Israel News for January 23, 2017

Trump and PM
President Trump and PM Netanyahu spoke on the phone yesterday. The President invited Netanyahu to meet in early February. According to a White House statement regarding the call, “The Prime Minister expressed his desire to work together with President Trump on their shared vision to promote peace and security in the region without having gaps between the US and Israel. The two leaders discussed the Iranian deal, the peace process with the Palestinians and other issues.”
The White House said that the two “discussed ways to advance and strengthen the special relationship between the United States and Israel and the security and stability of the Middle East. The President emphasized the importance the US places on close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and binding partnership between the two countries.”
The statement also mentioned that the two “agreed to continue to discuss regional issues closely, including the Iranian threat,” and that President Trump once again confirmed the US’s unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security and stressed that the fight against ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups is a top priority for the US government.
According to the statement, “President Trump stressed that a Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations and the US will work closely with Israel to achieve this goal.”

No mention was made of the promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the security cabinet voted unanimously to postpone a vote on the annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim until after the PM’s meeting with Trump.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement yesterday regarding the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem that, “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject.” White House sources said no announcement of an embassy move was imminent.

During his presidential campaign Trump promised to move the embassy. So did Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But despite a law passed by Congress in the 1990’s, no President has yet to do so, despite their promises. Doing so apparently has ramifications that they believed to be detrimental to US policy and interests in the region. Will Trump, who clearly articulated a policy of “America First” at his inauguration, make the move even if he decides that it will harm US political and economic interests?

If Trump determines that in order to fulfill his promise of eradicating radical Islam from the face of the earth, the US requires the cooperation of “moderate” Moslem countries to form a united coalition to fight ISIS and other terror groups, could he decide that moving the embassy will damage that opportunity and not be the best thing for America?

Does “America First” equal “Israel First”?

War Crimes
Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, who in previous governments served as Foreign Minister and Justice Minister, has cancelled a planned trip to Belgium, where she was supposed to attend a conference on security for Jewish communities. The cancellation came after an announcement by a federal prosecutor in the Belgian Justice Ministry that Livni would be detained and questioned in connection with war crimes charges upon landing in Brussels.

For further reading click here.

IDF Social
The IDF has released a new guide for soldiers on how to use social media, in the wake of recent attempts by Hamas to hack the phones of soldiers. In a video a soldier explains how he was fooled by a Hamas operative using a fake Facebook profile: “She sent me a message on Facebook. We spoke a lot over a few days. She said she was a prison guard, and I told her I was in the army. Then she asked me to download this chat app so that we could talk more. I downloaded it, but it did not work. I tried to reach her again on Facebook, but she didn’t answer.”

The chat app was actually a spy tool used to collect information and track location even when the phone was turned off. While the IDF claims that no material intelligence damage was caused by the hacking of dozens of soldiers, the potential for major security leaks is huge. For example, since phones have GPS tracking, it’s very possible for sensitive military locations to be revealed.

Hopefully, soldiers will now be more careful with whom they “friend” and what they download.

For further reading click here.

Shiva Call
PM Netanyahu visited the Belzer Rebbe, who is sitting shiva for his mother. The PM spoke about how his faith is the foundation that keeps him strong. Te Rebbe blessed the PM and his wife.

To view photos and a video click here.

Shark Warning
If you’re planning to go swimming near Hadera in northern Israel, you should reconsider. Around 150 bull and sandbar sharks have been spotted in the area.

To watch video click here.

Jerusalem Biography
If you want to learn the history of Jerusalem from a book that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, you must read Jerusalem: The Biographyby Simon Sebag Montefiore. It’s the kind of book that you’ll read more than once and keep on your shelf as a go to reference. I personally love it. I think you will too. To read more reviews and get the book, click here