Israel Briefs 10-4-11

12 new items of importance on Israel.

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Netanyahu: ‘Gilo is Not a Settlement’

Responding to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said new plans to build additional housing units in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo cast doubt on Israel’s willingness to seek peace, Netanyahu said in a statement that, “Gilo is not a settlement. It’s a neighborhood in Jerusalem that is only a few minutes’ drive from my home and my office in central Jerusalem. I will not accept any demand to stop building in Jerusalem. We have always built there and will continue to do so.”

Netanyahu also reminded Merkel that such a demand had never existed in the past.

Merkel told Netanyahu in a phone call on Wednesday, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, that she didn’t think building in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo “is the right thing to do.”

“It damages our trust, and casts a doubt over whether you really seek true peace,” Merkel said.

Some 40,000 Jews currently live in Gilo. The chairman of the community administration in the neighborhood, Moshe Ben Shushan, told Arutz Sheva that it “makes all the residents here angry that the world intervenes” in construction decisions.

“I do not know of any other country that has to suffer someone’s intervention when it builds,” he said.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Fatah Committee Member Slings Dirt on Netanyahu, Obama

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Bararck Obama “scumbags” in a recent interview on the Al-Jazeera network, adding that America and its fellow Middle East Quartet nations are “liars.”

According to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Zakai said that, “If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall—what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.

“Who is nervous, upset, and angry now? Netanyahu, [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman, and Obama... All those scumbags. Why even get into this? We should be happy to see Israel upset.

“If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... C’mon, it’s too difficult. It’s not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.

“I want the resolutions that everybody agrees upon. I say to the world, to the Quartet, and to America: You promised, and you turned out to be liars.”

—JointMedia News Service


Palestinian Building in West Bank Increases by 25% Over Four-Year Period

The global obsession with construction of Israeli housing units in “settlements” has ignored a Palestinian building boom, The Media Line reported.

During the past four years, Palestinian dwellings in the West Bank have increased by 25 percent, the website said, with he total number of Palestinian housing units in the West Bank and Gaza Strip expected to reach 884,385 by the end 2011.

Palestinians completed 33,822 dwelling units in the past year compared with 33,128 units completed by Israel, according to figures from the Israeli and Palestinian central bureaus of statistics.

The Media Linealso noted the ongoing construction of an $800 million Palestinian planned city called Rawabi, north of Ramallah, projected to provide housing for 40,000 people in affordable apartments.

—JointMedia News Service

Israeli Navy Introduces New Training Technology

The Israeli Navy last weekend introduced a new simulator called the “Bridge” which helps marines foil terrorism more effectively, Ynet reported.

Now part of the training process for all Israeli cadets, the technology uses 20 plasma screens and a variety of auxiliary control panels, joysticks and electronic gadgets—spread across three rooms—to reenact any scenario cadets might face at sea.

“Simulation exercises are meant to mimic the conditions we encounter in open waters and they keep us on our toes,” Roee, a naval cadet, told Ynet.

—JointMedia News Service


Livni to Visit London for First Time Since Operation Cast Lead

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) is scheduled to visit London soon, marking her first visit since December 2009, when a British judge issued a warrant for her arrest for her role as foreign minister during Operation Cast Lead in 2008.

After the operation, pro-Palestinian organizations in Britain filed lawsuits against Israeli politicians and military leaders for what they claimed were war crimes. At the time, the British legal system permitted any British judge to issue an arrest warrant for a visiting official accused of war crimes, in accordance with the Universal Jurisdiction loophole in British law.

After more than two years of promises from the U.K. that it would change the law and once again allow Israeli officials entry into the country without fear of being arrested for war crimes, Queen Elizabeth approved an amendment to the British law on Sept. 15. The amendment prevents arrest warrants from being issued against visiting Israeli officials without the approval of the attorney general.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Israel Accepts Quartet’s Formula for Renewal of Peace Talks

Israel announced on Sunday that it is prepared to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, in accordance with a proposal put forward by the Middle East Quartet. ??While Israel has certain concerns and reservations about the plan, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that these would be raised during negotiations. The statement called on the Palestinian side to accept the Quartet proposal as well. 

“Israel welcomes the Quartet call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions,” the statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

The Quartet—the U.S., the EU, Russia and the UN—responded to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s application for full Palestinian membership at the U.N. on Sept. 23 by urging both sides to resume talks within a month.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Knesset Legal Adviser Says ‘Nakba Law’ Constitutional

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon submitted a legal brief last week defending the so-called “Nakba Law,” which grants the Israeli government authority to block state funds from organizations and institutions that commemorate the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic, the term used by many Palestinians to describe Israel’s founding on May 15, 1948) or that reject Israel’s foundation as a Jewish democracy.

In his brief, Yinon said the law was constitutional and should be upheld. He said it was designed merely to ensure that no government funding would go to groups or individuals who undermined the fundamental values of the state.

The “Nakba Law,” approved by the Knesset in March 2011, prohibits certain actions aimed at boycotting Israel, and passed despite fierce debate, both at home and abroad.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Israel, Turkey Deny ‘Near Aerial Encounter’ Over Cyprus Gas Fields

The Israel Defense Forces and the Turkish General Staff have both denied reports that a Turkish seismic research ship exploring gas near Cyprus was harassed last week by two low-flying Israeli warplanes and a helicopter.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said it was unfamiliar with the incident. Likewise, a written statement posted on the Turkish General Staff’s website on Friday said that the reports did not reflect the truth, Turkey’s Zaman daily reported.

On Friday, the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros reported that Israel boosted its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean on Thursday night. The report said two IAF F-15 jets flew through Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot airspaces. The Israeli planes reportedly ignored warnings from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ air traffic controllers, and flew so close to Turkey’s Mediterranean coasts that they could be seen from Mersin’s beaches, the report said. Turkey reportedly sent two F-16 jets to the area to track the Israeli jets, which then returned to Israel.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Israeli Makes Fortune’s List of 50 Most Powerful Global Businesswomen

Israeli businesswomen Efrat Peled has taken 44th place in Fortune magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful women in global business.

Peled, 37, was the only Israeli woman to feature on the prestigious list for this year. The magazine also listed her in eighth place on its list of “10 global women on the rise.”

Peled has been CEO of Arison Investments since 2006, where she manages investments worth some $5.1 billion. Among the company's assets are a controlling stake in Israel's Bank Hapoalim and the Israeli real estate firm Shikun and Binui.

Heading the list of leading global businesswomen was Cynthia Carroll, CEO of British mining company Anglo American, a British mining company. The magazine also listed the 50 leading businesswomen in the U.S., headed by Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


New Israeli Ambassador to EU Aims to Strengthen Ties

Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, presented his credentials to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, at a meeting in Brussels last week.

Hadas-Handelsman was tapped for the position in August. He has previously served as the deputy director-general of the Middle East and Peace Process Division of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and has also been Israel’s ambassador to Jordan.

In his new role, Hadas-Handelsman will focus on strengthening connections between the European bloc nations in a variety of areas. The European Council has been angling for greater involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Hadas-Handelsman is expected to take an active role in the organization’s efforts.
—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Upheaval in the Israeli Dairy Industry

After months of simmering protests, the Israeli dairy industry is experiencing dramatic upheaval.

Three months after the launch of the cottage cheese protest, which led Israeli students to boycott most Tnuva products, the dairy giant announced on Sunday that, “the protest has succeeded. We will lower prices.”

This summer’s cottage cheese price cut and discounts on a limited number of dairy products were not enough to assuage consumers and boycott leaders, who continued with their protests, leading Tnuva on Sunday to announce a “permanent price cut for consumers of up to 15 percent.”

The price cuts, which went into effect Monday, were announced shortly after Tnuva dropped a second bombshell on Sunday: The unexpected resignation of company chairwoman Zehavit Cohen.

The price slashes apply to white cheeses, yellow cheeses and puddings.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


New Year Launches With an Economic Slump

The year 5772 began on a low note in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The fourth quarter of 2011 began just after the Jewish New Year, and in its first days has seen sharp drops both on Wall Street and in European markets. In Israel, investors returned from their Rosh Hashanah break on Sunday, sold frantically and caused local stock indices to decline steeply.

Capital market activists also had tough days on Sunday. The lending crisis in Europe, fears about slow economic growth in the U.S. and pressure from social protesters created a day marked by falls.

By the close of trading on Sunday, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange declined by an overall 2.19 percent and locked at 1,054 points. The trend was led by holding companies and those at the center of the social justice movement committed to changing the high cost of living in Israel.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on October 4, 2011 .