Israel News for April 21, 2017

Mattis in Israel
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Israel last night on his first official visit since taking office. Mattis met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman this morning. In a press conference following the meeting he said, “I’m honored to return to Israel once again to show my respect for this country and for the Israeli people. I am keenly aware that we stand together this morning, just a week before the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and we share a common determination to never allow such horrific event to reoccur.”

He added, “Cooperation between the countries continues. I came from Saudi Arabia and other visits in the region. In the meeting with Lieberman, we promised to establish the strong connection between Israel and the United States.”

Mattis also warned Syria against using chemical weapons and reiterated the need to confront Iran. Meanwhile, President Trump accused Iran of violating the spirit of the nuclear agreement.

Mattis also met with PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin.

Prior to his Israel visit, Mattis visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He will also visit Qatar and Djibouti.

For further reading click here.

Russian Conference
The Russians will be sponsoring an International Security Conference in Moscow next week. Countries set to attend include Iran, Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Indonesia, Cuba, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil…and Israel. You heard right, Defense Minister Lieberman will attend the conference where he will meet privately with the Russian Foreign Minister. The US is expected to boycott the event.

For further reading click here.

Hezbollah Press Tour
Hezbollah’s information department gave journalists a tour of the border with Israel yesterday, highlighting new IDF fortifications, antennas, armored vehicles and watchtowers—defensive positions that Hezbollah guides claim will be overrun so that “resistance forces will penetrate their settlements.”

IDF engineering units have been constructing obstacles and fortifications along the northern border to prevent or impeded Hezbollah incursions. The IDF said that the press tour served as conclusive evidence that Hezbollah is violating Security Council Resolution 1701 by being deployed and armed south of the Litani River.

For further reading and to view images click here.

Sinai Reopens
The Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt’s Sinai will re-open to Israelis that would like to travel to Egypt’s Sinai. The announcement was made today by Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister’s Arab media spokesman. However, Gendelman also tweeted that the terror threat remains and Israelis currently vacationing in the area should return.

The Taba border crossing was closed to Israelis before Passover.

For further reading click here.

Music and Peace
When musician Yoni Sharon, a resident of Kfar Eldad in Gush Etzion, heard music emanating from the nearby Arab village of Al-Fureidis, he drove his car into the village to investigate. He ended up taking patron an Arab wedding.

To watch the video click here.

Jewish Cemetery
Government officials in Vilna (Lithuania) have approved plans for the construction of a new National Convention Center on the site of the ancient Jewish cemetery in the city. The cemetery dates from the 15th century and contains thousands of bodies including many great sages.

To sign a petition to stop the proposed construction and desecration, click here.