Israel News for December 21, 2016

Trump Policy
Becky Norton Dunlop, a senior official in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, participated in a tour of the West Bank this week along with some Republican members of Congress and members of the EU.

Dunlop said, “Anyone who comes and visits Judea and Samaria sees that it is an inseparable part of the State of Israel,” and that, “As an American citizen, I empathize with the Israeli people who want to settle on their entire state, to expand their communities and their homes, and they should have safe places to raise their children.”

She also remarked, “During the visit we saw that Arabs living in Israel are completely able to work together with their Israeli neighbors. The international community has to take note of what is really happening here instead of listening to the mainstream media which doesn’t report the news but rather invented things. They need to focus on what is really happening here in Judea and Samaria.”

Her statements do not necessarily represent the policies of the incoming president, but they definitely seem to reflect the mood in Trump Tower.

For further reading click here.

Amona Evacuation
The State has petitioned the Supreme Court for a 45 day extension of the Amona evacuation order, which is currently set for December 25th, in order to implement the compromise agreement reached with the residents to move most of them to an adjacent plot of land on the same mountain. The other residents will be moved to a location near Ofra until permanent housing can be provided.

PM Netanyahu met with Amona residents over the weekend and shocked them (and everyone else) when he said that he understood what it means to lose a home since he and his family were kicked out of the Prime Minister’s residence after he lost the 1999 election to Ehud Barak.

Netanyahu said, “I understand what it means to lose a home. After the 1999 elections, with zero warning, me and my family were simply kicked out of the house on Balfour Street. Just like that, with all of our belongings, we were just thrown into the street. We had to go to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, it felt terrible.”


In response to the PM’s remarks Ehud Barak tweeted, “He completely lost it. ‘Uprooted from his home’? By the electorate’s votes. I was there. It took him six weeks to pack up and evacuate. Difficult? It’s time for another time.”

At least one settler leader who was at the meeting said that the PM never mentioned the name of a hotel and that his remarks were taken out of context in order to slander him. He said that the PM did not insult the residents of Amona but that he empathized with them.

The Prime Minister’s Office has not responded to the report.

For further reading click here.

Prison Visits
The Knesset House Committee has approved a proposal submitted by Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information Gilad Erdan to limit the ability of MKs to visit security prisoners. The proposal comes in the wake of allegations that MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) smuggled cell phones to security prisoners when he visited them.

According to the new proposal, MKs who wish to visit security prisoners will have to coordinate their visits with the Knesset speaker, House Committee chairperson and State Control Committee chairperson.

In addition, only certain members of the coalition and the opposition will be permitted to visit security prisoners, and those MKs will be physically searched before entering the prison. 

National security trumps MK immunity.

For further reading click here.

Conflict in Arad
In recent years the ultra-Orthodox population of the southern city of Arad has grown to almost 20% of the city’s total population. The Gur (or Ger) Hasidim make up overwhelming majority of the Haredi population. In 2014 they occupied the main Ashkenazic synagogue in the city, forcing the Chabad rabbi to move his services to a local Chabad school.

The Mayor of Arad, Nissan Ben Hamo (who is secular), petitioned the court to remove the Hassidim from the synagogue, claiming that they took control of the synagogue without permission and that they are impeding other worshippers from praying in the shul. The request was granted, but was subsequently appealed. A final ruling is still pending.

Secular residents of Arad, led by the mayor, are unhappy with the Haredi presence in the city and the associated change in the city’s existing character or “status quo”. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, also a Gur Hasid, is representing the Hassidim and has called for the Haredi community to support them with protests.

Yesterday thousands of ultra-Orthodox residents demonstrated in Bnei Brak. Similar protests are planned for Ashdod and Jerusalem in the coming days.

For further reading click here.