Israel News for December 22, 2016

UN Vote
The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote today at 3:00pm on a resolution calling for an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement building on what it considers to be “occupied Palestinian land”.

The resolution, submitted by Egypt last night, demands that Israel, “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. It says that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”, and expresses grave concern that continuing settlement activities “are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution”.

The Un Security Council has 15 members. The resolution requires 9 votes to pass, but can be vetoed by any of the councils five permanent members including the US, Russia, France, England or China.

Israel is urging the US to veto the resolution. PM Netanyahu tweeted late last night, “The United States should veto this anti-Israel resolution.”

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, said on Israeli Army Radio: “In a few hours we will receive the answer from our American friends. I hope very much it will be the same one we received in 2011 when the version was very similar to the one proposed now and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, Susan Rice, vetoed it.”

Danon said nothing would change on the ground if the resolution passes. But he said it could spur Palestinians to seek international sanctions against Israel and impede any return to peace talks that collapsed in 2014.

The fear in Israel is that Obama will use his last days as president to express his disapproval of Israel’s settlement policies by ordering the US to abstain from the security vote.

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Berlin Victim
One of the twelve people killed in this weeks terrorist attack in a Berlin outdoor market was positively identified as Daliya Elyakim, 60, from Herzliya. Her husband Rami was seriously wounded in the attack and is being treated in a German hospital. Elyakim’s body will be flown to Israel for burial.

President Reuven Rivlin said, “It is with great sadness that I received word of the death of Daliya Elyakim caused as a result of the terrible terror attack in Berlin. I send my condolences to the family who is at this moment at the bedside of Rami, Daliya’s husband. He too was seriously injured in the terror attack, and we are praying for his swift and speedy recovery.”
He added, “We remain united and determined against murderous terror which is attacking every corner of the world. We will fight extremism and hate with all of our strength.”

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A little Oil
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Budget Approved
The Knesset today voted 60-48 to approve a nearly 1 trillion shekel ($260 billion) budget for the next two years. PM Netanyahu believes that a two year budget will provide greater stability for the government than an annual budget.

The largest budget item is defense spending, which is over $18 billion per year. Israel’s economy is expected to grow nearly 3 percent in 2016 and as much as 3.5 percent in 2017, while the jobless rate is very low at 4.5 percent.

Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlom welcomed the enactment of the new budget: “The budget passed today is a social budget that does not discriminate. The budget helps all parts of society, neither right nor left, or center. It is a budget of growth, reducing social gaps, increasing public expenditure, reducing taxes and continuing the momentum of all the government ministries with a stress on the social ministries.”

On the flip side, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog said, “The Israeli government has tonight passed a budget which brings no good news for citizens. The budget is a harbinger of a difficult year for working families, young people, the elderly, for those who have not been dealt with kindly by fate and those unable to threaten and extort.”

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No Trees
Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shalom Amar sent a letter to hotels in the city saying, “As the secular year ends, we want to remind you that erecting a Christmas tree in a hotel contravenes halacha and that therefore it is clear that no one should erect [a tree] in a hotel.” The rabbis also reminded hotels that it was inappropriate to celebrate the new year on January 1.

Hotels that disregard the rabbinate’s directives might risk incurring some bad karma, but they cannot lose their kosher certification, thanks to Supreme Court protection.

Earlier this week the rabbi of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa told Jewish students to avoid entering the student union building on campus, where a Christmas tree was erected.

Rabbi Elad Dokow called the Christian tree a pagan symbol and said, “Halacha clearly states that whenever it is possible to circumvent and not pass through a place where there is any kind of idolatry, this must be done. So one should not enter the student union if it’s not necessary to do so.”

The Technion said that Rabbi Doklow was expressing his own personal opinion and not the policy of the institution. It said, “The union, it goes without saying, celebrates all the Jewish festivals and, concurrently, it allows students from other religions to express themselves with respect and tolerance. The different festivals are celebrated in a range of ways, including, in this case, a Christmas tree beside the Hanukkah menorah.”

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