NEWS FROM ISRAEL

From Balkan nationalism to Zionism: was the Jewish State born in Serbia?
Israelis are increasingly heading to the Balkans for leisure and adventure. But our history with Serbia goes back a lot farther.
By RONEN SHNIDMAN

President Reuven Rivlin visited Serbia this past July to participate in a ceremony with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic renaming a street after the Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl in the Belgrade neighborhood of Zemun. This unusual event, which marked the first ever visit by an Israeli president to Serbia, received less coverage than would be expected from most Israeli news outlets.
It begs the question: What was Herzl’s connection to Zemun, and why would the Serbian government name a street after him?
The answer may surprise most Jews and even many ardent Zionists. The intellectual roots of political Zionism and the Jewish state did not start with the refined emancipated Jews of fin-de-siècle Vienna or Paris, and they certainly don’t begin in Poland. Zionism’s journey traces back to a pious Sephardi rabbi in what was then the Serbian border town of Zemun at the edge of the Austrian Empire. It was this rabbi who taught Herzl’s grandfather and father and likely planted the seeds of the Jewish state, some 70 years before the First Zionist Congress in Basel and 90 years before the Balfour Declaration.
Moving from Balkan nationalism to Zionism Historians in the past focused on difficulties secular emancipated Jews like Theodor Herzl had integrating into the rapidly developing European societies of Western and Central Europe at the end of the 19th century. However, Herzl’s exposure to the idea of reconstituting the Jewish nation predates his coverage of the Dreyfus Affair as a journalist or even his encounters with elite antisemitism as a law student in Vienna. Instead, it can be traced back to his father’s family’s roots in Zemun (also known by its old German name Semlin) and the influence of the community’s Sephardi rabbi, Judah Ben Shlomo Hai Alkalai.
More at the Jerusalem Post site (Nov 3, 2018)

Israeli F-16s get in middle of bitter Serbian-Croatian dispute

Serbia is “deeply disappointed” that Israeli jets slated to be sold to Croatia participated in a military flyover commemorating the final battle in 1995 of Croatia’s War of Independence, during which some 200,000 Serbs fled their homes and war crimes were committed, Serbia’s Ambassador Milutin Stanojevic said on Sunday.
“Israel and the Jewish people have had a difficult past and should understand the difficulties and sufferings of other nations,” Stanojevic said in an interview.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that “Hitler wanted a world without Jews; Croatia and its policy wanted a Croatia without Serbs.” Croatia ceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, and fought a four year war for independence, with “Operation Storm,” which Sunday’s flyover commemorated, being the final battle of that war.
Stanojevic said that Serbia learned about the planned participation of the Israeli jets on Thursday, and Belgrade’s efforts over the weekend to reach Israeli political and military officials to prevent the Israeli involvement in the commemoration failed...
More at the Jerusalem Post site (Aug 5, 2018)

Israel to close seven diplomatic missions, embassies abroad

Israel will close seven diplomatic offices abroad over the next three years, government officials decided Friday in their 2019 budget.
Among the missions that will be closed include some in the United States, which currently has Israeli missions in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.
It costs between $3.4 and $4.4 million dollars to operate each U.S. location.
Other missions considered for removal are in Canada, which has offices in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Officials may also shutter missions in Brazil, Turkey and Germany. Elsewhere in Europe, they are considering the consolidation of missions in Latvia and Lithuania, as well as those in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The Foreign Ministry said the closings will likely span three years. Any money the government saves on the deals will be used for real estate and defense expenses...
More at the UPI News (Jan 12, 2018)

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Orders U.S. Embassy to Move

President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Mr. Trump, speaking from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, saying that past approaches to the conflict, like delaying that recognition, had not moved the peace process forward.
“This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” he added.
Mr. Trump’s remarks will be the most closely scrutinized of his presidency on the Middle East, where he has vowed to broker the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians but has yet to find a breakthrough to end the conflict. The president’s recognition of Jerusalem isolates the United States on one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic issues.
More at the MSN News (July 30, 2017) Also at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Facebook page

Israeli police: PM suspected of breach of trust, bribes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of crimes involving fraud, breach of trust and bribes in two corruption cases, Israeli police revealed Thursday.
Police have been questioning Netanyahu for months over the cases but have released few details. It released a gag order Thursday night on reporting the details of talks that are underway to enlist a state witness.
The document says the cases involving Netanyahu deal with “a suspicion of committing crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Netanyahu’s office has repeatedly denied wrongdoing over the investigations, portraying the accusations as a witch hunt against him and his family by a hostile media opposed to his hard-line political views...
More at the Washington Post site (July 30, 2017)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Update:
Trump Accuses Abbas Of Lying — Report

U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly yelled at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Bethlehem last week, accusing Abbas of lying, Israeli television reported Sunday.
“You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement,” Trump reportedly told his Palestinian counterpart.
Abbas met with Trump in Washington May 5. They had their second meeting Tuesday.
A poll taken for the Jerusalem Post after Trump’s visit indicated 49 percent of Palestinians said they now support restarting peace talks with Israel, which broke down three years ago. The poll of 500 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by the Arab World for Research and Development, a Ramallah research institute, said the poll indicated a slight increase in support compared to previous surveys. Forty-five percent of those surveyed, however, said they didn’t think Trump would be able to forge a deal...
More at the ibtimes site (May 28, 2017)

Israeli pot smokers rally, say relaxed law still a drag
By Oren Liebermann, CNN

Hundreds of pot smokers unabashedly gathered outside the Knesset on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the unofficial "Weed Day" and the recent decriminalization of marijuana in Israel.
As the clock struck 4:20 on 4/20, the marijuana enthusiasts began smoking, relaxing in the afternoon heat in plain view of Israel's Parliament. Notably lacking were any police officers, who remained on the outskirts of the crowd, not intervening at all in what one organizer called a "laid-back" approach.
For marijuana advocates, who have held similar rallies in the past, the gathering was an act of defiance, or perhaps even a celebration of it. At one point, the group gathered to take a group picture in front of the Knesset, using their smoking to send a message to Israel's lawmakers. "I love weed," said Omer Dor without hesitation.
"I love to smoke weed to relax with myself, and it makes me, I think, better. That's my vision, so they shouldn't tell us what to smoke and what to eat and how to dress. We should make those choices by ourselves."...
More at the CNN News site (Apr 20, 2017)

Israel makes David's Sling missile defence system operational: 'Whoever seeks to hit us will be hit'

Israel has made sophisticated David's Sling missile interceptor system, which is touted as an "existential danger" to its enemies, operational. The air missile defence system was inaugurated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a ceremony held at the country's Hatzor Air Force Base on Sunday, 2 April.
While the incoming short-range missiles would be intercepted by existing Iron Dome defence system, David's Sling, formerly nicknamed Magic Wand, would tackle the projectiles fired from a medium-range of 40-300kms (25-190 miles) such as Hezbollah's M-600.
"We have pioneering technology here and Israel continues to lead the world in this field," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Haaretz. He warned: "Whoever seeks to hit us will be hit. Whoever threatens our existence places himself in existential danger." David's Sling is jointly developed by the Israeli state-run Rafael and its US partner Raytheon. The US had pumped in about $1.4bn (£1.1bn) since 2006 towards developing David's Sling...
More at the Yahoo News site (Apr 3, 2017)

Israeli PM, angered by anti-settlement U.N. vote, summons U.S. ambassador

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to Israel to discuss the U.S. abstention in a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to settlement-building.
Separately, the envoys of 10 other nations were called in to the Israeli Foreign Ministry to be reprimanded on Sunday, and Netanyahu had more harsh words for Washington over Friday's U.N. vote.
An Israeli spokesman gave no details of when Netanyahu would meet U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro.
The resolution was passed in the 15-member Security Council because the U.S. broke with its long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and did not wield its veto power, instead abstaining.
Netanyahu put his personal imprint on Israel's show of anger by repeating at the weekly cabinet meeting what an unidentified Israeli government official contended on Friday - that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had conspired with the Palestinians to push for the resolution's adoption...
More at the Yahoo News site (Dec 25, 2016)

Israel hits Hamas posts after rocket fire from Gaza

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Israel's military struck several Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a rocket launched from the Palestinian enclave hit a nearby Israeli city, with no casualties reported on either side.
The rocket hit Sderot, part of which lies less than a kilometre (less than a mile) northeast of the Gaza Strip, run by Islamist movement Hamas, the Israeli military said.
The area was closed off and bomb disposal teams were working at the site, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
A small Salafist group -- followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam who oppose Hamas -- claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Thanks to God, the so-called Sderot settlement was targeted by a homemade rocket," the Ahfad al-Sahaba group said in a statement.
The same group has claimed responsibility for other recent attacks but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all such rocket fire...
More at the Yahoo News site (Oct 5, 2016)

Shimon Peres, former president and veteran Israeli statesman, dies at 93

Shimon Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died Wednesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.
Doctors said Peres suffered severe organ failure Tuesday, as well as irreversible brain damage caused by the massive hemorrhagic stroke he sustained on September 13.
The longest serving of all of Israel’s public servants, Peres was a person about whom it could rightly be said: The history of the State of Israel is the history of Shimon Peres.
A lifetime searching for peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors was rewarded on December 10, 1994, when Peres – along with then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat – received a Nobel Peace Prize. The award recognized their work as the architects of the 1993 interim peace deal known as the Oslo Accords – a pact that to Peres’s dismay never hardened into a lasting treaty...
More at the Jerusalem Post site (Sep 28, 2016)

Jewish WWII 'Avenger' Joseph Harmatz Dead at 91
By aron heller, associated press TEL AVIV, Israel

Holocaust survivor Joseph Harmatz, who led the most daring attempt by Jews seeking revenge against their former Nazi tormentors, has died. He was 91.
His son, Ronel Harmatz, confirmed the death Monday.
Harmatz was one of the few remaining Jewish "Avengers" who carried out a mass poisoning of former SS officers in an American prisoner-of-war camp in 1946 that sickened more than 2,200 Germans, but caused no known deaths. Still, the message echoed into a rallying cry for the newborn state of Israel — that the days when attacks on Jews went unanswered were over.
Harmatz, who was born in Lithuania and lost most of his family in the Holocaust, spoke to The Associated Press shortly before his death and remained unapologetic for his actions and those of his group Nakam, Hebrew for vengeance.
"We didn't understand why it shouldn't be paid back," he said...
More at the ABC News site (Sep 26, 2016)

Israel Honors Greek Mayor Who Saved Entire Jewish Community During Holocaust

In 1943, the Nazi occupying forces on the Greek island of Zakynthos called Mayor Carrer and demanded a list of all the Jews on the island. Distraught, Carrer consulted the local Bishop Chrysostomos and, together, the two made the courageous decision to deny the Nazis’ request. Now, Carrer’s daughter is visiting Israel where she is being honored for her father’s bravery.
President Reuven Rivlin met on Tuesday in his Jerusalem residence with Lana Carrer, daughter of Lucas Carrer, who served as mayor of the Greek island of Zakynthos during the Nazi occupation. Carrer, together with the local bishop, saved nearly 300 Jews who lived on the island, by refusing an order by the Nazis to provide a list of members of the Jewish community.
Rivlin thanked Carrer for her family’s actions and those by her community for the sake of the Jewish people. “We want to thank you for the actions of your family. Their bravery is an example of the very best of what humanity is capable of. Their actions go to the very heart of the history of the Jewish people,” he said...
More at the United with Israel site (Sep 21, 2016)

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres hospitalized after stroke

JERUSALEM – Former Israeli President Shimon Peres suffered a "major stroke" on Tuesday and experienced heavy bleeding in the brain, hospital officials said, as doctors raced to stabilize the 93-year-old Nobel laureate.
Dr. Itzik Kreiss, director of the Sheba Medical Center, told reporters outside the hospital near Tel Aviv that Peres experienced "lots of bleeding" as a result of the stroke. He said he had undergone a battery of tests, and that doctors planned to hold another assessment in a few hours.
Standing alongside Kreiss, Peres' son Chemi said the situation was "not simple," but that the family was trying to stay positive.
"My father is very special. I am keeping optimistic. Hoping for the best. But these hours are not easy," he said. He thanked the Israeli public for offering its support and prayers...
More at the Fox News (Sep 13, 2016)

Israeli leader: Iran mocks WWII Holocaust, prepares another

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Iran Sunday for staging a Holocaust-themed cartoon contest that mocked the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during World War II and said the Islamic Republic was busy planning for another one.
Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel's destruction and its leaders have called for it to be wiped off the map. Israel fears that Iran's nuclear program is designed to threaten its very existence. But Netanyahu said that it not just Iran's belligerent policies that Israel opposed, but its values.
"It denies the Holocaust, it mocks the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust," Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting. "I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this."...
More at the Yahoo site (May 16, 2016)

Israel allows Gaza fishermen more maritime space

Israel on Sunday extended the distance it permits Gaza fishermen to head out to sea along certain parts of the coastline of the enclave, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas.
The fishing zone was expanded from six nautical miles (11 km) to nine (16 km) along Gaza's central and southern shores, a step that Israeli authorities said should result in a bigger catch in deeper waters, where fish are more abundant.
Israel, citing security concerns that include fears of Hamas weapons smuggling, maintains a naval blockade of Gaza, and the zone will remain at six nautical miles in northern areas near the Israeli border.
Palestinians have complained of frequent Israeli interceptions and arrests of fishermen who have strayed from the zone and of the confiscation of their boats and equipment...
More at the Reuters site (April 3, 2016)

Israel demands world powers punish Iran for missile tests

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on world powers to punish Iran after the country test-fired two ballistic missiles emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.
Netanyahu said he instructed Israel’s Foreign Ministry to direct the demand to the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — the countries that signed the deal lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard test-launched the ballistic missiles last week, the latest in a series of recent tests aimed at demonstrating Iran’s intentions to push ahead with its missile program after scaling back its nuclear program under the deal reached last year.
Following last week’s missile launches, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran to “act with moderation,” and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said the launches were “provocative and destabilizing.”
More at the Seattle Times site (March 13, 2016)

American fatally stabbed in Israel terror attack that wounds 10 others

A former U.S. Army officer who was part of a Vanderbilt University tour group was stabbed to death in a terror attack that left 10 others wounded in an old section of Tel Aviv, officials said Tuesday.
Taylor Force, a first-year student in the graduate school of management, was killed, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced.
"This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world," Zeppos said.
The school said in a separate statement that Force was among 29 students and four staff members who had gone to Israel to study global entrepreneurship. They were in Jaffa by the Mediterranean Sea when they were attacked...
More at the CNN site (March 8, 2016)

Israel to launch one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, with U.S. help

TEL AVIV — A joint exercise now being conducted between thousands of Israeli forces and the U.S. European Command represents a final test before Israel begins to deploy one of the most sophisticated missile defense systems in the world.
When it is complete, Israel’s multibillion-dollar rocket and missile air defense system will be far superior to anything in the Middle East and will likely rival, and in some ways surpass, in speed and targeting, air defenses deployed by Europe and the United States, its developers say.
The United States has provided more than $3.3 billion over the past 10 years to support the defensive system, which will be able to knock down not only ballistic missiles but also orbiting satellites.
Though Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama have had a strained relationship, rubbed raw by their deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. spending on Israel’s air defenses has soared in the last decade, from $133 million in 2006 to $619 million in 2015...
More at the washington Post site (March 3, 2016)

Iran still intent on acquiring nuclear arms despite deal: Israel

Jerusalem (AFP) - Iran is still seeking to achieve nuclear military capabilities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday, after a deal with world powers scaling down Tehran's nuclear abilities was implemented.
"Even after signing the nuclear deal, Iran has not relinquished its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons, and continues to act to destabilise the Middle East and spread terror throughout the world while violating its international commitments," a statement from Netanyahu's office read.
The premier said Israel would "follow the implementation of the deal and warn of any violation."...
More at the Yahoo News (Jan 16, 2016)

Israel reports record immigration of Jews from France in 2015
French aliyah up 10% in a year that sees multiple terror attacks strike Paris, while overall Jewish immigration is at 15-year high

A record number of French Jews moved to Israel this year, an immigration official said on Thursday, citing anti-Semitic violence and economic insecurity in the European country as causes.
France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, having grown by nearly half since World War Two to some 550,000. The community has been jarred by an increase in security threats and Islamist terror attacks such as January's gun rampage at a Paris kosher market that killed four Jews.
Israel's quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, which encourages immigration, said some 7,900 French Jews had relocated to Israel in 2015, a 10 percent increase from the previous year...
More at the ynetnews.com (Dec 25, 2015)

Israel successfully tests ballistic missile interceptor

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel and the United States on Thursday successfully tested a ballistic missile interceptor as the Jewish state seeks to upgrade its defences in the face of regional threats, officials said.
The trial from an Israeli test range involved the Arrow 3 interceptor, designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere, with Israel concerned over the potential for attacks from enemies including Iran.
A similar test a year ago failed, but Thursday's trial intercepted a ballistic missile target above the Mediterranean.
"This successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing threats," Israel's defence ministry said...
More at the Yahoo News (Dec 10, 2015)

Israeli missile interceptor passes final test

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel's David's Sling missile defence system has passed final tests and should be ready for deployment next year as part of the country's efforts to defend against regional threats, officials said Monday.
The medium-range interceptor, developed with United States backing, is due to be handed to the Israeli air force "at the end of the first quarter of 2016," said Yair Ramati, head of the Israel Missile Defence Organisation.
David's Sling is designed to fill the gap between the longer-range Arrow missile defence system and the shorter-range Iron Dome interceptor.
More at the Yahoo News (Dec 21, 2015)

Russia plane entered Israel control zone from Syria: minister

Jerusalem (AFP) - A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria but the intrusion was resolved without incident, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday.
Yaalon's comments come amid deep concern over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, which claims it strayed over the Syrian border into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to change course. Moscow denies the allegations.
"There was a slight intrusion a mile (1.6 kilometres) deep by a Russian plane from Syria into our airspace, but it was immediately resolved and the Russian plane returned towards Syria,
" Yaalon told public radio. "It was apparently an error by the pilot who was flying near the Golan."...
More at the Yahoo News (Nov 29, 2015)

'Israel won't down a Russian warplane if it enters its air space'

The issue of Russian sorties in Syria was magnified in recent days after Turkey downed a Su-24 fighter jet.
srael will not take action against Russian fighter jets that encroach into its air space, a senior air force official said on Thursday.
The issue of Russian sorties in Syria was magnified in recent days after Turkey downed a Su-24 fighter jet that it claims entered its air space near the border.
According to Israeli military officials, such a scenario is not in danger of repeating itself in the skies over the Golan Heights.
"The Russian military is a new, key player which we are not ignoring," a senior military official told reporters on Thursday. "There is a clear boundary here, and they are busy with their matters, and we are busy with ours."
More at the Jerusalem Post site (Nov 26, 2015)

Israel slams new EU label requirements

Former Israeli Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, joins Richard Quest from Tel Aviv to discuss EU label requirements

Video at the CNNt site (Nov 13, 2015)

Yitzhak Navon, Israel's fifth president, dies at the age of 94

Yitzhak Navon, the fifth president of the State of Israel, passed away at the age of 94 on Saturday. Funeral details have yet to be released.
A politician, author, playwright, and educator, Navon entered the President's Residence on May 29, 1978. He served as president until 1983.
After earning a bachelor's degree in Arab literature and Islamic culture from Hebrew University, he joined the ranks of the right-wing underground Irgun. Shortly after, he left Irgun to join the pre-state Haganah, the fighting force which would eventually form the backbone of the IDF.
Before entering politics, Navon served as a diplomat in Uruguay and Argentina. After returning to Israel, he took up a position as the political secretary to then-foreign minister Moshe Sharett. In the 1950s and early 60s, Navon worked as the office director for then-prime minister David Ben-Gurion and his successor, Sharett...
More at the Jerusalem Post site (Nov 7, 2015)

Israel's Netanyahu fights to form a majority coalition

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli coalition talks took on heightened urgency on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still short of even the slimmest majority 36 hours from the deadline to form a government.
Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party won 30 seats in the March 17 general election and has so far signed coalition agreements with two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties and the centre-right Kulanu led by Likud defector Moshe Kahlon.
That gives him the backing of 53 seats, still woefully short of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset or parliament.
If Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition by midnight on Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin must then assign another party leader to the task, with a 28-day deadline...
More at the Yahoo News (May 5, 2015)

Israel coming to a total stop for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Every year in Israel, on the day of Holocaust remembrance, something happens that shows how deeply many Israelis still feel both the pain of the Holocaust and the power of honoring its survivors. Sirens go off across the country, and people — wherever they are, whatever they're doing — stop and stand. That includes, as the above 2014 video posted by the Jewish Standard shows, people driving their cars on the highway.
The official name of this date in Hebrew is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah, meaning Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism, a reference to the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The name is often shortened to Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It typically occurs in late April or early May, begins at sunset, and continues through the next day. This year, it begins on Wednesday evening...
More at the Vox site (Apr 16, 2015)

Israel expects hundreds of civilian casualties in next war with Hezbollah
By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel could suffer hundreds of civilian dead and damage to its vital infrastructure from Hezbollah rockets if it fights another war with the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group, according to Israeli military assessments.
The scenario, published by Israeli media on Wednesday, reflected concern among security planners that since the last Lebanon war, in 2006, Hezbollah has expanded its rocket arsenal and gained battle experience helping Damascus fight the insurgency in Syria.
The publication of the assessments could help build a case for more investment in Israeli civil defenses and in U.S.-backed rocket interceptors like Iron Dome, which has proven effective outside Gaza, and the longer-range David's Sling, which is in final testing stages.
According to the military assessments, between 1,000 and 1,500 rockets could hit Israel daily in the next full-blown conflict, killing hundreds of people and potentially paralyzing key installations like airports, sea ports and power stations...
More at the Yahoo News (Apr 1, 2015)

Israel premier expresses 'deep concern' on pending Iran deal

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he has "deep concern" over a pending nuclear deal the West appears close to signing with Israel's arch-enemy Iran.
Netanyahu said that he conveyed those fears to visiting American lawmakers, warning that the looming deal appears to "corroborate all our concerns and then some."
Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of American-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran and publicly has clashed with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama over the issue.Negotiators in the Swiss town of Lausanne are working on an initial agreement just three days before their self-imposed deadline...
More at the Yahoo News (Mar 29, 2015)

Israel's Netanyahu apologizes to country's Arab minority

JERUSALEM (AP) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israel's Arab citizens on Monday for remarks he made during last week's parliament election that offended members of the community.
The move appeared to be an attempt to heal rifts and mute criticism at home and in the United States. Netanyahu drew accusations of racism in Israel, especially from its Arab minority, and a White House rebuke when, just a few hours before polling stations were to close across the country, he warned that Arab citizens were voting "in droves."
But President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, rejected Netanyahu's attempt to distance himself from his comments, telling an Israel advocacy group Monday that the U.S. can't just overlook what Netanyahu said on the eve of his re-election...
More at AOL.com, March 24, 2015

Netanyahu's Likud wins Israeli election

TEL AVIV, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party scored a resounding victory in the country's election, final results showed Wednesday, after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.
With nearly all the votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament's 120 seats, in a position to be able to build a coalition government with its right-wing and religious allies with relative ease.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who has governed the country for the past six years. Recent opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog of the opposition Zionist Union a slight lead.
Exit polls showed the two sides deadlocked but once the actual results came pouring in early Wednesday, Likud soared forward. Zionist Union wound up with just 24 seats...
More at China Daily, March 18, 2015

Netanyahu warns Congress: Deal will lead to Iranian nuclear bomb

Washington (CNN) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that a proposed agreement between world powers and Iran was "a bad deal" that would not stop Tehran from getting nuclear weapons -- but would rather pave its way to getting lots of them and leave the Jewish State in grave peril.
In a dramatic address to the U.S. Congress at what he said was a "fateful" crossroads of history, Netanyahu openly sided with President Barack Obama's Republican critics and sparked an immediate and furious reaction from the White House, as relations between Washington and Israel spun into their deepest chasm for many years.
"We have been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal. It is a very bad deal. We are better off without it," Netanyahu said, building a case that Iran was not just bent on developing nuclear weapons but was determined to "gobble" up defenseless countries in a wider play for dominance in the Middle East...
More at CNN News By Stephen Collinson, March 3, 2015

Israel says stopped Gaza arms-running attempt

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel's Shin Bet security service said on Wednesday that in a joint operation with the navy it foiled a Palestinian attempt to sail rocket-making materials from Egypt into Gaza.
It said in a statement that three Gazans appeared in an Israeli court charged with "security offences" after being arrested at sea last month with a cargo of liquid fibreglass.
It added that under interrogation, the men said the substance was intended for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement, "and was meant to provide the raw material used to produce rockets and mortars"...
More at the Yahoo News (Feb 11, 2015)

Netanyahu admits 'profound disagreement' with Obama

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Tuesday he has a "profound disagreement" with President Barack Obama over efforts by the US and world powers to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.
However, he said he is still trying to minimise the impact of the dispute on his country's relations with the United States.
"We do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying.
Iran and Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany have been seeking a comprehensive accord that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions...
More at the Yahoo News (Feb 10, 2015)

Israeli official suggests Boehner misled Netanyahu on Congress speech
By Dan Williams

Related Stories Congress invites Netanyahu for Iran speech, Obama blindsided Reuters Israeli premier accepts Boehner invite to speak to Congress Associated Press US House leader: Boehner invite to Netanyahu inappropriate Associated Press Boehner invites Israeli leader to address Congress on Iran Associated Press Israel PM agrees to address US Congress in early March AFP JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A senior Israeli official suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been misled into thinking an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.
Netanyahu was invited by the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, to address Congress on March 3, an invitation Boehner originally described as bipartisan.
The move angered the White House, which is upset about the event coming two weeks before Israeli elections and the fact that Netanyahu, who has a testy relationship with President Obama, is expected to be critical of U.S. policy on Iran.
More at the Yahoo News (Feb 5, 2015)

Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during trip to Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he travels to Washington in March, the White House said Thursday, one day after being caught off-guard by Republicans' invitation for the Israeli leader to address a joint session of Congress.
Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said that in keeping with "long-standing practice and principle," the president does not meet with heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections.
"Accordingly, the president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress," Meehan said...
More at the AOL Site (Jan 22, 2015)

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