Israel News for May 18, 2016

Unity Swings Right
While PM Netanyahu continues to negotiate with left wing opposition leader Isaac Herzog to bring the opposition faction into a unity government, he has begun talks with right wing Yisrael Beyteinu leader Avigdor Liberman for the same purpose.

The PM invited Liberman to discuss joining the government after Liberman laid out his conditions for joining at a press conference this morning. His conditions are: the defense ministry, the imposition of the death penalty for terrorist murderers, and pension reforms.

Liberman’s Yisrael Beyteinu party’s six Knesset seats would modestly boost the government’s current razor thin 61 (out of 120) seat majority. The party’s right wing agenda is also agreeable to most of the government’s current coalition partners. Liberman, a former ally of Netanyahu, turned down the PM’s offer for him to join the government in 2015.

Bringing Yisrael Beyteinu seems like an easily achievable and obvious move to strengthen the government, but apparently the PM would ideally like to form a unity government with the left. Whether that is possible is still up in the air. But the negotiations with Herzog are continuing.

This is getting interesting.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Convicted
The Tel Aviv District Court today convicted Nur al-Din Abu Khashiyeh for murdering IDF First Sergeant Almog Shiloni in November of 2014. The court ruled that the murder was premeditated, not spontaneous. Besides the abundant evidence, the court relied on Khashiyeh’s own testimony, in which he said, “It’s true that I murdered Almog Shiloni. I wanted to take his weapon and spray everyone because of what your rabbis are doing in al-Aqsa. I wanted to keep going, kill everyone on the street, continue everyone’s job. I murdered him. I planned to murder him.”

The demolition order which had been issued for Abu Khashiyeh’s house was thrown out a year later by the Supreme Court, because the judges ruled that the long delay in carrying out the demolition—11 months from the day of the attack— was not reasonable and would therefore not lead to the deterrence sought.

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Ettinger to be Released
Prosecutors told the Lod District Court that Meir Ettinger, the grandson of Meir Kahane who is being held by the Shin Bet under administrative detention, will be released at the end of the month, and that an administrative order will be issued to restrict the people he can make contact with and the places he can reside in.

Ettinger was detained following the murder of the Dawabsheh family in the West Bank village of Duma last July, and was placed in administrative detention for six months. His detention was later extended by another four months.

For further reading click here.

Egyptian Support
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared his support on Tuesday for the French initiative to hold a Mideast peace conference later this year. He called on Israel and the Palestinians to seize what he described as a “realistic” and “great” opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement to their decades-old conflict.

Al-Sisi used the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty as an example to emulate, saying that if Egypt could make peace with Israel, so could the Palestinians. He said, “I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role. It is a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution.”

PM Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog both welcomed Al-Sisi’s remarks. The PM said, “I welcome Egyptian President El-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region. Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President Al-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”

Palestinian Authority President Abbas also welcomed the Egyptian President’s remarks, saying, “Egypt has always been an anchor for the Palestinians, and its support of an international push will greatly aid the effort to lead to a comprehensive settlement that will include at its core the foundation of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.”

So basically, everyone wants peace. And yet…
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Law School Religion
Before last year’s Hebrew University Law School annual gala, some students requested that a mechitza (partition) be erected to allow religious women to dance separately — women only. Following a protest, the request was denied. This year the matter was put to a vote by the Hebrew U. law students’ union. The vote was 176 in favor and 211 against.

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) wrote to Hebrew U President Menahem Ben-Sasson, saying that not allowing the partition was “secular coercion and the exclusion of women. As a religious woman I was shocked at reports that senior faculty members were considering boycotting the event and even withdrawing its funding if the women’s request was granted. The female students are asking that their religious worldview be respected and allow them to be part of the social fabric in their lives as students. They are, of course, not demanding that their religious lifestyle be forced on others.”

Religious Jewish women aren’t the only ones getting a raw deal. The annual gala is scheduled to take place during Ramadan, which means that religious Muslim students will not be able to attend. There are no plans to change the date of the event.

For further reading click here.

Go Navy
The Israeli Navy participated in a joint Nato sponsored exercise with the US and Greek navies in the Greek Islands. To watch a video and see photos of the Israeli navy in action, click here.