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EU Labels Israel

Israel News for November 11, 2015

Terror Thwarted
A terrorist ran towards Border Police officers at a checkpoint near Abu Dis yesterday, bearing a knife and shouting Allahu Akbar (never a good sign). Luckily he didn’t get too far. After warning him to stop several times, which he refused to do, the officers shot and killed him.

European Labels
The EU has adopted a resolution ordering distinct labels for Israeli products made in the West Bank. EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem andreprimanded. The Ministry called the move “unusual and discriminatory,” claiming that it will only lessen the chances of peace by bolstering the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to hold direct negotiations with Israel.

Yuval Steinitz, the Minister or National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, accused the EU of unfairly singling out Israel when it has not taken similar action toward products made in areas like Chinese-controlled Tibet or Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. He told reporters yesterday,”We cannot conceive it but as some disguised anti-Semitism.”

The good news is that the economic impact of such a measure will likely be minimal, although it could deter some customers from purchasing individual products. While the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, settlement products make up just a tiny portion of Israeli exports.

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Pollard and Obama
Jonathan Pollard, after serving 30 years for spying for Israel, is set to be released within the next two weeks. But it doesn’t look like he’ll be allowed to join his wife Esther in Israel. US law says that he needs to be monitored in the US for five years after his release. The only way that the law can be circumvented is if President Obama uses his powers to waive that condition. But Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, has made it clear that the President will not interfere in the US judicial process, without exception. Unless something changes, Pollard will be spending the next few years in exile…in New York City.

Regardless of where he lives, Pollard’s service to Israel will not be forgotten. Knesset House Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) has proposed a bill for the State of Israel to support him financially for the rest of his life. Bitan said, “After everything that Pollard has gone through, and in light of his contribution to Israel, the state must ensure that he will live in dignity,”

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Religious Equality
In a speech before the Jewish Federations General Assembly, PM Netanyahu pledged government and Jewish Agency support for Reform and Conservative Jewish congregations in Israel. He said, “As prime minister of Israel I will ensure that all Jews – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – feel at home in Israel.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel, welcomed Netanyahu’s statement saying it “has to be the first step on the way to ending ongoing discrimination against Reform and Conservative communities in Israel,” and that “Discrimination against these communities, which constitute the majority of the Jewish people, damages the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and overshadows Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora. “

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties were furious. Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said, “The prime minister’s remarks in favor of the Reform insult us and clearly go against the coalition agreement signed with us.” Litzman said Reform and Conservative Judaism “tears apart the Jewish people and they must not be helped to hurt the Torah of Israel. It is a pity that the prime minister gave them expression and we will do everything we can so that this commitment is not met.”

MK Moshe Gafni, also of United Torah Judaism, added that Reform Jews “stick a knife in the Torah of Israel. What Netanyahu said is very serious and requires clarifications when he returns to Israel.”

Let’s see how the PM gets out of this one.

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Pay Raise
Salaries are going up in Israel…well, at least for Knesset members. On Tuesday the Knesset voted in favor of a pay raise of 800 shekels per month for MKs. Many in the opposition are not happy.

Yesh Atid Party chairman MK Yair Lapid said, “It’s a scandal that MKs insist on continuing to decide their own salaries. Today was an opportunity to do the most appropriate thing by implementing the recommendation by Prof. Haim Levy’s committee to divest MKs of responsibility for pay raises. We’ll go on fighting against this, because it’s insufferable and scandalous that MKs are raising their own pay when people can’t make ends meet.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) said, “The decision to keep the excessive pay raise for MKs … is a disgrace to the Knesset and the MKs. It unfortunately appears, however, that all sense of shame has been lost.

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Kingdom of Palestine
Is there are a legal requirement to officially refer to the Jewish state as the “State of Israel”? Apparently not, or at least not yet. According to MK Oren Hazan (Likud), “The current situation allows any MK to sign their name as a member of the Kingdom of Palestine.” That’s because there is no law on the books that establishes or regulates the country’s name. Hazan is aiming to change that by proposing a new law that would establish the country’s name as the “State of Israel” and confirm its national anthem and flag.

The bill was unanimously approved in the first reading at the committee on Tuesday, and will now be brought for a vote at a Knesset plenary session. Kingdom of Palestine came in a distant second. Not really.

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