Israel News for January 11, 2017

Hamas Dealings
The Arab-Israeli newspaper Kul al-Arab has reported that Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hamas in a potential prisoner exchange deal that would secure the release of the bodies of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, who were both killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

According to the report, the negotiations have not moved forward due to Israel’s refusal to release 60 terrorists held in Israeli prisons. Instead, Israel offered to expel them to Gaza or Qatar, which was rejected by Hamas. Non of the report was confirmed by Israeli officials.

For further reading click here.

Obama Interview
In an interview with Israeli TV program “Uvda”, US President Obama defended his decision not to veto the recent UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building saying “I believe it was the best move for peace.” He said that Israeli settlement building is making the two-state solution almost impossible to achieve. He said, “Bibi says that he believes in the two-state solution and yet his actions consistently have shown that if he is getting pressured to approve more settlements he will do so regardless of what he says about the importance of the two-state solution.”

For further reading click here.

Ethiopian Blood
Since 1977 Ethiopian born Israelis have been banned from donating blood as a result of unproven fears that their blood might carry the HIV virus. The Health Ministry has announced that starting on July 1, their blood will be accepted. The ministry also changed the rules for blood donations from homosexuals and those older than 65.

In 1996 it was revealed that Magen David Adom had been secretly disposing blood donated by Ethiopian Jews over fears they carried HIV/AIDS. The news of the scandal led to violent clashes between the Israeli police and Ethiopian protesters charging that they were being treated as second-class citizens.

Despite the lifting of the ban, Immigration Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise said “MDA’s decision to delay accepting these donations for another half year, even though there’s no medical justification for it, is a continuation of the discrimination and deprivation.”

For further reading click here.

Divorce Reversal
In 2014 the Rabbinical district court of Tsfat ruled that the court could give a Get (Jewish divorce) on behalf of a husband in a coma to his wife who had been in a state of limbo (agunah) for seven years. The ruling was revolutionary, since only the husband himself can give or order the giving of a get, but based on traditional Jewish legal (halachic) sources.

Recently a man, unrelated to the the couple, came forward and demanded that the ruling be retracted because it was not correct according to Jewish law. The Tsfat court rejected his claim since the man has no bearing in the case. The man appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, saying that the ruling effected every Jewish man, since the woman who is eligible for marriage is really still married (if the ruling permitting the divorce was incorrect).

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, as head of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, has agreed to review the case regarding whether the man has the right to have his claim heard. In addition R. Yosef also will allow the original ruling of the Tsfat court to be reviewed to determine its validity. That means that the divorce given to the woman could be rejected, which would return her to a state of agunah (unable to marry).

The case was brought to the Israeli Supreme Court, where the justices have forcefully spoken out against the idea of the rabbinical court attempting to retract a divorce. The court has yet to make a decision but has restricted the rabbinical court from dealing with the case for 21 days.

For further reading click here.

Driving and Praying
You don’t want your bus driver to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or falling asleep at the wheel. Well, in Bnei Brak passengers have to deal with drivers praying while driving. To see this in action click here.