+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 10th November

WATCH: Palestinian Mansions and Luxury Cars Shatter Myth of Arab Poverty

Impoverished Palestinians? Many Arabs in Judea and Samaria enjoy a high standard of life and have no qualms displaying visible signs of affluence.

The economic conditions in Judea and Samaria were not considered newsworthy before June 1967.

Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria at that time and anti-Israel activists had nothing to gain by spotlighting the standard of living of Jordanian Arabs living there.

After Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel’s detractors sought to malign the Jewish state by claiming that, somehow, the lifestyle of the Arabs there was worse under the Israeli government than Jordanian rule.

While Reuters runs headlines like “Palestinians slipping deeper into poverty” and “Impoverished Palestinians sell wedding gold,” watch this video see the true economic situation of Arabs in Judea and Samaria today.   (United with Israel)

Terror attack thwarted in West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem

A Palestinian man was detained Thursday morning at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Kokhav Ya’akov, situated 15 km north of Jerusalem, after a routine search in the suspect’s bag revealed that he had stashed away two knives and a Quoran. The man was arrested and taken to an investigation, where he admitted that he had intended to pass the bag on to another man who was slated to carry out a terror attack in the area.

The suspected terrorist was arrested after police received a report about a suspicious-looking individual roaming around the entrance to the settlement. Forces that were dispatched to the scene started chasing after him and managed to stop him before he could flee.

This incident comes after last week’s thwarted terror attack in the settlement of Halamish, when a terrorist tried to run over IDF soldiers in the area and was shot and neutralized at the scene. (Jerusalem Post)

Disaster averted in Paratroopers Brigade exercise

A tragedy was narrowly averted during a paratrooping exercise last week when a military aircraft entered the soldiers’ glide path as they were jumping from their plane and opening their parachutes, Israel Hayom learned Tuesday.

The near-disaster appears to have been caused by a misunderstanding between the pilots and air traffic control tower at the Hatzerim Airbase. The IDF is investigating the incident.

According to available details, a privately contracted Skyvan plane, owned by the Ayit aviation company, took part in the exercise and dropped a squad of 16 paratroopers training to be paratroop instructors.

The aircraft took off for two separate freefall drops. When the plane climbed to an altitude of 13,000 feet above the jump zone, near the southern city of Beersheba at the far northeastern corner of the Hatzerim air force base, the paratroopers jumped from the plane.

As the plane was beginning its second run, before the second squad of paratroopers jumped, a separate military aircraft sought permission to land at the base. The pilot of the plane carrying the soldiers called “one minute to jump,” which the control tower operator at Hatzerim confirmed. The control tower operator then tried diverting the military plane that had sought permission to land to a different landing strip, near Kibbutz Beit Kama in the northern Negev Desert, in the vicinity of the air base.

Due to a misunderstanding, the pilot of the military plane crossed the center of the paratroopers’ glide path while descending from 2,500 to 2,000 feet, just as eight soldiers were opening their parachutes. According to the report, the paratrooper safety controller on the ground notified the pilot of the civilian aircraft that another plane had breached its flight zone, but the notification came too late, after the soldiers had already jumped.

In all likelihood, the incident stemmed from a communication failure between the military plane and the control tower at Hatzerim. Adhering to the army’s communication protocols could perhaps have prevented the incident.

“The unusual incident was investigated by an air force squadron commander and initial conclusions were determined to improve coordination and separation of aircraft in a given airspace. An investigation of the incident is ongoing, and its findings will be presented to the air force high command,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said a statement.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, a soldier was shot and lightly wounded during a training exercise at a base in central Israel. The soldier was airlifted to a nearby hospital in stable condition. The IDF said the incident was being investigated.

A string of serious training accidents have occurred in recent months.

Two weeks ago, a soldier with the Paratroopers Brigade 890th Battalion was blinded in one eye during a paintball training exercise in the country’s south.

In late September, two soldiers were killed and four were injured when their armored vehicle dropped 26 feet into a ditch.

Last July, Golani Brigade Lt. David Golovenchik was killed in a misfire incident during a training exercise near Hebron  (Ynet News)

‘Israel will not give up Jerusalem’

Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, testified on Wednesday before members of the House Oversight Committee’s National Security Subcommittee during a hearing entitled, “Moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: Challenges and opportunities.”

The hearing was attended by John Bolton, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and by members of Congress from both parties.

“It is my view that President Donald Trump has made a commitment regarding the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and I believe he will stand by what he has said. Indeed, on June 1 the White House released a statement stressing with regard to moving the embassy, ‘The question is not if that move happens but only when,’” said Dr. Gold, who added, “Israel will never give up Jerusalem. This was Israel’s choice and Jerusalem will continue to be the capital of Israel.”

“In my opinion, the transfer of the embassy will only bring the possibility of a diplomatic solution closer,” Gold stressed.

He also noted that Israel has done more to ensure religious freedom in Jerusalem and protect the city’s holy sites than anyone else.

“Jerusalem before was a mess,” Gold said, adding that Israel has to protect Jerusalem for “all peoples and all faiths.”

“Only a free and democratic Israel will protect the holy sites of all the great faiths in Jerusalem,” he said.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), chair of the subcommittee, said U.S.-Israel relations are being harmed by the government’s refusal to uphold a 1995 law mandating that the U.S. embassy in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years and is the beating heart of the modern Israel. Why should we reject the chosen capital city of a close ally?” he said.

“it is absurd that Israel is the only nation in the world where our embassy is not located in the nation’s capital city. This is no way to treat an ally, much less one of our closest allies,” added DeSantis.

President Donald Trump promised during his 2016 White House campaign to move the embassy to the Israeli capital if elected.

Since the election last November, however, Trump had remained mum on whether he intended to follow through on his pledge.

In June, Trump decided to sign a presidential waiver on the Jerusalem Embassy Act, delaying the embassy move for six months.

The waiver delaying the implementation of a 1995 decision by Congress to move the embassy has been signed by every U.S. President since that time.

Most recently, Trump said he wanted to give his efforts to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs a chance before moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Arutz Sheva)

Israel campaigns to keep Hezbollah out of Lebanese government

The Foreign Ministry has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to sway the international community to prevent the inclusion of Hezbollah in the next Lebanese government.

It sent a message to this effect to its ambassadors worldwide, asking them to take up the issue with foreign governments.

The contents of the directive, issued in response to Friday’s resignation by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, were published this week on Channel 10.

“We are urgently asking you to contact the Foreign Ministry [in Jerusalem] and other relevant government officials,” the directive read.

It referenced Hariri’s statement upon resigning that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah was sowing strife in the Arab world, including his country.

The move has pulled Lebanon back to the forefront of a regional struggle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the Shi’ite Islamist Iranian government.

The Foreign Ministry urged its envoys to emphasize that “Hariri’s resignation and the reasons that led to it illustrate once more the destructive nature of Iran and Hezbollah and their danger to the stability of Lebanon and the countries of the region.”

The argument that Hezbollah’s inclusion in the Lebanese government would stabilize the country has been proven wrong, the Foreign Ministry said in its directive.

Lebanese politicians cannot make decisions that are in the best interest of their country, the Foreign Ministry said.

They have effectively “been turned into hostages forced under physical threat to promote the interests of a foreign power – Iran – even if it endangers their country,” the Foreign Ministry said according to Channel 10.

As part of its bid to urge the international community to block Iran, the envoys were also asked to support Saudi Arabia’s battle against the Houthi militias in Yemen.

The US already backs Saudi Arabia in this battle.  (Jerusalem Post)

Kerry praises Palestinians for ‘nonviolence’, faults Israel for lack of peace talks

The former US secretary of state blames Israel for the stalled peace talks while ignoring the Palestinian wave of terror and the PA’s incitement to violence.

According to a newly revealed recording, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blames Israel for stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that the majority of the Israeli cabinet opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel’s Channel 10 on Tuesday published a recording, purportedly made at a conference in Dubai during this past year, in which Kerry can be heard praising the Palestinian Authority for its commitment to nonviolence amid the wave of Palestinian stabbing, shooting and car-ramming terror attacks beginning in the fall of 2015.

“The Palestinians have done an extraordinary job of remaining committed to nonviolence. And in fact, when the [knife] intifada took place they delivered nonviolence in the West Bank,” Kerry says.

“This is overlooked by the general [Israeli] population because it is not a topic of discussion. Why? Because the majority of the cabinet currently in the current Israeli government has publicly declared they are not ever for a Palestinian state,” he adds.

The former secretary of state has been in the news in recent days over his defense of the Iran nuclear deal, which he helped negotiate in 2015. Kerry warned Congress that it would be “extraordinarily dangerous” if it rejected the agreement.

Kerry said in a presentation to the Chatham House think tank that President Donald Trump’s refusal to recertify the Iran deal in October “was clearly made without relevance to any fact whatsoever,” and that Congress should not be involved in the matter.

“[The nuclear deal has] been flipped over to the Congress with instructions, ‘you guys fix it.’ How the U.S. Congress, which wasn’t part of the negotiations, which isn’t certified to be part of the negotiations, fixes an agreement which is working is beyond me,” Kerry said, AFP reported.

“What President Trump regrettably has done by his invective against the deal, he’s polluted the pool in a way that whatever Congress does is going to be interpreted as their effort to kill the deal through the back door,” Kerry said.  (WIN)

In thaw, Israeli minister meets South African counterparts

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi on Monday met with two South African ministers, in what is being seen as a sign of warming relations between Jerusalem and Pretoria.

In Johannesburg, Hanegbi met with Environment Minister Bomo Molewa and Jeffrey Radebe, a minister in the office of President Jacob Zuma. Both are senior members of the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party. Radebe is the most veteran member of the current government, having already served under then-president Nelson Mandela in 1994, immediately after the fall of the country’s apartheid regime.

The ANC is traditionally very critical of Israel; the party has welcomed senior Hamas leaders and endorsed boycotts of Israel.

“Minister Hanegbi is the first Israeli minister to hold ministerial meetings in South Africa in the last five years,” his office said. “In the meetings, Israel-South Africa relations and prospects for the relaunching of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were discussed.”

During his stay in Johannesburg, Hanegbi (Likud) also met with the leaders of the local Jewish community.

In September 2016, then-director-general of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold met with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, left, with South African Environment Minister Bomo Molewa

In December, the ANC’s National Policy Conference will elect a new leader to replace President Zuma.

“The relationship between Israel and South Africa is gaining strength,” Hanegbi’s office said.

But the conference might also bring bad tidings for bilateral relations.

In July, the ANC’s international relations committee decided on a number of recommendations to be adopted as official party policy later in mid-December, including downgrading the South African embassy in Ramat Gan to an “interest office.”

“The commission called for the downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel to send a strong message about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine and the continued human rights abuses against the peoples of Palestine,” the chairperson of the ANC’s international relations committee commission’s chairperson announced at the time.

The Palestinian ambassador in Pretoria, Hashem Dajani, last month endorsed the plan. “We believe such a step would place pressure on Israel to put an end to its illegal violations of Palestinian human rights, including settlement expansion, and to provide a positive atmosphere for launching a political process that will lead to the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of the independent state of Palestine,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Maverick.

South African anti-Israel activists, too, celebrated the move, while Israeli officials shrugged it off as a political policy recommendation that may never actually be implemented by the government.

“This is a major victory for human rights and for the people of Palestine,” a regional branch of the ANC stated at the time.

South African President Jacob Zuma in Port Elizabeth in 2016. (AFP/Michael Sheehan)

“Yesterday’s resolution is the strongest and clearest position taken by the ANC in our history as a governing party… We are under no illusion that Israel and its lobby will attempt to pressure the ANC, but this mighty movement will remain steadfast in advancing the interests and solidarity of our people. We warn Israel not to interfere with our local politics, but instead to build a just peace with Palestinians,” it said.

Israel’s then-ambassador in Pretoria, Arthur Lenk, highlighted the negative side effects such a move would have for South Africa.

“Any decision to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel would only hurt South Africans and would have absolutely no impact on Israel or the Palestinians,” he told The Times of Israel in July. “Such a decision would limit opportunities for the promotion of South African exports, something that is radically important for economic or socioeconomic transformation.”   (the Times of Israel)

Israeli shekel emerges as world’s 2nd-strongest currency

The Israeli shekel is currently the world’s second-strongest currency,  according to a new report by German global banking and financial services company Deutsche Bank. The report ranked China’s yuan as the world’s strongest currency.

Deutsche Bank’s strategic foreign currency analyst Dr. Gautam Kalani reported that over the past 12 months, the shekel has appreciated 6.1% against the basket of currencies of Israel’s main trading partners, such as the U.S. dollar, the British pound, the euro and the yen.

The report recommended short positions for shekel investors – a technique used when investors predict the value of a stock or currency will decrease in the short term – saying the Israeli currency is nearing historically high levels.

The firm issued a similar recommendation in late June, inspiring a depreciation in shekel rates, mostly over foreign currency purchases by the Bank of Israel. This move is common whenever it appears the shekel may become so strong it could undermine exports.

The shekel bounced back despite continued purchases by the central Bank of Israel, whose foreign currency reserves have already crossed the $110 billion mark. The bank has sharply cut its foreign currency purchases in recent months, but Deutsche Bank believes it will most likely resume its intervention in the forex markets in the next few weeks.   (Israel Hayom)

Why Israel Threatened Military Action to Save an Enemy

by Evelyn Gordon           Commentary Magazine

Why Israel Threatened Military Action to Save an Enemy

For many, it is assumed that Israel is a racist state that considers its Arab minority second-class citizens. I wonder, then, how they explain what happened last Friday?

For the third time in the last two years, Israel threatened military action to stop an attack by extremist Syrian rebels on the Syrian Druze village of Khader. It did so despite the fact that Syrian Druze have sided with the Assad regime in that war, meaning they’re aligned with Israel’s arch-enemies, Iran and Hezbollah; despite the fact that Khader itself has been the source of several anti-Israel terror attacks; and despite the fact that such intervention risks entangling Israel in Syria’s civil war, something it has hitherto tried hard to avoid–and all just because it was asked to do so by its own Druze minority, which was worried about its coreligionists across the border.

To most Israelis, it seems both obvious and unremarkable that Israel should accede to this request. But in fact, though Israel has always considered itself obligated as a Jewish state to try to protect Jews anywhere, it’s not at all obvious that it would consider itself equally obligated to try to protect Druze beyond its borders. Threatening cross-border military action on behalf of foreign nationals aligned with your worst enemies, simply because they’re the coreligionists of one of your own ethnic minorities, isn’t an obvious step for any country. And it’s especially not obvious for a country accused of considering said minorities to be second-class citizens.

Thus, the fact that Israel has repeatedly taken action to protect the Syrian Druze says a lot about the true state of anti-Arab “racism” in the country. But to understand exactly what it says, it’s first necessary to understand the difference between Israeli Druze and other Arab Israelis.

The Druze are ethnically Arab, and their religion is considered an offshoot of Islam. But in their attitude toward the Jewish state, Israeli Druze differ markedly from most Muslim and Christian Arabs. All Druze men serve in the army, whereas Muslim and Christian Arabs generally do not. Druze politicians can be found in every major political party (except the explicitly religious ones), and Druze voting patterns aren’t markedly different from their Jewish counterparts. In contrast, other Arabs generally support ethnic Arab parties that are openly hostile to the Jewish state. Druze overwhelmingly identify as Israeli rather than Palestinian, whereas among other Arabs, the reverse has been true until very recently. Finally, given their superior integration, Druze unsurprisingly feel much less discriminated against than other Arabs.

The Druze consider themselves to be and act as loyal Israelis in every respect, so Jewish Israelis consider themselves bound to show equal loyalty to the Druze. Therefore, when Israeli Druze (some of whom even have relatives in Khader) were concerned about what might happen to their Syrian brethren if the extremist militias succeeded in capturing the town, Israeli Jews–who can readily understand concern for the fate of one’s coreligionists in another country–fully agreed that something had to be done. Hence the army, as it has twice before, warned the extremists that if they didn’t retreat, they would be attacked by Israeli planes and artillery. And the extremists, as they have twice before, got the message and abandoned their attack.

In contrast, Israeli Jews feel far less commitment to other Israeli Arabs because other Israeli Arabs demonstrate far less commitment to Israel. This is obvious in their refusal not only to do military service–something most Israeli Jews could reluctantly accept–but even to do civilian national service in their own communities, because they consider it unacceptable to do anything that might be construed as identification with the hated Zionist state. It is equally obvious in their repeated reelection of Arab Knesset members who, in marked contrast to Druze MKs, routinely refuse to condemn Palestinian terror and sometimes even actively defend it, hurl calumnies like “apartheid” and “genocide” at their own government, and side with the Palestinians against Israel on virtually every issue.

While prejudice and discrimination definitely exist in Israel, as they do in every society, they do not, for the most part, stem from “racism.” Rather, they are a response to the objective fact that many Israeli Arabs demonstrate their contempt for and opposition to the Jewish state on a daily basis. While Israel can and does ensure equality before the law for its Arab citizens, it can’t change human nature. And it is human nature to be less generous and more suspicious toward people who openly side with your enemies than toward those who side with you, because loyalty is a two-way street. Indeed, what’s truly remarkable is that Israel has made such great efforts to integrate its Arab minority despite the barrier posed by Arab behavior.

As I’ve noted many times before, Israeli Arab attitudes toward Israel are slowly changing. As they do, anti-Arab prejudice and discrimination will lessen in the same way that prejudice and discrimination against the Druze already have. And nothing demonstrates this better than last Friday’s incident in Khader, when Israel put its army at the service of non-Jewish enemy nationals across the border just because their Israeli coreligionists asked it to do so.

Lebanon’s plunge into political crisis raises specter of war with Israel

By Louisa Loveluck and Loveday Morris                     The Washington Post


Even for a country often used as a battleground by regional powers and their proxies, the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has opened a new period of political uncertainty and fear in Lebanon.

The tiny nation has often been caught between the political agendas of more-powerful countries. But it now appears more vulnerable to conflict as Israel and Saudi Arabia try to isolate their shared enemy, the Iran-backed movement Hezbollah.

Hariri, a Sunni politician backed by the Saudis, cited Iranian meddling in Lebanese politics as the reason for his decision to step down.

But the fact that he made his announcement in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia left little doubt that his regional patron must have played a role in a move that caught even his aides off guard.

Saudi Arabia’s impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued increasingly bold and aggressive policies at home and overseas, including a purge of officials and business executives in the kingdom, many of them members of the royal family.

When it comes to Lebanon, Mohammed may have calculated that his man in Beirut was doing little more than giving cover to Hezbollah, analysts say. The movement had formed part of a national unity government, with Hariri as its prime minister.

“MBS is an impatient man,” said Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, referring to the crown prince by his initials. The removal of Hariri “may be a Saudi play to initiate an Israeli response and bloody the nose of Hezbollah.”

Israel has watched with alarm as a battle-hardened Hezbollah has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad take the upper hand in Syria’s war.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, sees its rival Iran winning the battle for influence in the region. In Yemen, Iran has backed rebels against a Saudi-led coalition. In Syria, it has supported Assad against Saudi-backed opposition forces, which no longer stand a chance of winning the six-year war.

Israel has been accused of regularly bombing across its northern border, targeting convoys and military depots in Syria linked to Hezbollah. Israeli officials have also ramped up their bellicose rhetoric in recent months, warning that in any war, Israel won’t make a distinction between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah and Israel last fought a war in 2006. More than 1,000 soldiers and civilians were killed.

Hariri’s tenure has been an awkward wrinkle in the Israeli narrative that Lebanon is little more than a client state of Iran. His father, former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, was assassinated in 2005 in an attack blamed by a U.N. inquiry on Hezbollah operatives.

Hariri’s resignation Saturday helps Israel drum up international sentiment against Lebanon, analysts say, particularly as the Trump administration pursues a more aggressive policy on Iran.

“Hariri’s departure does strengthen the case that Hezbollah is in total domination in Lebanon,” Shapiro said. “By removing Hariri, it does make it a bit easier to treat Lebanon as an Iranian outpost.”

Shortly after Hariri announced his resignation, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, took to Twitter. “Lebanon = Hezbollah. Hezbollah = Iran. Iran = Lebanon,” he wrote. “Iran endangers the world. Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.”

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described Hariri’s resignation as a “turning point” in the future of the Middle East. It “exposed the true face of [Hasan] Nasrallah and Hezbollah,” he said, referring to the movement’s leader, “and Iranian control over Lebanon.”

Now, Saudi Arabia has joined the chorus.

“We will treat the government of Lebanon as a government who has declared war on us because of the Hezbollah militia,” Saudi ­Arabia’s gulf affairs minister, Thamer al-Sabhan, told the Saudi al-Arabiya channel.

For many in Beirut, whose southern suburbs were flattened during the last war, the thought of further conflict is deeply unsettling.

If the Israelis “don’t see a difference between Hezbollah and Lebanon, will they bomb us all?” said Marie Pascal, a shop assistant in the Christian suburb of Ashrafiyeh. “This is making everyone worry because the situation could be much worse this time. I pray it doesn’t happen.”

Residents described a waiting game in which one player could push Lebanon’s political crisis into open violence.

“We’re feeling calmer than we were on Saturday, but there is always a chance that things will escalate. If Israel takes an opportunity, the situation will be a disaster for us,” said Abu Saad, a marble engraver. “The only positive here is that the external interference has for once made the Lebanese feel unified. We all want things to end calmly.”

Supporters of Hezbollah were less circumspect.

“Hezbollah went to Syria not to fight but to train for the next war in Lebanon. Israel sees that, and it wouldn’t dare attack us now, no matter what it says. But still, everyone is worried. This is a tense time,” said Hassan Diab, a taxi driver from Marjayoun in southern Lebanon.

Still, neither Israel nor Hezbollah wants a full-blown war, said Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for Middle East security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. But that may not be enough to stop one from breaking out, he said.

Hariri’s resignation “raises the chances, but I don’t think it changes the fundamentals,” he said.

Even Nasrallah pointed to the fact that Israel “has its own agenda.”

What’s most important from where the world meets Washington

“Israel does not work for Saudi Arabia,” he said, urging calm in a televised address on Monday, though he added that he did not completely rule out a war.

Experts and Western diplomats say that Israel is more likely to focus on international efforts to isolate Lebanon and push for sanctions and other measures.

Shapiro said he expected Washington to reassess its military assistance to Lebanon, whose armed forces are increasingly coordinating with Hezbollah.

But the impact of such moves is limited. “None of this is going to be a strategic game-changer,” Hokayem said. “None of this is going to weaken Hezbollah.