settlements israel

Israel News for April 3, 2017

Peace Initiative
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are scheduled to meet with President Trump this week and are expected to present him with an Arab peace initiative for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. El-Sissi will meet Trump today and Abdullah will meet with him on Thursday.

The Arab peace initiative, discussed at the recent Arab League summit, will reportedly call on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and to freeze all settlement construction as a starting point. The plan would be based on a two-state solution.

The Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times reported that Trump would respond to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative during his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas tentatively scheduled for later this month in Washington. The paper also reported that the Trump administration aims to host an international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in September.

It’s unlikely that the Israeli government would agree to a total settlement freeze. It already has agreed to halt construction of new settlement while continuing to build within, or adjacent to, existing settlements.

The reason for Israel’s decision is to heed Trump’s request (warning?) to “slow down” settlement construction. But what if Trump, after meeting with the Arab leaders, decides that the best thing for peace negotiations is a total construction freeze? Will Israel continue to heed Trump? Could doing so cause the far right to bring down the Netanyahu government?

The Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times said Trump would respond to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative during his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas tentatively scheduled for later this month in Washington.

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Terror Arrests
On Shabbat a Palestinian terrorist stabbed two men (aged 18 and 20) and a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City. Police pushed the terrorist and shot and killed him. The Israel Police later announced that the stabber was a resident of the West Bank. The victims of the attack were all lightly injured.

Yesterday police arrested two religious workers at the Al-Aqsa mosque as part of their investigation into the attack.

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UN Report
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is expected to publish a report equating “the Israeli Occupation” to slavery in the US and estimating the financial damages suffered by Palestinians as a result of “50 years of occupation” in the billions of dollars. The commission is dominated by Arab countries. Surprised?

The report is expected to be published next month, coinciding with the anniversary of the Six Day War. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is currently working with senior officials in the UN to thwart the report’s publication.

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David’s Sling
PM Netanyahu attended a ceremony marking the operational integration of the David’s Sling air defense system yesterday at the Hatzor Air Force Base. The missile system is meant to intercept mid-range missiles. It is also portable, so it can be moved around to cover all parts of the country. The Iron Dome missile system handles short range missiles and the Arrow 3 system intercepts long range missiles. Patriot missile batteries, designed to shoot down missiles and aerial vehicles will remain in operation for at least the next five years.

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Rally Cancelled
An organization related to the Haredi extremist Jerusalem Faction (Peleg Yerushalmi), which is behind the riotous demonstrations against the IDF drafting of yeshiva students, was planning to sponsor a huge rally at the Binyanei Ha’uma convention center in Jerusalem. But as a result of alleged pressure from Haredi members of Knesset, the convention center has cancelled the event. The mainstream Haredi leadership has voiced strong opposition to the demonstrations.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem Faction is threatening to shut down Ben Gurion airport with massive protests, during the busy pre-passover vacation rush.

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Border Fence
The border fence between Israel and Jordan that Israel promised to construct two years ago to prevent infiltrations from Jordan will be completed soon…sort of. The high security fence stretches for just 30 kilometers, from Eilat to the new international airport at Timna. It cost around $55 million. Fencing the entire border is estimated to cost close to a billion dollars (and Jordan, or Mexico, isn’t paying for it). Will the fence along the entire border ever be completed?

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