Israel Briefs 12-20-11

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PA music videos idolize Arafat and promote violence

Click photo to download. Caption: A Palestinian Authority TV music video that glorifies Yasser Arafat. Credit: Palestinian Media Watch.A new Palestinian Authority TV advertisement honors deceased PA leader Yasser Arafat and venerates violence, the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported. Official Palestinian state television broadcasted it seven times last month.

“Engrave on the rifle butt the symbol of Fatah’s Al-Asifa [unit], my trigger makes sounds of joy to the Elder (Arafat), while the rifle sounds aloud, boom out loud, oh voice of the machine,” the words of the song state.

The song finishes with “oh action-spring, receive and shoot [bullets] continuously, change the magazine—there are hundreds [of them], load it into the chamber, oh AK-47, make sounds of joy and salute the Elder (Arafat).”

Earlier this year, PMW reported on another Palestinian music video in which the lyrics state: “We won't throw down our weapons. We treat the rifle as a brother.”

—JointMedia News Service

Fatah disrupts meetings between Israelis and Palestinians

Hatem Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official, made a statement over the weekend that Fatah declares war on all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The statement comes in the wake of recent conferences planned by the Israeli Palestinian Confederation in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the participants intended to vote for a new joint parliament that would be suggested as a “third government” for the two peoples. However, both events were canceled due to angry Palestinian protests denouncing the events. The protesters explained that they support the strategy of the Palestinian Authority of banning any kind of normal relations with Israel, Hudson New York said.

“We will try to thwart any Palestinian Israeli meeting, even if it’s held in Tel Aviv or west Jerusalem,” said Abdel Kader, a former PA minister for Jerusalem affairs.

Al Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh chose not to attend the Jerusalem conference out of fears for his safety and Palestinian protesters stormed the conference hall, frightening Israeli representatives. A similar cancellation of another demonstration in the town of Bet Jalla near Bethlehem also occurred.

According to Kader, “these meetings don’t produce anything [for the Palestinians] and are only used by Israel for political gains …If all the meetings the Palestinian leadership has had with the Americans, Europeans and Quartet representatives haven’t achieved anything, how can these informal meetings lead to any results?”

—JointMedia News Service

Chinese could build 2.5-hour railway between Eilat and Tel Aviv

Israel’s Ministry of Transportation is hoping to sign an agreement with China that will have Chinese engineers build a railway between Eilat and central Israel, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

The new train will take passengers between Eilat and Tel Aviv in 2.5 hours, a journey that currently takes nearly seven hours by bus.

“It will make Eilat far closer to the centre of the country, and make it easier for tourists from abroad and Israelis to visit Eilat,” said Dana Zanti, spokeswoman for the Eilat municipality. The quicker journey should also attract foreign tourists.

The project will also help the Israeli government’s larger goal of connecting the Negev region with the rest of the country, thereby making it easier to develop the desert area and double its population by 2025. Most significantly, it is hoped that the quick route might become an alternative trade route to the Suez Canal, which has very high fees.

“Anybody who looks at the map can see that in the medium to long term this will be an efficient way to transport freight,” said ministry deputy director-general Charlie Solomon.

—JointMedia News Service

Former Mossad Chief warns against Iran attack

Former Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, said Monday that Israel shouldn’t rush into military action against Iran, Yediot Ahronot reported. Dagan spoke at a conference on Iran's nuclear program and Israeli decision-making at the Netanya Academic College.

“I am reiterating what I have always said—the military option should exist, but we must resort to it only when all else fails,” he said.

Dagan said the immediate threat of an attack by Israel could actually be counterproductive, by pushing the Iranians into developing nuclear weapons as fast as possible.

“This situation could prove to be problematic because it may (affect the entire Middle East) in such a way that it would have security and economic-related repercussions for Israel (and other countries),” he said.

—JointMedia News Service

Apple could open Israeli center and acquire Israeli company

Click photo to download. Caption: Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California. Credit: Joe Ravi. Apple and Israel are in business. According to the Israel Business News, Apple Inc. plans to open a development center in Israel focusing on semiconductors. 

This was announced after the Israeli financial newspaper, Calcalist, reported last week that Apple is considering buying Israeli flash memory technology maker Anobit Technologies Ltd. for nearly $500 million, Israel Hayom reported. 

Anobit chips are already used by Apple to improve flash drive performance in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air devices. Apple could save between 10 and 20 percent on its memory purchases by acquiring the company.

Apple corporate VP R&D Ed Frank is currently visiting Israel, and Aharon Aharon, formerly from Camero Tech Ltd., which develops Radio Frequency (RF)-based imaging systems, will lead the new development center. If the deal with Anobit goes through, it would become one of Apple's biggest acquisitions and the first in Israel. 

—JointMedia News Service

Israel releases more prisoners in Shalit deal

Click photo to download. Caption: Gilad Shalit. Credit: IDF Spokesperson.Five hundred and fifty Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli prisons Sunday in the second part of the deal agreed to in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Over 475 prisoners were released when Shalit was freed in October, CNN reported.

The release of this second group of prisoners is causing less controversy in Israeli society than the first.  “All 550 freed today were not directly involved in the injuring or killing of Israeli citizens and most of them are members of Fatah,” said Amy Palmor, head of the paroles department at the Israeli Justice Ministry.

“The list in the first part of the deal was largely dictated by Hamas and was composed mainly of prisoners with blood on their hands serving life imprisonments. Most of them were members of Hamas and other extremist organizations,” she said. 

Nevertheless families of Israeli terror victims unsuccessfully filed a petition with the Supreme Court to delay the release until the prisoners’ records could be better examined, the Israel National News reported. Most of the new prisoners released on Sunday were sent to either the West Bank, Gaza, their homes in East Jerusalem or to Jordan. The prisoners included four women. 

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinians stone Israeli vehicle

Palestinian attackers on Monday morning hurled stones at an Israeli vehicle traveling near the Judea and Samaria community of Tekoa, south of Bethlehem. No injuries were reported in the attack, but the vehicle sustained some damage. IDF soldiers were searching the area for the perpetrators.

The stone-throwing incident came just a few hours after unidentified arsonists torched several Palestinian cars on Sunday night in the West Bank village of Beitin, in what police suspect was a “price-tag” attack.

“Police are searching for the suspects [in the arson]. It’s not clear exactly who was behind it, and the investigation continues,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the French news agency AFP on Monday.

Chief rabbi: We can’t force our will on secular majority

Israel’s religious sector cannot force its values upon the secular majority in Israel, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said on Sunday, joining a chorus of censure from leading rabbis against the recent spike in ultra-Orthodox discrimination against women, Israel Hayom reported.

Metzger’s remarks against the practice dubbed “exclusion” came after a young secular woman, Tanya Rosenblit, refused a request by ultra-Orthodox men to sit in the back of a bus traveling from Ashdod to Jerusalem on Sunday. Her refusal sparked a confrontation that ended with police intervention. Though gender-based segregation has been outlawed by Israel's Supreme Court, Rosenblit said that the policeman dispatched to the scene echoed the ultra-Orthodox men's request and encouraged her to move to the back of the bus.

“This country does not belong to the ultra-Orthodox,” Metzger said after the incident. “We do not have the authority to force our opinions on others. This is a public place and we can't be the landlords of the entire world.”

—JointMedia News Service

New director-general at Prime Minister’s Office

As the year comes to a close, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has been busy finalizing new government appointments. Attorney Harel Locker has been officially appointed the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and Shaul Goldstein has been named the new director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Israel Hayom reported.

Locker was chosen to head the office four months after the premature resignation of his predecessor, Eyal Gabai, from the key post. Locker’s appointment was made possible after he signed a conflict-of-interest agreement about his previous dealings as an attorney and to the fact that his older brother, Maj. Gen. Yohanan Locker, is Netanyahu's military secretary, a senior post in the PMO. Yohanan Locker, however, may soon be leaving the position, as he is one of the leading candidates for the command of the Israel Air Force.

Harel Locker possesses a wealth of experience in dealing with the various government ministries and specializes in a range of legal areas including tax law, corporate law, real estate and infrastructures, mergers and acquisitions, high-tech and venture capital and international transactions.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 19, 2011 and filed under Briefs, Israel.