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Latest News in Israel – 12th November

EU approves labeling Jewish ‘settlement’ goods

The European Union has approved a measure labeling Jewish-made goods from Judea and Samaria, in a long-anticipated move branded by the Israeli government as “anti-Semitic.”

At a meeting in Brussels, the European Commissioner “adopted this morning the interpretative notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967,” the EU’s executive said.

The notice is effectively a set of guidelines for labeling products from Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and neighborhoods of Jerusalem liberated during the 1967 Six Day War.

The first instructions are set to be for food and other industries, including potentially specifying the wording to be used on labels.

Israel’s ambassador to the EU warned on Tuesday that there would be “implications” from the decision.

The Israeli foreign ministry, meanwhile, has summoned the European Union’s ambassador to the country in response to the move.

“Israel condemns the European Union’s decision to label Israeli goods originating from over the ’67 lines,” the foreign ministry said in a statement following the decision.

“We regret that the EU has chosen, for political reasons, to take such an exceptional and discriminatory step, inspired by the boycott movement, particularly at this time, when Israel is confronting a wave of terrorism targeting any and all of its citizens,” it added.

The foreign ministry further condemned the “shocking double-standard” of labeling Israeli goods in disputed territory, while not acting similarly in “some 200 territorial disputes current going on throughout the world.”

Meanwhile, the EU insisted Wednesday that the decision is “technical, not political.”

“This is a technical issue not a political stance,” European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told AFP, adding that the bloc “does not support in any form a boycott or sanctions against Israel.”

Dombrovskis said the labelling decision was related to consumer policy in the European Union, the world’s biggest economy with a combined population of over 500 million.

“The Commission is providing guidance to the EU member states and economic operators to ensure the uniform application of the rules on indication of origins of Israeli settlement produce,” he said.

He said the EU decision “is not a new legislation or new policy, it clarifies certain elements linked to the interpretation and effective implementation of the existing EU legislation.”

Ahead of the ruling, the NGO Monitor watchdog warned moves to label Jewish-made goods in Israel – even from only a specific part of the country – were being engineered and encouraged by far-left NGOs as a precursor for more extensive boycotts against the Jewish state.

“The European Union’s decision to label Israeli-made products from beyond the Green Line is another act in the ongoing NGO campaign to delegitimize Israel,” NGO Monitor head Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor said. “This strategy is also the driving force of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, and it is led by EU-funded NGOs that are detrimental a peaceful, negotiated solution.”

NGO Monitor outlined how extremist NGOs whose only agenda was to attack Israel were being funded by the EU itself, and that those very groups were behind the latest measure.

“For years, the EU has given money earmarked for humanitarian aid and peace-building to political groups that abuse human rights to promote their own agendas. These organizations have lobbied hard for the EU to adopt their ideas, with the rhetoric of ‘consumer choice’ masking what is clearly an anti-Israel measure,” the group said in a statement.

“NGO Monitor research shows that NGOs push labeling as a first step in the BDS process, aimed at all Israeli products and services. This allows these NGOs to talk about the pre-1967 lines while actually targeting Israel within the 1948 borders.”

“The multiplicity of examples shows that many highly political NGOs are not only following the EU’s decision to label products, but that they were active in shaping the resolution and promoting it as a step in their long war against Israel,” Steinberg added. “The EU and its member countries are the primary supporters of many of these BDS-related NGOs. This support is inconsistent with Europe’s claims to promote international values and human rights.”       (Arutz Sheva)

Justice Minister ‘weighing legal action against EU decision’

Israeli officials have reacted with outrage to the European Union’s decision to mark products made by Jews in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) said Wednesday that the move is “an anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish decision.”

“European hypocrisy and hatred toward Israel have exceeded all possible limits,” she stated. “It’s interesting that in Western Sahara and Cyprus, they were never told to mark products,” she noted, in a comparison to two other disputed territories that have been considered “occupied.”

The minister said that she was weighing the taking of legal steps against the EU’s decision.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned the EU ambassador Wednesday for a dressing-down following the announcement about the product marking.

Israel said that it denounces the EU’s decision. “We regret that the EU decides, out of political motives, chose to take a discriminatory and unusual step that is taken from the world of boycotts, and did so of all days at a time when Israel is dealing with a terror wave against its citizens.”

The Foreign Ministry accused the EU of implementing a double standard regarding Israel, while ignoring 200 conflicts throughout the world, including some that are taking place literally at its doorstep.

The claim that the marking is a “technical step” is “a cynical and baseless argument,” the ministry added. Marking products will not advance a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, it argued, but have the opposite effect and strengthen the PA’s rejection of direct negotiations with Israel, which the EU has said it would appeal.”

MK Itzik Shmuley (Zionist Union) said that the EU decision was “stupid, hurtful and unhelpful” and that it “places a large stain on Europe’s forehead.”

“The residents of Hamburg or Copenhagen do not really understand where the Green Line begins or ends, and in practice, the decision will lead to a boycott of all Israeli products. It is too bad,” he added, “that Europe decided today, shamefully, to strengthen those who lead the boycott campaign against Israel, whose aim is to wipe Israel off the map and not to advance peace.”

MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) reacted to the news by saying: “While Jews are being stabbed in the streets, the European Union surrendered to the BDS movement and adopted a decision to mark products that discriminates against Israel and encourages terrorism.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) called the decision “Modern day Nazi propaganda. Seventy years have gone by, and they have learned nothing… Today it is products [that are being marked, ed.] – tomorrow it will be us”

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Tuesday that the EU’s step was “disguised anti-Semitism”.

“What you see is really that some people, and here unfortunately some institutions in the European Union, are taking steps against Israel that are unparalleled in similar situations,” Steinitz told journalists. “So we cannot conceive it but as some disguised anti-Semitism.”                            (Arutz Sheva)

11-, 14-year-old terrorists admit stabbing guard for ‘revenge’

The 14-year-old terrorist who, along with his 11-year-old relative, stabbed a security guard in Jerusalem on Tuesday committed the crime out of revenge, he confessed to police Wednesday.

“I wanted to kill Jews to avenge my cousin, Muhammed Ali, who was murdered at Damascus Gate,” Muawiyyeh Alkam told police. Ali stabbed three people at the Gate, located outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, on October 12; he was eliminated on-site by security forces.

The Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court extended the 14 year-old’s remand by one week Wednesday. His cousin and fellow teen terrorist, 11-year-old Ali Alkam, remains in moderate condition at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.

The two teens, residents of nearby Shuafat, carried out the stabbing attack aboard a light rail car as it pulled into Pisgat Ze’ev’s Yekutiel Adam station Tuesday. An uncle of theirs told Walla! News that the two studied in the same school and likely planned the attack from there.

Footage which emerged late Tuesday night showed the two sneaking up on the Light Rail guard; despite being injured, the 25 year-old succeeded in shooting and injuring Ali, while Muawiyyeh was detained at the scene by alert bystanders.

Alkam’s lawyer, attorney Mazan Ayoub, declared that the teen admits full responsibility for the attack.                           (Arutz Sheva)

Border Policeman takes down Arab knifeman with his bare hands

A Border Police officer fought off a knife-wielding rioter with his bare hands Tuesday afternoon, preventing an arrest operation from turning deadly.

The incident in question occurred near A-Tira village, near Kalkiya in Samaria, as dozens of Arab youths hurled rocks and firebombs at Border Police forces.

After dispersing the rioters security forces entered the village to track down and arrest the main instigators.

But when Staff Sergeant “D.” and his colleagues managed to grab one of the main suspects, the rioter pulled out a knife and attempted to stab them.

“In a split second I realized that this had gone from an arrest of rock-throwers to an attempted stabbing attack,” he recounted. “The distance was short, so my only option was to overpower him with my hands.

“I managed to dodge the stabbing and beat him until he was neutralized.”

Following the successful operation, the area has been quite and free of any further violence.

Border Police Northern Brigade Commander, Chief Superintendent Golan Sharoni, was full of praise for the brave officer.

“We prepare and train the fighters precisely for these kinds of scenarios,” he said. “The professionalism and speed of [the officer’s] reactions were the main factor in ending the incident as it did – without any casualties to our forces.

The terrorist was transferred to the Border Police Jerusalem division for interrogation.                        (Arutz Sheva)

Netanyahu: Anti-Semitism, not settlements, preventing two-state solution

A refusal to accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, alongside the right for a Palestinian state, is preventing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday at the Jewish Federations of North America conference in Washington.

Fresh off a positive Oval Office meeting with US President Barack Obama a day earlier, the premier, in a wide-ranging speech, recommitted his government to the two-state solution.

But he denied that settlement activity is at the root of the conflict.

“The truth is, the reason we don’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or territorial disputes,” Netanyahu told the annual gathering of the JFNA, noting that settlement construction in the West Bank began several decades after the conflict began.

“The reason there isn’t peace is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundaries.”

The PLO recognized the State of Israel in 1993. But the Palestinian Authority, an organ of the PLO, still calls for Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” to within the Green Line, in addition to the creation of an independent state for the Palestinian people, raising fears in Israel that the organization seeks two Palestinian states.

In his speech, as he has in the past, Netanyahu outlined his theory for this “persistent refusal” – a stubborn hatred of the Jewish people, now manifested in anti-Zionism.

“The lies leveled against the Jewish people, are now leveled against the Jewish state,” he told the confab.

Double standards are a consistent diplomatic reality for Israel, the prime minister said. But they are also a part of the reality of its founding: There has been a consistent refusal to accept the Jewish people as a community with the right to govern itself.

“Israel is not a perfect country, but it is judged by a standard that is applied to no other country and that no country can possibly meet,” Netanyahu said. “You know what that is? It begins with an ‘a’ and ends with an ‘m,’” he said, in reference to anti-Semitism.

“There’s a special standard for the democracy called Israel,” he added.

Netanyahu is in Washington primarily to meet with US officials.

But he also accepted an award on Monday night from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and will speak to the liberal Center for American Progress on Tuesday afternoon.

The White House meeting focused on a future US defense assistance package to Israel, which will replace the current program, worth $3 billion a year, once it expires in 2017. A senior administration official said that the US is open to discussing Israeli requests for an increase to that funding.

“We’re not ruling out an increase in our military assistance, but these discussions remain in the early stages and figures have not yet been discussed,” the official said. “We are committed to a bottom-up review focused on Israel’s needs.”

At the Jewish Federations event, Netanyahu noted that defense “is very, very expensive,” and “gets more and more expensive over time.” His government seeks an increase for the next decade-long package to $5b. a year.

That is not only because of the increased costs of defense, but also because of the evolving security environment in the Middle East. “The president and Netanyahu discussed the overall situation in the region, including Syria, ISIL, and Iran’s destabilizing activities,” the US official added.

The deterioration of state structures across the Middle East, and the rise of groups such as Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood, may ultimately provide common cause to Israel and Arab states, Netanyahu said. In the battle between modernity and “Medievalism, modernity must win,” he said.

Speaking after Netanyahu, White House chief-of-staff Denis McDonough said that the US remains committed to a two-state solution to the conflict.

“To get there, actions need to be taken to prevent a one state solution from taking root instead,” he said.

“That means reversing current trends on the ground where settlements and demolitions are imperiling the viability of a two-state solution. Taking such steps will enhance security and stability for Israelis and Palestinians alike while strengthening the voices of peace on both sides,” McDonough said.

He added that the Obama administration envisioned that borders of the two states would be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.

“A viable sovereign Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with a democratic, secure State of Israel is the only real path to peace,” he said.    (Jerusalem Post)

White House: Military aid for Israel not linked to settlement building

There is no link between security funding for Israel and continued settlement construction, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington.

He spoke at the tail end of the Oval Office meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in which the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding that provides Israel annually with $3.1 billion in military assistance through 2017 was under discussion.

A reporter asked Earnest: “Is there ever going to be a situation where… the next MOU would be affected by [settlement building], or if that doesn’t stop, then it’s going to affect the amount of assistance that Israel gets? Or would you say that those things are completely separate?” the reporter asked.

There is no connection between the two, Earnest answered.

“The commitment of the US to Israel’s security is unshakable. Israel is the strongest ally the US has in that region of the world and improving and strengthening Israel’s security is good for the national security of the US,” Earnest said.

“We may have our disagreements about how to pursue our shared objectives, as we saw on display as we completed the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We even have some differences of opinion when it comes to the peace process. But that has not affected the commitment of this administration or this country to Israel’s security,” he said.

However, he added, “Resolving the conflict is in the best interest of US national security and the Israeli and the Palestinian people.”

Settlement building, for example, he said, is one of the Israeli measures that have been harmful to attempts to resume talks with the Palestinians.

Palestinians have insisted that they will not talk with Israel until it halts all Jewish building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Netanyahu has refused to cede to that request and insists the stumbling block to a two state solution is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He has consistently called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations “without preconditions.”

Since entering office in 2009, Obama has made two significant failed attempts to engage Israel and the Palestinians in a peace process that would lead to a two-state solution.

After the last round of talks ended in 2014, it appeared as if circumstances, such as the Gaza war in the summer of 2014 and elections in March, prevented the US from pushing forward with a third initiative.

In the final days of the election process, Netanyahu said that given the violent extremism in the region, conditions did not exist that would allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state at this time to which the Obama administration responded by stating that it would have to reassess its policy with regard to the Middle East peace process.

Earnest told reporters on Monday the administration has completed that examination and arrived at the same conclusion as Netanyahu, although its analysis of the problem differed from that of the prime minister.

“There was a reassessment about our policy toward a two state solution and whether or not that is something that is viable moving forward given the public comments of Netanyahu earlier this year,” Earnest said.

“The observation that was made at the end of last week was that a two-state solution was not going to happen while Obama was in office,” the press secretary said.

“It is even unlikely that talks in pursuit of that two-state solution would begin in the next 14 months,” Earnest said.

Netanyahu pledged his support for a two-state solution at the start of his meeting with Obama on Monday morning.

“We’ll never give up our hope for peace. And I remain committed to a vision of peace, of two states for two peoples, of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” he said.

In the briefing room, a reporter asked Earnest if Netanyahu’s words sounded hollow.

“No. They do not, not to me,” Earnest said as he explained that the prime minister had a responsibility as the elected leader of his country to take steps to ensure its security.

But, he said, the best way to measure Netanyahu’s sincerity on this issue was to “see the degree to which his administration is willing to follow through on those comments.

“That is certainly what the Obama administration will be doing and I anticipate that other governments will be doing the same thing,” he said.

Over the years, Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Earnest have made comments that appeared to blame the failure of the peace process on continued settlement building.

On Monday, Earnest said the problem lay with both Israelis and Palestinians.

“It is possible that Netanyahu could make some commitment and send clear signals that they [Israel] are recommitted to trying to advance a process toward a two-state solution and that would not be enough,” Earnest said.

Both sides must take confidence- building measures, he added.

“We will need to see a commitment on the part of the Palestinian leaders, too, to ending violence and incitement and demonstrating their commitment to negotiating in good faith,” Earnest said.

The US will do what it can to move the process in the direction of talks, Earnest said, urging Israelis and Palestinians to help make that happen.             (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Israel to invest directly in its Conservative, Reform communities

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu generated both warm praise and fierce condemnation Tuesday night after he announced that the government would directly fund Reform and Conservative Jewish communities in Israel.

The statement was welcomed by the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations but denounced by senior haredi political leadership as contravening coalition agreements with the ultra-Orthodox political parties.

“I want to guarantee one thing to each and everyone of you. As prime minister of Israel, I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews, all Jews,” the prime minister said during his speech to the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington.

Netanyahu told the gathering he had established a round-table forum with government officials and religious leaders from the different Jewish denominations to discuss problems and their solutions regarding religion and state issues in the country.

“For the first time, the government of Israel is joining, with the Jewish Agency, to invest in strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel,” Netanyahu declared.

Netanyahu’s comments come in the wake of several outbursts from Religious Services Minister David Azoulay of the haredi Shas party against non-Orthodox Jews, and against the background of the ongoing dissatisfaction felt by the Reform and Conservative communities in the US and Israel about the control of religious life by the Orthodox establishment.

Netanyahu said he also was committed to providing a solution to the requests of the non-Orthodox movements for prayer space at the Western Wall, and that he was working to find a dignified solution to the problem. “I’m also hopeful we will soon conclude a long overdue understanding that will ensure that the Kotel [Western Wall] will be a source of unity for our people and not a point of division, and we’re getting there,” Netanyahu said.

Non-Orthodox communities are not generally funded by the state, although at least four Reform rabbis serving communities in the country began to receive salaries, like their Orthodox counterparts, after a petition to the High Court of Justice forced the state to do so.

As part of the agreement to fund these rabbis, the state insisted that the salaries be paid from the Culture Ministry and not the Religious Services Ministry.

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman of United Torah Judaism said Netanyahu’s comments contravened the coalition agreement signed between his party and the Likud.

“Throughout the generations, we have known that the Reform and Conservative [movements] are tearing the Jewish people apart and it is forbidden to lend them a hand to tear up the Torah of the Jewish people,” the minister said. “It is a shame that the prime minister made these comments, and we will do everything so that this commitment is no fulfilled.”

Senior haredi MK Moshe Gafni, UTJ, also denounced Netanyahu’s declaration.

“The Reform [Movement] is sticking a knife into the Torah of the Jewish people,” he said late Tuesday.

“What Netanyahu said was extremely severe and we will demand clarifications when he returns to Israel,” he warned.

However, leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel welcomed the prime minister’s comments and called for his promise to be implemented practically.

“Netanyahu’s comments illustrate how close to his heart the issue of the Jewish people is to him,” said Yizgar Hess, director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel.

“This is a declaration that has symbolic significance, operative significance, but mostly Zionist significance. The State of Israel is the State of the Jewish people and in order that it continue as such it must be obligated to the fact that there is more than one way to be Jewish,” Hess said.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform Movement in Israel, said: “Ongoing discrimination” against the non-Orthodox communities in Israel was damaging to Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state, and that “we expect the prime minister’s announcement to lead to a change in the way the government of Israel relates to the non-Orthodox communities.”      (Jerusalem Post)

Syrian media reports Israeli airstrike near Damascus airport

Around two weeks after a reported Israeli strike on a weapons convoy in Syria, media outlets associated with Syrian President Bashar Assad reported Wednesday night another Israeli airstrike in the country.

According to the reports, Israeli aircraft carried out the strike adjacent to the Damascus airport at around 6:00 p.m. Yet it was not clear whether the target of the attack was a weapons shipment, or an alternate target, such as an Iran-backed terror cell operating against Israel.

Defense officials declined to comment on the foreign media reports.

However, Israel did previously announce a strict-policy of intolerance towards threats to the state, such as weapons transfers between Syria and Lebanon.

The last reported Israeli strike in Syria, on October 31, targeted numerous Hezbollah targets in Syria’s south.

In the October alleged attack, Syrian media reported that up to a dozen Israeli war planes conducted the mission close to the Lebanon-Syria border in the Qalamoun Mountains region. Estimated targets included a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah fighters traveling through Syria.

The alleged attack on Wednesday night would be the second attributed to Israel since Russia began operating in the area.

Israel has reportedly struck Hezbollah in Syria several times over the past year.

Earlier this year, the Israel Air Force reportedly struck a vehicle located in a Druse village in southwestern Syria, killing Hezbollah men and a pro-Assad militiaman, as well as a military base in Lebanon.

Another reported strike targeted a Lebanese military installation near the Syrian border, wounding six. It is believed to belong to a pro-Syrian Palestinian faction. In a newsflash, Syrian state television quoted a military source as saying that Israeli planes had struck a base belonging to the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a faction that backs Assad.                        (Jerusalem Post)

Knesset proposes Pollard funding bill to cover his expenses upon release

The government would pay for Jonathan Pollard to have “reasonable living conditions” for the rest of his life following his expected release from a prison in North Carolina November 20, according to a bill proposed in the Knesset on Tuesday.

Although the conditions for the Israeli agent’s parole after 30 years in prison have not been revealed, he is expected to be forced to remain in the United States for the next five years before he may be permitted to move to Israel. Upon his release, Pollard will seek immediate medical treatment for multiple ailments.

The bill, proposed by Knesset House Committee chairman David Bitan (Likud), would require the government to fund Pollard’s residence and medical expenses, aw well as provide a monthly stipend to support him.

“We have a moral obligation to Pollard,” Bitan said.

“He sat in jail for 30 years while the government of Israel failed to bring about his release. Due to his age and poor health, he clearly will not be able to support himself on his own in a reasonable way without the support of the government.”

Reports that the government has been allocating money to Pollard during his incarceration have been vigorously denied. His wife, Esther, lives in the small apartment of a friend in central Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to answer a question about Pollard in a press briefing in Washington Monday.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said  in an interview at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington that Israel should first make sure Pollard is indeed released from prison before it makes an effort to allow him to make aliya.

He criticized members of Netanyahu’s government for rejecting an April 2014 effort to bring about Pollard’s release in return for diplomatic gestures to the Palestinians.

“A golden opportunity to bring him home was lost,” Herzog lamented.   (Jerusalem Post)

Despite terror wave, tourism to Israel increased in October

The Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday a pronounced spike in tourism during October, despite the wave of terrorism that began in the nation early last month.

According to the CBS, approximately 290,000 tourists visited Israel in October, compared to 224,000 visitors in September, marking a 29% increase.

Additionally, CBS reported that 5% more tourists came to the country last month than compared to the same period last year.

CBS said it partially attributed the spike in tourism to the International Astronautical Congress, hosted at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, which was attended by over 2,000 people from 60 countries.

Billed as “Space – The Gateway for Mankind’s Future,” the 66th annual IAC conference – which is hosted in a different country every year – featured astronaut Buzz Aldrin, panel discussions, and workshops with the world’s leading space experts.

The five-day conference, held in coordination with the Science, Technology and Space Ministry, was from October 12-16.

Overall throughout October, 257,000 tourists arrived by plane, 25,000 came via the border with Jordan, while 8,000 entered from Egypt.

Still, the encouraging report belies a dramatic economic downturn that has crippled Jerusalem’s economy since the recent Palestinian terrorism wave began.

To assist foundering area businesses, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has initiated a campaign to draw more tourists and aid business owners.

Moreover, in a sharply-worded letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, following broken down talks with the Finance Ministry, Barkat accused Netanyahu of not following through on his pledge to provide emergency funding for the capital.                                  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel to commemorate Chaim Herzog’s historic 1975 UN speech

The Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations will hold an event Wednesday commemorating the historic speech given by then ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog on November 10, 1975, in which he denounced General Assembly Resolution 3379 that declared Zionism a form of racism.

That day coincided with the 37th anniversary Kristallnacht, or the Night of Shattered Glass, in Germany. The resolution was adopted by a 72-35 vote with 32 abstentions and remained in place for until it was revoked in 1991, by which time Herzog was Israel’s sixth president.

At the end of his speech, described by the Israeli mission as “one of the most influential” addresses in history, Herzog had made a powerful impact when he tore up the resolution on the podium before the UN General Assembly.

“For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such,” he said.

The decision, he told the gathering, was “conceived in the desire to deflect the Middle East from its moves toward peace and born of a deep pervading feeling of anti-Semitism.”

“It is sobering to consider to what level this body has been dragged down if we are obliged today to contemplate an attack on Zionism. For this attack constitutes not only an anti-Israeli attack of the foulest type, but also an assault in the United Nations on Judaism,” Herzog stated.

“The resolution against Zionism was originally one condemning racism and colonialism, a subject on which we could have achieved consensus,” he added. “However, instead of permitting this to happen, a group of countries, drunk with the feeling of power inherent in the automatic majority and without regard to the importance of achieving a consensus on this issue, railroaded the UN in a contemptuous maneuver by the use of the automatic majority into bracketing Zionism with the subject under discussion.”

The 40-year commemoration event is being organized in collaboration with the Yad Chaim Herzog Association and the American Jewish Council.

Among the expected attendees are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; United States Ambassador Samantha Power; and some of Herzog’s family members including his son, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, who will give a speech at the ceremony.

Current Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called the passing of Resolution 3379 “a dark chapter” in the UN’s history.

“Despite the retraction of the resolution, the hypocrisy and delegitimization against Israel still echo in the halls of this organization,” he said. “The UN must tear this page from its history and open a new page of fairness and equality among all its member states.”                  (Jerusalem Post)

Steinitz: EU labeling plan is ‘disguised anti-Semitism’

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Tuesday that the European Union’s (EU) proposal to label products made in communities in Judea and Samaria was “disguised anti-Semitism”.

“What you see is really that some people, and here unfortunately some institutions in the European Union, are taking steps against Israel that are unparalleled in similar situations,” Steinitz told journalists.

“So we cannot conceive it but as some disguised anti-Semitism,” he added.

The EU last week indicated that it intends to start labeling Jewish-made products from Judea and Samaria soon. Senior EU officials stated to Arutz Sheva that there was “no room for negotiation” with Israel on the topic of labeling Jewish goods.

The European Commission has been working for months on implementing a plan to label so-called “settlement products” which was first mooted in 2012. It is due to issue instructions to food and other industries, including potentially specifying the wording to be used on labels, AFP reported on Tuesday.

Some Israeli officials have said they expect a decision on the labeling could come as soon as Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely last week opened Israel’s battle against the labeling decision, calling the EU out for “discriminating” against the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, a group of 36 bipartisan American senators on Monday sent a letter to the EU denouncing the decision.

“As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de-facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East,” the senators wrote.

“We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous, and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution to this conflict,” they added.                (Arutz Sheva)

Judge to State: Could PM be all of the ministers at once?

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday appeared to rebuke Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for holding four ministerial portfolios in addition to being prime minister, with Justice Hanan Melcer mockingly asking the state’s lawyers if “the prime minister could hold all of the ministerial” positions? In a memorable exchange, state attorney Sharon Rothshanker replied, “Yes. Just as the law is silent about whether a child can be appointed a minister. There are no rules about this.”

The heated exchange came at a second hearing of Yesh Atid’s petition, filed in July, to declare special arrangements in the current government, including Netanyahu holding multiple ministries, unconstitutional.

The prime minister is also foreign minister, economy minister, communications minister and regional cooperation minister.

Melcer’s attacking question and other attacking comments by the justices were not a decision by the High Court and many observers have expressed doubt that the court can force Netanyahu to give up ministries in light of the vague law on the issue.

The above exchange did not end with Rothshanker’s unapologetic response, as Melcer then jumped in and told her that she was wrong and that there were rules about age for ministers (they have to be at least 20 years old) and that reasonability considerations also had a role to play in whether coalition arrangements were legal.

In other words, even as Melcer might have conceded that the law did not formally prohibit Netanyahu from holding so many ministries, he explained that certain absurdities in coalition arrangements could go too far.

But the other justices, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Neal Hendel, Salim Joubran and even Supreme Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein, who was on record in 2009 as being critical of a prime minister holding too many portfolios, were more moderate in their views.

Many of the justices noted that applicable legal texts on the issue seemed to send contradictory messages, which along with a history of other prime ministers having held other ministries, made forcing Netanyahu to give up ministries a long-shot.

Blasting Netanyahu, Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said, “the High Court today expressed grave doubt regarding the ability of the prime minister to continue to hold on to so many portfolios just because of political considerations.”

Lapid went on to declare that “there is no Foreign Ministry” because there is no foreign minister, and lament that he had attended a conference of foreign ministers in Europe in place of Israel’s unfilled foreign minister post.

In August, a related Yesh Atid petition to the High Court did force United Torah Judaism chairman’s Ya’acov Litzman to become the first haredi politician in decades to accept a full ministerial role, agreeing to be promoted from deputy health minister to health minister.

Until then, Ashkenazi haredi politicians for decades had held deputy ministerial positions while de facto controlling their ministries, to avoid the appearance of recognizing the state’s secular nature and to absolve them of the responsibility connected with the state’s secular decisions.          (Jerusalem Post)

Study: 84% of Israelis say they wouldn’t emigrate

Despite media reports about an exodus of Israelis to Berlin, New York, Melbourne and parts elsewhere, the Israeli Democracy Index for 2015 indicates that Israelis – both Jews and Arabs – are less likely to emigrate than is generally believed.

This year’s index was presented to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday by Israeli Democracy Institute President Yohanan Plesner who said that 67 percent of Israelis believe that tensions, discrimination and intolerance between Jews and Arabs are responsible for increasing the divide. Plesner emphasized that this was the finding of a survey taken before the current wave of terrorist attacks.

Notwithstanding tensions and intolerance, 78% of respondents don’t care whether a physician is Jewish or Arab, but 36.1% of Jews do not want to have Arab neighbors. They are even more indisposed to having foreign workers as neighbors, with 48.5% of Jews declining to live next door to them.

Arab respondents have a different set of no-nos. Some 42.6% of Arab respondents do not want to live alongside ultra-Orthodox Jews, and 40.4% don’t want to have homosexual neighbors. Only 11.4% of Israeli Arabs said it wouldn’t bother them living next door to Jews.

Plesner expressed confidence that in the long term, democracy will be the mainstay of security, and voiced appreciation for Rivlin’s championing of equal rights, calling him “a beacon of democracy.”

Rivlin regularly talks about a Jewish and democratic state, but the survey indicates that Israeli Jews do not necessarily agree that the two go hand in hand. Only 27% of Jewish respondents follow Rivlin’s line of thinking, while 37% believe that Israel should be a Jewish state and 35% believe that Israel should be a democratic state.

The representative national sample surveyed 1,019 adults aged 18 and over. The maximum sampling error for a sample of this size is ± 3.2 percentage points.

The Israeli Democracy Index has been published annually since 2003.

Political scientist Prof. Tamar Hermann, who specializes in public opinion surveys, and who for the past five years has been the guiding light of the Israeli Democracy Index, said that overall, the picture is not promising, but it’s not entirely black either.

There is a school of thought that everyone wants to leave, she said, “but it’s simply not true.” Israelis want to travel and see the world, said Hermann, but they don’t want to live anywhere other than Israel. In this respect there is agreement between Jews and Arabs. Some 84.3% of Jews and 83.4% of Arabs would not emigrate if they had the opportunity to obtain the citizenship of another country.

Researchers discovered a continuing erosion of public confidence in state and government institutions.

“There is a feeling of moral panic,” said Hermann, even though the findings are not as bad as the media infer when professionals go out to do the surveys.

The majority of the public believes that there is corruption within the government.

Asked to what extent they think the government is corrupt on a 1 to 5 score, with 1 being very corrupt and 5 not at all corrupt, respondents gave replies that resulted in an average of 2.4. Similarly, 54.4% of the total sample said that members of Knesset are not working hard, and not performing as well as they should.

There is a growing disconnect between the public and the administration, with 77.7% convinced that they are unable to influence government decisions and policy.

As a consequence, there is a profound lack of trust in key political institutions, with only 19.1% of the total sample expressing hard-core trust in political parties. The figures a somewhat more encouraging with regard to trust in the Knesset, at 35.4%, and in the government, at 36.2%.

The bright lights in the story belong to the IDF and the president of the state, each of which enjoy high levels of trust – but only among Jewish respondents.

Compared to other countries, trust in the president in Israel is very high, said Hermann.

The Supreme Court (62.2%) and Israel’s health funds (70.6%) are also enjoy a relatively high degree of trust on the part of the Jewish public.

Among Arab respondents, the government and public bodies that enjoy the highest rate of trust are the health funds (82.2%), the National Insurance Institute (65.3%), and the Supreme Court (63%).

Both Jews and Arabs, comprising 59.3% of total respondents, believe that there is discrimination against Arabs, but breaking down responses to political differences produced more thought-provoking results. Forty- four percent of self-described right-wing respondents see Arabs as being discriminated against, while this opinion is shared by 62.6% of centrist and 80% of left-wing respondents.

While approximately half of the Jewish public believe that Arab localities should receive equal funding to that of Jewish localities, this sense of equality does not progress to the decision-making process. Only a small percentage of Jewish respondents are prepared to allow Arab involvement in crucial state decisions: 73.6% of Jewish respondents would require a Jewish majority for decisions regarding peace and national security, while 53.6% would require a Jewish majority for matters of governance, society and the economy. Moreover, 56.6% of Jews are opposed to including Arab parties or appointing Arabs as ministers in the government.

Rivlin was disturbed that a majority of Jews believe that Arab Israelis constitute a threat to national security, and said that if he were an Arab MK, he would be very upset by such a contention because it would imply that the MK is also a threat to national security.

Taking this a step further, 55.7% of Jewish respondents believe that Arab Israelis who identify as Palestinian nationals cannot be loyal citizens of Israel, while 42.3% think that Israeli-Arab citizens support the destruction of the state.

Discussion following the presentation centered on maintaining the public standing of the IDF, which Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer attributed to the fact that the IDF is free of politicization. If there weren’t a cooling off period for IDF brass before they enter into politics, the army itself would become political and would lose the public confidence that it has today, Kremnitzer contended.

Rivlin quipped that perhaps a cooling off period should apply to MKs running for president.

Even though he was speaking in jest, there was considerable speculation before they took office whether he or his predecessor, Shimon Peres, could hold their strong political opinions in check while occupying the apolitical role of president.

Kremnitzer sought a definition for loyalty. “What does it mean?” he asked. Many people think that whoever doesn’t serve in the army isn’t loyal, but there’s a difference between having an opinion and working toward making it operational, he said.                         (Jerusalem Post)

MKs call on Rabinowitz to allow women’s Hanukka lighting ceremony at Western Wall

Three MKs have called on Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, supervisor of the Western Wall and the holy places, to allow a Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony to be staged in the women’s section of the Western Wall for the upcoming holiday.

MKs Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) and Michal Rozin (Meretz) made their call following a campaign launched this week by the Women of the Wall prayer-rights group, which is calling on public officials to refuse invitations to participate in the annual public candle-lighting ceremony staged at the Western Wall.

A Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony is staged every year at the Western Wall in the men’s section of the plaza, in which prominent leaders and public officials are invited to light the Hanukka lights each night of the eight-day holiday.

Women are not invited to participate, however.

WoW argues that the Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony is a state-sponsored event, in which public figures stand in a public space and, as such, women should be able to participate in the ceremony and also be able to view it adequately.

The group says that as the women’s and men’s sections of the Western Wall are divided by a tall separation barrier, or mechitza, it is difficult for the women to view the candle-lighting ceremony.

Last year, Women of the Wall wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under whose authority the supervisor of the Western Wall and holy places is found, to request that a Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkia, equal in size to that in the men’s section, be erected in the women’s section.

The Prime Minister’s Office passed the letter on to then-deputy minister for religious services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, who passed it to Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz responded that the ceremony takes place in the men’s section of the Western Wall plaza, meaning that women could not take part in the lighting ceremony, and stated that the hanukkia is visible from the women’s section.

Members of the WoW group brought regular hanukkias to the women’s section instead.

Svetlova noted that she lights the hanukkia at home, and had sent a request to Rabinowitz to allow a candle-lighting ceremony to be conducted in the women’s section this year.

“I am sure that this year you will be able to make the effort to bring merit to everyone in this mitzva, all the more so since there is no problem in Jewish law [for women to light the hanukkia], and which is a commandment on all of us,” the MK wrote in her letter to Rabinowitz.

“Judaism and its leaders belong to us all, women and men alike, and I am hopeful that Rabbi Rabinowitz will hold a parallel ceremony in the women’s sanctions as well,” said Svetlova in a statement to the media.

On Monday, WoW itself sent letters to public officials asking them to refuse to participate in the official candle-lighting at the Western Wall, because women are excluded from the ceremony and cannot view it adequately.

Letters were sent to all female members of Knesset, as well as to officials who are usually invited to participate in the candle-lighting ceremony, including the executive director of the Chief Rabbinate, the police commissioner, public security minister, chief of police in charge of the Western Wall area, speaker of the Knesset, leader of the opposition in Knesset, president of the Supreme Court, and others.

“According to Jewish law (Halacha), women are required, as are men, to light Hanukkah candles. The mitzva is greater the more people light the candles,” wrote WoW in its letter. “We would appreciate it if you would see fit to turn to Rabinowitz and demand he change this offensive policy.”

The group suggested that recipients could reject an invitation to participate in the ceremony or speak out against the exclusion of women from the event.”

Rabinowitz’s office declined to respond to the campaign.        (Jerusalem Post)

Arabs already started blaming Israel for Gaza winter flooding

Gaza’s Civil Defense evacuated 90 Palestinians from their homes as rain brought flooding to parts of the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Muhammad al-Majdanah, chief spokesperson for the Civil Defense, told Ma’an that seven houses were evacuated from Khan Younis in southern Gaza, totaling 90 people.

The floods are exacerbated by a chronic lack of fuel that limits how much water can be pumped out of flood-stricken areas.

These fuel shortages are the result of an eight-year Israeli blockade, which also limits the import of other kinds of machinery related to pumping and sewage management that Gazans require to combat the floods.       (Ma’an)

There are no restrictions on fuel into Gaza.

There are no restrictions on water pumps into Gaza.

There are severe restrictions on Hamas’ ability to anticipate the flooding that happens every single year and to prepare properly ahead of time.

Hamas-leaning Felesteen interviews some of the victims, and even they blame their leaders::

Shadi Suwai’id is also a resident of the area, and his house is being flooded, he explained to the Felesteen newspaper that the pumps that are available in the region do not accommodate large amounts of water. He stated that the concerned authorities did not implement any projects to solve the problem on the ground, saying: “they promised to find solutions, and then they told us that it is difficult to find a radical solution to the problem because it is expensive and requires a lot of money that the municipality cannot provide for us.” Suwai’id added: “We have received promises without implementation of something the ground. There is no problem that has no solution, but it seems that the concerned authorities do not want to move, or maybe they do not have sufficient funds. we cannot rule out their happiness by the disaster because they benefit from it to bring support and money, ”

The article goes on to interview municipal officials who claim that they have purchased new, larger pumps this year, again showing that Ma’an is lying by saying that Israel does not allow pumps to enter.

Finally, the Felesteen article says that are readying themselves for when Israel opens its (nonexistent) dams to flood Gaza, saying that they have heavy equipment to dig large trenchethe authorities s to capture the water before it causes damage.

You know, equipment that could also be used to dig tunnels.                             (The Elders of Ziyon)

Israel an innovation revelation for Wyatt Roy and party

A group of 50 Australian entrepreneurs, founders, investors and public servants have returned from a fact-finding mission to Israel with a host of lessons and inspiration.

The one-week trade mission saw the group tour the country’s universities, co-working spaces and startups with the aim of learning what Israel has done right in promoting innovation and where Australian can improve.

Fishburners general manager Murray Hurps went on the trip, and says it was a landmark moment for those involved.

“It was probably the most important moment I’ve had in my professional career in 16 years,” Hurps says.

The trade mission was led by assistant minister for innovation Wyatt Roy, who says it was about learning, not copying.

“From the government’s perspective it’s very useful to have a look at the Israeli policy settings,” Roy tells StartupSmart.

“They’re obviously a gold standard when it comes to innovation.”

“But of course as we develop the Australian innovation ecosystem we need to develop something that’s uniquely Australian. We shouldn’t try to copy Israeli public policy but there’s an enormous amount we can learn from them.”

The lessons learned on this trip by Roy and the band of public servants will help to shape the government’s upcoming innovation statement, which will be announced next month.

“It was a useful exercise in feeding the experience and lessons from Israel into that and into developing policy,” Roy says.

Blue Sky Venture Capital investment director Elaine Stead, who was also on the trip, says the participants had many opportunities to float ideas with the government representatives.

“We have never had a greater opportunity to have direct input into its moulding,” Stead says.

“The team listened hard, were open to comment and new ideas, and dynamically accommodating this information with a genuine desire to create something great.

“I’ve never felt more optimistic that Australian innovation is in safe hands.”

Lessons from Israel

Israel is often heralded as one of the quickest rising startup locations in the world, with about 700-800 new tech companies started each year, second only to the US.

One of the key lessons from the Israel startup ecosystem is how important a role culture plays in this industry, Hurps says.

“Startups can’t be limited to concentrations in a few dozen buildings around the country, they need to be studied and appreciated in schools, universities, corporations, media outlets and every TV station,” he says.

“The universities were telling us that they don’t have a startup program to encourage people to start businesses, their culture does that for them. So much of the opportunity there is just created by the culture.”

Stead agrees, but says much of this is down to the local context.

“Australia’s challenge will be how we culturally adapt from what has been, by comparison, a culture of complacency and over reliance on our natural resources, to diversify and make a stronger commitment to other industries like innovation which are critical to our future prosperity and global competitiveness,” she says.

Australia must focus on what it already excels at, Roy says.

“We have to play to our best strengths in Australian culture – the ‘have a go’ mentality’, supporting the underdogs, the deeply anti-authoritarian approach we have,” he says.

A change in culture could see more Australian entrepreneurs take the leap and back their ideas, Hurps says.

“In Australia the bigger problem is the amount of people in Australia that could be launching something incredible and aren’t,” he says.

“A major reason is a lack of direct contact with other startup founders. If you were born in San Francisco and surrounded by successful people running companies and doing amazing things, you would logically move towards startups, but if you were born in a rural town in Australian you’re less likely to pursue one. “

Another lesson from the trip is that Australian founders and entrepreneurs need to present themselves on the global stage better, and play to their strengths, Hurps says.

“We have enormous reserves of capital and talent, we have a safe business environment, and we have incredible access to markets, both Western and Asian,” he says.

“For the first time in a while, we also have a Prime Minister who can project this message from the top down with authority. Australia really is the world’s most beautiful startup hub – let’s make sure the world knows this.”

Lessons for government

For Roy, a big takeaway was the light-touch approach of the Israeli government in terms of innovation, backing up his previous statements of the Turnbull government being an enabler of startups, not the driver.

“Rather than using the heavy hand of government, Israel enables innovation to flourish almost organically,” Roy says.

“There’s a very light touch approach when it comes to funding – the government acts as an enabler.”

Stead also found many lessons in how government should interact with the sector.

“The absolute key take away from this was the comment from the Chief Scientist of Israel who commented that government’s role is two-fold: to develop infrastructure and absorb risk,” she says.

“I think this view is itself quite innovative and contrary to many other governments who design policy where the goal is to push out risk out onto industry.”

Israel is also making efforts to combat gender inequality in the tech world, something Roy says needs to be at the forefront in Australia also.

“As a starting point we have to make it a national agenda item,” he says.

“Then you can start throwing whatever resources we have at solving the problem.

“Nowhere in the world have they really achieved proper gender equality. We have to make it a priority.”

Travelling the world to discover home

A resounding consensus among the participants seems to be that although the trip showcased the Israel ecosystem, it also served to create confidence and aspirations in the potential of the Australian startup community.

This came down to spending time in close proximity to 50 other like-minded individuals and seeing the hard work they’re putting in, Hurps says.

“The best part of any trip like this is spending time with a lot of similar people that are usually very busy and can’t afford the time,” he says.

“I came away so excited about what Australia could be doing over the next couple of years. I was expecting to be impressed by Israel but I came back being really impressed by Australia.”

“We’re on the precipice of something substantial – the pieces are starting to come together.”

Roy says he saw the trip as a confirmation for the work that’s currently underway in Australia.

“One of the great take-outs was actually a realisation of all the good things we’re doing at home,” he says.

“Our talent is some of the best in the world, our retention rates are good, our lifestyle is the envy of the rest of the world, we have access into the Asian marketplace that no other country has – we have enormous opportunities as a country, and we should talk that up.”

“It’s interesting that you have to go to the other side of the world to renew that excitement, but it becomes really self-evident when you’re there.”              (StartupSmart)

When Will Obama and the West Listen to Hamas?

by Khaled Abu Toameh                  The Gatestone Institute

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6850/listen-to-hamas

What senior Hamas figure Musa Abu Marzouk and other Hamas leaders are saying is very clear: Even if a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, Hamas and other Palestinians will continue to fight until Israel is completely destroyed.

Hamas is openly stating that it will use any future Palestinian state as a launching pad to attack and eliminate Israel.

Hamas is not a small opposition party in the Palestinian territories that can be dismissed as a minor player. Hamas is a large Islamist movement, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that controls the entire Gaza Strip with its population of 1.8 million Palestinians. Hamas, not much different from Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, has its own security forces, militias, weapons and government institutions.

The Obama Administration and Western governments can talk as much as they like about the two-state solution. Even if President Abbas agrees to a Palestinian state, he will never be able to persuade Hamas, Islamic Jihad and many other Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Under the current circumstances, where Hamas and other Palestinians continue to dream about the destruction of Israel, any talk about a two-state solution is nothing but a joke.

As President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were talking about the two-state solution during their meeting in the White House yesterday, the Palestinian Hamas movement reiterated its intention to destroy Israel.

Hamas’s announcement shows that the two-state solution is not a recipe for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The announcement also shows that all those who have been talking about a change in Hamas’s position towards Israel continue to live in an illusion.

As the Obama-Netanyahu meeting was underway, senior Hamas figure Musa Abu Marzouk issued a statement in which he declared: “We will never negotiate with the Zionist entity and we will never recognize its right to exist. We will continue to resist the Zionist entity until it vanishes, whether they like it or not. The soldiers of the Qassam [Hamas’s armed wing] were founded to liberate Palestine, even if some have recognized Israel. We want a state from the (Jordan) river to the [Mediterranean] sea.”

Abu Marzouk’s remarks came in response to statements made by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting with Egyptian journalists in Cairo on Sunday night.

Abbas was quoted as telling the Egyptian journalists that Hamas and Israel were conducting “direct negotiations” to establish a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and parts of the Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Abbas claimed that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had offered to annex 1000 square kilometers of Sinai to the Gaza Strip – an offer he (Abbas) had categorically rejected.

Abu Marzouk’s latest threats to eliminate Israel are not only directed against Abbas, but also towards President Obama and those in the international community who continue to support the idea of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. What he and other Hamas leaders are saying is very clear: Even if a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, Hamas and other Palestinians will continue to fight until Israel is completely destroyed.

In other words, Hamas is openly stating that it will use any future Palestinian state as a launching pad to attack and eliminate Israel. But Hamas’s message has obviously not reached the White House and other Western governments, where decision-makers continue to bury their heads in the sand, refusing to see or hear what some Palestinians are saying.

Hamas and many other Palestinians are completely opposed to a two-state solution: they believe that Israel has no right to exist — period — in this part of the world. The only solution they are prepared to accept is one that sees Israel wiped off the face of the earth.

Hamas is not a small opposition party in the Palestinian territories that could be dismissed as a minor player. Hamas is a large Islamist movement, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that controls the entire Gaza Strip with its population of 1.8 million Palestinians. Hamas has its own security forces, militias, weapons and government institutions.

Since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas and its political allies have turned the coastal area into a semi-independent Islamist emirate.

Since then, Hamas has used the Gaza Strip as a launching pad to attack Israel with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles. And Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated that their chief goal is to “liberate” not only the West Bank and east Jerusalem, but “all of Palestine.” In short, Hamas wants to replace Israel with an Islamist empire where non-Muslims would be permitted to live as a minority.

Hamas considers all Jews as “settlers” and “colonialists” who live in “settlements” such as Beersheba, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod and Bat Yam. Hamas does not differentiate between a Jew living in Ma’aleh Adumim or Gush Etzion (on the West Bank) and Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ramat Gan. That is why the Hamas media and leaders refer to Beersheba and Ra’anana, well within the “pre-1967 borders,” as “occupied” cities.

The Obama Administration and Western governments can talk as much as they like about the two-state solution. But so long as they refuse to listen to what Hamas and other Palestinians are saying, they will continue to engage in self-deception and hallucination. Even if President Abbas agrees to a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, he will never be able to persuade Hamas, Islamic Jihad and many other Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Under the current circumstances, where Hamas and other Palestinians continue to dream about the destruction of Israel, any talk about a two-state solution is nothing but a joke.

The Obama Administration and the rest of the international community also need to understand that that the two-state solution has already been realized. In the end, the Palestinians got two states of their own: one in the Gaza Strip and another in the West Bank. The one in the Gaza Strip is run by folks are not much different from Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, while that in the West Bank is controlled by a president who has entered the 11th year of his four-year-term in office and as such is not even seen by his people as a “rightful” leader. This is a reality that the world, including Israel, will have to live with for many years to come.

It is time for the world to stop listening only to President Abbas and Saeb Erekat, and start paying attention to what many other Palestinians such as Hamas are saying, day and night, regarding their commitment to destroy Israel.

Imagine a world without Israel

by Joseph Farah    WorldNetDaily

http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/imagine-a-world-without-israel/#EWftSI1IZQgvx0Wr.99

The world is full of Israel-haters.

I don’t know why. It probably has something to do with anti-Semitism – and even more to do with lack of knowledge and understanding about the Middle East.

So, I thought it might be a good exercise to consider what the world would be like if Israel had never been reborn in 1948.

Let’s suppose that United Nations vote to partition the Palestinian region into two – one Arab and one Jewish – went differently. Let’s imagine the Soviet Union or some other nation that supported the Jewish state voted the other way. What would the Middle East be like today? What would the world be like?

Well, for starters, the blame-Israel-first crowd needs to remember that the bloodiest conflicts in the Middle East in the last 67 years would still have taken place – because they had nothing to do with the state of Israel.

For instance, does anyone doubt that the Iran-Iraq war, which killed more than 1 million people and featured the widespread use of chemical weapons, would still have taken place – even without an Israel on the map?

Not even Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khomeini could suggest that Jews had anything to do with that little dust-up. It was simply the latest round in fighting between ancient enemies, a turf war between a Sunni Muslim dictator and a Shiite Muslim dictator.

But what might have happened to nearly 1 million Jews in Arab lands who found a home in Israel after 1948? Those million refugees often left hostile Arab lands with little more than the clothes on their back. They often risked their lives to flee. Today, those Jews, if they were lucky, would still be living under the yoke of Muslim tyranny, living in “dhimmi” status. Surely many would have been murdered in the kinds of pogroms that regularly occurred in Arab and Muslim countries while they still maintained Jewish communities.

We hear so much about the “Arab refugee crisis” that was created by the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The highest estimates of Arabs who fled Israel during that war are put at 500,000. They fled, most often, because they were instructed to do so by the Arab leaders who declared war on Israel at its very birth. Yet, nearly 67 years later, this refugee population hasn’t decreased, it has increased exponentially!

Why?

Not because Israel has created any new Arab refugees. It is because the Arab nations have refused to settle the original refugees they encouraged into refugee status. They see them as critical pawns in their asymmetrical conflict with Israel.

Experience more of Joseph Farah’s no-nonsense truth-telling in his books, audio and video products, featured in the WND Superstore

One thing is certain. Without Israel, there would have been no Palestinian national movement. There would be no Palestinian Authority. There would be no future Palestinian state.

Why?

Because prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel conquered what we call the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there was no such movement. Even though there was no Palestinian Arab state and never had been, no one had ever promoted one. When Jordan controlled the West Bank, the so-called “Palestinians” were not agitating for a homeland. They’d never had a country of their own and apparently never wanted one. Suddenly, when Israel captured the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria, the Arabs discovered their sense of Palestinian nationalism for the first time ever.

I can also promise you that if Israel had not unified Jerusalem and declared it the eternal capital of the Jewish state, it would not be considered the third-holiest site in Islam.

How do I know this?

Because during the time that East Jerusalem was under the administration of King Hussein of Jordan, prior to June 1967, not a single Arab leader ever visited – including the king himself. It would seem that if Jerusalem had always been so important to the Muslims, their leaders would have expressed some interest in it before Israel captured the city in war.

The modern Islamic jihad movement is thought to have been launched in earnest in 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power from the overthrown shah of Iran. At the time, Khomeini made clear that the real enemy – “the Great Satan,” as he called it – was the United States of America, not Israel.

No one, of course, knows what might have happened or not happened if Israel had never been reborn. But it does seem clear that most of the bad things that happened in the Middle East in the last 67 years would have happened anyway.

Could it be that, if the Jewish state had never been, many more horrible things might have happened?

Personally, I suspect so.

Netanyahu: When Palestinians Recognize the Jewish State, We Will Have Peace (Prime Minister’s Office)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday:

“No matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.”

“I had a very good meeting with President Obama at the White House, and I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel’s security at the time when the Middle East is becoming more dangerous than ever.”

“Despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world.”

“The reason that we don’t have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or a territorial dispute [over] the territories that were won in our defensive war of 1967. Israelis and Palestinians had a conflict for half a century – almost 50 years – before Israel captured any of those territories or built even a single one of those settlements.”

“And afterwards, we left part of that territory – Gaza. Left it to the very last centimeter or inch. Stripped out the settlements, went to the ’67 boundaries, uprooted all the people who were there, disinterred people from their graves. What did we get? Peace? We got rockets.”

“The truth is that the reason that there isn’t peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary.”

“I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel will continue to work for peace in the hope that what is not achievable today might be achievable tomorrow.”

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW