treats Syrians
The Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, several miles from the Lebanese border, has treated around 1550 Syrian civilians in the last four years. But that will end unless the government reimburses the hospital the NIS 300 million it has spent treating the Syrians, according to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.

It costs Western Galilee Medical Center an average of NIS 10,321 per day to treat the Syrians, while the government transfers only NIS 1,300 daily to the hospital. This situation is leading to the collapse of the state-owned 772-bed hospital.

For further reading click here.

TA Marathon
Around 40,000 runners took part in the Tel Aviv marathon today. Over 1,800 runners came from other countries. The winner of the marathon was from Ethiopia. He finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 13 seconds. The first Israeli crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 27 minutes.

For further info and images, click here.

Israel News for February 23, 2017

Soldier Wounded
A soldier from the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion was lightly wounded by an explosive device thrown at him while securing the entrance to Joseph’s Tomb near Shechem (Nablus). The soldier was treated by his fellow soldiers on the scene and was later taken to the hospital for further treatment. The Tomb is visited by Jewish worshipers every few weeks in coordination with the military. Around 1,200 Jewish worshipers visited last night.

For further reading click here.

New Judges
Last night the Judicial Selection Committee selected four new Supreme Court judges – Yosef Elron, George Karra, Yael Vilner, and David Mintz. The judges are all conservative, and are supported by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi). Yael Vilner will be the first religious woman to serve on the court. David Mintz is the first judge to reside in a settlement (Dolev in Gush Etzion). George Karra is a Christian Arab from Jaffa. The appointments are seen as a victory for the conservative camp.

For further reading click here.

Goldins Meet Haley
The parents of IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Gaza in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge and whose body is still being held by Hamas, met on Wednesday with the new US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

During their meeting, the Goldin family requested that Ambassador Haley assist in their efforts for the return of the bodies of their son and Sgt. Oron Shaul, also held in Gaza, for burial in Israel.

A spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said that during the meeting, Ambassador Haley pledged to advocate on behalf of Hadar Goldin and work with the Goldins, the Israeli Mission and other US partners at the UN for the return of Hadar to his family.

Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon thanked Haley for meeting with the family, saying, “Hadar was killed and kidnapped by despicable terrorists during a UN sponsored ceasefire and we won’t rest until this organization ensures his and Oron’s return for proper burial in Israel.”

For further reading click here.

ISIS in Golan
ISIS forces have launched a major offensive in the Syrian Golan against rebel forces currently in control of the area. ISIS has reportedly captured several villages and killed hundreds of rebel fighters. The area involved borders both Israel and Jordan. The prospect of having an ISIS controlled area next door is troubling to both countries.

For further reading click here.

Court Overrules Bargain
The Jerusalem District Court overruled a plea bargain agreement that sentenced former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger to 3.5 years in prison and increased the sentence to 4.5 years and a fine of 5 million shekels. Metzger was convicted on a slew of bribery and corruption charges.

For further reading click here.

Rabbinate Hacked
Hackers attacked the computers of the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, locking down all the data on the computers. The hackers demanded a ransom of thousands of dollars in bitcoin to release the data. The Israeli government refused to negotiate. The data was reportedly unblocked by IT specialists.

For further reading click here.

israel air force

Israel News for February 22, 2017

Israel Attacks
According to Lebanese and Syrian media reports, Israeli aircraft carried out several airstrikes against outposts of the Syrian army’s third division near the Lebanese-Syrian border, destroying weapons cache and vehicles belonging to Hezbollah. Hezbollah denied the reports. The IDF had no comment.

For further reading click here.

Holy War
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday called on Palestinians to pursue a holy war against Israel, calling the Israeli government a “cancerous tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were completely liberated.

“The Palestinian intifada continues to gallop forward in a thunderous manner so that it can achieve its other goals until the complete liberation of Palestine,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei did not mention any Iranian military attack against Israel in his comments and was focused on gains that Palestinians could make in any confrontation with Israel.

The Supreme Leader’s comments were made during a two-day pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran.

For further reading click here.

Australian Support
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended Israel and criticized the United Nations, vowing never to support “one-sided resolutions” calling for an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

Turnbull wrote, “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

He also told reporters, “We support an outcome which has two states where Israelis, the Israeli people, the Palestinian people live side-by-side as a result of direct negotiations between them.”

Turnbull welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. While in Australia, Netanyahu is scheduled to sign agreements fostering closer economic and defense cooperation.

For further reading click here.

Reactions to Sentence
The military court’s decision to sentence Sgt. Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison for shooting Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, the neutralized terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack in Hebron last year, was met by a significant public outcry to pardon him, most notably from several senior political figures.

Bayit Yehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted,
“The security of the Israeli people demands the immediate pardon of Azaria who was sent to protect us. The process (Azaria’s trial) was tainted from its base.” He added, “Elor must not be imprisoned, or we will all pay the price.”

Minister of Construction Yoav Galant also called on Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot to take measures to pardon Azaria.
Galant said, “The whole Azaria affair has taken a toll on the army and the Israeli people. In light of the punishment he received during his remand and for the purpose of healing the cracks within the public, we must show a measure of sense and compassion. I call the Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of General Staff to pardon Azaria, even today.”
Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz also joined the call to pardon Azaria, tweeting, “the court has said its piece, the legal proceedings are over. It is now time for pardon. Bring Elor back home.”

Commenting on the court’s verdict on his Facebook page, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman indicated that no pardon would be forthcoming, and that the court’s ruling would be upheld.

The family of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif expressed anger over the sentencing. Sharif’s father said that Azaria’s punishment “of a year and a half is a slap on the wrist. They’re laughing in our face. It’s all a show.” Sharif’s uncle added “If he was Palestinian, they would have thrown him in jail for the rest of his life like a dog.”

For further reading click here.

Nursing Reform
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is demanding reforms in elderly care following reports of violence towards senior citizens in nursing homes, which shocked the country. Litzman contacted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Monday in a request to step in, in what he calls “a national crisis.”

Litzman suggested installing cameras in the nursing departments, reinforcing the workforce by 2,400 foreign workers and adding 95 supervisors, all of which requires immediate funding estimated at around a quarter of a billion shekels.

The proposed reforms include incentive packages to the community clinics for them to make house calls and visit elderly patients, and by doing so, perhaps prevent their deterioration.

In order to fund the reforms, Litzman suggested a 0.6 percent raise in health taxes, according to income. The Finance Ministry is against this and one of the proposed solutions is that in the first two years, the state would finance the reform and if it proves successful, the tax will be raised.

In Israel, there are currently 21,000 geriatric beds in 800 departments spread out over 300 nursing home facilities across the country. This population is currently treated by approximately 8,800 nursing staff—too small a number for a developed western country.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for February 21, 2017

Tough Talk
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is talking tough about Israel, again. In an interview with Iranian television, Nasrallah warned that Hezbollah will have “no red lines in the next war with Israel.” He said, “Israel should think a million times before it goes to war with Lebanon. Hezbollah is ready for any threat.” He added that Hezbollah was ready and willing to attack Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona.

Regarding his view on peace between Israel and the Palestinians saying, “Even if there is a peace deal with Israel, it won’t remove the terror label and the occupation from it [Israel],” and that, “Israel is lying when it comes to the two-state solution, and will be deceiving the Palestinians if they agree to it.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to Nasrallah’s threats saying, “a dog that barks doesn’t bite,” and that, “I advise him to continue sitting there in his bunker, making these small cameos. I don’t intend to have any kind of public argument with him.”

For further reading click here.

Rocket Attack
Yesterday morning two rockets fired from Sinai landed in an open area in Israel near the Gaza border causing no damage. The rocket attack came the day after Islamic State-linked media claimed that an unmanned Israeli drone had bombed and killed five members of ISIS in Egypt in the northern Sinai. There was no comment or response from the IDF.

For further reading click here.

Soldier Sentenced
Sgt. Elon Azaria, the soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting a neutralized terrorist in the head in Hebron, was sentenced by a military court to to a year and a half in prison. The prosecution had originally asked for a sentence of between three and five years, while the defense demanded that Azaria not spend a single day behind bars.

In reading the sentence the presiding judge, Col. Maya Heller, said, “The defendant shot a terrorist without any justification. The only value that was harmed by the defendant’s actions was the value of life. Azaria also defiled the purity of arms which is upheld by the IDF.”
The defense is planning on filing an appeal, based on information that one of the trial’s central witnesses has recanted their testimony. In addition, the defense is also filing a request for a postponement of incarceration until such a time as the appeal is ruled upon.

For further reading click here.

IDF Rabbi
The new IDF Chief Rabbi, Col. Eyal Karim, declared his allegiance at the President’s Residence on Sunday, thus joining the Chief Rabbinate Council, which examines Jewish law and modern-day halachic decrees.

In his address Karim said, “In Israel, there’s a freedom of speech. The problem is that only few are willing to hear and listen,” adding, “As I join the Chief Rabbinate Council as a member, I wish that we all be wise enough to know not just how to talk, but also how to listen, understand, and learn so we can fix what needs to be fixed.”

President Rivlin told the new IDF chief rabbi that his job is “the mission of your life—to serve as a link between the Torah and the army; between the places of Torah study and the training bases; between the desire in the IDF and among many in the Israeli society to integrate as many different sectors in the military in an appropriate manner.”

After the ceremony Rivlin said that, “The job of unification is no less complicated than that of Moses. This is because Moses didn’t have to contend with the IDF chief of staff, the government, chief rabbis and the heads of yeshivas and counselors. Nor did he have the media waiting to shine a light on every chasm and crevice.”

Rivlin added that, on the other hand, “Moses also didn’t have the IDF chief of staff on his side, or the chief rabbis for any problem, the heads of yeshivas and counselors to ask for advice and the media to communicate messages of true dialogue and a desire to listen to each and every soldier, male of female. You have all of these tools.”

For further reading click here.

Singapore Visit
PM Netanyahu visited Singapore yesterday where he held talks with government officials. It is the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Singapore in 30 years. The PM also visited and addressed the Jewish community in the Magen Avot Synagogue.

To watch a video of Netanyahu visiting the synagogue click here.

Israel News for February 17, 2017

US Confusion
On Wednesday President Trump lifted the spirits of PM Netanyahu and the entire right leaning Israeli political spectrum by dismissing the longstanding US two-state solution policy . It seemed to be a huge game changer.

But wait. Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, during a press conference, that the United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and anyone who thinks it doesn’t is in “error.” In fact, she repeated and stressed several times, “We absolutely support a two-state solution.”

Earlier Thursday, the United Nations and the Arab League issued a joint statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, saying the two-state solution is “the only way to achieve comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian cause.”

When asked whether the United States would carry out its obligations under a U.N. Security Council resolution that called for the establishment of two states, Haley said, “Understand that the United States supports the two-state resolution. That’s never been wavered.”

She added, “What we’re saying is, ‘OK, let’s not just talk about the old way of doing things.'” She said, “Come to the table with all the fresh atmosphere and perspectives that we now have, and think, ‘OK, what can we do knowing all of the factors, knowing where we sit present day, and how can we move forward.'”

So does the US support a two state solution or not? It seems like it does, if that’s what the Palestinians and Israelis agree upon. But if they don’t, then the US isn’t going to force them to. Everything is on the negotiating table.

In other words, the rest of the world is adamant that the two-state solution is, in the words of the U.N.’s Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov, “the only way to achieve the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.” The US feels that there could be other solutions, and that it will support the one that both parties agree upon — including the two state solution…and the one state solution. The art of the deal.

Also in her press conference, Haley blasted the UN’s constant bias against Israel and said, “I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.”

For further reading click here.

Ambassador Hearing
President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of his confirmation hearings. In his opening remarks Friedman apologized for a slew of remarks he made in the past against liberal Jewish groups and politicians. For example, he called the liberal Middle East policy group J Street “kapos” and the Anti-Defamation League “morons.” He also likened Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who appeased Adolf Hitler. Friedman said that there was “no excuse” for the remarks and that they were simply “partisan rhetoric” during the heated presidential election campaign.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking member of the Foreign Relations committee (who happens to be Jewish), which must approve Friedman to advance his nomination to the full Senate, said the terms seemed to go beyond partisan rhetoric.

Cardin said he and Friedman had in common that “our parents were proud Zionists who worked and did everything they could in support for the State of Israel.” But noting his father was the president of a synagogue Cardin added, “My father taught me to respect different views.”

Cardin also said, “I’m having difficulty understanding your use of those descriptions and whether you really can be a diplomat.”

Protesters interrupted the hearings at least three times.

With a republican majority, it’s unlikely that Friedman will not be confirmed.

For further reading click here.

Hamas Rejects
A senior Hamas leader has rejected Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s offer of massive assistance to Gaza in return for Hamas giving up their rockets and attack tunnels, saying that if Gaza wanted to be like Singapore, it would have done so already. He also said that Hamas would release the bodies of Israeli soldiers held in Gaza only if Israel releases all of its Hamas prisoners.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for February 16, 2017

Trump Meeting
The long awaited meeting between Netanyahu and Trump took place yesterday. What happened behind closed doors is unknown, but from the press conference held after the meeting, it seems that the leaders discussed some sort of strategy for achieving a new kind of peace agreement which would involve the participation of moderate Arab nations in the region who are all afraid of Iranian expansion.

It also seems that Trump is approaching the Middle East peace process with a very open mind — like a true negotiator. It’s still unclear what exactly his plan is, but judging by Netanyahu’s smiles and hard to contain excitement during the press conference, it seems as though the PM is totally on board with it.

One of the reasons for the excitement is undoubtedly the fact that the two-state solution is no longer the stated objective of the US administration. When asked directly whether he supported the long standing US policy of a two-state solution Trump replied, “So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two but honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

In other words, while the two-state solution is apparently no longer US policy, it isn’t off the table either. US policy is now — whatever works best to reach a peace agreement. It’s all about the negotiation. Makes sense, considering that traditional diplomacy based on preconceived notions and requirements hasn’t gotten very far.

When asked whether this new US policy goes against his own statements in which he supported the two-state solution, Netanyahu replied that he still is in favor of a two-state solution under the following 2 conditions:

1. That the Palestinians clearly and definitively accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish State.

2. That Israel maintains military control over the western bank of the Jordan river.

Even if the Palestinians would accept the first condition, which at the moment seems unlikely, especially given that Hamas rules Gaza and has growing influence in the West Bank, they will not accept the second condition as it would negate the full sovereignty of their state.

Most people believe that Netanyahu never really supported the kind of two-state solution envisioned by the Palestinians or the prior US administrations, but that he said he did in order to seem in line with the US. But that’s no longer necessary, which is probably one of the main reasons for his enthusiasm and near giddiness at the press conference.

Regarding settlements, Trump turned to Netanyahu and said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit,” implying that this was necessary as part of Trump’s negotiating strategy. What holding back on settlements for a little bit really means is unclear. Does it include building in East Jerusalem, or in established settlement blocks? Trump did not condemn or criticize Israel for recently approving the construction of around 5,000 new homes in the settlements.

When asked about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem as he promised, Trump replied, “I’d love to see that happen” and, “We’ll see what happens.”

So the hawkish Right Wing elements in the Israeli government are probably not as ecstatic as they initially were when they assumed that Trump would immediately move the embassy and that he would turn a blond eye to unlimited settlement expansion and possibly even annexation. But the PM seems pleased with the direction things are going in.

Trump emphasized that Israel would have to be flexible in any future talks saying, “As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises.” Then turning to Netanyahu, he asked, “You know that, right?” Netanyahu responded with a smile and emphasizing, “Both sides.” Trump then remarked jokingly that the PM didn’t sound too enthusiastic about that and that he was a great negotiator. Netanyahu replied, “It’s the Art of the Deal.” Smiles all around.

When asked about rising anti-semitism in America and about those “who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones,” Trump first reiterated his amazing victory in the elections and said that he would do everything in his power to stop “long-simmering racism.”

He then said, “As far as Jewish people, so many friends — a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren.” He added, “You’re going to see a lot of love.” [Awesome!]

Netanyahu praised Trump for taking a tough stance on Iranian violations of the Iran nuclear agreement (which Trump made sure to emphasize that it was the worst deal that he had ever seen) as well as hailing him as the greatest friend that Israel has ever had. Trump also praised Netanyahu as well as the PM’s wife Sarah, whom he thanked for her friendliness towards Melania and asked to stand for applause during the press conference.

Regarding the potential for a peace agreement Trump said, “I think we’re going to make a deal,” adding, “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.” Let’s hope and pray.

PA President Abbas, the UN Secretary General, some left wink Israeli Knesset members, many liberal Jewish groups and others voiced their continued support of a two-state solution as the only path towards peace.

To watch the entire press conference click here.

Israel News for February 14, 2017

UN Appointment
UN Secretary-General António Guterres is considering appointing Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) to the senior position of of Under-Secretary-General (there are 91 officials currently holding that title). The appointment is apparently part of an attempt to get former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to lead the UN political mission in Libya, which was blocked by the US. PM Netanyahu remarked that he would consider approving Fayyad’s appointment if Israel also received a senior level appointment. So the Livni appointments seems to hinge on the US removing its objection to the Fayyad appointment.

A Palestinian official has never been appointment to such a senior position and Israel is worried of the precedent of appointing a Palestinian official to such a high-ranked position.

US Ambassador Haley said the Trump administration “was disappointed” of Guterres’s intentions to appoint Fayyad. She said, “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

She added that the US does not recognize a Palestinian state and does not support the message Fayyad’s appointment would send.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon welcomed the American statement, saying “This is the beginning of a new era at the UN, an era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State.”

The Under-Secretary-General (USG) is one of the highest ranks in the UN and includes a staff, an office, a salary of $200,000-$250,000 a year, and an expense account of some $1 million a year.

For further reading click here.

Germany Cancels Meeting
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to cancel the annual government-to-government meeting with Israel, scheduled for May 9, apparently as a result of scheduling difficulties. Israeli officials believe the cancelation was due to anger in Berlin over the passing of the Regulation Law. German officials suggested the real reason for the cancelation was the feeling that the two governments were too far apart on the issue of Middle East peace to make such a meeting worthwhile. According to one senior German official, “Our relations have been completely pared back. We have practically given up on making progress in the current environment.”

For further reading click here.

More Annexation
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said in an interview yesterday that annexing major settlement blocks (like Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim) in areas which would ultimately become part of the country in any final peace agreement would be beneficial to Israel. This is in contrast to the statement by President Rivlin yesterday who advocated annexing the entire West Bank and granting the Palestinians citizenship. Annexing exclusively Jewish areas would avoid having to grant citizenship to Palestinians.

For further reading click here.

Rabbi Released
Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman was released this morning from Maayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak. The 103 year old leader sage and Haredi leader had been in intensive care for the past two weeks. The public is requested to continue praying for his full recovery.

For further reading click here.

Big Wedding
The daughter of the Bobov (Hasidic) Rebbe got married recently in Boro Park (NY). If you missed it you can see photos of some of the festivities – click here.

Coming Home

Here’s an amazing opportunity to help fulfill the words of the prophets.

2700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the Land of Israel, more than 100 Bnei Menashe from northeastern India will be making Aliyah this week thanks to the Shavei Israel organization ( The Bnei Menashe immigrants, descendants of a lost tribe of Israel, will settle in the Galilee. Their Aliyah this week marks the launch of #OperationMenashe2017 in which Shavei Israel plans to bring a total of 700 Bnei Menashe home to the Jewish state over the next 12 months. This is in addition to the 3,000 Bnei Menashe that the organization has brought on Aliyah over the past 15 years. Founded by Michael Freund, Shavei Israel relies on donations to continue its important work with the Bnei Menashe and other lost and hidden Jewish communities worldwide.

If you want to assist in the historic return of the Bnei Menashe to Zion, please CLICK HERE and make a donation today.

Israel News Rivllin US visit

Israel News for February 13, 2017

Annexation Support
While addressing a pro settlement conference in Jerusalem today, President Rivlin blasted the new Regulation Bill recently passed by the Knesset which allows appropriating privately owned Palestinian land. Rivlin said that the law goes against international law. However, Rivlin made clear that he is in favor of annexing the West Bank on the condition that Palestinians living there would be giving full Israeli citizenship.

He said, “I, Rubi Rivlin, believe that Zion is entirely ours. I believe the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs [referring to the entire West Bank].”

He also said, “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there. There is no [separate] law for Israelis and for non-Israelis. It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all.”

Regarding the Regulation Law Rivlin said, “The issue of the expropriation of land must be a law [enacted] by the sovereign, correct and equal for all citizens, and not an extraterritorial law that is applied as needed. International law also applies to us.”

Rivlin himself owns land in the West Bank that he purchased from a Palestinian.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN,) the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview to Politico’s Global Podcast that Trump at one point was “ready to move the embassy at 12:01 on January 20th. Maybe even 12 and thirty seconds.” Corker added that announcing the relocation of the embassy “was going to be their first move,” but that ever since entering the White House, Trump’s team has been going through an evolution and “they get a greater sense of some of the complexities that exist.”   

Corker said that the embassy move could still happen, but that it would have to be done only after consultations with the important Arab states in the region. “I think they got to communicate to the Arab world that this isn’t doing away with the two-state-solution. There’s a lot of communication that’s got to come with it.” He also said the administration could be waiting with the move until after Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is confirmed by the Senate. Friedman’s first confirmation hearing before the committee chaired by Corker will take place on Thursday. 

Corker said, “My sense is they’re still moving there, but they’re doing some of the things that need to happen,”

For further reading click here.

UNESCO Exhibit
In the aftermath of last year’s UNESCO’s resolution which conspicuously failed to make any mention of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, Israel will be placing a permanent exhibit at UNESCO headquarters of a replica of the seven-branched Menorah featured on the Arch of Titus in Rome. The replica will showing Jewish slaves carrying the Menorah into exile to Rome and include a written explanation in English, French, Hebrew and Arabic.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen said, “The decision to place the scene from the Arch of Titus—which depicts Jews, the Menorah and other holy symbols following the destruction of the Second Temple going into exile—in UNESCO presents an objective, historical truth engraved in stone by a non-Jewish ruler 600 years before the appearance of Islam in the world.”

Hacohen added, “The exhibit and the statue are not meant to be a competition for Jerusalem or to hurt another religion’s connection to their holy place. This is just an additional step in explaining the truth that we were expelled from the Temple Mount by force to the coalition of lies of the Palestinians and Arab countries who claim we were never there and have no holy connection.”
For further reading click here.

North Korea Fun
An Israeli tourism company has received an exclusive franchise for issuing official tourist visas for visiting North Korea, which only a few Israelis have visited up until now. Rimon Tours group subsidiary Tarbutu will offer visits to the tyrannical and closed country starting this spring and summer.

Tarbutu program manager Haim Peres said, “North Korea is without question one of the most fascinating countries in the world today. It is a closed country cut off from the world, including its neighbors. More is unknown than known about the country.”

According to figures from Tarbutu, only 100 Israelis have visited North Korea in organized tours. Up until now, Israelis have been granted tourist visas for North Korean only through parties in China. Now, however, KISTC, the North Korean national travel agency, is accepting tourist visas for Israelis.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “There is no travel warning for North Korea, and no specific ban on traveling there. We of course recommend extreme caution, since there are no diplomatic relations with North Korea, but it is not classified as an enemy country.”

Vacation and touring packages to North Korea will run in the $3,850-4,150 range, not including personal expenses, insurance, or tourist visas to China.

Passover in North Korea??

For further reading click here.

Survey Says
A survey by InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, rated 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1-7. Expats rated everything from childcare and education, to children’s health and safety. Each country had to have at least 31 respondents who are raising dependent children abroad, for the nation to be included in the index.

Out of 45 countries in the index, Israel ranked number 3, behind Finland and the Czech Republic and ahead of Austria and Sweden.

To see the complete list with explanations click here.