Israel News for March 24, 2017

Terror Attack
Three terrorists exited a vehicle and threw gasoline bombs at the Best El settlement near Ramallah. IDF soldiers fired at the terrorists, hitting them all. One of the terrorists, identified as Muhammed Hattab, 17, died of his wounds a short time later. A demonstration against Israel’s military rule took place in Ramallah’s Manara Square in the hours following the Hattab’s death.

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Ambassador Confirmed
The US Senate voted 52 to 46 to confirm David Friedman as the new US Ambassador to Israel yesterday. Just two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, crossed party lines to vote in favor of confirmation.

PM Netanyahu tweeted, “New US ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump’s representative and as a close friend of Israel.”

Israel’s US Ambassador Ron Dermer tweeted, “Congratulations to David Friedman! Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

The YESHA council, which represents the settlement movement, said in a statement, “The Yesha Council look forward to working together with him to build a brighter future for everyone in the region. The Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria are an integral piece in the puzzle for peace and can no longer be sidelined.”

Friedman has been an outspoken supporter of the settlement movement and a one-state solution.

J Street slammed Friedman’s appointment saying, “Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.”

Now the question is where will Friedman work — Tel aviv or Jerusalem?

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Settlement Talks
The White House released a statement following talks between US and Israeli delegations in Washington this week. The talks followed a visit to Israel by US envoy Jason Greenblatt, who lead the US delegation in the discussions.

The White House statement said:

“A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential.

The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction, following up on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and Mr. Greenblatt’s recent visit to Israel.

The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.”

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement denying that Greenblatt had demanded any form of settlement construction freeze, after that was reported in the Israeli media.

Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday, before he left China, that “significant progress” had been made in the talks in Washington but gave no further information.

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Caller Busted
The Israel Police announced yesterday the arrest of an 18 year old Israeli -American resident of Ashkelon, who called in dozens of bomb threats to JCCs and other public institutions in the US, Australia and New Zealand over the past few months. The arrest was the culmination of a joint investigation between the Israel Police and the FBI.

Police got their break when the suspect, on one occasion, neglected to mask the IP address he was using to make a call. The address led police to a public wifi spot near the suspect’s apartment, which had a large antenna extended out of the suspects window. Police said they found at least five computers, a number of network interface controllers, satellite and antenna equipment during the arrest raid.

The suspect’s lawyer said that her client suffered from a “very serious medical condition” which had prevented him from attending school or serving in the IDF.

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Texas and Samaria
A special cooperation agreement was signed between the State of Texas and the Samaria Regional Council in the Knesset last week. The agreement will include the exchange of technologies and expertise in agriculture and water technologies.

Public Security Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said, “The State of Israel and Texas share many common values, including the deep connection to the land and the importance of working and preserving it, and the potential for increasing economic cooperation between Israel and Texas is enormous. I thank the Texas government for its steadfast support for Israel and for promoting legislation against the BDS movement. I believe that legislation is an effective tool to combat the delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said, “We want to re-establish the relations between Texas and Israel, and especially with Samaria, which is such a significant part of the Land of Israel, we want to be partners of Israel and Samaria to recreate the brotherhood that was lost in recent years.”

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