Israel News for January 21, 2016

PA Security
The head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service Majid Faraj stated in an interview with Defense News that Palestinian security agents have thwarted 200 potential terror attacks against Israel and arrested more than 100 Palestinians.

He confirmed that security cooperation between PA security services and Israel will continue, in order to prevent further chaos and to stop extremists, including ISIS members, from entering the country.

While warning about the danger from religious extremists, Faraj estimated that 90 percent of the Palestinian public is opposed to organizations such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining the Palestinian Authority and preventing its collapse, claiming that its collapse would allow extremist groups to fill the vacuum and gain control.

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Security Council
The Palestinian Authority is diligently lobbying to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and declaring them illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

The Palestinians have been talking to current Security Council members France, Spain and Egypt to draw up and support the resolution. Israeli diplomats are worried that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius might try to advance a pro-Palestinian UN resolution as one of the last things he does before leaving office in a few weeks. France already inserted a clause in a recent EU resolution distinguishing Israel from the West Bank, calling for the consideration of taking action in the Security Council in an effort to formulate a multilateral approach to the peace process.

The big question mark is what the U.S. position will be. While Israel has always relied on the U.S. to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council, Israeli officials are worried that President Obama, in his final year in office, might choose not to veto, given his outspoken criticism of Israeli settlement policy.

On the other hand, the Palestinians are sure that America will either veto, or pressure other countries from voting for, any resolution in their favor. In recent years the U.S. Has either vetoed or helped defeat several resolutions viewed as anti-Israel.

During an election year in the U.S., it seems highly unlikely that Obama would hold back the veto and risk jeopardizing Democratic chances at winning the presidential election.

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Supermarket Suit
A class-action suit for 450 million shekels ($113.4 million) was filed yesterday with the District Court in Haifa against Shufersal, the massive Israeli supermarket chain, claiming that the chain discriminates against Israeli Arabs by not allowing them to buy from its online store.

The suit was filed by two Israel Arab residents of towns in northern Israel who claimed that they were not allowed to shop in the chain’s online store because their addresses were beyond the store’s distribution area. In other words, Shufersal does not deliver to Arab areas. They also claim that Shufersal delivery vehicles drive through Arab towns on their way to make deliveries to residents in Jewish towns.

The plaintiffs, together with experts in the field, analyzed the chain’s distribution area maps and the range of possible criteria that could have guided Shufersal in setting the distribution areas, such as distance from the branch, size of the community or type of community. They assert that there was no economic or marketing criterion that could explain the distribution, other than the ethnic character of the community.

Shufersal stated:”Shufersal provides service to the entire population of Israel irrespective of religion, race or sex. We have yet to receive the lawsuit, and when it is received we will respond through legal proceedings.”

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Exodus Flag
The Silversteins, two Jewish brothers from Chicago who own a real estate company, have purchased, at auction, the flag that flew over the “Exodus” ship. The Exodus carried 4,500 holocaust survivors from France to Palestine in 1947. On its way to Palestine the ship was attacked by British destroyers and in a battle waged on its decks three passengers were killed, with dozens more injured. When the ship anchored in Haifa the would-be immigrants were arrested and deported back to Europe. The unfortunate event helped sway international public opinion to support the establishment of Israel.

The brothers paid $147,000 for the flag, which they subsequently donated to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The Silversteins, along with the director of the museum, drew comparisons between the Exodus story and the current refugee crisis and said that they hoped that the flag would serve as a reminder to the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Reactions from Israel were not so positive. Yad Vashem commented, “we regret that an item connected to the state’s history has been removed. It’s too bad it didn’t go to a suitable museum in Israel.” The comparison between the holocaust survivors on the Exodus and today’s Syrian refugees was also viewed as inappropriate.

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Russian Sanctuary
You might think that hell has actually frozen over when you read this: Vladimir Putin has invited European Jews to come to Russia to flee anti-semitism. Yup, you heard right. The Russian president met with members of the European Jewish Congress at the Kremlin and heard Dr. Moshe Kantor, the congress’ president, speak about growing anti-semitism in Western Europe.

Kantor said, “The situation of the Jews in Europe is the worst it has been since the end of the Second World War. Jews are again living in fear and there is a very real prospect of an exodus of Jews from certain parts of Europe. There are more Jews who are escaping from France, which is thought to be very safe, than from the war in Ukraine.”

Putin responded, “They can come here. During the Soviet era Jews would leave, but now they can come back.”

You think anyone will take up his offer?

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