Israel News for February 1, 2017

Amona Evacuation
Hundreds of unarmed police officers entered the Amona settlement outpost to carry out the evacuation order issued by the Supreme Court last year. Hundreds of additional security forces surrounded the settlement and blocked all access roads. Despite the roadblocks, hundreds of activists managed to enter the settlement of the past few days and join residents in their “last stand”. Police have begun entering homes and dragging out residents.

Amona rabbi Yair Frank wrote, “We will not raise a hand against a police officer or a soldier, but we will not leave our homes willingly on our feet. They’ll need to carry us.” This is the prevailing sentiment among the people currently in Amona.

Dozens of youth activists, some residents and some not, assembled in buildings and sang religious songs as tears fell from their eyes in what are likely their final moments on the hilltop. Others wrote messages on the walls of the buildings and began conducting prayer services. Activists had also erected barricades on the main road into the settlement. At least ten activists have been arrested. Several police officers have been lightly injured.

Once the people of Amona are evacuated, the settlement will be destroyed.

Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett had reached a compromise agreement with the PM to relocate the Amona residents to alternative housing constructed on land near the settlement, but that housing has yet to be built. The Supreme Court has temporarily barred construction because of claims to the land by Palestinian villagers. The court is expected to rule on the issue as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the Regulation or Normalization Bill passed its first two readings in Knesset committees and will be presented to the entire Knesset next week. The bill would legalize all settlement built on land claimed by Palestinian owners. Amona was specifically omitted from the bill in order to assure the support of various Knesset members who otherwise would have rejected the bill.

Bennett addressed the Knesset today expressing his sadness regarding the evacuation but his hope for the future of the settlement movement.

Bennett said, “Together with the residents of Amona we turned every stone, exhausted every option, and tried every process to save Amona. Unfortunately, the struggled for Amona failed. We lost the battle, but we are winning the war for the Land of Israel. The residents of Amona, by their sacrifice and tenacity, have helped save thousands of Jewish families from eviction,” said Bennett, referring to the Regulation Law, whose passage was a condition of the Amona agreement.”

The evacuation will continue throughout the day. We pray that it will proceed peacefully without any injuries to the residents, activist or police.

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New Housing
Last night Defense Minister Lieberman and PM Netanyahu announced the construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). These units are in addition to the 2,500 hundred units announces last week.

According to their statement, “The decision comes as part of the resumption of normal life in Judea and Samaria and in order to provide a real answer to living and housing needs in the region.”

Lieberman added, “We are in a new time period in which life in Judea and Samaria is returning to normal, and we will provide an appropriate response to the needs of the residents of the region.”

A partial list of communities where housing units have been approved includes: 700 in Alfei Menashe, 200 in Oranit, 50 in Nofim, 650 in Beit Aryeh, 30 in Efrat, 150 in Nokdim, 150 in Givat Ze’ev, 70 in Shavei Shomron, 100 in Karnei Shomron, 100 in Shilo, 100 in Metzudot Yehuda, 80 in Kfar Eldad, and 650 in Beitar Illit.

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Israel and Mexico
President Reuven Rivlin spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto yesterday to attempt to mend relations with Mexico following a tweet by PM Netanyahu that said, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

Why the PM would feel the need to tweet something like is beyond the scope of this email, but in any case, the Mexicans understandably took offense to it. The PM saw no need to apologize, claiming that he in no way referred to Mexico and was just praising his own great work as well as Trump’s decision. [Apparently the days of leaders admitting their mistakes are behind us.]

President Rivlin told the Mexican president, “I regret any damage caused by this misunderstanding, and it is important to remember that it was indeed nothing more than a misunderstanding, and I am sure we can put this thing behind us.”

The Mexican president thanked Rivlin again for his willingness to bring the mini confrontation to an end, by reemphasizing Mexico’s commitment to its relations with Israel, saying that they understand the explanation provided for the tweet while qualifying that “their interpretation on the subject was inevitable.”

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Hilton Glatt
The iconic Tel Aviv Hilton hotel, renown for its service and dining, has also now increased its kosher supervision to “Glatt”. Without getting into technicalities, that means that the hotel’s dining and catering facilities will now be acceptable to the Haredi community.

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Israel Books
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