+61 3 9272 5644

Credit: Reuters

Latest Israel News – 21st March

Israeli delegation arrives in Washington for White House talks about settlement construction

An Israeli delegation arrived in Washington on Sunday to hold talks with the White House about settlement activity.

Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer will join the delegation, which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.

Netanyahu’s office and the Trump administration “want to come to an understanding” on this issue, an Israeli official said.

These talks are the continuation of conversations that were held last week, when US special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and the Palestinians territories. Greenblatt met with Netanyahu twice during his trip.

Greenblatt and Dermer are the point people for the process.

US President Donald Trump has asked Netanyahu to constrain settlement construction, just as the prime minister is under pressure from rightwing politicians to increase such building.

Prior to meeting with Greenblatt last week, Netanyahu said he intended to keep his promise to the Amona evacuees to build a settlement for them.

Horowitz and Schacter are expected to bring up the issue in Washington.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu managed to pressure right-wing politicians to delay a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote on whether the government will support a bill to annex the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.

Both the creation of settlements and annexation plans for the West Bank have in the past been redlines that the US has insisted Israel must not cross.

A bill to annex Ma’aleh Adumim has been on the committee’s agenda for weeks, but each time it has been delayed.

On Sunday, it was one of six private member bills that were not debated, because it is customary for the committee not to take up such bills during the last meeting before the end of a Knesset session.

The Knesset breaks for Passover at the end of this week and returns to work only in May. Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who has been a vocal advocate for the bill, said he could weather one more delay.

“It will come back up in six weeks,” he said. He urged Netanyahu to take the historic step of supporting the bill, which would also need to pass three Knesset readings  (Jerusalem Post)

‘Israel will not hesitate to destroy Syrian air defenses’

Israel “will not hesitate” to destroy Syria’s air defense systems if that country ever again targets IAF jet fighters, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened on Sunday.

The air force’s Arrow anti-aircraft missile defense system intercepted a Syrian SA-5 missile fired at Israeli jets on Friday night. The jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when they were attacked, after striking targets in Syria.

“You have to understand the context; if we strike there is a real reason for it,” the defense minister said during a visit to the Meitav IDF Induction Center at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan.

“We have no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria, either in favor of or against Assad. We do not want to clash with the Russians. Our main issue is with the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon, and so whenever we detect an attempt to smuggle weapons, we will act to prevent it. We will not compromise on this issue,” he said.

Arrow interceptor test

Liberman warned there will be “no compromise” on the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, and that if the Syrian regime again uses air-defense systems against IAF jets, Israel will “destroy them. We will not hesitate. Israel’s security is paramount and above everything else. There will be no compromise.”

The defense minister also addressed the situation in the South, saying that “we will not invest Israeli taxpayer money in electricity and water for the residents of Gaza while they are investing their money in [attack] tunnels.

“We will not tolerate any provocation. The IDF will respond strongly to every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip,” Liberman said.

Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, speaking in Safed at a ceremony marking the change in leadership at the Northern Command, said that the IDF will not be deceived by the quiet along the Lebanese border, as Hezbollah continues to violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by arming itself.

“There has been more than a decade of quiet along the borders of the country. The quiet allows residents on both sides of the border to have a normal life with economic prosperity. But the IDF will not let the quiet deceive it, and closely watches the changes on the Lebanese border as well as the Syrian front,” he said.

Hezbollah continues to prepare for war, in villages, towns and cities south of Lebanon’s Litani River, Eisenkot said. The group “continues to arm itself with more lethal and more accurate weapons to harm the Israeli home front,” he said.

“In statements made by Hezbollah recently in Beirut, it’s been made clear that in the next war there will be a clear address: the Lebanese government as well as terrorist organizations operating with its consent,” Eisenkot said, stressing that while Israel continues to provide humanitarian aid and medical assistance to its northern neighbors when needed, the IDF will work to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

Addressing outgoing head of the Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Eisenkot said that due to his work, the troops have strengthened their capabilities for when a war might break out.

“Aviv, you have led the Northern Command in a diverse and threat-filled arena and initiated important steps to improve the IDF’s operational capabilities. Every day, the command and its forces strengthened their capabilities in their readiness for war.”

Hezbollah, meanwhile, posted pictures of Syrian air defenses, including the kind fired at Israeli jets on Friday morning.

Syrian media also reported that an Israeli drone had struck a car in the Quneitra countryside, killing the driver named as Yasser al-Sayed. Unconfirmed reports from Syria said that Sayed was a commander in Syria’s air defense unit. Hours earlier, Syrian media said that regime forces had “repelled” an Israeli reconnaissance drone near the town of Khan Arnaba, near to where the strike allegedly occurred.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel said to strike Syria for second time in 24 hours, amid threats from Damascus

Israel is said to have struck Syria overnight Sunday-Monday, the second strike in 24 hours and third in three days as tensions escalated between the two countries over the weekend.

Syria media reported early Monday that Israeli jets took out a number of targets near the Lebanon-Syria border including a Hezbollah weapons convoy and Syrian military sites.

The reports have not been confirmed.

Earlier Sunday, an Israeli drone strike reportedly killed a member of a Syrian pro-regime militia, an attack that came two days after Israeli jets, in an early Friday morning operation, hit an arms transfer meant for Hezbollah near Palmyra, with Syrian air defenses firing missiles at the planes.

One missile was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defense battery, military officials said, in the first reported use of the advanced system. It was the most serious incident between the two countries since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.

On Sunday evening, Syria’s ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said Syria’s response to Friday’s strike was a “game-changer.”

Speaking on Syrian state TV, Jaafari said the military’s response was “appropriate and in line with Israel’s terrorist operation,” and that Israel “will now think a million times [before striking again],” according to a translation cited in Ynet.

“Syria’s forceful response to the Israeli attacks changed the rules of the game,” he said.

His comments came hours after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems for targeting the Israeli aircraft during the bombing run Friday.

“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Liberman said on Israel Radio.

Israeli officials have warned of the possibility Hezbollah and Iran could attempt to set up a base to attack Israel near the border with the Israeli Golan Heights.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow, where he asked the Kremlin to make sure Iran does not gain a foothold in the area.

Israel has also repeatedly vowed to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring any advanced weaponry and several strikes on such convoys over the years since the Syrian civil war began in 2011 have been attributed to Israel. Jerusalem has also claimed several of the raids, including Friday’s.

“Each time we discover arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon we will act to stop them. On this there will be no compromise,” Liberman said Sunday.

“The Syrians must understand that they are held responsible for these arms transfers to Hezbollah and that if they continue to allow them then we will do what we have to do.”

Earlier Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Israeli aircraft struck a truck driving near the town of Khan Arnabeh in the Quneitra province, on the road to Damascus.

The National Defense Force, a pro-regime militia set up in 2012, claimed the man killed was from among its ranks, naming him as Yasser Hussien Assayed.

The group, reportedly set up with the help of Hezbollah, published four pictures on Facebook it said were from the scene of the alleged airstrike. The group said an Israeli drone carried out the strike.

The Lebanese news channel NBN reported that the man killed was a Syrian air defense commander. Other reports said Assayed was a civilian.  (the Times of Israel)

Israeli ministers speak out against Netanyahu’s threat to call elections

A host of senior government ministers, including from the Likud, came out strongly against holding new elections on Sunday, in defiance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent willingness to go to the ballot box over the nascent Israel Broadcasting Cooperation

Transport Minister and Netanyahu’s Likud party colleague Yisrael Katz, said the furor over the IBC was no reason to go to the polls, as did Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, with Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, also from the Likud, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, saying that new elections were damaging and unnecessary.

Netanyahu is determined to prevent the IBC from beginning operations and said on Saturday night that if Kulanu leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon did not agree to shut it down, he would dissolve the government.

“You don’t go to elections over a media argument,” Katz said in an interview on Sunday morning with Army Radio, adding that there had been no internal discussions or decisions in the Likud party and leadership about such a step, and noting that there were disagreements over substantive issues within the coalition.

Liberman spoke in similarly blunt terms.

“Anyone with intelligence understands that elections are the last thing the Jewish people need at this moment,” said Liberman during a visit to the IDF base at Tel Hashomer.

“There is no reason to break up the current coalition. Everyone needs to do the maximum in order to keep working properly.”

Steinitz said that early elections would be “pure damage” to the state and to good governance, saying that the country needed stability and for a compromise to be worked out between Netanyahu and Kahlon.

Shaked wrote on Twitter that “responsibility and discretion” were needed to prevent elections, adding that the issue of the IBC was not an ideological argument and there was no reason to disassemble the government over it.

She also said that she believed the crisis would be resolved through a compromise.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu allies Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin took to the airways to defend the prime minister against allegations that his opposition to the IBC was not sufficient reason to call to dissolve the Knesset and call elections.

Regev framed the dispute as a violation of the coalition agreement signed between Likud and Kulanu, and insisted that just like Likud had supported legislation for other coalition partners, those parties needed to get behind bills important to the prime minister.

“No one is afraid of elections, the public will determine if one needs to abide by coalition agreements or not,” she said on Army Radio.

“It can’t be that whenever we’re talking about the Likud’s coalition agreements, that there is some excuse not to fulfill them. We will blow it up not over the IBC, but over the principle, we will blow things up on the principle that coalition agreements need to be fulfilled.”

Regev argued that the Israel Broadcasting Authority, scheduled to be shuttered when the IBC begins operations, was working fine, and that it would be cheaper to keep the IBA running.

The fiery minister said that the IBC would be “a closed club” and would be unrepresentative of Israeli society and without sufficient oversight or regulation.  (Jerusalem Post)

Shin Bet chief: For Hamas, Passover is prime time for terror

The head of the Shin Bet security service warned lawmakers on Monday that terror groups may try to carry out attacks during the Passover holiday next month.

“We are just before the Passover holiday, and there is no doubt that terrorist infrastructures, mostly the established one, and specifically Hamas, will try to agitate the area and carry out attacks,” Nadav Argaman told the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“Our goal, of course, is to ensure quiet holidays for every citizen of the State of Israel,” he added.

Israel’s security forces regularly warn that holidays serve as opportunities for terrorist groups to conduct attacks. The Israel Defense Forces raised such concerns ahead of Passover last year as well.

Jewish pilgrims often visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday, often prompting Palestinian claims that settlers are “storming” the holy site, which can incite potential attackers. During interrogations, Palestinian terrorists have cited the situation on the Temple Mount as a driving force behind their attacks.

During holidays, especially weeklong festivals like Passover, families are more inclined to travel and hike, and there is thus an increased risk of attacks.

Therefore, for most major Jewish holidays, the IDF shuts down the crossings between the West Bank and Israel.

Argaman, who took over the internal security service in May 2016, told the panel of his organization’s activities over the past year, in the midst of “highly significant geostrategic changes” in the region resulting from both the US-Russian global power struggle and the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015.

The past year, he said, saw the continuation of a “wave of terror” that began in the fall of 2015 but has waned in recent months.

However, Argaman said, that calm, and security forces’ successes thus far, are deceptive.

“I have to say that the quiet we have been experiencing since 2016 — this comparative quiet — is a misleading quiet, it deceives and intoxicates, and this is for one simple reason: The terrorist infrastructures of Hamas and the global jihad are working every day to carry out terror attacks within the State of Israel,” he said.

The Shin Bet chief credited “technological, intelligence and operational” developments with bringing down the number of attacks.

“[In 2016,] we stopped 400 potential assailants before they could carry out attacks,” he said.

“And yet, I must say that in the past year, unfortunately, 16 citizens and one foreign national died as a result of terror attacks,” Argaman added.

In total, 40 Israelis, two Americans, a Palestinian and an Eritrean national have been killed in the spate of stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that began a year and a half ago.

According to AFP figures, some 250 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks.

The spate of Palestinian attacks that began in October 2015 was dubbed the “lone wolf” intifada, as many of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were not connected to any terror group.

The attacks were at first attributed to tensions over Palestinian fears that Israel was seeking to change the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a charge Israel has repeatedly and vehemently denied. Palestinian leaders have argued that the primary cause for attacks during this period was despair caused by Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank.

The Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip, continues to refer to each attack as part of a “Jerusalem Intifada.”    (the Times of Israel)

Hoard of coins from 1,400-year-old Byzantine site tells story of Persian invasion

As a Persian army supported by a horde of Jewish rebels marched on Jerusalem in 614 CE, Christians inhabiting a town on the main route inland to the city hid a hoard of valuables in the hope of returning in more peaceful times.

Fast-forward 1,400 years to the summer of 2016, when Israeli engineers were widening that same highway, running from the Mediterranean past Abu Ghosh west of the capital, and archaeologists were called in to excavate some Byzantine ruins. Beneath the rubble of a building they found a hoard of nine copper coins dating to around 614 CE, when a Persian empire briefly reigned in Jerusalem just before the rise of Islam.

The Byzantine site, located next to the modern town of Ein Nakuba, was a waypoint situated along the main Christian pilgrim route leading from the coast to the holy city, said Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Annette Landes-Naggar, who announced the discovery to the press Sunday.

The announcement was timed to precede the upcoming Easter holiday, which falls this year on April 16, as part of a push coordinated with the Tourism Ministry to boost Christian pilgrimage to Israel.

The IAA was brought in to excavate the site as part of the expansion of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. During the excavation last summer, archaeologists dug up the remains of a basilica, a monumental building and an adjacent winepress.

“The coins were found adjacent to the external wall of one of the monumental buildings found at the site, and it was found among the building stones that collapsed from the wall,” Landes-Naggar said. The manner in which the coins were found suggests they were deposited in a niche of the wall inside a purse for safekeeping before the building was destroyed, she said.

Coins

A hoard of Byzantine coins found near Ein Nakuba by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists

The site was abandoned and forgotten, with the buildings’ stones later incorporated into the agricultural terraces constructed into the hillside.

The coins themselves, which bear the faces of Byzantine Emperors Justinian I, Maurice, and Phocas, were minted in Constantinople, Antioch and Nicomedia and helped date the find. Though they aren’t particularly rare or remarkable — nor were they particularly valuable — “they tell the story of the site,” Landes-Naggar told reporters.

“It’s the context of the coins that gives us the puzzle of what happened,” she said.

The newfound hoard dates to around the same event that prompted Jewish residents of Jerusalem to squirrel away a golden treasure at the base of the Temple Mount, which Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar’s team unearthed during excavations in the Ophel in 2013.

Jewish rebels supporting the Sassanid Empire revolted against Byzantium in 613 CE, and an army of Persian and Jewish troops marched on Jerusalem, which fell after a brief siege.

The Jewish leader installed in Jerusalem, Nehemiah ben Hushiel, prepared to built a third Jewish temple, but those plans were scuppered by a Christian counter-rebellion. Amid the subsequent Christian-Jewish slaughter, “in conjunction with the Persians, the Jews swept through Palestine, destroyed the monasteries which abounded in the country, and expelled or killed the monks,” the Jewish Encyclopedia writes.

The large two-story building found in the excavations may have been a Byzantine monastery, Landes-Naggar said, but she wasn’t certain, nor was it clear at what point exactly the site was destroyed.

“We don’t know exactly what the purpose of that building was. That’s one possibility,” she told The Times of Israel. “There are other possibilities.”

Two years after Persia and Byzantium struck a peace treaty in 628, Constantinople retook control of a depleted Jerusalem and massacred Jews who rose up against New Rome.

But Constantinople’s restoration to power was short lived. With both empires weakened, the armies of Islam swept north from the Arabian Peninsula and, in 637 CE, Caliph Umar’s troops captured the city.              (the Times of Israel)

Two scenarios regarding the PM’s legal troubles

by Yonah Jeremy Bob   The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Analysis-Two-scenarios-regarding-the-PMs-legal-troubles-484624

Those who think that Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to continue as prime minister if he were indicted have not followed the developing law before the High Court of Justice.

It is true that under laws passed by the Knesset, a minister, including the prime minister, is only required to resign once he has been convicted of a crime with a finding of moral turpitude.

But the ground had started to shift on this in the 1990s, when the High Court ordered ministers Arye Deri and Rafael Pinhasi to resign upon their indictment for bribery.

When then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman was indicted in December 2012, to avoid embarrassment, he resigned as soon as a High Court petition was filed against him remaining a minister.

Liberman’s case stood out because the major case against him was closed, and the minor fraud and breach of public trust case filed against him mostly had to do with him failing by omission – he failed to report one of his employee’s illegal actions.

Until he resigned, some thought that only an indictment for an active and more serious crime such as bribery would force a minister to resign pre-conviction.

Most important, The Jerusalem Post has learned that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, however hesitant he may be to indict Netanyahu without a rock-solid case, agrees that the prime minister would need to resign if he is indicted.

In other words, the Knesset law has been made much stricter by court decisions, and Netanyahu would also face an immediate petition forcing his hand if he were indicted.

Further, it is unlikely that Netanyahu will be indicted for anything other than an active crime.

The Post has learned that Mandelblit will likely not indict Netanyahu for something viewed as overly minor, so if there is an indictment, it will be for a crime that is relatively severe.

Finally, the High Court has now ordered a former prime minister off to jail and rejected Netanyahu’s personal appearance in court in its major ruling on the natural gas policy, so just the fear of the office is unlikely to stop it from taking him down.

What if Netanyahu is indicted and then goes to an election or if he announces an election and is indicted during the campaign period but before Election Day? These are more complex scenarios, though there is some precedent to look at.

In October 2013, three mayors who had been indicted and forced by the High Court to suspend themselves from office were reelected by their cities despite their indictments and resignations.

New petitions were filed against them to get the High Court to re-fire the mayors.

It is not entirely clear how the High Court would have ruled, since the state sidestepped the issue by forming a committee that could suspend the mayors pending the completion of their trials without them having to permanently resign.

There is no similar apparatus for a suspended prime minister to leave and return to office, and it is unclear how politically possible that would be.

But even if the High Court would be ready to force Netanyahu to resign in a vacuum, it might be much harder pressed to make him resign if he were indicted, went to a new election and won.

The idea is that winning reelection would change his legal status, as the voters would be choosing him with full knowledge of his indictment.

In that light, whether and when he goes to the ballot box could be highly significant legally.

What’s behind Netanyahu’s threat to dissolve his coalition over media reforms

PM’s warning he may call snap elections unless the creation of a new state-funded broadcaster is aborted has Israelis wondering

By Andrew Tobin                 The Times of Israel

http://www.timesofisrael.com/whats-behind-netanyahus-threat-to-dissolve-coalition-over-media-reforms/

What is “Bibi” up to?

That was the question many in Israel were asking Sunday morning after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to bring down his own government to prevent reforms to state media. According to Hebrew reports, Netanyahu told ministers Saturday that unless the creation of a new government-funded broadcaster is aborted, “we’ll go to elections.”

Netanyahu ignored reporters’ questions about the comment as he boarded a plane for a diplomatic visit to China Saturday evening, and his office declined JTA’s request for confirmation.

Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have publicly clashed for months over the planned launch of the new broadcaster, which was supposed to be more politically independent than its predecessor. After supporting the 2014 legislation to create “Kan,” Netanyahu Led efforts to bury it. For his part, Kahlon has opposed Netanyahu’s plans to instead revamp the predecessor Israel Broadcasting Authority, which was once disparaged as increasingly costly and irrelevant.

On Thursday, hours after Kahlon announced a public break with his longtime ally Netanyahu over the issue, the two men reached a compromise that would have seen Kan go ahead on April 30. Netanyahu would have agreed to drop his opposition in exchange for Kahlon’s support for legislation that would give the government oversight of all television and radio stations in the country.

But then, in a Facebook post Saturday, Netanyahu said he had “changed his mind,” leaving observers to puzzle over why the prime minster, a master of political survival, would put his perfectly good right-wing government at risk over the issue. These are some theories being discussed in Israel.

Netanyahu has grown fond of the IBA

On Facebook, Netanyahu attributed his about-face to the “heartbreaking stories” he heard when he met Friday with Israel Broadcasting Authority employees. Some 1,000 employees were to lose their jobs when the authority closed, and many have been protesting. Netanyahu also cited estimates that it would be cheaper to fix the existing broadcaster than to start the new one. “So, what do we need the corporation for?” he asked.

But treasury department statistics contradicted Netanyahu’s price estimates. And few Israelis believed that he suddenly developed a soft spot for Israel Broadcast Authority employees. In the past, he has criticized them as left wing and supportive of terrorism.

On Thursday, Finance Ministry sources told Hebrew media: “Netanyahu seems to have forgotten who called them Hamas members and legislated a law limiting their absorption into the [new] broadcaster.

He fears the wrath of Kan

Both critics and allies have suggested Netanyahu’s real concern is that the new broadcaster will turn against him. David Bitan, the chairman of the ruling coalition, in August said Kan had already been “hijacked by people whose agenda is leftist and anti-government.”

In August, Netanyahu himself reportedly asked TV and radio employees of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation a rhetorical question: “What if everyone in the [new] corporation were from [left wing veterans’ group] Breaking the Silence?”

But some commentators have argued Netanyahu’s desire to control coverage does not explain his threat to call new elections because he could not really expect any future government to help him quash Kan either.

“First of all, let’s make clear that in any case, the [new] corporation will not shut down. With or without elections, it will launch television, radio and digital broadcasting on April 30, and the Israel Broadcasting Authority will cease to exist,” Yossi Verter wrote in Haaretz Sunday.

He is trying to avoid being indicted

Police have questioned Netanyahu four times as part of two corruption investigations. Although Netanyahu has repeatedly said of the investigations, “There will be nothing because there is nothing,” some have speculated that he may want an excuse to call new elections to prevent the police from recommending an indictment against him — something they would customarily refrain from doing until after the polls close.

Political analysts on Israel’s Channel 2 TV news suggested the investigations could be a motivating factor for the prime minister. But of course after the elections, there would be nothing preventing the wheels of justice from moving forward, and all the more easily if Netanyahu were no longer the prime minister.

He wants to bring his coalition to heel

Netanyahu’s coalition has looked increasingly unruly of late. In addition to Netanyahu and Kahlon’s falling out, Knesset member Yehuda Glick on Thursday posted a 700-word treatise on Facebook despairing at what he said was a culture of fear in his Likud party.

Earlier in the week, Education Minister Naftali Bennet and other members of the government publicly sparred with Avigdor Liberman over his threat to cut state funding for a pre-army military academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli if the controversial rabbi who heads it did not step down. The week before that, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Knesset member Avi Dichter both said they would run for prime minister once Netanyahu was out of the picture.

Given all the ministerial back-biting, many interpreted Netanyahu’s threat to call elections as a bid to restore order. On Sunday, supporters and critics differed only on how likely he was to succeed.

In Israel Hayom, Mati Tuchfeld credited the prime minister’s leadership under challenging conditions. “It’s not just the broadcaster and it’s not just Kahlon,” he wrote. “It’s also Naftali Bennett, who just a couple of days ago said that Netanyahu has neglected religious Zionism. It’s also Liberman, who though he appears Netanyahu’s most trusted partner, nonetheless his comments about closing the yeshiva in [the West Bank settlement of] Eli sent the prime minister down a dead end.”

On the other hand, Nahun Barnea concluded in Yedioth Aharanoth that Netanyahu was doomed to “self-destruct” in his forth term in office, much like his former British counterparts, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

His wife and son told him to

Finally, some blamed the woman Israelis love to hate, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara. Sima Kadmon wrote in Yedioth Aharanoth that Sara Netanyahu demanded her husband take action because of her dislike for certain journalists hired by Kan.

“It’s clear to everyone close to the prime minister that something is going on when Netanyahu is susceptible to the influence of his relatives,” she said. “Ladies and gentlemen, wake up. This is your prime minister.”

Israel’s boundless tech innovations

by Armstrong Williams: Tiny nation ‘continues to be a place where miracles happen’                  World Net Daily

http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/israels-boundless-tech-innovations/#Zrgew9LCkxT1r1XB.99

Israel, America’s greatest ally in the Middle East, has emerged as a global trailblazer in innovative technology driving us all into a safer future.

For a literal and figurative illustration of this idea, look no further than Mobileye, a global leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology headquartered in Jerusalem. California-based Intel purchased Mobileye for a whopping $15.3 billion. This milestone purchase marks the largest-ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company.

Intel is looking for Mobileye to help take it to the next level of autonomous driving systems, and Intel announced its intention to move its entire automotive unit to Israel.

Mobileye’s technology, developed by Israelis, is actually a game changer that will ultimately save Americans and millions of other lives worldwide through cutting-edge safety features for drivers.

I have traveled to Israel more than one dozen times, and the Israeli entrepreneurs and businessmen with whom I have met have never failed to amaze me with their boundless imagination for innovative and life-improving innovation.

It’s even more incredible to consider when you reflect upon the steep odds that have been stacked against the Jewish state since even before its founding.

Israel is tiny, even smaller than the state of New Jersey, and is situated in the world’s most dangerous neighborhood. Radical terrorists who indoctrinate their children with hatred and embrace an irrational extremist ideology that justifies killing innocents are a constant threat.

Despite living in constant vigilance against suicide bombers exploding themselves at restaurants, Hamas launching deadly rockets into civilian areas, the Iranian nuclear threat determined to wipe Israel off the map, or terrorists driving vehicles into crowds of innocent people – Israel still manages to be ranked as one of the world’s premier hubs for tech innovation.

Many Americans hear the word “Israel” and automatically associate the Jewish state with images of war, terrorism and violence being inflicted upon it. But this land of milk and honey and biblical history continues to be a place where miracles happen.

Israel is a global superpower in innovation and technology. Premier American and other international companies in pursuit of the most cutting-edge tech research have courted its start-ups and experts.

In fact, most people may be surprised to learn that Israel boasts the highest concentration of start-ups and research and development centers per capita in the world. 

A few years ago, Google purchased the Israeli start-up Waze for $1.15 billion after outbidding Facebook and Apple. The acquisition of Waze marked the first Israeli consumer-app company to be purchased for more than $1 billion, catapulting Israel’s “Start-up Nation” to the next level.

That was also right around the time Apple purchased the Israeli 3D sensor company called PrimeSense for $300 million – just one of many examples of America tapping into Israel’s expertise in computer vision and tech know-how.

What is truly amazing is that in addition to mastering the tech industry, Israel is also on the front line of medical innovations and has gained worldwide recognition for its unprecedented discoveries.

Israeli doctors, scientists and researchers have produced pioneering medical advances that are dramatically improving the lives of millions of Americans and others worldwide. Israel is responsible for developing treatments for conditions including paralysis, cancer, diabetes, blindness, general disabilities and so much more.

Israel is also a global leader in the ground breaking tech arenas of cybersecurity, energy security, clean technology, agricultural techniques and defense systems.

Israel’s achievements not only inspire, but also transcend conflicts. Israeli innovations, cures and life-saving inventions cross boundaries, politics and religions.

Now just consider if Israel lived in quiet times, next to peaceful neighbors, and was not forced to invest the majority of its resources and experts into self-defense and protecting its people. Imagine the incredible Israeli potential that would be unleashed into the world.

The Jewish state would be able to contribute even more life-saving and transformative innovations for the betterment of humanity. That, too, would be a modern-day miracle. I, for one, hope to see it in our lifetime.