Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-29-19

Gaza Update
PM Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel will launch a ground operation into Gaza only if all other options fail. Hamas is planning a “million man march” for Saturday along the Gaza border with Israel, which could lead to violence and an escalation in the already fragile situation along the border.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said that due to the tense and sensitive situation, all fighting forces in the Israeli Southern Command will remain on their bases during the weekend, and a division, three brigades and artillery forces have been deployed to the Gaza border.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Rabi Ashkenazi, one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, said that Israel “needs to catch the terrorists when they’re not expecting it – in their camps, in their military headquarters, in their beds. [We] need to kill as many of Hamas’ leaders, commanders, and members as possible, not be afraid of a wide scale operation including sending in ground forces if need be – and immediately after that put forth a regional initiative to rehabilitate Gaza.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of Egyptian intelligence officials is shuttling between Gaza and Israel to try and broker some sort of agreement to halt hostilities.

In a sign that the situation seems to have calmed down, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh made his first public appearance since violence with Israel erupted earlier this week. During times of fighting, Hamas leaders typically go underground, fearing assassination.

For further reading click here.

Changing Times
United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that there needs to be a shift in Arab policy towards Israel in order for there to be peace. He said, “Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back. Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open.”

Gargash said he expected increased contact between Arab countries and Israel through small bilateral deals and visits by politicians and athletic delegations.

For further reading click here.

Jews Returning
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Jews of Spain and Portugal were either expelled or forced to convert. Many reluctantly chose conversion, but continued to practice Judaism in secret. They were derogatorily called Marranos, or pigs, by Christians and “Anusim” (those forced) by Jews. Thousands of these Anusim, spread throughout Spain, Portugal and Central and South America continued hiding their true identities in the face of the inquisitions, some for hundreds of years, until their Jewish practices were all but totally forgotten.

There are tens, possibly hundreds of thousands, of descendants of these Anusim today. Some of them have begun to reconnect with their Jewish roots and even return to Judaism.

In Brazil, one rabbi runs a summer camp geared towards the Bnei (children of) Anusim scattered throughout the country. It is an inspiring story of lost Jews returning to their faith.

To read more about this story click here.

Salt Cave
Israeli researchers have surveyed what they now believe to be the world’s longest salt cave, a network of twisting passageways at the southern tip of the Dead Sea.

A recently completed survey of the Malham Cave determined the labyrinthine cavern stretches more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) in length. That puts it well ahead of Iran’s Namakdan Cave, previously thought to be the longest salt cave.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-27-19

Gaza Update
The ceasefire was broken last night when a rocket was fired from Gaza at the Israeli communities near the Gaza border. There were no casualties or damage.

In response to the rocket fire, Israeli jets carried out airstrikes against Hamas positions in Gaza. More rockets were fired from Gaza at the major Israeli city of Ashkelon during the night. The rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The Prime Minister, back from Washington, said that Israel may take further action. The IDF called up more reserves and is increasing its troop strength along the border.

For further reading click here.

Terror Suspects
Security forces arrested 3 terror suspects near Bethlehem last night. Palestinians rioters attacked the security forces. Palestinian sources report that one rioter was shot and killed and 3 others wounded.

For further reading click here.

Election Update
According to 2 new polls just released, Blue and White holds a 30 to 28 seat lead over Likud. However, the right wing block has increased its seat total to either 63 or 65, which would give PM Netanyahu the ability to form a new government. At this point it doesn’t seem like Blue and White has a path to successfully forming a government, even if it joins with the Arab parties, which it has said that it won’t do.

Meanwhile, over 5,000 Israeli government employees working overseas will be allowed to cast absentee ballots today.

For further reading click here.

Startup Nation
McDonald’s Corporation has announced an agreement to acquire Israeli AI startup Dynamic Yield, which develops personalization and decision logic technology for a sum reportedly over $300 million.

McDonald’s said that it will utilize the Tel Aviv based company’s decision technology to provide an even more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. The decision technology, McDonald’s added, can also instantly suggest and display additional items to a customer’s order based on their current selections.

Dynamic Yield was founded in 2011 by CEO Liad Agmon and CTO Omri Mendellevich and has raised a total of $83 million dollars. The company has 200 employees in Tel Aviv and New York.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-26-19

Gaza Update
A ceasefire has been reached between Israel and Hamas. It comes after over 100 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, at least 30 of which were fired after the truce was called. Over the last day Israeli aircraft and naval vessels struck hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza including the Hamas military intelligence headquarters and the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. PM Netanyahu approved every target hit by the IDF, before he left Washington to rush back to Israel.

A senior Hamas official said that the original rocket that hit and destroyed an Israeli house north of Tel Aviv was fired by order of Iran in order to hurt Netanyahu’s chances of winning the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, yesterday in Washington, President Trump signed a declaration officially recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-25-19

Rocket Hits
A rocket fired from Gaza at 5am today hit a house on Moshav Mishmeret, north of Kfar Saba (which is north of Tel Aviv). The house was destroyed, seven people (including 2 children) were injured and 4 family dogs were killed. The Iron Dome missile defense system was not operational in that area.

The IDF said that the rocket was fired by Hamas from a Hamas position in southern Gaza, a distance of around 120 kilometers. IDF troops, including reservists, are deploying near the Gaza border. Hamas leaders were reportedly evacuating to shelters in anticipation of IDF strikes.

The attack came just hours after several Hamas prisoners stabbed two guards at Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, moderately wounding one of them. In an attempt to restrain the prisoners, at least 11 of the incarcerated were wounded, two critically. Following the incident, Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group issued a threat, warning Israel of “consequences for its aggression that will be felt by soldiers and citizens.”

PM Netanyahu, currently in Washington, said, “There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully. In light of the security events I have decided to cut short my visit to the US. In a few hours I will meet with President Trump; I will return to Israel immediately afterwards in order to manage our action from close at hand.”

For further reading click here.

Policial Fallout

Politicians from right to left criticized PM Netanyahu for being weak on security.

Blue White Party leader Benny Gantz said, “Netanyahu has lost his grip on Israel security and Israeli citizens are again experiencing sirens and a direct hit on a house. There is a security bankruptcy and Netanyahu needs to pack up immediately and go back to Israel to deal with this serious escalation. Will he still be satisfied with Hamas’ announcement of a mistake or will he finally concentrate on the security of the country’s citizens and not on his legal affairs? Someone who doesn’t respond with aggressiveness and force and pays protection to Hamas, now gets rockets on the Sharon.”

Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, the other Blue and White leaders, echoed Gantz’s comments.

New Right Party leader Naftali Bennett said, “Israel’s deterrence has collapsed, and it has to be said in all honesty, Netanyahu has failed against Hamas. Releasing terrorists, scared to destroy the homes of terrorists, restraint in the face of the rockets on the south – all of which led Hamas to stop being afraid of Israel. Netanyahu is a good prime minister but a failed defense minister. The time has come to appoint Bennett as defense minister in order to defeat Hamas.”

Rafi Peretz, leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties alliance, said, “A policy that allows incendiary balloons to threaten Alumim and Ein Habesor allows terrorist to fire missiles at Tel Aviv and the central region.”

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said, “Netanyahu is responsible for the poor security situation. He has lost our deterrence and strengthened Hamas. The time has come for us to deal with Hamas with courage and not with Netanyahu’s cowardice.”

Economy Minister Eli Cohen of the Kulanu party, along with other ministers, called for the return of targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-22-19

Golan Recognition
In a stunning shifting of US policy in the Middle East, President Trump tweeted yesterday, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

In response, PM Netanyahu tweeted, “At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump!”

An official announcement regarding US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is expected to come next week, when the PM visits Washington, where he will have 2 days of meetings with the President and other US officials.

For further reading click here.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted, “Given current political and security circumstances in Syria, we have said it was inconceivable to imagine Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. @realDonaldTrump’s statement marks a dramatic change in American policy, and we appreciate his leadership on this issue.”

The American Jewish Committee said, “We welcome President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which acknowledges the history of the region and the facts on the ground. The events in Syria have proven that the entire region is safer with Israel in control of this territory.”

For further reading click here.

Meanwhile, both Turkey and the Arab League (including Egypt and the Gulf states) blasted the decision, insisting that the Golan Heights remains occupied territory.

The European Union said, “The position of the EU has not changed. The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory.”

France, Germany and Russia all issued statements confirming their opposition to Israeli annexation of the Golan, calling it occupied territory.

For further reading click here.

Tensions High
Tensions are running high in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank after Israeli security forces killed 4 terrorists in the last couple of days. The Palestinians claim that 2 of the men killed were not really terrorists.

For further reading click here.

Big Mistake
Soldiers from one of Israel’s most elite units, the Air Force’s Shaldag commando paratrooper unit, accidentally left a computer containing highly sensitive information at a coffee shop in a gas station after returning from a classified mission. Luckily, a bus driver noticed the computer and handed it over to authorities.

Senior IDF officials say that if the computer had fallen into the hands of the enemy, it would have caused serious damage to Israel’s national security. The Military Police has opened an investigation into the incident and the five soldiers have been suspended from their duties in the unit. The outcome of  the investigation is will determine if and how they are allowed to  continue their service in the unit.

For further reading click here.

Top Hospital
Newsweek has ranked Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv as one of the world’s top ten hospitals.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-20-19

IDF Kills Terrorists
Early today, 2 terrorists threw several explosive devices at IDF troops guarding Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus). Troops opened fire at the terrorists, killing both of them.

For further reading click here.

IDF forces killed the terrorist who murdered an IDF soldier and a rabbi near Ariel on Sunday. Omar Abu-Laila was killed in a shootout in the West Bank village of Abwein, near Ramallah, after he opened fire on IDF forces who surrounded his house.

Meanwhile, the condition of Alexander Dvorsky, the 19 year old IDF soldier who was also shot by the terrorist, has significantly improved and his life is no longer in danger. Dvorsky immigrated from Moldova several years ago. His family lives in Nazareth-Illit.

For further reading click here.

Pompeo Visit
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel this week as part of trip during which he will also visit Kuwait City and Beirut.

In Jerusalem, the Secretary will meet with Israeli officials to engage on critical regional issues, including countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. The Secretary will also discuss the Administration’s dedication to monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism. He will also participate in a meeting with Israeli, Cypriot, and Greek leaders to discuss key energy and security issues facing the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Pompeo does not plan to talk about the highly anticipated Trump Middle East peace plan. “Look, we desperately want a good solution. Mr. Kushner’s working on the Middle East peace plan. There’ll be a right time when we will introduce bigger pieces of that.”

Pompeo will not meet with any Palestinian leaders.

Regarding speculation that his visit just weeks before the Israeli elections is a show of support for PM Netanyahu, Pompeo said, “I’m going to Israel because of the important relationship we have. Leaders will change in both countries over time. That relationship matters no matter who the leaders are.”

For further reading click here.

Tel Aviv Costs
According to the 2019 worldwide cost of living report published by the Economist, Tel Aviv is the 10th most expensive city in the world. Paris, Singapore, and Hong Kong share the top ranking, followed by Zurich, Geneva, and Osaka. New York tied Seoul and Copenhagen for sixth place. Tel Aviv shares the last spot in the rankings with Los Angeles.

The survey compares the prices of more than 160 products and services in cities around the world, including food and drinks, clothing, household supplies, average monthly rent, utility bills, private schools, and recreational activities.

For further reading click here.

Fast of Esther
Today is the Fast of Esther, commemorating the fast that Esther requested the Jews of Persia to observe as a way of beseeching God to grant her favor in the eyes of King Ahashverosh, so that she could plead for the salvation of the Jewish People. [Today we also have much to beseech God for.]

We celebrate the holiday of Purim tonight (Wed) and tomorrow (Thur), which commemorate the salvation of the Jews of the Persian empire, who were slated for destruction by the evil royal minister Haman. We read the Book of Esther (megillah), give charity and gifts and enjoy a festive meal. We also dress up in costume [to learn more about why we do that, listen to my “Jewish Wisdom” podcast Purim episode].

May we be saved from our enemies.

Happy Purim!

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-18-19

Terror Attack
At around 10am on Sunday morning, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a soldier at an intersection near the city of Ariel in Samaria. The terrorist then grabbed the soldier’s rifle and shot and killed him. The terrorist then shot at three vehicles, hitting and critically wounding 47 year old Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, a father of 12. He then hijacked a car and drove to a nearby junction where he shot and wounded another soldier. The terrorist then fled.

According to a preliminary investigation by the IDF, during the initial attack at Ariel Junction, the commander of the unit deployed to the junction managed to open fire on the terrorist during the attack, lightly wounded him. According to some reports, Rabbi Ettinger also managed to shoot at the terrorist.

Rabbi Ettinger was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva where doctors tried to save him, but he succumbed to his wounds. For the past three years, Rabbi Ettinger was the head of the Oz and Emunah hesder yeshiva in the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood of southern Tel Aviv.

The soldier killed was Staff Sergeant Gal Keidan, aged 19 from Be’er Sheva, who was a member of the Artillery Corps. He will be laid to rest at 11am Monday at the military cemetery in Be’er Sheva.

The third victim of the attack, IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky from Nazareth Illit, is still in serious condition at Beilinson Hospital. 

The IDF launched a massive manhunt to capture him. Security forces also raided the home of the terrorist, identified as 20 year old Omar Abu Lila from the village of Az-Zawiya, and arrested his younger brother and questioned his father.

For further reading and to view security camera footage of the attack click here.

Election Poll
According to the newest poll, Likud is expected to win 31 seats vs Blue White’s 30 seats. In total the right wing block is expected to win 63 seats, which would enable PM Netanyahu to form a coalition.

For further details on the poll breakdown click here.

The Supreme Court has disqualified the candidacy of Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, from the far right Otzma Yehudit party, from running in the upcoming elections. The court did not disqualify another Otzma candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

At the same time, the court approved the candidacy of Professor Ofer Cassif of the far left Hadash party. It also approved the controversial Arab Balad party.

The court’s ruling was expected and should not effect the ability of PM Netanyahu to form a right wing coalition.

For further reading click here.

Slander Alert
Beware of extra anti-Israel propaganda in honor of the 15th annual Israeli Apartheid Week, which kicks off today.

According to its website, “Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It now takes place in over 200 cities across the world, where events such as lectures, film screenings, direct action, cultural performances, postering, among many more help in grassroots organizing for effective solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.”

To know what you’re up against, you can check out the website here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-15-19

Rockets Fired at TA
Last night 2 rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza. Sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv and the Iron Dome missile defense system was activated, but it was not fired, as the rockets fell in uninhabited areas causing no damage or injury.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied responsibility for the rocket attack. Hamas is currently engaged in talks with Egypt regarding a long-term ceasefire with Israel. The IDF said it considers Hamas responsible for any attacks from Gaza.

For further reading click here.

Israel Responds
Despite the IDF’s assessment that the rockets fired at Tel aviv last night were done so in error, Israeli aircraft attacked over 100 Hamas targets in Gaza. Targets included an office complex in Gaza City, an underground complex that served as Hamas’ main rocket-manufacturing site, and a center used for a Hamas drone program. No one was killed in the attacks.

The Hamas Interior Ministry said, “We are following up on the firing of rockets from Gaza against the national consensus and the ministry will take measures against the violators.”

For further reading click here.

Syrian Missiles
Israeli intelligence has taken satellite images confirming the construction of a new missile factory in the Syrian coastal city of Safita.

For further reading click here.

No Occupied
The US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled” in an annual global human rights report released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. A separate section on the West Bank and Gaza Strip also did not refer to those territories as being “occupied” or under “occupation.” State Department officials insist that the change in language does not reflect any policy change.

For further reading click here.

Exxon to Israel
Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, is reportedly considering exploring for oil and gas offshore from Israel. Exxon executives held talks with Israeli Minister for National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz in Houston this week about bidding for the right to explore and pump oil from offshore blocks in an auction that Israel will hold in June.

Exxon recently acquired a $50,000 data package from the Israeli energy ministry for the auction and an Exxon team visited a data center set up by the ministry in Jerusalem.

Major US and international oil companies have avoided investing in Israel, for fear of antagonizing the governments of giant regional oil and gas producers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-13-19

Terror Network
The IDF has uncovered a secret Hezbollah terror network on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The network was set up without the knowledge of the Syrian government and is currently in the process of stockpiling weapons, recruiting members, building infrastructure and gathering intelligence.

Hezbollah operatives patrol the border with Israel to identify areas along the fence vulnerable to infiltration attempts and to collect information on the activities and routines of the IDF troops stationed there. The operatives apparently also use positions of the Syrian army to gather intelligence information, with the help of Hezbollah fighters involved in the civil war.

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount Unrest
A Border Policewoman was lightly wounded Tuesday after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a police station near Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The police entered the Temple Mount following the attack and closed off all the entrances and exits to the compound in order to locate the perpetrators. That let to violent clashes between police and worshippers. Police arrested 3 suspects.

PA President Abbas said, “We call on the international community to intervene urgently in order to prevent the escalation … we are holding urgent talks with all relevant parties, particularly with Jordan, in order to put pressure on Israeli government to put a stop to this dangerous escalation.”

Earlier in the day a terrorist with a knife charged at soldiers in Hebron. The soldiers managed to shoot him dead. No soldiers were injured.

For further reading click here.

Election Updates
New polls this week show the far-right Zehut party, led by Moshe Feiglin, winning 4 seats in the upcoming election. That’s up from zero in earlier polls. One of the issues on Zehut’s agenda is the legalization of marijuana. As a result, PM Netanyahu has said that he is looking in to the possibility of also supporting its legalization.

But not so fast. Yesterday, police arrested 42 people for using Telegrass, an app for buying and getting marijuana delivered to your home.

For further reading click here.

US Aid
The 2020 fiscal plan sent by the White House to Congress on Monday includes the full $3.3 billion in assistance promised under a 10-year memorandum of understanding, despite spending cuts throughout the proposal. The $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding, a 10-year defense agreement signed under President Barack Obama, went into effect in October.

The budget document says, “The Budget fully supports the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding and includes $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing grant assistance to bolster Israel’s capacity to defend itself against threats in the region and maintain its qualitative military edge.”

For further reading click here.

Golan Recognition
Joining the PM on a tour of the Golan, US Senator Lindsey Graham promised to to push for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. He said, “The Golan is not disputed. It is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel. My goal is to try to explain this to the administration.”

The PM responded, “I think it’s very important that the international community recognize this fact, and accept it, and most especially our great friend, the United States of America.” He also thanks Graham for his “unbelievable support.”

For further reading click here.

Startup Nation
US company Nvidia has purchased Israeli company Mellanox for $6.9 billion in cash, in the second largest acquisition of an Israeli tech company. Nvidia develops and sells graphics processors, with AI components, for the gaming, autonomous vehicle, data center, cryptocurrency, and other industries. Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies. Mellanox was founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Michael Kagan and Shai Cohen.

For further reading click here.

Lung Story
Nechama Rivlin, wife of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, received a lung transplant this week. The lung came from 19 year old Yair Yechezkel Halbali, whose family donated his organs after he drowned in an accident in Eilat.

To read more about this amazing story click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-11-19

Election Update
A new poll released by Yediot Achronot yesterday shows Likud trailing Blue and White (BW) by only 4 seats, down from 6 just 2 weeks ago. The poll also shows that 38% of voters support PM Netanyahu vs. 31% for BW leader Gantz. And 53% believe that Netanyahu will form the next government vs. 27% who think Gantz will.

For further reading click here.

Roy Folkman, a senior member of the Kulanu party, ruled out any possible coalition with left-wing parties after next month’s election, emphasizing that Kulanu is a “right-wing party”. He said, “I’ve said that we are natural partners of the Likud, and we will be partners of a right-wing, nationalist government. Of course we won’t go with a left-wing coalition. The only way that I could think of that it could possibly happen is maybe in the case of a unity government, but I think the odds of that happening are very low.”

For further reading click here.

Nation State
Responding to an Instagram post by Israeli TV personality Rotem Sela saying, “Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country. When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal.” — PM Netanyahu posted, “Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else. As you wrote, there is no problem with Israel’s Arab citizens. They have equal rights and the Likud government has invested more than any other government in the Arab population.”  He added that a government including Arab parties would “undercut the state’s security.”

For further reading click here.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas has appointed Mohammad Shtayyeh as the new Prime Minister. Shtayyeh pledged, “to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital whose borders are the 1967 lines.”

He also said, “The Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are waging a struggle to protect the city from Judaization and to preserve it as an Arab Palestinian city. The struggle to preserve the narrative about the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem goes through strengthening the steadfastness of the Muslim and Christian residents of the city against the Jews.”

Shtayyeh is a senior member of Fatah and a longtime ally of Abbas. His appointment is viewed as part of a plan to shun and isolate Hamas. Hamas and Islamic Jihad condemned Shtayyeh’s appointment and said that it contradicts the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian factions.

For further reading click here.

Trade Talk
US trade negotiators will be visiting Israel this week for discussions on upgrading the existing agricultural trade agreements and reduce tariffs for American farm exports to Israel. according to a separate 2018 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, under the existing agreement, “virtually any product produced in Israel that can be competitive in the U.S. market, can enter the U.S. duty-free. In contrast, U.S. products continue to face high tariffs in many sectors limiting their access to the Israeli market.”

In 2017, the U.S. ran a trade deficit of almost $14 billion with Israel. The US is Israel’s biggest trading partner with annual trade worth $30 billion. The US is expected to push for the dropping of tariffs on American products sold in Israel. Open competition will benefit Israeli consumers by lowering prices on many goods including food and electronics.

For further reading click here.

This Shabbat I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Michael Koplow, the Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum, analyze and explain the issue of annexation of Judea and Samaria. His analysis was based primarily on a study conducted by Commanders for Israel’s Security, a non partisan movement of over 280 retired generals and equivalents in Israel’s security services, including the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet and Israel Police.

The Commander’s study is unequivocally against the unilateral annexation either the entire West Bank, or even just Area C (which includes the areas with an Israeli presence and encompasses 60% of the West Bank), for the following reasons:

1. The cost of securing the area and of providing the Palestinian residents with social services will be prohibitive (tens of billions of dollars annually).

2. The international ramifications, including government sanctions and private BDS actions, will be crippling to the Israeli economy.

3. Israel will eventually be forced to grant citizenship to the 2.5 million Palestinians in the territories or face being labeled an apartheid state and be isolated and shunned like was the case with South Africa. Granting them citizenship will destroy the concept of a Jewish democratic state in Israel.

4. The annexation of territory will cause the downfall of the Palestinian Authority (which will lose the little credibility it still has) and will force Israel to take full security and administrative control over the entire territory, again causing a huge strain on the Israeli economy and the IDF.

Dr. Koplow stressed that the issue of annexation is at the top of the list of priorities for the Likud and all of the parties to its right, and will be implemented (in some form) in any new right wing government. He believes that the results will be catastrophic.

To clarify, Koplow’s own political viewpoint is center, leaning right. He is NOT a leftist.

In order to fully understand the underlying issues and to make up your own mind, I highly recommend you read the actual report put out by the Commanders for Israel’s Security.

To read more about this issue and download the report click here.