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Israeli opposition politicians meet with Abbas in Ramallah

Latest News in Israel – 30th August

Israel agrees to peace summit, but PA places conditions

Israel has reportedly agreed to a three-way peace summit with the United States and the Palestinian Authority (PA), but the PA is placing preconditions on the initiative, Channel 10 News reported on Sunday.

The Channel 10 report was based on a report in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Rad.

The Jordanian newspaper, which spoke to PLO Executive Committee member Wassel Abu Yousef, said that Israel agreed to the summit without any preconditions, but the PA conditioned the summit taking place on Israel ceasing construction in Judea and Samaria and releasing additional terrorist prisoners.

“We welcome any activity aimed at moving the peace process, but there are conditions that Israel must fulfill so that the meeting does not deal only with economic issues,” ​​Abu Yousef said,

“At the moment we wish to move ahead with the French initiative,” he added.

Israel has continuously stressed that it is willing to relaunch peace talks with the PA, but PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept.

Abbas recently rejected an American proposal for a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the presence of Arab and western leaders.

Abbas’s stated reason for refusing was the claim that the proposal was just a plan to circumvent the Arab and French peace proposals.

The PA chairman has also insisted that any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe and under international supervision.

The French initiative seeks to organize an international conference to reboot talks by the end of the year.

Israel has rejected the French peace initiative and insists that the only way to achieve peace is through direct talks with the PA.                 (Arutz Sheva)

Amid talk of Obama peace push, Israel invokes his vow not to impose solution

Amid uncertainty over what Mideast steps US President Barack Obama may take in the twilight of his presidency, Jerusalem – according to government officials – expects him to stay true to what he said at the UN in 2011: “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.”

This issue was among those Prime Minister Benjamin discussed at his home in Caesarea on Sunday with a blue-ribbon, bipartisan delegation of high ranking former national security officials. The visit comes amid speculation of what Obama has planned for the Middle East in the two month interregnum between the elections on November 8 and when he formally leaves office on January 20.

Speculation is rife that the US president will want to leave some kind of Mideast marker before leaving office, with options ranging from delivering a speech laying down what he believes should be the parameters of any final peace deal, to either supporting or not vetoing a new UN resolution on the Mideast that would supplant UN Security Council Resolution 242 that has underpinned all peace efforts since 1967.

Israel’s concern is that any of these moves might be used to try to impose a solution on the conflict from the outside.

Government officials have in recent days highlighted Obama’s 2011 speech to the UN General Assembly, which at the time was debating the issue of Palestinian statehood.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” he said. “Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.”

One official said that this speech was Israel’s “reference point” regarding possible Obama moves in the coming months. “That speech was clear and unequivocal, and hopefully there will not be any surprises,” the official said.

Veteran Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross, who was part of the delegation that met Netanyahu Sunday, said earlier this month at a Washington conference that he did not believe the “administration will make a big effort at the Security Council,” because it realizes this could make things worse.

Instead, Ross said it was likely Obama will deliver a Mideast speech, but added, “presidents giving speeches at the end of a term frankly don’t have that big of an impact on anybody.”

The delegation that met Netanyahu included a number of national security and Middle East experts who have worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and some of whom may be called upon to serve in various capacities by the next US president.

In addition to coming to Israel, the delegation also went to Saudi Arabia, where it met King Salman, and to Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.

Other members of the delegation included James Jeffrey, a senior diplomat whose former posts have included stints as the US ambassador to Iraq and to Afghanistan; Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as Washington’s envoy to Iraq and to the UN under president George W. Bush: Phillip Gordon, who served from 2013 to 2015 as Obama’s Mideast coordinator; Robert Danin, a veteran diplomat who from 2008 to 2010 headed the Jerusalem office of the Quartet under Tony Blair; and Meghan O’Sullivan, a former deputy national security adviser under Bush on Iran and Afghanistan.                (Jerusalem Post)

Liberman won’t do deal with Hamas for IDF soldiers’ bodies

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke of his opposition to a deal with Hamas to return the bodies of fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. The comments were reportedly made behind closed doors during a tour in the south Monday morning, Channel 10 news reported.

The comments contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly said that he would do all he could to return the bodies of fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

“The soldiers’ bodies will not be returned, I don’t see that happening. In the past I was against the Schalit deal and I don’t plan on doing a deal with Hamas in the future,” Liberman reportedly stated.

Despite Liberman’s comments, Netanyahu has continued to ensure that the bodies would soon be returned.

When speaking on the subject two months ago, Netanyhu stated, “This mission is at the top of my mind, I will not let go, we will finish this, even if it takes time.”

The Goldin family reacted to the statements, saying, “A defense minister that gives up willingly on the return of soldiers from the battlefield does not have the moral authority to continue serving as defense minister.”

“We call upon the prime minister, the defense minister and the Israeli public to stand for the return of Hadar and Oron.”

Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz responded, stating, “Liberman’s statement that he does not plan on returning the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul is shameful and threatens to erase the IDF’s ethical code. Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin are brave soldiers that fell defending the State of Israel.”

Peretz continued, “Those who do not work to return our soldiers from the battlefield morally can not send them to the battlefield. I urge Liberman to retract his words.”

Liberman’s office released a statement saying, “In contrast to the Channel 10 news report, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman did not address today, or recently, the subject of returning the bodies of Oron Shaul or Hadar Goldin. Liberman is and has always been against prisoner exchanges of this kind. It is to be recalled that he also voted against the Schalit deal and he believes that it is unacceptable for anyone to believe that terror pays.”             (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli to be extradited to US over sale of military parts to Iran

The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejected an appeal by an Israeli man against extradition to the US, where he has been charged with selling arms — including spare parts for fighter jets — to Iran.

Arye Eliyahu “Eli” Cohen, 66, from Bnei Brak, was arrested at the request of the US authorities at Ben Gurion Airport in May 2014, as he was trying to flee the country.

Cohen had been indicted in a federal court in Connecticut for illegally exporting spare parts for F-4 and F-14 combat aircraft to Iran, illegally moving military equipment out of the US and money laundering.

If convicted, Cohen could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for breaking laws prohibiting the sale of arms to Iran.

The Supreme Court said in a statement Sunday that Cohen should be rendered to US authorities “in order to stand trial for the commission of federal offences of trading military spare parts with Iran.”

“According to the charge sheet on which the extradition request is based, during the years 2000-2004 Cohen exported military spare parts from the United States to his place of residence in Israel,” the Hebrew-language statement said.

It said that he and three accomplices in the United States shipped parts for Hawk missiles, fighter aircraft and armored troop carriers from the US to Israel, using false declarations as to the materials and their final destination. One of the accomplices has previously been named as Cohen’s brother-in-law, Avihai Weinstein.

A transcript of Sunday’s court hearing said that the charges alleged that between 2012-2013 Cohen “on two occasions re-exported from Israel to Iran, via Greece, US-made military spare parts used by fighter planes.”

The charges were filed in the Federal District Court of Connecticut in 2013, and the United States made an extradition request the following year.

The Jerusalem District Court granted the request but Cohen then appealed to the Supreme Court.

“The act for which extradition is requested constitutes a criminal offence under the laws of both” Israel and the United States, the court said in Sunday’s ruling.

Cohen and Weinstein had previously tried to send shipments to Iran via intermediary states such as the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, Israel’s Channel 2 reported in 2014, adding that Cohen had been investigated on such charges six times in 12 years.                     (the Times of Israel)

Israeli opposition politicians meet with Abbas in Ramallah

Meeting with Abbas

Zionist Union MKs Ksenia Stevlova and Yossi Yona meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah .

Two Zionist Union MKs met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend, saying he is committed to making peace.

MKs Ksenia Svetlova and Yossi Yonah, both of Zionist Union, visited Abbas in Ramallah at his invitation.

“It was important for us, those who want to solve the conflict, to not turn into those who ‘never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,’” Svetlova said, paraphrasing an Abba Eban quote about Arab states. “We were happy to hear that Abbas continues to oppose violence and is committed to a solution.”

The lawmakers discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that he wishes to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Moscow, and they called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree.

Netanyahu must “do everything possible and beyond to change the reality in which we pay such high prices,” Svetlova added.

Yonah said the “political chaos in the Middle East creates possibilities for new alliances between us and moderate states in the region.

“Significant advances in the efforts to reach an agreement between us and the Palestinians are an inseparable part of these alliances,” he said. “In the meeting with us, Abbas said he is willing to take part in any regional or international initiative toward a just comprehensive solution to the conflict.”

Only a peace agreement based on two states can ensure Israel’s character as Jewish and democratic, Yonah said.                           (Jerusalem Post)

48% of parents unhappy with education system

Some 48 percent of the public aged 20 or older are unsatisfied with the educational system, according to a report the Central Bureau for Statistics released on Sunday.

Among respondents, 36% said the system is “not so good,” and 12% said it is “not good at all.”

On the other hand, 45% said the education system functioned positively.

Among those who answered more positively, 38% said the system was “good,” and 7% found it “very good.”

The data was extracted from the statistic bureau’s 2015 social survey, which was designed to examine public attitudes toward government services, institutions, civic engagement and feelings of discrimination. About 7,100 people aged 20 and older were surveyed between April and December 2015.

Fewer than half of respondents – 42% – said the education system provided services in an equitable manner, and the majority did not believe so.

The education system ranked first in the report of government services most in need of improvement.

The CBS also looked at parental satisfaction with the educational institutions their children attended. The results showed that levels of dissatisfaction grew with the age of the children.

Only 12% of parents with children in nursery school were unsatisfied with the schools, while 13% with children in kindergarten, and 19% with children in elementary school and high school had negative opinions of their children’s institutions.

While 88% of parents with children in nurseries and 85% with children in kindergarten were “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the school, 81% of parents with children in elementary or high schools reported the same level of satisfaction.

The CBS also pointed out that satisfaction among parents varied according to the demographic sector: 85% of Jews were satisfied with the educational institutions of their children compared with 69% of the Arab population.

Household income was also a determining factor: 84% with a gross per capita income of over NIS 2,000 per month and 76% of those with an income of less than NIS 2,000 were satisfied with the school their child attended.

Generally, dissatisfaction was relatively high with locations, physical conditions and the level of teaching at the schools.

Extrapolating from the report, the children of some 355,000 receive private tutoring to supplement the education provided at school.          (Jerusalem Post)

Binyamin Ben- Eliezer, a tragedy in three acts

by Amotz  Asa-El                            The Jerusalem Post


It should have ended more admirably, but Binyamin Ben- Eliezer’s eventful life proceeded from military distinction through political mountaineering to legal disgrace, and it was the latter that sealed his career and heralded his death.

The Iraqi-born Ben-Eliezer was part of a generation IDF commanders who hailed from the Middle Eastern immigrations and through battlefield bravery paved their way to political prominence.

However, unlike, former defense ministers Shaul Mofaz and Yitzhak Mordechai, Ben- Eliezer joined politics not through the big parties but through a small faction named Tami that set out to close social gaps between Israelis of European and Middle Eastern backgrounds.

When that secular movement was eclipsed by Shas, Ben- Eliezer joined former defense minister and future president Ezer Weizman in Yahad following the peace agreement with Egypt that Weizman helped produce. And as Weizman soon landed in Labor, so did Ben-Eliezer, thus serving three parties within two years.

Even so, at a time when Labor thirsted for voters out of its historic, predominantly Ashkenazi constituency, Ben-Eliezer was seen as indispensable – a walking proof that an Israeli with an Arabic nickname and an Iraqi accent does not necessarily belong in Likud.

Yet, Ben-Eliezer made himself useful in more ways than the symbolic.

Having backed Yitzhak Rabin in his struggle for Labor’s leadership against Shimon Peres, Rabin appointed Ben-Eliezer as his housing and construction minister, a position in which he delivered Rabin’s promise to begin revolutionizing Israel’s infrastructure. Ben-Eliezer proved that, while ineloquent, he knew how to get things done.

At the same time, due to his mastery of Arabic and his military experience as coordinator of activities in the territories, Ben-Eliezer was also Rabin’s man opposite Peres’s operation vis-à-vis the Palestinian fray, a capacity in which Ben-Eliezer became the first Israeli leader to meet Yasser Arafat.

Yet, Ben-Eliezer’s deepest imprint on Israeli history would arrive in the wake of the Oslo Accords’ collapse last decade.

Following Ehud Barak’s defeat by Ariel Sharon in the 2001 prime ministerial election, Ben-Eliezer emerged, improbably, as Labor’s leader and Sharon’s defense minister, in a unity government the two men quickly set up.

The two had known each other well since the 1970s, when Sharon, then a major-general, was head of the Southern Command, and Ben- Eliezer, then a Lieutenant-Colonel, commanded Sayeret Shaked, an infantry commando battalion. The future leaders of Likud and Labor thus fought shoulder-to-shoulder while confronting the terror Gaza spewed following the Six Day War.

The pair’s battlefield camaraderie endured time’s passage and politics’ acrimony, and three decades after its cementing, their friendship assumed national importance as the Jewish state faced the worst terrorism war in its history.

By then 65 and 72, respectively, Ben-Eliezer and Sharon inspired an atmosphere of unity in the public, a sense of purpose among politicians and a fighting spirit among the troops, all of which ultimately led the enemy to defeat following 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield.

While at it, Ben-Eliezer also tipped the scale in favor of the anti-terrorism fence’s construction, an idea that both Sharon and Peres were reluctant to back, the former lest it compromise his Greater Israel faith, and the latter lest it compromise his peace-in-our-time dogma.

For better or worse, the fence ended up embodying mainstream Israel’s attitude toward the territories. Few personified this newly pragmatic Israel better than Ben-Eliezer.

It was out of this background of achievement and practicality that Ben-Eliezer, who later served also in the Olmert and Netanyahu governments, thought he was an eligible candidate for president of Israel.

He wasn’t.

On the more prosaic level, Ben-Eliezer was a shallow and inarticulate anticlimax to such predecessors as Yitzhak Navon and Peres, not to mention the fabled Chaim Weizmann.

On the less prosaic level, Ben- Eliezer was ineligible for the presidency because he would soon become a suspected bribe taker, a dubious status he should have foreseen before it derailed his candidacy.

Sadly, even after his former patron Ezer Weizman’s removal from the presidency back in 2000 due to other financial allegations, and even after the next president ended up indicted, convicted and jailed, Ben- Eliezer still failed to realize his aftermath would be no better.

Historians will wonder what to make of that aftermath, especially considering that he died before his first day in court.

Yet, even those who will posthumously convict him of the bribery felonies for which he was indicted last December will agree that Ben-Eliezer was not a born crook, just as he was not a born hero. Rather, his achievements were a product of Israel’s unique wars, and his downfall a product of the temptations of politics.

Black Lives Matter and the endless war against the Jews

By Wesley Pruden                                The Washington Times


The man who controls the language controls the conversation, as George Orwell rightly observed. The word that the left is trying, with a certain success, to appropriate now is “genocide.” Genocide is what Hitler set out to do, to exterminate Europe’s Jews (and who knows where his evil ambition would have gone from there).

The manifesto of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the connivance of intellectually slovenly academics, applies “genocide” to Israeli self-defense in Gaza. There’s neither logic nor data to prove it.

“Between 1939 and 1945,” writes Joseph Telushkin in the Tablet, an online magazine, “one-third of the Jewish people in the world were murdered. That was genocide. And since Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 [as a result of a] war of self-defense, the Arab population in these two areas has gone from just over a million to 4 million. That is not genocide. It’s a population explosion.”

Facts are stubborn and persistent, but so are those who deny, manipulate and abuse them. Black Lives Matter, in protesting the shooting of young black men by police (and in the case of one or two of the young black men, they were asking for it) was a positive thing, but the movement now is trying to turn the rage against injustice to destructive rage against Israel. It’s an old phenomenon. Blame the Jews: They’re rich (most of them own department stores) and live the life of Riley, so why not?

Until now the Jew-baiters tried to camouflage their game, being careful to say they weren’t talking about the Jews, just the Zionists, the Jews who wanted to build and protect a Jewish homeland. When a black student at Harvard tried this line on Martin Luther King, he was having none of it. “When people criticize Zionists,” he told him, “they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

This was a time when Jews and blacks marched together against segregation and racial abuse in the South, when racial reunion and solidarity seemed both close and far away. Now, after nearly eight years of the Obama era, it seems only far away, and the Jew-baiters now rarely bother to camouflage Jew-baiting by calling it skepticism of Zionism.

Sometimes well-meaning but soft-headed people who would be shocked that anyone would call them insensitive and impolite, and certainly not bigots, join the angry conversation. Several Christian denominations of the Protestant persuasion have lately joined prominent academics to urge boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, the so called “BDS movement.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest of many branches of the church of Martin Luther, approved resolutions demanding that the U.S. government suspend all aid to the Jewish state until “the military occupation of Palestinian land” is ended. The vote, 751 to 162 at the denomination’s triennial assembly earlier this month in New Orleans, was not even close.

“By adopting this investment screen,” the denomination spokesmen said, “[we are] taking an important step to ensure that we are not profiting from, or complicit in, injustice in the Holy Land and elsewhere.”

Soft heads do not necessarily afflict other denominations to quite this degree, though there’s ignorance aplenty when some people gather not necessarily in the name of the Christ, but in the name of the gods of political correctness. Similar anti-Israel resolutions failed at the quadrennial conference of the United Methodist Church, either by vote or by bottling them up in conference committees. The good news was that by a decisive vote the denomination voted to distance itself from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which promotes and encourages the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Many Jews themselves, blinded by an inability to discern the friend from foe, sometimes choose their friends unwisely. These are sometimes called “self-hating Jews,” a harsh name given not by Christians or secular Gentiles, but by other Jews. I would watch my language. I was told by an editor many years ago, in a kinder, gentler era when I was but a young reporter, “never allow your typewriter to put on paper the letters ‘j, e and w’ in succession. You’ll only hurt someone’s feelings.”

One of the most famous of what Joseph Telushkin calls the self-hating Jew was Rosa Luxemburg, an early Communist and Marxist philosopher, murdered by German authorities. When she was asked to denounce pogroms, she declined. “Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows? I cannot find a place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

Both Lenin and Trotsky mourned her death, and Lenin called her “an eagle.” But her anguished father told her that “an eagle soars so high he loses sight of the earth below. I shall not burden you any more with my letters.” Her father knew best.

Can Israel and the Arab States Be Friends? – Editorial (New York Times)

There is evidence that ties between Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states and Israel are not only improving but, after developing in secret over many years, could evolve into a more explicit alliance as a result of their mutual distrust of Iran.

Israel and the Sunni Arab states last fought a war in 1973. Now, after decades of hostility, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is seeking to engage his country’s former enemies.

The Israelis and the Saudis have reasons to work together. They share antipathy toward Iran, the leading Shiite-majority country. Both are worried about regional instability. Both are upset with the U.S. over the Iranian nuclear deal.

For some time, Israeli and Saudi officials have been cooperating covertly on security and intelligence matters. Significantly, Saudi Arabia has also begun a media campaign in the kingdom, apparently to prepare its citizens for better relations with Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu is determined to expand the number of countries that recognize his state and to capitalize on the economic potential of trade between it and the Arab states. He has repaired relations with Turkey and has sought to strengthen ties with Africa. Egypt has also been pursuing warmer ties with Israel since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt’s president in 2014.

Mr. Netanyahu has made clear his preference for improving relations with the Arab states first, saying Israel would then be in a stronger position to make peace with the Palestinians later on.