Israel News for October 2, 2015

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Terror in Samaria
A husband and wife, both in their early 30’s, were killed last night from shots fired at their car as they were driving on a road between the towns of Elon Moreh and Itamar near the Palestinian town of Furik, east of Nablus, in Samaria (West Bank). The victims were Rabbi Eitam Henkin and Naama Henkin, residents of the community of Neria. Their four children sitting in the back seat, aged 9, 7, 4 and 4 months were not wounded. The IDF is searching for the killers.

Rabbi Eitam Henkin was the son of Rebbetzin Chana Henkin, the founder of the Nishmat women’s seminary. Naam Henkin was the daughter of a veteran of the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal who took part in the operation to rescue kidnapped soldier Nachshon Wachsman.

A Hamas spokesman praised the murder as a legitimate reaction to the Israeli occupation and called for more terror attacks.

Several Bayit Yehudi ministers and Knesset Members including deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely, education minister Naftali Bennet, agriculture minister Uri Ariel, MK Bazalel Smotrich along with culture minister Miri Regev of Likud all blamed and condemned PA President Abbas for inciting the terror attack.

In response to the attack, groups of settlers stoned Arab cars near several junctions in Samaria. Arabs also stoned Jewish cars. Security forces have closed the junctions.

In other unrelated incidents two other women and a child were injured by stones thrown by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank.

Abbas at UN
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had an eventful time at the UN this week.

On Wednesday Abbas raised the Palestinian flag for the first time at the UN, after a resolution permitting non member states to do so was recently passed by a landslide majority of the UN general assembly. The US didn’t send a representative to the event, but other Western nations including France did. Abbas promised that the flag will soon be raised in Jerusalem, “the capital of our Palestinian state.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday a day of “pride” and “hope” for Palestinians around the world. He urged the Palestinians to pursue their long-held dream for their own state by first uniting Gaza and the West Bank, and he urged Israel and the Palestinians to revive negotiations that collapsed last year and conclude “a successful peace process that will lead to the unfurling of the Palestinian flag in its proper place – among the family of nations as a sovereign member state of the United Nations,” Ban said.

But wait…there’s more.

In his official address to the UN general assembly on Wednesday, Abbas stated that he is no longer bound by agreements, including the Oslo Accords, that have defined relations with Israel for the past two decades and are meant to form the basis for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

Abbas demanded that Israel “assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power.” He stopped short of suspending security cooperation with Israel.

PM Netanyahu’s office issued a statement in response, saying that Abbas had delivered a “speech of lies that encourages incitement and unrest in the Middle East.”

Netanyahu called on Abbas to “act responsibly” and answer his proposal for direct negotiations with Israel without any preconditions. “The fact that time after time he (Abbas) does not respond is the best proof that he has no intention of reaching a peace agreement,” he said.

Will Abbas’s speech lead to any practical change on the ground, other than the potential of inciting terror attacks? According to Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri in Ramallah, Abbas was just trying to attract attention and pressure Israel. “This is a threat not a plan. Abbas has no plan, otherwise he could have spelled it out in his speech.” Nevertheless, his move will definitely not result in anything positive for Israel. Things could get much worse for both sides.

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu Silenced
PM Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly yesterday and was silenced — by choice. The PM spoke of the dangers of an embargo free Iran on the world but especially on Israel, which Iran has openly sworn to destroy.

“If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your countries, perhaps you’d be somewhat less enthusiastic about the deal,” the PM said. “If Iran’s terror proxies were firing thousands of rockets at your cities, perhaps you’d be more measured in your praise. And yet the response from every one of you here, utter silence. Deafening silence.”

After those remarks, he stood at the podium and glared at the delegates around the room for about one minute.

As dramatic as the PM’s words and silence might have seemed, they’re very unlikely to make any difference at the UN. Based on the video, the room seemed pretty empty, so many of the folks who the message was directed at weren’t even there. That left Netanyahu staring down and scowling at diplomats who probably already fundamentally agree with him. That seems uncomfortably awkward, at least on the video.

For further reading click here.

Hotovely Lets Loose
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely seems to have lost her cool at a UN meeting that was supposed to highlight positive developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations in the West Bank.

Hotovely took her turn at delivering a prepared address. She began by explaining the significance of the Sukkot holiday as a time when Jews historically made pilgrimages to the Temple (aka Temple Mount). She criticized PA President Abbas for inciting violence when he said that Israelis were defiling the Al Aqsa Mosque with their boots, and blasted the Palestinians for raising their children to aspire to become engineers so that they can build bombs for terror attacks. Then she pointed out Israeli economic initiatives to help the Palestinians, including the granting of work permits.

Next in line to speak was Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who trashed his prepared speech in favor of ad-libbing against Hotovely’s remarks. Ignoring the protocol of the session, where each person is allowed to present a speech, Hotovely turned it into a good old fashion Middle Eastern brawl by interrupting Judeh several times to argue with his points. She was called to order by the chairman of the meeting twice, but that didn’t stop Hotovely from getting her say.

Hotovely’s style stunned the gathering of diplomats. Those of us who know and love Jewish women would have been shocked if she had kept quiet.

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Am Yisrael Chai
Activist and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir was arrested on Wednesday while visiting the Temple Mount when he responded to Muslim extremists’ shouts of “Allahu Akbar” by calling out “Am Yisrael chai!”.

In court yesterday, Judge Menachem Hacohen of the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem ruled that Ben-Gvir’s saying “Am Yisrael chai!” does not constitute a breach of public order and likewise isn’t a prayer. He ordered Ben-Gvir’s immediate release.

So here’s the rule: you cannot utter a prayer on the Temple Mount, but you can shout pro Israel slogans. The Waqf is not going to be happy when they hear about this. Please don’t tell them, just yet.

For further reading click here.

New Sheriff in Town
The new candidate to head up the Israel National Police is Roni Alsheich, the deputy head of the Shin Bet. Alsheich is 52 and married with seven children. He wears a kippah and lived in a settlement near Ramallah for many years until moving to a religious community in the center of the country several years ago. He also served as a Paratrooper brigade commander.

The police needs to clean up the corruption within its ranks and regain the respect of the public. Can Alsheich get the job done? It’s worth a shot.

For further reading click here.