Preliminary police investigation shows that some attendees at festivities on Mount Meron had slipped on the steps, creating a ‘human avalanche’ that crushed members of the crowd; police say all wounded had been evacuated to hospitals
It was our great pleasure to have senior fellow at the Institute’s Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-
Israel Strategic Relationship, MR. GHAITH AL-OMARI with us in a special webinar we have organised for politicians and diplomats from all over Europe and the US.
Mr Al Omari was taking us through the diferent possible scenarios in the future of the Middle East under the new administration in the US.
We were delighted with our partners at the EJA, ECJS and Concert to welcome Young Pro-Jewish and Pro-Israel activists in Madrid this week for our fourth intensive “bootcamp”.
We met at a challenging time for European Jewry with rising anti-semitism and with anti-Zionism becoming more commonplace.
On the agenda for over 40 participants from Every corner of the continent at this fourth Bootcamp were New challenges for Jewish life in Europe, ICC decision to investigate Israel for war crimes, A changed Middle East – Normalisation of Relations with Israel Arab and Social Media as tool for change.
With inspiring speakers and an upbeat message that we can all enact change and influence, the Bootcamp was a welcome relief from The current pandemic difficulties despite the health restrictions in place.
Opinion: While seems public dissatisfaction with the state of the country is rising, factual data proves that not only are we stronger and more prosperous than ever and we are able to overcome any political crisis
There is no point in denying that after four consecutive election rounds in two years, the atmosphere in the country is tough and even irritating.
And while the public discourse, as filled with discontent as it is, paints a seemingly gloomy picture, the people of Israel are actually pretty pleased with their country – as they should be.
This is not due to blind optimism spurred by the festivities of the 73rd Independence Day. No, it is an actual fact solidified by concrete data.
Israel is placed fourth among OECD countries in the sphere of healthcare. And while the average happiness index score among OECD countries is hovering around 6.5 out of 10, in Israel the score is 8.5.
Indeed, the people of Israel are stronger than the eroding influence of its political system.
And while the voices of discontent among Israelis are indeed loud, they do not, in fact, represent the majority.
Israel’s Gini index – a measure of the distribution of income across a population – reached a 20-year low in 2018, which means inequality gap is narrowing.
That is without mentioning the fact that Israel is ranked fifth in the world in intergenerational mobility – which means that an individual’s wellbeing is less dependent on the socioeconomic status of his or her parents. In that respect, we have beaten countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Germany and Japan.
According to one survey, however, as least 48% of Israelis are considering emigrating to another country. In reality though, Israelis tend to emigrate much less, at least compared to other OECD countries.
In fact, emigration from Israel has declined. In 1990, according to a study by Uri Altman, the rate of those leaving Israel was 5.3 people per 1,000. After about a decade, it dropped to 4.2 per 1,000 and by 2017 it stood at about 1.6 per 1,000.
It seems that despite warnings about people leaving the country en mass, the majority of Israelis have actually decided to put down roots in the Jewish State.
There is, of course, also talk about how Israel’s democracy is being eroded. But this argument has been reduced to nothing but a flimsy conjecture according the not-so Zionist “The Economist” weekly newspaper, which ranked Israel 27th in its Democracy Index (the highest Israel has ever been ranked).
Israel’s media as a whole is mostly preoccupied with criticizing the country’s politics as well as its politicians and that’s Democracy at its finest. The day the media praises the country’s leadership is the day we should all be worried.
And while criticism is an important part of change and growth, we must remember to zoom out once in a while to see the bigger picture.
Independence Day is the perfect day to do exactly that. To look back at where we started, be amazed at the changes and progress we’ve made throughout these 73 years.
Now, of all days, is the time to be a proud Israeli.
To those of you who sat up all night like we did, a fraternal tip of the hat. To those of you that didn’t, we don’t blame you. In either case, here are the very latest figures:
According to the updated seat map as of now (9.30 am, Wednesday): Likud gets 30 seats; Yesh Atid 17; Shas 9; Blue and White 8; Labor 7; Yamina 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 7; Joint List 6; Religious Zionism 6; New Hope 6; Meretz 5; and Ra’am 5.
What does all that mean? In our previous pre-poll newsletter we said that this election had little to do with political ideology but whether you were for Prime Minister or against him.
And we also said that Naftali Bennett and his Yamina Party could be the Kingmakers.
Well, we didn’t do too badly, but on the second it wasn’t so clear.
Let’s analyse a bit. Using our ‘visceral’ metric of pro-Bibi or anti-Bibi blocs, the pro bloc appears to have secured 52 seats, the anti 56. That leaves Yamina with 7 and Ra’am – an Arab Party – with 5. To remind you, the magic number for forming a government is 61 seats (there are 120 seats in the Knesset). So, even if Yamina went into the pro-Bloc (which is not certain given the mercurial qualities of both Bennett and Ayelet Shaked), that still leaves the pro-bloc short (as we can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that Ra’am would find it difficult to join this bloc for a myriad of reasons).
Arguably the arithmetic looks slightly more favourable for the Anti-Bloc, but Yamina – a right-wing party, would find itself in coalition with very strange bed-fellows ideologically. This is less complicated for Ra’am, but taking Yamina out of the equation, that bloc stops short too.
Still with us? Good. Let’s summarise this as follows, what the Israeli electorate did (whose turnout dropped down from 70 to 67% this time around compared to last), was take an already fiendishly complicated Ravensburger puzzle, throw it in the air and say to the political parties “You put it back together again”.
That is no easy task. The result, in short, is as divided as the electorate. Whilst there will be lots of noise in the next few days and possibly weeks ahead, reaching 61 at present look intractable for either bloc.
But, and this is important, there are around 400,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, which is much higher than usual given the Covid pandemic. We should know more about these votes by Friday…
Right now the question on everyone’s lips is “Fifth time lucky?” It is certainly looking this morning like the puzzle might need one more toss to see if the pieces can be put together.
Central Election Committee says the turnout at hospitals and coronavirus has so far been extremely low despite praise from the patients, who thank hospitals’ staff for helping them exercise their democratic right
Millions of Israelis headed to the polls on Tuesday in the country’s fourth election in two years, but special arrangements had to be made in order to accommodate patients hospitalized in coronavirus wards across Israel and allow them to exercise their right.
Israelis began voting at 7am, with exit polls expected at 10pm, when polling stations close. By 12pm, 25.4% of Israelis cast their votes, much lower than the same figure reported during the previous national vote.
In order to avoid the spread of infection, the Central Election Committee had instructed the hospitals ahead of Election Day on how to stage the vote at their respective coronavirus wards, which includes setting up dedicated polling stations.
As per the committee’s instructions, the staff in these mobile stations – made up of various hospital employees – must be Green Pass holders and must be required to wear full protective gear throughout the Election Day.
In addition, members of the election committee will watch the voting process in these wards through closed-circuit screens, in order to verify the integrity of the unusual voting process.
“I’m saluting them for bringing the ballot boxes to us,” said 45-year-old coronavirus patient, Jalal
Masrawa, who cast his vote at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. “The staff members came into my room and asked me if I wanted to vote, I told them I did, showed them my ID and voted. There’s a good team that saw to it that patients could vote as well,” Masrawa added.
“I am very happy the patients are being given the chance to fulfill this important democratic duty,” said Dr. Tatiana Mikhalov, director of Hillel Yaffe Medical Center’s coronavirus ward. “The logistics are very complex, and I applaud the hospital staff who enlisted for this important mission.”
The dedicated polling stations are also open to inpatients from other wards, as well as hospital staff who cannot go out and vote due to their job.
“The voting process is working well,” said Shavi Shmelo, vice president of human resources at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital. “In our coronavirus ward, three people have so far voted. In past elections, around 1,100 people voted at Ichilov. So far, I think our voting trend looks promising.”
At Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, four polling stations have been set up, one of which intended for coronavirus patients only.
The first in line to vote there was 29-year-old Ismail Bahuti, who contracted coronavirus after receiving the first vaccine shot. The second in line was 80-year-old Allegra Israel from Haifa. Surprisingly, she arrived at the ballot box with a Green Pass. She said she had contracted the virus and became ill despite being fully vaccinated.
Despite the praise from the hospital staff and patients for their efforts to enable those confined in coronavirus wards to vote, the Central Election Committee said the number of actual voters in these dedicated polling stations is still very low, and are therefore calling on all those who have yet to cast their votes to do so.
Palestinians on receiving the coronavirus vaccines needed to be able to cross and work in Israel.
Edelstein then traveled to the nearby city of Ariel to inaugurate another vaccination center with Mayor Eli Shaviro.
Israel, Austria and Denmark said on Thursday they would set up a joint research and development fund and possibly production facilities for COVID-19 vaccines to ensure they had long-term supplies for booster shots or to contend with virus mutations.
European Union members Austria and Denmark have been chafing at delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines within here 27-member bloc that have left it trailing far behind Israel’s world-beating vaccination campaign.
After hosting his Austrian and Danish counterparts for talks and a tour of an Israeli gym open to those documented as having been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 with presumed immunity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the pact.
“Once we get over this cycle of the disease we have no guarantee that it won’t come back. We don’t know how long – nobody knows – how long these vaccines will hold up,” he said at a joint news conference. “And therefore we have to protect our people against the reemergence of this pandemic or mutations.”
Austria’s Sebastian Kurz said he was “very happy” about an EU vaccine initiative “but we also need to cooperate worldwide”.
The European Commission has said member states were free to strike separate deals should they wish to.
The trilateral pact, Kurz said, would include investment in production plants in Europe and Israel, and each country contributing where it best can to the manufacturing cycle.
“In Austria, for example, lipid production necessary for many vaccines is already taking place,” the chancellor said.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country was looking to expand its production capacity. “We would like in common also to explore possible cooperation on clinical trials” with Israel and Austria, she said.
Netanyahu, who said 90% of eligible Israelis have either received at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or recovered from the virus, has made the programme a showcase of his campaign for a March 23 election.
“We will be, together, ‘Vaccination Nations’,” he said of the deal with Austria and Denmark. “And we agreed that if other nations want to join us, we will discuss this among ourselves and welcome others to come in as well.”
A month and a half after launching its world-leading coronavirus vaccination campaign, the Jewish state allows all its citizens aged 16 and over to get vaccinated against the pathogen, having already vaccinated 3.3 million citizens with the first vaccine dose and 1.9 million with the second booster shot
So far, the Jewish state has only allowed Israelis over the age of 35 to get the vaccine, later adding high school students between the ages of 16–18 to enable them to attend their matriculation exams later in the year.
Clalit Health Services CEO Ehud Davidson congratulated on the expansion of the country’s inoculation campaign and joined Edelstein’s call.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel will begin gradually lifting lockdown restrictions next week while urging citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more infectious British variant of the disease spreads nationwide.
Meanwhile, the government is scheduled to meet later on Thursday to discuss extending the nationwide lockdown and an exit strategy.
Blue & White will demand lifting restrictions starting Friday morning.
Israel welcomed the publication of the ‘Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism’ by the European Commission as “a highly important document” that will help combat anti-Semitism on the Continent.
Israel welcomed the publication of the ‘Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism’ by the European Commission as “a highly important document” that will help combat anti-Semitism on the Continent.
The document was commissioned by the European Commission and published jointly with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), with support from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Lior Haiat, the spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated Sunday that Israel expresses its appreciation to Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life, her team, and to the European Commission for “the uncompromising commitment to fight against the ugly and dangerous phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which is only growing.”
“The Handbook is a highly important document that will assist in supporting the implementation of the IHRA definition as a central instrument in the fight against anti-Semitism,” he added.
The IHRA has 34 member countries and seven observer countries. Acceptance to the IHRA depends on the counties’ adherence to the Stockholm Declaration on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research of January 28, 2000, as well as several other conditions.
Several countries adopted the IHRA definition in 2020, including Muslim countries for the first time, Bahrain and Albania, and Muslim institutions, the Global Council of Imams and King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence.
The IHRA adopted in 2016 the working-definition of anti-Semitism, according to which anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The IHRA states that anti-Semitic examples include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and leveling accusations against Jewish citizens of various countries that they are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.
The United Kingdom, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova, Macedonia, the US, Greece, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Holland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxemburg, France, Cyprus, Italy, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Serbia and Argentina, Kosovo, Albania and Spain are all members.
The IHRA working definition for anti-Semitism, while not legally binding, has become a widely used tool around the world to educate people about anti-Semitism, as well as recognize and counter its manifestations.
Based on the comprehensive research carried out by the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, the newly published handbook provides an overview of good practices by international organizations, national administrations, civil society and Jewish communities from across Europe.
The European Commission Vice President for “Protecting our European Way of Life” Margaritis Schinas stated that “we need to fight anti-Semitism whenever we encounter it. Jewish life is part of our societies and we are determined to protect it.”
“The handbook will become another valuable tool for Member States to effectively implement the landmark Council Declaration on combating antisemitism,” he added.
DUBAI: Israel has appointed Eitan Naeh to set up a temporary mission in the United Arab Emirates, newspaper The Times of Israel reported.
The news of Naeh’s appointment was first carried by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster. The diplomat served as an ambassador in Turkey from 2016 until 2018, when he was expelled by Ankara.
He will be the first Israeli to receive a full diplomatic status in the UAE and his temporary mission will help establish a permanent embassy.
The UAE and Bahrain in August became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to normalize relations and establish formal ties with Israel. The “Abraham Accords” were brokered by US President Donald Trump and signed during a ceremony at the White House.
Security forces alerted after Esther Horgan fails to return home from jog on Sunday evening near her home in settlement of Tal Menashe; her body found with marks of violent attack; manhunt launched to find perpetrator
“A full life of wonderful works, of home and family, of creativity and care have been cut short by a beast in human guise. I have full faith that our security forces will get to the despicable murders and that justice will be done. I embrace Esther’s family, her children and their father. We are with you in this time of such deep grief.”
Medical personnel to be vaccinated first, with general population possibly facing winter with no immunization
Israel is expected to receive up to half a million doses of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine against the coronavirus as early as December, one month earlier than originally hoped for, Channel 12 reported Monday.
According to the unsourced report, the country would receive anywhere between 200,000 and 500,000 doses of the vaccine and will devote them primarily to those working in the medical field, while the general population would not be vaccinated this winter.
The report also quoted a senior Health Ministry official as saying that the early arrival of the vaccine would have a “positive” effect on Israel’s battle against COVID-19 this winter.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had signed a deal with Pfizer to purchase coronavirus vaccine shots, days after the US pharmaceutical firm said data suggested its vaccine was 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.
As part of the agreement with Pfizer, Netanyahu said Israel would receive 8 million doses of the vaccine, enough to inoculate 4 million Israelis. Netanyahu expressed hope that Pfizer would begin supplying the vaccine in January, pending authorization from health officials in the United States and Israel.
Last Friday, Pfizer announced that it was asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could end in limited first shots being administered as early as next month.
The request came days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech updated its data on the effectiveness of the vaccine, announcing that it appeared to be 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19.
Pursuing another avenue to procure vaccines, Netanyahu announced Friday that Israel was also close to signing a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase “millions” of doses of its vaccine.
If signed, it would be the third deal signed by Israel to receive vaccinations, following similar deals with Pfizer and Moderna. Israel has also been in talks with Russia to receive its Sputnik V vaccine, though some experts have questioned its opaque certification process.
However, none of the deals guarantees a deadline for the arrival of the vaccines, and with mass global demand, it is still not clear how many doses Israel will get, and when.
Israel has also been working on a home-grown vaccine, though it is currently only in phase 1 trials and its development is expected to take months longer than the foreign candidates. Channel 12 reported Friday that it will likely be available to the public this summer.
The November, 2020 American elections are viewed as the most consequential in a generation.
It was our great pleasure to have Senior Vice President for Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, DR. JONATHAN SCHANZER with us in a special webinar we have organised for politicians and diplomats from all over Europe and the US.
Ambassador Shapiro was taking us through the way this Presidential election will frame America’s foreign policy in the next 4 years and the way the changes in Congress will help set the tone in Washington
In no time in recent memory has the Middle East regionseen such transformative strategic and diplomatic news.
It was our great pleasure to have U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro with us in a special webinar we have organised for politicians and diplomats from all over Europe and the US.
Ambassador Shapiro was taking us through the changing Middle East, provided an in-depth briefing to the recent actions by the Gulf states, the possible future in Iran nuclear file and US elections possible affects on the foreign policy in the MENA region.
We were delighted with our partners at the ECJS to welcome Young Pro-Jewish and Pro-Israel activists in Rome this week for our third intensive two day “bootcamp”.
We met at a challenging time for European Jewry with rising anti-semitism and with anti-Zionism becoming more commonplace.
On the agenda for the over 30 participants from Every corner of the continent at this third Bootcamp were two major challenges – How Jews can reclaim the narrative of human and civil rights from those that conflate Palestinian issued into other social movements, and Lawfare, How to properly and accurately reflect international law when discussing Israel.
With inspiring speakers and an upbeat message that we can all enact change and influence, the Bootcamp was a welcome relief from The current pandemic difficulties despite the health restrictions in place.
It is fair to say that the American peace plan has caused a stir in diplomatic circles with a lot of heat but not much light being shed on the subject. With this in mind we were delighted an honoured to host the Honorable Jason Greenblatt, the principle architect of the plan, former White House special envoy for the Middle East and former adviser to President Trump to brief the European diplomatic corps in Brussels, Washington and Israel on the actual mechanics of the deal how it came about and what it contains in detail.
Our webinar was very well attended with 23 out of the EU 27 countries in attendance.
The consignment of lung ventilators, presented by Ambassador Daniel Meron, arrived in Prague from Israel on Friday
Analysis: Both candidates are committed to Israel’s security, but will act differently; Biden is unlikely to reverse recognition of Jerusalem but will likely reinstate settlement policies, while Trump could flip on Iran if he sees chance for deal
A trial of the test last month involving some 400 people at Sheba showed about 95% accuracy.
The foreign minister pressed Germany to prevent Iranian arms embargo from running down in October
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi flew to Berlin Wednesday on his first official visit overseas where he is set to meet with his EU counterparts.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas invited Ashkenazi to Thursday’s conference of EU foreign ministers.
Shortly after his arrival, Ashkenazi met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him for his country’s stance in designating the entirety of Hezbollah – both the political and military wing – as a terrorist organization.
In addition to updating the president on the recent deal to normalize ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Ashkenazi also implored Germany’s head of state to prevent the United Nations’ arms embargo against Iran from running down in October.
Ashkenazi spoke at a ceremony at “Platform 17 in Berlin’s Grunewald Station, where there is a memorial marking Nazi Germany’s deportation of more than 55,000 Jews. He was joined by Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and representatives of the German Jewish community,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
“I stand here as the foreign minister of the government of Israel and the former IDF chief of staff,” Ashkenazi said. “Jews will never again be sent to their death because they are Jewish. Never again.”
The foreign minister will visit Wannsee, the villa in a Berlin suburb where the architects of the Nazi “Final solution” met – under the direction of Reinhardt Heydrich – to iron out details for the attempted slaughter of Europe’s 11 million Jews.
The article was published on the i24
In-depth: Agreement between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem comes as little surprise to those closely following the nuances of Mideast politics, with Trump almost single-mindedly pushing deal without resolution first to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Secret talks and quiet ties: That’s what paved the way for last week’s deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize relations.
From an Austrian Member of Parliament: The EU could play a supporting role – recognizing Israeli concerns, and encouraging Palestinian compromise
Regarding the Middle East, the EU has so far played the role of the two old men in the “Muppet Show”: observing the course of events from the box and bitching about it. The Europeans could do well as mediators though.
The United States presented the Trump Peace Plan a few months ago to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The new Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu is preparing to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank based on this plan. In these developments, the European Union have so far only been grumpy bystanders. But Europe could become a player in the Middle East again. Here’s how.
First, a sober inventory should be taken: the Middle East is and remains an immediate neighborhood region of Europe. Events there can quickly have an impact on Europe — see the refugee crisis of 2015. Therefore we cannot be indifferent to what is happening there.
Second, the EU has not made a constructive contribution to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for many years. The engagement usually ends with a condemnation of Israel. Financial support for the Palestinians to maintain the — actually undesirable — status quo continues. What remains is the ritualized lip service to a (not defined) two-state solution.
Third, it should also be noted in the EU that the status of the West Bank under international law is not that clear. The last legal sovereign was Britain. When the United Kingdom ended the League of Nations’ mandate in 1948, Jordan occupied the West Bank, without any legal claim, and held it until the Six Day War in 1967 without establishing a Palestinian state there.
The pioneering UN Security Council Resolution 242 adopted after the 1967 arms movement, laid down two things: Every State (note: specifically Israel was meant) had the right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats and acts of force. And furthermore, Israel had to withdraw from territories occupied in the recent conflict.
It is of critical importance here that the wording deliberately chosen was the indefinite designation “from territories” and not “from the territories.” This left open which parts of the West Bank Israel would have to withdraw from, especially with regard to the establishment of secure borders. And the pre-1967 armistice lines were certainly not such safe limits.
This is exactly what the narrative of Israel is based on, that in the case of the West Bank they are “disputed territories.” The US government recently joined this position.
Fourth, it is about an effective negotiation strategy. The Austrian courts could serve as an excellent example: Here, judges and mediators are more and more successful in bringing the parties to the dispute to a reasonable compromise. The recipe? They make it very clear to both parties that the issue is not black and white, that the outcome will ultimately always be an arrangement, but by then the two parties will have lost so much time, energy and money that it makes a lot more sense to find a compromise right now. It’s amazing to see how well this works.
What happens now in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The United States and, finally, some Arab countries are increasingly making it clear to the Palestinians that sticking to maximal demands (such as receiving the entire West Bank, dividing Jerusalem, retaining the right of return for refugees, including those who have not lived in Israel for generations, etc.) doesn’t bring the Palestinians a step closer to a solution. Rather, the Palestinians would have to return to the negotiating table with Israel which they left in 2010.
However, some EU countries such as France, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland etc. do exactly the opposite: metaphorically speaking, they threaten and sanction one party to the dispute (Israel) again and again, while constantly assuring the other party to the dispute (the Palestinians) that their claim is justified. And they also support the latter politically and financially so that they just don’t give up their narrative.
Fifth, the EU can therefore only play a role in the Middle East if it does not leave Israel policy in the hands of notorious critics of Israel such as the EU’s foreign minister Josep Borrell. Its predecessor, Federica Mogherini was not even received in Israel, and Borrell will probably be no different.
Some European countries such as the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia as well as Austria are breaking new ground. With a greater understanding of Israel’s difficult security situation and willingness to signal to the Palestinians that they too must be willing to compromise. With the clear message — as with the Austrian courts — that time is not on their side.
The Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban said many years ago. It was exactly 100 years ago that the Sévres Treaty provided for an autonomous state for the Kurds. Today hardly anyone knows that, and the Kurds are now considered one of the largest peoples without their own nation-state.
If the Palestinians are not to suffer the same fate as the Kurds, then there could be another historical chance of obtaining one at the negotiating table. Of course, involving a cut in their previous expectations.
This is exactly where the Europeans could support the Palestinians and thus play a supporting role in the Middle East. This is certainly not possible with threats and sanctions against Israel, but rather by demanding the principle of reality, understanding the narratives of both sides, pushing for a willingness to compromise and last but not least: the promise to Israel and the emerging Palestinian state structure that they both can expect generous economic support from the EU and maximum integration into Europe.
This could form a viable bridge from Europe to the Middle East, which could become an alliance for peace, freedom and prosperity.
The Op-Ed was written by Austrian MP, Martin Engelberg and was published in The Times of Israel
President Rivlin tweets in Arabic: ‘We sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time’
Israel has offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon after a massive explosion rocked its capital Beirut on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
“Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,” a written statement from Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.
The international mediators Israel employed were the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and France.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister asked National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to reach out to the UN envoy to the region, Nickolay Mladenov, on this matter.
President Reuven Rivlin also offered his assistance, tweeting: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”
The Israeli army’s spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee, tweeted in Arabic about the Israeli offer, adding: “This is the time to transcend conflict.”
Several Israeli lawmakers also posted messages of support on social media after Lebanese authorities reported thousands of casulaties in the blast.
Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center, near Israel’s border with Lebanon, said in a Facebook message in Arabic: “We are ready to provide medical assistance as we did before with the people of south [Lebanon] and the people of Syria.”
An Israeli political source denied that the country had any connection to the incident, which came amid tensions with Hezbollah. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said they had used international mediators UNIFIL and France to offer humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.
The blast flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Hours later, ambulances were still carrying away the wounded and officials said Beirut’s hospitals were full. Army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.
Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the blast might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was sodium nitrate.
Beirut governor Marwan Abboud said the city was a “disaster area” and the scale of the damage was “enormous.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday would be a national day of mourning for the victims, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Other countries, including the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Jordan and Iran have all also offered their assistance to Lebanon in the aftermath of the blast.
The article was published on Haaretz
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it exchanged fire with fighters from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier on Monday.
The Israeli army said troops foiled a Hezbollah attack by 3 or 4 men who infiltrated a few metres over the Blue Line that separates Israel and Lebanon. It added there were no casualties among Israeli forces.
“Hezbollah should know it is playing with fire”, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Both Netanyahu and defence minister Benny Gantz warned the governments of Syria and Lebanon that they would be held responsible for any attacks against Israel coming from their territory.
Hezbollah carried out the operation against Israeli soldiers in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, media quoted a witness as saying. The area is occupied by Israel and claimed by Lebanon. The United Nations regards it as part of Syrian territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Israeli forces have been on alert along the border in anticipation of Hezbollah retaliation for the killing of one of its members in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria last week.
In a statement on Monday, Hezbollah denied its forces had tried to infiltrate the Lebanese-Israeli frontier or that it had engaged in clashes in the Shebaa Farms area. The group said that the incident was “one-sided” and that Israeli forces had “moved nervously on the ground” due to a heightened state of alert.
“If Israel decides to go to war with us, then we will confront them, and the 2006 War will be the model for our response”, Hezbollah’s deputy chief Naim Qasim said in response.
The article was published on New Europe
Ichilov Hospital chief Prof. Roni Gamzu says he’s received the phone call about taking on the role late in the evening, shortly after Prof. Gabriel Barbash relinquished appointment over disagreements about authority
More new diagnoses in Tel Aviv than Jerusalem since Friday, despite more testing in capital; death toll rises as three more people succumb to COVID; 2,474 people currently infected with disease, including 111 new cases
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz made history on Thursday, when he told MK Pnina Tamano-Shata that she will become the first Ethiopian-born minister in Israel’s history.
Tamano-Shata, who will be minister of immigrant absorption, came to Israel in Operation Moses when she was three years old. Gantz was one of the commanders of the operation.
The highest-ranking woman in Blue and White, MK Miki Haimovich, will not be a minister at the start of the government being formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Thursday night.
Gantz met with Haimovich on Thursday morning and offered her ministerial posts, but she told him she preferred to head the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Haimovich, a former news anchor, has focused on environmental issues, but the Likud insisted on keeping the Environmental Protection portfolio because of the Likud’s opposition to Haimovich’s views.
Gantz appointed MK Alon Schuster as Agriculture Minister on Thursday morning. Schuster is a farmer from Kibbutz Mefalsim and former mayor of the Shaar Hanegev regional council.
MK Chili Tropper was appointed by Gantz as the minister of culture and sports in the upcoming government.
As expected, when Gantz met with MK Gabi Ashkenazi, he officially gave him the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and when meeting MK Avi Nisenkorn, he gave him the Justice Ministry.
Gantz gave the Science and Technology portfolio to MK Izhar Shai, a former hi-tech executive.
EIPA welcomes Germany’s Hizbollah ban, urges other EU states to follow
Germany has banned Iran-backed Hezbollah activity on its soil and designated it a terrorist organisation, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, arrests of suspected members then followed across the country early this morning.
“Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned the Shiite terrorist organisation Hezbollah in Germany,” tweeted a ministry spokesman. “Even in times of crisis, the rule of law is capable of acting,” he added.
The German move follows similar moves taken by the United States first, and then Britain in February. It marks the first significant move on continental European soil.
A spokesman for Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels based Pro-Israel advocacy group, responded to the move this morning:
“We welcome the decisive move taken by the German government. The separation of Hizbollah into political and military wings was not only a fiction but also an absurdity, like trying to hold the arm less responsible for the actions of the hand.
Hizbollah are one and the same, an Iran backed terror organisation that not only threatens Israel, but the middle East as a whole. Conferring upon them a semblance of legitimacy by separating politics from ‘military’ actions has been a mistake that many countries are waking up to. In the weeks and months ahead we will be actively convincing other European States from our base here in Brussels, to follow Germany and end this distinction that Hizbollah have used everyone’s detriment.”
Israelis stood in silence — many on the balconies of their homes due to coronavirus restrictions — on Monday night as a one-minute siren sounded nationwide to mark the start of the annual Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.
A total of 23,816 soldiers have died defending Israel, while 3,153 civilians have lost their lives in terrorist attacks throughout the country’s history.
Another siren — two minutes in length — will be heard in the morning on Tuesday morning.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, family members and friends of the fallen will not be able to visit their graves in military cemeteries across the country, as is the usual custom.
At an official state ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, which was held without an audience, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in remarks addressed to the bereaved, “This year, we can’t cry together. This year, we can’t look into your eyes.”
Nevertheless, he vowed, Israelis would remember the “unfathomable price” paid for the country’s ongoing existence.
At the same event, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said, “Bereaved families, even now, despite the distance, all of Israel is with you, through all kinds of screens. Every person in their home is stopping, sympathizing [and] dedicating time to the memory of your sons and daughters.”
“These are complicated times, which bring worry and concern from the lingering danger,” he added. “A time of crisis is like a time of war. It pushes aside the trivial and minor and makes the important things, the ethical things and the sanctity of life stand out.”
The article was published on The Algemeiner
Agreement leaves Netanyahu in PM’s chair for next 18 months when he will be replaced by Gantz, who will serve as defense minister in interim; Blue & White gets 16 ministries in 32-member government, the largest in Israel’s history
PM and Blue & white leader say they’ve made ‘significant progress’ following an overnight meeting, prompting the president to extend Gantz’s 28- days mandate to form coalition by 2 extra days
Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Health Itamar Grotto stressed that the country remain vigilant
A top Health Ministry official said Tuesday that steps the Israeli government has taken to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus are succeeding, but cautioned against relaxing any measures until more testing is complete.
In a public statement, Deputy Director-General of the Health Ministry Prof. Itamar Grotto said that “the rate of increase in patients is relatively moderate and lower than we feared, meaning that the steps we have taken so far against the coronavirus have been successful.”
At the same time, Grotto added, “We mustn’t stop, we have the difficult period of Passover, and we must by the end of [Passover] follow the instructions.”
On Monday,incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that a nationwide lockdown would take effect Tuesday evening until the end of the weekend in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during Passover when families traditionally gather together to celebrate the holiday.
Netanyahu stressed that the upcoming week would determine whether the situation in the country deteriorates or takes a turn for the better, and added that the upcoming holiday will not be like Purim, which saw an uptick in transmissions.
“It is important for us to continue doing tests, which will also be carried out during the holiday, the labs will work as normal. It is essential to go out and be tested.”
Updated figures released by the Health Ministry Tuesday showed that the country has suffered 59 fatalities due to the coronavirus epidemic, with another 9,006 confirmed cases.
The article was published on I24 news
Israeli innovation has been enlisted in the battle against Covid-19. Here are six technological inventions helping health personnel in their fight against the pandemic
In Israel, both industry veterans and young startups have jumped into the fray, allocating resources and manpower in an effort to find new solutions that could ease the strain on the overburdened healthcare system. Calcalist has taken a closer look at some of the most prominent ones.
Discover the virus in seconds: the AI that identifies the virus with a simple CT scan
Israeli-American RADLogics Inc. is a software analytics company that specializes in visual analysis of medical scans using AI and has a research and development center in Tel Aviv. The company’s products were one of the first in its category to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its tools are used to detect early signs of medical issues such as lung cancer.Around two months ago, use of RADLogics’ products in China started revealing novel findings; something small and patch-like in the lungs of patients. Very quickly, medical professionals identified the patch as a phenomenon unique to coronavirus patients. More surprising was the fact that it was also found in asymptomatic carriers. The findings echoed a study published in China, which looked at around 1,000 patients and found that CT scans indicated the presence of the virus in 48% of people who were found negative in the regular test.
Blood tests in seclusion: a portable, AI-based device can perform a full blood count in minutes
Tel Aviv-based Sight Diagnostics Ltd. developed a device that enables quick blood tests and blood counts—a required part of the diagnosis protocol for every fever illness. While current technologies require the sample to be sent to a lab and processed by a technician, Sight’s device, which uses AI and machine processing tools, is portable and does not require prior knowledge to operate. It also provides results in minutes rather than hours or days.
To treat severe cases: developing antibodies from patients who have recovered
Veteran biopharmaceutical company Kamada Ltd. has in recent days turned its attention to developing coronavirus antibodies. The company is collecting blood and plasma from Israelis who have recovered from the virus, and using a purification process to achieve a specific concentration of antibodies for treating serious coronavirus cases. The company emphasizes that it is not a vaccine, but rather an expensive, one-off treatment for severe cases.
Predictive care startup Clew Medical Ltd. developed an algorithm that collects data from emergency care monitoring devices and alerts the medical team to any deterioration in a patient’s condition. As the healthcare system becomes more and more burdened, Clew’s technology could point out a patient in danger 6-12 hours before their condition starts to worsen, enabling caregivers to prepare in advance.
Israel-based company EarlySense Ltd. has developed a non-invasive patient-monitoring system already in use in nursing homes and hospitals. The system has been approved in both the U.S. and Europe. The company’s contactless monitoring platform, which looks like a cutting board, is placed under the mattress and takes stock of a patient’s /vitals around the clock, 100 times a minute.
Tel Aviv-based Geneyx Genomex Ltd. developed a cloud-based genetic data bank that is used by universities and research institutes to identify genetic risk or resistance factors for various medical conditions. The company is now conducting a study that will compare severe and mild coronavirus cases to find out whether certain genetic mutations increase or decrease response to the virus.
‘Give this people a government,’ pleads president in speech to near- empty chamber; Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi arrives to take oath despite exposure to suspected COVID-19 patient
In a surreal ceremony, the 23rd Knesset convened on Monday in the shadow of the COVID-19 outbreak, with its 120 lawmakers inducted in batches of three to avoid the spread of the virus and its leaders giving their usually festive opening remarks to an empty hall.
President Reuven Rivlin opened the parliament swearing-in with an address to the only three lawmakers present — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
In his speech, Rivlin implored the political parties to resolve their differences and form a coalition, putting an end to the deadlock that has left the country without a functioning government since December 2018.
Earlier in the day, Rivlin had given Gantz first shot at forming a government, after the Blue and White leader picked up recommendations from 61 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers. But it remained unclear whether Gantz could successfully do so without Netanyahu’s Likud.
After three consecutive elections, Rivlin said Israelis are “exhausted” by politics.
“We are looking forward to the day-to-day, the routine, when we will all return to what we have in common, our shared fate that is expressed so clearly in the current crisis,” he said, referring to the outbreak of the virus.
The president pleaded with the political leaders to compromise.
“Politics is far from perfect. But politics is meant to be the art of the possible. Often, politics needs to be the art of compromise… At the heart of democracy lies the understanding that what often creates the requirement for compromise, to make deep and painful concessions, is the will of the people itself,” he said.
Rivlin continued: “The current political crisis is very real, very deep and is breaking us in two. And we still have no other choice, because we have no other people and no other country. In democracy, we may be able to replace the leadership, but we cannot replace the people. Not some of it, not one half of it and not the other half of it. We were destined to live together.”
“The plenum is empty, but with us are the millions of citizens who badly need an emergency government,” said Edelstein.
After Edelstein, Netanyahu and Gantz took their oaths, the other lawmakers were brought in, three at a time and in alphabetical order, to be sworn in.
The Knesset guard administered fever checks for those entering parliament.
According to Channel 12, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi was asked not to attend after being exposed to the husband of a coronavirus patient, who is also suspected of having contracted the virus.
But Hanegbi entered parliament nonetheless. Hanegbi later said he stayed in his office after arriving at the Knesset and kept a distance from other people when he was sworn in. After taking his oath, he left the Knesset.
Along with Blue and White MKs Ram Ben-Barak and Alon Shuster, Hanegbi had been at an agricultural conference where a man whose wife is confirmed to have the virus was present. Neither Ben-Barak or Shuster was at the swearing-in ceremony.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
Call for EU to reassess how to deal with terrorist entity regarding security of Israel
BERLIN – All political parties in Austria’s federal parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government to exhaust all legal methods to stop Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist activities.
However, the parliament measure stopped short of urging a total ban of Hezbollah’s entire movement within the EU and the central European country.
Austria’s National Council—the formal name of the country’s parliament—asked the federal government to “to take suitable and effective measures to continue to take decisive action against terrorist and criminal activities by Hezbollah supporters in Austria using the entire rule of law; to prevent Hezbollah from being financed through money laundering activities; to re-asses the question of how to deal with Hezbollah within the European Union.”
Reinhold Lopatka, an MP for Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party and Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, an MP for the conservative chancellor’s coalition partner, the Green Party, announced in connection with the anti-Hezbollah resolution that they “recognize the historical responsibility of Austria toward the State of Israel. The existence of Israel should never be questioned.
In order to guarantee the security of the State of Israel in the future, the European Union must once again deal with Hezbollah.”
The resolution was titled “Effective action against Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah demanded in its 1985 manifesto Israel’s “obliteration from existence.”
Austria and the European Union have merely classified Hezbollah’s so-called “military wing” a terrorist entity. The US, England, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Israel and a number of Latin American countries designated Hezbollah’s entire movement a terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s leadership admits this, declaring itself a unified organization without political and military wings.
The Austrian parliament rejected on Tuesday an initiative of the NEOS party to consider a full ban of Hezbollah.
The Jerusalem Post reported in December that Austrian NEOS MP Helmut Brandstätter introduced a parliamentary initiative to with respect to a government ban of the entire Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in Austria.
“The Federal Government, in particular the Foreign Minister, is asked to examine whether it is appropriate and productive to classify the whole of Hezbollah in Austria a terrorist organization and implement the same on the EU level,” wrote Brandstätter.
On Saturday, the Post reported that prosecutors in the Austrian state of Carinthia have started a trial against an alleged Hezbollah commander who spent 13 years in Austria while reportedly being involved in financing terrorism.
The article was published on The JPost
As votes cast in so-called double envelopes in the Knesset elections were being tallied, the Central Election Committee updated the count Wednesday morning, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist rival Blue and White led by Benny Gantz an extra seat apiece, leaving the premier’s bloc of right-wing supporters at 58 seats.
After 99% of the votes were tallied, Likud gained a seat for a total of 36, with the rival Blue and White party also increasing its power from 32 to 33.
The Joint List of predominantly Arab parties dropped from 16 seats to 15, while the ultra-Orthodox Shas party dropped from 10 seats to 9.
The rest of the parties’ seat totals remained the same: seven for United Torah Judaism (UTJ), seven for Yisrael Beytenu, seven for Labor-Gesher-Meretz and six for Yamina.
Based on those seat totals, Likud and its allies would have 58 seats combined. The right-wing religious bloc supporting Netanyahu — consisting of Likud, Shas, UTJ and Yamina — though, falls short of the 61 seats needed to form a government.
The counting of the “double envelope” ballots of soldiers, police staff, diplomats, handicapped citizens, hospital patients and staff, and prisoners began overnight and was expected to conclude later in the day.
Final but unofficial results were likely to be published Wednesday night. The official results will only be published on March 10.
The Central Elections Committee announced late Tuesday that almost all of the votes cast in the elections had been tallied, with votes from 10,552 polling places across the country counted — 99% of the voting stations that were open during Monday’s elections, accounting for about 93% of the total vote.
Late Tuesday, hazmat-clad officials also unsealed and counted ballots cast by Israelis who could be carrying the coronavirus.
Some 4,076 Israelis under quarantine cast votes Monday in specially constructed isolation voting booths manned by medics in protective gear doubling as election officials.
Before the tally began, the Blue and White party claimed Netanyahu had ordered observers from his Likud party at the committee to interfere in the count. Gantz ordered his own party’s representatives to the committee to intensify their observation efforts as a result, according to the party.
“MK Avi Nissenkorn, the faction chairman, has now been called to oversee from up close the work of the Central Elections Committee to ensure the counting is carried out properly and without intentional disruptions,” Blue and White said in a statement.
Blue and White did not provide any evidence to back up its claim against Netanyahu.
Monday’s election was largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who will go on trial later this month for bribery, fraud and breach of trust but is thought to be seeking support for a legislative mechanism to grant him immunity.
Despite a jubilant victory party and proclamations of victory from supporters, exit polling and the non-final result numbers showed he would likely come up shy of a needed 61-seat majority.
Gantz admitted to supporters early Tuesday that the party’s showing was disappointing, but refused to concede. He later appeared to rule out joining a unity government led by Netanyahu, narrowing the premier’s options to form a coalition.
Netanyahu could attempt to bring in the secularist Yisrael Beytenu, which looks set to once again play kingmaker. He’ll be helped by the prospect of continued deadlock and a fourth election, seen as a doomsday scenario, but one that is increasingly realistic.
Party head Avigdor Liberman vowed Monday he would not join a Likud-led government that includes ultra-Orthodox parties, but he has also refused to join a coalition with the Arab-led Joint List.
“We won’t move a millimeter from what we promised our voters,” he said.
Likud lawmakers and Netanyahu’s spokesman said Tuesday they would be looking to bring in “deserters” from other parties to make up the shortfall.
Likud spokesman Yonatan Urich told Channel 13 of contacts with “four to six” MKs from “the other side” and predicted that Netanyahu would be able to form a majority coalition with the support of some of them “within a few days.”
MK Miki Zohar admitted that if Likud was left needing to bring more than two lawmakers from other parties, it would be far more difficult for Netanyahu to form a coalition; however, he said he remained confident of forming a government even in that scenario and preventing a fourth round of elections.
Blue and White MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, both former aides to Netanyahu and members of the Telem faction within the party, have denied reports they were mulling joining Likud.
However Hendel told Channel 12 news that he thought the country needed a unity government to move forward. When asked if that included joining a prime minister on trial, he said no.
Blue and White MK Omer Yankelevich also denied she could jump ship after a report said Likud threatened to publish embarrassing recordings of her if she doesn’t defect.
MK Orly Levy-Abekasis, who heads the Gesher faction in the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance, has also been tipped as a possibility to switch sides in return for a cabinet portfolio.
The article was published on Times of Israel
They grumbled, they mumbled, and they complained. They voted before a family outing, and after shopping at the mall; after breakfast, and before dinner. Once again they shlepped in babies in carriages, and brought along small children on their way to an excursion.
They kvetched, but they voted. And they came out in numbers that put other countries – such as America, which hasn’t had more than 60% of the population vote in a presidential election since 1968 — to shame.
Why? Because the bottom line is that most people here do care – despite all the cynicism – who governs the land, even though they might loudly declare that they don’t really care, that all the politicians are the same, and that it doesn’t matter who forms the government.
And they voted because most people want their voice to be heard.
It’s a small country, Israel. Decisions made at the top are felt intimately by people below – for instance, whether to attack in the Gaza Strip and send ground troops there, whether to uproot an illegal outpost in Samaria, whether to extract gas from the ocean floor and process it near the Haifa coast. People want to have some kind of minimal impact on how those decisions will be made, as those decisions may impact them in a very personal and immediate way.
So they vote. This time not happily, not with great enthusiasm, not eagerly, but they vote.
Although much has been written about how these back-to-back-to-back elections are chipping away at the belief of Israelis in the system, the fact that well over 66% of the people continue to vote here election after election shows that – deep down – they still believe in the process. Otherwise they would not participate. People vote if they care. And most people in this country do care.
Which doesn’t mean that things didn’t feel a bit different this time in the country’s polling places. They did. The conversation and jokes among those waiting in lines were different than in the past.
First there were the jokes and conversations about the coronavirus. “The special places for people quarantined to vote won’t help, since all the voting slips are contaminated,” one man quipped at a polling place outside of Jerusalem. Another noted that the son of someone in quarantine was waiting in line, and said to take cover if he sneezes.
But most of the chatter had to do with the seemingly endless election loop.
“Here we go again,” one woman said to a neighbor standing in line. “Yes,” the neighbor replied, adding sardonically – in reference to the possibility of a fourth round of voting in a few months time – “See you back here in September.”
Trump’s 80- page peace p;an calls for Palestinian state with parts of East Jerusalem as capital; major Jewish settlements in West Bank to remain under Israeli control; demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza
President Donald Trump called for the creation of a State of Palestine, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing the Middle East peace plan without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a “two-state resolution” to the conflict. The potential future state will include parts East Jerusalem as its capital but only if the Palestinians take steps to become self-governing.
On 1-2 December the Europe Israel Public Affairs and our partners- European Jewish Association (EJA) hosted our second Bootcamp for pro-Jewish and Pro-Israel advocates from all over Europe (literally! From Iceland to Spain, France to Romania and everywhere in between).
With practical training at its heart, this latest bootcamp gave participants proper hands-on experience in Lobbying techniques, media relations, opposition watch and network building.
Day one was focused on facts and lobbying. Ben Dror Yemini, the prominent Israeli journalist and author (his book “the industry of lies” is on the shelf of any self-respecting Israel advocate) gave the team all the facts (“I’m not a pr man”, he proudly exclaimed, I just give people the facts) necessary to counter opposition arguments.
We then spent the rest of the day dealing with the practicals of Lobbying. Our Head of Eu Institutional Relations, Ruth Isaac and our Director of Public Affairs ran through the do-and don’t’s, and were delighted to be supported by former Portuguese MEP Paulo Casaca who gave his experience of being on the receiving end of lobbyists, and lastly by new Belgian MP Michael Freilich, who gave his enlightening perspectives from “the other side of the desk” including invaluable advice and tips on effective lobbying.
At a Gala dinner in the evening, Hans Knopp was our special guest. Hans is a hugely respected dutch journalist whose most famous bit of reporting was exposing a dutch war criminal who helped the Nazis rob and murder Dutch Jews. His work was commemorated in a film “the body collector”, and he talked about his experience. His moving testimony brought the house down and he received a prolonged standing ovation.
The next morning, participants learned the basics of press release writing, followed by a role play and live interview practice with Brussels based broadcast journalist and regular on Euronews Brian Maguire who put the bootcampers through their paces.
After lunch prominent Swedish Zionist and activist Saskia Pantell , CIDI’s dutch opposition watch hero Hidde Van Koningsveld and our very onw campaigns officer Dafna Friedman shared their knowledge and expertise on opposition watching.
We then finished with an open session with Ben Dror again on the challenges in messaging before a closing panel with Ruth and our head of Strategy Tal Rabina on Network building.
Tired but fired up our advocates (many are soon to be members of the EJA’s inaugural Diplomatic Corps), left for home. Our next bootcamp is already being planned. If you want to be part of it, let us know.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his key rival within Likud party ranks, former Education and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, are set to face off in Likud primaries on Thursday.
Czech Republic is acquiring Israel’s famed ‘Iron Dome” Multi-Mission Radar in an agreement signed earlier this month. The agreement between the Israel Ministry of Defense and Czech Ministry of Defense will see at least eight ELM-2084 radars operational in Czech Republic in coming years as part of the country’s enhanced Mobile Air Defense Radar program.
This is an important $125 million sale because it represents Israel’s inroads into eastern Europe, especially the Visegrad Group of countries that are becoming increasing allies of Jerusalem. This includes Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The radars will be delivered between 2021 and 2023 ad they will be interoperable with NATO command and control. The deal was in the works for years.
Prague joined NATO in 1999 and the Bush administration wanted to base interceptors and missile defense radar in Czech Republic. The deal was signed in 2008 but cancelled by the Obama administration as part of the administration’s reset with Russia in 2009 and other changes in policy. Czech Republic refused an offer to base early warning radar in the country in 2011 and went looking elsewhere.
By 2016 it appeared to have signaled that Israel’s radar was its favored choice. Although media reports had indicated that the previous negotiations with the US were about fears of Russian missiles, the larger picture was that Prague needed to modernize its air defense.
Israel’s Iron Dome, which uses the radar Czech Republic is acquiring, has been key to defending the country successfully since the 2012 war and been racking up more successes in the last two years as more than 2,600 rockets were fired by militants in Gaza. The US has even looked at the system for short range air defense (SHORAD).
Iron Dome is one of Israel’s multi-layered radar that was developed with US support, including the David’s Sling and the Arrow. David’s Sling is similar to the Patriot system. The radars have air surveillance and air defense capabilities. Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries in Israel makes the radar which was sold to Czech Republic.
Czech industries will conduct thirty percent of the procurement locally.
In Israel the agreement is seen as part of a close and strong relationship between the countries. Director of Israel’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT), Brig. Gen. (Ret.), Yair Kulas said he applauded the agreement.
“Today is monumental for the State of Israel due to the history of Czech support for the State of Israel, since its establishment 70 years ago. This agreement will deepen and strengthen the cooperation and relations with our Czech partners. It is an expression of confidence in the capabilities of the Israeli defense establishment and defense industries and highlights the significance of Israeli technology in the face of the threats shared by the international community. We hope to see this agreement opening the door for further cooperation with our Czech partners and with additional NATO states.”
IAI VP and CEO of ELTA, Yoav Tourgeman said that the “MADR program expands the global use of the ELM- 2084, known as the ‘Iron Dome’ system radar, which currently includes over 100 systems contracted worldwide (including NATO countries). We are proud and honored to supply the best combat proven multi-mission radar to the Czech armed forces. These radars will propel forward the Czech Air-force capabilities and enable to confront the most advanced aerial threats. We believe that the MADR program will pave the path to additional cooperation between the Israeli and Czech defense industries.”
Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum. He is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (forthcoming Gefen Publishing). Follow him on Twitter at @sfrantzman.
The article was published on The national Interest
Leaders to meet at 5:30 P.M. as Liberman openly talks about joining narrow right-wing government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.
Earlier Tuesday, Blue and White officials said their negotiating team would not meet again with Likud until they were ready for Gantz to go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister’s office.
Likud responded that while Netanyahu has conceded in agreeing to serve for only five months, Blue and White had not conceded on anything.
Gantz has said that instead of Netanyahu going first as prime minister, he could be vice prime minister and laws could be passed enabling him to deal with his legal situation.
Next Wednesday is the last day for an MK to draft the support of 61 MKs and avoid a third election in under a year.
Yisrael Beytenu leader and possible coalition kingmaker Avigdor Liberman appeared to reconsider the formation of a right-wing government on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what is worse- a narrow government or election,” Liberman said.
Yisrael Beytenu MKs Oded Forer and Hamed Amar approached Liberman earlier Tuesday and told him they favored a right-wing government. Forer was apparently angry at Blue and White for conceding to United Torah Judaism MKs at a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee
The article was published on The JPost
Dutch government, which gives several millions of dollars a year to PA, says talks to end wages to those who carried out attacks on Israelis ‘did not lead to the desired outcome”
The Dutch government has cut funding for the Palestinian Authority over its salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.
The aid ministry announced the move Wednesday during annual budget talks.
In 2017, the Palestinian Authority paid about $198 million to a fund for the families of terrorists killed during their attacks and about $160 million to Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, according to Israeli Defense Ministry figures.
The Netherlands spends several million dollars each year on aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian populations elsewhere in the Middle East but most of that money is given to agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
The country had given about $1.6 million directly to the Palestinian Authority annually to pay the salaries of justice ministry employees.
The aid ministry said that talks with the Palestinian body “did not lead to the desired outcome.”
Israel has long complained that the salaries encourage terror attacks.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
The Iranian-backed Palestinian group confirmed Tuesday morning that Abu al-Atta, its northern Gaza Strip commander had been killed and vowed to avenge his death.
The response was quick to come as dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza at southern and central Israel.
By 9am, the IDF said, 50 rockets had been fired from Gaza, of which the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted approximately 20.
This is the first incident of targeted killing by Israel since the end of the 2014 Gaza conflict, Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Islamic Jihad commander was poised to launch imminent attacks against Israel.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said in a tweet Tuesday morning that he supported the decision to target Abu al-Atta and that Israel’s security transcended politics.
“The battle against terrorism requires difficult decisions,” the former IDF chief said. “Blue and White places every proper action taken for the safety of Israel above politics. Every terrorist who endangers our security knows he is marked for death.”
The IDF released a statement confirming the attack was a coordinated effort by the military and the Shin Bet security service.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says a man and a woman were killed in the blast and two other people were wounded.
The airstrike damaged the half of the second and most of the third floors of a house in the Shejaeya neighborhood east of the city.
Israel media reported lately that Abu el-Atta was responsible for recent rocket attacks against southern Israel communities, instructed by Tehran.
The article was published on Ynet
The Czech parliament voted on Tuesday that it will act against antisemitism and any attempt to promote boycotting the Jewish State.
The resolution passed by 120 votes to 20.Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic Daniel Miron lauded the decision.
The News was published on The JPost
Samer Arbid, a Palestinian from Ramallah arrested for allegedly leading a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb had worked in a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.
44-year-old Arbid, who is one of PFLP’s officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for involvement in terror activity during the Second Intifada under the direct command of the PFLP leadership, preparing explosive devices.
IDF and Border Police forces arrested Arbid on Sunday for allegedly setting up and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb, wounding her father Eitan and her brother Dvir near the settlement of Dolev.
Yesterday afternoon, and speaking to a standing room only Committee room in the European Parliament courtesy of our Co-sponsors Anna Michelle Asimakapolou MEP, Anna Fotyga MEP and Traian Basescu MEP. The Minister, joined by the EU’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting anti-semitism Katharina Von Schnurbein, and again by Secretary Carr and Rabbi Margolin outlined their concern at the rise of antisemitism and at rooting out the boycott movement as fundamentally anti-semitic. There followed a q&a with a distinguished audience of parliamentarians, diplomats and Jewish leaders and orgnasiations from across the continent.
Party leaders turned out early Tuesday to cast their votes in Israel’s second national election of the year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at their Jerusalem polling station to cast their vote in the Israeli elections Tuesday.
Vying for a fifth term the prime minister said this is a very close election and called on citizens to come out and vote.
This is the second election held in Israel in less than six months after Netanyahu, who is hoping for an unprecedented fifth term in office, failed to form a coalition government after the April ballot.
His Likud party then pushed through a law to dissolve the Knesset, thereby avoiding a situation in which President Reuven Rivlin could task another party leader with coalition building.
The head of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz voted close to his home in Rosh Haayin, near Tel Aviv.
The former army chief wished Israelis good luck in the elections as he arrived at the polling station flanked by supporters.
Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the right-wing, secular Yisrael Beytenu party – who could emerge as the kingmaker of the elections – voted with his wife at his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.
Liberman urges all Israelis to vote, calling it “a civic duty.”
Shaked also called on citizens to vote and claimed there are up to 30% voters still undecided.
In the city of Sderot, near the Gaza border, Labor-Gesher chief Amir Peretz told supporters as he arrived to cast his ballot, that every vote counts and everyone should vote.
Voter turnout may be the deciding factor in these elections though it is expected to be low.
The article was published on Ynet
Most Israelis think that Israel has succeeded in its diplomatic activities in the US, Europe and the Arab countries.
A public opinion poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute ahead of the elections to the 22nd Knesset examined how the public sees the outgoing government’s performance on major foreign policy issues.
77% of respondents thought that the State of Israel was successful in its relations with the US, while only 12% thought it failed. 47% of respondents said that relations with Europe are also successful and 33% thought that the policy vis-à-vis the EU has failed.
On the issue of relations between Israel and Arab states, 46% of respondents say that government policy was successful and only 35% think it failed.
When asked about Israeli-Palestinian Arab relations, only 17% think government policy was successful and 65% thought it was unsuccessful.
The poll also found that 12% of those surveyed preferred to see Yair Lapid as Foreign Minister. He is followed by Binyamin Netanyahu with 9% and far behind them is Naftali Bennett with 4%, Gideon Sa’ar with 4%, Avigdor Liberman with 3.5%, and Yisrael Katz with 3%. However, 40% of the respondents replied that they did not have a clear opinion as to who should serve in that role.
Another question that arose in the survey was about the decline in the status of the Foreign Ministry and whether it was detrimental to Israel’s national security. 26% answered that there was no decline in the status of the ministry, and 9% claimed that there was a decline, but this did not compromise national security. A similar number stated that even if there was a decline in the status of the ministry, it has done very little damage to national security. Another 30% opined that alongside the decline in status, there has also been a great deal of devaluation of national security.
The article was published on Arutz 7
The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating the particles’ origin and has asked Iran to explain the traces. But Tehran has not done so, according to the diplomats.
Sunday, September 8
Traces of uranium found at secret warehouse
Samples taken by the UN nuclear watchdog at what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran showed traces of uranium that Iran has yet to explain, two diplomats who follow the agency’s inspections work closely say.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating the particles’ origin and has asked Iran t