Israel News for November 3, 2016

Jerusalem Construction
The Jerusalem municipality approved the construction of 181 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo yesterday, which is considered to be part of occupied territory according to international law.

Later in the day, the US State Department condemned the new construction as an obstacle to a two-state peace solution and saying that it raises questions as to Israel’s commitment to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

Seven hundred housing units, intended mainly for the ultra-Orthodox community, are planned for at the site. The new area of construction, called “Gilo Slopes,” slightly extends the neighborhood toward the valley that separates it from the Palestinian village of Wallajah.

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Terrorist Sentenced
The terrorist who brutally murdered Dafna Meir, a mother of six, last January outside her front door in Otniel was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His family was also ordered to pay 1.75 million shekels in compensation.

Natan Meir, Dafna’s widower, reacted to the verdict saying, “It’s hard to be happy and receive some solace. I was hoping that this person would not be granted an ounce of compassion to someone who committed such an act, and I feel that this happened here.”

He added, “There was a point when the murderer’s father asked for compassion. I told the judges that compassion should be given to the injured party and not the one who caused harm and to the man asking for compassion for his son after he committed such an act, which shows that his education was lacking. I told the judges that if God forbid I was standing in his shoes, I would ask them to punish my sons in the most severe way possible.”

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PM Responds to Kotel Protest
The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement today in response to yesterday’s Kotel demonstration in which Reform and Conservative rabbinic leaders carrying Torahs led hundreds of marchers to the Kotel to protest the fact that the government has not implemented its agreement to create an egalitarian prayer area at the southern end of the Kotel. The statement reiterated that the PM had urged the Reform and Conservative leaders to be “patient” and that, “unilateral breaches of the status quo at the Kotel harm our attempts to reach a compromise. The regretful events that took place at the Kotel plaza do not help advance an agreed solution to prayer arrangements.”

The non-Orthodox leaders responded by trying to give the PM the benefit of the doubt by placing the blame for the government’s inaction on the Ultra Orthodox coalition members. But they added, “After a frustrating year without implementation of the resolution [and with] an unprecedented incitement campaign against Reform Judaism … the government should meet its commitment to the Jewish world. We call on the Prime Minister to announce the full and immediate implementation of the cabinet resolution.”

It turns out that the protesters had received a special permit from police allowing them to bring Torah’s to the Kotel, something that is ordinarily prohibited. The security personnel at the scene were apparently unaware of the permit, which is why they tried to prevent them from entering the area, forcing them to push their way through.

To see video and images of the demonstration click here.

Israelis in Sinai
The battle against ISIS related terrorist groups in Sinai is not stopping Israelis from visiting. According to the Israeli Airport Authority, over 60,000 Israelis crossed the border at Eilat to enjoy Sinai’s Red Sea beaches in September and October. The total number of Israelis visiting Sinai is on track to hit 200,000 by the year end. That’s almost double the number for 2015, but only half of the 400,000 that visited in 2004.

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Voting Error
The new state budget for 2017-2018 was voted on in the Knesset yesterday and passed by a massive margin of 92-17. But it turns out that 30 members of the opposition mistakenly voted in favor of the budget because they thought they were only voting for a specific clause in the budget. It wouldn’t really have made a difference, since the budget would still have passed its first reading with a wide margin, but the embarrassing mistake gave MK’s from the coalition the chance to take some shots at the opposition, questioning their ability to govern — “Is this an example of how you would run the country?”

Everyone makes mistakes, right?

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