Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-31-2019

Arab Homes
The security cabinet on Tuesday unanimously approved PM Netanyahu’s plan to build 700 housing units for Palestinians living in the West Bank’s Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control. This is the first time in four years that new Arab construction has been approved. The proposed construction is part of a broader plan which also envisions some 6,000 housing units for Israelis living in Area C.

Sources say that the PM was “persuaded” to include the new Arab housing by the Trump administration, ahead of the long anticipated US peace plan announcement.

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Peace Plan
Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner kicked off a visit to the region today, during which he is expected to invite Arab leaders to a peace conference at Camp David ahead of the Israeli elections. President Trump is expected to reveal his peace plan at the conference. PM Netanyahu is not expected to attend, since his presence there might make it harder for Kushner to sell the Arab leaders on the plan.

Kushner is set to travel to Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to hold talks during his current visit.

The leaders of Jordan and Egypt met a few days ago to arrive at a mutual position regarding the peace plan.

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Improved Crossings
The Israeli military has installed the face scanners as part a multimillion dollar upgrade of the Qalandia crossing that now allows Palestinians from the West Bank with work permits to zip through with relative ease. Qalandia is one of the main crossings for the thousands of Palestinians who enter Israel each day for a variety of reasons, including work, medical appointments or family visits. Thanks to the upgrades, crossing through Qalandia takes only around 10 minutes, even during the early morning rush hour.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has poured over $85 million into upgrading Qalandia and several other major checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank in recent years — part of a strategy it says is meant to maintain calm by improving conditions for Palestinians.

Over 83,000 Israeli work permits were issued to Palestinian workers in June. Around 8,000 cross at the Qalandia crossing every day.

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Election Update
The Jewish Home and National Union parties have signed an agreement with the New Right party to run on a joint list called the United Right in the upcoming elections. Ayelet Shaked will lead the new list with Jewish Home chair Rafi Peretz taking the number 2 spot, National Union head Bezalel Smotrich number 3, and Naftali Bennett 4.

Meanwhile, the far right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party has joined with the newly formed Noam party (also far right) to run in a joint list. In the last election Otzma ran together with Jewish Home and National Union, but talks between the parties this time around collapsed when Otzma was only offered the 8th and 16th places on the joint list.

PM Netanyahu had reportedly urged against the United Right joint list.

The 4 Arab parties have agreed to run as a joint list, which is expected to result in more than the 10 seats the Arab parties won in the previous election.

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According to the latest poll, the United Right would win 14 seats. Some of those would evidently come from Likud, which would fall to 28 seats while Blue and White would win 30 seats. The Joint Arab List would win 11 seats, and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu 10 seats. United Torah Judaism would win eight seats, Shas 7 seats, the Democratic Camp (Meretz-Barak) seven seats and Labor-Gesher 5 seats.

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German Social
Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has instituted new social media guidelines and disciplined personnel after anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tweets were “liked” by the official Twitter account of the German mission to the Palestinian territories.

The heart icon for several tweets criticizing Jews and Israel was clicked some two weeks ago an account belonging to Germany’s envoy to the Palestinian territories, Christian Clages. The tweets included a video praising attacks on IDF soldiers as well as footage of David Duke – former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Holocaust denier – discuss an “allege” massacre of Jews.

The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that 10 people had access to the “Germany in Ramallah” Twitter account and it wasn’t clear who clicked the “likes.” The ministry says the account wasn’t secured against unauthorized users.  
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