Israel News for February 8, 2016

More Palestinians
Despite the recent rise in terror, the Israeli defense establishment is recommending that an additional 30,000 Palestinians be permitted to work in Israel. The security cabinet has already approved the main provisions of the plan. The plan was presented to the ministers last month by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activity in the territories.

Around 58,000 Palestinians have permits to work within Israel proper. An estimated 120,000 Palestinians in total work for Israelis, including over 30,000 who work in Israel illegally and some 27,000 who work in industrial zones in West Bank settlements.

The hope is that better economic conditions will stop the violence. This theory is prevalent in the military and security services. But it doesn’t stop there. Even Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who during the escalation has advocated getting tough with the Palestinians, yesterday expressed support for increasing the number of work permits to up to 100,000.

According to a recent poll, the number of West Bank and Gaza residents who support a third intifada dropped from 63% in November to 42% now.

But will better economic conditions stop the lone wolf attacks that have represented the overwhelming majority of recent terror attacks?

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount
Over three months ago Israel and Jordan came to an agreement to install video surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount as a way to diffuse tensions by providing evidence that the area is not being damaged by Israel and that the “status quo” is being upheld.

Since then there have been negotiations between the Israel Police and Shin Bet and the Waqf and Jordanian intelligence to work out the technicalities. The sides haven’t reached any agreement yet. According to Israeli officials, the fundamental issue holding up an agreement is the question of who will control the cameras and who will get access to the live video feed. The Jordanians want sole control over the video, which is something that Israel cannot accept, since it would allow them to potentially edit or hide video that shows Arab violations. In addition, Israel wants cameras placed inside the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, to monitor if they are being used to store weapons. The Arabs refuse to allow the cameras inside the holy sites.

Israeli officials want to implement an agreement by Passover. One official said, “If we reach that point and there will still not be agreements then all the tensions we saw around the Jewish holidays in September can start again.”

For further reading click here.

Hebron Homes
It seems that a better real estate lawyer could have prevented the eviction of Jewish families from the two houses that they occupied in Hebron a few weeks ago. According to the Defense Minister, it was a slew of technical issues relating to the sale of the property that caused the eviction.

In a meeting with local council leaders, the DM said that the Civil Administration is examining claims that the Palestinian who sold the houses to the settlers is only the owner of a storage unit on the site, and not the whole property. He also said the that the Palestinians who claim ownership of the property also filed a complaint with the police following the occupation of the homes, which is being examined.

So a thorough title search could have solved this entire issue? Something tells me that the real issue has nothing to do with paperwork and a lot to do with diplomacy.

For further reading click here.

Better Deal
The security memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Israel U.S. that was signed ten years ago is set to expire in 2018. PM Netanyahu and President Obama began negotiating a new MOU in November. There have so far been three rounds of negotiations between American and Israeli teams, but no agreement has yet been reached.

The impasse is pretty simple: Israel wants a bigger aid package and the U.S. says it’s already offering Israel the largest aid package ever. Sounds like a deadlock. But it looks like the PM has come up with a solution. In a cabinet meeting yesterday, he said that if Israel doesn’t get what it believes it needs in the agreement, he just won’t sign it. Instead, he’ll wait until a new president takes office and then try for a better deal.

The U.S. is obviously not very pleased with the PM’s negotiating strong arm negotiating tactics. A senior American official said, “Israel is of course free to wait for the next administration to finalize a new MOU should it not be satisfied with such a pledge, but we would caution that the U.S. budgetary environment is unlikely to improve in the next 1-2 years and Israel will certainly not find a president more committed to Israel’s security than is President Obama.” He claims that Israel’s security is a top priority for the Obama administration, and that Israel currently already receives receives over 50% of the total foreign military aid the U.S provides around the world.

Netanyahu apparently thinks that he can negotiated a sweeter deal with the next president. Unless of course its Trump (the king of negotiations) or Sanders (you figure it out). The way the polls are looking, maybe the PM should take what he can get now.

For further reading click here.

Hasidic Technology
The Vishnitz Hasidic sect, which is the second largest in Israel (Ger is number one), held an emergency gathering against the dangers of technology. The gathering was led by the Rabbe of Vishnitz, attended by thousands of hassidim and broadcast live to Vishnitz communities in New York, Canada, England and Belgium.

Several prominent hassidic leaders from the communities of Vishnitz, Ger and Belz railed against the evils of smartphones. The Vishnitzer Rebbe gave the keynote address. He said, “Whoever has a connection to these things, even just at work, should know that he has no connection to us and will not participate in any of our institutions.” He added that “whoever holds a smartphone holds in his hand a spiritual bomb.”

Several resolutions were instituted by the rebbe including the banning of students from Vishnitz schools whose parents have smartphones and the formation of committees to monitor smartphone usage and enforce the bans against it.

Time to sell Apple?

For further reading click here.

A+ Rating
Israel has received another A+ from the Standard and Poor’s credit rating agency. The agency said, ‘the stable outlook reflects our expectation that the government will maintain stable public finances and that the impact of security risks on the Israeli economy will be contained’. Good news!

For further reading click here.