News From Israel – April 5, 2017

No. 50, April 5, 2016

Inside Israel

Number of Israeli jobseekers hits 10-year low. In February 2017, the Israel National Employment Service (INES) recorded the lowest unemployment level in the past 10 years. The downtrend in unemployment is continuing, despite the already low unemployment levels in the economy. The number of jobseekers is unprecedentedly low, despite population growth

2016 hailed as best year for Israeli economy in 4 years. Israeli economy grew by 4% in 2016, outperforming the U.S. and other OECD nations. Government’s fiscal policies contributed to the drop in high cost of living, report says. “Israel is a strong economy and we will make it’s even stronger,” Prime Minister said.

Good Deeds Day in Israel. More than a million Israelis marked Good Deeds Day on March 28. Launched in 2006 by businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison, now nearly all municipalities in the country and hundreds of schools, businesses, organizations and the IDF offer their services as part of the project.

Netanyahu says Israel will limit settlement expansion as gesture to Trump. Israel will curb construction as a gesture to President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his top ministers. Netanyahu said that any future construction would be limited to existing settlement boundaries or adjacent to them. Israel will also prevent the construction of any new illegal outposts.

Israel passes law barring foreign BDS activists from entry. Israel’s parliament passed a law barring the entry of foreign nationals who have “knowingly and publicly” called for boycotting Israel or who “represent an organization” that calls for such a boycott. The law extends the ban to those foreign visitors who back the anti-Israel BDS movement and to those who support the boycott of settlement goods in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.

Israel shuts down PA agency keeping tabs on Arabs selling lands to Jews. Israel shut down the eastern Jerusalem offices of a Palestinian Authority agency that was secretly carrying out surveillance on Arabs who sold property to Jews. Police investigation also learned that the names of Arabs wishing to sell homes and land to Jews were given to security services in Ramallah.

International

Trump negotiator meets with Netanyahu and Abbas to discuss regional peace. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem for over five hours with Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations. Greenblatt also met with PA President Abbas in Ramallah. Greenblatt, who is an Orthodox Jew, was in the Middle East to learn more about the region as a step towards a possible diplomatic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

UN rejects report accusing Israel of apartheid. The secretary-general of the United Nations rejected a report, authored by UN officials that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime,” prompting the resignation of the head of the agency that authored it. The report, compiled by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was produced by Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk and American political scientist Virginia Tilley of Southern Illinois University. Both have a long history of anti-Israel activism.

Netanyahu receives warm welcome in Beijing. The focus of the trip, according to Netanyahu’s office, is the “continued strengthening of economic cooperation with the Chinese government — increased Israeli exports to China, attracting Chinese investments in Israel, and increased industrial and research cooperation between Chinese and Israeli companies.”

Police custody of JCC bomb threat suspect extended. The dual Israeli-US citizen, who is suspected of being behind most of the bomb threats of Jewish community centers in the United States, had his remand extended. The arrest came after an extensive investigation by the Israeli Police in cooperation with FBI and other international law enforcement agencies.

Former defense minister: Forget final settlement with Palestinians. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared that there would not be a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future, but expressed opposition to annexing parts of the West Bank and support for political separation from the Palestinians. He said that “he doesn’t want to rule” over Palestinians.

Culture and Lifestyle

By law, Israelis over 80 can now skip to front of lines. Israelis aged 80 or older will no longer have to stand in line for service at stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices and other public services, thanks to a legislative change approved by the Knesset.

Fairy tale ends as Team Israel loses baseball bid. Ballplayers in blue-and-white will be remembered for their chutzpah at bat and Mensch on a Bench mascot in debut appearance at global baseball event.

Groundbreaking TV comedy introduces Israelis to their Ethiopian neighbors. For the first time, Israelis are seeing a black lead character on a homegrown, primetime television show. “Nebsu,” a half-hour comedy which launched last week, focuses on an Ethiopian man who is married to an Ashkenazi Jewish woman. Misunderstanding ensues.

Watch Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest entry for 2017. Imri Ziv will represent Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev after winning “The Next Star for Eurovision,” with the song “I Feel Alive.” Watch it here.

Science and Technology

Intel to Buy Israel’s Mobileye for $15 Billion. Technology giant Intel is purchasing Israeli company Mobileye for $15 billion, in the biggest deal in the history of Israel’s high-tech industry. Mobileye, based in Jerusalem, develops driver assistance systems and is developing the technology for automated cars. In 2016, Mobileye teamed up with BMW and Intel to develop new technology that could put self-driving cars on the road by 2021.

Samsung to integrate Israeli technology to detect strokes. MedyMatch Technology Ltd. and the healthcare unit of Samsung Electronics said they will collaborate to integrate the Israeli startup’s artificial intelligence software with the South Korean multinational’s medical imaging hardware for emergency use. The first area of focus will be strokes, whereby MedyMatch technologies will be integrated into mobile stroke units (MSU).

Israel second to US in cyber-defender firms. Israel has the second highest concentration of cyber-defense companies in the world after the United States, a new report shows.

In Depth

Settlements update. Could the US and Israel be on the verge of the first understanding between the two governments of what is, and what is not, considered a settlement bloc? Since the concept was coined by former US president Bill Clinton, Israel has been loath to define the idea of a settlement bloc, lest it prejudice border negotiations with the Palestinians for a two-state solution. But, it may finally be looking at doing so within the context of President Donald’s Trump’s push to revive the frozen peace process.

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