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Israel News for May 15, 2017

Embassy Diplomacy
In anticipation of US President Trump’s visit to Israel on May 22, the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers joined with the Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat to declare that East Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian state. They stressed the two-state solution as the only way to arrive at peace in the region.

The question of whether Trump would fulfill his promise to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was posed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday on the Meet the Press news show. Tillerson replied, “The president I think rightly has taken a very deliberative approach in understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region in understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have. The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

When pressed on the issue Tillerson said, “Well, I think it would be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks, and most certainly from Israel’s view, on whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction. It think the president is being very measured as to how he goes about this, and appropriately so.”

In other words, Tillerson said that Israel might be the one who is holding back the transfer of the embassy because it doesn’t view the move as helpful to advancing the peace process.

Reacting to the implication, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying, “Israel’s position has been expressed many times to the American administration and to the world … The transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but will promote it by correcting a historic injustice and by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu to “make it clear that we expect the US administration to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.”

There are no indications that Israel is pressuring or lobbying Trump to keep his promise regarding the embassy. Is it because it understands that Trump has already made up his mind that moving the embassy would not help the peace process at this time, or is it because Netanyahu himself realizes that very same thing?

From Tillerson’s words, it seems like it might be a combination of the two.

For further reading click here.

Terror in Jerusalem
On Shabbat, a 57 year old Jordanian citizen attacked a policeman in Jerualem’s Old City. The terrorist charged at the officer with two knives and stabbed him in the neck and head. The policeman managed to shoot and kill the terrorist.

In response to the attack, the Jordanian government issued a statement in which it, “condemns as heinous the crime committed against the Jordanian citizen and demanded Israel to reveal the full details of the crime.” The statement also said, “The Israeli government, as the occupying power, bears responsibility for the shooting of a Jordanian citizen in the occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday, which led to his martyrdom.”

The Prime Minister’s Office responded, “It is outrageous to hear the support that the Jordanian government spokesman gave to the terror attack. It’s about time that Jordan stops this double game. Just as Israel denounces terror attacks in Jordan, so must Jordan denounce terror attacks in Israel. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter where it is.”

To watch a video of the attack click here.

Party Cancelled
Israel’s new ambassador to Nigeria, Guy Feldman, decided to cancel the embassy’s official Independence Day reception and instead, use the money to help Refugee children in the country.

The ambassador created a soccer league for children in refugee camps as a result of being displaced by the terror group Boko Haram. The embassy bought uniforms and balls and arranged coaches and judges. Ambassador Feldman said, “Our intention was to bring a message of hope to the children, which is also the Zionist message.” He named the league, “Israel cares—Kids’ Football League.”

For further reading click here.

settlements israel

Israel News for April 3, 2017

Peace Initiative
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are scheduled to meet with President Trump this week and are expected to present him with an Arab peace initiative for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. El-Sissi will meet Trump today and Abdullah will meet with him on Thursday.

The Arab peace initiative, discussed at the recent Arab League summit, will reportedly call on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and to freeze all settlement construction as a starting point. The plan would be based on a two-state solution.

The Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times reported that Trump would respond to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative during his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas tentatively scheduled for later this month in Washington. The paper also reported that the Trump administration aims to host an international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in September.

It’s unlikely that the Israeli government would agree to a total settlement freeze. It already has agreed to halt construction of new settlement while continuing to build within, or adjacent to, existing settlements.

The reason for Israel’s decision is to heed Trump’s request (warning?) to “slow down” settlement construction. But what if Trump, after meeting with the Arab leaders, decides that the best thing for peace negotiations is a total construction freeze? Will Israel continue to heed Trump? Could doing so cause the far right to bring down the Netanyahu government?

The Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times said Trump would respond to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative during his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas tentatively scheduled for later this month in Washington.

For further reading click here.

Terror Arrests
On Shabbat a Palestinian terrorist stabbed two men (aged 18 and 20) and a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City. Police pushed the terrorist and shot and killed him. The Israel Police later announced that the stabber was a resident of the West Bank. The victims of the attack were all lightly injured.

Yesterday police arrested two religious workers at the Al-Aqsa mosque as part of their investigation into the attack.

For further reading click here.

UN Report
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is expected to publish a report equating “the Israeli Occupation” to slavery in the US and estimating the financial damages suffered by Palestinians as a result of “50 years of occupation” in the billions of dollars. The commission is dominated by Arab countries. Surprised?

The report is expected to be published next month, coinciding with the anniversary of the Six Day War. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is currently working with senior officials in the UN to thwart the report’s publication.

For further reading click here.

David’s Sling
PM Netanyahu attended a ceremony marking the operational integration of the David’s Sling air defense system yesterday at the Hatzor Air Force Base. The missile system is meant to intercept mid-range missiles. It is also portable, so it can be moved around to cover all parts of the country. The Iron Dome missile system handles short range missiles and the Arrow 3 system intercepts long range missiles. Patriot missile batteries, designed to shoot down missiles and aerial vehicles will remain in operation for at least the next five years.

For further reading click here.

Rally Cancelled
An organization related to the Haredi extremist Jerusalem Faction (Peleg Yerushalmi), which is behind the riotous demonstrations against the IDF drafting of yeshiva students, was planning to sponsor a huge rally at the Binyanei Ha’uma convention center in Jerusalem. But as a result of alleged pressure from Haredi members of Knesset, the convention center has cancelled the event. The mainstream Haredi leadership has voiced strong opposition to the demonstrations.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem Faction is threatening to shut down Ben Gurion airport with massive protests, during the busy pre-passover vacation rush.

For further reading click here.

Border Fence
The border fence between Israel and Jordan that Israel promised to construct two years ago to prevent infiltrations from Jordan will be completed soon…sort of. The high security fence stretches for just 30 kilometers, from Eilat to the new international airport at Timna. It cost around $55 million. Fencing the entire border is estimated to cost close to a billion dollars (and Jordan, or Mexico, isn’t paying for it). Will the fence along the entire border ever be completed?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 21, 2017

Annexing Territory
Israel will soon introduce a bill in the Knesset to annex a disputed 800 square kilometer triangular maritime area between Israeli and Lebanese territory. The area is thought to be rich in natural gas and oil. Israeli rule will be environmentally beneficial to the area, as Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will apply and oversee relevant environmental regulations there.

For further reading click here.

David’s Sling
The IAF announced yesterday that Israel’s multi-tier air defense missile defense system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David’s Sling interceptor.
 
David’s Sling, designed to intercept and shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.

For further reading click here.

Extradition Rejected
A Jordanian court rejected an extradition request by the US to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the female terrorist convicted of taking part in the suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001. Tamimi drove the suicide bomber to the restaurant, where 15 people were killed and 130 injured. According to a Jordanian legal expert, the US and Jordan signed an extradition agreement in 1995, but it was never approved by the Jordanian parliament and is therefore not valid.

After being sentenced to 16 life terms, Tamimi was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange after serving just eight years. After her release from prison, Tamimi became a television star in Jordan and a symbol of the struggle against Israel.

In an interview with Hamas, Tamimi said, “It was a calculated act conducted with conviction and faith in Allah. A Jihad warrior is always ready for martyrdom, imprisonment or to succeed in the mission. I succeeded in overcoming prison and I was released—why should I be regretful?”
 
Tamimi is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

For further reading click here.

BDS Arrest
Omar Barghouti, founder of both the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, was arrested in Israel on suspicion he committed tax evasion over the past decade, concealing $700,000 in earned income from tax authorities. Investigators say Barghouti concealed funds he received from a company in the PA and from speaking engagements.

Born in Qatar and raised in Egypt, Barghouti received permanent residency status in Israel when he married an Israeli Arab woman. He currently resides in Acre (Akko).

For further reading click here.

China Trip
PM Netanyahu is currently leading an Israeli delegation on an official visit to China. One of the primary purposes of the visit is to improve and strengthen economic and scientific ties between the two countries. Included in the Israeli delegation are Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Israeli and Chinese ministers and top officials have already signed ten bilateral agreements in health, science, education, environmental protection and other areas. Included in these is an agreement that will bring 6,000 Chinese construction workers to Israel in the next six months and a total of 20,000 in the near future. The hope is that these workers can help increase the construction industry’s output and reduce prices.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for August 24, 2016

Party Time
The Israeli embassy in Washington will be throwing a Rosh Hashanah party this September that is budgeted at $25,000, and many Israeli diplomats are not pleased. Embassies traditionally throw two annual parties, one for Israel Independence Day and the other for Rosh Hashanah, with the former being much more extravagant. But with budget cuts throughout the Foreign Ministry, many at the ministry are claiming that the US party is not justified.

The budget for the Rosh Hashanah party includes $13,000 for catering, $9,000 for a marquee tent and $1,000 for alcohol, balloons and music. The ministry defended the expenditures by saying that the previous ambassador’s home was much larger, which precluded the need for a tent.

But let’s get real. This is Israel’s most important embassy in the most important capital in the world. And if you’ve ever thrown a party in the US, $25,000 really doesn’t sound unreasonable at all. In fact, it’s downright cheap!

The complaints are probably coming from diplomats stationed in less high profile diplomatic postings around the globe who are being squeezed by the ministry budget cuts. But this is Washington DC, so get over it.

For further reading click here.

Drone Partnership
Following a meeting in Tel Aviv between Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Kazakh counterpart, Imangali Tasmagambetov, the Kazakhstan defense ministry announced that it would produce drones based on Israeli technology and that Israel would train the drone operators.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and was a part of the former Soviet Union. Over 70% of the population is Moslem. It is a large exporter of crude oil and uranium, and has huge reserves of other valuable minerals.

For further reading click here.

Palestinian Protests
Hundreds of Palestinians staged violent demonstrations in Nablus (Shechem) to protest the death of a suspect arrested by Palestinian Authority police. The suspect, Ahmed Izz Halawa, was seized during a raid following the shooting death of two police officers in the city. He then died, mysteriously, in custody. Nablus governor Akram Al-Rjoub claims that he was beaten to death by police. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah has promised a full investigation, describing the incident as “rare”. Halawa was a senior member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a militant group linked to the Fatah party.

For further reading click here.

Eilat Threatened
As a result of an apparent pipeline leak, 200 tons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan’s Aqaba port yesterday, which is adjacent to Eilat. Most of the oil is reported to be drifting south towards the beaches of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but at least some of the oil could hit Israeli beaches.

Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection have begun preparations to aid in cleanup and containment, but has yet to receive a request for assistance from Jordan, where officials said they were responding to the incident themselves. The leak from the pipe has been stopped.

For further reading click here.

Polish Holocaust Denial
Last week the Polish cabinet approved a bill that mandates three years in prison and a fine for anyone claiming that the Polish people or state were responsible for the Nazis’ crimes or collaborated with them. The bill is expected to be approved by the Polish parliament. Are you kidding me? This is nothing short of Holocaust denial. Yad Vashem scholars agree.

Poland is the only European country unwilling to approve restitution for property lost during the Holocaust. Now it’s looking to deny its role in the murder of its 3,000,000 Jews altogether. Will the world stand by silently and let them erase their guilt? Probably.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for August 16, 2016

No Forgetting
The Shin Bet, Israel’s version of the FBI, has a long memory when it comes to terrorists, and will keep hunting them no matter how long it takes. Yesterday, they arrested a 21 year old terrorist over two and a half years after he a stabbed and wounded a policeman.

The Shin Bet said in a statement that it will “continue to operate with all its available resources to prevent terror attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice, even when a long time has gone by since the attack was committed.”

You can run, but you can’t hide from the long arm of the Shin Bet.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Demolition
Early yesterday morning Israel security forces destroyed the floor of the home where the terrorist who murdered 13 year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel lived. In accordance with government policy, the entire house was not destroyed. Dozens of Palestinian protesters tried to disrupt the demolition by attacking soldiers with rocks and firebombs. The soldiers responded with stun and gas grenades.

After the demolition, Hallel’s mother Rina Ariel said, “So long as the entire house is not demolished and the family expelled, there isn’t enough real deterrence and there is nothing to prevent the next terror attack. It’s very easy to rebuild a floor of the house. The real answer would be expelling the family and settling the house with Jews. If the hostile population knew every house of a terrorist will be given to Jews, it would cause great deterrence.”

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount
On Tisha B’av, seven Jews who visited the Temple Mount were detained by police for violating the visitation rules. That means they were probably caught praying, or at least moving their lips in what looked like prayer. Their act of extremism didn’t go over well in the Arab world.

King Abdullah of Jordan, considered to be the custodian of the Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem (although its not so clear whether the Christians would agree with his custodianship), was quick to lash out against Israel for allowing Jewish extremists to enter the mount and vowed to defend the mosque with all the means at his disposal.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also condemned Israel for its reprehensible behavior. How dare Israel allow Jews to pray at Judaism’s holiest site?!

For further reading click here.

Israeli US Votes
While PM Netanyahu has pledged to remain neutral in the upcoming US presidential elections, the 300,000 US citizens living in Israel will be allowed to cast their absentee ballots for their favorite candidate. And both parties are not taking those votes for granted.

Yesterday, the Israeli branch of the U.S. Republican party began a campaign to get American voters living in Israel to cast absentee ballots in favor of Donald Trump. The Israel branch claims that about three quarters of the eligible voters in Israel will vote for Trump.

The Democrats don’t agree. The Israeli branch of the Democratic party will soon be launching its own campaign, claiming that at least half of eligible voters in Israel will vote for Clinton.

Game on.

For further reading click here.

Air Force
An advanced training exercise called Red Flag, during which fighter jets simulate combat involving coalition forces, will take place at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada. Israel will take part in the exercise. So will Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Last year Israel participated in the joint exercise with Jordan.

For further reading click here.

Big News
On the night after Tisha B’av, the religious Israeli radio station Kol Achai decided to air its own version of the War of the Worlds, except that they did it about the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah). They ran an entire broadcast complete with fake news reports and real interviews with a slew of respected rabbis and other experts to simulate what might happen when the Mashiach finally does arrive.

It was pretty cool, at least initially, to hear news broadcasts reporting on miraculous events that would lead up to and usher in the Messianic era. But it was obviously all fake.

Wait. Have you been reading the headlines during the past 70 years? Here are a few examples you might want to take note of: State of Israel declared after nearly 2,000 years of exile just three years after the end of the Holocaust; fledging Jewish army defeats the armies of a dozen Arab nations; Israeli army reunites Jerusalem; millions of Jews from the four corners of the globe move to Israel; the Iron Curtain suddenly collapses and over one million Jews from the USSR move to Israel; tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel; the majority of world Jewry now resides in Israel, the Jewish homeland.

Do I need to go on? Are the headlines not clear enough? How about the flourishing State of Israel?

No simulation is necessary. The Messianic area is clearly upon us — but it’s a process that is spread over many years, and we haven’t yet reached the final climax. But it’ll happen, hopefully sooner than later. I’d really like to be around to see it. Wouldn’t you?

Summer Lag
You might have noticed that August is a very slow time for Israel news. The Knesset is on vacation, as is most of the country. We’re trying our best to find stories that we think you’d like to read. But as they say, no news is good news, especially in Israel.

Israel News for October 27, 2015

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Gaza Strike
The Israeli Air Force struck Hamas targets in Gaza last night in response to a rocket fired into an empty area of Southern Israel.

In Jerusalem, a third victim of the terror attack on bus #78 in Armon Hateziv died of his wounds. The man was 76 year old Richard Lakin, an educator and writer originally from Massachusetts.

Cameras Removed
In the wake of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that Jordan and Israel had agreed to install video surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount, Israeli police removed cameras installed by the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that runs the site. The PM’s office issued a statement defending the move and confirmed that cameras would be installed by professional technicians approved by both Jordan and Israel.

Facebook vs. Hamas
Facebook has taken a stand against incitement to violence by Hamas and shut down numerous Hamas related pages and groups. According to a statement by Hamas, “Facebook has closed, over the past two days, a large number of pages run by and close to the Hamas movement’s media in the occupied West Bank…that played a key large role in supporting the Al-Quds intifada.”

The closures included pages based in Ramallah, Galilee, Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Salfit, Tubas and Jenin, as well as the page of Muslim Youth League in the West Bank and some Palestinian university pages. Facebook also froze the accounts of dozens of publishers and administrators who run the pages. Hamas also announced that the page of its official spokesperson, Husam Badran, had been shut down.

Way to go Facebook! There’s no excuse for allowing pages that incite violence against anyone to continue. Let’s hope they keep up the good work.

For further reading click here.

Terror and Food
The recent terror wave has affected Israeli stomachs. According to figures just released, supermarket sales dropped by 7% in the first two weeks of October as more Israelis chose to stay home because of the security situation. Online sales increased by 30% in the same period, but the increase didn’t make up for the in-store sales drop.

Retail clothing stores have also been badly hit during the past two months. Jerusalem has taken the worst hit with significant sales drops in the city center, Mamilla and the Malcha Mall. Large malls in Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah, Ashdod and Beersheba have all seen drops of around 40%.

Once this wave of terror is over, there might be a big surge of spending as Israelis who’ve lost weight by not eating as much are forced to buy new clothing that fits. Let’s hope.

For further reading click here.

Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir, the assassin who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, is serving his life sentence in solitary confinement in the Rimonim Prison. According to the rules of his incarceration, he is permitted to walk in the prison yard and to study, as long as he is accompanied by another prisoner.

The prison authority has approved two prisoners to be allowed the “honor” of serving as Amir’s escorts. One is a convicted rapist and the other is a kidnapper. They’ll be accompanying him for an hour and half on his walk and for a two hour Talmud study session. That’s quite an image.

In a disturbing survey of 480 participants in the National Religious (Zionist) community, 55% believe that Yigal Amir did not kill Rabin while 68% think that his life sentence should be commuted.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Yitchak Rabin’s assassination.

For further reading click here.

Prison Warden Fired
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) fired Colonel Shimon Bibas, the warden of the maximum security Nafha prison after terrorist prisoners were found with cell phones.

Dozens of prisoners managed to smuggle in the cell phones, which they allegedly used to help coordinate terror attacks. The IPS asserted that it is “waging an all-out war” on contraband cell phones, “through technological means, undercover agents,” and other measures.

For further reading click here.

The Flag
Knesset member Yoel Hason of the Zionist Union party is calling on the Prime Minister to fire Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely for stating in a recent interview that she believes that the Israeli flag should fly over the Temple Mount. He thinks that saying that in these tense times is wrong and dangerous. She obviously disagrees, but says that her personal opinions do not affect her commitment to carrying out government policy.

For further reading click here.

Haredim Demonstrate
The Haredi community is usually viewed as siding with the Right on the political spectrum. But not when it comes to the Temple Mount.

Haredi extremists (it’s all relative) held a demonstration in front of the home of Rabbi Yosef Elboim, a Belzer Hasid, after they discovered photos of him with a group of Jews on the Temple Mount. The photos were in an article by a Reuters correspondent who tweeted the link. Evidently some of the extremists are on Twitter.

The demonstrators called Elboim a “murderer” and held up signs publicizing the prohibitions issued by most Haredi rabbinic leaders prohibiting Jews from visiting the Temple Mount because of the fear that they might enter areas of the mount that are considered too holy to enter according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Elboim will apparently be curbing his Temple Mount visits until further notice.

On a related note, Shas MK Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen attacked Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely and other politicians who openly advocate Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, claiming that they are “fanning the flames” of violence and endangering Jewish lives.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 25, 2015

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Security Cabinet
The PM’s office announced that the security cabinet has decided in favor of setting a four year minimum sentence for stone and firebomb throwers. The new regulation will be in place for three years.

The Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, recommended issuing the order for one year, but the cabinet sided with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s three year proposal.

The minimum sentence will only apply to adult suspects. Judges will also have the latitude to deviate from the minimum sentence. Currently, the maximum sentence for stone and firebomb throwers is 20 years.

The cabinet also took measures against the parents of stone throwers who are minors. The measures include revoking stipends of parents whose children are sentenced to prison. The cabinet will examine the legality of fining parents of minors aged 12-14, and imposing bail on parents of minors under the age of 12.

Regarding rules of engagement for police, security cabinet rules that police officers can open fire whenever their lives or the lives of civilians are in danger.

“Until recently, police officers would open fire when their own lives were at risk,” Netanyahu said. “From now on, they will be allowed to open fire – and they will know they have a right to do so – when anyone’s life is in danger.”

Further Reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2892455

No Calls Taken
Don’t you hate it when you know someone is not taking your calls? Well, that seems to be what’s happening when PM Netanyahu calls Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss ways of defusing tensions on the Temple Mount.

According to Haaretz sources, the King has told guests in recent days that he refuses to take phone calls from Netanyahu, to prevent Israel from using them to give the impression that the two nations are coordinating their reactions to the ongoing violence on the Temple Mount (he didn’t say Temple Mount). The London-based Rai al Youm newspaper quoted sources from within Jordan’s royal palace who confirmed the phone snubbing.

The King recently hosted Arab Israeli Knesset members to discuss the Temple Mount violence and the claims that Israel has been coordinating with the Hashemite kingdom. During the meeting, Abdullah said that Al-Aqsa Mosque was open for Muslims only and cannot be shared. “I’ll say once and for all, there is no partnership, no division, Al-Aqsa is a Muslim place of worship.

The king also spoke with US Vice President Biden and asked him to act against “the ongoing Israeli policies at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and end the aggression.”

Upshot
Although traditionally viewed as the protector of the Jerusalem holy places, Abdullah doesn’t really have any power to pressure Israel or the Palestinians to do anything. But having him on their side would be a huge PR victory for Israel, which is probably why Netanyahu keeps dialing his number. Will he ever answer? The chances of him choosing to partner with Israel in anything related to Al Aqsa and be seen as a traitor by the entire Muslim world are about as good as … fill in your own scenario.

Maybe the PM has the wrong number?

Further Reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2892395

No Refugees
PM Netanyahu’s policy of not accepting any Syrian refugees into Israel has some unlikely fans. The Druze living in the Israeli Golan, who used to be Syrian citizens and who never really made their peace with Israeli rule, are totally against Syrians leaving their homeland.

To quote Salah Abu Salah, 62, a Golan Druze elder whose words echo the sentiments of many here, “Anyone who abandons his land is not worth a cent in my eyes. Where you are born is where you should die. That is something I learned from my grandfather, who learned it from his grandfather. We must fight until our last breath for our land.”
So wherever they are, the Druze are there to stay.

Further Reading: http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.677332

Pride Labels
While the European Union decides how to implement a policy of requiring Israeli products from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan to be labeled as such, one Israeli winemaker is proudly getting a head start.

Bazelet Hagolan, a boutique winery in the Golan Heights, recently unveiled new labels bearing the Israeli flag for its bottles for export. “I’m proud of this flag, and I’m Israeli and I’m not ashamed,” said winery owner Yoav Levy, calling on other Israeli wineries to follow suit.

Levy’s winery manufactures 80,000 bottles a year, of which 20% is exported to North America and Europe. He says he’s been getting lots of positive feedback from customers and that business is looking up.

Is this a pro Israel message, or is the wine just too good to pass up? There’s only one way to find out.

Further Reading: http://www.haaretz.com/life/food-wine/1.677315

Happy Birthday Mossad
Yesterday the Mossad celebrated its 65th birthday with a good ol’ fashioned birthday bash. For some reason most of the attendants were kept anonymous, but we do know that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and the Mossad Chief Tamir Pardu were there to celebrate.

Pardu revealed that the Mossad has more female employees than ever. Women comprise 40% of the agency, 24% of whom are in key positions. He also said that the Mossad employees are younger than ever, with 23% between the ages of 22-32.

In his speech the PM thanked the Mossad agents saying, “what has occurred over the past 100 years is nothing short of a miracle. But we know that miracles have their limits. God and history do not hand them out freely. We need to play our part in them time after time. And I trust in you to continue this work.”

Further Reading: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4703846,00.html

Israel News for September 9, 2015

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The Book of Life
In anticipation of the upcoming Rosh Hashana accounting of “who shall live and who shall die”, the Central Bureau of Statistics has released its own accounting of the Holy Land’s population for the year 5776 (Hebrew calendar).

The population in Israel grew by 158,000 or 1.9%, in line with recent years. That’s made up of 170,000 births, 40,000 deaths and 28,000 new immigrants (do the math).

Aliyah increased by 35%, with new immigrants coming from Ukraine (26%), France (25%), Russia (21%) and the United States (9%).

The total population of Israel: 8,412,000. That’s made up of 6,300,000 Jews (75%), 1,746,000 Arabs (21%) and another 4% that don’t fit into either category.

To put this in perspective, the population of Jordan is 6.5 million and that of Lebanon is 4.5 million. Syria was at 22.85 million, but it’s probably closer to 18 million today.

Upshot
At the current rate, in ten years there should be close to 8 million Jews in Israel. That means that for the first time in over 2000 years, the majority of world jewry will reside in the land of Israel.

Shabbat Soccer
Last week an Israeli labor court ruled that soccer games on Shabbat constitute a criminal offense (based on Israeli law, not Jewish law) unless the teams obtain a waiver excusing them from the Shabbat restrictions.

Hundreds of Israeli companies and businesses have received these waivers. The problem in this case is that the waivers are issued by the Economy Minister, who happens to be Aryeh Deri, the leader of the charedi Shas party. The chances of him issuing the waivers are less than the likelihood of getting a snowstorm in Eilat — in the summer.

So, the Israeli Football Association has decided that there won’t be any soccer games next Saturday.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev doesn’t like this situation one bit (maybe she has season tickets?). She’s established a committee to figure out a solution within 60 days. She’s also pressing the attorney general to figure out a way around the immediate crisis, telling him to, “find a way of opening the league and continuing the policy of non-enforcement for 60 days, during which time the association and the directorate will have to find a solution.”

Regev feels that the decision to play or not play on Shabbat should not be decided by the courts. She wants the decision to be in the hands of the teams. “Teams that don’t want to play on Shabbat won’t play on Shabbat. And those that want to play will play.”

The case originated from complaints by religious players in the National Soccer League who protested the scheduling of league games on Shabbat.

In a related story, Economy Minister Deri has ordered the closure of the Israeli pavilion at the IBC 2015 exhibition in Amsterdam on three of the five days of the exhibition, since they fall on Shabbat and Rosh Hashana. IBC is the premier annual event for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of entertainment and news content worldwide.

Upshot
The simple solution to the soccer dilemna is to turn Sunday into a day off and have the games then. That would make a lot of working folks very happy.

Labor and Charedim Unite
Liat Shochat has won the election for mayor of the town of Or Yehuda, outside of Tel Aviv. The interesting part of the story is that she was supported by the Charedi and Religious Zionist parties and her top aide was a charedi man. Shochat, 43, is a wife and mother of four. She isn’t religious.

Upshot
Mutual respect and common goals, which Shochat and the Religious parties share, are the keys to unity and peace among all Israelis. If only this would happen more often.

Poor Judgement
A 64 year old man who immigrated to Israel from Yemen twenty years ago decided to return to Yemen to bring back his brother. He’d been there several times on visits, but the last time he went he was accused of spying and imprisoned. He was released with all of the other prisoners when rebels attacked the city. You’d think that would have been enough to keep him from returning. It wasn’t.

The man traveled to Jordan last week, but couldn’t find any flights to Yemen. Then he met three Saudis who offered to take him to Yemen with them, for free. It seems like he accepted their offer. Ok, calm down, we’re just telling you what happened.

Now he’s missing. Surprised? The Israeli foreign ministry can’t help, since Israel has no diplomatic relations with Yemen. All we can do now is pray for his safety.

Shabbat Tragedy
A husband and wife were found dead yesterday in their Jerusalem apartment. The preliminary investigation shows that they died from suffocation caused by their Shabbat blech (a piece of metal that covers the gas stovetop burners and allows one to warm food on Shabbat according to Jewish law). The couple had set up their blech and then closed all the windows in their home. The burner flame consumed all of the oxygen in the apartment and then went out, allowing carbon monoxide gas to fill the air.

The couple had been married for two years. The husband, Yaniv Yehuda, 32, was an immigrant from France. His wife Rachel, 30, was an immigrant from the US.

According to reports, the couple’s table was set for Shabbat with a tablecloth, Kiddush cup and challah. May their memory be a blessing.

Dust in the Wind
Israel’s sky turned brown and yellow yesterday as a massive sand and dust storm, which moved in from Syria, settled over the country. Israel hasn’t seen a storm like this in 75 years.

The poor air quality, combined with a drastic increase in heat and humidity, led to a huge number of people with health complications. Magen David Adom treated 290 people for asthma attacks, fainting and heart problems connected to the weather. Hospitals also treated their share of storm casualties.

Lebanon and Syria got hit at least as bad.

Meteorologists predict clear skies on the horizon. Hope they get it right.

See cool pictures here.

Another Spirit Lifting Gift
Yesterday we told you that the electric company was cutting its rates. Now Israelis will be able to toast to even more savings. That’s because the Finance Ministry and tax authority have decided to cut taxes on alcoholic drinks including beer and hard liquor. They doubled the taxes on these drinks two years ago thinking that they would prevent Israelis from harming their health by drinking too much. But it turns out that Israelis are drinking just as much as they were before. In addition, the higher prices have boosted black market “moonshiners” who are producing and selling low quality alcohol that really is harmful.

Upshot
Israelis will be able to have their booze and put money in their pockets. Happy New Year!!

Israel News for August 18, 2015

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Hunger Striker
Israel’s High Court postponed ruling on the case of the Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allan and has instructed the government and Allaan’s family to come up with a compromise agreement. The government yesterday offered to free Allaan on the condition that he leave the country for four years .

Arab-Israeli Knesset member Mohammed Jabareen of the Joint Arab List party, who is representing Allaan, rejected the offer, claiming that it proves that Allaan isn’t really that dangerous. Instead, the family has offered for Allaan to end his hunger strike on the condition that the state not extend his detention, which is scheduled to expire in November.

Background
Allaan was arrested in November and is being held under the administrative detention law (without formal charges or trial) on suspicion of being involved with Islamic Jihad. He has been on a hunger strike for 62 days now in protest. Last month the Knesset passed a law allowing a judge to sanction force-feeding or medical treatment if an inmate’s life is threatened, even if the prisoner refuses. But doctors, backed by the Israel Medical Association, have refused to use force-feeding and consider it to be inhumane.

Allaan is currently in Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon where he is receiving intravenous fluids and vitamins, which is not considered force-feeding. But doctors say some of his organs are damaged as a result of the hunger strike and his condition is precarious.

In the past Israel has freed Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes for fear that their deaths could stir up Palestinian outbreaks of violence. At the same time the government doesn’t want to set a precedent which would encourage prisoners to go on hunger strikes to attempt getting released. The government also feels that Allaan will be a security threat if released.

Upshot
According to Israeli law the government has every right to continue detaining Allaan since it believes that he is a security threat. It also has the right to force-feed him in order to save his life. Instead the government has offered to set him free as long as he leaves the country for four years. That would seem to be a good deal for Allaan considering his current situation. Unfortunately for him, due to his condition he is unable to make any decisions for himself, leaving the Israeli-Arab and Palestinian politicians and activists representing him to decide his fate. And they’ve decided, at least for now, that their fight against Israel takes precedence over saving Allaan’s life.

PA Money funds terror
Indictments filed by the Military Advocate General of Judea and Samaria against the terrorists responsible for the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld a month ago in the West Bank reveal that PA money was indirectly used to fund the terror cells.

Background
Ahmad Najar, the head of the terror cell that murdered Rosenfeld, was imprisoned in Israeli jail for the murder of six Israelis in 2004. After his release as part of the Shalit deal, he received a monthly stipend from the Palestinian Authority for his time served in Israeli prison.

Najar then moved to Jordan and had his brother Amjad withdraw the money from his bank account in the West Bank. He used the money to train and arm a terror cell under his command.

On June 29, the terror cell’s members shot Rosenfeld to death and wounded his three friends near the settlement Shvut Rachel. Prior to the fatal attack, they fired at a Magen David Adom ambulance near Beit El, in an incident that ended without injuries. The Palestinian Authority arrested two members of the terror cell. Israel arrested the rest.

In a separate indictment Muhammed Abu Shaheen from Qalandiya was indicted for shooting Danny Gonen to death near the settlement Dolev and wounding his friend Netanel Hadad. The charges against his terrorist cell members also include several cases of shooting at soldiers in Qalandiya and planning to kidnap an Israeli.

Hamas deal. Not.
Despite reports in the Arab press and statements from Turkish officials and PA President Abbas that Israel was close to reaching a long term cease first agreement with Hamas, the PM’s office released a statement yesterday flatly denying any negotiations with Hamas. According to the statement, “There are no meetings with Hamas. There are no direct contacts, no contacts through other countries and no contacts through intermediaries.”

Passport Control Crumbles
Waiting in line for immigration officers to check your passport at Ben Gurion airport is never a pleasant experience. Last Friday, it got a whole lot worse. The passport control computer system went down, requiring agents to check incoming passengers’ passports manually. With Shabbat approaching, and a huge backlog of anxious and impatient passengers still waiting, authorities decided to just let about 1,300 Israeli citizens through without any record of their entry into the country. The catch is that they would need to call the Interior Ministry (Misrad Hapnim) to register their re-entry into the country.

When people called they were told that they need to show up at a ministry office to personally confirm that they’re back in Israel. If they don’t they’re considered as if they aren’t in Israel and therefore will not be covered by their national insurance. At least they made it home for Shabbat.

No Soccer on Shabbat
Economy Minister Aryeh Deri, who is also head of the Ultra Orthodox Sephardic Shas party, sent a letter to the Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev and to the head of the Soccer Association requesting that they not schedule National League (Liga Leumit) games on Shabbat.

Background
There are two professional soccer leagues in Israel: the top tier Premier League and the second tier National League. While the Premier League has always schedule some games on Shabbat, the National League has not, until now. The league has decided to schedule games on Shabbat in the upcoming season. At least ten players have protested this decision and said they will refuse to play on Shabbat.

Pants attack
A 15 yr old girl was walking with her family in Jerusalem on Rechov Strauss, a main street running through the center of town, not far from an Ultra Orthodox (Charedi) neighborhood. She was wearing pants. A 40 yr. old Charedi man considered the pants to be immodest. He expressed his opinion by spitting on her. The man was arrested. The girl most likely wiped the spit off and then continued wearing her pants.