Israel News for June 2, 2016

Terror Attack
A female terrorist attempting to stab soldiers near the West Bank settlement of Einav, in northern Samaria, was shot and killed before causing any harm.

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Kahalon Calls Herzog
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the leader of the Kulanu party, called on opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join the government in order to advance the peace process. Kahalon urged Herzog “not to miss the historic window of opportunity that has been created. You don’t conduct a peace process and don’t create change from the opposition.”

There have recently been rumors of a potential peace summit sponsored by the Egyptians that would be based on the Arab League peace plan, which the Prime Minister has spoken positively about.

Kahalon said, “The rumors and talk of a substantial diplomatic process in our region are based on a lot more than just hints in the newspapers. There is the possibility of a significant change in direction on a regional level.”

He added, “This is not the time or place to go into detail, but we have a rare opportunity for a significant change in direction on a regional level. The holding of a regional conference in connection with which all of the interested parties in the region would be represented,is an important, desirable and proper plan. The Kulanu party and I will support it and we will advance it with all our strength.”

“Such a conference will change the rules of the game, will open additional channels to diplomatic progress and contain [the means] to extract the relations between us and our neighbors from the stalemate that they are in. Such a step will be a significant stimulus to the additional expansion of the coalition, and I don’t think the Zionist Union can refrain from taking part in such a challenge.”

Sounds like something real might be cooking in the peace pot.

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US Embassy Move
In 1995 the US Congress passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act, which stated that “the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” Built into the act was a waiver authority allowing the president to postpone the move, in the interests of national security, for six month intervals. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have all issued waivers at six-month intervals ever since.

Yesterday President Obama renewed the waiver. In a memorandum to Secretary of State of Kerry, Obama wrote, “Pursuant to the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 7(a) of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45) (the “Act”), I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months the limitations set forth in sections 3(b) and 7(b) of the Act.”

Doesn’t seem likely that the embassy will be moving anytime soon.

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Kotel Controversy
Leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements warned PM Netanyahu that there would be a major crisis in relations with world Jewry if the controversy over the new egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall was not resolved over the next few weeks.

The PM told the leaders that he was committed to implementing the plan but suggested that certain modifications would be necessary to overcome objections voiced by his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners. 

The government approved the plan to create a new egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in January, but since then, no progress has been made in its implementation. The Ultra-Orthodox parties are objecting to a common entrance to the new space that would be shared with the existing Kotel entrance. They want the are new area to have a separate entrance.

The Ultra-Orthodox parties also do not want the new prayer area to be directly funded by the government and they oppose granting the Conservative and Reform movement representation on the governing board that will administer the area.

The PM needs the Ultra-Orthodox parties to uphold the government and its slim majority in the Knesset. So he needs to walk a fine line in order to solve this Kotel controversy.

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