Israel News for March 22, 2016

Breaking News
Three explosions rocked Brussels, the capital of Belgium, today killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens. One of the explosions occurred in a subway, claiming the lives of ten victims. The two other blasts occurred at the airport, killing 13 and wounding 35. Brussels is under lock down. This story is currently unfolding.

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AIPAC Lovefest
Over the last couple of days all of the US Presidential candidates, except for Bernie Sanders, addressed the AIPAC conference in Washington. Guess what? They all gave rousingly pro Israel speeches full of praises and pledges to always stand with Israel. Despite claims by Trump that he is the greatest supporter of Israel ever (since he was the grand marshal of the Salute to Israel parade), all the candidates proclaimed their allegiance to Israel loud and clear. All of the Republican candidates also pledged to “tear up” the Iranian nuclear deal. Cruz and Kasich attacked Trump for saying that he would be “neutral” in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but it was too late. Trump had already changed his position and vowed not to be neutral.

So, based on the AIPAC speeches, the next President of the US will be the best friend Israel has ever had. That’s reassuring. Unless things change.

Gaza Sewage
Construction of a new water treatment plant was completed last year in northern Gaza with international funding. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it needs electricity to operate, and the Israel Electric Company has ignored requests by Gaza to connect it to the electrical grid. As a result, tens of thousands of gallons of sewage is dumped into the sea every day by the Palestinians, and part of it ends up at the Ashkelon desalinization plant and the beaches in the area.

A month ago, the plant had to be shut down twice due to the amount of pollution in the water. The plant’s management reported this to the Water Authority and the Ministry of Health, and initial checks revealed that there was a dangerous amount of E. Coli and other harmful bacteria in the water.

Because of this, the water supply from the plant to the National Water System was cut in half. The Water Authority calls this a “significant threat” to the water supply from the plant, especially because the pollution coming from Gaza is expected only to increase.

An official from the Water Authority said, “Today, while the north is suffering from a drought, and the water supply coming from the Sea of Galilee is almost zero, it is of even greater importance to keep the desalinization plants on line.”

The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories responded by saying, “Israel supplies electricity to Gaza. The allocation of this electricity is decided by the Palestinians. Gaza has unused power capacity which can be allocated to power the plant. We are leading an examination of possible options in order to solve the general energy shortage in Gaza.”

Officials at the Energy Ministry, which is responsible for the energy and water supply, claim that they were only made aware of the problem in the last few days. Minister Yuval Steinitz noted that, “we suffer from this pollution almost as badly as the Palestinians, and it is in our interest that this issue be dealt with.”

So basically, until the Palestinians in Gaza get clean water, Israel will be getting their polluted water, which will harm Israel’s water supply. It seems as though Israel has the ability to solve this problem, and possibly even score some points with the people of Gaza. But even without the points, it’s a matter of Israel’s national security to solve the water problem in Gaza.

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Knesset Dead Beat
Knesset Member Oren Hazan, who has drawn criticism and rebuke from his Likud party members for missing important Knesset sessions and votes, is having some serious financial problems, and he’s asking for help.

Apparently, Hazan either doesn’t read traffic signs or just ignores them. He has accumulated around 4,000 shekels ($1,036) in parking tickets in Tel Aviv, and he’s now begging the TA municipality to waive the charges, claiming that he’s “swimming in debt” and unable to come up with the money. Unsuccessful in his bid for amnesty, Hazan turned to his father, a former Likud MK, to plead his case for him.

Before you shed a tear for Hazan and break into your piggy bank to help him out, you should probably know that MKs receive an annual salary of 400,000 shekels ($124,300), a free car, two assistants, an office in Jerusalem, foreign travel expenses, free mailing, and roughly, 112,000 shekels a year ($29,000) in budgeting for everything ranging from food to clothes to telecommunications.

Still feel sorry for him? With all due respect to the MK: get your act together, pay your bills and read the parking signs. In other words, grow up.

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