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US Revises View on Israeli Settlements: Not Inherently Illegal

November 19, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu in Gush Etzion settlement. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / Israeli GPO

The Trump Administration announced a change in the American perspective on the legality of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria on Monday, reversing the position of the Obama Administration that had called the civilian communities illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

“…We believe that what we’ve done today is we have recognized the reality on the ground… and we have provided… the very space for Israel and the Palestinians to come together to find a political solution to this very, very vexing problem.”

Pompeo, whose comments were published by the State Department, made it clear the US was not commenting on the legality of specific settlements, noting Israel’s court system has repeatedly addressed that issue. For the US, the control of territory in the Biblical heartland—claimed by the Palestinians in what they call the West Bank—is a matter for peace negotiations between the sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the move. “This policy reflects an historical truth—that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”

… Continue Reading

Israeli President Urges Top Political Factions to Form Unity Government

November 17, 2019 News

If unity fails, could Gantz still succeed? President Rivlin (center) with Netanyahu and Gantz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach, Israeli GPO.

With just days remaining for Israel’s Blue and White political party to form a government and a third consecutive round of elections looming on the horizon, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin pleaded for both Blue and White and Likud to form a majority unity government. Rivlin, in comments on Sunday published in an Israeli press release, asked Israel’s mayors to contact their political leaders and tell them, “’Enough! We do not need another round of elections. Do the right thing and come back [to negotiations].’”

Rivlin, whose role appoints a lawmaker to attempt to form a government, went on to say that “I call on both Likud and [Blue and White] to… understand that the people do not want more elections. They have had enough of elections.”

In Israel’s parliamentary system, if no party secures a majority of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a coalition of parties must join together to form a government. In the latest round of elections, the second of 2019, not only did Likud and Blue and White fail to form a majority government, their allies also failed to win enough seats for the leading parties to form a natural coalition—leaving the government in limbo. … Continue Reading

Israel Supports Italian Holocaust Survivor Who Received Hundreds of Death Threats

November 11, 2019 News

President Rivlin (at Europe Day Reception). Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman, Israeli GPO – gpoeng.gov.il)

Italian Life Senator Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, recently succeeded in convincing the Italian parliament to better tackle anti-Semitism, including setting up a parliamentary commission on the issue. In response, Segre has received hundreds of anti-Semitic death threats and now requires ongoing police protection. On Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent Segre a letter expressing solidarity in the face of such hate.

“No words can adequately express my horror and disgust that you should be exposed to such criminal behavior,” wrote Rivlin, whose letter was published by an Israeli press release that highlighted Serge’s situation. “…Your case, unfortunately, is yet another terrible example of the reality for Jews in Europe today, but I believe that the most appropriate response is to carry on doing what you believe in.”

Rivlin went on to invite Segre to Jerusalem, saying it would be a “great honor” for Israel. He said he was “appalled” to hear that the threats require police protection for Segre and praised her for her work. “Your personal mission, your strength and your bravery are a role model for us in Israel and for Jewish communities around the world.” … Continue Reading

Israeli President Tells US, European Envoys ‘Anti-Semitism Not A Jewish Problem Alone’

November 4, 2019 News

President with US and European envoys. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman (Israeli GPO)

Envoys and coordinators tasked with fighting anti-Semitism from the United States and Europe met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, and that globally diverse crowd was fitting for Rivlin’s message. “We share the understanding that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem alone. It is a problem for all humanity,” said Rivlin, according to press release recap of his comments.

“We are engaged in a bitter joint fight against any expressions of anti-Semitism— from the right, the left or from radical Islam. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. There are no gray areas and there is no option other than zero tolerance.”

Rivlin went on to highlight a specific modern form of anti-Semitism that impacts his country directly: anti-Israelism. “One can criticize us so long as it is criticism,” said Rivlin. “The moment it turns to boycotts and actions against Israel that are influenced by anti-Semitism—we will not accept it.”

One of the government officials joining Rivlin, German Government Commissioner on Anti-Semitism Dr. Felix Klein, was quoted as echoing the Israeli President’s belief in a global response. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu: Iran Developing Precision Missiles to Attack Israel from Iraq, Yemen

October 28, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu & US Treasury Secy. Steve Mnuchin. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israel has long faced the Iranian missile threat from neighboring countries—with the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the Assad regime in Syria—but now Iran is looking to expand their range of terror, and its accuracy too. Iran is developing precision missiles capable of striking a circle less than 16.5 feet (five meters) across, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday. He went on to tell visiting United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that Iran wants to base those weapons not only in Syria and Lebanon, but also Yemen and Iraq.

“Iran is seeking to develop now precision-guided munitions, missiles that can hit any target in the Middle East with a circumference of five to ten meters. They are developing this in Iran,” a press release from Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying. “They want to place them in Iraq and in Syria, and to convert Lebanon’s arsenal of 130,000 statistical rockets to precision-guided munitions. They seek also to develop that, and have already begun to put that in Yemen, with the goal of reaching Israel from there too.”

Iran has been backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as militants in Iraq, for years. They have already attacked rival Saudi Arabia using those Houthi allies from Yemen, and that’s not all. … Continue Reading

Israel Congrats US on Killing ISIS Leader, Says ‘We Can Defeat Terror’

October 27, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu and US Secy. of State Mike Pompeo. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

With the United States on Sunday announcing a US Special Forces raid had resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Israel not only congratulated the US but noted the operation sends an important message. “Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump & US forces on the successful operation to eliminate ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz posted to Twitter. “This is an important step in the war against one of the most brutal terrorist organizations in history & a strong message to the free world that we can defeat terror.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his own congrats to their chief ally. In comments published by his office, Netanyahu congratulated US President Donald Trump and called the death of the ISIS leader an “impressive achievement.”

“This reflects the united resolve of the free countries led by the United States to fight the forces of terror, the terror organizations and the terrorist states,” said Netanyahu. “This is an important milestone, but it’s part of a longer battle which me must win.” … Continue Reading

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