December 29, 2017

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Netanyahu forming fund for third-world countries

Israel will establish a fund that will help third-world countries, providing a million dollars of assistance to each of 50 countries across the globe, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Wednesday night (27th).

The fund could help Israel earn support from more countries around the world in more votes in the United Nations after losing a key vote on Jerusalem by a vote against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 128 to nine with 35 abstentions.



Netanyahu hails Arab world’s ‘changing opinion’ on Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday afternoon (28th) that the general outlook on Israel was undergoing positive changes in the Arab world, citing opinion polls which indicate a significant growth in the number of people who place importance on forging diplomatic relations with Israel.

“It is already happening between the governments, but the thing that stirs the most hope for me is that, and this may surprise you, it is also taking place among wide sections of public opinion in the Arab world,” Netanyahu said during a speech at a ceremony marking the signing of a development agreement in the Ein Mahil Council in northern Israel.

“How do I know this?  We conduct polls and suddenly you ask the question: ‘How many of you think that it is worthwhile to have contacts with the State of Israel?’  Once the number was zero.  Today it starts with 20% and goes as high as 50%,” the prime minister proudly proclaimed.

“The public in the Arab world is starting to understand this.  Israel has a foothold in the future and it is becoming one of the most developed countries on earth and we want you all to be part of this success story,” he told his listeners.



Lebanese foreign minister denounced over Israel comments

Lebanese politicians on Thursday (28th) criticised Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over a television interview in which he was shown saying that Lebanon did not have an ideological problem with Israel and was not against it having security.

The comments, made to the al-Mayadin television channel during a long interview on Tuesday (26th) had just started attracting attention.

A former government minister called on Bassil to resign and a member of parliament also criticised him.

“We are not against Israel living in security,” he was shown saying in a clip that circulated widely in Lebanon on social media.



Israel applauds Egyptian writer’s remarks on Jerusalem

The Israeli embassy in Cairo has expressed gratitude for an interview broadcast on Sunday (24th), in which Youssef Ziedan, an Egyptian novelist and scholar, said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is not located in Jerusalem’s al-Haram al-Sharif compound and that Jerusalem is not a holy city.  Citing scholars, Ziedan said that the structures of al-Haram Mosque and al-Aqsa Mosque were “on the road from Mecca to Ta’if” in Saudi Arabia and that “neither we [Muslims] nor the Jews have anything to do with it.”

The embassy said on Tuesday (26th): “We are pleased to hear the words of writer and historian Youssef Ziedan and his description of the deep-rooted relationship between Jews and Muslims that existed even before Prophet Muhammad.  And at how he pointed out that the origins of the ongoing conflict between the two sides stem from extremists.”

“There is no doubt that Ziedan’s interpretation entails the need to abandon the culture of hate between the two sides, and this in our view is an important message.  Cooperation between Jews and Muslims would benefit Egyptians and Israelis and would be beneficial to the two sides’ rising generations.”



Thousands pray at Western Wall for rain to break drought

With Israel halfway through its fifth consecutive winter of depleted rainfall, thousands of Jews assembled Thursday (28th) at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray together for rain.

The event was organized by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and supplications were led by the Chief Rabbis of Israel, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, along with other prominent rabbis.



Two synagogues vandalized in Iran

Two synagogues in the Iranian city of Shiraz were attacked by vandals who damaged Torah scrolls, prayer books and ritual objects.

The city’s Kashi Synagogue was attacked Sunday night (24th), while the Hadash Synagogue was attacked Monday afternoon (25th).

About 10,000 Jews live in Iran at present.  There has been heightened use of anti-Semitic propaganda in Iran in recent months.

The Jewish community in Shiraz today numbers about 2,000.



Iran votes to declare Jerusalem ‘everlasting capital of Palestine’

Iran’s parliament voted wednesday (27th) to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, according to state-run media.

The vote, which passed 207-0 in the 290-member Majlis, requires Tehran to recognize Jerusalem as “the everlasting capital of Palestine.”



Israel helps Colombia upgrade its Air Force – Yoav Zitun

Israel has completed upgrading 22 Kfir fighter planes belonging to the Colombian Air Force that were manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries in the 1970s.  According to IAI’s Benny Cohen, the improvement transforms the planes, from an avionics point of view, into advanced planes that will be able to compete in air battles against F-15s and F-16s.  As a result, the Colombian Air Force will be able to participate in the international Red Flag exercise next year in the U.S.



Ben-Gurion Airport to undergo major expansion

Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport will undergo major expansion in the coming years following a huge increase in passenger traffic, with more than 20 million passengers passing through the airport in 2017, up 17% from last year.  The Ministry of Transport expects 23 million passengers in 2018 and 30 million by 2024.


3,633 North Americans immigrated to Israel in 2017

With the arrival of a flight carrying 93 new immigrants, a total of 3,633 people from North America made aliyah in 2017.

The group-flight that landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday (27th) included 15 future lone-soldiers and a soon-to-be bride

There were 3,676 immigrants from North America in 2016, and 3,782 in 2015.

A total of 29,000 immigrants from around the world arrived in Israel in 2017.