Israel News for September 14, 2016

Peres Condition
Former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres is in serious condition, fighting for his life, after suffering a stroke yesterday. Peres is 93.

In a statement this morning, Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, Director of Sheba Medical Center, said “Mr. Peres made it through the night safely. His condition is stable. Serious, but stable. We are moving him to the intensive care unit of the neurology department for further treatment and observation. He is still under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of experts and will undergo another assessment in the afternoon. We are in close contact with the family, which has accompanied him and not left his bedside. We are sharing all decisions with the family.”

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau called on the public to pray for Peres, saying “Mr. Peres has earned many credits in his many years of service to the people of Israel (in working to) strengthen the security of the State of Israel from its day of formation, and it is appropriate for everyone to join the prayer for his recovery at this time.”
The Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, also called for prayers for Peres, saying “to his credit is the saving of the world of Torah by establishing the exemption (from IDF service) to yeshiva students and his great appreciation to the Torah.”

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US Israel Defense Pact
The US and Israel will sign the agreement by which the US will give Israel $38 billion in military aid over the next 10 years. The previous aid package was around $30 billion. PM Netanyahu had reportedly requested $45 billion.

The new agreement will include aid for missile defense, which in the past has been granted by Congress in addition to the regular aid package. The agreement stipulates that Israel will have to spend all the money on purchases from US contractors. In the past Israel has used around 26% of the aid money on purchases from Israeli contractors. Israel will also no longer be able to use the money on fuel purchases. In the past Israel was permitted to spend up to 13% of the aid on fuel.

So the new aid package could hurt Israel’s defense industry and will force Israel to find hundreds of millions of dollars within its budget to pay for fuel, which cause cuts in other government programs. But it is still the largest US aid package to any foreign country and a 20% increase from the previous aid package.

The fact that the new agreement is being signed by a liberal Democratic President is seen as a significant show of bipartisan support for Israel, and it might help Hillary Clinton, who can claim allegiance to Obama’s policies.

David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, “I think President Obama sees this as vindication of his belief that there’s an iron-willed distinction between his commitment to Israel’s security and whatever policy differences might exist between the two countries.” He added, “By ensuring that a liberal Democrat has signed this deal, it’s a way of locking in bipartisan support.”

PM Netanyahu will be attending the UN General Assembly in NY next week, where he is expected to meet with President Obama.

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Electricity Deal
Israel has signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority which gives the PA control over distribution of the electricity provided by the Israel Electric Company (IEC). The PA currently owes the IEC 2 billion shekels, which has caused the EIC to intermittently cut power to the Palestinian territory. Under the terms of this agreement, the PA will give Israel a one-time payment of NIS 570 million and Israel will forgive NIS 500m. of its bill. The remainder will be paid out in 48 payments.

The US has agreed to cover NIS 100 million of the PA bill.

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Israel Attacks Syria
In response to several mortal shells fired from Syria into Israeli territory, the IDF conducted airstrikes against Syrian government artillery positions. Yesterday the Syrian army reported that it had shot down an Israeli aircraft, but the report was false and all Israeli planes returned safely. But the Syrians did fire surface to air missiles at the Israeli jets, which is the first time they’ve done that.

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Satellite Launch
Israel Aerospace industries and the Ministry of Defense successfully launched the Ofek 11 satellite into space yesterday from Palmachim Airbase near Rishon LeZion. The Ofek 11 is an observation satellite and will be used primarily by the IDF and security services.

But there might be some problems with the launch. Officials said, “There are indications according to which things aren’t working as we expected, and so we are trying to stabilize (the satellite). There are things that make us worried. The satellite orbits the earth once every hour and a half. It’s possible that some systems are not in the correct condition.”

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