Israel News for September 26, 2016

Netanyahu Meets Clinton
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in NY yesterday for about an hour.

Clinton reaffirmed her strong commitment to Israel’s security and emphasized that if elected president, she “will continue to strengthen the security and intelligence bond between the two countries, and will work closely with Israel in order to ensure Israel’s military advantage.” She also emphasized her, “commitment to dealing with attempts to delegitimize Israel, including through BDS.”

Netanyahu laid out Israel’s position “on regional issues related to the security of Israel and its efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region,” and Clinton promised to work closely with Israel to enforce the Iran nuclear deal and to combat Iranian sponsored terrorism.

According to a statement released by the Clinton campaign, “Clinton has confirmed her commitment to work towards a two state solution and to direct negotiations between the parties to ensure the future of Israel as a Jewish, secure and democratic state with recognized borders, which would provide the Palestinians independence, sovereignty and dignity. Clinton reaffirms her opposition to any attempt by external forces to impose a solution, including the UN Security Council.”

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Netanyahu Meets Trump
PM Netanyahu met with Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump yesterday at Trump’s NY home in Trump Tower. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the meeting, along with Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.

Among the topics discussed were the nuclear deal with Iran, the battle against ISIS, military assistance provided by the US to Israel and other security issues.

According to a statement released by the Trump campaign, “Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism. He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”

Trump also promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise that many presidents have made prior to being elected but none have followed through on.

Of course, they also discussed Israel’s wall building expertise and experience and Trump promised, “extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries” if elected.

Trump and Netanyahu have a long and friendly relationship. In 2013 Trump endorsed Netanyahu during the Israeli elections. Netanyahu will not be endorsing either of the US presidential candidates this time around.

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Tunnel Barrier
A senior IDF official said yesterday that the tunnel barrier being built along the Gaza border should be completed in the next few months. The 60-kilometer underground barrier is expected to stretch dozens of meters deep and block Hamas terror tunnels attempting to penetrate into Israel.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the Israeli efforts would fail. “They must realize that they will not enjoy security as long as the Palestinian people don’t enjoy it.The language of threats no longer terrifies our people.”

[ Who said anything about threats? ]

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IDF Order
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has issued a new order granting unit commanders the power to issue waivers to soldiers who request to be exempt from unit events due to religious convictions. The new order was in response to a growing number of instances where religious soldiers would refuse to attend ceremonies or events that included female singers or women they considered to be immodestly dressed.

Now, each commander will be able to decide to grant exemptions from being present at events that they determine will offend the sensitivities of religious soldiers. The order does include official IDF ceremonies, including Memorial Day ceremonies or those attended by the chief of staff.

The order also mandates separate swimming hours for men and women in units where the situation warrants it, and it permits religious soldiers to request a male instructor for activities requiring physical contact.

A senior IDF officer explained, “The new order is based on the IDF’s being a state army, the army of the people, in a Jewish and democratic state, without damaging the dignity of those serving.”

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China Route
Travel between Israel China is steadily increasing. China’s Hainan Airline has added a fourth flight from Tel Aviv to Beijing, since launching it’s service in April. The average coach ticket for a round trip flight is $600. According to the company 70% of the passengers on the flights are Israeli and 30% Chinese. El Al and Turkish Air also fly from Tel Aviv to Beijing.

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism wants to drastically increase tourism from China from the current 50,000 visitors a year. Hotels are preparing for Chinese guests by adapting their rooms and menus, and the tourist websites will have information translated into Mandarin Chinese.

The potential is obviously enormous.

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Play Ball
Israel will for the first time be represented in the World Baseball Classic tournament, to be held in South Korea next March (2017). The tournament is held every four years, modeled after the World Cup soccer tournament. The Israeli team routed Great Britain 9-1 in a game in Brooklyn yesterday to win the final spot in the tournament.

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