Israel News for December 16, 2016

Trump’s Ambassador
Donald Trump announced yesterday that he would appoint his longtime attorney and recent Israel advisor David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel. Trump said that Friedman, “has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East.”

Trump also stated that, “The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President. As the United States’ Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries.”

Friedman stated that he would work tirelessly to “strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Trump promised during his campaign that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His close advisors have reiterated that he plans to follow through on his promise.

Friedman is a supporter of the settlement movement and has advocated for the annexation of the West Bank.

Education Minister Naftali Bennet tweeted, “I wish success for David Friedman, the US ambassador-elect to Israel. He is a great friend to Israel.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzip Hotovely said, “The expressed intention to appoint Friedman is very welcome news for Israel. His positions reflect the desire to strengthen the standing of Israel’s capital Jerusalem at this time and to underscore that the settlements have never been the true problem in the area.”

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid remarked, “I look forward to working with the new US ambassador, a close friend of Israel, David Friedman, in the proper place for his office – our capital, Jerusalem.”

On the flip side, the left wing J Street lobby wrote on its Facebook page that it is “vehemently opposed” to Friedman’s appointment, calling the move “reckless” and saying that Friedman “lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials.”

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami tweeted, “Trump’s pick of Friedman for Israel Amb is anathema to values that underlie U.S.-Israel relationship. We’ll fight this with all we’ve got.”

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More Permits
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant will bring up for cabinet approval a proposal to increase the quota for Palestinians workers in Israel by 22,000. The proposal has been coordinated with the Ministry of Defense.

In addition to increasing work permits, the proposal also substantially eases regulations governing the employment of Palestinian workers. It will also implement a system to ensure that Palestinian workers get the pay they are entitled to, on the books.

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Surprise Inheritance
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 news, the owner of the King Solomon hotel chain who recently passed away left millions of dollars to his employees.

Gilbert Luzon, whose holdings included hotels in Jerusalem and Tiberius, stated in his will that employees who had worked at his hotels for at least five years would receive inheritances of $1,000 for every year they worked for him. Employees who worked for five years would receive the minimum of $5,000, and inheritance would go up for each year of seniority.

“He spent more than $2 million,” one employee said. “Some people who have been washing dishes for 20 years would get $20,000. Everyone thought it was like winning the lottery.”

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