Israel News for March 17, 2016

Terror Attack
Two Palestinians attacked and stabbed a 20 year old woman at a bus stop at the entrance to the city of Ariel today. The woman was seriously wounded in her upper body but remained conscious. The terrorists were shot and killed at the scene.

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PA Rejects Offer
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Voice of Palestine radio on Tuesday morning that the Palestinian Authority had rejected an Israeli offer to end military operations in Area A, which includes the major Palestinian cities. Maliki said the Palestinians demand Israel stop all such activities in all Palestinian cities immediately. Apparently, it’s all or nothing for the Palestinians.

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Russian Friend
Russian President Putin hosted Israeli President Rivlin at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. Putin warmly welcomed Rivlin and said, “Israeli-Russian relations have a long history. More than 1.5 million Soviet emigrants, who speak Russian and have a Russian mentality, live in Israel. They stay in touch with their friends and family members, who have stayed in Russia, making our relationship particularly special.”

Rivlin reciprocated the warm greetings and added that, “As a Jew, I would like to say that we will never forget the Russian nation and Red Army for defeating the Nazis.”

Prior to their meeting Rivlin placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Alexander Garden. Rivlin then visited the Russian State Library with his wife Nechama, where they looked at books in Hebrew. He said that he hopes the books will one day arrive in Israel.

Putin can definitely make that happen.

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Mikvah Wars Escalate
In a move to circumvent a recent High Court ruling that permitted the Conservative and Reform movements to use State run mikvahs (ritual baths) for conversion ceremonies, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) MK Moshe Gafni has initiated a bill in the Knesset to require the Mikvahs to follow strict guidelines set by the Chief Rabbinate.

According to Gafni, the High Court ruling violates the status quo on issues of religion and state. The bill passed 42-38, and will now go to the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee for processing. “This law doesn’t come to prevent Reform and Conservative people from immersing in the mikvah,” Gafni told the Knesset during the debate, adding that the country has many private mikvahs to which the law will not apply. “But the state’s public mikvaot are for halachic immersion.”

The joint headquarters of religious organizations that oppose the bill issued a statement saying, “We expect the MKs of the coalition, and particularly the members of the Habayit Hayehudi faction who promised that they wouldn’t vote for the bill unless it was amended, to keep their promise and prevent further offense to those women who immerse. The mikvah is a public resource and one cannot expropriate the autonomy of a woman who immerses through institutional coercion dictated solely by men. This bill should concern every woman and man in Israel because it gives exclusive authority to an ultra-Orthodox worldview that isn’t required by halacha.”
For further reading click here.

Energy Report Card
According to a quality of life report published yesterday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel has the best record in recycling wastewater. The proportion of people not hooked up to wastewater recycling in Israel fell from 7.7% in 2000 (485,000 people) to 2.2% in 2014 (180,000 people). Most of the people not connected to water recycling live in unrecognized Bedouin communities or East Jerusalem.

Seth Siegel, the author of “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World,” says that Israel has the world’s best and most sophisticated water management system, and has worked hard to achieve this status. Israel recycles water, desalinizes seawater and brackish water, takes advantage of floodwater, educates its population about correct consumption, makes efficient use of water in industry and agriculture, invests in finding leaks and reducing water depreciation in municipal and rural pipes, etc.

Now the bad news. The OECD report ranks Israel in last place in using renewable energy. While Iceland produces all of its electricity from renewable energy, Spain 39%, and the OECD as a whole 21%, less than 1% of Israel’s electricity comes from renewable energy.

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PM FB Chat
Yesterday PM Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page that he would personally answer questions sent to him on Facebook in real time. Out of thousands of questions sent to him, one caught his attention. It was from an Ethiopian Israeli girl who accused him of not really answering questions, “just like you don’t care about the problems of your public. See you at election time!”

The PM didn’t take long to respond, writing (loosely translated from the Hebrew) “You bet I’m here in a big way, and I’m paying special attention to the issues of the Ethiopian community. For the third time as PM I’m trying to bring thousands of your community to Israel. I personally chair the government committee that meets every few weeks to deal with the problems of the community.”

So there.

To see a photo of the PM during his chat, click here.