israelAM for July 29, 2015

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Demolition Begins
The Israeli High Court today rejected the governments appeal to halt the demolition of the 2 building in Beit El slated for destruction. Hundreds of protesters faced off against police at the site, throwing rocks and setting tires on fire. The police tried to disperse the crowd with water cannons. The situation is unfolding as you’re reading this.

Netanyahu’s Balancing Act
Throwing his support clearly behind the Beit El protesters, PM Benjamin Netanyahu promised to try to obtain authorization to legalize the 24 housing units in Beit El. “Our stance with regard to the Beit El homes is clear. We oppose their demolition and are working through legal means to prevent this,” Netanyahu said.

However, he also was furious with coalition members of the Bayit Yehudi party for criticizing the government. He reiterated that the decision to demolish the buildings was made by the Supreme Court and therefore had no effect on any coalition agreements.

The government is composed of a right wing coalition. Some of those parties are more to the right than others. One of these is Bayit Yehudi, a religious zionist party that draws significant support from the settler community. Naftali Bennet and the other ministers and Knesset members from the party have gone all out to back their supporter base in protesting the demolitions. In doing so they have implied that if the buildings are demolished they might withdraw their 8 seats from the coalition, which would cause the government to collapse. Avigdor Liberman, the head of the opposition party Yisrael Beytenu, said he agreed with Bennett and called on him to leave the coalition and to join him in the opposition, so that together they could create a new government devoted to construction rather then demolition. That makes the PM really mad. And you don’t want to get on Netanyahu’s bad side.

So instead of taking on Netanyahu head on, Bayit Yehudi has gone after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for sending in the forces to evacuate the buildings. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Justice Minister Eyelet Shaked both lashed out against Ya’alon for breaking his pledge not to use force.

Ya’alon replied, “I spoke with Bayit Yehudi ministers yesterday and told them that we [the IDF] would not act before a High Court of Justice ruling. [However] we will act in accordance with the law and any Supreme Court decisions.” He reiterated his support of the settlements but warned that, “those who think that I will break the law are mistaken. I won’t lend a hand to lawlessness.”

The governments appeal was rejected and demolition order upheld. Bayit Yehudi went ballistic. In response, Netanyahu reiterated his approval to construct 300 new apartment units in Beit El. In addition, he approved moving forward with the planning of 500 new housing units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. So the coalition, and the government, remains in tact. For now.

Pollard to be Freed
Jonathan Pollard will be release on Friday November 20 after serving 30 years of his life sentence for spying for Israel. His parole will prohibit him from leaving US territory for 5 years. Only President Obama can allow Pollard to emigrate to Israel. But senior Israeli diplomats say that that is unlikely to happen. “The Americans are very worried of a situation in which Pollard will be received as a hero in Israel, and therefore they likely will prevent Pollard from leaving American territory.”

PM Netanyahu told Pollard’s wife Esther,”After decades of effort, Jonathan Pollard will finally be released. Throughout his time in prison, I consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive U.S. administrations. We are looking forward to his release.”

Teva Contaminating Yarkon
The Israel Water Authority is claiming that the Teva Pharmaceutical Industries manufacturing plant in Kfar Sava has seriously contaminated the Yarkon River. Water samples taken from the river have detected high concentrations of drug residues, far exceeding levels found in water sources abroad or at Israeli treatment plants. Some of the drugs whose residue was found in the river and the treatment facilities are resistant to treatment procedures, so that high concentrations remain even after several stages of purification.

Sara Elhanani, head of the Water Authority’s water quality department, said that “without doubt, Teva is responsible for seriously polluting the Yarkon River with drugs it manufactures.”

Teva responded: “We take this issue very seriously and will study the findings noted in the letter. We will hold further discussions with the Water Authority regarding this topic.”

Teva just purchased a company for $40 billion and is now one of the top 10 drug companies in the world. They can afford to spend as much as it takes to clean up their mess and protect Israel’s precious water resources. They owe it to the country, and the world.

Reuniting IDF Families
There are still 7,000 Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia waiting to immigrate to Israel. Many of them have family members serving in the IDF. Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has promised to bring the families of 500 Ethiopian Israeli soldiers to Israel ASAP, and to work on bringing the remaining Jews to Israel too. He said, “I have a strong will to bring the rest of Ethiopian Jewry [to Israel], and I hope that I will be able to do so in my role as interior minister.”

“And your children shall return to their borders,” — Jeremiah 31:16

Have an amazing day, and we’ll see you bright and early tomorrow with more Israel news!

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