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The Jreusalem Post

Latest News in Israel – 13th December

Netanyahu denies Israel ‘inching toward an anti-American Mideast bloc’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the notion that Israel is entering an “anti-American bloc” in a high-stakes interview Sunday night with Lesley Stahl of CBS’s 60 Minutes:

Lesley Stahl: “You have a friendship with Mr. Putin, and a friendship with China. You seem to be inching toward an anti-American bloc.”

Benjamin Netanyahu: “God, no. Let me tell you something—”

Lesley Stahl: “Well, talk about that ‘cause I think there’s an impression of that.”

Benjamin Netanyahu: “That’s a false impression.  First of all, there is, there is an irreplaceable ally. It’s called the United States of America.”

Lesley Stahl: “Yeah, but here you are making friends with our adversaries—”

Benjamin Netanyahu: “So no. You have relations with Russia and you have relations with China. We can have relations, economic relations, trade relations with other countries as you do. Why not?”

In the interview, Netanyahu provided insight into Israel’s rapidly developing status and position in an ever-changing and tumultuous Middle East from the perspective of his eight-year tenure.

When the sensitive topic of the nuclear deal the US struck with Iran against Netanyahu’s clearly expressed wishes was raised, the prime minister commented on an unexpected silver lining. “The only good thing I can say about [the deal with Iran] is that it brought the Arab States and Israel closer together.”

He continued, “Israel’s position in the Arab world has changed because they no longer see Israel as their enemy, but as their ally, in their indispensable battle against the forces of militant Islam, either those led by Iran, the Shiites, or– and those led by Daesh – by ISIS, the militant Sunnis.” He cited improved relations with Egypt and Jordan, and declined to comment on Israel’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Referring to Netanyahu’s aggressive campaign against the nuclear pact, which culminated in his memorable speech to US Congress, Stahl stated: “When you campaigned against him [Obama] and you spoke to the Congress, it was read as a lack of respect and something that had never been done before.”

Netanyahu replied, “No, it was not borne of any disrespect, because I have the greatest respect for him. I had then and I have now.”

However, Netanyahu did express a certain relief in regards to the prospect of working closely with President-elect Donald Trump, as opposed to his at times apparently strained relations with President Obama. “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude, his support for Israel is clear.”

When asked about the backlash against Trump and his strategic advisor Steve Bannon for their alleged antisemitic beliefs, Netanyahu said that while he would always denounce antisemitism, he did not feel worried about Trump or his inner circle.

Netanyahu said he felt Trump had already spoken out against antisemitic rhetoric. “I’m not a referee,” the prime minister said. “I will say that I know his attitude toward Israel, toward the Jewish State, and the Jewish people… for God’s sake, he has Jewish grandchildren. He has a Jewish daughter who converted to Judaism… I think we should keep sight of that.”

Stahl pressed about the antisemitic reputation of some of Trump’s followers, but Netanyahu repeated his confidence in Trump, and said, “We say the boss ultimately decides the policy. The spirit of the commander permeates the troops. That’s our motto in the Israel Defense Forces. And that’s, I’m sure, true of the US presidency as well.”

Netanyahu continued to talk about several other pressing topics: the effect the BDS movement has had on Israel’s diplomatic and business affairs with Europe, Israel’s current stance on settlement construction and,the prospect of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Discussing the latter, Netanyahu capped off the interview optimistically: “Two states for two peoples. And that’s where I’m focused. Yeah, I’d like to have President Trump, when he gets into the White House, help me work on that.”      (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas offers missiles for armies willing to fight Israel

Palestinian terror group Hamas has offered to share its rocket arsenal with any Arab army willing to use them against Israel, Gaza-based Hamas official Fathi Hammad said Sunday to Al-Aqsa TV.

Hamas has been manufacturing rockets on an industrial scale since it took control of the Gaza Strip, and has fired tens of thousands of projectiles during the past decade.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told a conference in late 2014 that the IDF destroyed 80% of Hamas’s mortars and rockets during Operation Protective Edge, however the group has been restocking ever since, in addition to digging new tunnels under the border with Israel.

While there has always been a large difference in military capabilities between Israel and Hamas, highlighted once again by Israel receiving the first F-35 jets outside the US on Monday, any Arab states potentially interested in gearing up with the Palestinian group’s weaponry for a battle with the IDF could expect to receive more than mortars and the ubiquitous Soviet-designed Katyusha, the WWII rocket still used in conflicts in the Middle East today.

Hamas has in recent years developed its own range of missiles, including significantly upgrading its Qassam rockets and developing the longer-range M-75, which can reach Tel Aviv.

In addition, the group has received the know-how to develop Iranian Fajrs, which have a reported payload of up to 175kg worth of explosives, and have in recent years acquired Syrian-made M-302s, which were fired at Jerusalem and the Haifa region during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

While the vast majority of Hamas’s assorted rockets miss their targets – both military and civilian – Hamas has claimed tens of lives, and hit cities throughout Israel during the three major conflicts since 2007.

Under a blockade since then, Hamas has supplied its rocket-making industry with materials smuggled in by tunnel, sea, and via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel – where Israeli security services from time to time uncover trucks loaded with banned dual-use items, concealed among other cargo.

However, under strained conditions, Hamas has “developed a touch in military manufacturing which can compete with international manufacturers,” claimed Hammad.

Many would disagree, with Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system the undoubted star of the last conflict between the sides.

And unlike Israelis, Gazans have little protection when Hamas rockets start raining down on them. Botched missile launches from inside the coastal enclave often fail mid-flight, sometimes killing Palestinians.

Discussions over hardware aside, in his attempt to develop a multi-front threat against Israel, it is unclear which Arab armies Hammad thinks may be tempted by the offer to become brothers in arms in the first place.

Egypt, Gaza’s only gentile neighbor, has had a stable peace with Israel for decades. More-so, Hamas has alienated itself from Cairo in recent years by aligning with Salafists trying to destabilize President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

While Lebanon is technically at war with Israel – as it has been since 1948 – and has a pro-Iranian president in Michel Aoun, the deeply divided country did not participate in either the 1967 or 1973 wars, and cannot be considered a realistic adversary 43 years later.

Syria, meanwhile, has been ravaged beyond recognition, and its army is outsourcing much of the war to foreign forces. If this were not conclusive enough, Assad’s regime downgraded its relations with Hamas after the latter showed support for Sunni rebels earlier in the civil war.

Further afield, and Iraq is similarly consumed with the fight to liberate its own cities from ISIS; Jordan has remained a stable actor in the region for decades; and many of the Gulf states have been increasingly leaning towards increased cooperation with Israel, rather than beating war drums on behalf of the terror group. While Qatar continues to support Hamas, its backing has remained financial and political.

Non-state actor Hezbollah is thought to be Hamas’s best chance of providing a partner with which a multi-lateral war against Israel can be fought, however, the Shiite group is fully engaged in the Syrian civil war, and has so far not responded to Israel’s latest reported strikes on its forces in Syria. Additionally, Hammad’s offer of rearmament would most likely not be tempting at all to a group which itself has an estimated 100,000 missiles.

With the Gaza front remaining quiet for almost all of the past 28 months, if Hamas won’t fire its own arsenal, it’s unclear who it thinks will.     (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians bring draft anti-settlement resolution to UN, lobby Obama

A Palestinian delegation is in Washington lobbying the Obama administration against using its veto to scuttle an anti-settlement resolution the Palestinian Authority wants to bring to the UN Security Council before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20.

The resolution, a draft of which was seen by The Jerusalem Post, is similar to an anti-settlement resolution that outgoing President Barack Obama vetoed in 2011. It reaffirms that “all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace on the basis of the two-state solution.”

The draft says that continuing settlement activities “are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders [sic],” and says that the cessation of all settlement activity “is essential for salvaging” the two-state solution.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that if such a resolution is passed, it will reinforce the Palestinians’ belief that they can get more by going to the international community and bypassing Israel than by dealing directly with Jerusalem. It will also encourage them, he said, to move forward on this track, and would lead them to the next step, which is to demand sanctions on Israel for violating Security Council resolutions.

The US, Danon said, has made clear that it will veto one-sided, unbalanced anti-Israel resolutions, although the question of what constitutes an unbalanced resolution is open to interpretation.

The Palestinian draft is not the only one circulating among delegations at the UN. New Zealand – which is set to finish its two-year rotating stint on the Security Council at the end of the month – is circulating a draft resolution of its own.

This draft, also seen by the Post, declares that the two-state solution is the “only way to achieve an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967 and resolves all permanent status issues.”

This resolution calls for a “firm timetable” for an early return to negotiations, and for refraining from setting “preconditions for the resumption” of talks. Likewise, it calls for a “cessation of Israeli settlement activity” as well as “active and sustained Palestinian leadership to deter incitement to violence against Israeli civilians.”

Regarding terrorism, the New Zealand draft calls for “an end to all acts of terrorism being perpetrated against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.”

It also calls for “an end to hostile actions and rocket fire from Gaza.”

Likewise, it calls for both parties to refrain from “questioning the integrity or commitment of the other party or its leaders.”

Danon said Israel’s position was that in general, resolutions would not help move the sides forward.

“New Zealand is leaving the Security Council and they have a desire to do something,” Danon said. “I told them that we will remain here with the Palestinians after December, and that it is important that everything that is done be constructive and not give the Palestinians encouragement to go to the international community rather than talk to us.”

Danon is in Israel escorting a delegation of 14 UN ambassadors on a mission organized by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.   (Jerusalem Post)

PM says yes to Abbas talks… if France drops peace confab

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected an invitation by French President Francois Hollande to take part in a summit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on the sidelines of a conference on the peace process, his office said Wednesday

The prime minister called Hollande to tell him that he would not be going to Paris, but said he would be willing to meet with Abbas under other circumstances, his office said in a statement.

“Netanyahu told Hollande if there were not an international conference in Paris, the prime minister would meet with Abbas for direct talks without preconditions,” the statement said.

“Israel will not take part in the international conference, which won’t contribute to bringing peace.”

Abbas and foreign ministers from nearly two dozen countries are expected to meet in Paris on December 21 to try to jump start peace efforts. But the Palestinians said Wednesday that Abbas never received an invitation to Paris, neither for the conference nor for direct talks with Netanyahu.

“Palestinians have received neither an official invitation to attend the French-sponsored international peace conference nor any other meeting,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Earlier, Netanyahu’s spokesperson David Keyes reiterated Israel’s objections to the conference, saying that Israel does not believe an international gathering is the way to achieve peace.

“Peace will be achieved through direct negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors, not through international conferences. Our position has not changed. Israel will not attend the French conference because it will push peace further away. Prime Minister Netanyahu is ready to begin direct peace talks anytime, anywhere without preconditions,” he told The Times of Israel.

The French have been pushing an initiative aimed at revitalizing the moribund peace process between Palestinian and Israelis. While the Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, Israel has remained critical.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said he is willing to meet with Abbas anytime and anywhere. However, one unnamed Israeli diplomat told the French newspaper Le Monde he thought Netanyahu would decline the conference invitation without making a “big affair” out of it, explaining it would make no sense to hold the meeting with the seemingly pro-Israeli US President-elect Donald Trump about to take office.

Abbas has also expressed willingness to meet with Netanyahu, without the oft-cited preconditions of a total freeze of a settlement construction and release of Palestinian prisoners promised during previous negotiations. In September, Abbas said he had agreed to meet with Netanyahu in Moscow at the behest of the Kremlin, and it was the Israeli leader who asked that the meeting be delayed.

Since a peace summit in June in Paris officially kicked off the French initiative, Le Monde said in its report Tuesday that three groups have been tasked with examining avenues to propel the peace process forward. One group has looked at building the institutions needed for the establishment of a Palestinian state; another has studied the economic incentives peace would bring for those involved, in particular for the European Union; while a third group worked on enhancing the participation of civil society in the process.

The French are aware that it is currently impossible to get Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate in earnest, let alone reach a peace agreement, officials in Paris said. The proposed international conference is not intended to force either side into concessions or even to formulate a framework for a future agreement.

Rather, one of its core goals is to get both parties, as well as regional and international actors, to restate clearly their commitment to the two-state solution.  (the Times of Israel)

State blamed as shocking new report highlights deep poverty across Israel

There are 2,436,000 poor people living in the country, accounting for 29.05% of the population, according to the 2016 Alternative Poverty Report the humanitarian aid NGO Latet published on Monday.

A total of 1,412,000 adults and 1,024,000 children live under the poverty line, according to the report.

Latet has issued the Alternative Poverty Report annually for more than a decade, and says it presents a more insightful picture than the National Insurance Institute’s annual survey, as it takes a closer look at the daily struggles of the poor.

The NII’s report measures poverty based on a person’s income alone and presents a more level of poverty in Israel: an estimated 1,709,300 people, some 22% of the population, including 444,900 families and 776,500 children in 2015.

This year’s NII report, which is set to be released later this month, is also expected to show significantly lower levels of poverty in the country in 2016 than the alternative report.

In contrast, the Latet document uses the degree of a person’s shortages in five categories – each reflecting essentials needed to live in dignity – to determine poverty: housing, education, health, food security and the ability to meet the cost of living.

“The multi-dimensional poverty index shows, for the third consecutive year, that poverty rates in Israel are far higher than those published using the method of the National Insurance Institute, which draws a virtual ‘poverty line’ relying only on the parameter of income,” Latet’s chairman Gilles Darmon and CEO Eran Weintraub said ahead of the release of the report.

This year’s alternative report does, however, show a reduction in the overall number of people living in poverty, though it remains to be seen in the coming years if this is a sustained trend. The report attributes the decrease in poverty numbers to the implementation of some of the recommendations the Committee to Fight Poverty, headed by MK Eli Alalouf, issued in 2014.

Still, some of the report’s most disturbing findings concerned children in needy families.

One out of every three children in Israel is poor, the 2016 report says.

Furthermore, 34.4% of the poor children were forced to skip a meal or eat very little due to their family’s financial hardships, while 20% of them were sent to school without a sandwich or other food.

In addition, 11.1% did not eat for an entire day because their parents were unable to provide food, and 43.8% of those said this was an ongoing occurrence. Also, 60.9% of impoverished parents were forced to do without medicine or medical treatment for their children at some point in the last year.

Similarly disturbing statistics were reported regarding the elderly.

Nearly half of impoverished elderly, some 41%, said old age allotments are not enough to live in dignity and buy basic necessities.

The report found 49.7% of needy elderly do not eat enough food due to financial hardship, while 74% suffer from loneliness and 58.3% are in poor health due to their financial situation.

More than half of those living in poverty (63.3%) work or are too young to work, the Alternative Poverty Report further indicates.

However, of those who do work, a majority, 67.2%, did not receive full social benefits and rights in their place of work.

The findings also indicated 36.7% of those receiving income supplements were unemployed. Among these, 57.4% have been unemployed for more than three years.

The findings further indicated that 65.7% of those receiving benefits are in debt, nearly double the rate of the general population at 35.1%; while 92.4% of those receiving benefits were unable to save for the future.

The report also addressed the increased cost of living and found 50.6% of the underprivileged population said they came from an “average” socioeconomic background and fell into poverty.

Some 71.9% of the needy were forced to forgo medicine during the past year because they were unable to afford it. Furthermore, 73.9% of the poor suffer from a lack of food, while 51.4% lack food on a regular basis. As such, 8% of the needy population was forced to search for food in the garbage or to beg for food, and 56.8% receive assistance from NGOs on a regular basis.

The report also discussed the general public’s view of the importance of addressing poverty, saying that 74.8% of Israelis believe poverty is either the first or second most urgent and important national issue, ahead of security (51.7%) and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (24.6%).

“Unfortunately, the government still refuses to take responsibility and is afraid to adopt the recommendations of the Committee to Fight Poverty as an action plan and to set goals to reduce poverty,” said Darmon and Weintraub. The two levied strong criticism against the welfare minister, who they said was “forceful” and “acted out of populist considerations,” saying he did not stand by his promises to allocate NIS 100 million in the 2017-18 state budget toward a national plan for food security.

“Nevertheless, we are determined to continue to fight until we can make the government fulfill its role, take responsibility and implement policies to remove barriers to extract people from poverty as well as reduce the extent of the destructive and dangerous phenomenon in Israeli society,” they said.               (Jerusalem Post)

Sephardic Chief Rabbi: Women can do laundry in the IDF, not serve in combat

Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi said women should not serve in the Israel Defense Forces and should not perform national service.

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made the pronouncements on Saturday night during his weekly Torah lesson, according to reports.

He cited the Rambam as saying that women who go out to wars commanded by the Torah went “to do the laundry,” he explained. “They didn’t wear uniforms and pants and the like, of course not. They went in modesty, in purity.”

He also said: “It is the ruling of all the great rabbis of the generations, including Israel’s chief rabbis, the position of the Chief Rabbinate—it has always been their position that girls must not enlist in the army… there are female pilots, all sorts of stuff. Is that the way of the Torah?! That’s not the way of the Torah.”

He said that he also opposed National Service for women, saying ” Unfortunately, on this matter there is some weakness.”

Religious Jewish women and others who are exempt from army service can spend up to two years in volunteer service to the country. Positions include working with underprivileged youth, working in hospitals or working in schools.

Yosef said that if Jews in Israel followed the Torah, “many [military] tragedies would be averted.” He said that his father, former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, died of “heartache” because of the political battle over yeshiva students serving in the army.      (Jerusalem Post)

Sufganiyah out: Health minister calls on public not to eat Hanukkah treat (doughnuts)

‘There is no need for us to fatten our children with sufaganiyot, which are not in line with the principles of health and proper nutrition,’ says Health Minister Litzman.

Despite being a member of one of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox political parties, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has called on the public not to eat the traditional Hanukkah treat—sufganiyah.

A sufganiyah is a deep-fried round doughnut traditionally covered with powdered sugar and filled with strawberry jelly. Israeli bakeries offer a plethora of variations, which include different types of coatings and fillings.

“I call on the public to avoid eating sufganiyot, which are rich in fats,” Litzman said at the conference in Herzliya to promot healthy eating. “You can find alternatives for everything nowadays and there is no need for us to fatten our children with sufaganiyot, which are not in line with the principles of health and proper nutrition.”

Earlier this year, the Health Ministry launched a campaign to encourage the public to choose healthy food over junk food.

In April, Litzman attacked the junk food giant McDonalds. “We need to educate our children not to eat junk food. McDonalds out. Not in our country,” he said.

On Sunday, the health minister added “If I had to say this today, I’d say: Sufganiyot out. You can eat them, of course, because it is part of the holiday’s customs, but there are alternatives.”

Litzman said that while his statements have been met with anger by big companies, “I have a secret for you. I don’t have to deal with primaries. I chose the Health Ministry because I thought this was the place where lives can be saved.”

In August, he declared at the Israel Medical Convention: “I intend to take the healthy eating campaign all the way. You can’t go out on the street with a rifle and stop people from eating junk food, but you have to sort out the food and the way to do it is in education—start at schools. Along with the education minister, we are working to ban the sale of sweets inside schools.”

Three weeks ago, a committee entrusted with promoting healthy eating in Israel submitted its recommendations to Litzman. It recommended to decrease sugar, salt and saturated fat in food products and to mark harmful products in red while healthy products will be marked in green. The percentage of sugar in each food product, the committee recommended, should be indicated on the packaging, while calories, salt and saturated fat should receive prominence on the packaging as well.

The committee further recommended to prevent the marketing of unhealthy food to children and to limit advertising for such food, while at the same time making healthy food more accessible—among other things by subsidizing whole grain bread.

The implementation of these recommendations will begin at the earliest in January 2018 and at the latest in June of that year, pending the health minister’s approval. This, in order to allow manufacturers enough time to redevelop products and packaging.    (Ynet News)

Israel’s economy defies BDS

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”

Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom

http://bit.ly/2hhR9HE

  1. In December, 2016, Israel is unprecedentedly integrated into the global economy, highlighting the successful battle against BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), while rejecting pessimism and fatalism.
  2. According to a Bloomberg study: “An examination of foreign capital flow into Israel shows a near tripling from 2005 when the so-called BDS was started…. Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8% in 2016, compared with 1.8% for the US and the EU. In 2015, Israel’s industrial high-tech exports rose 13%, from 2014, to $23.7BN….”
  3. 2016 is already a record year for total (mostly foreign) investments in Israel’s young high tech companies, exceeding the $4.4BN invested in 2015. For instance, Israel’s NeuroDerm, which develops drugs for central nervous system diseases, is expected to raise $75MN, on NASDAQ, by December 12, 2016. Some of the recent investments were made by the US-based Johnson & Johnson’s Development Corporation, the Australian Stock Exchange, the German medical equipment giant B. Braun Melsungen AG, China’s Internet giant Alibaba and Japan’s Sun Corporation.
  4. A trilateral cooperation agreement has been concluded between Israel’s Mobileye – a collision avoidance sensor developer – Delphi Automotive, the UK-based global automotive parts manufacturer and the Silicon Valley-based Intel, aiming to manufacture a self-driving car by 2019. A similar partnership was struck between Mobileye, Intel and the German car giant, BMW.
  5. A wave of acquisitions of Israeli companies by global giants persists, as evidenced by the November, 2016 acquisition of Israel’s valve repair device company, Valtech Cardio Ltd., by the Irvine, California-based Edwards Lifesciences Corp., for $340MN in stock and cash, in addition to $350MN in milestone payments over ten years and $300MN for Valtech’s research and development program. Just like 200-250 other (mostly US) major global hightech companies, Edwards has leveraged Israel’s brain-power by operating a research and development center in Israel, since the 2004 acquisition of Israel’s PVT for $90MN and milestone payments.
  6. The London-based mega-billion-dollar Chinese/European XIO Group has acquired Israel’s Meitav-Dash Investment House for $400MN. In 2015, XIO acquired Israel’s medical device company, Lumenis, for $510MN. China’s telecommunications giant, Xinwei, is negotiating the acquisition of Israel’s Spacecom Satellite Communications for $190MN, reflecting the surging Chinese interest in the Israeli market and the significantly expanding Israel-China trade balance from $50MN in 1990 to $11BN in 2015, in addition to $15BN in acquisition of Israeli companies. The Hong Kong-based Rightleder Holding Group aims to acquire Israel’s sewage recycling (water purification) company, Advanced Membrane Separation.  Also two Chinese capital funds, CDH and ZZ explore the acquisition of ironSource, Israel’s largest Internet company, for $1BN.
  7. The Israel-India trade balance surged from $200MN in 1992 – when diplomatic relations were normalized – to $3BN in 2009 and $5BN in 2015, accompanied by a rise in two-way-tourism, paving the road to a negotiated free-trade-agreement, and highlighting India as one of Israel’s fastest growing trade partners in the commercial and defense areas. New Delhi has become the top customer for Israel’s defense industries, in addition to a series of co-development and co-production initiatives with Israel – in the face of joint economic and national security challenges – while Israel has become the number two/three exporter of military systems to India, following Russia and the USA.
  8. On November 16, 2016, India signed $1.4BN contracts with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), purchasing two additional Phalcon/IL-76 Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems and ten Heron unmanned aerial vehicles. IAI has submitted a proposal for the co-development, in India, of an advanced version of the Heron. The growing Israel-India defense ties are demonstrated by the recent Indian procurement of Rafael’s Gil anti-tank missiles, upgrades of Indian tanks by Elbit Systems and a joint development of the Barak-8 surface-to-air missile.
  9. Russian SberBank has extended a $100MN venture-loan to Israel’s taxi hailing and delivery service Gett (GetTaxi), which operates in over 100 cities word-wide, including New York, London and Moscow. In May, 2016, Volkswagen invested $300MN in Gett.
  10. On December 1, 2016, Bloomberg assessed the state of Israel’s economy as follows: “We expect real GDP to rise by an annual average of 3.5% in 2017-21…. We expect the shekel to strengthen considerably against both the euro and the British pound…. The trade deficit will narrow steadily, reaching near-balance in 2021….The opening of new production facilities by Intel will further boost technology goods exports…. We expect the current accounts to remain in surplus in 2017-21, by an annual average of 4% of GDP.”
  11. Against the backdrop of the aforementioned, documented track record of Israel’s economy, one may define the claim that Israel is isolated as either dramatically mistaken, or outrageously misleading.

Israel in the fire

Editorial in the Washington Times from last week

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/30/editorial-israel-in-the-fire/

Only fools play with matches. There’s no scarcity of fools in the Middle East, and many of them are obsessed with playing with matches. Some may have warmed to the game with “arson intifada” in Israel. President Obama threatens to ignite a larger flame by endorsing a Palestinian state. Any number can play the arson intifada game.

Fire is an ever-present danger in the dry regions east of the Mediterranean Sea, and never more so when arsonists do their evil work. In recent days, fires have broken out in the northern city of Haifa and then in the central Palestinian territories of the West Bank, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 80,000 residents. The sudden fires betray orchestration, and Israeli authorities have arrested more than a dozen persons of Arab descent on suspicion of arson. One was arrested filming the setting of a fire.

Given the dismal history of Palestinian rage against the Jewish state, it’s easy to see that the Arab-Israeli conflict has entered a new phase. Palestinian authorities deny official involvement, correctly observing that Palestinians are suffering from the spreading fires, too, and that Palestinians are also battling the smoke and flames. Welfare of their own people, however, has not deterred Arabs in the past from placing missile launchers near schools and mosques to deter Israeli counterattacks to Islamic violence against the Jewish state.

Hashtags like “Israel is burning,” and “the Zionist entity is burning,” are “trending” on social media, and it’s obvious that thousands are celebrating the fires. Israeli officials call some of it terrorism. Weapons for driving the Israelis into the sea may now include the common kitchen match.

With little to show for his eight years of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, President Obama is said to considering one last symbolic act of a leaderless foreign policy to put an end to negotiations by endorsing a Palestinian state. His predecessors one and all supported the concept of a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine pledged to living in peace and accord on ground hallowed to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Nothing, even Israeli offers of land for peace, has deterred the Palestinians from their stated goal of taking Israel by force, which they have demonstrated in several wars that they cannot do. Abandoning Israel at the United Nations would encourage them to continue to pursue their goal by other means.