Israel News for March 31, 2017

New Settlement
The Security Cabinet unanimously approved the establishment of a new settlement for the former residents of Amona, which was evacuated last month. Other government ministers were contacted after the vote to obtain their approval. This is the first time in over 20 years that the government has decided to establish a new settlement. The former Amona residents praised the move.

A senior US administration official said that President Trump has accepted the construction of the new town as an exception to his request that Israel “hold off” on settlement construction.

The official said, “We would note that the Israeli prime minister made a commitment to the Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations, and has consistently indicated that he intended to move forward with this plan. Going forward, and as we move into more detailed discussions regarding the possibilities for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Israeli government has made clear that Israel’s intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes President Trump’s concerns into consideration.”

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the decision to build the new settlement saying, “The Secretary General has consistently stressed that there is no Plan B for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions that, like the present one, threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution.”

The Palestinian Authority as well as Peace Now also condemned the building of the new settlement.

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Limiting Settlements
The Security Cabinet also decided last night to restrict all construction beyond the Green Line to within the boundaries of existing settlements. The decision comes after nearly three weeks of discussions with US officials in Israel and Washington. Sources said the decision was taken out of consideration of the position of US President Donald Trump, and that Israel will also significantly curb building to enable efforts to advance a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

The decision implies that Israel will make every effort to build within existing settlements where possible. However, if no land is available within a settlement, then building will take place as close to the settlement as possible. So the decision basically bans the establishment of outposts or brand new settlements.

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Pro BDS Jews
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) will kick off its national conference in Chicago today. According to its mission statement, the JVP “seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem” and “a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law”, among other things. The organization has been a vocal supporter of the BDS movement.

One of the speakers at the conference will be convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who participated in two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969 in which two were killed and nine injured. Odeh was released in a prisoner exchange in the 1980s. She later moved to the US, but in 2014 she was convicted by a US federal jury of immigration fraud, for concealing her arrest, conviction and imprisonment for the 1969 bombings. Last week, she agreed to plead guilty to this.

In response to outrage over Odeh’s participation in the conference, the JVP said that it is honored and proud to feature her and that, “The accusations against Odeh stem from a context of long-standing anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim persecution by both the Israeli state and the United States, policies which are escalating under the Trump administration.”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said: “The JVP is an antisemitic organization which incites against Israel. It regularly cooperates with extremist organizations which seek Israel’s destruction. It is inexcusable that the organization chose to host at its conference a terrorist who was convicted for her involvement in murdering two Israeli students.

I will continue to lead a determined struggle against those who seek to harm Israel and undermine its legitimacy. As a Jew I am ashamed that a conference that is filled with hatred for Israel, and whose sole purpose is to harm the homeland of the Jewish people, is led by a Jewish organization.”

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Flight Compensation
If you’ve been stuck at the airport waiting for an El Al flight that’s been delayed, you might have some recourse. The Rehovot Magistrates Court has ordered EL AL to pay NIS 92,000 to 35 passengers (NIS 2,050 each) who’s flight to Moscow was delayed for 17 hours.

According to the Aviation Services Law, compensation is awarded based on the length of the flight. The law exempts airlines from paying compensation in cases in which the cancelation or delay of a flight was caused by “special circumstances.”

El Al did provide the passengers with dinner and hotel rooms.

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