INSIDE LOOK: HOW GAZA PROTESTERS ATTEMPTED TO BREACH THE BORDER FENCE

Over the past eight weeks, protesters in Gaza have altered their strategy as Israel has warned them to refrain from approaching the border fence.

Many questions remain about what led to the deaths of up to 58 Palestinians on Monday. One of the key issues surrounds how the protests are organized. Based on observation and discussions with sources close to the protests, the following presents a clearer picture of what has occurred over the last weeks, and attempts to paint a picture of how the May 14 protests unfolded.

Since the end of March, there have been mass protests along the Gaza border. These protests have been well organized and planned as part of an eight week “Great March of Return,” from the Palestinian Land Day on March 30, to the “Nakba Day” on May 15.

On May 14, the mass protests, which coincided with the US opening its embassy in Jerusalem and came a day before what was supposed to be the last day of the protests, resulted in 58 Palestinians killed and up to 2,700 wounded, according to Gaza-based Palestinian reports.

The protests have been organized around five locations next to Israel’s security fence. Over the eight weeks of demonstrations, protesters used a variety of different tactics and methods. For instance, protesters began lighting massive fires and burning tires during the second Friday, in early April.  Then they began launching burning kites to ignite Israeli farmland. They also tore down a section of barbed wire of one of the fences between Israel and Gaza on April 27. It was during this protest that a reliable source provided some insight into the methods employed by Hamas and the protesters.

The protesters have gathered every Friday with tens of thousands participating. At the very back of the protest, hundreds of meters from the fence, are tents and field hospitals, prayer areas and families. This is where some of the Hamas officials will show up in the morning or early afternoon to rouse the people and encourage them in their protest. Speeches will be made and prayers offered. It is well organized. Buses bring people to the protests. There are people selling food. There is even a macabre element of this, with protesters saying they’ll have a meal before they become “shahid” or a martyr at the front.

The masses of protesters who approach the actual fence are generally made up of young men and teenagers, including youth and children. There are very few women in the area closest to the fence. The protesters know how the Israeli security forces have been operating; they expect to be shot or are cognizant that this is a distinct possibility. There are ambulance teams and medics, as well as numerous spontaneous volunteers, ready to take away the injured, many of them shot in the legs.

As the young men burn tires, and others prepare Molotov cocktails or slingshots, some prepare kites to fly. The goal of the protesters is to get to the fence and, with select groups of young men who have brought wire cutters, to cut through. Most of them don’t make it this far, but some of them do.

Gazans who attempt to reach the main security fence first have to deal with other obstacles. There is a barbed-wire fence in sections to deter protesters from reaching the main fence. Israel has continuously warned since March that anyone approaching this kind of buffer zone would be shot. A section of barbed wire fence was torn down and dragged away in late April. The Palestinians cheered as they brought it back to the protest camp. A sign of victory.

According to reports, it takes about thirty seconds running between the barbed-wire fence and the main security fence.

But what happened in late April was not just the spontaneous chaos of rioters at the fence. Some of those wounded and killed by live fire, as shown on videos, have not been directly threatening the fence, but there are others groups whose sole purpose is to penetrate the fence.

The actual attempt to get closest to the fence and break through it has involved planning and coordination on the Palestinian side. Hamas members, unarmed but clearly directing some of the young men, are in the crowd. They watch for an area of burning tires and people, where the protesters have managed to get close to the fence or breach the first line of barbed wire.

Some of these professional activists are on motorcycles and they may come and go or drive along the line of protests or observe them from a high point. When they sense that a breach can be made, they gather together groups of young men, men who have prepared beforehand for the assault.

Like some kind of First World War charge of death, the young men then rush as a group toward the fence.

During the April 27 events, up to 700 men were reported by IDF spokesman Col. Jonathan Conricus to have assaulted the fence “in a way that we have not seen them assault it before,” according to a New York Times report.

An earlier Times report titled “300 Meters in Gaza: Snipers, Burning Tires and a Contested Fence,” summarized well the planning and details of the protests and confirmed later accounts.

Planning began ahead of the May 14 protests. Joe Dyke, the AFP correspondent in Gaza, wrote on May 10 that, at a “briefing to foreign media, Gaza head of Hamas told journalists today he would support thousands of Palestinians breaking through the border fence next week.”

On Sunday the IDF dropped leaflets on Gaza warning protesters to stay away from the fence. On May 14 Dyke, in Gaza, tweeted: “literally as the US embassy inauguration is beginning, loud speakers east of Gaza City are calling on protesters to prepare to seek to breach the border fence.”

By the end of the day, 58 had been killed.

The article was published in The JPost


Oportunitate istorică pentru leadershipul României în UE – recunoaşterea Ierusalimului drept capitală a Statului Evreu

Recunoaşterea Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu ridică România din rândurile celei de 3-a Europa şi o plasează într-o sferă de influenţă şi de mediere atât între interesele americane şi Uniune, cât şi între Europa de Vest şi cea de Est.

România are şansa unică de a media cel mai spinos subiect de dialog, la ora actuală, dintre Uniunea Europeană si Statele Unite ale Americii printr-o înţelegere adecvată a provocărilor de securitate din Orientul Mijlociu, începând cu valul de proteste violente conduse de gruparea teroristă Hamas la graniţa cu Israel, şi dinamica generată de expansiunea agresivă a Rusiei în Siria, alianţa sa cu regimul de la Teheran, şi posibila retragere a trupelor americane din Siria.

Potrivit politicii externe a Uniunii, Ierusalimul, cel mai dificil subiect de negociat dintre cele 4, în urma unui acord final între cele două state, va deveni capitală atât a unui stat evreu, cât şi a unui stat palestinian.

Principiul de aur al procesului de pace de la Oslo, respectat şi mai târziu în celelalte runde de negocieri, „nimic nu este finalizat până când totul este finalizat“, respectiv cele 4 chestiuni (statutul Ierusalimului, graniţe – delimitarea unui teritoriu palestinian, refugiaţi şi securitatea statului Israel) au fost mereu luate la pachet. Această tehnică a fost utilizată cu precădere pentru a se încuraja negocierile directe, pentru a se evita unilateralismul şi internaţionalizarea conflictului prin acţiuni izolate ale celor două părţi beligerante.

Un sfert de secol mai târziu de la Oslo, cu precădere în ultimii ani, se manifestă una dintre consecinţele imediate ale eşecului comunităţii internaţionale de a facilita negocieri directe, unilateralismul palestinian, sub forma recunoaşterii statalităţii sale în forumurile internaţionale.

Recunoaşterea unui stat palestinian, potrivit cu rezoluţiile ONU 242 (1967), rezoluţia 338 (1973) si Acordurile de la Madrid şi Oslo, urma să fie rezultatul unor negocieri finale directe între cele două părţi. Cu toate acestea, în noiembrie 2012, Palestina obţine, în mod simbolic, recunoaştere prin acordarea statutului de stat observator non-membru al Naţiunilor Unite.

La rândul său, Parlamentul European în 2014 a votat o rezoluţie prin care recunoaşterea statului palestinian nu avea sa fie un rezultat al negocierilor directe cu Israel, ci în paralel cu acestea.

La fel de surprinzător, în anul 2016, iniţiativa Ministrului de Afaceri Externe francez, Laurent Fabius pentru procesul de pace include o clauză potrivit căreia, în urma celor trei ani de negocieri directe, comunitatea internaţională avea sa recunoască un stat palestinian independent de rezultatul negocierilor.

E important a se nota, prin adoptarea acestor poziţii cu privire la recunoaşterea statalităţii palestiniene în afara unui acord final cu statul evreu, parlamentele europene, şi state precum Suedia şi Slovenia în curând, sfidează în mod direct nu doar realitatea de facto dar şi politicile Înaltului Reprezentant Mogherini.

Deşi unii experţi au exprimat un grad ridicat de optimism potrivit căruia aceste „victorii“ ale Autorităţii Palestiniene pe plan intenţional vor conferi legitimitate domestică grupării din West Bank, aceasta continuă să eşueze în asumarea responsabilităţilor sale în Fâşia Gaza, unde Hamas a început vinerea aceasta a patra săptămână de atacuri şi infiltrări în Israel. Falimentul real al Autorităţii Palestiniene este cu precădere acela de a nu crea instituţii de stat care să sprijine şi educe o societate palestiniană pregătită pentru pace.

Urmărind să revigoreze procesul de pace israeliano-palestinian, Preşedintele Trump a optat pentru o strategie diferită de tradiţia negocierilor,  şi anume pentru a oferi subiectului cel mai controversat, respectiv statutul Ierusalimului, o abordare treptată şi independentă de celelalte subiecte.

Urmărind modelul american, decizia de a muta ambasada romană la Ierusalim nu aduce nici un prejudiciu statului palestinian, nici o violare a principiului soluţiei celor două state, potrivit căreia Ierusalimul de Est poate fi în continuare, în urma unui acord final cu Israel, capitala unui stat palestinian. Aceasta este o recunoaştere a unei realităţi de facto, Ierusalimul a funcţionat drept capitală a statului evreu din anul 1949, centru al  Knesset-ului, al Reşedinţei Prim Ministrului şi al tuturor ministerelor. Decizia nu aduce nici o modificare liniilor de armistiţiu de la 1967, deci nu stabileşte linii de demarcaţii între cele două parţi ale Ierusalimului.

În procesul de recunoaştere al Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu, Preşedintele Klaus Iohannis trebuie sa coordoneze împreună cu liderul socialist Liviu Dragnea, şi diferiţi alţi decidenţi,  într-o manieră care să nu aducă prejudiciu relaţiilor bilaterale cu Israel, dialogului transatlantic şi care să preconizeze un liderat eficient al Preşedinţiei Consiliului.

De altfel, „consensul european“ vine de multe ori pe coridoarele de la Justus Lipsius cu costuri mari pentru cea de-a treia Europa, în timp ce angrenajul decizional prezintă toate caracteristicile unui mamut greoi lipsit de agilitatea necesară în epoca revoluţilor digitale.

În urmă cu aproape jumătate de secol, România a luat decizia curajoasă de a sfida ordinele blocului soviet şi de a menţine relaţiile bilaterale cu statul evreu asaltat în acel moment de armatele a  cinci state arabe vecine. Astăzi, României i s-a oferit încă odată oportunitatea de a lua o decizie care iese din tiparul prescripţiilor blocului comunitar şi de a-şi exprima suveranitatea prin mult aşteptata şi mult meritata recunoaştere a capitalei aliatului său Israel.

The article was published on Adevarul


2 French consulate staffers suspected of smuggling Hamas arms

French driver and Palestinian guard employed by the consulate in east Jerusalem arrested on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to transfer weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank.

Two employees of the French Consulate in east Jerusalem—a driver and his security guard—were arrested by Israeli authorities last month on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to smuggle weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday.

The consulate’s driver, Romain Franck, a French national, is suspected of using his diplomatic vehicle to transport some 70 handguns and two assault rifles.

A Palestinian guard employed by French authorities, a resident of east Jerusalem, was also arrested in the case, as well as several Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were staying in the West Bank illegally.

Franck was part of a Palestinian network in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem that smuggled weapons from Gaza to the West Bank through the Erez border crossing.

The French driver smuggled arms on several occasions over the past few months, while taking advantage of his diplomatic vehicle, which was subject to less stringent security checks at the crossing.

Franck received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of Gaza who works for the “French culture center” in the strip. Franck then took the arms to a Palestinian man in the West Bank, who in turn sold them to arms dealers.

The investigation found that Franck had a financial motive and was acting of his own volition and unbeknown to his superiors. The investigation also found that several of the Palestinians arrested in the case were also involved in the smuggling of money from Gaza to the West Bank.

The investigation was carried out in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and while keeping French authorities constantly updated.

A total of nine suspects have been arrested in the case so far. Indictments will be filed against six of them on Monday.

The French embassy in Israel said on Monday it was cooperating with Israel in the investigation. “We take very seriously this case … and we work very closely with the Israeli authorities on this matter,” said an embassy spokesman, who declined to comment further on the allegations against the staffer, a French citizen.

According to his Facebook page, Franck, who is from Lambersart in the north of France, arrived in Jerusalem in January 2017. “It’s the big day, starting to a new adventure.. Thank you for everything that accompanied me and supported in this new experience that begins!” he wrote at the time.

Later he posted many photos from the region, including from Petra and Aqaba in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Jordan Valley.

An Israeli official called the incident “very grave,” but clarified it would not affect Israel’s ties with France. “We thank French authorities for the cooperation,” he said.

A senior Shin Bet official decried the “cynical exploitation of the immunity and privileges granted to foreign representatives in Israel to smuggle weapons… that could be used in terror attacks against Israeli citizens and security forces.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, also slammed the “cynical and never-ending exploitation of humanitarian aid and international aid by the terrorist infrastructure.”

“This event only clarifies the need for a strict policy on granting (entry) permits,” he continued. “International bodies are required to carry out internal inspections to ensure aid goes to the residents of Gaza and not to terror.”

French lawmaker Meyer Habib, who represents French nationals living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said, “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first problematic affair the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been involved in. And even if only junior staff were involved, there is a feeling, unfortunately, that the consulate has actually become the French Embassy to the Palestinian Authority.”

The article was published on Ynet


Israeli killed in West Bank drive-by shooting near outpost

The victim had several wounds to his neck and upper body, and was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where doctors pronounced his death.

A resident of the Havat Gilad outpost in central Samaria was killed on Tuesday night close to his home, in a drive-by shooting attack on Route 60.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, a mohel, was married with six children, four daughters and two sons, ages 11 to eight months.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Magen David Adom received a report of the shooting and dispatched paramedics and an MDA team to the site of the attack. The victim had several wounds to his neck and upper body from a reported spray of 22 bullets, and was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.

The hospital said Shevach arrived without a pulse, was not breathing and showed no signs of life. Despite the efforts of the medical team, he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the hospital.

MDA paramedic Elyashiv Reichenberg, one of the first at the scene, said he was dispatched from nearby Kedumim.

“I saw a private vehicle at the side of the road close to the safety barrier which had been shot; the driver… was in the driver’s seat and semi-conscious with gunfire wounds to the upper body,” said Reichenberg.

“Civilians who live in the [Havat Gilad] settlement and heard the gunfire came to help, while the IDF medical assistance team, which also arrived at the site, gave him life-saving medical treatment and he was taken to hospital in serious condition.”

Channel 1 played a tape of a man, apparently in shock, calling police immediately after the attack saying, “They shot me, they shot me.”

Route 60 was closed following the incident and IDF units began searching the area for the attackers.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), who lives in Kedumim, was on Route 60 at the time of the shooting, and stopped and got out of his car to help at the site of the attack.

“Jewish blood is not cheap,” Smotrich declared following the incident. “This is an intolerable situation, when a subhuman comes to sow destruction,” he said, and called on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct the security services “to act with an iron fist” and to “clarify to the Palestinians that for every action like this they will pay a high price.”

Hananel Dorani, chairman of the Yesha Council, which represents Israeli settlements in the West Bank, said following the attack that “full and direct responsibility lies with the Palestinian Authority, which gives life to this terrorism and pays terrorists.”

Zionist Camp chairman Avi Gabbay had strong words for the terrorist.

“Rest assured that the security forces will catch the abominable terrorists and their agents. Wherever it is, terrorism will not achieve its goals and we will not surrender to it.”

Hamas issued a statement late Tuesday night praising the attack. “We bless the heroic Nablus operation which comes as a result of the Zionist occupation’s violations and crimes at the expense of our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

The article was published on The JPost


EIPA applauds Trump decision on Jerusalem

Europe Israel Public Affairs applauds the decision of US President Donald Trump to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

The move comes after more than two decades after the adoption by the US Congress of Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Every 6 months the sitting American President would sign a waiver from that bill.

President Trump opened his historical address stating “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done”

Czech Republic followed suit becoming the first EU country to break the bloc of Member States and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

EIPA Director Alex Benjamin observed that despite differences between EU and Israel over the 1967 imposed borders, and most vehemently over the settlements issue, more EU countries should consider acknowledging the de facto status of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. “We fail to see the reasons for High Representative Federica Mogherini ‘serious concerns’. The US announcement does not prejudge nor impose borders for Jerusalem, which are still subject to final status talks. It merely reflects the historical accuracy of the last five decades, during which Jerusalem functioned as Israel’s capital.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EIPA Founder added “Historical evidence attests our Jewish presence in Jerusalem dating way back to 3000 years ago. Jerusalem has always been our home. It is about time state leaders catch up with history and acknowledge this indisputable fact.”


Rivlin tells Spanish PM: ‘BDS must stop’

Rivlin meets with Spanish Prime Minister, calls on him to change how Spain votes in international forums such as UNESCO.

President Reuven Rivlin met today (Tuesday) with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajuez at the Prime Minister’s palace in Madrid.

Rajuez has been Prime Minister of Spain since December, 2011 and President of the People’s Party since 2004. The meeting was also attended by Minister Gila Gamliel, who accompanied the President’s entourage.

Citing the 30th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Israel and Spain, the President emphasized the special relations between the two countries and the historical roots of the relationship. The President thanked the Prime Minister for the reception and expressed his appreciation for the cooperation between Israel and Spain in various fields, stressing that Israel has a sincere desire to preserve and deepen existing ties both in the field of security and in the fields of economy and innovation.

“The secret of our relationship rests on a strong bond not only between states, but also between peoples,” the President said. “The historical family roots of many Israelis are to be found here.”

The President expressed his condolences for the terror that struck Spain last August, adding that the entire free world must join forces to ensure the eradication of terrorism: “Terrorism and religious extremism are a global and tangible threat that affect us all. Unfortunately, we have experience in the field and are willing to contribute by all means available to us in order to combat this phenomenon.”

The President spoke to the Prime Minister about the government’s stance against the boycott campaign, saying that the campaign was “tainted by anti-Semitic elements.” He also asked the Prime Minister to promote legislation in order to prevent similar steps in the future. “BDS must stop,” the President continued. “It is permitted to protest but it’s forbidden to cross the line into boycotts.”

In this context, President Rivlin said that that Israel would be pleased to see Spain change its voting pattern in international forums in a way that would reflect the good bilateral relations between the two countries. “There are decisions taken in international forums that constitute a violation of integrity and intelligent thought.”

“I want to remind you,” said the President, “that the King of Spain is also called the King of Jerusalem and to be a part of UNESCO and say that there is no connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people is not only ignorance, it is an affront to intellectual integrity. I therefore ask you to make sure that you are not taking part in decisions that result from irrelevant political struggles.”

The President and the Prime Minister discussed at length the regional situation in the Middle East. The President stressed that Iran is a subversive element leading to the establishment of a Shiite axis in Syria and the entire Middle East, in an attempt to exploit the crises in the region. “The State of Israel closely follows the growing Iranian presence in Syria and operates according to the clear red lines that we have defined.”

On this issue, the President stressed, “The terror that Iran exports is a threat to the entire world,” and explained that the Iranian hold on Yemen with the Houtis and through them could lead to damage to international trade routes, which could be very damaging to Europe as well.

As for the nuclear deal, the President told the Prime Minister that Israel and the Western world can not allow a country like Iran that supports terror and calls on the UN to destroy Israel to have nuclear capabilities and stressed to the Spanish Prime Minister: “We must work together to prevent this at all costs. The current agreement does not benefit either Israel or Europe, and even endangers the security and stability of the region,” the President said, adding personally to the Spanish Prime Minister that if the agreement does not change: “We must ensure strict adherence to all parts of the agreement and even try to improve it, alongside plans for the day after its expiration.”

After the meeting, a cooperation agreement was signed in the presence of the President and the Spanish Prime Minister, renewing the historic agreement signed between the two countries for the first time in 1987. The agreement was signed by the Israeli and Spanish ambassadors, and includes cooperation in various fields and mutual recognition in the subjects of education and cultural science as well as mutual scholarships for students and lecturers. The agreement also includes a declaration of intentions for joint work on education against racism and antisemitism as well as education on the Holocaust.

 

The article was published on Arutz 7 website


NETANYAHU TO ATTEND CENTRAL EUROPEAN SUMMIT

Jerusalem continues outreach to subregional groups.

Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Budapest next month for a meeting with the heads of the four central European countries that make up the Visegrad group, as Israel continues to try to build relationships with various regional subgroupings around the world.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with the heads of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the summit on July 18-19.

This visit will come less than a month after Netanyahu met with the heads of Cyprus and Greece in Thessaloniki, with Israel having developed a close alliance with those EU countries. And in early May, Netanyahu went to Liberia to take part in a summit there of 15 West African states.

With Jerusalem’s relationship with the European Union often strained because of the Palestinian issue and the desire of some key voices in Brussels to link development of ties to that issue, Israel has adopted a policy of forging close ties with specific countries or groupings of countries inside the EU who are more sympathetic to Israel’s position and are also interested in having close bilateral relations.

For instance, the energy issue has bound Israel much closer to Cyprus and Greece, and the Visegrad countries find themselves interested in forging closer ties because of economic, security and energy issues as well. These countries forums, as well as inside discussions in EU institutions in Brussels.

The same dynamic is at work in Africa. With Israel having been boxed out of any formal status in the African Union, largely because of the opposition of South Africa and the Arab North African countries, it has made inroads instead with African organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States, or even ad hoc groupings, as Netanyahu did last July when he met the leaders of seven East African countries.

Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli prime minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the Visegrad countries, as well as a joint meeting as well.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was in Israel in May. The V4, as the Visegrad group is known, is a political and cultural alliance aimed at facilitating the integration of the four countries in European and Euro-Atlantic structures.

Szijjarto told the Hungarian news agency MTI when he was in Israel that the three most important aspects of economic cooperation with Israel were in the areas of automobile navigation, water management and energy.

“The automobile industry provides the backbone of the Hungarian economy, and the future development of this sector of industry fundamentally determines the growth of the Hungarian economy,” Szijjarto highlighted.

Close cooperation with Israel could make Hungary the European center for the testing and development of self-driven vehicles, he said.

“Based on the buying up of certain companies, it has become clear that Israel will be one of the global centers for the development of [autonomous vehicles]. Israeli company NavNGo is one of the Hungarian government’s strategic partners, employs hundreds of GPS software engineers in Hungary and is one of the world leaders within the field of developing such software, and plays an extremely important role in making self-driven cars a reality,” he said.

Audi, Opel and Suzuki exports make up a huge percentage of the country’s overall exports, and Europe’s largest engine manufacturing plant is located in the country.

With regard to energy, the foreign minister – referring to Israel’s offshore operations – said: “Israel’s natural gas deposits could play a significant role in the energy security of Europe and Hungary. If extraction begins according to schedule in 2019-20, Hungary will have an interest in purchasing gas [either via a pipeline or in the form of liquefied natural gas] in view of the fact that we would like to purchase natural gas form as many sources as possible.”

The article was published on The Jerusalem Post


Intel’s Mobileye Deal Marks Israel as Autonomous Tech Hub

Israel’s emergence as a center for automotive technology got a vote of confidence on Monday when Intel Corp. said it would pay $15 billion for Mobileye NV, a Jerusalem-based maker of chips and software for driverless cars. It will be the largest takeover of an Israeli tech firm and follows a series of deals and partnerships inked in recent years by major tech and auto companies.

“The deal proves in a dramatic manner that our vision is coming true. Israel is becoming a global technology center, not only in cyber, but also in the automotive area,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. Israel had already singled out the automotive technology sector as a possible economic boon, allotting it 250 million shekels ($68 million) for the next five years.

At least five major car manufacturers have made investments in Israel. Ford Motor Co.bought computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS AC in August and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG invested in transit app Moovit in 2015. Daimler AG and General Motors Co. have also opened research and development centers in the country.

The Mobileye deal went far beyond the $4.7 billion sale of fiber-optic company Chromatis Networks Inc. to Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2000, which was the country’s biggest tech deal before Mobileye. Founders Ziv Aviram, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman Amnon Shashua, will share just under $1 billion from the sale, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Dec. 31. Shmuel Harlap, the largest shareholder, will make $1 billion, according to Bloomberg data as of April 1, 2016.

Netanyahu’s Director General Eli Groner said the autonomous tech sector could potentially boost economic growth by 50 percent.

Fast Track

Israel is not renowned for its car-making industry, once turning out fiberglass-shelled cars that were briefly popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the country is now benefiting from the automobile industry’s increasing focus on software rather than hardware.

In Israel, the automotive technology sector currently counts about 350 startups, according to industry monitor IVC Research Center, with the potential, according to Gruner, to grow bigger than the cybersecurity industry, which drew 15 percent of global capital raised by the sector in 2016, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that promotes Israel startups.

Argus Cyber Security, based in Tel Aviv, in January announced a partnership with Qualcomm Technologies to protect cars from hackers. Otonomo Technologies Inc., a data platform that tells users when to stop driving due to a malfunction and can call emergency services when there is an accident, is working with nine car manufacturers, including Daimler. Aquarius Engines, which has designed and developed an engine to generate electric power, is working with Peugeot SA and three other automobile companies.

Gal Fridman, chairman and chief marketing officer of Aquarius Engines, said the deal “definitely makes our lives easier.”

“It validates Israel’s ability in technology in the automotive industry, traditionally American and German and not at all Israeli,” Fridman said. “Mobileye has dramatically helped us open the door wider into this industry.”

The autonomous sector is expanding even as Israel’s tech sector suffers from growing pains. Although the country’s tech industry grew faster than gross domestic product nearly every year between 1998 to 2009, in the five years following it surpassed national growth only once, in 2012. The Finance Ministry acknowledged in a report last year that the industry that fueled Israel’s economy for the past two decades was stagnating.

Mobileye has also had its issues. Last year, Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla Inc.stopped using Mobileye’s systems and the two companies argued publicly about the breakup.

After the Mobileye acquisition was announced, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who have been reducing corporate taxes, announced they would consider further cuts.

“We view this deal as an indication that the more attractive Israel is for foreign investors, the more tax revenue we will generate,” Groner said in a phone interview.

Tax breaks are already part of the government’s program to encourage global technology companies to do more research and development in Israel as other countries vie for companies like Intel to put down roots on their soil.

“The deal will increase the attention and funding for the already burgeoning Israeli cohort of next generation autonomous driving technology startups,” said Jon Medved, founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Jerusalem.

The Article was published on Bloomberg.com on the 14th of March 2017.


A victory in self-deception

The Palestinian ‘narrative’ has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. But it’s not a victory; it’s actually a defeat. The addiction to lies does not change reality or solve any problem—it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace.

Dr. Omar Jaara of An-Najah University appeared on Palestinian television four years ago and said that Moses had led the Muslims out of Egypt and that the subsequent Israeli conquest of the land was “the first case of a Palestinian liberation through an armed struggle.” He attributed the battle between David and Goliath to the Palestinians as well.

For a moment, it seemed like a satire program, but it was completely serious. “This is our logic, and this is our culture,” Jaara explained in the interview, which was recorded by Palestinian Media Watch.

Four years have passed and the historian is celebrating. The Palestinian “narrative” has scored another victory, this time at UNESCO. Allegedly, this not just a victory but an overwhelming victory: Although Brazil and Mexico expressed reservations over the resolution on Tuesday, there was no new vote, and the decision remained unchanged. The Palestinians even managed to convince Christian countries, as Israeli diplomat George Deek tweeted, to adopt a resolution which means that “Jesus was a liar.”

There is no big surprise here. After all, we are living in the era of narratives, which is the post-factual era. It possible that in a year or two, UNESCO or another international organization will adopt a resolution confirming Jaara’s narrative about the Exodus from Egypt.

But it’s not a victory. It’s actually a defeat. If we wish to know why the Palestinians remain in their grim situation, this self-deception is one of the reasons, and the international support they receive only worsens it. It’s not just happening in international bodies with a majority of dark states. The Palestinians are enchanting, or terrorizing, the academia in the free world, to the point that most of its members have become loyal servants of the Palestinian lie—sorry, the narrative. They are slowly succeeding in turning the Palestinian Nakba into a pivotal, unique event, an ultimate crime, although tens of millions of people have experienced worse cases of expulsion and uprooting. They receive almost absolute support in most leading newspapers in the free world. Nevertheless, they believe the Jews control the academia and the global media.

It’s not that the Palestinian propaganda is sinking into an abyss of self-deception and illusions on its own. The problem is that this propaganda has become the leading motif not just in institutions with a dark majority, that it has been adopted—or is being encouraged —by an absolute majority of “human rights organizations” in the West. They are always on the Palestinian side, and this support is mainly racism. Because they think the Palestinians can get away with it.

The addiction to lies does not change reality and does not solve any problem. On the contrary, it pushes away the chance for reconciliation or peace. It perpetuates Palestinian suffering. It should be mentioned that in Lebanon, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who can only dream about the standard of living of the Palestinians in the West Bank. For decades, they have been suffering from deep discrimination enforced by law, but no one cares about them. No one is fighting for their rights. There has not been a single UN discussion about them.

The leading Palestinian principle is: We’ll make every effort to harm Israel, but we won’t make any effort to improve our situation. In practice, they are not really harming Israel; they are harming themselves. After all, the UNESCO resolution does not really help the Palestinians; it just makes them feel that they have scored some virtual, empty victory.

All this should not lead to the conclusion that Israel can rest on its laurels. Far from it. The fact that the Palestinians are engaged in self-deception does not call for another freeze or another outpost or another acre. Because we also have people who see it as a victory, and that is self-deception as well. The Palestinians are in over their heads. We should look at what is happening to them so that it won’t happen to us too.

The Op-Ed was written byBen-Dror Yemini and was published on Ynet on the 19th of October 2016


MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD ON CRAZY UNESCO DECISION WITH #Jerusalem4every1

Judaism’s clear ties to the holy city of Jerusalem that span thousands of years were airbrushed out of history by a frankly baffling and crazy decision by UNESCO on Thursday.

The resolution from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, heavily criticized Israel’s actions toward holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The resolution omitted the Jewish name for a shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims. Instead, it referred to what Jews call the Temple Mount as the Haram Al-Sharif, as it is known to Muslims.

The draft resolution, submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, will be referred to UNESCO’s executive board for formal approval next week.

Twenty-four countries voted in favor of the proposal: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam.

Six countries voted against it: Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.

While 26 countries abstained from the vote: Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and Nevis, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Ukraine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision to adopt the resolution, saying “The theatre of the absurd continues with UNESCO and today the organization has made its most bizarre decision by saying the people of Israel have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.”

“Obviously they have never read the Bible,” he continued, “but I would advise UNESCO members to visit the Arch of Titus in Rome, where they can see what the Romans brought to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Temple Mount two thousand years ago. One can see engraved on the arch the seven-branched menorah, which is the symbol of the Jewish people as well as the symbol of the Jewish State today.”

Both American presidential candidates slammed the move too this morning.

At the time of writing, EIPA is mobilizing support and urging Members of the European Parliament and supporters everywhere to take to social media and tweet a message of disgust using this hashtag:

#Jerusalem4every1

 and linking it to @EIPA @UNESCO

Together in the week ahead we hope to generate enough support to have this draft resolution thrown into the bin where it deserves to be

Thank you for your ongoing support. Get onto social media.

jews-praying-at-the-western-wall-israel-jerusalem-photo-bonfilsswns-com-3


EU is shamefully ignoring number one Israeli concern: Security

Europe’s media are rightly focussed on the despicable Islamist stabbing attack in Munich this morning that has left one dead and three injured.

So most Europeans will have undoubtedly missed that in Jerusalem, also this morning, two 80 year old women were stabbed in the back whilst out for a morning stroll by Palestinian assailants who fled the scene and went back to East Jerusalem.

Two 80 year old women. Probably grandmothers. About as much threat to anyone as a feather duster.

Shlomi Tedegi, a medic, described the scene of the attack: “In an area adjacent to the promenade we saw two approximately 80-year-old elderly women lying in the dirt. They were fully conscious and suffering from stab wounds, one in the extremities and her upper body and the second in her upper body.”

Meanwhile in Gaza, the Israeli defence forces keep uncovering fresh terror tunnels, and large amounts of chemicals used to propel rockets.

Starting tonight, Israel marks Yom HaZikaron, the remembrance day for all the soldiers who have fallen in defence of the country, from 1948, 1967, 1973, two Lebanon wars and all the attacks and skirmishes in between, as well as remembering the 23,447     Israeli citizens murdered to date by terrorists. It is rare to meet a single Israeli whose family circle or whose friends haven’t been touched someway by terrorism, or a loss of a loved one on active duty. This remembrance day is not harking back to a bygone age, it reflects every day reality and the price that Israel pays for simply existing. The numbers go up every year.

The number one overarching concern for Israeli citizens, wherever they are, is security. They want the freedom that most of us enjoy in Europe, despite the recent terror attacks: to live a life without concern that you may be stabbed, blown up on a bus, your house hit by a rocket or just randomly targeted to be shot whether you are a boy, girl, man, woman, pensioner, whatever.

Events in Munich, and the threat of Munich – and much worse besides – is the daily reality for Israeli citizens.

And sadly, shamefully, it is being massively overlooked by the EU. Who prefer to hold debates about settlements, and later today in Strasbourg about demolitions of illegal Palestinian buildings in Area C.

Tonight’s debate in the European Parliament, where EEAS Chief Federica Mogherini will speak too, is symptomatic of this myopia and, to be brutally honest, total lack of regard for Israeli security.

There is a simple and perhaps inconvenient truth that the EU must digest: The Palestinian population is currently completely unprepared for peace. They are fed from birth with a steady and unrelenting diatribe of hatred for Jews and Israelis.  They are incited to stab, murder and maim. Most cannot even countenance the existence of the State of Israel. As one Israeli academic and thinker once noted “Even if we were to move all of Israel into a small apartment in Tel Aviv, it would be too much for them”.

Taking all of the above into consideration and in the absence of any concerted EU effort to tackle this ongoing and daily incitement, this raw and unbridled hatred that saw two stabbed 80 year olds lying in the dirt; we would respectfully ask any European citizen if they would want unchecked and illegal construction of homes by people who seek their and their family’s destruction within rocket reach of their own homes, cities, villages or hamlets?

We think the answer would be a resounding no.

So why must it be imposed on Israeli citizens? Something for all of us to think about as MEPs and Mrs Mogherini gather this evening to discuss demolitions of illegal buildings that they support through EU taxpayer funded programmes.

69948370971891640360no

This Article was written by our executive director , Alex Benjamin and was published on The Times of Israel


Comical Abbas?

Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.

But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.

Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.

People on both sides are dying because of it.

This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.

Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.

A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.

What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.

13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.

As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.

Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.

Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.

One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.

But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.58.57 PMExcept nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.

Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.

And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.

Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA