News from Israel

No.113, December 04, 2019

Inside Israel
Attorney-General Mandelblit announced on November 21 his final indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, making him the first prime minister in Israeli history to be indicted while still in office. Mandelblit will now ask the Knesset to waive Netanyahu’s immunity, a process that can take 30 days. In a statement following the indictment. Netanyahu rejected all charges, and characterized the legal process against him as full of “false allegations.”

Israel likely headed for third election after Netanyahu and Gantz can’t form government. Israel might be headed to a third election since Blue and White leader Benny Gantz could not cobble together a coalition government. His efforts followed those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also unable to form a government. Israeli lawmakers now have 21 days in which any Knesset member can back any member of the Knesset as prime minister, including Netanyahu or Gantz.

Israel attacks dozens of Iranian Quds, Syrian regime targets. Israeli fighter jets carried out a wave of retaliatory air strikes against dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Force (IRGC) and the Syrian army in Syria. Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said following the strikes that “the rules have changed – anyone who shoots at the State of Israel during the day will not sleep at night.”

Migrant workers in Israel. By the end of 2018, there were 114,444 migrant workers living in Israel, primarily employed in caregiving (57%), agriculture (22%) and construction (13%) jobs. Most come from Thailand, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and China.

Rivlin: Ugly incitement against Arab citizens must end. President Reuven Rivlin spoke out strongly against recent comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others against Arab Knesset Members and the Arab public. Rivlin said that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and we “must ensure equality of rights and respectful and meaningful discourse with all Israelis.”

International
West Bank settlements are not illegal, Pompeo announces. In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal.

154 U.N. nations call Temple Mount solely by Muslim name Haram al-Sharif. The UN gave its preliminary approval to a resolution that referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif. The resolution passed at the UN’s Fourth Committee in New York 154-8. It was one of eight pro-Palestinian resolutions approved, out of a slate of more than 15 such texts the committee is expected to approve.

Arab initiative rejects BDS movement, seeks new Israeli-Palestinian talks. Numerous public figures from the Arab world, representing 15 countries throughout the region, came together to reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in addition to calling for greater direct civil relations between Israel and their countries. The conference included a declaration-signing ceremony, forming a group called the Arab Council for Regional Integration.

Fresh talks on agreement for calm in Gaza. Hamas sources said that contacts have been renewed between the organization and various mediators, primarily Egyptian intelligence officials, regarding reaching an agreement with Israel over calm in Gaza.

Passion, ignorance, and teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The author of this article recently surveyed 230 Berkeley undergraduates to find out which conflicts in the Middle East they were most interested in and how much they knew about the region. 43% expressed an intense interest in the Palestinian territories, but 75% of those students could not locate those territories on a map.

Culture and Lifestyle
Honoring the Life of Sarah: 50,000 Jews gather in Hebron for Shabbat. Some 40,000-50,000 Jews from around the world converged on the city of Hebron and its adjacent sister city, Kiryat Arba, over Shabbat in honor of Sarah, the biblical matriarch of the Jewish people. It coincides with the biblical reading of Chayei Sarah (the Life of Sarah), in which Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron in which to bury Sarah. Despite Jewish history at the location going back thousands of years, the Tomb was declared a Palestinian World Heritage Site in 2017 by UNESCO.

Sigd holiday brings thousands to Jerusalem to celebrate. Thousands of Ethiopian- Israelis, known as Beta Israel, traveled from across the country to Jerusalem to celebrate the Sigd holiday together with the community’s elders, senior ministers, MKs and the mayor of Jerusalem. Sigd, whose roots are found in the biblical Book of Nehemiah, is marked 50 days after Yom Kippur. Read more and watch here.

Amazing pictures of Israeli desert. The Arava International Photography Festival, part of the Planet Arava festival, recently took place in southern Israel. It offered 150 International photographers the chance to photograph the Holy Land’s unique wildlife and vibrancy. See here.

Science and Technology
Israel’s national Artificial Intelligence plan unveiled. The world’s expectations from artificial intelligence (AI) technology and its applications are sky high. Making Israel one of the world’s five leading countries in AI will require a NIS 1-2 billion annual investment by the government, out of the NIS 10 billion invested in this sector in Israel, according to the recommendations of a committee which includes senior people from the government, the IDF, institutions of higher education, and the technology industry.

In a possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO. In a remarkable breakthrough that could pave the way toward carbon-neutral fuels, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have produced a genetically engineered bacteria that can live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar. This breakthrough would help to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, where it is contributing to global warming.

Targeting chemo at tumors only. Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a method that delivers chemotherapy drugs directly to malignant cells and bypasses healthy ones. Cancer cells emit the protein TRPV2 into which the scientists inserted a low dose of doxorubicin to destroy the tumor.

In Depth
Israel’s Rights in the West Bank under International Law
. The issue of Israel’s rights in the West Bank under international law, as simple as it sounds, conceals a complex and extensive web of historic, legal, military and political issues that, for many years, have engaged and continue to engage the parties to the conflict, as well as the international community as a whole. This article analyzes the major elements defining Israel’s rights in the West Bank.

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