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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.

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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 air force

Israel News for November 30, 2016

Israel Attacks Syria
According to the Syrian government and Arab media sources, the Israeli airfare (IAF) reportedly attacked a Syrian army outpost and a Hezbollah arms convoy not far from the highway connecting Damascus and Beirut early Wednesday. Both attacks were reportedly carried out by aircraft flying over Lebanese airspace. No injuries were reported. The IAF neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

For further reading click here.

At the UN
On the 69th anniversary of the November 29, 1947 UN vote to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) held a special meeting to mark the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, attended the meeting wearing a Palestinian flag scarf.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, reprimanded Thomson for his undiplomatic fashion statement saying, “It’s unacceptable for the president of the UN General Assembly, whose position is a symbol of neutrality and stateliness, to wrap himself in a Palestinian flag and participate in an event whose sole purpose is to attack and besmirch the State of Israel. This is living, unequivocal proof of the bias against Israel and the slander spread about us at the UN.”

Yesterday the UN General Assembly adopted six anti Israel resolutions including one about Jerusalem’s holy sites that ignores any Jewish connections and another ordering Israel to withdraw from all “occupied territories.

Business as usual at the UN.

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Turkish Attacks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attacked Israel for attempting to pass a law to prohibit Muslim prayers from being broadcast through loudspeakers (at the crack of dawn). Erdogan also accused Israel of “policies of repression and discrimination against our Palestinian brothers” and proclaimed, “it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem.”

Israel and Turkey recently exchanged ambassadors as part of a reconciliation agreement signed by the two countries to normalize relations. Apparently, things are back to normal.

For further reading click here.

Hackers Strike
Major Israeli prime time TV news channels 2 and 10 were interrupted last night with images of Muslim holy sites and images from the recent fires along with the words “Allah is great” written in Hebrew. The interruptions lasted for about 30 seconds and were suspected to have caused by hackers who temporarily took control over the satellite carrying the broadcast. Pro-Palestinian hackers have interrupted broadcasts several times in the past. Police and security officials are investigating.

For further reading click here.

Storms Coming
Now that the fires have been extinguished, the rains are coming. Heavy rain is expected today and Thursday in the coastal regions and in the Haifa area. There is a threat of flooding in the Haifa area. Timing is everything.

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israel terror attacks

Israel News for November 4, 2016

Terror Attack
Yesterday afternoon a Palestinian attempted to stab soldiers at a bus stop outside of the settlement of Ofra in Samaria (West Bank). The terrorist was shot and killed by soldiers before causing any harm.

Last night terrorists opened fire on an IDF position outside of the Palestinian Authority city of Tulkarem in Samaria, just east of Kfar Saba. One soldier was lightly wounded. The terrorists fled the scene and are being searched for by IDF forces.

In an unrelated development, the Shin Bet and police arrested three terrorists in connection with an October 2015 Molotov cocktail attack that wounded a three-year-old girl north of Jerusalem. The terrorists were ages 43, 34 and 27.

For further reading click here.

Supreme Court Battle
There is a battle going on between Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Supreme Court President Justice Miriam Naor. Shaked wants to push legislation through that would prevent the Justices from vetoing new appointments to the court. The court is vehemently against that.

The issue is heating up particular now, as four new Justices are due to be appointed. There are a total of 15 Justices on the Supreme Court, and the political and philosophical leanings of the new appointees could significantly impact the court’s rulings going forward. Shaked wants the court to move to the Right.

To read more about this issue click here.

Israeli Ambassador in Dubai
The Foreign Ministry has revealed that Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, participated in a conference in Dubai a few days ago along with other UN ambassadors, in his role as chairman of the UN Legal Committee. The visit was the culmination of months of secret, behind the scenes work to get the necessary approvals and permissions to enter the country. The trip was kept secret, since Israel has no official relations with the Arab country. The Prime Minister of Dubai also participated in the conference. Danon also met with other Dubai government officials.

For further reading click here.

Israel Canada Agreement
Israel and Canada have signed an agreement to promote cooperation between Israeli and Canadian universities. The agreement was signed this week during the visit of a Canadian delegation of parliament members and other leaders to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.

The Canadian-Israeli agreement will promote joint research, provide scholarships and arrange for student exchange visits. The budget will initially be half a million shekels.

Israel’s Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, who signed the agreement, remarked, “This is the first agreement of its kind with Canada at a federal level. We expect it will expand and lead to the arrival of entrepreneurs from both countries. The accord expresses the recognition of Israeli abilities, creativity and clarity of thought.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for August 26, 2016

Terrorist Attacks IDF
An Arab terrorist opened fire on an IDF position adjacent to the town of Ofra in Samaria this afternoon. Soldiers shot and killed the attacker. No soldiers were injured. Additional IDF forces were deployed to the area following the attack, sealing off it off and conducting searches for any possible additional terrorists.

Source: Arutz7.

No Immunity
Last month Israel arrested Waheed Borsh, a Palestinian engineer who worked for the UN Development Agency (UNDP) in Gaza for allegedly aiding Hamas by using UN resources to build a marina for the Hamas navy and for granting Hamas members preferential treatment in reconstruction projects.

On Wednesday the UN sent a letter to Israeli officials demanding diplomatic immunity for Borsh. Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon responded, “Israel rejects the claim that a person assisting a terror organization recognized by the international community such as Hamas could enjoy immunity.”

Nachshon added, “It is outrageous that a man assisting a terror organization could benefit from UN immunity. It is clear that immunity is not a license to commit acts of terror.”

For further reading click here.

Arab Construction
The Ministry of Construction and Housing has allocated 1.4 billion shekels over the next four years for housing solutions in Arab communities. The goal is to enable the building of tens of thousands of new housing units as well as the construction of public buildings.

Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant said, “We are working in close cooperation with the leadership in Arab sector communities. Prosperity in the Arab sector is an interest of Israeli society as a whole. The measure comes on top of a series of housing solutions being formulated by the Ministry of Construction and Housing for all population groups and sectors in Israel. The process will ease the housing crisis in communities in the sector.

He added, ”In the next 20 years, Israel will need one million housing units, including 200,000 for the Arab sector. We are therefore devising long-term solutions that will facilitate a substantial improvement in housing conditions by increasing the number of housing units, planning high-density construction, and developing new public in according to community needs.”

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Crisis
Last night the Haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) parties threatened to leave (and topple) the coalition government. The issue at hand relates to major government construction projects that are taking place on Shabbat.

One of the projects is ongoing roadwork repair on the Ayalon, which is the major highway entering Tel Aviv from the south. The other project is the construction of new railway lines between Ben Gurion Airport and Modiin and between Bet Yehoshua and Atlit (in the north).

After prolonged negotiations between the Prime Minister, Transportation Minister and the Haredi parties, a compromise agreement was reached. The Ayalon roadwork can continue, because doing the work on weekdays would constitute a danger to human life due to heavy workweek traffic. However, the train work may not be done on Shabbat, since the work doesn’t interfere with traffic or constitute a danger.

In addition, a committee to coordinate between the Transportation Ministry and Shas and United Torah Judaism was formed. The group includes the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, the Director-General of the Transportation Ministry, the Police Commissioner and ministers from the Haredi parties or their representatives.

For further reading click here.

Trump Office
The Donald Trump campaign has opened a new office in Ramat Gan, near the diamond district. The office will serve Tel Aviv and the entire central coastal region. Two other Trump offices are located in Jerusalem and Modiin. A fourth office will soon be added in the West Bank, and a fifth may also be added.

In the 2012 US Presidential election, around 85% of the ballots cast in Israel were for Republican Mitt Romney. Trump representatives are hoping to replicate those results.

Seems like a lot of work for 80,000 votes, but the campaign is assuming that a good number of those will be from voters hailing from important swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The campaign has released a Hebrew language poster that reads, “Trump: In Israel’s Interest.” The campaign also launched a Hebrew language Twitter feed. Can Trump tweet in Hebrew?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 2, 2015

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ISIS and the Israeli
In a totally unexpected turn of events, an Israeli 21 yr old male was apprehended by Turkish police for allegedly attempting to join ISIS forces in Syria.

The man flew from Israel to Crete, then to Izmir, Turkey and then to the Turkish city of Adana. From there he traveled overland to Iskenderun, near the Turkish-Syrian border.

The man’s family, who had been in contact with him throughout his journey, figured out that something was very wrong with their boy and contacted the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for help. The MFA alerted the Israeli embassy and consulate in Turkey, who then asked the Turkish authorities for help. The Turks found the man and returned him to his family, who had flown to Turkey. The man and his family returned to Israel on Monday.

Upshot
Why in the world would an Israeli Jew want to join ISIS? The MFA has implied that the man was mentally imbalanced, which is really the only answer that makes any sense. The good news in all of this is that Turkish and Israeli authorities worked together, which is a hopeful sign that relations between the two countries are warming up again.

Flags at the UN
Last week we reported about a resolution drafted by the Palestinian mission to the UN permitting observer states to fly their flags alongside member nations at the UN headquarters in New York City. The Palestinians had explicitly included the Vatican, the only other observer state, in their resolution hoping that doing so would pressure the General Assembly to approve it.

The Vatican protested their inclusion in the resolution, even though they recognize the State of Palestine. So the Palestinians rewrote their resolution, removing the Vatican, and are now seeking General Assembly approval to allow non-member observer states to raise their flags.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor is urging UN leaders to reject the resolution. He wrote letters to the UN secretary-general and the General Assembly president accusing the Palestinians of “attempting to swiftly change longstanding U.N. tradition in order to score political points.”

The United States is on Israel’s side. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “We continue to believe that Palestinian efforts to pursue statehood or endorsements of statehood claims through the U.N. system that are outside of a negotiated settlement … (are) counterproductive,” adding that this includes raising the flag.

A spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters yesterday that the U.N. will abide by whatever the General Assembly decides.

Upshot
Despite the usual support the Palestinians get at the UN, in this case the UN leadership doesn’t seem too eager to anger their host nation, the US, by raising the flag of a state that it doesn’t recognize, in its largest city, which also happens to have the largest Jewish population and be very pro Israel. That might be going too far, even for them.

Gay Pride Report
The special committee investigating the gay pride parade stabbings last month submitted their final report to Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan yesterday. The report recommended reprimanding the police commander of the Jerusalem district, Moshe Edri, and dismissing three senior officers.

Erdan accepted the committees recommendations and will decide whether to take even harsher steps and dismiss additional officers.

Charedi vs. Charedi
For the first time ever, the state prosecutor has indicted a charedi man for assaulting a charedi soldier. The incident took place two weeks ago when a soldier serving in one of the charedi integration programs in the IDF went to a shul with his father in a charedi neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The soldier, in his army uniform, ran into 34 year old Ahron Tavi Korlansky, who proceeded to yell derogatory phrases at him. He also began inciting the other men praying in the synagogue. When several of them joined him in his verbal assault, Korlansly approached the soldier and began punching him in the chest and trying to grab his beret from his shoulder. When the soldier’s father tried to help his son, the men punched him too.
Korlansky also shouted threats and derogatory remarks at police officers who arrived at the scene and at the officers who questioned him at the police station.

Quite a piece of work. Hopefully he only represents a tiny fringe of extremists in the charedi community. Unfortunately, many in the community share his views, although they would not express them violently.

PM’s Dietary Dilema
Officials from the Charedi UTJ party are furious at the PM’s alleged dietary habits.They claim that Netanyahu ate at a non-kosher restaurant on his recent visit to Italy, which is totally unacceptable for the leader of the Jewish state. The established tradition is that Israeli ministers and diplomats do not eat non-kosher food at official or public events.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Netanyahu “was invited to a restaurant by the Italian prime minister (Matteo Renzi), but he did not eat forbidden foods.”

This isn’t the first time that the PM has caught flack over his kosher dining habits. Last year he was accused of eating at a non kosher restaurant with billionaire supporter Sheldon Adelson in New York City and at an exclusive seafood restaurant in New Jersey.

But in Netanyahu’s case, walking and talking like a duck doesn’t necessarily make him a duck. Several Orthodox Israeli officials were also at the Seafood restaurant with the PM, and no one is claiming that they ate non-kosher. So just being in a non-kosher venue doesn’t mean that he actually ate there. Maybe he just had a salad.

Let’s give the PM the benefit of the doubt. That seems like the kosher thing to do.

Shops Get Smashed
Running a retail business is hard enough as is. Getting your shop smashed by oncoming traffic makes it almost impossible. In three separate incidents over the past couple of days, drivers have lost control and smashed their vehicles into store fronts.

In the latest incident, yesterday in Hadera, a bus hit several cars before plowing into a store on a main street. The day before that, in two separate incidents, cars ended up crashing into a restaurant and retail shop.

Are Israeli drivers that bad, or are they just a tad too eager to get their shopping done? It might just be a bit of both.

Israel News for August 26, 2015

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New Top Cop
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has chosen a new police inspector-general to head up Israel’s national police force. The nominee, who still needs to be approved by a government committee, is 51 year old IDF Brigadier General (reserve) Gal Hirsch.

Background
Hirsch, originally from Arad, had a distinguished military career, holding numerous commands in elite combat units. He resigned from the IDF in 2006 amid allegations of mishandling an incident during the second Lebanon war, but was exonerated by an investigative committee.

Hirsch is currently chairman of the Israel Leadership Institute, an educational NGO, and Defensive Shields Holdings, a security consulting company.

Challenges
The new police chief will have his work cut out for him. Sex scandals that have forced out several senior police commanders and allegations of corruption in several recent high profile cases have further depleted the top echelons of command, which Hirsch will have to rebuild most likely by bringing in people from outside the force.
The scandals and corruption have eroded the respect people have for the police. Recent surveys show that 70% of Israelis do not have faith in their police force. This could be one reason why there are 1,000 job openings for police officers that the force is having a hard time filling.

Upshot
Hirsch’s nomination ruffled lots of feathers among the top brass in the police force, who thought one of their own should get the top job. They’re hoping that that he doesn’t get approved by the committee. Some of them might quit if he does. Whoever ends up with the job will have a lot of hard work ahead of him.

Terror in Jerusalem
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, there were 580 documented terror attacks against both civilian and security forces during June and July in the Jerusalem areas that include the old city, the Mount of Olives, the Silwan (Shiloah) neigborhood and the City of David. That’s an average of almost ten per day.

Arad Blocks Africans
As we reported in yesterday’s email, the government is set to release close to 1,500 asylum seekers being held at the Holot detainment center in the Negev. The African migrants, who entered Israel illegally, have been banned from living or working in Tel Aviv and Eilat. Most of them have worked in those cities for years. Yesterday, twenty Africans released from Holot were arrested by immigration officials for just being in Tel Aviv.

Not to be outdone, the mayor of Arad, a southern city assumed to be a prime destination for the released detainees, declared his intention to keep them out. He sent police and inspectors to set up checkpoints at the entrances to the city to turn back asylum seekers looking to make Arad their new home. There are currently already several hundred asylum seekers living in Arad.

So where should these asylum seekers go? The government and many Israelis hope they choose another country.

Vatican Opposes Palestinians
The Palestinian mission to the UN drafted a resolution that would allow non-member observer states to fly their flags alongside member states at the UN headquarters in New York City. There are only two non-member states at the UN: Palestine and the Vatican.

The Palestinians explicitly included the Vatican in their resolution draft, hoping that doing so would compel member nations to approve it, especially since Pope Francis is due to address the UN General Assembly next month.

The Vatican was not pleased. In a note circulated to some U.N. members, the Vatican made clear that while it did not object to the Palestinians proposing a resolution to fly their own flag, the Holy See had no plans to join the initiative – even though the Vatican formally recognized the State of Palestine earlier this year.

“The Holy See does not intend to co-sponsor a draft resolution that the State of Palestine may eventually present on the matter,” the note said. “The Holy See asks the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations kindly to remove in its draft resolution any reference to the ‘Holy See’ and any generic reference ‘on behalf of the Observer States’.”

The Palestinians have yet to respond.

Upshot
Even though most member states are usually more than willing to vote against Israel’s interests, agreeing to fly the flag of a state that the US doesn’t recognize in the heart of US territory and in a heavily pro Israel city is going too far, even for them. Even the pope gets that.

Fined for Shabbat Observance
Many Israeli cities have regulations that impose fines on businesses that stay open on Shabbat. One establishment, called Henry’s, is being fined by its parent company for closing on Shabbat.

The shop, which has a kashrut certificate, is located in a new upscale shopping center in Tel Aviv. The owners of the center claim that the contracts they signed with their shops requires them to be open seven days a week. They’re fining the Shabbat observing store owners 3,500 Shekels per month for violating their contract. The Tel Aviv religious council is protesting.