Israel Briefs 9-27-11

The latest news of importance from Israel. 

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Palestinian ‘Refugees’ Would Not be Citizens in a Palestinian State

A new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” issue passports to Palestinian “refugees,” Palestinian Liberation Organization Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah told the Daily Star newspaper of Lebanon last week.

In addition to Palestinians living in what Abdullah says are 132 countries, he informed the newspaper that refugees living in camps inside a Palestinian state would not be considered citizens.

The status of “refugees,” nor the status of a Palestinian state in the UN, has any bearing on the return of refugees to “Palestine,” the ambassador told the Star.

“How the issue of the right of return will be solved will be solved, I don’t know, it’s too early to say, but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved with the acceptance of all,” Abdullah told the newspaper.

—JointMedia News Service

 (Click photo to download. Caption: The “Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations” logo paints the future state of "Palestine" as an exclusively Arab entity, ignoring Israel's current geography. Credit: Eye on the UN.)

“State of Palestine” Logo Wipes Israel Off the Map

The “Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations” presented a logo on its website in which a future Palestinian state would stretch throughout the entire historical entity of the former Palestine mandate, thereby ignoring any Jewish claim to Israel, Anne Bayefsky wrote in the Weekly Standard.

Disregarding the U.N.’s 1948 decision to divide the region into Jewish and Arab sectors, Bayefsky explained that the logo paints a shape of Palestine consisting of exclusively Arab territory.

“There is not too much left to the imagination here: Israel is ‘wiped off the map,’” Bayefsky wrote.

The Permanent Observer Mission’s logo and other materials can be viewed athttp://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/pid/11529.

—JointMedia News Service

 (Click photo to download. Caption: The "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at Auschwitz. Credit: Jochen Zimmerman.)

Israel Pledges $1 Million to Conserve Auschwitz

The Israeli government has pledged $1 million (3.6 million shekels) to help conserve the site of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set aside the amount, calling it a “Perpetual Fund” to preserve evidence of the horrors of the Holocaust.

The move comes as the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum launches a massive fundraising drive, seeking 120 million euros ($162 million) for its maintenance fund. The annual revenue of the site now stands at 45 million euros ($60 million), according to the news website expatica.com.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Netanyahu to Institute Significant Cuts to Israel’s Defense Budget

Israel’s defense budget will be trimmed by billions of shekels and the Finance Ministry will be granted supervision over the defense establishment's finances, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided.

The cuts will be used to pay for increased spending on social welfare programs such as housing and education. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday that the cuts would be instituted gradually, beginning with NIS 1 billion ($270 million) in 2012 and rising to NIS 3 billion ($810 million) in 2013.

Additionally, the Finance Ministry will be given access to Israel Defense Forces computers, allowing it to oversee defense budgets and salaries for the first time.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Survey: 82.3 Percent of Citizens Proud to Be Israeli

More than half of Israelis—52.3 percent—believe that Israeli democracy functions well on many levels, but 71.5 percent are dissatisfied with the way the government deals with domestic problems, according to the 2011 Israeli Democracy Index, presented to President Shimon Peres last Sunday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Among those surveyed, 82.3 percent said that they were proud to be Israeli.

The index is a research effort conducted by the Guttman Center of the Israel Democracy Institute, which has been auditing and evaluating the state of democracy in Israel since 2003. Published annually and presented to the president, it offers an evaluation of the quality of Israeli democracy based on objective parameters and public opinion polls. Peres received this year’s index from index head Dr. Arye Carmon and Guttman Center head Professor Tamar Hermann.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Anti-Israel and Anti-U.S. Sentiment Abound in Ramallah During Abbas Speech

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah last Friday to watch Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deliver his speech at the U.N. General Assembly. Along with clapping and shouts came slogans against Israel and the U.S.

Large viewing screens had been set up in the town’s Arafat Square, and, as the crowds poured in, local leaders addressed the crowd. As images of Abbas presenting U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon with the Palestinian request for membership status in the U.N. appeared, PLO and Fatah officials ended their speeches on stage.

The crowd raised their voices each time the U.N. audience applauded Abbas during his speech. When Abbas held up the official document stating the Palestinian request for statehood, the crowd went wild.

At one point, a large screen collapsed on the stage, injuring four singers and musicians.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Knesset Members From Across Spectrum Respond to Abbas Speech, Call Him a ‘Distorter of History’

Knesset Member Ophir Akunis (Likud), following Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly last Friday, said Abbas “is a liar, a Holocaust denier and a distorter of history who showed his true face to the entire world.”

“He and the Palestinian nation have never desired peace, are not interested in negotiations and do not support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state,” Akunis said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon deemed Abbas’speech—which prompted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to walk out of the hall—“incitement.” Independence (Atzmaut) chairwoman Einat Wilf called Abbas’ speech “a declaration of diplomatic and legal war against Israel.”

Newly elected Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich called the speech “particularly difficult.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Rocks Thrown at Israelis in West Bank Violence

Leading up to Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid last week, Israelis suffered from a number of instances of Palestinian violence back at home.

At the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli soldiers and burned tires. Soldiers responded with crowd dispersal equipment, including the “Scream,” a non-lethal sound amplifying device that sends out of a focused wave of loud, unpleasant sound. Three Palestinians were arrested.

In other areas, Palestinians in Judea and Samaria threw stones at Israeli vehicles. Israeli vehicles driving in Gush Etzion, Binyamin and Karmei Tzur in Judea and Samaria were met with volleys of stones. Rock throwers also hit Israeli buses driving through the Yeta Intersection as well as Kfar Al-Aruv in Gush Etzion.

A one-and-half-year-old girl was wounded when the car in which she was traveling was struck in Migdalei Shomron, a settlement near Nablus.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Neo-Nazi Ringleader Convicted of Hate Crimes

The Tel Aviv District Court on Sept. 22 convicted 23-year-old Dimitri Bogotich, a non-Jewish Israeli immigrant from Russia and the ringleader of a neo-Nazi group in Petach Tikva, of conspiracy to commit a crime, racially charged assault, incitement and racist propaganda.

Bogotich was convicted as part of a plea bargain. He initially fled the country at the beginning of his investigation, and earlier this year returned to Israel after being extradited by Kyrgyzstan.

The prosecution and defense asked the judge to sentence Bogotich to five years and nine months in jail. Others convicted of involvement with the neo-Nazi group were also given prison sentences of various durations. During the court hearing, the prosecution claimed that Bogotich “hunted” the population’s weak and “in fact recruited those same types of people, those who had a rough life and could not defend themselves.”

The neo-Nazis also documented their activities and published them on the Internet.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Torah of Duty: Chabad Youths Will be Drafted

The Israel Defense Forces and the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic movement signed an agreement Sept. 21 that allows yeshiva graduates to be drafted for military service. The deal, which was reported first by Israel Hayom, has been heralded by those involved in the negotiations as “a historic moment between religion and state.”

According to the deal, the IDF will accommodate the yeshiva graduates’ traditional studies in New York, while the youths will forgo their “Torah as profession” tradition. Yeshiva graduates will be allowed to leave the country for a period of one year, after which they will engage in an additional year of emissary activity. Once completed, the youths will then give up their tradition of “Torah as profession” and instead enter the IDF for a full term of service. ?

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Police Believe Father and Son Died in Terrorist Attack, Not Car Crash

Asher Hillel Palmer, 25, and his 1-year-old son Yonatan were most likely killed in a terrorist attack, and not in a car accident as initially thought, Israeli police said Sunday.

Post-mortem CT scans revealed that Asher Palmer died from a blunt force trauma to the head, which occurred before the car he was driving veered off the road and crashed. A bloodied rock that did not match the type of stones found at the site of the crash was also found inside their vehicle. Police believe on rock smashed the windshield and hit Palmer in the head, causing him to swerve out of his lane and into a barrier.

Traffic investigators who appeared on the scene immediately after the crash believed it was an accident, and told the family this. However, an officer said on Sunday that the soldiers had been facing Palestinian territory, rather than the road, and could have missed seeing any stone-throwers.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

 

Bank of Israel Lowers Interest Rate By 0.25 Percent

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is lowering Israe’s interest rate to 3 percent from October, a reduction of 0.25 percent. The move marks the first reduction in the interest rate since April 2009. Since September that year, the rate has risen by a total of 2.75 percent, and it has been fixed at 3.25 percent for the past three months.

Fischer’s move flew in the face of predictions, with 90 percent of forecasters in a recent poll by Bloomberg News saying they believed Fischer would leave the interest rate at 3.25 percent. Only two forecasters predicted he would lower it by 0.25 percent.

The main reasons for lowering the interest rate are the current global economic uncertainty and the reduction in the Bank of Israel’s estimated growth rate for 2012, from 3.9 percent to 3.2 percent. Additionally, interest rates in the rest of the world are expected to remain low.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on September 27, 2011 and filed under Israel.