settlements israel

Israel News for June 7, 2017

New Settlements
Speaking at a ceremony yesterday commemorating the Six Day War and Israeli settlement of Judea and Samaria, the Prime Minister reiterated his pro-settlement stance saying, “No one will be uprooted from their home, I’m doing everything to protect the settlement enterprise. We decided to build in all parts of Judea and Samaria and we are building both inside and outside the settlements.”

Netanyahu’s remarks come in the wake of a plan proposed by Minister of Housing and Construction, Yoav Galant (Kulanu) to build 67,000 new homes in Samaria to deal with the housing crisis in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

As part of the plan, the Yesha Council commissioned a panel of experts to map out the total amount of vacant land available for construction in the area between Karnei Shomron in the north, through the city of Ariel and up to Modi’in.
The panel ultimately determined that the western area of Samaria could immediately accommodate the construction of some 67,000 housing units, which could house at least 340,000 people. The target price of a four room apartment in the area would be around NIS 1.2 million (pretty cheap), which would in turn lead to weakened demand and pricing in the Tel Aviv region.

It’s unclear how all of this talk of settlement building will jive with President Trump’s request that Israel reduce its settlement construction activity and the Israeli government’s recent slashing in planned construction.

For further reading click here.

Gaza Clashes
IDF troops fired warning shots across the border into Gaza as dozens of Arab demonstrators threw rocks and rolled blazing tires at the border fence from Gaza. Hamas claims that one demonstrator was killed by the Israeli fire. The IDF spokesperson claimed no knowledge of any casualties.

For further reading click here.

Palestine Apparel
Sears has decided to remove a line of clothing from its website that features pro-Palestinian messages including “Free Palestine”. Sears claims that the clothing was uploaded by a third-party seller (Spreadshirt Collection) on the Sears website and that it pulled the clothing due to feedback it received. Sears said that it was unfairly singled out on this issue,” since the offending items are widely available on Amazon and Walmart. The company has 200 employees in Israel.

At the end of the day the massive outcry against the apparel in the press and on social media has probably done much to publicize the items and shoot sales through the roof. As the saying goes, all PR is good PR.

To buy a Free Palestine shirt, click here — – just kidding!!

For further reading click here.

Book Fair
Hebrew Book Week kicks off in Israel tonight with fairs in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion. For ten days, thousands of books, both old and new titles, will be offered at discounted prices at the fairs as well as in book stores across the country. In addition, cultural events are for all ages will be held in public libraries and at the fairs. This is the 56th anniversary of the book week.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), around 24% of Jewish adults in Israel and 49% of Israeli Arabs don’t read books at all.

According to the National Library, some 7,300 books were published in 2016, 89% of them in Hebrew and 3% in Arabic. Almost 40% of commercial books were released in Israel by the big publishing houses, with 46% released by some 200 smaller publishers.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for April 27, 2017

Trump Tax and Israel
US President Trump revealed a new tax plan that proposes to reduce corporate taxes from 35% to 15%. That’ll be great for US companies, but potentially not so great for Israel. Many Israeli startups that do most of their their business in the US may decide to incorporate in the US to take advantage of the favorable tax rate.

According to Jonathan Irom, a partner at the International and High Tech Department at the GKH law firm in Tel Aviv, “If the corporate tax rate in the US will be cut to 15% as proposed by Trump, this will put a lot of pressure on Israeli startups to succumb to investors’ demands and incorporate in the US.”

He explained, “Up until now the US tax rate was higher than in Israel — an average US rate of 35% compared to the Israeli rate of up to 25%. Israeli entrepreneurs have been able to use the lower tax rate as an excuse to incorporate here in Israel. But once the rate is cut in the US that excuse will no longer be valid, and this will drive a lot of startups to seriously consider incorporating in the US rather than in Israel. That means less foreign investment in Israel, less companies in Israel that are paying taxes locally and lower revenues from M&A deals under certain structures.”

Israel also stands to lose a significant amount of tax revenue from companies like Apple and Google who have recognized income in Israel because of lower tax rates. With the drop in US rates the companies will move their profits back to the US, which is exactly what Trump wants.

The Israeli government is working on a new plan to significantly lower corporate taxes. But will it be good enough to compete against the Trump tax cuts?

For further reading click here.

Trump Visit
President Trump is expected to visit Israel next month, and he won’t be coming alone. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as US Ambassador David Friedman and Jared and Ivanka, will accompany the president on his visit.

For further reading click here.,7340,L-4954695,00.html

Another UNESCO Vote
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is set to vote on Tuesday, Israel’s Independence Day, on a resolution against Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Despite efforts by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to convince countries to vote against it, the resolution is expected to pass. The US administration is also working to pressure UNESCO and the member nations to postpone the vote or to oppose it.

For further reading click here.

Gaza Skirmish
Israeli troops patrolling near the Gaza border cam under fire yesterday from Gaza. None of the soldiers were hit or injured. Shortly after, in response, an IDF tank destroyed a Hamas position in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. Although no terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack against the soldiers, Israel holds Hamas responsibility for all military activity within Gaza.

For further reading click here.

Cyber Attack Foiled
The National Cyber Authority (NCA) announced that it recently blocked a massive cyber attack on Israeli businesses and infrastructure. According to the authority, the attacker posed online as a legitimate organization, sending emails in the name of that organization while simultaneously trying to attack about 210 other organizations, government ministries, public bodies, and private individuals.

In response to the attack, the NCA said it will publish instructions for individuals, businesses, and government ministries to protect themselves against technology attacks.

For further reading click here.

NBA in Israel
The NBA is preparing to head to Israel this summer to run its Basketball Without Borders program. The camp will take place from Aug. 13-16 in Netanya. The top teenagers from over 30 countries, including Israel, Spain, Germany and France, will get coaching and tutoring from NBA and FIBA players, coaches and former stars, including former Spurs All-Star David Robinson. The teens will also perform community outreach in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Kathy Behrens, NBA president of social responsibility and player programs, said, “We’re looking forward to the chance to bring all communities together for this program. This is going to be about bringing the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and other communities together.”

Regarding Israel she said, “It’s a country that loves basketball. I think they will be a great host. It has an extraordinarily rich history. So I think the people who are going to be at the camp participating will learn a lot and certainly appreciate that aspect of it.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for April 25, 2017

Religious Threats
On Monday the Supreme Court ruled to approve an amendment passed by the Tel Aviv municipality to allow select supermarkets to remain open on Shabbat. The existing regulations prohibit all commercial establishments from operated on Shabbat.

In response, the spiritual leader of Shas (the sephardic UltraOrthodox Knesset faction), Rabbi Shalom Cohen, has threatened to quit the governing coalition. Members of Haredi parties have also quit their posts on the Tel Aviv municipal council in protest. Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri (Shas) is attempting to promote a law in the Knesset to bypass the Supreme Court’s decision.

For further reading click here.

German Ultimatum
PM Netanyahu has presented German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel with an ultimatum: either he cancels his meeting with Breaking the Silence — an Israeli NGO that publishes the testimonies of former Israeli soldiers who report on human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza — or the PM will refuse to meet with him.

German officials said today that Gabriel will not change his schedule. Gabriel said, “It’s difficult for me to imagine that the meeting will be canceled, because this would be very regrettable.”

Explaining his planned meeting with Breaking the Silence, Gabriel said, “In no country in the world can you get a reasonable and comprehensive impression if you only meet with government representatives. You have to meet, as we did yesterday, with writers, with artists and students, and also with critical organizations.”

He added, “These are topics of the daily political news circle on which we need to form a political view. Therefore I find it totally normal to talk to them. I can’t imagine that we would stop doing this in the future only so we could meet with government officials.”

President Reuben Rivlin will meet with Gabriel as scheduled.

For further reading click here.

Doctor Incentives
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman have agreed on guidelines for financial incentives which will encourage doctors to move to outlying areas and communities.

The grants will be allocated in accordance with published criteria and according to the requirements of hospitals, clinics and the healthcare system. Hospital directors will be given flexibility to allocate grants according to their local requirements. The goal is to strengthen the general state of healthcare in the “periphery” of the country.

For further reading click here.

Balfour Petition
On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild – head of the Zionist Federation – expressing British support of a Jewish State in Palestine. While this represented the first political recognition of Jewish nationalism by a world power, it was a reflection of the philosophical, practical, and spiritual meaning behind the historical link of the Jewish nation to its ancient homeland.

The Israel Forever Foundation is working on a monumental drive to to collect 1 million signatures by the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 2017 to be presented to world bodies, organizations, and heads of state, to remind the world that Israel was established with the full backing and support of the international community.

To sign this important petition click here.

Israel News for January 20, 2017

Embassy Move
The incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer held his first news conference yesterday during which he told reporters to “stay tunes” for details on Trump’s plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. He said, “There will be a further announcement on that. The president has made clear that Israel has not gotten the respect it deserves.”

Spicer said that Trump had been consulting with his choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on whether to make the move.

Friedman is the only one of the three who has publicly stated his desire to move the embassy. Do Kushner and Tillerson agree?

Would moving the embassy immediately be a good negotiating tactic in what Trump has called the toughest negotiation ever, or would the mere threat of moving it be a more powerful tool to pressure the Palestinians into making a deal?

Regarding Kushner’s potential to succeed at his new role as Senior White House advisor with a special focus on the Middle East, Trump addressed Kushner saying, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can. OK. All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal in the world to make. And I’ve seen it, but I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job.” [Looks like Trump is feeling some “nachas”]

If you’re wondering what the leftist academics think about Trump and his Jewish advisors and supporter, here’s what Columbia University Professor of Modern Arab Studies Rashid Khalidi recently said:

“So they have a vision whereby the occupied territories aren’t occupied, they have a vision whereby there is no such thing as the Palestinians, they have a vision whereby international law doesn’t exist, they have a vision whereby the United States can unilaterally cancel a decision in the United Nations.

And unfortunately, these people infest the Trump transition team, these people are going to infest our government as of January 20. And they are hand in glove with a similar group of people in the Israeli government and Israeli political life who think that whatever they think can be imposed on reality.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians participated in PA sponsored demonstrations against the planned embassy move in Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron.

For further reading click here.

Better Travel
Traveling between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just got a lot easier and safer with the opening of the new Harel Tunnels on Highway 1. The road, which connects Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is infamous for its extreme curves and traffic congestion. The new tunnels, which run under the city of Mevasseret Zion and the most dangerous stretch of road, will hopefully change that.

At a ribbon cutting event PM Netanyahu said, “The Harel Tunnels that we are inaugurating, together with a bridge that eliminates the dangerous curve, which they called the curve of death — and with the train that will soon run on these tracks — all these will provide a boost for Jerusalem.”

According to estimates by the Transportation Ministry, the tunnels and bridge are expected to cut travel time from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to about 30 minutes (from about 50) if there is no traffic congestion. [That’s a big if.]

For further reading click here.

Must See
Israeli artist Shahak Shapira has created a unique online collection of images called “Yolocaust”, which communicates a clear and shocking message. The photos are of people taking selfies at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. But when you mouse over the image, something happens. Instead of explaining it to you, you need to see it for yourself. Click here.

Israel Books
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Israel News for January 13, 2017

Syria Attack
The Syrian military has accused Israel of launching a missile attack against the Mezzeh military airport on the western edge of Damascus and warned Tel Aviv of repercussions.

Residents of Damascus reported hearing several explosions that shook the capital. The Mezzeh airport compound located on the southwestern edge of the capital had been used to launch attacks on rebel-held areas near Damascus and has come previously under rebel fire. The base allegedly houses Iranian Revolutionary Guard units.

Israel declined to comment on the accusation.

For further reading click here.

Mattis and Jerusalem
President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense James Mattis was questioned during his senate confirmation hearing yesterday. When asked by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “What’s the capital of Israel?” Mattis replied, “The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv because that’s where all their government people are.” When Graham pressed him saying, “Do you agree with me that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem?” Mattis responded, “Sir, right now I stick with the US policy.”

Mattis said that he supported a two-state solution and said, “I think ultimately we’re going to have to promote peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities there, and that’s going to take time to build that kind of trust, and we should be a partner in trying to build that resolution between those peoples.”

When asked whether he would support moving the embassy Mattis said, “I would defer to the nominee of Secretary of State on that, sir.”

For further reading click here.

Gaza Aid
As a result of the relative quiet along the Gaza border in recent months, the Defense Ministry has decided to increase humanitarian shipments and open another border crossing with a conveyor system to transfer materials to Gaza. It will also increase the number of workers allowed to enter Israel. The ministry stresses that these measures can be reversed immediately if the situation along the border changes.

For further reading click here.

Meanwhile mass demonstrators erupted in Gaza against Hamas because of a lack of electricity that is severley effecting the population and crippling the economy.

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu and Inauguration
The Prime Minister’s Office has dispelled the rumors that Netanyahu was invited to attend the inauguration of Donal Trump. The PM was not invited and will not attend. Foreign leaders do not usually attend US presidential inaugurations.

For further reading click here.

Gap Year
Speaking to a room full of hundreds of high school seniors at a Bnei Akiva (religious youth group) conference, Education Minister Naftali Bennett advised the students to postpone their military services for at least a year to study Torah in a Yeshiva or another pre-IDF Torah learning center. He said that he regretted his decision not to do so. Bennett also urged students to continue daily Torah study throughout their lives.

For further reading click here.

Israel Books
If you’re searching for book on Israel, Click here. We get a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon for a full 24 hours after you use the link. In other words, if you end up buying a computer and lawnmower, we get the commission on that too. It’s a great way to support us while getting great deals on your shopping. And it doesn’t cost you a cent! So please use this link for all your Amazon shopping.

Israel News for October 7, 2016

Annex Territories
Speaking at a Jerusalem conference in memory of Hanan Porat, one of the original leaders of the Gush Emmunim settlement movement, Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared that Israel should annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

Bennett said, “On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision. We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can’t keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target.”

Today Bennett tweeted that when he said “give our lives” he really only meant to “make a great effort for the cause.” But he did not walk back any of his comments about annexation or his critique of PM Netanyahu’s backing of a two-state solution.

In his speech Bennett said, “Like Hanan (Porat) said, we have no right to divide the land. Not with words, not with actions, not by silent acquiescence, not with quiet excuses. Not by politicians and not by jurists. The path of concessions, the path of dividing (the land), has failed.”

Bennett also spoke out against the Supreme Court decision to evacuate the settlement outpost of Amona, and promised to work for a solution that would avoid evacuating the settlement.

For further reading click here.

Gaza Rockets
The second rocket fired from Gaza in a 24 hour span exploded in an open area in Israel yesterday. The Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba knaf Bayt al-Maqdis, which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. The group said the shooting was carried out as “part of the consistent jihad against the Jews” and following the arrest of four of its operatives by Hamas a few days ago.The IDF responded with tank fire into Gaza.

In the aftermath of the rocket fire, Defense Minister Lieberman stated yesterday that he had “no intention of launching a military operation.” He said, “At the same time, we won’t tolerate any firing and any provocation from anyone against citizens of Israel or violating the State of Israel’s sovereignty. No shooting and no flotilla.”

Lieberman reiterated that Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza. He said, “Hamas rules the strip with a firm hand, and when it wants to attain something or prevent something, it knows how to do that. So on the matter of various rogue elements: They can try harder.”

For further reading click here.

Abbas Close Call
The 81-year-old Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, underwent an emergency heart procedure yesterday after suffering exhaustion and chest pains, but was given a clean bill of health and walked out of the hospital, waving to well wishers.

Abbas has recently come under heavy fire for attending the Shimon Peres funeral. Despite his age, he has not appointed a successor, which could lead to a serious power struggle if he is incapacitated. The most popular potential successor, Marwan Barghouti, is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in deadly attacks on Israelis. There’s also the possibility that Hamas could step in and take control.

For further reading click here.

Synagogue Revival
Tel Aviv has over 500 synagogues, but over the past 20 years, many of them have ceased to function or have been closed down due to a significant drop in the religiously observant population of the city. But a surge of French immigrants to Tel Aviv is changing that situation in a big way.

Between 80 and 90% of the news immigrating from France are either Orthodox or traditionally observant, and they are settling in the center of Tel Aviv in great numbers. That means they need places to pray, so they’re reopening or revitalizing dozens of closed or non-functioning synagogues — bringing them back to life. They’re also causing a surge in Kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv’s trendiest parts.

To read more about this exciting development, click here.

Secret Tailor
The Mossad, Israel’s version of the CIA, is looking for a new agent with a very special skill set: sewing. Yup, the Mossad is looking to recruit a tailor. Here’s the job description: “Hiring an expert in cloth and design to sew unique leather clothes. At least 3 years of experience in sewing leather and other materials is required. Candidate MUST have studied design. Candidate MUST have: good technical understanding, ability to work independently, a willingness to learn new things, creativity, vision, and think out of the box.”

In previous years the Mossad has posted wanted ads for an expert carpenter and a used car salesmen. So you don’t need to be a commando or computer whiz to serve your country after all. But are there still any Jewish tailors?

For further reading click here.

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.”

For further reading click here.

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.

For further reading click here.

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? ]

For further reading click here.

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.”

For further reading click here.

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.

For further reading click here.

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.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 20, 2016

Terror Attacks
This morning a terrorist attempted to stab a soldier at the checkpoint at the entrance to the Arab town of Bani Na’im, east of Hebron. The soldier, a member of the 605th Engineering Battalion, managed to shoot the terrorist before he could cause any harm.

Last night a man was arrested in Hebron who was carrying a knife and planning to attack soldiers. Also last night, a bus traveling in East Jerusalem was stoned and the bus driver was lightly wounded.

All this follows two other terror attacks that we reported on yesterday. In one, two terrorists attempted to stab soldiers at The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and were shot and killed. In the other, two police officers were seriously wounded when they were stabbed by a terrorist near the Old City of Jerusalem.

IDF forces conducted raids in several Arab villages overnight in search of terror suspects and weapons. In total 27 suspects were arrested and numerous weapons confiscated.

For further reading click here.

Letter to Obama
Ahead of President Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly and his planned meeting with PM Netanyahu tomorrow, a group of 88 Republican and Democratic senators sent Obama a letter calling on him to veto any “one-sided” resolution brought before the UN Security Council during the remainder of his term.

The letter, initiated and sponsored by AIPAC, was spearheaded by Republican Senator Michael Rounds from South Dakota and Democratic Senator Kristen Gillibrand from New York.

The letter said, “We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.”

Israeli officials are worried that Obama might attempt to push through a UN Security Council resolution related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the November presidential election.

In the letter the senators supported a two-state solution and stressed that a resolution could only be reached through direct dialogue between the sides.

They wrote, “At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for a meaningful progress. Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Laws
The Jerusalem municipality indicted eight grocery shop owners for keeping their shops open on Shabbat, in violation of the city law that prohibits stores in the city center from operating on Shabbat.

Lawyers for the store owners accused Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat of caving in to ultra-orthodox pressure.

Barkat’s office responded that its decision did not stem from political pressure, but from the legal problem posed by a High Court of Justice ruling in a case involving Tel Aviv groceries that opened on Shabbat in violation of municipal bylaws. In that case, the court ruled that Tel Aviv could either enforce its bylaws or amend them, but could not simply keep allowing businesses to open in violation of the law.

For further reading click here.

Sirens Blaring
The IDF Homefront Command will test it’s early warning siren system throughout the country today. During the sirens, citizens are instructed to retreat to shelters in their homes, workplaces and schools. Sirens will be sounded in different regions between 11:05am and 11:15am, and then at 7:05pm for the entire country.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 8, 2016

Chabad and IDF
The Chabad Lubavitch Hassidic movement recently negotiated an agreement with the IDF which stipulates that 85% of Chabad yeshiva students will be drafted, while 15% will receive exemptions to study and work as emissaries. Those students drafted will also receive a two year deferral to allow them to study at a yeshiva in Crown Heights, NY (Chabad headquarters).

Haredi draft opponents are furious about the agreement. Last night a group of about twenty anti draft extremists broke into the home of the Chabad Rabbi Moshe Havlin, who serves as Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Gat. They broke furniture and shouted and cursed at the rabbi and his wife. The rabbi’s wife fainting during the attack and was hospitalized. Police arrested three of the demonstrators and are investigating the incident.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to attack by saying that the anti draft elements have crossed a red line and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law as a warning to those who incite violence against Haredim serving or seeking to serve in the IDF.

For further reading click here.

Secular Protest
A group of secular activists is calling on people to gather at a location in the heart of the Haredi city of Bnei Brak next Shabbat to protest the attempt to force stores in Tel Aviv to close on Shabbat.

The event organizer wrote on Facebook, “it is impossible to keep quiet any more to the status quo interruptions. It is impossible to reduce the movement of people on Shabbat and on weekdays due to Haredi political whims. I call to you to come to Bnei Barak (address omitted) next Shabbat, with music, megaphones and lots of spirit to prove to everyone that the secular community are not suckers and quiet. You have crossed the line and now the border protection (secular folks) will come to you.”

Another step towards brotherly love and harmonious existence.

For further reading click here.

Israel Attacks
Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian government military position today after several mortar shells fell in Israeli territory yesterday. The mortar rounds were apparently stray rounds that mistakenly ended up in Israel as spillover from the fighting going on between rebel and government forces in Syria. But Israel is adamant in that it will not not accept any violation of Israeli sovereignty and that it will hold the Syrian government responsible for all military actions in Syria. There were no reports of casualties from the Israeli airstrike.

For further reading click here.

Music BDS
British composer and producer Brian Eno, who has produced albums for bands including U2, Cold Play and Talking Heads, has demanded that the Israeli Batsheva dance company stop using his musical compositions in its performances.

Eno has been a supporter of the BDS movement for several years and is one of over 1,170 British artists to sign the Artists Pledge for a cultural boycott of Israel that was launched in February 2015 by Artists for Palestine UK.

The dance company was scheduled to perform a routine using his music at a dance festival in Italy this week. Eno wrote, “To my understanding, the Israeli Embassy (and therefore the Israeli government) will be sponsoring the upcoming performances, and, given that I’ve been supporting the BDS campaign for several years now, this is an unacceptable prospect for me.”

For further reading click here.

Israeli Wages
According to figures released by Israel’s National Insurance Institute, the average monthly wage rose 2% in 2014 to NIS 9,939, with men earning an average of NIS 11,826 and women NIS 8,026. But half of Israel’s employees earned NIS 6,426 or less a month.

An average Tel Aviv family earned NIS 25,444 per month, ahead of Haifa (NIS 22,901), Rishon Lezion (NIS 22,453), Petah Tikva (NIS 21,663), Netanya (NIS 17,852) and Jerusalem (NIS 12,492).

The towns with the highest income in Israel were Kfar HaOranim and Savyon, with average monthly per capita incomes of NIS 19,332 and NIS 19,026, respectively. The poorest towns in Israel were Modi’in Ilit and Jisr az-Zarqa, with average per capita monthly wages of NIS 5,573 and NIS 5,690, respectively.

All salary figures are gross (pre-tax).

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 1, 2016

Bethlehem Hospital
Defense Minister Lieberman has approved plans for the construction of a Palestinian children’s hospital in Bethlehem, in an area fully controlled by Israel. The project still needs to go through the normal approval process from the relevant authorities, but Lieberman wanted to get the ball rolling in the right direction. In doing so he was attacked by right wing groups for helping the Palestinians take over Israeli land. He claims that he is simply implementing his “carrot and stick” policy, by which he will punish communities that aid or promote terror, and reward those that keep the peace.

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Settlement Expansion
The Ministry of Interior’s Settlements Subcommittee yesterday approved the construction of 120 units in the West Bank and retroactively approved several new neighborhoods that have already been constructed. The new units will be built in Efrat, Givat Ze’ev, Beit Aryeh, Nofim. An additional 234 apartments were approved in a senior citizens’ home in Elkana.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This significant expansion of the settlement activity poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two state solution. We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements.”

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New Ambassador
As an Egyptian military band played Hatikva, Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, officially presented his credentials to Egyptian President al-Sisi in Cairo yesterday.

Govrin said, “I feel very proud to be appointed to this position in Egypt, the mother of the world, a land of cultures and ancient history. I have no doubt that the relations between Egypt and Israel are vital and central to achieve the long-awaited peace and stability in the region in general.”

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Turkish Handshake
Turkey’s President Erdogan shook the hand of Israel’s interim ambassador to Ankara, Shani Cooper. During the president’s traditional handshake with the diplomatic corps to celebrate the country’s Victory Day on August 30, Erdoğan asked to welcome Cooper. She presented herself and expressed her nation’s support for the Turkish president and republic. Erdogan spoke positively about the newly reinstated diplomatic relations between the two countries, and wished Cooper good in her new position. Israel and Turkey will soon both appoint permanent ambassadors to represent them respectively.

Erdogan yesterday formally approved the agreement reached with Israel.

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Helping Survivors
Aviva Silverman, CEO of Aviv (“Spring”) for Holocaust Survivors, recently launched a new website to help inform the 180,000 holocaust survivors living in Israel and elsewhere of the benefits that they are entitled to.

Silverman founded the organization in 2007 to address the overwhelming lack of public awareness of what Israeli law provides for holocaust survivors. According to Silverman, around 25% of holocaust survivors in Israel live in poverty. Aviv for Holocaust Survivors has already helped about 50,000 survivors get over 200 million shekels in government assistance that they were entitled to.

According to the mission statement on the new website, “Our vision is that all Holocaust survivors living in Israel should live their lives with the dignity and comfort they deserve, and that they receive respect and proper treatment from the various agencies assisting them. Thousands of them do not take advantage of all their rights, whether granted to them by law or under various programs.”

Silverman said, “The new site is intended to aid all segments of the population – survivors and their families and offers easily accessible information about the rights and benefits offered to survivors from different countries around the world.”

We applaud your important work.

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School Days
About 2.2 million Israeli students started the new school year today. If you’re wondering what the average class size is in an Israeli school, Education minister Naftali Bennett explained, “Since the state was founded, the standard has been to have 40 students per class. We then set an upper limit whereby there would be up to 34 students per class, and 32 in weaker communities.”

Around 180,000 work in the Israeli school system, with 9,000 of them starting their first year.

In his opening statement to kick off the new school year Bennett said, “we’ve worked hard over the last summer and we’re well prepared. Starting last year, we’ve made a sharp turn to try to make the education system more personalized via smaller class sizes, teachers’ aides, a revolution in teaching math, and with national programs in English language instruction. We did all of this in conjunction with the Biton Commission to connect the different sectors of Israeli nation, and in conjunction with the Year of Jerusalem, which will begin soon.”

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Holy City
When you think of holy city, Jerusalem comes to mind. Tel Aviv, not so much. But the new Chabad emissary in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Eli Naiditch, decided to change that perception and prove that Tel Aviv is, indeed, a holy city. So he set representatives up in four city locations who would offer men the opportunity to put on teffilin. They worked from 9am until 7pm and succeeded in enabling 262 men to put on tefillin. He reported his success to the Guinness Book of World Records. Rabbi Neiditch won’t know if he set a world record for a few months, but didn’t seem to care when he said, “This is the greatest proof that Tel Aviv is absolutely a holy city, filled with holy people.”

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