Israel News for May 17, 2017

Arab Overtures
The Gulf States, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have floated a proposal offering Israel improved relations in exchange for a freeze in settlement construction and easing restrictions on Gaza.

The improved relations would reportedly include the establishment of telecommunications lines with Israel, the approval of Israeli planes to pass through their national air space and the removal of various trade restrictions. One Arab official involved in the initiative was quoted saying, “We no longer see in Israel an enemy but a potential opportunity.”

Could this be part of Trump’s master plan for bringing peace to the region?

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Haley Speaks
In the aftermath of the incident earlier this week in which a US diplomat in Jerusalem told Israeli officials that the Western Wall (Kotel) was not part of Israel, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley stated her view on the issue in an interview yesterday saying, “I believe that the Western Wall is part of Israel.”

Haley said she wasn’t sure what the official administration policy was on the matter but added, “I think that’s how we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it. I’m not really sure what happened with that issue but I know that they’re trying to fix that and get that taken care of but you know we’ve always thought that the Western Wall is part of Israel.”

Apparently Haley isn’t the only senior government official who isn’t clear on US policy regarding Jerusalem. During a White House press conference held on Tuesday, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster avoided answering a question on whether he recognized the Kotel as being part of Israel. He said, “Oh, that sounds like a policy decision, you know—and that’s the President’s intention…The President’s intention is to visit these religious sites to highlight the need for unity amongst three of the world’s great religions.”

White House Spokesman Sean Spicer responded to a question on the matter by saying, “The Western Wall is obviously one of the holiest sites in Jewish faith. It’s clearly in Jerusalem.”

Does anyone know what the policy is?

The fact that the US embassy is still in Tel Aviv and looks like it’ll be staying there says it all. Unless Trump changes it, US policy remains the same as it’s been for decades: the West Bank and east Jerusalem are not officially part of Israel.

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Intelligence Compromised
According to ABC news, US intelligence officials believe that the classified information regarding ISIS shared by President Trump with the Russian Foreign Minister could jeopardize an Israeli spy embedded within ISIS. The White House is denying that Trump shared any sensitive information.

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Terrorist Mayor
Fatah representative Taysir Abu Sneineh, who was convicted of being part of a terror cell that murdered six Israelis in 1980, has been elected as the new mayor of Hebron, the largest city in the Palestinian Authority. Abu Sneineh had been in an Israeli prison until he was subsequently released in a prisoner exchange deal.

The new mayor expressed a willingness to work with Israeli authorities in order to provide services for the people of Hebron. He has no regrets for his previous terror activities.

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Cheaper Taxis
Starting May 30, travelers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport will be able to order a taxi using the Gett app (formerly GetTaxi) and the price will be 30% cheaper than the current rates. Until now only one taxi company had a monopoly on rides from the airport.

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