Israel News for February 5, 2016

Hadar Cohen Funeral
Hundreds accompanied Hadar Cohen, the Border Police officer killed in Wednesday’s terror attack in Jerusalem, to her final resting place in a small military cemetery in her hometown of Yehud. Cohen’s partner, Ravit Mirilashvili, who was wounded in the attack, left the Jerusalem hospital that had been treating her in order to attend the funeral with her family.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised Cohen for protecting her partner and saving her life. He described her as someone who, “carried a great burden on her shoulders and a big smile on her face.”

National Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich also praised her conduct, saying that she “fought like a lion” and that her courage “has chiseled a new chapter in the glorious tradition of the Border Police and the Israel Police.”

Cohen’s father, Ofer, in a tearful voice, said, “They say you were a true hero, but they do not know your warmth, your love of life, your captivating smile.” He ended his brief eulogy with, “How can I part from you. I am proud of you and I salute you.”

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Arab MK’s
PM Netanyahu asked Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to examine the possibility of punishing several Arab Knesset members for visiting families of terrorists. The visit by MKs Jamal Zakalka, Basel Ghattas and Haneen Zoabi from the Joint Arab List’s Balad faction was part of a campaign being conducted by the families, and legal aid and human rights groups, seeking the return of the bodies of their family members who were killed while committing terror acts and are now being held by Israeli authorities.

The PM said, “Knesset members who pay a condolence call to families of terrorists who have killed Israelis are not fit to serve in the Israeli Knesset.” The opposition Zionist Union also condemned the visit, saying, “The visit by Balad Knesset members to the terrorists’ families encourages continued terrorism and murder of innocent people.”

Knesset speaker Edelstein said, “It is unthinkable that while innocent civilians are being slaughtered in Israel’s streets, Knesset members console and give voice to the murders’ families. I view this as a severe assault on the Knesset and the state of Israel.”

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan called on the Attorney General to examine whether the meeting that the Knesset members had with the families constituted a criminal offense — providing support for acts of murder and terror.

Erdan explained that the bodies would not be released until the police are satisfied that the funerals of the terrorists will not be turned into venues of incitement and support of terror.

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Brazilian Diplomacy
While the standoff continues between Brazil and Israel over Brazil’s decision to prevent the appointment of Danny Danon as Israel’s ambassador to the country because of Danon’s history as a leader in the settlement movement, Israel remains ambassador-less in Brazil. Not so the Palestinians.

A new building housing the first Palestinian Authority embassy in the Western Hemisphere was inaugurated in Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia on Wednesday. The PA’s envoy to Brazil, Ibrahim Alzeben, led the event, which was attended by left-wing Brazilian government officials, representatives of Arab countries and members of the local Arab community. The new building is topped with a golden dome, to resemble the Dome of the Rock.

Some Brazilian security officials are critical of the location of the new embassy, which is close to all of the major government institutions, fearing that it will become a base for Hamas and give terrorists easy access to the center of Brazilian government.

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Home Sales
The number of new home sales in Israel in 2015 was 40% higher than in 2014. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, contractors sold 32,370 new homes, which is the highest number in more than 15 years. Various government tax incentives for first time buyers are assumed to be one of the factors contributing to the increase.

The leading city in sales of new housing in 2015 was Jerusalem with 2,292 units sold. Tel Aviv-Jaffa was in second place, followed by Petah Tikva, Ramat Gan, and Netanya. One town with an especially steep increase in new housing sales in 2015 was Afula, where 1,163 new housing units were sold in 2015, compared with 466 in 2014. The increase in Or Akiva was even more extreme: 771 new housing units sold in 2015, compared with only 128 in 2014.

So, what are you waiting for?

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Swiss Snack Control
Believe it or not, the Swiss might soon take full control over your Israeli snacking habits. That’s because Nestles, the huge Swiss food conglomerate, is planning to gain full ownership over Osem, one of Israel’s primary food companies. Actually, Nestle’s already owns about 70% of the company, but the final 30% will allow them to delist Osem stock from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and turn the company private. Nestle’s will pay $840 million for the 30%, which will give Osem a total value of around $2.4 billion.

Osem makes iconic Israeli snacks like Bamba and Bisli and a slew of other products including pasta, salad dressing, soup mix, cereal, vegetarian meat substitutes and of course, Sabra humus. In total it controls 10% of the Israeli food market.

As a private, foreign owned, company Osem will be be less sensitive to the media and to public opinion, which could make it easier for them to raise prices. So you better stock up on the Bamba and Bisli before that happens.

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