Israel News for June 16, 2016

Gaza Wall
Israel’s Defense Ministry has announced that Israel will build a wall along the entire 60 mile Gaza border that will extend tens of meters below as well as above ground. The wall will cost over 2 billion shekels, and guess whose going to pay for it: no, not Mexico. The Israeli taxpayer will have to foot the bill, unless the PM can pick up some negotiating tips from … you know who.

Meanwhile, the IDF is also building a wall along sections of the Lebanon border adjacent to Israeli towns. Will these new walls help make Israel great again? But isn’t Israel already great? We’ll settle for just keeping the terrorists out.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Law
The Knesset yesterday passed a new Terrorist Law that expands the tools used to handle terrorism via criminal and legal mechanisms, extends the maximum sentence for carrying out various terrorism-related crimes to 30 years, anchors in law administrative detentions, and sets sanctions for multiple kinds of terrorism-related offenses.

The law was passed with broad approval across the political spectrum, with the exception of Meretz and the Arab Joint List. It will hopefully aid in Israel’s fight against terrorism.

To read more about the details of the new law, click here.

US Clarifies
The White House clarified its opposition to a Congressional proposal to increase funding for Israel’s missile defense by explaining that it does not reflect a desire to cut military aid to Israel, but rather reflects a disagreement as to how to budget for the aid.

The White House believes the missile defense funding should be included in the 10-year military aid agreement the two countries are now negotiating, and not in the 2017 defense budget, as Congress proposed. This would be better for Israel, they claim, because it would obviate the need for Congress and the administration to renegotiate the sum every year.

A senior White House official said, “We are prepared to make an unprecedented multi-year missile defense commitment as part of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel on military assistance. This commitment, which would amount to billions of dollars over 10 years, would be the first long-term pledge on missile defense support to Israel, affording Israel robust support for its missile defense, as well as predictability and facilitating long-term planning for missile defense initiatives.”

The administration claims that including the Israeli missile aid in the budget would reduce the amount available for developing US missile defense systems. Instead, the administration would give Israel special emergency grants for missile defense on top of the regular funding, something it has done several times over the past few years. For instance, they noted, during the 2014 war in Gaza, Washington gave Israel an extra $225 million to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries.

So it’s really not as bad as it seemed. Apparently.

For further reading click here.

New City
There’s a new, modern, affordable city in the process of being built around 25 miles north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. No, this one won’t provoke the condemnation of the EU or State Department as being an obstacle to peace. That’s because it’s a Palestinian city.

The city, Rawabi, is the first planned city to be built for Palestinians. It boasts high-rise apartment buildings, a shopping center, a 12,000 seat amphitheater, schools, playgrounds, mosques and an industrial zone. The city, that reminds you of Modiin, is planned to hold 60,000 residents when construction is completed in five years. There are currently 250 families living there, and more are moving in as apartments become ready for occupancy. The price of a three bedroom apartment is around $100,000, which is 25% less than an equivalent unit in Ramallah.

Rawabi is the brainchild of Palestinian-American developer Bashar Masri and is being funded by a Palestinian company run by Masri as well as the Qatari holding company Diar. Construction costs have so far topped $1.2 billion.

Residents are excited with the prospect of living in a clean, well planned city which stands in stark contrast to the chaotic Palestinian towns and villages in the area.

A church is currently under construction to service the Christians who are expected to form around ten percent of Rawabi’s population.

Masri said, “I’m a strong believer that a Palestinian state is in the making and part of the pillars of building a proper state is to have a strong economy and higher standard of living.”

To see photos of Rawabi, click here.

Eruv Controversy
Opposition to erecting Eruv’s occasionally arises in the US. But you wouldn’t expect it in Israel, right? Well, think again.

The village of Kfar Bilu, not far from Rehovot in central Israel, is refusing to erect an Eruv of the moshav because they want to make sure the moshav doesn’t become “haredi”.

Far Bilu, founded in 1932 has just a few religious residents out of a population of around 1,500. One of them is a wounded soldier confined to wheelchair, who recently became religious. Because of Shabbat restrictions, he is unable to leave his home on Shabbat without an Eruv. So he asked the village council to put one up and got the money to pay for it from the Religious Affairs Ministry. Their response: “If you want to be religious, then don’t be with us. The fact that you became religious is your problem.”

The council also refuses to erect a Mechitzah in the village synagogue, even though it is only used by the religious residents.


For further reading click here.