Israel News for 9-8-17

No Policy Shift
Last week US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post in which he said that the Israeli left-wing is opposing the “alleged occupation” of the West Bank. His words implied that the West Bank was not really “occupied” territory. Official US policy however does consider the West Bank to be occupied territory.

Heather Nauert, the State Department’s spokeswoman, was asked about Friedman’s choice of words on Thursday and replied: “Our position on that hasn’t changed. The comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy.” When asked why the sitting American ambassador in Israel therefore used those words, she repeated the same answer.

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Trump Optimistic
At a news conference with the Emir of Kuwait at the White House yesterday President Trump expressed optimism at reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. He said, “I think we have a chance of doing it, I think the Palestinians would like to see it happen, I think the Israelis would like to see it happen and usually when you have two groups that would like to see something happen, good things can happen. I think there is a chance that there could be peace.”

Trump will meet with both Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

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Sara in Trouble
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced today that he intends to indict Sara Netanyahu, the PM’s wife, over her alleged misuse of vast sums of public funds to purchase extravagant meals from restaurants and chefs.  

Mandelblit determined that between September 2010 – Match 2013, Mrs. Netanyahu, along with Deputy Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ezra Saidoff, claimed that no cook was employed in the PM’s residence, allowing her to order meals from restaurants and chefs reaching a total cost of around NIS 359,000 ($102,000).

Following an investigation into the matter, it turned out that cooks had in fact been employed there throughout the entire period.The investigation raised suspicions that invoices for the meals were then forged in order to exceed the limit placed on food costs by splitting payments across numerous invoices.  

Mandelblit notified Mrs. Netanyahu’s attorney of his intention to indict her after which she will be called in for a preliminary hearing, before the attorney general makes a final decision to proceed.

PM Netanyahu responded on Facebook to Madelblit’s announcement by placing the blame for the fraud on on Meni Naftali, who was the residence caretaker at the time of the unusual spending. He posted, “Expenses on food and meals in takeaway trays were magically inflated during Meni Naftali’s time as chief caretaker of the residence, and no less magically plummeted when he left. They told us about the garden furniture, the electrician, the bottles, the waiters, the caretaker. Now all we’re left with is the unbelievable, false story about the trays, most of which were ordered by Meni Naftali. And that too will evaporate come the hearing.”

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Terror Down
According to a monthly report published by the Shin Bet, there were 110 terror attacks in Israel in the month of August. Most of the attacks (83) consisted of the throwing of Molotov Cocktails (firebombs). This is a dramatic decrease from the July total of 222 terror attacks. The spike in July was apparently related to the crisis surrounding the Temple Mount.

To read the full report click here.

Eagle Returned
One of the few eagles still remaining in the Golan Heights Gamla Nature Reserve recently flew over the Syrian border. It was wearing a tracking device. The eagle was captured by Syrian rebel forces. Similar incidents have lead to accusations of Israeli espionage via the tracking device. But this time the rebels returned the eagle to Israel as a gesture of thanks for Israel’s humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

The eagle was transferred to the Ramat Gan Safari’s wildlife hospital with a leg injury and is recuperating nicely.

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