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Latest News in Israel – 15th November

Israel is about to be the 4th nation to land on the moon

Where is the next frontier for the scientists of the Start-Up Nation?

That’s right – the final frontier..

This is the next level of Israeli ingenuity.

Young scientists will be working on getting spacecraft to the moon – following in the footsteps of the US, Russia, and China.

There is no question that challenging young talented minds with the idea of landing a spacecraft on the moon will inspire many future scientists to bigger and greater ideas. (Israel Video Network)

Israel deploys ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense amid terror threats

Amid warnings of planned terror activity in retaliation for IDF operations against the Islamic Jihad, Israel has set up Iron Dome batteries in several locations in the center of the country.

The IDF believes the terror group is planning an attack on the Jewish state following the Israeli military’s demolition of a Gaza terror tunnel two weeks ago. A total of 14 terrorists were killed in the aftermath of the tunnel collapse, including two senior Islamic Jihad field commanders.

Major General Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), issued a warning Saturday night in Arabic in a Youtube video to terrorist groups in Gaza and Damascus that Israel will respond to any act of terror.

“We are aware of the plot that the Islamic Jihad has been planning against Israel,” Mordechai declared. “They are playing with fire.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned Palestinian terror groups not to attack Israel. “We will take a very firm stance against anyone who tries to attack us or attacks us from any area. I mean any source: rogue factions, organizations – anyone,” he asserted Sunday morning at the weekly cabinet meeting.

In response, the Islamic Jihad vowed to carry out attacks, calling the Israeli threats an “act of war.”

Adding to the tension, IDF forces on Sunday night apprehended a senior Islamic Jihad operative in the Palestinian town of Araba, in the Jenin area.  (WIN)

Israel objects to new ceasefire in Syria; Iran too close to border

Israel has voiced sharp objections to a Syrian ceasefire deal because it enables Iranian forces gain a stronghold in areas close to Israel’s borders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had intensively lobbied in Moscow and Washington for the agreement to create a 37-50 mile secure buffer zone between Israel and Syria, apparently to no avail.

“Israel has no objection to a (peace) agreement in Syria, but we are firmly opposed to such an agreement in which Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in May.

Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday that the agreement “does not answer Israel’s unequivocal demands that there will be no developments that bring Iranian or Hezbollah forces closer to Israel’s border with Syria in the north.”

The US, Russia and Jordan negotiated the deal designed to  reach a new cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that will create a “de-escalation zone” adjacent to Israel’s border, where Iran and Hezbollah, its terror proxy, will not be allowed to establish themselves.

A joint US-Russian statement on Saturday confirmed the “de-escalation areas” as an interim step toward reducing violence, enforcing cease-fire agreements, facilitating humanitarian aid and setting conditions for the “ultimate political solution” to the civil war in Syria which has ravaged the country for the past six years.

However, Israel is apprehensive of the deal because Iran is allowed to establish itself 7km (4.5 miles) from it northern border,  a distance Jerusalem insists is not satisfactory for its security needs.

Israeli media quoted a US official as saying that all non-Syrian fighters, including Iranian sponsored forces, would be expelled from the area near Israel’s border and eventually from all of Syria. He did not provide a timetable for the crucial move.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani stated that the new cease-fire deal is based on a previous cease-fire that was brokered by the US and Russia in July .

While Israel has refrained from directly intervening in the Syrian conflict, it has carried out strikes against Hezbollah, Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria to neutralize immediate threats to its security. (WIN)

Watch the report:

Echoing Netanyahu, Labor chief says leftists ‘forgot what it means to be a Jew’

Continuing the rightward drift in the Labor party under his leadership, Avi Gabbay said Monday that the left “forgot what it means to be a Jew.”

“In ’97 [Bibi] Netanyahu was caught on camera saying ‘the left forgot what it means to be Jews,’” Gabbay said at an event at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba. “You know what the left did in response to this? Forgot what it means to be a Jew.”

Gabbay’s remark was an allusion to a 1997 hot mic comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recorded telling venerated Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri that “the left forgot what it means to be Jews.”

Expanding on his comment, Gabbay said, “People feel that I am moving closer to Jewish values. We are Jews, living in a Jewish state.

“I seriously think one of the problems with Labor party members is that [the party] has moved away from this,” he continued. “They say about us ‘We are now only liberals.’ That isn’t true. We are Jews and we need to talk about our Jewish values.”

A number of left-wing lawmakers disputed Gabbay’s comments, which sparked a swift social media backlash.

“No, Avi, you’re the one who forgot. There is no contradiction between Judaism and liberal values, and not all Jews are willing to bow down to the ultra-Orthodox or national religious version of Judaism,” Meretz party leader Zehava Galon tweeted. “The left who founded your party knew this once.”

“I am a leftist, a Jew and do not have a memory problem,” Labor MK Mickey Rosenthal wrote on Twitter.

Over the past few weeks, Gabbay has made a number of statements at odds with the traditional views of the center-left-leaning Labor, including calling West Bank settlements “the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism” and saying he would not evacuate them as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also said he would not join a coalition with the Joint (Arab) List.

Responding to a student’s question on the party’s change of direction, Gabbay denied Monday that there has been a shift.

“I did not break left or right; they said I moved, but it isn’t true,” he said, maintaining he has been consistent in his views.

Since Gabbay was chosen as Labor chairman in July, the party has seen a leap in the polls, with a number of the seats it is expected to pick up coming at the expense of Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party. Like Gabbay, Lapid has tacked rightward on a number of issues, in a bid to pick up support from more moderate members of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

Regarding Yesh Atid, with which Labor is neck-and-neck in polls, Gabbay said Monday he would be willing to serve as Lapid’s deputy in a potential coalition.

Earlier Monday, Gabbay urged the government to call new elections for the sake of political stability.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing about a conflict in the coalition: On the one hand the prime minister wants to call elections as soon as possible, and on the other, the party leaders prefer elections on schedule,” Gabbay claimed during the weekly meeting of his Zionist Union faction, an alliance of Labor and Hatnua. “In this debate, I agree with the prime minister: The time has come for elections.”

The next election is currently scheduled for November 2019, and Netanyahu has not openly acknowledged any interest in calling a snap vote.

Gabbay, who is not a sitting MK, has positioned himself as a challenger to Netanyahu’s Likud.

While recent polls have indicated Likud would still be the largest party if elections were held, it could have difficulty cobbling together the 61 seats needed to form a coalition, as would the Zionist Union. (the Times of Israel)

Rivlin pained Western Wall now ‘a symbol of division and disagreement’

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday lamented the Western Wall’s transformation into “a symbol of division and disagreement” between Israel and the diaspora, and expressed hope that understandings would soon be reached on egalitarian prayer at the holy site.

Addressing the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Los Angeles, Rivlin said “It causes such pain that the symbol of unity, the Wall of our Tears and Joy, has become a symbol of division and disagreement.

“I hope that in the future we can return to the table together, and reach an understanding on this important issue.”

He added that it was important to “respect Israel’s democratic process, the decision-making process. Whether we like it or not, in the only Jewish democratic state, ‘religion and state’ is a political issue — maybe the most explosive one.”

The government earlier this year suspended an agreement that would have upgraded the egalitarian prayer platform adjacent to the main plaza at the holy site, and set it up as a permanent prayer site. The decision led to widespread anger in the Jewish world, and faith leaders have warned of a growing rift between Israel and the diaspora over the former’s treatment of the non-ultra-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

Rivlin said Israel “was, and will always be, the home of every Jew; Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, secular, traditional, Ashkenazi, Sephardi. Jews. We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us.”

“The Jews of the Diaspora, especially in North America, are full partners,” he said. “You are true stakeholders in this wonder called Israel. You stand beside us at times of crisis and joy. You dream with us. You challenge us. You help keep us strong.”

This support, he said, “cannot be taken for granted.”

Rivlin spoke of the need to stand together “against anti-Semitism in all its forms; from the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, to terror attacks against our brothers and sisters around the world, from BDS on campuses, to attacking Israel’s legitimacy in the United Nations. There is no room for hesitation, we must continue the fight against it as one united front.”

He also spoke of the need to preserve Jewish identity “and to pass it from one generation to the next,” as well as the imperative of safeguarding Israel — facing the Iranian threat to Israel and the region and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The lives of Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, are bound together,” he said. “We live side by side, and with each other. We share the same land, the same holy places, the same water and the same sky. There will be no peace, until we all understand that we are not doomed to live together, it is our destiny to live together”  (the Times of Israel)

Israel reportedly threatens to shelve Jordan water deal until embassy reopened

Israel has reportedly told Jordan that a joint agreement for the construction of a pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea will not go ahead until Israel is allowed to reopen its embassy in Amman.

In an escalating war of words and threats, senior officials in Jerusalem told Channel 10 that Israel notified Jordan that the water project will not move forward until Ambassador Einat Schlein and her staff are permitted to return to their posts.

Two weeks ago Jordan said it would not allow the embassy to reopen until an embassy guard who shot dead two Jordanian nationals was brought to trial.

Jordan refused to allow Schlein to return as Jerusalem’s envoy after she was photographed along with the guard, named as Ziv Moyal, during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the deadly incident occurred on July 23.

The incident has put a damper on the so-called Red-Dead project. Several weeks ago Israel and Jordan were to have finalized the details before calling for tenders from international companies to do the work.

Without an embassy, the Jordanians reportedly wanted to continue the discussions by phone, but Israel has insisted on face to face meetings, which won’t happen until the embassy is reopened, the TV report said.

“The position of the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office is that we cannot have a situation where on the one hand the Jordanians do not allow us to reopen the embassy and on the other hand we continue to advance projects that are important to them as if nothing had happened,” an anonymous Israeli official told Channel 10.

That message was reportedly conveyed to Jordan several weeks ago. In response, Jordan has reportedly threatened to continue with the project alone. Several articles in Jordanian media have cited officials saying that they do not need Israel for the pipeline, and even raising the possibility of bringing in Saudi Arabia to partner with them instead.

The $10 billion project, which some see as an early stage in a regional peace deal, would see the construction of a 220-kilometer (137-mile) pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea — the lowest body of water on earth — to benefit Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, and replenish the dwindling Dead Sea.

According to the plan, a water desalination plant in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, located next to Eilat, will pump its brine (very salty water leftover from the desalination process) north to the Dead Sea. This will solve another problem: As desalination provides much-needed water to both southern Israel and Jordan for agriculture and consumption, the brine needs to go somewhere other than the Red Sea, which is home to sensitive corals.

Besides providing a yearly total of 100 million cubic meters of drinking water to Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis, the Red-Dead project will produce “green energy” and replenish the Dead Sea, which is currently shrinking at a drastic pace.

Hadashot News (formerly Channel 2) reported last week that the Shin Bet had completed its investigation into the embassy incident and concluded that the security guard was justified in shooting Mohammed Jawawdeh, who stabbed him with a screwdriver after learning that he was Israeli. Moyal’s landlord was also shot and killed by Moyal by accident during the incident. According to the report, there was no doubt Moyal acted in self-defense and there were no grounds for prosecuting him.   (the Times of Israel)

ABC News admits “human error” wiped Israel from map

by David Singer   J Wire

ABC News admits “human error” wiped Israel from map

ABC News has belatedly admitted that “human error” caused Israel to be wiped from the following map…

This admission came during the investigation of a complaint lodged by me concerning a segment aired on Media Watch featuring the above map titled “Misplaced map outrage”

Audience and Consumer Affairs (“AACA”) – a unit separate to and independent of the content making areas of the ABC – dealt with my complaint alleging that Media Watch had breached the ABC’s editorial standards of accuracy.

Media Watch had focused on a Daily Mail story dated 19 August which accused the ABC of wiping Israel off the map.

Media Watch sought to provide the context missing from the Daily Mail article – namely, that the ABC report was about repealing a law which allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims, that Israel had never had that law whereas such laws had been applied in Palestinian territories.

The ABC had responded to the Daily Mail on 21 August:

“[t]he graphic did not represent a map of the Middle East but a visual representation of the countries relevant to the story”.

Media Watch presenter Paul Barry justified Israel’s omission from the map:

“But two days is obviously an age in the Mail’s hectic newsroom. And clearly no one bothered to watch the ABC report.

Because if they had they would have known that the nations in blue are where this law has been abolished. And the nations in yellow are those that still have it on their books.

And Israel was not on the map because it never had the offending statute.”

AACA’s investigation found otherwise:

“With regards to the original image used on The World, we have sought additional information from ABC News who have advised that unfortunately due to human error the yellow shading covered a larger area than where the laws are applicable. But as marry-your-rapist laws have never been enacted in Israel, Israel was not labelled on the map so as not to mislead viewers that Israel had or has any such laws. However, this was not an implicit political comment or any attempt to delegitimise Israel.”

AACA determined:

“Within the context of the Media Watch segment which especially sought to provide context to the Daily Mail’s article, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that viewers would not be materially misled by the inclusion of the graphic from The World. Nevertheless, we have noted your concerns and made them available to the program, ABC Television and ABC News for their consideration.”

Challenging AACA’s determination as “perplexing” – I responded:

“The yellow shading in covering a larger area than where the laws are applicable was not accurate because:

(i) the yellow shaded area mistakenly included Israel and

(ii) the yellow shaded area mistakenly identified and clearly labelled “Israel” as “Palestine”

Surely this admitted “human error” needs to be publicly acknowledged by the ABC and a public correction or clarification issued.

I would further submit that this human error comes within part 2.1 of the ABC’s editorial standards – which you do not appear to have even considered:

“2.1 Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context”

AACA replied:

”We have nothing further to add to our substantive response.”

This dismissive response coming from the annual $1 billion taxpayer-funded ABC is not acceptable.

Reprimanding those responsible for this “human error” and those who sought to publicly justify Israel’s exclusion from the map using artificially contrived reasons is surely warranted – particularly as the ABC has been recently accused of anti-Israel bias.

Media Watch certainly needs to issue a clarification and apology.

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

by Bassam Tawil            The Gatestone Institute


No American or European on the face of this earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there.

It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia’s effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration’s “peace plan.” Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi “ultimatum.”

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. Pictured: Abbas on a previous visit to Saudi Arabia, on February 23, 2015, meeting with Saudi King Salman. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

If true, the Saudi “ultimatum” to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American “peace plan” that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the “right of return” for millions of “refugees” to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel.

And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple.

So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a “peace plan” that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas’s point of view.

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?