Israel News for January 24, 2017

Obama’s Gift
According to an AP report, the Obama administration released $221 million of aid to the Palestinian Authority last Friday, just hours before the inauguration of Donald Trump.

Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated.

The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development. According to the notification sent by the administration to Congress informing them that it would release the funds on Friday, the funds will be earmarked for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms and to help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state.

Quite a farewell gift.

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Embassy Move
In a meeting with Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi at a conference of Mediterranean countries in Spain yesterday, European Union Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini stated that the EU countries will keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, despite Trump’s promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Whether the US will actually move the embassy has not yet been determined.

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Giuliani in Jerusalem
Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is part of a White House team responsible for strengthening the US governments cyber security, arrived in Israel today. Giuliani is traveling to Israel for his law firm, Greenberg Trauring, and while there he is expected to meet with Netanyahu.

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Government Pot
The Ministries of Agriculture and Health will provide NIS 8 million in funding for 13 medical cannabis studies. The studies, which will be financed through a fund operated by the chief scientist unit, will deal with biochemical and medical aspects, as well as improving medical cannabis crop yields.

The Ministry of Agriculture today said that funding the studies was a pioneering step for Israel that could enable researchers to conduct basic and applied research for five years, during which tools and infrastructure would be developed to facilitate the next generation of cannabis plant products for medical use.

Among the biochemical and medical studies approved by the Ministries of Agriculture and Health are identification and specification of new ingredients in strains of medical cannabis, the use of cannabis and its effect on vision, involvement of cannabis in the development of colon cancer, treatment of multiple sclerosis using cannabis, the use of cannabis to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, and a test of the plant’s ability to delay the development of harmful bacteria.

The 13 cannabis studies to receive state support will be conducted by drug companies, universities, research institutes, and hospitals. Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel said, “The program shows that agriculture is important in all aspects of life.”

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Road Fatalities
After the fatal car accident that killed four people in northern Israel Monday, Giora Rom, the head of the Israel National Road Safety Authority said that Arab drivers in Israel are the cause of the high rate of road deaths in the country. He said, “The problem here is wild driving that hikes up the high percentage of casualties in the Arab sector.” He added that, “they are 20% of the population in Israel but accounted for a third of road deaths in 2016 and half of all deaths since the new year.”

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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