Israel News for December 27, 2016

More to Come
The US abstention in the recent UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement beyond the “green line” might not be an isolated incident.

Israel claims to have information that US Secretary of State John Kerry will outline parameters for a two state solution and a Palestinian state in a speech which he will deliver at an upcoming French sponsored Middle East Peace Summit in Paris scheduled for January 15th, five days before Obama leaves office. Those parameters would then be brought before the UN Security Council and passed before January 20th.

A senior Israeli official said, “The Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council spoke about information to the effect that what is planned is that the foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris will make a summary decision that will be adopted by the Quartet and by the UN Security Council before January 20. Israel believes this is an operative plan and the assumption is that the Americans are leading it all, together with the French.”

The senior official said that Israel fears that Kerry’s speech will include American principles for resolving the core issues of borders, refugees, security arrangements and Jerusalem. 

All this hasn’t stopped PM Netanyahu from lashing out at Obama and accusing him of in effect plotting against Israel. The PM said, “The Obama administration made a shameful, underhanded move.” He is obviously confident in the policies he expects from incoming president Donald Trump. But the US directed anger is unprecedented. The PM went so far as to summon the US ambassador for a meeting while the ambassadors of the countries that voted for the resolution were called in for reprimands at the Foreign Ministry.

While many Israelis might not be in favor of continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank, almost all Israelis agree that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital and must remain undivided. The inclusion of eastern Jerusalem in the UN resolution is a deal breaker, and the fact that the US allowed the resolution to pass is extremely hard to swallow. The possibility that Obama might take further action against Israel in his remaining few weeks as president is even more troubling.

Incoming president Trump has made it clear that he will do things much differently, but how much damage can the Obama administration do before that happens?

PM Retaliates
PM Netanyahu is expected to announce later today that he will cut off all Israeli aid to Angola in response to that countries vote in favor of the anti-Israel Security Council resolution. Angolan diplomats had promised Israel that Angola would abstain from the vote. To add insult to injury, when the Angolan ambassador was called to Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to get reprimanded, his illegally parked car got ticketed by police.

Israel has also stopped aid to Senegal and recalled its ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand. Both countries sponsored the resolution.

In addition, the PM has ordered Israeli officials not to meet with representatives of any of, or travel to, the countries that voted for the resolution including the UK, France and Russia. The PM cancelled a scheduled visit by the Prime Minister of Ukraine to Israel. In response the Ukraine called in the Israeli ambassador to the country and reprimanded him.

Will Israeli snubbing of major world powers really hurt these countries, or could it backfire and end up hurting Israel even more?

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely remarked today in an interview that she thinks that the Prime Minister is mistaken in ordering the snubbing of diplomats and cancelations of diplomatic visits. Instead she said that Israel should be meeting with these diplomats to explain Israel’s position. Likud members lashed out at Hotovely for criticizing the PM and called for her resignation or dismissal.

For further reading click here.

Investing in North
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Minister of the Interior, and Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Aryeh Deri have presented a plan for boosting the economy and raising the standard of living of Israel’s northern region. Under the plan, government ministries and the Jewish National Fund will invest around NIS 15 billion. A large chunk of the money will go to infrastructure projects. Other projects include improving the public health system, strengthening local government, and raising the standard of school and higher education.

Kahalon said, “We are determined to bring the same standards as are considered the norm in the center of the country to the north as well. The distance from the center of Israel must not mean gaps in services to citizens. It is impossible to speak of a single society without solving once and for all the problem of the link between distance from the center and social gaps. After years of investment in the center and the Negev, the north’s time has come. I am certain that this plan is a large step in the direction of realizing these aims.”

For further reading click here.

Believe it or Not
This isn’t directly Israel related but since it’s the third day of Hanukkah…there’s an obscure Hassidic custom to disrupt the lighting of the menorah in the synagogue by throwing towels and other stuff at the lighter in order to make it clear that the synagogue lighting is only a custom and does not fulfill the actual mitzvah, which can only be done in the home. To watch this in action click here.