Israel News for March 27, 2017

Terror Foiled
This morning a terrorist tried to stab a soldier with a screwdriver, at a bus stop near the Samaria Territorial Brigade’s base in the Nablus area. Soldiers succeeded in overpowering the terrorist without opening fire. There were no casualties.

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Pence at AIPAC
VP Pence addressed the 18,000 strong AIPAC convention in Washington yesterday, touting President Trump as the defender of Israel and the Jewish People. He also implied that the crowd supported Trump’s election, saying, “Thanks to the support of so many in this room President Trump won a historic victory. All of you helped elect a president I know will make America great again.”

Pence also said, “The United States will no longer allow the United Nations to be used as a forum for invective against Israel,” and that he was looking forward to the swearing in of David Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel.

At the same time, Pence said that Trump was “giving serious consideration” to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem — not that he would definitely fulfill his promise to move it. He also implied some sort of restrictions on settlement expansion when he said, “and undoubtedly there will have to be compromises,” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Regarding the “disastrous” Iran nuclear deal, Pence made no indication that Trump would tear it up or renegotiate it, as promised during the campaign.

Meanwhile, several hundred Jewish protesters demonstrated outside the AIPAC conference, temporarily blocking the main entrance. The protesters, coordinated by IfNotNow, are targeting AIPAC for supporting Israel’s “occupation of the West Bank” and for not speaking out forcefully against some of Trump’s policies.

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Settler Population Surge
According to statistics released yesterday, the number of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) has surged by more than 25% over the last five years to 420,000. The figures do not include Israelis living in any areas of east Jerusalem, where the total number is 200,000.

Settler leaders are using the latest population figures to support the case for a one-state solution. But the reality is that the overwhelming majority of Israelis in the West bank live in a few large settlement blocks which could be annexed to Israel and still allow for a potential two-state solution.

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Iranian Sanctions
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has imposed cautions on 15 American companies, barring them from any agreements with Iranian firms and and prohibiting their er directors from getting visas. One of the reasons given for the sanctions is that the companies support Israel. The companies include Bent Tal, United Technologies Products. ITT Corporation, Raytheon, Re/Max Real Estate, Magnum Research Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, Kahr Arms and Elbit Systems.

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Stepping Down
Remember the Trump administration’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that didn’t mention Jews? Well, the Jewish White House staffer who allegedly wrote the statement is leaving his post.

Boris Epshteyn will be stepping down from his job as special assistant to the president in the press office, in which he oversaw White House officials who appear on television to speak on behalf of the administration. He might still remain in the administration, in a lower profile role.

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