News Digest — 1/10/23

Israeli Air Force Expands Fighter Jet Training Center

The Israel Minister of Defense on Tuesday (10th) signed an agreement with Elbit Systems to expand the Air Force Mission Training Center (MTC) at the Hatzor Air Force Base, containing flight training simulators for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

The new training center, which will serve as infrastructure for future training platforms, will allow double the amount of flight training hours while reducing in-air flight costs.  The Center will also enable joint Ground and Air Force training in the future.

The deal’s value is estimated to be about 400 million NIS and 80 million dollars in aid funds.  

The flight training center is essential in ensuring the fighter pilots’ operational capabilities and provides advanced training and flight-simulating experience by incorporating cutting-edge display systems.  These systems allow a wide range of flight simulations, including basic familiarization with the aircraft, emergency situations, preparation for operational scenarios, missions and more.

Deputy Director General and head of the Directorate of production and Procurement, Avi Dadon said: “This center will significantly upgrade the scope of the Air Force’s training capabilities while potentially absorbing future additional training platforms.  In addition the flight training center will yield multi-year savings amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels.”

IAF Chief of Air Staff, Brig. Gen. Eyal Grinboim stated: “The IAF continues to develop and strengthen its competence in the face of future challenges.  As part of this effort, the fighter aircraft array’s Mission Training Center will be expanded.  This will be done in order to strengthen the competence of the aircrew and the IAF as a whole, while also generating economic efficiency.”

General Manager of Elbit Systems Aerospace, Yoram Shmuely added: “Elbit Systems appreciates the strong partnership and the confidence of the IMoD and the IDF.  Armed forces around the world are reshaping their training capabilities while striving to improve combat readiness and efficiency.  This awarded contract emphasizes Elbit Systems leading position as a provider of advanced mission training systems.” 



US And Israel Must ‘Stand Together’ On Iran, Netanyahu Tells AIPAC Conference

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the AIPAC Political Leadership Forum through a video call from his office in the Knesset on Monday (9th), speaking about the importance of US-Israel cooperation on Iran in the pro-Israel lobbying group’s first major conference since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The time has come for Israel and the United States, along with other countries, to stand together, and I look forward to discussing this with President Biden and his team,” said Netanyahu.  “Today more people agree on the issue than ever before.”

Netanyahu was met with a standing ovation from conference attendees, including 1,000 pro-Israel activists and senior AIPAC management.

The prime minister said that people around the globe are now seeing the Iranian regime’s internal repression of its citizens.  Demonstrations are taking place across the country following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the regime’s morality police.  Amini was arrested for not wearing her hijab in accordance with government standards.

“So now, because of the brave men and women of Iran, the entire world sees what we’ve been talking about, that this is a terrible, repressive, terrorist regime,” said Netanyahu.

He also said that he is working to expand the “circle of peace,” describing diplomatic efforts between Israel and its Arab neighbors.



Israel To Fast-Track Legislation Revoking Citizenship Of Convicted Terrorists

A parliamentary committee voted Monday (9th) to expedite legislation to revoke the citizenship of Israeli nationals convicted of terrorism.

The Knesset Committee decided to shorten the waiting time before the bill can be tabled for a final vote, scraping the need to go through other committees.  It is expected to come up for a vote in two weeks.

The current Israeli law allows the revoking of citizenship from those convicted of terror, but replaces it with the right to reside in the country.  The new law would see that right removed as well.

The expedited process was supported by members of the coalition and some in the opposition with a 10-2 majority, with lawmakers claiming that recently released Karim Younis, who murdered an IDF soldier in 1980, should be subject to the new law.

“The bare minimum we can do as a moral country is to revoke their citizenship and residency,” said Religious Zionism legislator Simcha Rothman, who assisted in the drafting of the bill.  “The Palestinian Authority is trying to recruit terrorists from among Israeli citizens because it is easier to carry out terror attacks that way.”



Netanyahu Dismisses Critique Over Judicial Reform Saying ‘We Received A Clear Mandate’

In what sounded like a response to criticisms leveled against his coalition government made by opposition leader Benny Gantz earlier on Monday (9th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Monday evening (9th) that the new judicial reforms proposed last week by Justice Minister Yariv Levin are not an attack on Israel’s democracy as the opposition has been saying.

Gantz had suggested that the people who voted for Netanyahu’s Likud Party – which has 32 seats in the Knesset, half of the coalition’s total of 64 – do not support the proposed limitations to the Israel Supreme Court’s authority to nullify laws passed by the Knesset, among other things.

“We received ‘a clear mandate’ from the public,” he said, “to carry out what we promised in the elections and we will do so.  This is the essence of democracy – it is the realization of the voter’s will.”

“We are not frightened by the one-sided media campaign against us,” added Netanyahu, “and we do not flinch in the face of the incitement that is raging against us.”



The Palestinians Have Never Accepted The “Two-State Solution” – Amb. Dror Eydar

→ While Israel has recognized the Palestinian national movement, the Palestinians never recognized Zionism as a legitimate Jewish national movement with rights over at least part of the land.  Article 20 of the Palestinian National Charter states: “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history…Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own.”

→ The “two-state solution” seeks “two states for two peoples.”  The idea is that each group should recognize the other as a nation and the legitimacy of each other’s claims.  The Palestinians never accepted this.  Given the choice of territorial compromise or continuation of the conflict, they prefer the latter, because compromise necessitates recognition that the Jews have some rights in their historic motherland.

→ Israel does not need the recognition of the Palestinians.  There is a certain irony that a group that has not been here for long denies the identity of one of the most ancient peoples in the world.

→ More than 50 countries in the world have a Muslim identity and over 100 have a Christian majority and Christian characteristics, but only the Jews don’t deserve a state of their own.

→ It is the Judaism of the State of Israel that will ensure the country remains democratic.  That is the default mode of our people.  Even in biblical times, the kings of Israel were civilian leaders and not absolute monarchs, as was the case in Europe.  Even the problematic kings in the Bible had to bow before the ancient Biblical laws and stand before the council of elders.

The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to Italy.



Attacks On Israeli Minister’s Temple Mount Visit Defy Reason – Melanie Phillips

A Jew walked for 15 minutes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount last week, on the site that is most sacred to Judaism.  He did it without fanfare or media attention, early in the morning when the compound was almost empty, and didn’t pray there or say anything to stir up trouble.  Yet his visit provoked claims that it was an extremist act.  In any sane universe, this is simply unhinged.  Ben-Gvir was fully entitled to be there.  He did nothing out of the ordinary.  Other Israeli Jews, including government ministers, regularly visit the site.

The people actually responsible for inciting violence over the Temple Mount are the Palestinian Arabs.  Since the 1920s, they have been provoking fanatical religious hysteria and the murder of Israelis with the wickedly false claim that the Jews were either storming or planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Temple Mount stands at the very center of the Jews’ unique entitlement to Jerusalem and the land.  That’s why the Palestinians have tried to destroy the archeological evidence that has been dug up over the years..  They attempt to wipe the Jews out of their own history in the land – centuries before the first Arabs or Muslims invaded it – in order to support the laughably bogus claim that the Palestinian Arabs were its indigenous people.

The Biden administration condemned the Ben-Gvir visit as an “unacceptable” and “unilateral” action that “undercut the historic status quo.”  Not only was this untrue, but the status quo, which Israel has upheld, is itself unacceptable.  The status quo prevents Jews and Christians from praying at their own holy site; it restricts non-Muslims to entry through only one of 12 gates; it forbids Jews from drinking from the water fountain in the compound because of the claim that Jews are “unclean.” 

Just imagine if America said that the Palestinian lies and incitement have to stop, that Israel has law and history on its side and that the only aggressors in this war are the Palestinian Arabs who want to destroy the Jews’ right to their country and historic identity.  The main reason this war never ends is the West’s support for the Palestinian cause.

The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK.