israelam news

Israel News for 2-5-18

Jerusalem Collects
The Jerusalem municipality has handed out fines totaling millions of dollars to properties owned by the United Nations and by churches, citing a new legal opinion that says the properties are not legally defined as places of worship and therefore aren’t entitled to exemptions from property tax.

The municipal authority said Sunday that it has started collecting over NIS 650 million ($188 million) from some 887 properties in Jerusalem belonging to various churches and UN agencies.

The municipality has fined the Catholic Church almost NIS 12 million, the Anglican Church more than NIS 7 million, the Armenian Church NIS 2 million, and the Greek Orthodox Church about NIS 500,000. And there’s more to come.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, “It is absurd for Jerusalem residents to fund municipal services for the churches and the UN on their own, and for the municipality to be prevented from collecting enormous sums that could significantly improving the city’s development and services. If the state wishes the current situation to continue, we demand that it fully compensate us for those sums.”

He added, “We intend to conduct administrative and legal enforcement, and if need be, we won’t hesitate to take the matter to the High Court of Justice.”

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Gaza Intercept
Israeli customs officials at the Kerem Shalom crossing point into Gaza intercepted a cache of explosives hidden in a shipment of medical equipment. Israel has a special lab at the crossing that uses advanced equipment to test materials.

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Walmart Coming?
According to a report in Bloomberg, PM Netanyahu met with senior Walmart executive John Furner on the sidelines of last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos and urged him to open up a branch in Israel. Netanyahu’s economics advisor Avi Simhon confirmed the meeting, saying that “we made it clear we are ready to ease regulatory burdens wherever possible to make the market more accessible to them. The door to Netanyahu’s office is open.” A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment on the substance of the discussion.

Netanyahu also attempted to persuade CEOs of other international conglomerates to expand into Israel during his time at Davos, with special emphasis on South Korean and Japanese companies, such as Mitsubishi.

Simhon said, “The prime minister decided to put the emphasis on these two key Asian economies during our meetings there. Our message to these companies was that we’re open for business. The Prime Minister’s Office is here to make their path smoother and easier.”

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Back to Uganda
Israeli construction company Shikun & Binui will be building a new airport in Uganda. The price for the project is estimated at $309 million. The airport at Entebbe, made infamous by the 1976 hostage rescue by Israeli commandos, was also built by an Israeli company, which is how Israel had access to that airport’s blueprints. You never know…

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Unlikely Owner
Russian President Vladimir Putin has become the owner of a one and half room apartment in the heart of Tel Aviv. The apartment belonged to his St. Petersberg high school teacher, Mina Yuditskaya Berliner, who immigrated to Israel in 1973. They were reunited in 2005 when Putin visited Israel. Putin began sending her gifts, including the apartment. Berliner left the apartment to Putin in her will. She passed away in December.

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