Israel News for January 5, 2017

PM Wants Pardon
Hours after the verdict convicting IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria of manslaughter for shooting a neutralized terrorist in the head, PM Netanyahu called on the public to remain calm and respect the decision of the military court. He also said that Azaria should be pardoned.

In a Facebook post Netanyahu wrote, “This is a hard and painful day for all of us, first and foremost for Elor and his family, the soldiers of the IDF, many citizens and the parents of soldiers, myself included. I call on all Israeli citizens to act responsibly toward the IDF, its commanders and the IDF chief of staff. The soldiers of the IDF are the sons and daughters of all of us. I support pardoning Elor Azaria.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on fellow cabinet ministers to refrain from demanding a pardon for Azaria, saying that they should let the defense establishment handle the matter without outside interference. Education Minister Naftali Bennet (Bayit Yehudi), Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) have all called publicly for a pardon.

The judges and prosecutor in the case have been given security details in light of death threats from angry protesters and widespread condemnation of the verdict by large segments of the public who feel that the verdict is an attack on all IDF soldiers and that it hinders the soldiers ability to fight terror. Two people were arrested today for incitement against the judges.

Meanwhile, the parents of the terrorist shot by Azaria expressed their satisfaction with the verdict. His father said, “I feel good. It is fair. It is an achievement for the court that it condemned the soldier.” But the family is worried that the court will give Azaria a light sentence.

The military court is scheduled to sentence Azaria next week. Azaria’s lawyers have already announced that they will appeal the decision.

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Haifa Terror
Earlier this week a religious services worker was shot and killed and a rabbinical judge serving on the conversion court was shot and wounded in Haifa. The motive of the shootings was initially unclear but police now suspect that it was a nationalistically motivated act of terror. The police have identified a suspect who is a resident of the Arab neighborhood of Halisa in Haifa. They are conducting an intensive search in the neighborhood and are being helped by neighborhood residents, who are calling on the suspect to turn himself in.

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Arab MK Indicted
Arab MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) was indicted today for smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners in Israel jails.  

The indictment stated, “The defendant delivered the communications equipment to Bizra while knowing that it is more than likely the equipment will be used to endanger human lives, cause serious harm to people, undermine state security, or to aid a terror organization.”

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Senate Jerusalem Bill
Senators Marco Rubio (Florida), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Dean Heller (Nevada) have introduced a bill to remove the presidential waver from the 1995 law passed by Congress recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and mandating the move from Tel Aviv. Presidents currently have the ability to exercise the waiver every six months to prevent the embassy move. The bill would slash in half the funds that Congress disburses to the State Department for building, securing and maintaining embassies until the embassy opens in Jerusalem.

Cruz stated, “Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth – let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel – is shocking in some circles. But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”

Rubio added: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs. It’s time for Congress and the president-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore US law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

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