Israel News for September 1, 2016

Bethlehem Hospital
Defense Minister Lieberman has approved plans for the construction of a Palestinian children’s hospital in Bethlehem, in an area fully controlled by Israel. The project still needs to go through the normal approval process from the relevant authorities, but Lieberman wanted to get the ball rolling in the right direction. In doing so he was attacked by right wing groups for helping the Palestinians take over Israeli land. He claims that he is simply implementing his “carrot and stick” policy, by which he will punish communities that aid or promote terror, and reward those that keep the peace.

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Settlement Expansion
The Ministry of Interior’s Settlements Subcommittee yesterday approved the construction of 120 units in the West Bank and retroactively approved several new neighborhoods that have already been constructed. The new units will be built in Efrat, Givat Ze’ev, Beit Aryeh, Nofim. An additional 234 apartments were approved in a senior citizens’ home in Elkana.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This significant expansion of the settlement activity poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two state solution. We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements.”

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New Ambassador
As an Egyptian military band played Hatikva, Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, officially presented his credentials to Egyptian President al-Sisi in Cairo yesterday.

Govrin said, “I feel very proud to be appointed to this position in Egypt, the mother of the world, a land of cultures and ancient history. I have no doubt that the relations between Egypt and Israel are vital and central to achieve the long-awaited peace and stability in the region in general.”

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Turkish Handshake
Turkey’s President Erdogan shook the hand of Israel’s interim ambassador to Ankara, Shani Cooper. During the president’s traditional handshake with the diplomatic corps to celebrate the country’s Victory Day on August 30, Erdoğan asked to welcome Cooper. She presented herself and expressed her nation’s support for the Turkish president and republic. Erdogan spoke positively about the newly reinstated diplomatic relations between the two countries, and wished Cooper good in her new position. Israel and Turkey will soon both appoint permanent ambassadors to represent them respectively.

Erdogan yesterday formally approved the agreement reached with Israel.

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Helping Survivors
Aviva Silverman, CEO of Aviv (“Spring”) for Holocaust Survivors, recently launched a new website to help inform the 180,000 holocaust survivors living in Israel and elsewhere of the benefits that they are entitled to.

Silverman founded the organization in 2007 to address the overwhelming lack of public awareness of what Israeli law provides for holocaust survivors. According to Silverman, around 25% of holocaust survivors in Israel live in poverty. Aviv for Holocaust Survivors has already helped about 50,000 survivors get over 200 million shekels in government assistance that they were entitled to.

According to the mission statement on the new website, “Our vision is that all Holocaust survivors living in Israel should live their lives with the dignity and comfort they deserve, and that they receive respect and proper treatment from the various agencies assisting them. Thousands of them do not take advantage of all their rights, whether granted to them by law or under various programs.”

Silverman said, “The new site is intended to aid all segments of the population – survivors and their families and offers easily accessible information about the rights and benefits offered to survivors from different countries around the world.”

We applaud your important work.

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School Days
About 2.2 million Israeli students started the new school year today. If you’re wondering what the average class size is in an Israeli school, Education minister Naftali Bennett explained, “Since the state was founded, the standard has been to have 40 students per class. We then set an upper limit whereby there would be up to 34 students per class, and 32 in weaker communities.”

Around 180,000 work in the Israeli school system, with 9,000 of them starting their first year.

In his opening statement to kick off the new school year Bennett said, “we’ve worked hard over the last summer and we’re well prepared. Starting last year, we’ve made a sharp turn to try to make the education system more personalized via smaller class sizes, teachers’ aides, a revolution in teaching math, and with national programs in English language instruction. We did all of this in conjunction with the Biton Commission to connect the different sectors of Israeli nation, and in conjunction with the Year of Jerusalem, which will begin soon.”

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Holy City
When you think of holy city, Jerusalem comes to mind. Tel Aviv, not so much. But the new Chabad emissary in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Eli Naiditch, decided to change that perception and prove that Tel Aviv is, indeed, a holy city. So he set representatives up in four city locations who would offer men the opportunity to put on teffilin. They worked from 9am until 7pm and succeeded in enabling 262 men to put on tefillin. He reported his success to the Guinness Book of World Records. Rabbi Neiditch won’t know if he set a world record for a few months, but didn’t seem to care when he said, “This is the greatest proof that Tel Aviv is absolutely a holy city, filled with holy people.”

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