Israel in the News Sep/Oct 2015
100,000 Gazans in Israel?
Former U.S. State Department official David Makovsky has proposed that Israel increase the number of Gazans it admits each day to 100,000 from the current 5,000. Makovsky claims Israeli jobs would make the Arabs less hostile to Israel and undermine Hamas’s control of Gaza.
Makovsky and Ghaith Al-Omari, now senior fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, see their proposal as a path to a more peaceful Middle East. Israeli officials see things differently. They see the number 100,000 as arbitrary—based neither on Israel’s security needs nor the number of available jobs.
These officials note that Israel’s security apparatus in the West Bank can effectively weed out workers with terrorist backgrounds, but Israel has no way to screen out such people from Gaza. They say a modest number of skilled construction workers from Gaza would benefit Israel, but only if they pose no security danger—and not in numbers anywhere near 100,000.
Rafael Medoff /JNS.org
COOP Cancels Israel Boycott
COOP, a national supermarket chain in Sweden, has backed out of a planned boycott of the sale of Israeli products. Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman, along with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, convinced COOP to cancel the boycott.
“We didn’t talk about the righteousness of Israel; rather we spoke in the name of fair trade and avoiding discrimination of any state,” Bachman said.>
Pro-Israel activists on Swedish social media urged the cancellation, while the country’s Israeli embassy published the contact information of the supermarket chain’s executives, encouraging people to contact them and voice their opposition.
Thousands threatened to boycott COOP if it boycotted Israel.
Bachman said the supermarket’s executives “were shocked by the volume of messages they received,” which led them to cancel the boycott.
Waste to Fuel
An Israeli government body that handles hazardous waste will soon operate a unique facility in Israel that recycles plastic and turns it into fuel.
The facility will derive 1,320 pounds of an oil-like substance from every ton of plastic waste it treats. Every day, Israelis dispose of some 1,500 metric tons of plastic waste from homes, agriculture, and industry. Most of it, 75.7 percent, is buried in landfills. The plant will melt and depolymerize the plastic until a fuel resembling oil is derived. Company CEO Dr. Gilad Golub told Israel Hayom, “The end product is an oil substitute that can be refined and replace the need to purchase oil.”
New Ambassador to Israel
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has appointed Egypt’s first ambassador to Israel in three years, marking a possible sign of continued warming relations between the two Mideast powers.
Hazem Khairat previously served as Egypt’s envoy to the Arab League and Chile. Egypt recalled its last envoy in Tel Aviv in 2012 under then president Mohammed Morsi—a leader of Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood—in protest of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza that year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Egypt’s decision. “It strengthens the ties between our countries. It strengthens peace” he said.
Israeli Company Makes MIT List
IDE Technologies, an Israeli water desalination company, has been named by the MIT Technology Review as one of the world’s 50 smartest companies for 2015. The magazine said IDE offers “more affordable water desalination at a scale never before achieved.”
IDE was ranked 18th. Topping the list was Tesla Motors. “To make the list, a company must have truly innovative technology and a business model that is both practical and ambitious, with the result that it has set the agenda in its field over the past 12 months,” the MIT Technology Review said.
Security Fence Near Jordan
The Israeli security cabinet has approved building an 18.64-mile fence along the Jewish state’s southern border with Jordan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “It joins the fence that we built along the length of our border with Sinai, which blocked the entry of illegal migrants into Israel and—of course—the various terrorist movements. This step also joins the fence that we built on our border on the Golan Heights.”
The new fence will be built completely within Israeli territory and was approved in coordination with the Jordanian government.
Israeli Woman in Space?
Israeli Science, Technology and Space Minister Danny Danon has asked the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to begin searching for the first female Israeli astronaut to be sent to space. Danon’s quest comes 12 years after the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, tragically died aboard the space shuttle Columbia when it burned up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Danon spoke with America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) about working together with Israel on future manned space flights.
Oren’s New Book Stirs Things Up
U.S. President Barack Obama blindsided Israel in January 2011, when he told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he would back a Palestinian state that pushed Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines, according to a new book by Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States.
In Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, Oren wrote, “Israel was never consulted about this conversation nor even informed,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “outraged.”
Ally apparently has stirred up controversy and is accused of being unflattering to both American Jews and the Obama administration.
In the Israeli daily Haaretz, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie said Oren sees American Jews “as unreliable in their support of Israel, quick to criticize the Jewish state, and unable to appreciate Israel’s vulnerabilities.”
In the National Review, Matthew Continetti declared, “Reading Oren’s new memoir Ally, it’s clear that Israel has been on her own since the day Obama took office.”
Continetti said, “Oren is not a conservative looking to make a political issue of support for Israel. . . . The author of a classic history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East and a sometime professor at Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, Oren served for five years as a contributor to The New Republic, has contributed to The New York Review of Books, and supports what he calls a ‘two-state situation’ focused on institution-building and economic aid to the West Bank. He’s a member of the Knesset, but not of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He joined the comparatively dovish Kulanu Party last December. Oren’s credentials and relationships make him hard to dismiss.”
Continetti said Oren told Israeli journalist David Horovitz in June, “The Obama administration was problematic because of its worldview: Unprecedented support for the Palestinians.”
In The Times of Israel, Horovitz wrote that Ally contains several revelations, including these: Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has a “visceral dislike” of Netanyahu and advised President George H. W. Bush to ban him from the White House; Obama told Israel, “We could do much worse than have a bunch of Erdogans in the Middle East,” despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pro-Hamas, anti-Israel stance; and Netanyahu feels so vilified by the Israeli press that he once told Oren, “If I walked on the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli papers would write, ‘Bibi can’t swim.’”
Compiled from news reports