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Latest News in Israel – 31st March

Aryeh Deri names self as politician at center of ‘severe’ corruption probe

Authorities have been investigating two senior Israeli politicians in two separate corruption cases, according to reports Tuesday night in multiple news outlets.

News of one case was broken by Channel 2 news, with Haaretz reporting shortly afterward on the second. Details of the investigations were withheld from the public by a court-imposed gag order.

But shortly after midnight Tuesday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he had asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to request a lifting of the gag order.

“I turned to the attorney general today and demanded that the gag order be lifted on anything related to me,” he said in a late-night statement on Twitter. “I notified him that I will cooperate fully with investigators and answer every question they ask.”

Both investigations are in a preliminary stage, and none of the suspects have been questioned under caution.

Mandelblit held a meeting of top law enforcement officials Tuesday to determine whether to interrogate one of the politicians under caution.

One of the cases involves suspicions of “severe” corruption, Channel 2 said.

Haaretz said the second case, which was deemed less severe, related to suspicions of illegal political funding by an “interested party.”

It was not immediately clear which case refers to Deri.

The second politician is said to be a close ally of Deri, but his name remains under gag order.

Haaretz said the investigations into both cases began after the Knesset elections last March.

In response to a Channel 2 request for comment, the office of one of the senior politicians said: “He does not know anything about the issue.”

The case could have dramatic repercussions for Deri, as well as the coalition.

Deri served 22 months in prison from 2000 to 2002 after he was convicted of taking bribes while serving as interior minister, the post he holds today. He leads the Shas party list in the Knesset, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu narrow 61-59 majority in the parliament.                    (The Times of Israel)

Police scrutinize opposition chief Herzog in suspected corruption probe

Knesset opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog is the subject of an initial probe by law enforcement authorities into alleged wrongdoing, it was learned on Wednesday.

According to Channel 2, Herzog is the second major political figure to be under scrutiny by police in the last 24 hours.

The probe is in connection to Herzog’s primary challenge of former Labor party head Shelly Yacimovich in 2013, Channel 2 added.

Police confirmed that investigators were instructed by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to commence an initial probe, though officials noted that it was short of a full-blown criminal investigation.

The attorney-general also confirmed news of the probe.

The opposition leader defiantly denied any wrongdoing on Wednesday shortly after it was learned that the attorney-general had instructed law enforcement to conduct an initial probe into possible violations of campaign finance laws.

Saying that he welcomed the announcement, Herzog accused the Likud and “frustrated operatives” of conducting a campaign of “political slander.”

The Zionist Union chief said that the allegations, which stem from suspected irregularities committed during his run for the chairmanship of the Labor Party, were made before the elections and were denied.

“I’m certain that the probe will debunk these bizarre claims once and for all,” Herzog said. “I will cooperate fully with whomever necessary in order to get to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible.”

Along with Herzog, Interior Minister Arye Deri was named on Tuesday as the center of a new corruption affair he is allegedly involved in, citing a report by Channel 2.

The following day, Deri, said the report “completely surprised me.”

Deri said that he had “turned to the attorney-general and requested that anything connected to me or my name be taken out from under the gag order.”

The interior minister said that he would gladly stand before any investigative body.                               (Jerusalem Post)

Boycotts will disappear when Israel advances peace, EU envoy says

Without the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there would be no Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the European Union’s envoy to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, said Monday, arguing that the best way to fight BDS is to take steps to advance a two-state solution.

“The most effective antidote against the BDS movement is to solve the Palestinian issue. If there were no Palestinian issue, there would be no BDS movement,” Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen said at a conference in Jerusalem.

At the very least, the boycott movement “would swing into virtually nothing” if there was no Israeli-Palestinian conflict “to tag unto,” he argued.

The EU does not expect Israel to be able to solve the conflict unilaterally, the ambassador stressed. “It takes two to tango. It takes the Palestinians also.” But it is important for Israel not to be seen as undermining a two-state solution, he said. “If more effort is put into showing a will to move forward and to obtain progress in this process, it would greatly weaken the BDS movement.”

Faaborg-Andersen added BDS is a “rather marginal” phenomenon that currently “has very little effect” on Israel. “That means that we have to, of course, stay vigilant in order to ensure it does not get further boosts and does not get further support. But I think it’s important to keep a sense of proportions here and ensure that we’re not to talking up this phenomenon rather than talking it down, and thereby giving it a platform that it really doesn’t have.”

There is “big difference between legitimate criticism of policies and BDS,” he said. “There’s a great risk, by lumping things together that really don’t belong together that you first of all give the BDS movement a prominence that it doesn’t have. And secondly that you cut off dialogue and conversation with those who are critical of the policies but are not supporters of BDS.”

Earlier during the conference, which was organized by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper, Faaborg-Andersen expressed the EU’s desire to see Israel thrive and said the union completely rejects any efforts to boycott Israel. “Let me make one thing 100 percent clear: The European Union is against BDS. Our policy is totally opposite of BDS. Our policy is one of engagement with Israel.”

The EU has “a long track record to prove” his point, Faaborg-Andersen said, citing the $30 billion bilateral trade volume and the fact that the EU is Israel’s “most important partner in science and technology.”

However, the envoy stressed, the EU thinks settlements are illegal under international law and a hindrance to the peace process. Settlement goods are sold freely and are “welcome on the European market,” he said, though they do not enjoy preferential customs treatment ­ products from Israel proper do ­ and have to carry an indication that they are from the settlements.

“Not even the Israeli government claims that the West Bank is part of Israel. So why would products coming from the West Bank be labeled as from Israel? We have no problems with those products; they just have to be correctly labeled,” he said. “This doesn’t amount to any kind of boycott.”

The EU’s envoy further said the union has recognized “on several occasions” that Israel “doesn’t face a level playing field” in international forums, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council.

No other country is singled out for routine scrutiny the way Israel is, he acknowledged. “We have been critical of that and we have also been trying in various ways to help Israel in overcoming some of these obstacles they are facing in terms of an unequal playing field in the Human Rights Council, for example.”

But there’s only so much the EU can do, he added. “We are 28 voices but the council is much bigger than that. So therefore we have to abide by the rule of the majority. And our position continues to be that these bodies, even though we might not always agree with the majority view, these bodies are important for international dialogue. And therefore our policy with them is also one of engagement.”

Faaborg-Andersen’s participation in the conference, and his appearance on a panel with former settler leader Dani Dayan, had led to harsh criticism from the BDS movement. In an open letter posted online, BDS activists called on the EU to withdraw the senior diplomat from the panel.

But Faaborg-Andersen said he was “totally undeterred” by these calls. “Sometimes I’m criticized by extremist settlers and today I am criticized by the BDS movement.”

President Reuven Rivlin, who also spoke at the conference, said that delegitimization of Israel lies at the core of the BDS movement, but warned against blacklisting legitimate criticism of Israel.

“We must distinguish between criticism and delegitimization when we deal with the BDS. Criticism can be given also among friends, but it is important to make sure that it does not turn into the delegitimization of Israel,” he said.

Not everyone who criticizes Israeli policies opposes the state’s right to exist, the president continued. “The fact that we can bear criticism and successfully explain our positions in a debate within Israeli democracy is our strength. We must realize that there is no other way.”            (The Times of Israel)

Theater director: Take ‘Israel’ off my name on international festival program

A prominent Israeli theater director who is featuring a production at a Berlin festival requested that Israel not be listed in the program alongside her name.

Ofira Henig, whose Arabic-language manmaRo project will be showing at the Festival of International New Drama in the Schaubühne theater in April, requested instead that just her city of residence, Haifa, be listed.

In response to a query as to why Israel was not listed, Henig wrote to a director of Schaubühne explaining that her method of self-identification was meant to express her freedom of choice and not to reject the State of Israel.

Henig said there are many elements to identity and that she and co-producer Khalifa Natour “choose our identity out of state context,” adding “we have so many elements in our identity.”

She said the decision was also based on their undertaking not to take government funding for the project.

“We, the artistic team, decided not to be subsidized by any government money. We want to be free from all sides… It is not about denying the State of Israel, it is about the freedom of choosing, and a free independent mind is not obviously contradict to the State of Israel [sic]. Isn’t it?” Henig was one of 150 actors, playwrights, directors and other artists who in 2010 issued a letter to prominent Israeli theaters stating they would not perform in Ariel or any other settlement.

Henig says she was dismissed from her position as head of the Herzliya Theater Ensemble in 2011, although the board of the theater said it fired her due to the lack of commercial success of her productions.

Until 2014, Henig worked in conjunction with the Haifa theater, which is supported by the Culture Ministry, but has since ceased working at this venue as well.

Henig could not be contacted directly for comment.                (Jerusalem Post)

Cuban Jewish leader: Synagogues have no need for security

The vice president of the Cuban Jewish community said in an interview that the country’s synagogues do not require security.

“We are the only country with a synagogue that has its doors constantly open, where there is no kind of security at all, no kind of guards,” David Prinstein told the Agencia Judía de Noticias news portal. “There is no type of anti-Semitic expression against Jews and synagogues.”

Prinstein also praised interfaith dialogue as a priority for Jews on the island.

“We are part of a Cuban interreligious platform, where we hold continuous meetings tackling topics in common and positive for all parties,” he said. “This has made possible an excellent relationship with all other religious denominations.”

Prinstein called the Cuban government’s relationship with the Jewish community “excellent.”

“It is a very open relationship, very sincere and above all respectful,” he said.

Cuba is home to nearly 1,500 Jews. The island nation has three synagogues and two cemeteries.

“It’s just like the saying: two Jews, three synagogues,” Prinstein joked.

Last week, Prinstein said of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the country — the first by a sitting U.S. president to the island in 88 years – that it was a milestone for the small Cuban Jewish community and “a transcendental, historic moment.”

Last month, Latin Americans aged 25-40 interested in Jewish culture, education and leadership met in Havana for the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship seminar sponsored by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. It was the first time the event had taken place in Cuba since 1959.

Jews first arrived in Cuba as conversos, Spanish or Portuguese Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism but secretly continued to practice Judaism, sailing with the explorer Christopher Columbus, who landed on the largest Caribbean island in 1492. The country’s once 25,000-strong community saw 95 percent of its members flee the Fidel Castro Communist government, mostly to Miami.                 (Jerusalem Post)

High-speed train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to be completed by 2018

The highly anticipated high-speed train under construction that will connect Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in under 30 minutes will be completed in 2018, the head of Israel Railways announced on Monday.

During a tour with members of Knesset at a construction site for the NIS 1.82 billion project, Boaz Tzafrir, CEO of the railway, said the train will take passengers from Jerusalem’s International Convention Center to Tel Aviv’s Haganah Station in 28 minutes flat.

Tzafrir added that up to four trains per hour traveling at 99 miles per hour will be operational in both directions during rush hour, with intermediary stops at Ben-Gurion International Airport, JNS reported.

The train, which will traverse eight bridges and six tunnels, will cut travel time by 45 minutes compared to the current train service available from the capital to Tel Aviv.

According to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, plans are already underway to add routes “from Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south,” with a stop in the Old City.

A subterranean, multi-story station at the entrance of Jerusalem featuring four 300-meter platforms accessible by elevators and escalators, will extend from the ICC to the Central Bus Station across the street, the ministry said.

Moreover, the high-speed train, being completed with the help of nearly 700 engineers, will eventually have stops in Modiin and Latrun, Katz said.

Although the train was supposed to be completed by next year, several hurdles – including budget overhauls requiring additional government investment and environmental concerns – led to the delay.       (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli companies to build smart city in Brazil

Three Israeli companies won an international competition to help create a pilot smart city in Brazil to house 20,000 residents of low socioeconomic status.

The startups won a challenge to develop high-tech solutions in security, landscaping and engineering for the future city called Croatá Laguna Ecopark in the northeastern municipality of Sao Goncalo do Amarante, the Brazilian Israelite Confederation announced Monday in its newsletter.

In most cases, the smart technology is fitted to existing cities, but the Brazilian government decided recently to try a different approach and build a smart city from scratch.

Twelve Israeli tech firms participated in the 3C Smart Cities Challenge held in Tel Aviv with cooperation from the Brazilian government; Italian group Planet Idea; the Tel Aviv University center for entrepreneurship, Startau, and the Israeli innovation center from global security conglomerate Tyco.

“Israel has positioned itself in recent years as a hub for smart city technologies, so it is natural we would take part in this unique project, which has significant impact for proving the feasibility of the technology and the vision,” Tyco Vice President Ofir Bar Levav told the Israeli business news service Globes.

The winner of the competition was Magos, which is taking part in a program by Tyco Innovation. Its technology makes available for the first time high-resolution, compact security solutions with low energy consumption and a simple installation at affordable rates to civilian clients. Second-place GreenIQ develops solutions for smart management of green spaces, offering up to 50 percent savings in water consumption. Third place went to Pixtier, which develops an engineering system to build and plan smart cities.

Planet Idea operations director Gianni Savio said smart cities are urban spaces ”in which the smartest and most economically sustainable technologies are designed and integrated,” and are also focused on social housing, ”and therefore targeting mid- and low-income levels, showing that the economical nature of a construction does not rule out its being of high quality.”

Once finished, the ecopark will cover a surface area of 330 hectares and will have about 21,000 inhabitants in 6,000 homes and almost 6,800 lots, including crafts and industrial settlements. The cost of a home of slightly more than 500 square feet is expected to be about $30,000.                (The Times of Israel)

Israel’s Five Policy Options Regarding Judea and Samaria

By Prof. Hillel Frisch,                BESA Center Perspectives

http://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/israels-five-policy-options-regarding-judea-samaria/

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: When Mahmoud Abbas departs from his post as leader of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will have to make strategic choices. This paper discusses five possible policy approaches, none of which is ideal. They are caretaker conflict resolution, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal, and unilateral annexation. The caretaker option is probably the most feasible; unilateral withdrawal is the least. In every case, however, Israel will have to maintain a military presence in Judea and Samaria.

Trying to craft a coherent Israeli policy toward a post-Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) is like trying to build a house on quicksand. The situation is constantly buffeted by tremors and underground currents. These include a wave of terrorist violence against Israelis, albeit declining; a growing rift within Fatah between Abbas and his detractors that is very much linked to the battle over his succession; and the possibility that linkage between those two developments could degenerate into civil war (another arena in the proxy war waged between Iran and Saudi Arabia and their respective allies).

Israel cannot afford to be a passive observer of events as they unfold in the PA. The Palestinian village of Budros commands a strategic position a mere 11 kilometers from the major runway at Israel’s only international airport. The edge of the Palestinian town of Tulkarem is several hundred yards from the Rabin highway, Israel’s major north-south artery.

When Abbas departs the scene, Israeli decision-makers will have to consider five radically different policy approaches towards the PA.

First, Israel can engage in conflict resolution in a manner that maintains the possibility of creating a Palestinian state. Second, Israel can promote friction with the Palestinians by seizing opportunities for increased settlement and other forms of Israeli state-building. Third, Israel can desist from taking action to stabilize the PA should chaos break out over succession. The fourth and fifth options, proposed by opposite sides of the political spectrum, sanction unilateral moves. The Zionist Union seeks unilateral withdrawal, while Bayit Yehudi calls for selective annexation and settlement.

(A sixth option, to engage in immediate negotiations with the Palestinians toward rapid establishment of a Palestinian state, is considered feasible and advisable by only two marginal political actors—the Meretz and Unified Arab List political parties—and thus will not be considered in this article.)

The Conflict Management Option

The conflict management option holds that peace is not possible in the foreseeable future, but that Israel stands to gain from refraining from moves such as settlement-building that compromise the chances of an eventual two-state solution (2SS). The advantage of this option is that it conforms to the mores and expectations of the international community, including Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States, and friendly states in Europe such as Germany, Great Britain and Italy.

These parties consider a two-state construct as the only solution on the table, though they acknowledge that it is not achievable in the immediate future. They view Israeli rule beyond the Green Line as occupation, and worry that the failure to resolve the problem on the basis of two states will lead to a dysfunctional binational state marred by considerable internal violence.

To maintain the viability of a 2SS for the future, it would be necessary to curtail settlement beyond the Gush Etzion bloc and all settlement that is not contiguous to the Green Line—in short, to maintain the status quo. The drawbacks of this approach are clear: the Palestinians have no incentive to come to the negotiating table, and settlers and Israeli citizens over the Green Line are turned into victims of political passivity. Yet proponents of this option argue that these drawbacks are minor relative to the international isolation Israel would suffer if it abandoned the 2SS. The price for such a deviation from commitment to the 2SS would include alienation of a majority of the Jewish Diaspora, especially in the US.

The conflict management approach believes in maintaining full military control over Judea and Samaria while at the same time promoting economic ties with the Palestinians across the Green Line. Those ties serve two purposes. To some degree, they pacify the Arab population of Judea and Samaria; and they guarantee access to Israel’s second-largest market. Increasing the number of Palestinian workers in Israel also increases the wherewithal to buy Israeli goods. This strategy has worked so far, in terms of both lowering terrorism and increasing Palestinian buying power.

Should the government maintain this policy, it would likely meet with little opposition, either domestically or among Israel’s international allies.

The “Friction” Option

Detractors of the conflict management option argue that Israel has lost the initiative in its conflict with the Palestinians. They contend that Israel should not absorb the costs of Palestinian initiatives to change the status quo, such as terrorist attacks or intensive illegal building in Area C

(which is under exclusive Israeli control). Rather, Israel should match Palestinian initiatives with even bolder initiatives, as it did so successfully during the Mandate and in the early years of statehood. Israel should promote Israeli state-building in Judea and Samaria, at least until the Palestinians sue for peace.

In the recent wave of Palestinian attacks, for example, the encouragement by the PA and Hamas of violence in the Hebron and Jerusalem areas should be matched by Israeli offensive moves, including settlement. Settlements, so it is argued, promote security.

At the very least, Israel should curtail or demolish large-scale Palestinian construction designed to change strategic realities on the ground. This construction is most in evidence in area E-1, extending from French Hill through Issawiyeh, al-Zaim, and the eastern section of A-Tur along the Jerusalem-Jericho highway. In this area, the Palestinians are making a concerted effort to create a continuous Palestinian urban expanse from the south of Jerusalem to the north, despite the security wall.

The drawbacks to this policy option are clear. There would be domestic opposition from the Left, but the government could overcome it. The greater danger is the considerable hostility that would be generated toward Israel among both the US and the European Community if Israel built settlements in reaction to terrorism and engaged in massive dismantling of illegal building, some of which was fostered by the EU.

Constructive Chaos

Several contenders within the PA have already begun to compete over who is to inherit the leadership after the departure or demise of Muhammad Abbas, who is 83 years old. This competition has prompted a debate over whether Israel should support a suitable candidate for the sake of stability, or sit on the sidelines even though the conflict might degenerate into chaos. Proponents of the latter view believe that chaos and the possible dissolution of the PA, and the subsequent focus by international actors on pacifying the area, could alleviate pressure on Israel to enter unrealistic peace processes.

A Palestinian side weakened by prolonged instability might well be amenable to a peace settlement more favorable to Israeli interests and concerns. It is more probable, however, that the Palestinians would remain fragmented, with the PA becoming two or more authorities in Judea and Samaria.

In either case, it is less likely that the international community would think it can resolve the Palestinian problem at Israel’s expense. Should the PA fragment, Israel’s allies might be more inclined to think of the Palestinian problem the way Israelis do—as a conflict management problem rather than a problem that is soluble through the creation of a state whose construction stands in stark contrast to realities on the ground.

With that said, the drawbacks to the constructive chaos option are equally stark. Chaos might mean the end, at least initially, of the security cooperation that has reduced terrorism leveled at Israelis in general and settlers in particular. Chaos might also increase the grassroots drive to delegitimize the Jewish state by those who will blame Israel for the miserable state of affairs in Judea and Samaria.

The economic costs of chaos are also considerable. The PA is Israel’s second-biggest trading partner and possibly the largest market for Israeli non-high-tech goods and services, a market segment that employs the overwhelming share of Israel’s labor force. Chaos usually brings an economic downturn in its wake, which would likely dampen demand for Israeli products.

The chaos option is likely to be opposed by the political Left and by powerful lobbies such as the Manufacturers Association and the Histadrut

(Israel’s Federation of Labor). However, if the government elects to pursue this option, domestic opposition is unlikely to be sufficiently strong to prevent it.

Unilateral Withdrawal from Judea and Samaria

Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union, is formally promoting unilateral Israeli withdrawal from 85 percent of Judea and Samaria, including 28 Palestinian localities within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, as a means of separating from the Palestinians. His plan envisions maintaining complete and exclusive military control over the settlement blocs of Gush Etzion and Ariel and the Jordan Valley, and an active military presence elsewhere in the PA.

Unilateral withdrawal would supposedly ensure Israel’s character as a Jewish state by withdrawing to the contours of the security barrier, which conforms closely to permanent future borders as envisioned by the US, Israel’s key ally. By transferring responsibility for most of Judea and Samaria’s territory and practically all of its Palestinian inhabitants to the PA, Israel would (again, supposedly) no longer be seen as an occupier; its image would be enhanced; and the clout of the BDS movement would be dulled.

Once again, it is relatively easy to identify drawbacks in this plan. Removing tens of thousands of Israeli settlers would be a difficult and expensive task. Moreover, the move would likely aggravate the security situation considerably, given that many forces and terrorist groups in the PA would interpret the move as an act of weakness and would be encouraged to heighten attacks in order to bring about total withdrawal.

Unilateral withdrawal offers little incentive to leaders of the PA to enter a peace process, and would likely harden Palestinian stances on the thorny issues of sovereignty over Jerusalem and the so-called “right of return” for refugees. In all likelihood, this option would lead to the fall of the government. Any unity government created in its wake would probably desist from the option.

Unilateral Annexation of Area C

Bayit Yehudi calls on the government to annex areas designated in the Oslo peace process agreements as Area C. This territory is under exclusive Israeli administrative and political control and is, for the most part, sparsely populated by Arabs. This area consists of the southern Hebron hills, most of the eastern parts of Judea and Samaria, and the area between Maale Adumim and Jericho down to the Jordan River.

Annexation implies settlement activity in the areas annexed. The drawbacks are evident. International opposition would be vociferous, perhaps to the point of sanctions imposed on Israel. Domestic opposition would be intense as well, though probably not to the point of preventing the move if the incumbent government were to select it. There would be little domestic economic effects from such a move, but Israel’s international trade and the flow of investment might be significantly affected.

None of these options is ideal, which is probably why the debate is both so lively and so indecisive. All five confirm the necessity of maintaining a military presence in Judea and Samaria, but for different purposes. The “caretaker” option is probably the most feasible, and the unilateral withdrawal option the least. Unilateral withdrawal would in any case probably prove to be domestically impossible. The chaos option is not entirely in Israel’s hands, contingent as it is on developments within the PA. Both the friction and annexation options would encounter stiff international opposition, which might result in domestic opposition by a public unwilling to bear the long-term economic costs of such policies.

Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The British Royals and Israel–Again

by Elliott Abrams    Council for Foreign Relations Blog

http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2016/03/28/the-british-royals-and-israel-again/?cid=otr-Partner_site-Israelhayom

I’ve written before in this blog about the British royals and their refusal to visit Israel, the most recent time here.

Now we learn that Prince Charles may visit Iran.

The story in The Independent tells us that

A Clarence House [the Prince’s residence] spokesman said: “The autumn tour is not confirmed.” But the newspaper source was quoted as saying: “The prince is very keen to visit Iran. He hopes he would be able to use his role as a diplomat to further encourage the relationship and dialogue between the two countries.”

Prince Charles is said to have a strong interest in Persian history….

Apparently the Prince lacks much interest in Biblical history, or at least enough to warrant visiting the lands where the Bible narrative took place.

Four years ago the Iranian regime stormed and set fire to the British embassy. And of course Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. But that does not deter the Prince from a royal visit. (He has visited Iran once before, after the Bam earthquake “in his capacity as president of the British Red Cross charity, and not as a royal figure,” just as he once visited Israel briefly, for the Rabin funeral.)

It is remarkable, to say no more, that the British royal family continues to refuse to visit Israel when even a vicious, aggressive, terror-supporting Middle Eastern dictatorship will get a visit.

Here’s a suggestion. Why don’t the Saudis and Emiratis, who both have close relations with the UK and understand that Iran is a dangerous enemy, send a quiet message to Clarence House via the Foreign Office. The message should be short and sweet: the Prince ought to find that a visit to Iran is simply not convenient.

Barbra Streisand sings the Hatikvah

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