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Latest News in Israel – 20th January

Authorities nab teen terrorist who murdered mother of 6

Following an intensive manhunt, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security agency early Tuesday apprehended the Palestinian terrorist who murdered Dafna Meir, a mother of six, in her home in Otniel on Sunday.

Morad Bader Abdullah Adais, 16, a resident of one of the Palestinian villages in the area, was taken in for questioning.

Initial investigations revealed that one of Adais’ distant relatives was killed while trying to carry out a terrorist attack two months ago. The defense establishment is looking into the possibility that the Meir murder was a revenge attack”The terrorist found a breach in the fence and that is how he entered the community and carried out the murder,” said the head of the Mount Hebron Regional Council, Yochai Damari. “I trust the authorities to settle the score with him to the fullest.”

Security camera footage released Monday clearly showed the terrorist fleeing the scene within minutes of the murder.

Nathan Meir[1]

Nathan Meir and two of his daughters at the funeral for wife Dafna, murdered by a terrorist on Sunday

Six orphans

On Monday, friends and family gathered in Otniel to pay their last respects to Dafna Meir, the victim of the attack. Having been a foster child and a ward of the state for many years, Meir knew how important a home is to those who do not have one. She took in two foster children, as well as mothering four biological children.

Meir is survived by her husband, Nathan, and children Renana, 17, Akiva, 15, Noa, 11, Ahava, 10, and foster children Yair, 6, and Yaniv, 4.

The funeral procession set out from Otniel, where her close friends and husband eulogized her and wept while saying the mourner’s prayer.

As hundreds of vehicles made their way from Otniel to the Jerusalem cemetery where Meir was to be buried, dozens of Israelis came out to key junctions along Route 60 to wave flags and show support for the family.

The funeral was attended by ministers Miri Regev, Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, as well as deputy minister Eli Ben Dahan, Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog and MKs Moti Yogev and Elazar Stern.

The eulogy given by Meir’s eldest daughter, Renana, who saw her mother being stabbed to death in their kitchen, pierced the hearts of everyone at the funeral.

“Mommy, my beautiful mother, my best friend,” she said through her tears. “Do you see how many people care about you? You left an enormous void in all of our hearts. It is heartbreaking for me to know that you won’t be there with me at the IDF induction center, at my wedding, in the delivery room. I didn’t only lose a mother, I also lost my best friend.”

Dafna Meir’s husband, Nathan, also choked back the tears as he eulogized his wife, saying, “We met as soldiers on the border with southern Lebanon. It took us an instant to fall in love. Just as I blessed your arrival, I am now blessing your departure. You left me with six treasures. I will protect them for you. They are all unique, infused with your essence.”

“My Dafna,” he added. “She is one in a million. She grew up without a home and managed to flourish and rehabilitate. That is why she decided to give back to the world, and she did.

“Dafna was an enormous crown, a crown of truth. She was very direct, precise, sharp as a knife. Not everyone liked it, but everyone appreciated my Dafnaleh. Thank you for every minute together and sorry for all the times I hurt you. Our love is too strong to be a passing thing. Farewell. Rest in peace.”

Opening doors to children

Other eulogies revealed additional aspects of Meir’s extraordinary life. They recounted the story of a young girl who grew up in foster homes and institutions and who wanted more than anything to provide a warm home to children without one. That is why she decided to take in not one but two children, brothers, in order to keep them together.

Orit Amiel, the foster care director who placed the boys with the Meir family, recalled the arduous process.

“To our great joy, they [the Meir family] agreed to take two brothers whom we didn’t want to split up. That is very rare,” she said. “One of the children also has special needs, and the challenge was twofold. They did everything with love. They spoke up for the children on every possible platform and fought for them, be it in schools or elsewhere. They fought for them to keep in touch with their biological parents, and that truly attests to their greatness.”

Ever since Meir’s story became public in the wake of her murder, foster care facilities have reported a spike in interest by potential foster families to take in children.

“There are so many children waiting for homes,” said Amiel. “Perhaps this exposure, through the Meir family’s devastating tragedy, will widen people’s hearts and open more doors to children.”      (Israel Hayom)

PM Netanyahu Visits Otniel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Tuesday, 19 January 2016), visited Otniel. At the start of the visit, he and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon received security briefings from GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, the IDF Yehuda Brigade commander and other security elements. They also met with Hebron Hills Regional Council Chairman Yohai Damari. Afterwards, Prime Minister Netanyahu paid a condolence call on the family of the late Dafna Meir and spoke with her husband and children.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“I just met with a marvelous family with great strength of spirit. They are Zionists, patriots, humane, who lost a wonderful wife and mother. I think that everyone who sees Dafna’s picture is immediately impressed by the light emanating from it. Whoever hears about her and her contributions understands that she was a special person. The public gets a healthy feeling from the picture, from her story; they immediately understand the uniqueness of this soul that was taken from us. I found the same spirit in the family, in Natan and the children. They asked me only one thing – that we continue to lift up the Jewish People.

I am here, in this place, and say that, not only will we fight our enemies and demolish the home of the terrorist and revoke the work permits and all other actions that were carried out, and will be carried out by the IDF, which has apprehended the murderer, but something else must be said: Whoever wants to see the truth about the roots of the conflict between us and the Palestinians should come to Otniel and see here a wonderful family that only wants coexistence and peace. They should see the young people, inflamed by incitement, who come to murder women here, a mother of six, and in Tekoa, a pregnant woman; they come to murder them and say: We will destroy you all, in Tel Aviv and Jaffa as well. This is the truth. There is humanity here and the desire for peace and coexistence on one side and boundless hatred on the other. This hatred has an address; this is incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other elements such as the Islamic Movement and Hamas, and the time has come for the international community to stop its hypocrisy and call the child by its name.

The root of the conflict is the refusal to recognize the Jews’ right to a have a state within any borders, here, in Tel Aviv, anywhere. I want to spread this truth to the world and I want us to stand on the truth because the truth will win in the end, and so will we.”               ( Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Rivlin: Islamic State has taken root in Israeli Arab community

President Reuven Rivlin called on Monday for the government to push through new funding for Israeli Arab communities to help counter what he described as the growing influence of Islamic State in the country.

Warning that “Daesh [an Arabic acronym for Islamic State] is already inside Israel’s Arab community,” Rivlin told a security conference in Tel Aviv that more support was needed for Arab communities to combat radicalization among the young.

“Research, arrests, testimonies and both classified and unclassified analyses point clearly to growing support and even a rise in [attempts to] join Daesh among Israel’s Arabs,” he said at the annual gathering of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

“Those who know the Arab community know that in recent years there has been a very significant radicalization in several Bedouin villages in the Negev and in [some] Arab villages in the north on the question of implementing sharia law. Even places and groups that are considered secular are now feeling the influence of extremist ideas. More and more, moderate voices feel threatened, feel the ground falling out from beneath their feet.”

He warned against “abandoning the Arab public to deal with the threat of Daesh alone. The rot in which Daesh has taken root is a result, among other things, of the vacuum of identity and education. The State of Israel must offer an alternative, an alternative that is not afraid of a positive and secure Israeli-Palestinian identity, and in the same breath does not accept, under any circumstance, delegitimization of the State of Israel or joining with the worst of its enemies.”

He added: “If the rot is also a vacuum of governance [that leads to] insecurity and lack of [law] enforcement, we must also do everything possible to fill this vacuum and realize Israeli sovereignty in the entire State of Israel, even if that means finding the budget.”

Israel’s security services estimate about 50 Israeli Arabs have traveled to fight with IS in neighboring Syria.

The cabinet in December passed an estimated NIS 15 billion plan for development in Arab communities, but neither the funding nor the specific programs have been finalized.

Rivlin, whose position as president is largely symbolic, said that while radicalism was not unique to Israel, “I am concerned that the more the state avoids taking responsibility, the more the state distances itself, the faster the jihadi Salafists will rush in to fill the vacuum.”

Recalling a meeting with a teacher in an Arab community, Rivlin said he was told many Arab Israelis feel like second-class citizens in the country.

Arab Israelis say they are discriminated against and face marginalization in many Israeli institutions and in particular when it comes to access to public funds.

“If the children are growing up without a dream, without hope and without aspirations, with the feeling that their blood, their lives, are of a lesser value in the state of Israel, then we must think how we can offer them a dream, hope, and faith,” Rivlin said.

And, he added, that meant Israel had to find ways to “restore trust between Arabs and Jews.”

Rivlin called on the government to push the funding through as quickly as possible.

“The recent resolution by the government on a system-wide plan for the economic integration of the Arab population is a step in the right direction,” he said.

“The plan has many detractors among the Jewish population, and it is clear why. But it is the correct and essential step, for it is a decision that represents a systemic change of direction.”

Arabs make up about 18 percent of Israel’s population.

The new concern over Arab Israeli integration follows a January 1 terror attack in Tel Aviv by an Arab Israeli, Nashat Milhem, that killed three people and led to speculation that the gunman may have been inspired by IS, though investigators are still studying his motives.

Milhem was killed in a shootout with police in his hometown of Arara after a week-long manhunt.                                (The Times of Israel)

Netanyahu Furious at US Ambassador’s ‘Unacceptable and Untrue’ Allegations Against Israel

Netanyahu reacted with fury over the US ambassador’s criticism of Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians, especially at the height of Palestinian terror.

The US ambassador to Israel criticized Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria at a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke that drew an angry response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro said that Washington was “concerned and perplexed” over Israel’s strategy of building “West Bank settlements.” Speaking to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, a top Israeli think tank, he claimed that Israel’s “continued expansion of settlements” raises questions about Israel’s intentions and its stated commitment to establishing an independent Palestinian state. Shapiro added that Israel had also legalized some outposts despite pledges to the United States not to do so.

As Israel’s closest friend, the United States is steadfast in its support for Israel, but it was also its role to call Israel out on its errors, Shapiro said. He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to “settler” violence.

“Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians,” he said.

Shapiro’s remarks sparked a terse response from Netanyahu, who said they were inappropriate at a time of heightened violence with the Palestinians.

On Sunday, an Israeli woman was stabbed to death – in the presence of one of her six children – by a Palestinian terrorist in her home in Otniel, a Jewish community in Judea. On Monday, a pregnant woman was stabbed and badly wounded in the town of Tekoa in Judea, just south of Jerusalem.

‘PA Continues to Incite, Refuses to Negotiate’

“The ambassador’s comments, on a day when a mother of six is being buried and a pregnant woman is stabbed, are unacceptable and untrue,” Netanyahu stated. “Israel enforces the law on Israelis and Palestinians. The one responsible for the diplomatic stalemate is the Palestinian Authority, which continues to incite and refuses to negotiate.”

Israel contends that the violence is the result of a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement. The Palestinians argue it is rooted in frustrations over Israel’s nearly 50-year “occupation,” although the PLO was established in 1964, three years before Israel liberated the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – the biblical heartland that was under Jordanian rule for 19 years.

The spat highlights the tense relations of late between the United States and Israel, largely over Israel’s fierce objection to the Iranian nuclear deal.                (United with Israel)

EU defends labeling goods made in Israeli settlements but stresses opposition to boycotts

The European Union reinforced on Monday its position that products made in Israeli settlements must be clearly labelled in Europe, despite growing tensions with Israel over the issue, but stressed that the bloc opposes any boycott of the Jewish state.

EU foreign ministers said the guidelines on labels for farm and other products, which were unveiled in November and branded discriminatory by Israel, were there to explain EU law and did not mark a change in the European Union’s long-held opposition to Israeli settlements.

“The EU and its member States are committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products,” ministers said in a statement.

Ministers reiterated the EU’s position that the lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war – including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – are not part of the internationally recognized borders of Israel.

As such, goods from there cannot be labelled “Made in Israel” and should be labelled as coming from settlements, which the EU considers illegal under international law.

Following the publication of the guidelines, Israel has suspended contact with EU bodies involved in peace efforts with Palestinians, though the government says bilateral ties with nearly all EU countries are strong.

That move appears directed at the European Union’s desire for a more active role in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, under EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

It also comes at a time of high tension between Israel and Palestinians, with the attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in part fueled by the occupation and the growth of settlements.

Israel’s foreign ministry said in response to the statement on Monday that the EU continues to hold Israel to double standard, while ignoring the Palestinian role in stalled peace talks and about 200 other conflicts over territory in the world.

The Palestine Liberation Organization welcomed the EU statement and called for greater European involvement.

EU foreign ministers blamed both sides during the last four months of violence, condemning the killings on all sides and urging Israeli to address the deeper causes.

“Security measures alone cannot stop the cycle of violence,” ministers said, calling for “a fundamental change of policy by Israel with regard to the occupied Palestinian territory.”                         (Jerusalem Post)

Indian FM in Jerusalem: Ties with Israel of ‘highest importance’ to India

India attaches “the highest importance” to the full development of ties with Israel, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Monday, adding that there was room for more growth in the rapidly developing bilateral relations.

Swaraj, on the second day of a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said at a press opportunity before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, “Our bilateral cooperation has developed well in a number of areas over the past two decades, but the potential of our relations is much more.”

Sarwaj, who visited Israel once before she became foreign minister in 2014, is only the third Indian foreign minister to visit the country, and the first since 2012. Her visit is seen as an indication of the flowering of ties between the two countries and as a precursor to an expected visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This would be the first-ever visit to Israel by an Indian prime minister.

Swaraj also met with President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, and deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely.

Netanyahu welcomed Swaraj to his office, saying, “The Middle East’s only democracy welcomes the foreign minister of the world’s greatest democracy.”

Indian FM[1]

Indian FM

Netanyahu said the two countries were “intensifying our contacts and our cooperation in so many fields – in the fields of science and technology and cyber and defense and agriculture and health – everything.”

And, he said, “We want to do more.”

In addition to bilateral issues, the two also discussed regional issues and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

During the meeting, Netanyahu showed Swaraj a two-minute video on Palestinian incitement – featuring statements by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and anti-Israel rants on PA television and in schools – that he said explained Sunday’s killing of Dafna Meir and Monday’s stabbing of Michal Froman.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold met with new Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Gold said the return of the ambassador to Tel Aviv was an “important step.” Gold said Israel viewed Egypt as an “important country” and stressed the importance of the diplomatic ties between the two states. “The two discussed the regional challenges and the possibilities of cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.

Khairat arrived in Israel last month, the first Egyptian ambassador to take up residency here since Egypt recalled its ambassador in 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 reported that Steinitz visited Abu Dhabi this week to attend a conference on energy issues.

In November Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold went there to pave the way for the opening of an Israeli office accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency located there.             (Jerusalem Post)

Peres released from hospital, can’t wait to get back to work

Former president Shimon Peres was released from the hospital on Tuesday morning after having suffered a minor heart attack last week.

While exiting the hospital Peres said, “I’ve just had five fascinating days. I’m very pleased to be getting back to work, there is a lot of work to do, that was the goal of my healing.”

Peres thanked the staff at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer for treating him.

The former president also addressed the security situation in Israel, sending his condolences to the family of Dafna Meir, killed in a stabbing attack in Otniel on Sunday and wishing a full recovery to Michal Froman, who was stabbed and seriously wounded in an attack in Tekoa on Monday.

Peres thanked everyone who had sent him greetings to get well. “I was very touched by the greetings and the words of encouragement, from the phone calls from all over the country. Citizens, it touched me very much, this love, this support.”

Peres suffered a mild heart attack Thursday morning and was rushed by ambulance from his Tel Aviv home to the hospital where he underwent a catheterization process. By the afternoon he showed signs of recovery and was impatient to get back to work, but doctors insisted that he remain under observation. On Saturday they permitted him to walk around and were amazed at the speed with which he was back to his usual self.

Peres is a workaholic whose drive and energy keep him alert. The heart attack was ill-timed in that it prevented Peres from attending the World Economic Forum Conference in Davos, which opens on Wednesday.

Veteran Peres aide Yona Bartal said that Peres will spend the next few days resting at home, adding that he has made excellent progress and feels fine. However, he will not travel abroad in the foreseeable future.                  (Jerusalem Post)

Olmert admits to obstruction of justice in plea deal; no deal on other cases

For the first time since his conviction on bribery and corruption charges last year, former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday admitted to obstruction of justice in coordination with his former top aide as part of a plea bargain bid to reduce his prison sentence.

Olmert admitted to obstructing justice with former confidante Shula Zaken in both the Talansky and Holyland affairs, in an effort to persuade the prosecution to agreed to a six-month jail sentence and a NIS 50,000 fine, on condition the six months would run concurrent with his 18-month Holyland sentence, so it would not actually add further jail time.

However, Olmert and the state prosecution could not reach a deal on the Talansky, Rishon Tours and Investment affairs, which means that Tuesday’s hearing of their competing appeals before the Supreme Court will go forward.

Reportedly, the sides split over whether any prison sentence Olmert would agree to would run concurrently with his 18-month Holyland sentence or be added on to the sentence.

In May, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Olmert to eight months in prison following his conviction in the Talansky Affair retrial, a case that consisted of Olmert illegally receiving, using and concealing at least $153,950 in cash from New York businessman Morris Talansky between 1993 and 2002.

The sentence for the Talansky Affair was his second conviction, for which he is due to serve 18 months for the Holyland real estate corruption case. The Supreme Court reduced his original sentence on appeal from six years.

But the state has appealed other cases in which Olmert has been acquitted, such as the Rishon Tours Affair, in which Olmert has been accused of double-billing organizations for reimbursements for international flights.

Without a plea bargain, Olmert faces potential additional prison time if the Supreme Court reverses his Rishon Tours Affair acquittal.

In the Investment Affair, Olmert was convicted of granting of favors in his capacity as a minister to his confidant Uri Messer, despite a conflict of interest. Olmert received a sentence of six months of community service, which the state has also appealed.

A Supreme Court order for a retrial of these cases came after shocking new recordings emerged last year suggesting that Olmert might have been illegally plotting with his former aide of 30 years, Zaken, regarding the handling of his original trial.

Zaken refused to testify in the first trial and perjured herself on Olmert’s behalf during the Holyland trial, without letting on about the existence of the recordings until these cases were being appealed, and she became embroiled in negotiating a separate deal with prosecutors.

Olmert admitted to telling Zaken not to testify in the first trial and to not cut a deal with the prosecution in the Holyland trial. He told her, “If I am not acquitted, no one will be acquitted.”

He also offered to arrange for her to be paid large sums of money, including having her legal fees covered.

Zaken listened to him and refused a plea bargain before taking the stand in the Holyland trial.            (Jerusalem Post)

New policy eliminates IDF service for immigrants ages 22-26

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Monday the adoption of a policy exempting new immigrants between the ages of 22 and 26 from mandatory army service.

Ministry representative Itzik Ohana informed MKs of the decision in a meeting of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, during which several ministries laid out their proposals for measures to ease the immigration process.

Ministry spokesman Elad Sonn told The Jerusalem Post, “The intention is that the Israeli army will not recruit immigrants who come to Israel between the ages of 22-26.

To date, they were recruited to a service of six months but [the army] realized that it was not effective and they canceled it.”

The ministry welcomed the move, he continued, calling mandatory conscription a “significant barrier,” which had prompted young men to postpone their aliya. Sonn added, “Every immigrant who wishes to volunteer to enlist in the IDF for a significant [term of] service, could to do so in coordination with the IDF.”

Former MK Dov Lipman said, “I am very supportive of this decision.” Lipman currently works with lone soldiers – servicemen, often immigrants, who do not have or are not in touch with family in Israel.

“The issue of army service was one of the number one obstacles for new immigrants in this age group. They have a need to enter the workforce quickly, and this short army service was an obstacle for this,” said Lipman.

“I do believe that army programs where these new immigrants can use their professional training in the IDF should be explored as an optional, voluntary service.

This would give these new immigrants the benefits which come from serving in the IDF and integrating into Israeli society, while continuing to advance their professional careers.   (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Announces Signs of Large Gas Field in Mediterranean  

Two Israeli gas exploration firms announced to have found signs of large natural gas field offshore Israel.

The announcement was the latest in a string of gas discoveries off the coasts of Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus, including some of the world’s largest gas deposits.

A statement by Isramco Negev 2 and Modiin Energy said that an estimated amount of 8.9 trillion cubic feet of gas were found at the Daniel East and West fields.

“Gas reserves of this size could significantly change the Israeli gas market,” said Tzahi Sultan, one of the owners of Modiin.

According to Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, experts estimate at least 10,000 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in the east Mediterranean basin. This amount would be enough to supply Israel’s domestic needs and exports to Europe.

Isramco already holds stakes in the Tamar gas field of similar size.

Tamar, with an estimated 280 bcm of gas, and Leviathan, with estimated reserves of 622 bcm, were found off Israel’s Mediterranean coast in 2009 and 2010. The discoveries were hailed as a bonanza to the economy of the resource-poor country.

Gas production in Tamar kicked off in March 2013, but the development of Leviathan and the smaller Karish and Tanin have been stalled by years of political quarrels and a public protest.

On Dec 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a framework agreement to allow a consortium led by Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel-based Delek Group to develop Israel’s largest gas field Leviathan, while forcing them to sell two smaller, undeveloped fields.

The approval came after years of political infighting and wide public protest, with weekly rallies of tens of thousands of Israelis in big cities throughout the country.  (Xinhua News)

MKs propose letting the public submit legislation to the Knesset

The publicly proposed bills cannot be Basic Laws or amendments to Basic Laws, which have constitutional status, or deal with foreign relations, national security or taxation among others.

Is there a law you always thought the Knesset should pass? Soon, you may have a chance to submit it yourself, if a bill submitted by MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) on Monday becomes law.

With Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s blessing, the coalition and opposition MKs worked together on the draft bill, which they nicknamed “the 121st MK,” and would allow a public proposal with at least 50,000 signatures to enter the legislative process.

The publicly proposed bills cannot be Basic Laws or amendments to Basic Laws, which have constitutional status, or deal with foreign relations, national security, taxation, budgets beyond NIS 5 million or pardoning criminals.

Bills submitted by the public would be able to skip a preliminary vote, which is required of private member bills. However, they would go through the Knesset presidium, the forum of the Knesset Speaker and his deputies, which can block bills if they violate Basic Laws or are racist, among other reasons. In addition they would have to make it through the Knesset House Committee, discussions in the relevant legislative committee, and three votes in the plenum.

Like all legislation, only MKs would be able to vote on the publicly proposed bills,.

Edelstein called it “very important to bring the public closer to the legislature and let it try to influence the democratic process, not just by voting for representatives in the Knesset once every few years.”

Bar said the proposal “balances the Knesset’s dignity as the legislator, while allowing public participation…. It will dramatically broaden citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

We believe the public is smart. We believe in the wisdom of crowds.”

The bill is not populist, Bar said, but is meant to make Israeli democracy more accessible.

Kisch said that 50,000 signatures is enough to keep not just any idea from becoming a bill, but low enough so that it wouldn’t be impossible to attain.

The Likud MK predicted that legalizing cannabis would be one of the bills to come from the public. When asked why he thinks ministers, who tend to be wary of opposition bills, would let his proposal pass, Kisch said that he is confident the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will approve the bills, because it falls under the Knesset Speaker’s jurisdiction, and Edelstein approved it. “We want to express the will of the people in the clearest way possible,” Kisch said.

“This technological age allows greater social involvement and citizens have a great amount of knowledge. There is no reason for them not to be able to have their say on issues they care about.”                  (Jerusalem Post)

Who Is Betraying the Palestinians?

by Bassam Tawil                The Gatestone Institute

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7245/betraying-palestinians

If the Americans and Europeans continue meddling, the stable but still fragile Palestinian social fabric in the West Bank will tear, and at the first sign of weakness, Hamas and ISIS will rush in — as they have long been planning — to take over.

Every Arab regime has, at one time or another, used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to oppress its people. Our fellow Muslims have been happy to use us as a pretext: We are waging war because of the Palestinians. We refuse to fight because of the Palestinians. We cannot do what you want because of the Palestinians. At no time did they ever seriously seek to resolve the conflict — nor did they ever want to.

The sheikhs who claimed it was forbidden for Muslims to live under the shadow of infidel European Christianity now have to watch as Muslims grovel at Europe’s feet and beg the infidel Christians for a safe haven and shelter from… other Muslims.

According to Islamic sources, one of the signs of yawm al-qiyamah (Judgment Day) and redemption is the appearance of the False Messiah, masih dajjal, sent by Satan in the guise of the True Messiah. He is charismatic and powerful, his skin is the color of bronze, his hair is curly and his eyes flash fire. He pretends to do good deeds, drawing people to him and making them blindly follow him.

According to the tradition, the False Messiah sows disaster around the world, marking the stage before redemption. The Qur’an says, “You may love something that is bad for you and hate something that is good for you,” a convenient way of cajoling people into doing things they might find distasteful, such as blowing themselves up.

When U.S. President Barack Obama began his presidency and bowed down before the Islamists at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, we thought he would bring redemption to the Arab world. But his meddling in the Middle East has led to the final dissolution of most of the Arab states. The United States has muscled through a “nuclear deal” that the Iranians will not sign. How could one even expect Iran to sign anything with a country they call “the Great Satan?” Would you?

As an additional advantage, since Iran has not actually signed anything, they cannot be accused of cheating — not that it would matter to them if they were, given their track record of breaking the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The expected infusion of astronomical amounts cash will enable Iran to complete its nuclear weapons program and intercontinental ballistic missiles along with it; arm Hezbollah even more; spread greater terror and further the Shi’ite takeover of the Sunni regions.

The delusions of the Carter administration resulted in the overthrow of Iran’s Shah. This experience should have taught the Americans not to allow the overthrow of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak. The man was undone by Obama’s comic-book fantasies and unworkable, starry-eyed demands. The rise and survival of Egypt’s current President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — despite the attempt of the U.S. administration to reinstate Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood’s regime — is only due to the will of Allah.

By withdrawing prematurely from a stable, if imperfect, Iraq, Obama caused much chaos in the Middle East. His wishful thinking and rambling concepts — from America’s great followership to resolving conflicts by surrendering — have stripped America of all deterrence and sucked the Middle East into an ocean of blood. His adolescent worldview, idealizing Islam, is nothing more than nostalgia for the days of his youth. His daydream of a peace-seeking “political Islam,” divorced from violence, has brought the Middle East devastation, wretchedness and death.

As Palestinians, our reactions are sorrow and frustration. We have to tell the truth and say that nothing is left of our dreams that the Arab armies would conquer Israel. Those of us who once thought that Islamist terrorist organizations would save us have now realized that this is not going to happen.

The Arab leaders who used to blame the miseries of our people on Jews and Zionists are now left with nothing but their empty words. Their hearts are full of envy, hatred and frustration as they look at the blossoming of Israel, the land Allah promised the Jews in the Qur’an, a flower in a burning field of weeds.

The Muslim clerics who claimed it was forbidden for Muslims to live under the shadow of infidel European Christianity sent our young people to blow themselves up to kill Jews and Christians, to frighten and conquer Europe. They now have to watch as Muslims grovel at Europe’s feet and beg the infidel Christians for a safe haven and shelter from… other Muslims.

The leaders of the wealthy Arab states are apathetic and have no solution, or even advice, for the millions of Syrian Muslim refugees who have lost their homes and families; yet the European “Crusaders” have opened their gates to thousands of desperate Muslims who reach their shores.

There will always be Muslim sheikhs who will claim that the wave of Muslims seeking salvation in Europe will eventually join those mujahidin [jihad warriors] who for years have been organizing in the European ghettos, but a close look reveals that the only ones genuinely profiting from the situation are the Jews, and that the prophecies of the Qur’an are coming to pass: the Noble Qur’an prophesies that the Jews will return to Beit Almakdis (Jerusalem) and the land around it from the four corners of the world to live there, and it gives the Jews the Blessed Land and Jerusalem.

The Iranians promised us they would liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque, but all they really want is to lull us into a false sense of security, then take over the Arabian Peninsula. They have infiltrated and subverted Yemen and Bahrain, and taken control of the Straits of Bab al Mandeb, Hormuz and countries between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

While the Arabs are weak and divided — thanks to America’s policy of divide and conquer — the Iranians keep on getting stronger. In light of the catastrophe Obama has caused the Arab world — with millions of refugees flooding the Middle East and invading Europe from Africa and the Arab countries — the dream of returning to Palestine has vanished.

It has long been obvious that there is no connection whatsoever between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the chaos in the Middle East. Every Arab regime has, at one time or another, used the conflict as an excuse to oppress its people by telling them they were fighting a common enemy. We have been betrayed by them as much as by the Europeans.

Our fellow Muslims have been happy to use us as a pretext, to have something to point at and complain about: We are waging war; it is because of the Palestinians. We refuse to fight; it is because of the Palestinians. We cannot do what you want; it is because of the Palestinians. At no time did they ever seriously seek to resolve the conflict, nor did they ever want to.

The great benefit we have is that the Israelis no longer rule us. We now have an autonomy. If the Americans and Europeans continue meddling and pressuring one side or the other in our conflict with the Israelis, eventually the stable but still fragile Palestinian social fabric in the West Bank will tear, and at the first sign of weakness Hamas and ISIS will rush in — as they have long been planning — to take over.

All we can do is comfort ourselves with the thought that given all the signs, the redemption of the world is coming and the Mahdi everyone is waiting for will soon be here.

Muslim Woman Exudes Love to ‘Magical’ Israel

By Gil Ronen                       Israel National News

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/206695

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Farhana Rahman, a young Muslim woman from New York who is employed in an Israeli mobile app startup named Zula, posted a Facebook status full of boundless love for the state of Israel and its citizens Sunday. For those demoralized by the news these days, it is a true must-read.

“As I am typing this,” she wrote upon returning to the US from her second-ever trip to Israel, “my heart is still pounding quite hard, and there is still that yearning to go back.”

What followed was an exuberant post full of love for the Jewish state and its residents:

“Muslim me went to the heart of Israel, and exploded- with emotions. And with sentiment,” she declared.

“Because everyone loved me. Everyone went out of their way to love me. No one could dare say that my online friends in Israel aren’t real friends. Because yes they are. It’s insulting for me to even refer to them as my friends. It is also insulting for me to refer to them as my family. They are a part of me. My lifeblood. They collectively transformed me into a much better version of myself.”

She continued: “Many wonderful people traveled far and wide to see me. I didn’t want to bother anyone by asking for their time in my last-minute trip, but that didn’t stop them. They put their workloads and beautiful families aside, and came to see me and spend time with me in all crazy hours. I ended up falling for each of them even more than before, because they were all genuinely delighted over the fact that I was there. Probably even more delighted than I was.

“I don’t use the term ‘friendship’ lightly. I know I am saying it a lot here. I am far from popular, that’s for sure. But here’s how the culture in Israel works: If people know you, they love you. Well, you obviously have to be a good person. But anyway, everyone lifts everyone else up. You know those stereotypes of Jews only helping Jews and that’s why they are all successful and blah blah? Well I am solid proof that they wholeheartedly help people outside of the tribe as well.”

“And why don’t we all take a lesson from them?”, Farhana suggested, in a monologue that soothes hearts:

“Jews weren’t the only oppressed people that faced injustices in different points in time,” she observed.

“Everyone was. And still is. Let’s all help build each other up as they do!

“Everyone of all ages in Israel gave me exceptional, world class treatment. I got sloppy little kisses from infants, handmade presents from small children, endless praise from teenagers, saw the childish side of young adults, got treated to wonderful local eats by people my parents age, and listened to words of wisdom and got major hugs from people that were much older. Why am I saying this? To let you know that the people of Israel of all generations love, and love to be loved. And believe me… I didn’t only see a small handful of people in one town.

“Don’t listen to what the media, or what low res overly shared graphics say against Israel or the IDF (may God bless them.) Take everything you hear as inspiration to try to figure out what the real story is for yourself by getting straight to the source… Don’t blindly go by the ridiculous headlines and stories by the media.”

As for the “apartheid state” trope that is constantly repeated by anti-Israelis – Farhana had this to say:

“It’s almost crazy how many Muslim women I saw driving, shopping independently, studying, working, and enjoying life in Israel. Freedoms they couldn’t even dream of elsewhere in the Mideast. And yes, many of them were all burka’ed out to the nines. Also, it’s way safer to walk outside late at night in most parts of Israel, than in NY. Because the people are civil and good. If you reply with anything contradictory, I’ll simply ignore cause that won’t be worth my time.

“Anyway, I went to businesses run by Jews, and got great customer service. I went to businesses run by Muslims. Also got great service. Customers were mixed everywhere, and everyone got along just fine. Interestingly enough, in both cases, the shop owners/staff weren’t able to figure out whether I was a Muslim or Jew. I took that as a compliment.

“I didn’t think it would be possible for me to love Israel and her people more than before. But yep. This trip did it. Does that make me a Zionist? Probably. You will be surprised how many other Zionist Muslims I came across there. So bring it on haters, bring it on. I will stand at the front line for the chosen people. And after the smoke clears, we will cuddle and play board games together while enjoying bourekas and lemonade with mint.”

“I unfortunately didn’t get to visit Al Aqsa,” she was quoted as writing in a friend’s post, “because my Jewish friends were getting some mean glares from some of the older Muslims, and I didn’t feel comfortable to go because of it. But I was warmly welcomed to the Western Wall, and that felt just as sacred.

“I was not discriminated against at all by any means. If anything, I was given bigger discounts, and larger portions of meals because everyone was delighted to see that I was a Jew-loving Muslim. They went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable and enjoying my stay. Even strangers.”

It’s not easy being Israeli these days, with so much hatred and scorn being poured upon Jews globally. But even with just a few hearts as big as Farhana’s on the Jews’ side, the fight seems to be a lopsided one in the Chosen People’s favor.