Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-27-19

Meeting Putin
PM Netanyahu is meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow today. The PM told Putin, “Our direct contact has prevented friction between our armies, and contributed to the security and stability of the region.” He added, “The greatest threat to the safety and stability of the region is Iran and its partners, and we are determined to continue our actions against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.”

For further reading click here.

Terror Arrests
The Shin Bet today released a statement saying, “This morning, in a joint operation by the Shin Bet security service, Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, Zakaria Zubeidi and Tarek Barghout were arrested in connection with their involvement in serious and current terrorist activities.”

Zubeidi, a former commander of a Fatah terror unit and an architect of several terror attacks, is suspected of being engaged in current terror activities. Barghout, an attorney who represents terror suspects, was arrested for the same reason.

Also today, Israeli police arrested Adnan Gheith, the Palestinian Authority’s chief of the Jerusalem governate, following riots on the Temple Mount. Palestinian media reported that Gheith was among 22 Arabs residents arrested in overnight in raids in east Jerusalem.

For further reading click here.

Ban Attempt
Yesh Atid joined the Labor and Meretz parties in attempting to ban members of the far right Otzma Yehudit party from running for the Knesset. Otzma Yehudit accused Yesh Atid and its partner Jewish Resilience (the new unity party is called Blue and White) of planning to include Arab Knesset members in a government if they win the election. Blue and White clearly already stated that they would never join with the Arab parties.

The decision to ban Otzma Yehudit will need to be approved by the Central Elections Committee. The issue would then be brought before the Supreme Court, which in the last election cycle overruled bans on an Arab lawmaker and a far-right right activist now in Otzma Yehudit from participating in the elections. So despite the protests and outcries, unless something unexpected occurs, it looks like Otzma Yehudit will be taking part in the upcoming elections.

For further reading click here.

Bennett Warns
Naftali Bennet, the head of the New Right party, is warning that unless the right wing block wins big in the election, a Palestinian state will be created right after the elections. He related his warning to an interview given by Jared Kushner in which Kushner said, “the American peace plan is very detailed and will focus on drawing the border and resolving the core issues.”

Bennett said, “Kushner’s words prove what we already know, that the day after the elections, the Americans will push the Netanyahu-Lapid-Ganz government to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on Route 6, to agree to the division of Jerusalem – and Netanyahu will be forced to acquiesce.”

He added, “Netanyahu and Trump are coordinating the timing of the plan’s release to be immediately after the elections. Even the crawling into the coalition of the Left wing Lapid-Ganz party is already understood. There is only one way to prevent this, and that is with a strong and powerful New Right party, that will recommend Netanyahu, but will exert counter-pressure to stop the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

[Nothing like some fear mongering to fire up the voters.]

For further reading click here.

Walmart Purchase
Walmart has acquired Tel Aviv based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Aspectiva for an undisclosed sum reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Aspectiva uses AI to analyze consumer opinions and turns them into valuable insights for retailers. Walmart said that Aspectiva’s natural language processing capabilities will help it to further enhance the end-to-end shopping experience. The Aspectiva team has joined Store N° 8, Walmarts technology incubator, and will continue to operate from Aspectiva’s offices in Tel Aviv.

For further reading click here.

IsraelAM Feb25

Israel News for 2-25-19 [infographic]

IsraelAM Feb25

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-25-19

Election Updates
PM Netanyahu defended his decision to support the inclusion of the extreme Otzma Yehudit party into a coalition of small right wing parties, against criticism from AIPAC and other American Jewish organizations. The PM called the criticism “hypocrisy and double standards”.

The latest polls show that the new Blue and White party of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid will beat Netanyahu’s Likud by a handful of seats. But neither party will have enough seats to form a government without a coalition, and both the Left block and the Right block are projected to have only 48 seats.

That could leave the king making power in the hands of the Haredi (ultra Orthodox parties), and leaders of the UTJ (United Torah Judaism) have clearly stated that they will absolutely not join a government with Yair Lapid.

Meanwhile, Lapid said in an interview that Blue and White would seek to form a unity government with Likud. He said that he thought that Netanyahu would most likely step down as leader of the Likud after losing the election, paving the way for the possibility of a unity government. Lapid also stated that Blue and White would, under no circumstances, form a government with the Arab parties.

Let the horse trading begin!

For further reading click here.

Tree Theft
Jewish settlers planted around 50 trees between Tekoa and Nokdim on Friday in memory of Ori Ansbacher, the 19 year old woman who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in a Jerusalem forest earlier this month. Ori lived in Tekoa. On Sunday Palestinians uprooted and stole the trees.

For further reading click here.

No Apologies
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz emphasized the close cooperation between the Israeli and Polish governments and Poland’s “significant contribution to the safety and stability” in the Middle East.

But he refused to apologize for his comments last week when he said, “The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about, it is something clear and we won’t forget or forgive. Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and as Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered by Poles, said, ‘they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk’.” Poland condemned Katz’s comments as racist and pulled out of a summit meeting in Jerusalem in protest.

[We commend Katz for speaking the truth and standing behind his words. While we can, and should, work for a better future, we cannot erase or falsify the past. Doing so desecrates and denigrates the memory of the 6 million martyrs.]

For further reading click here.

Healthy Country
According to Bloomberg’s Healthiest Country Index released today, Israel ranked #10 out of 169 countries. The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.

The top 10 countries were Spain, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway and Israel. The US ranked 35, Canada 16 and the UK 19.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-22-19

Election Update
In a last minute move to increase their chances of defeating PM Netanyahu, the two largest parties running against Likud agreed to unite and run together in the April elections. According to the agreement, the Israel Resilience leader Benny Gantz will serve as PM for the first 2.5 years and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid after that — assuming that they win enough seats and are able to form a government. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will take over the defense portfolio. And another former IDF chief, Gabi Ashkenazi has also joined the party, raising the parties number of former IDF leaders to 3. The new party is called Blue and White.

According to 3 new polls released after the agreement, the Blue and White (BW) party is projected to win between 35-36 Knesset seats, against Likud’s 26-32. If that happens then BW will have the opportunity to form a government. But that might not be so easy, given that 61 seats are needed to form a government (there are 120 seats in the Knesset).

If BW looks to the “left” it’ll probably find Labor with around 8 seats, Meretz with 4 and Kulanu with 4. So even if BW is able to win 36 seats, it still will only build a coalition of 52 seats.

If Likud wins 32 seats, it can look to the “right” and find another 26 seats, which would give them 58. Then Netanyahu would probably try to work out a deal with Kulanu leader Moshe Kahalon, who already served in Netanyahu’s government, to bring in his 4 seats, making 62.

In order to make sure that the smaller right wing parties don’t cannibalize each other’s votes and miss crossing the minimum vote threshold to qualify for a Knesset seat, the PM brokered a deal for a merger of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) with National Union and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power). This caused an outcry from everyone outside of the extreme right, since Otzma is composed of radical right-wing activists considered by many to be racist against Arabs.

Other possibilities could also shake up the mix. For instance, the Haredi parties, Shas and UTJ, with a combined 12 seats, could cut a deal with BW to form a new government. But that’s an unlikely scenario given Lapid and Gantz’s policies regarding the drafting of yeshiva students, allowing civil marriage as well as allowing non Orthodox prayer services at the Kotel (Western Wall).

On the other hand, Netanyahu might convince either Lapid or Gantz to join his coalition and form a more centrist government as opposed to a pure right wing one. But that’s only if Netanyahu does not face a hearing in the criminal investigation he’s under before the election, in which case both Lapid and Gantz have promised not to join him in a coalition.

What about the Joint Arab List, which is expected win around 12-14 seats? No Jewish party has ever agreed to include the Arabs in a coalition. It’s taboo. Political suicide. Won’t happen.

So the bottom line looks like PM Netanyahu will extend his reign and surpass Ben Gurion to become the longest serving PM of Israel — one way or the other. But you never know what will happen when people go to the voting booths, especially in Israel. The only thing we can say for sure is that it’s going to be a very tough and lively month and a half of campaigning.

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount
Security forces arrested 60 Palestinians last night suspected of planning violence on the Temple Mount during Muslim prayers there today. Police are bracing for another round of potential violent clashes on the Temple Mount following violent rioting on Tuesday, when crowds tried to break threw a closed off gate on the Mount, prompting police to arrest 19 rioters.

The Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf, which Israeli officials believe has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.

For further reading click here.

PA Rejects Funds
Palestinian Authority President Abbas announced that the PA will no longer accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel, after Israel decided to deduct the money that the PA pays to support the families of terrorists.

For further reading click here.

Business Cooperation
Speaking at a Jerusalem forum to encourage business links between Israeli settlements and Palestinians, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, “There are many, many Palestinians that would like to be freed up to engage in business ventures with Israelis, and they’re entitled to that opportunity.” To which Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, responded, “This constitutes a stab in the back of the Palestinian people. We warn against any involvement or participation of any Palestinian in projects with settlers, or meetings called by the American ambassador.” So much for that.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Reparations
On Tuesday, February 12, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his first official visit to Poland, raised the issue of Holocaust-era property restitution at a joint press conference in Warsaw with the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Jacek Czaputowicz.

Secretary of State Pompeo said: “We also appreciate the importance of resolving outstanding issues of the past and I urge my Polish colleagues to move forward with comprehensive private property restitution legislation for those who lost property during the Holocaust era.”

This past Sunday, February 17, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted that the question of Polish compensation for Jewish assets stolen by the Nazi was “definitively resolved,” in a 1960 bilateral agreement between the US and Poland.

In response, the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) released a statement expressing surprise and disappointment to see Prime Minister Morawiecki’s reply to Secretary Pompeo’s remarks. WJRO went on to urge the Polish PM and his government to seize this opportunity to do justice for those who lost so much.

According to the Polish Prime Minister, Vice President Pence also raised the issue of property restitution in a meeting with him in Warsaw last week.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive legislation for restitution or compensation for property taken during the Holocaust by the Nazis and/or subsequently nationalized by the Communists.

Taken from WJRO newsletter

Moon Launch
At 3:45 a.m. Israel time today, a joint venture between private companies SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries launched a spacecraft that is scheduled to land on the Moon on April 11. That will make Israel the 4th country to land on the moon, after the US, Russia and China.

The $100 million spacecraft is funded almost entirely from private donations from well-known Jewish philanthropists including South African billionaire Morris Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Canadian real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, and others.

PM Netanyahu, who was at the command center for the launch, calling the initiative “a big step for Israel, and a big step for Israeli technology.”

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 2-20-19 [infographic]

IsraelAM Feb20

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-20-19

Conference Cancelled
The conference of 4 Eastern European nations in Jerusalem was cancelled after Poland refused to attend because of alleged remarks by PM Netanyahu and confirmed remarks by Israel’s acting Foreign Minister saying that Poland collaborated in the destruction of the Jews during the Holocaust. Instead, the PM met privately with the Prime Ministers of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and Hungary and then hosted a lunch with all 3 leaders. [The truth is that all 3 countries played a role in the destruction of “their” Jews. The PM has taken flack for forging close relations with them.]

Hungary’s PM announced that Hungary will open a trade office in Jerusalem that has “diplomatic status”.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher recommended that Israel’s FM apologize for his remarks.

For further reading click here.

Single US Mission
Last October, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be merged into the new US Embassy. Yesterday a US official said, “The merger of the consulate and the embassy will take place on March 4th or 5th, at which point the position of the consul-general will end.”

The Palestinians have condemned the upcoming move, which highlights the united nature of Jerusalem. Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, “Contacts at the political level with the American administration have been cut off and will remain so unless the American administration changes its positions on Jerusalem and the refugees.” He added, however, that there are still “contacts at the security level to fight terrorism.”

For further reading click here.

Morocco Visit
PM Netanyahu is reportedly planning a visit to Morocco before the upcoming April elections. Morocco sees Israel as a path to Washington, while Israel sees Morocco as an opportunity to open relations with a major Arab country. [Doing so before the election would definitely help the PM.] The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

For further reading click here.

Lawsuit Revived
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit overturned a ruling by a federal judge who, in August 2017, threw out a $1 billion lawsuit by Palestinians seeking to hold billionaire Sheldon Adelson and more than 30 other pro-Israel defendants liable for alleged war crimes and support of Israeli settlements. Other defendants included billionaire Larry Ellison, Bank Leumi BM and Bank Hapoalim BM, construction and support companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and Volvo AB, 13 nonprofits, and the United States.

The federal judge had decided that it was inappropriate for her to resolve the issue of settlements and other politically related issues. But Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the Appeals Court said that a court could rule on whether the defendants conspired to expel non-Jews or committed war crimes “without touching the sovereignty question, if it concluded that Israeli settlers are committing genocide.”

For further reading click here.

Kinneret Rising
The water level in the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) is expected to climb above the lake’s lower red line for the first time in two years, at which point pumping will no longer face government restrictions. The water level now stands at 23 centimeters below the lower red line, but is expected to pass that within a few weeks, thanks to the heavy rains and snow this winter.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. Kinneret Authority Deputy Chairman Pinchas Green warned, “Every summer, the lake’s waterline decreases by 0.5-1 cm per day due to water evaporation, which means the Kinneret will again plunge below the lower red line.”

For further reading click here.

Torah Podcast
Please check out and subscribe to my new Jewish Wisdom podcast. The latest episode is on this week’s Torah portion (parsha) of Ki Tisah.

To access the podcast on iTunes click here, or just search for Jewish Wisdom.

israel news

Israel News for 2-18-19 [infographic]

israel news infographic

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-18-19

Foreign Minister
PM Netanyahu has appointed Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz as interim Foreign Minister. He will serve until after the April 9th elections. Netanyahu has held the Foreign Minister portfolio since 2015.

For further reading click here.

Polish PM Cancels

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled his upcoming trip to Israel in reaction to a remark made by PM Netanyahu in Warsaw. Last Thursday Netanyahu was asked by reporters about the Polish law outlawing anyone saying that Poland played a role in the Holocaust. He answered, “Here I am saying Poles cooperated with the Nazis. I know the history and I don’t whitewash it. I bring it up.” The PM reportedly called the report false and said that he had been misquoted and that he was only referring to individual cases of Poles collaborating with Nazis.

The Polish PM was scheduled to attend a summit of 4 central and eastern European nations in Jerusalem today. Instead, Poland’s Foreign Minister was supposed to attend, but then Israel’s new interim Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz gave a TV interview in which he said, “I am a son of Holocaust survivors and I was even born and grew up in a community made up of Holocaust survivor. The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about; it is clear and we won’t forget or forgive. In diplomacy you try not to offend, but nobody will change the historical truth to do something like that. Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely. As Yitzhak Shamir said, they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”

On Monday morning Katz told Israel Radio that “the Poles took part in the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust. Poland became the biggest cemetery of the Jewish people.” As a result, the Polish government summoned the Israeli Ambassador in Warsaw to reprimand him.

Poland will not attend the conference, at all.

[The truth hurts, but denying it is no solution. It’s time for Poland to take responsibility for its actions during WWII, and to return Jewish property to its rightful owners and their heirs. Poland is the European Union member that has not offered any such restitution.]

For further reading click here.

Election Update

Hatnuah leader MK Tzipi Livni announced today that she will not run for the Knesset in April and that she is quitting politics after a 20 year career. After polls showed that Hatnuah would not pass the electoral threshold, Livni sought to join forces with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, but Lapid declined. Then she tried to strike a deal with Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz, but that didn’t work either. In January, Labor Party head Avi Gabbay split off from Hatnuah.

Livni served as Foreign Minister from 2006-2009 and then as leader of the opposition from 2009-2012. From 2013-2014 she served as Justice Minister.

For further reading click here.

Arms Sales

According to data published by the Ministry of Defense, Israeli exports of weapons and defense systems reached a new record in 2017, totaling $9.2 billion in sales. Israel is the 7th largest exporter of weapons in the world, according to a March 2018 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Three Israeli weapon makers were among the 100 companies worldwide to make the most money by selling arms in 2017.

Around 4% of Israel’s arms sales are to what are considered to be “rogue” regimes, which Israel does primarily in order to get the votes of these countries in the UN and other such international bodies. But opposition in Israel to these sales is growing.

For further reading click here.

Free PR

IsraelAM will be publishing a series of interviews with leaders of Israel related organizations or political or religious leaders that are staunch supporters of Israel. If you fit the bill, and would like to expose your message and mission to our audience, please let us know.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-15-19

Military Exercise

Yesterday, the IDF and the US European Command (USEUCOM) concluded a 10 day joint exercise, codenamed Juniper Falcon, which included a scenario in which an attack by Israel on Iranian interests in Syria or Lebanon elicits an Iranian retaliatory missile strike with the US coming to Israel’s aid.

Three IDF command structures, together with US air defense units, practiced a scenario in which tens of thousands of missiles and rockets are launched at Israel from Lebanon, Syria, Iran and even Iraq by pro-Iranian militias.US aircraft carriers were integrated into the exercise and used to locate, identify and neutralize threats.

The IDF issued a press release stating that “the exercise included reception of American heavy-lift aircraft, deployment of infrastructure and the employment of shared C4I systems. More than 300 US servicemen and women participated in the exercise alongside 400 IDF soldiers from many units, including the Air Defense Array, the Planning and Operations Directorate, the C4I and Cyber Defense Directorate, logistic units, and other forces.”

Meanwhile, Israeli tank forces, along with air force, engineering and intelligence units, staged a massive exercise in the north of the country simulating a conflict with Hezbollah.

For further reading click here.

Leaked Video

The PM’s Office released a 25 minute video, taken on a mobile device, of a closed panel discussion at the U.S. sponsored security conference in Warsaw.

In the video, Bahrain’s foreign minister says that the threat from Iran is much more important than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He also said that “toxic money, guns and foot soldiers of the Islamic Republic” have hindered progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, also accused Iran of hurting the Palestinian cause by supporting militant groups battling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

When asked about Israel’s military activity in Syria, the UAE’s Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said, “Every nation has the right to defend itself when it’s challenged by another nation.”

While Netanyahu did not participate in the discussion, he was seen sitting in the audience. The video was removed shortly after it was posted, apparently upon the request of the Gulf nations. It’s unclear if the original release of the video was intentional or a mistake.

In any case the video shows that relations between Israel and the Gulf nations are changing for the better and might very soon become normalized.

For further reading click here.

Foreign Minister

PM Netanyahu will appoint a new foreign minister on Sunday. The PM currently serves as foreign minister as well as defense minister and health minister. The Supreme Court ruled that he must give up one of his posts. The new FM will only serve until the elections in April, after which a new government will be formed.

For further reading click here.

Election Update

The Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) and National Union parties have signed an agreement to run on a joint list in the upcoming elections. Both parties have their base of support in the national religious community.

For further reading click here.

PM Plane Mishap

On Thursday the PM’s plane, an El Al charter, was accidentally hit by a towing vehicle on the runway of the Warsaw airport. The plane was damaged and the PM and his delegation were forced to spend an extra night in Warsaw. Another El Al plane arrived from Israel to pick them up and bring them home today, before Shabbat. [This kind of stuff never happens to Air Force 1]

For further reading click here.

Warsaw Ghetto Visit

PM Netanyahu, US VP Pence and the PM of Poland visited the Warsaw Ghetto memorial in Warsaw yesterday. Jared Kushner was there too. To watch a video of the memorial visit click here.

New Podcast
I’ve launched a new podcast called Jewish Wisdom, as part of a larger project that will include a website and some books. The goal of the project is to share authentic Jewish teachings, insights and advice based on the Bible, Talmud and Kabbalah. To kick things off I’ll be publishing a weekly podcast on the Parshah (weekly Torah portion). You can find the podcast on iTunes or Google Play. Please subscribe and share!

To listen to the podcast in iTunes click here.

israel news

Israel News for 2-13-19 [infographic]

israel news