israelAM for August 6, 2015

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Obama vs. Israel
President Obama claimed in a speech yesterday that out of every country who has publicly commented about the Iran deal, Israel was the only one that hasn’t expressed support for it. He referred specifically to PM Netanyahu saying, “I don’t doubt Netanyahu’s sincerity but I think he is wrong.” He added, “To the Israeli people I say this: Nuclear-armed Iran is more dangerous than an Iran that benefits from sanction relief,”

But he also said that he understands Israel’s concerns and was ready to increase support for missile defense, information sharing and the prevention of Iranian disruptive activities in the region. That’s unlikely to make Israel feel better about the deal.

The official Israeli response was that, “Israel does not doubt President Obama’s sincerity, but we disagree with his position. This agreement does not prevent war but brings it closer, because it gives Iran international legitimacy to build an infrastructure and manufacture an arsenal of nuclear weapons. It also funds its aggressive terror machine with hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Obama’s speech doesn’t seem to have won over Israel. Whether it’s enough to win over congress is still to be seen. And the battle continues.

Threats Against Minister
The Bayit Yehudi party has filed a complaint with police claiming incitement against party leader and minister of education Naftali Bennett.

Since the Gay Pride parade stabbings and the Duma arson attack, Bennett’s Facebook page has been swamped with threats and calls for violence against him and his party members.

While Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party is pro Jewish settlement in the West Bank and anti Gay marriage, he strongly condemned the Duma and Gay parade attacks and spoke out in defense of personal freedoms for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or beliefs.

It seems that in Israel, incitement to violence can come from both the right and the left.

President Speaks
In an interview with Makor Rishon President Reuven Rivlin reiterated his opposition to a two state solution and and stated, “I believe with perfect faith that a Jew has the right to live anywhere he chooses to in this land.” He also said that he isn’t afraid of recent threats against his life and spoke out against incitement and hatred in both the right and left wing camps.

Budget Compromises
As we wrote yesterday, the new budget for 2015-2016 was set to be opposed by Economy Minister Aryeh Deri and Education Minister Naftali Bennet. Deri wanted no VAT on utility bills and public transport for the needy and Bennet wanted less cuts for higher education. Well, after lots of negotiation, they won out. The VAT on utilities and public transport will be scrapped for the the poor, and less money will be cut from the education budget. Other ministries including Sports and Culture and Technology also succeeded in getting budget increases in last minute bargaining that continued through the night. Netanyahu also agreed to add an additional 3 billion shekels to the defense budget.

Early this morning the budget was voted on and passed with no opposition. It’s nice when everyone comes out happy. Go figure.

Shoreline Saved
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay announced yesterday that construction will no longer be permitted within 100 meters of the waterline along the Israel’s coast.

The Finance Ministry’s Planning administration had been formulating a national master plan for the shoreline that would have allowed considerable construction of stores, restaurants, and cafes within the 100 meter range. Environmental groups vowed protests. Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant had also asked the Planning Administration to scrap their plan.

The shoreline won and will remain construction free, at least until the next plan is created. But the future of the rest of Israel’s non shoreline environment is still unclear.

Train Safety
Israel Railways, in cooperation with Israeli company Rail Safe, is developing a smart system to detect objects on railroad tracks and prevent collisions and accidents. The system, the first in the world of its kind, uses a thermal sensor that can detect objects, classify them in real time, and warn the driver long enough before a collision with the object occurs. While the human eye can see only up to 200 meters, the sensor can detect objects up to a distance of three kilometers. Another life saving innovation from Israel.

Burger Innovation
In the spirit of the startup nation, Israeli fast food chain Burger Ranch is launching an innovative new product: the Sliceburger, a 300 gram pizza shaped burger divided into 6 slices. It’ll be served in a package shaped like a pizza and cost around 70 shekels. Anyone want a slice of burger? Maybe Israel should focus on High-tech and Biomeds and leave the food innovation to others.