haley western wall

Israel News for June 9, 2017

Palestinians Ready
According to a senior Palestinian advisor Mohammad Mustafa, PA President Abbas is prepared to temporarily suspend his long-standing demand for Israel to freeze all West Bank construction to revive peace talks. Abbas will also tone down his campaigns to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes and to condemn Israel at the UN.

Mustafa said, “We have not made the settlements an upfront issue this time. We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new [US] administration a chance to deliver.”

Another high-ranking Abbas aide, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said Trump earned Palestinian confidence when he postponed moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He said, “There is a new dynamic. The embassy issue is behind us.”

Mustafa outlined three major steps Palestinians need to improve the economy and facilitate peace talks.

1. receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid that donor nations pledged to the Palestinian Authority but didn’t deliver.

2. foreign investment in energy, tourism, real estate and industry. That would require Israeli permission for Palestinians to build and farm in parts of the West Bank that contain most of the Jewish settlements.

3. Israel’s “political enabling for this program.”

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Haley in Israel
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley continued her Israel trip with a visit to the Gaza border region, where she met with residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz and toured a Hamas tunnel. Haley visited the kibbutz’s war room and met with the residents and children who told her about the security situation in the face of the threat from Gaza. The residents gave her a book with pictures made by kindergarten children who thanked her for her support of Israel.

Haley began her Israel visit with meetings with PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin. She then visited the Western Wall, where she invited on praying on the women’s side even though a special area was cleared for her on the men’s side. She said, “I want to be here like every other person.”

Haley remarked that she “is very moved by the warmth of the Israeli public towards me. I don’t deserve it, I’m just telling the truth. It hurts that only now, after many years, the truth is being openly spoken.” She continues her Israel visit with a tour of the northern border.

To see photos of the visit click here.

Haredi Soldiers
Since the law to draft yeshiva students was passed in 2014, a total of only 918 have been drafted. Out of those, at least half received an exemption. The total number of yeshiva draftees includes members of the Merkaz Harav and Had Hamor yeshivas, which are both iconic Zionist (non-Haredi) institutions. The Haredi soldiers that do serve in the IDF for the most part do not fall into the category of full time yeshiva students that the draft law addressed.

For further reading click here.

Smoking Comeback
The smoking rate in Israel fell from 45% in the early 1980’s to 19.7% in 2015. But in 2016 the rate went up to 22.5%. Leah Rosen, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Health Promotion Department, said, “This is unheard of in the developed world. There’s an epidemiological curve of tobacco use, and as people start to get sick from smoking, the [smoking] rate starts going down, and it never goes back up. We have now broken that trend.” The smoking rate in America is 15%.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of death in Israel, claiming the lives of around 8,000 Israelis every year.

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University Rankings
The 2018 QS World University Rankings are out and guess what country’s universities are ranked at the top…well, no not Israel. The US took the top spots with MIT, Stanford and Harvard taking the top three spots. But Hebrew U. Came in a respectable 145 out of 959 universities, which was a step up from last year’s 148. Tel Aviv U. Ranked 205 and the Technion 224.

To view the entire list click here.