western wall

Israel News for May 30, 2017

Israeli Control
In an interview with Army Radio today, PM Netanyahu said, “In order to assure our existence we need to have military and security control over all of the territory west of the Jordan [River],” and added, “The idea that we can give up territory and achieve peace is not right.”

The PM dismissed the notion that Israeli settlements were the main root of the conflict and stated that the problem was the Palestinian reluctance to recognize Israel’s right to any part of the land. He said, “The root of this problem was and still is that continued refusal by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a the homeland of the Jewish people in any borders.”

Regarding the possibility of relations with other Arab nations, the PM said, “There is a change happening. Not necessarily with the Palestinians but in some parts of the Arab world they are understanding that Israel is not the enemy,” and that, “Arab states are internalizing that Israel is an ally against the threats of Iran and of the Islamic State terror group.”

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Bridge Upgrade
Israel will be investing NIS 450 million to upgrade the Alleny Bridge, which spans the Jordan River near Jericho and connects Israel and Jordan. The bridge is the only way that Palestinians can directly leave the Palestinian Authority to go abroad. Around 2.3 million people, most Palestinian, pass through the crossing point each year. Some tourists also use the crossing, although Israeli citizens are prohibited from using it. Around 50,000 trucks carry merchandise over the bridge each year.

As part of the renovations, a new terminal will be built, new security features will be integrated and the existing terminals and access roads will be upgraded.

On a recent trip to the US, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was asked by US envoy Jason Greenblatt to keep the Allenby crossing open 24/7 instead of the shorter hours currently in operation. Katz immediately acceded to the request.

The new Allenby Bridge hours and renovation project is seen as a goodwill gesture by Israel to the Palestinians and should make life a bit easier for them. But it probably won’t do much to satisfy their desire for self determination, since it just reinforces the fact that Israel controls their ability to enter or leave their territory.

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Cable Car
The government has approved a project to build a cable car that will carry visitors to the Western Wall. The planned route is about 1,400 meters long, with 40 cars able to carry 10 passengers each, at 21 kilometers per hour. The four stations through which the cable car will pass are the railway station, HaMefaked Street, Mount Zion and the Western Wall station. The price of a cable car ride will be the same as bus fare. The project is expected to cost NIS 200 million and be completed by 2021.

The project is expected to raise protests, since it’s related to east Jerusalem [nothing new]. The French company that was supposed to carry out the project withdrew following political pressures and an order from the Paris Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For further reading click here.

East Jerusalem
The government also approved a plan to connect Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem to the city sewage and garbage collection system.

According to the plan, which was formulated by the Minister of Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), more east Jerusalem residents will be connected to the municipal sewage system, 33 kilometers of sewage infrastructure will be built, the existing sewage system will be upgraded, garbage cans and garbage trucks will be purchased and set up to collect waste.

For further reading click here.

The holiday of Shavuot begins tonight and sunset and extends for one day in Israel and two days outside of Israel. The holiday literally means weeks, and is the culmination of the counting of 7 weeks (49 days) from the second day of Passover. Shavuot is described in the Torah as the harvest festival during which farmers bring their first produce to the Temple in Jerusalem. Shavuot is also the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments and Torah at Mount Sinai. The Book of Ruth is read in the synagogue, and dairy meals are traditionally eaten. It is also customary to stay up all night (first night) to study Torah.

Happy Shavuot!!