Israel News for 12-6-17

Jerusalem Speech
At the time of this writing we are all waiting to hear what US President Trump will say regarding Jerusalem in his speech later today. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday declined to provide any clues.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that President Trump informed him in a telephone conversation that he intends to move the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Abbas “warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world.”

The White House spokesperson said that Trump also had telephone conversations with PM Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan regarding the embassy move. King Abdullah then called Abbas to stress, “his full support with his Palestinian brothers in respect to their historic rights inherent in Jerusalem and of the need to work together to face the consequences of Trump’s decision and halt whatever will harm the hopes of the Palestinian people to build a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

King Muhammad VI of Morocco sent Trump a memo in the name of 57 Arab and Muslim nations expressing concern and disapproval of the expected move. The European Union, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Arab League have all warned that any such move would have repercussions across the region.

Trump is expected to announce the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his intention to move the US embassy there, but that the process of moving would take several years. In the meantime he is expected to sign the waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv for the time being.

Israel’s security forces are on high alert against the threat of wide spread violence in the wake of Trumps announcement.

For further reading click here.

Taylor Act
The US House of Representatives, in a bipartisan vote, overwhelmingly passed the Taylor Act. The bill states that US financial aid to the Palestinian Authority will only be made available if the State Department certifies the Palestinians are serious about ending “acts of violence against Israeli citizens and United States citizens that are perpetrated or materially assisted by individuals under their jurisdictional control.” The PA is also required to revoke any laws or regulations authorizing the payments to terrorists or their families and must publicly condemn the acts of violence.

The bill is named for Taylor Force, an MBA student at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and a West Point graduate who was visiting Israel in March 2016 when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist.

For further reading click here.

Mount of Olives
A new bus line that takes passengers directly to the Mount of Olives, where the oldest Jewish cemetery if located, launched this week. Hundreds of people have already used the new line to visit the cemetery.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat initiated the idea, working together with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) and the Jerusalem Cemetery Council. According to Barkat, “The Mount of Olives is a very important place, and it is critical that there be a bus line which goes there. I am sure that thanks to this new line, many more people will visit the Mount of Olives. I thank Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz for his help and support in advancing and approving this line.”

For further reading click here.

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israel air force

Israel News for 12-5-17

IDF Hits Syria
According to Al Mayadeen, a news outlet affiliated with Hezbollah, Israeli aircraft fired six missiles at a military scientific research center in the Jamraya area on the outskirts of Damascus late Monday night. Three of the missiles were reportedly intercepted by Syrian aerial defense missiles. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the report. No casualties were reported. The Jamraya area contains many military facilities as well as what is likely a chemical weapons production and storage site.

On Friday night, Arab media reported Israel had attacked an Iranian military base in the al-Kiswah area.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move?
Anticipation is building as to whether President Trump will officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there. The White House said that announcement on the decision will be made “in coming days”. Senior US officials have said that Trump will probably sign a waiver postponing the embassy move for at least another 6 months. But they also said that Trump will most likely give a speech on Wednesday unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The US administration has instructed its consulates and embassies in the Middle East to raise their alert level for fear of protests against American institutions. Israel’s security forces are preparing for possible violence by Palestinians and attacks by Hamas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his parliament that Turkey “could go as far as us cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.”

Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, responded to Erdogan’s threat saying that all of the world’s embassies should be located in Jerusalem and that Israel cannot be threatened. Israeli government officials across the board echoed Lapid’s reaction.

The Arab League has warned the US against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling such a move “naked aggression”. The Palestinian Authority warned that the move would destroy Washington’s role as mediator between Israelis and Palestinians and that the Palestinians would stop all contacts with the US.

Now we wait.

For further reading click here.

Terrorists Arrested
The Shin Bet announced that they have arrested two suspects in the terror attack last Friday in Arad that killed IDF soldier Ron Yitzhak Kukia. Both suspects are Israeli citizens. No further information has been released.

For further reading click here.

Modesty Signs
For almost three years, women in Beit Shemesh have been asking the municipality to remove “modesty signs” placed around the city by Haredi activists. The signs warn women not to walk on the street unless they are dressed in a way that reflects Haredi standards of modesty as relates to clothing. The municipality has not removed the signs even though a administrative court ruling in 2015 demanded the signs come down by July 2017, and fined the city NIS 10,000 for every day the signs remained up.

On Monday the Supreme Court issued an ultimatum to the Beit Shemesh municipality ordering the removal of modesty signs by Sunday, December 12th.

For further reading click here.

Clean Energy
Speaking at the Israel Energy and Business Convention, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Dr. Yuval Steinitz said, “By 2030, Israel will no longer use any gasoline or coal.”

Citing statistics showing that 2,200 Israelis die of air pollution each year, Steinitz said, “Our new national task, now that the natural gas reservoirs and renewable energy are making it possible, is to wean Israel from polluting fuel. I intend to adopt the Dutch vision – by 2030, Israel will have no air pollution. This means using no polluting fuels – coal, fuel oil, and diesel fuel – in electricity production, transportation, and industry.”

For further reading click here.

boy israeli flag

Israel News for 12-4-17

Self Defense
The investigation into the shooting death of one of the Palestinians, who attacked a group of young boys on a bar mitzvah hike in Samaria last week, by the father of one of the boys is continuing. The father, who was one of two adult escorts on the hike, is being accused of involuntary manslaughter. The IDF claims that the hike did not have the required authorization from the IDF. But the accused father yesterday presented an email that he sent to the proper IDF authorities requesting authorization, and he claimed that he received verbal authorization.

Naomi Ofen, whose son was among the hikers, remarked, “My son came back traumatized. He said they were going to die. He’s still suffering from anxiety and it’s shameful the army and police are treating the heroes who saved the children as criminals and distorting the picture by turning the assaulted into the assailant.”

Meanwhile, a group of settlers hiked to the location of the incident near the village of Qusra today to demonstrate the right of Jews to hike anywhere in the country. They were attacked by Palestinians throwing rocks. Security forces arrives at the scene. There was gunfire. One Palestinian was reported injured.

To see a brief video of the encounter click here.

Saudi Plan
Last month PA President Abbas visited Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to Palestinian, Arab and European officials who heard Abbas’s version of the conversation, the peace plan proposed by the prince would grant the Palestinians limited sovereignty over a non contiguous state in only parts of the West Bank. The vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank would remain. The Palestinians would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

The White House on Sunday denied that was its plan, saying it was still months away from finalizing a blueprint for peace, and the Saudi government denied that it supports those positions. The Saudis have also denied the plan.

The reported Saudi peace plan, coupled with rumors that President Trump will officially declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there, are making the Palestinians extremely uneasy (to say the least).

To read the entire NYTimes article click here.

Case Closed
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced last night that he was closing the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Bayit Yehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky because of insufficient evidence.

The investigation was initially launched by police on the basis of the testimonies of several women who accused Slomiansky of sexually inappropriate behavior. Slomiansky claimed he never sexually harassed anyone and postulated his accusers may have misinterpreted his warm and affectionate behavior.

A statement issued on his behalf claimed, “MK Nissan Slomiansky has never harassed women. After a meeting with several rabbis, he understood that his warm and affectionate behavior, which is the same toward everyone, is sometimes interpreted in a different way, and for that he is sorry. MK Slomiansky has been serving the public for 40 years, including time in the Knesset, and he will continue to do so.”

Case closed.

For further reading click here.

No to Corruption
Tens of thousands of people participated in the “March of Shame” Saturday night in Tel Aviv in protest of government corruption and what demonstrators said was foot-dragging in the investigations against PM Netanyahu.

The demonstration was specifically aimed at the Recommendations Bill, which would prohibit the police from recommending indictments, leaving all recommendations in the hands of the government prosecutor or attorney general. The bill, which passed its first Knesset reading, is viewed by many as an attempt to protect PM Netanyahu from an ongoing police investigation against him.

The PM denies that the bill is aimed at protecting him and has instructed the bill’s sponsored to modify the wording of the bill to specifically exclude the PM’s personal situation.

He posted via Facebook: “The recommendations bill is a good bill. It protects human dignity. Unfortunately, the bill has been used as a political battering ram against an elected government that has made unprecedented security, economic, social and diplomatic achievements. To ensure the discussion on the bill remains on topic and is not used for political propaganda, I’ve asked MK Amsalem to ensure the bill is worded in a way that it does not apply to the investigation conducted into my affairs.”

The bill was scheduled to be voted on again in the Knesset today but was postponed until next week in light of hesitation from ministers in the Bayit Yehudi and Kulanu parties. The government needs the votes of all of its coalition MK’s in order to pass the bill.

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Law
The government approved Sunday the so-called “supermarkets bill,” which gives the Interior Ministry the power to overrule municipal bylaws and order the closing of supermarkets during Shabbat. The bill also states any new bylaw pertaining to opening shops or recreation centers on Shabbat will have to be approved by the interior minister himself. It will not apply, however, to existing bylaws approved by the High Court, such as the ones allowing supermarkets to remain open in Tel Aviv.

The bill, sponsored by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), passed by a vote of 10 – 2. The dissenters were Yisrael Beytenu’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver.

The bill is part of a compromise proposed by PM Netnayhu to placate the Haredi parties and keep them in his coalition. It will need to be approved by the Knesset to become law.

For further reading click here.

Bad Cash
The new Israeli 50 shekel banknote recently released features the image of the late poet Saul Tchernichovsky. The new bill has stirred anger in the nationalistic and religious sectors because the poet was married to a Russian born Christian woman, with whom he had a daughter.

Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, remarked, “Shaul Tchernichovsky has become a symbol of assimilation, of assimilation ideology. It is inconceivable that such a person, as important a poet as he may be, should become a symbol in the State of Israel.”

Prominant Sephardic rabbi Bension Mutzafi that he felt it was prohibited to look at the poet’s image on the bill. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in Jerusalem, said, “Tchernichovsky was indeed an incredibly talented author and poet, and is tied to the people of Israel, but a terrible dishonor was deeply imprinted on his life, as he was married to a gentile woman, a very religious Christian,” adding that it was unthinkable that an intermarried poet should be “glorified on the nation’s banknote.”

For further reading click here.

idf soldier killed arad

Israel News for 12-1-17

Terror Stabbing
A soldier waiting for a bus outside a mall in the southern city of Arad was stabbed to death last night, in what police are calling a nationalistically motivated terror attack. An eye witness recounted the incident, saying “Someone came up to the soldier from behind and stabbed him. I saw him lying down (on the ground). My friend called me over when it happened, he tried to stop the bleeding with a towel.”

The soldier killed was 19-year-old Ron Yitzhak Kukia from Tel Aviv, who served in the Nahal infantry brigade. He will be laid to rest on Sunday at 12pm at Kiryat Shaul Cemetery. Kukia was posthumously promoted from the rank of corporal to sergeant.

More than 250 policemen and soldiers were deployed across Arad this morning, searching for the terror suspects.

Residents of Arad left flowers and lit candles at the site of Kukia’s murder.

For further reading click here.

Police Investigating
Yesterday we told you about the group of children that was attacked by Palestinians and that the two adults escorting the group, one of whom was a father of one of the boys, opened fire at the Palestinians, killing one man.

Today the escorts are being questioned by police who are investigating whether the shooting was justified or not.

For further reading click here.

Inspiration from Samaria
Here’s an inspiring music video of the women’s choir of Samaria, Hallel, singing Modeh Ani, a song of thanksgiving for all the things we’re blessed with. The video includes stunning scenes of the Samarian landscape.

To watch the video click here.