Israel News for April 20, 2017

Gaza Sisters
Two sisters entered Israel from Gaza yesterday in order to receive their cancer treatments. Luckily, security forces at the Erez Crossing searched them. They discovered explosive making materials hidden inside medical supply tubes. According to the Shin Bet, an initial investigation indicated that the explosives were sent by Hamas and were intended to be used in terrorist attacks in Israel in the near future.

The Shin Bet stated: “This is a continuation of the attempts of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, to take advantage of the humanitarian infrastructure and medical assistance that Israel provides to the residents of the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.”

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Soccer Crisis
The latest diplomatic crisis facing Israel is playing out on the soccer field. The Palestinian soccer federation has asked FIFA, the international football (soccer) association, to ban Israeli teams that play across the “Green Line”. That includes teams from Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit and the Jordan Valley — all of whom play in low level leagues.

FIFA’s bylaws bar any country from setting up teams in another country’s territory, or letting such teams play in its own leagues without the other country’s consent. The Palestinians want this clause used against the settlement teams and argue that if Israel doesn’t suspend them from its leagues, Israel itself should be suspended from FIFA.

FIFA is set to meet in Bahrain next month. Israeli diplomats have been ordered to work on convincing their host countries to prevent FIFA from taking action against the “settlement” teams or from suspending Israel from the international league.

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Less Taxes
Starting next week, buying a smartphone in Israel will be a lot cheaper. Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon has signed an order canceling the import tax of mobile telephones as part of his “Family Net” tax cut plan. Currently, importers must pay purchase tax of 15% on the import of mobile phones and smartphones as well as 17% VAT. For example the cheapest iPhone 7 model in the iDigital chain, which currently costs NIS 3,749, should now cost only NIS 2,868. Samsung’s Galaxy S7, which currently costs NIS 2,799 should be reduced to NIS 2,141.

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Iran Passes
The Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs on its atomic program. The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days.

Despite the sanctions relief, Iran remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups and is still subject to non-nuclear sanctions, including for human rights abuses and for its backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

At the same time, in a letter sent late Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the nuclear agreement.

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Hamilton Advice
The Haredi magazine Mishpacha wrote about how much PM Netanyahu enjoyed seeing Hamilton on his last trip to NYC. In fact, Netanyahu said he made a suggestion to producer Lin-Manuel Miranda on how to improve the play [of course]. The PM said that he read that when Alexander Hamilton was a child in the Caribbean, his tutor was a Jewish woman who taught him to recite the Ten Commandments in Hebrew. Later in life, Hamilton expressed admiration for the Jewish people, saying they have a “unique destiny” that is “part of God’s greater plan.” That, Netanyahu said, should go into the play.