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Israel News for November 14, 2016

IDF Attacked
An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated next to an IDF patrol near the Palestinian town of al-Khader, outside of Bethlehem, this morning. There were no injuries. The IDF is searching for the terrorists.

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Too Loud
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Sunday evening to ban mosque muezzins from announcing prayer times via loudspeakers in the streets, which they do five times a day, including at the crack of dawn.

In his opening remarks at the ministerial meeting, PM Netanyahu said, “The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will discuss a proposed bill today to restrict the noise level of the public address system of houses of worship in Israel. Both Muslims, Jews and Christians suffer from this. I cannot count the number of times that civilians have approached me from all strands of Israeli society who complain about the choice and the suffering which is caused by the excessive noise from houses of worship.” 
MK Motti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), a co-sponsor of the bill, explained that, “with all the technological advances of today, there is no justification for waking people up at 4 o’clock in the morning who don’t want (to attend prayer services). There are cell phone applications, alarm clocks, and other technologies to use. There is no need to wake up the whole neighborhood.”

Members of Israel’s Arab community were quick to criticize the bill with MK Issawi Freij (Meretz) calling the move “anti-Semitic” and claiming that it was not motivated by noise concerns, but rather an ongoing anti-Muslim sentiment that has become popular in the current coalition.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas warned that the bill “would drag the area to disaster.” Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Youssef Ideiss said that the bill threatens to drag the region into a religious war over the violation of the freedom of worship, adding it “will not change the religious reality, rather only make the Muslims more committed to their holy places.” The PA also threatened to bring the issue before the UN Security Council.

The bill will have to be passed by the Knesset, which similar bills have failed to do in the past.

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Regulations Bill
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation last night also approved the “Regulations Bill”, which would legalize settlement outposts by permitting the government to use private Palestinian land without taking ownership of it. Palestinians with proof of ownership would receive compensation. The law would prevent the evacuation of the Amona settlement, scheduled to take place before the year end.

PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman both opposed the legislation, claiming that it would go against international law and be stuck down by the Supreme Court, based on the opinion of the Attorney General, and cause dangerous international fallout. The PM tried to persuade Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennet to hold off on proposing the legislation, but Bennet refused, claiming that the government has had a year to come up with a solution to the Amona crisis and has failed to do so. Bennet said, “You all had a year to take care of this and nothing happened. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are second class citizens and now it is time to move forward.”

After the bill was approved Bennet said, “the State of Israel began today a historic move to regulate the settlement in Judea and Samaria. I congratulate the prime minister and his party’s ministers, who bore the responsibility required of a right-wing government and voted in favor of realizing the national vision. With determination and governance, we will continue to fulfill the objectives we were elected for.”

The bill will now have to make its way through the Knesset.

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Mount of Olives
The government’s finance committee has added 2 million shekels to the budget of the Jerusalem Cemetery Council to increase security on the Mount of Olives. The Mount, which is east of and adjacent to the Old City, has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves.

Between 1948 and 1967, when the Mount was under Jordanian rule, Arab residents uprooted tombstones and plowed land in the cemetery, destroying close to 40,000 graves. Jordan’s King Hussein permitted the construction of the Intercontinental Hotel at the summit of the Mount of Olives together with a road that cut through the cemetery, which destroyed hundreds of Jewish graves, some from the First Temple Period. Graves were also demolished for parking lots and a gas station and tombstones were used in paving and even in latrines at a Jordanian Army barracks.

Since 2010 Arab vandals have regularly targeting the cemetery and have assaulted Jewish mourners and visitors. Many important graves have been vandalized, including those of Menachem Begin and Gerrer Rabbi.

As the finance committee was making its decision, a groom who was visiting the grave of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook on the Mount of Olives was attacked with a barrage of stones. No one was injured, but the groom’s car suffered damage. An Arab youth was arrested for throwing stones.

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