News Digest — 10/12/21

Jerusalem Is A City Of Inspiration And Innovation – Mayor Moshe Lion

Moshe Lion, mayor of Jerusalem, welcomed attendees at the 10th Annual Conference of the Jerusalem Post held Tuesday (12th) at the Museum of Tolerance.  “Jerusalem is a city of opportunity – a city where ideas are becoming reality,” said Lion.  “Jerusalem was always a city of inspiration, but today it is a city of innovation.”

As mayor, Lion said that he has a responsibility to all the city’s residents – Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, adding that he is committed to making progress in housing, employment and infrastructure.  Lion stated that he is planning on adding 5,000 new homes across the city annually, saying that the city is developing 1.5 million square meters of office space.  “We are working with business leaders from Jerusalem and around the world to bring more opportunities for employment in Jerusalem.”

Lion noted that his administration is placing a particular emphasis on development in the eastern sector of the city and said that 15% of students in east Jerusalem are now attending Israeli schools, an increase of 10% over the past three years.  He lauded the increase, saying, “This will allow them to work and study better in Jerusalem, and they will no longer learn hatred and anti-Semitism.  They will learn tolerance and coexistence.”

The mayor concluded by saying that “Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish people – and I intend to make sure that our heart stays healthy and goes from strength to strength.”



Bennett: Iran Aspires To Build An Army On Israel’s Golan Border

Iran aspires to build an army on Israel’s Golan Heights border, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday (11th) as he doubled down on Israeli sovereignty in that region and warned Tehran against continued entrenchment there.

“The Golan Heights is Israel, period,” Bennett said as he addressed the Makor Rishon newspaper conference that focused on economic and regional development of the mountainous region that Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war.

Israel applied sovereignty to the Golan, but that move has been recognized only by the United States.  Israel has long-claimed that the region is a strategic necessity, particularly in light of the Syrian civil war and as one of the fronts in Iran’s continuous military battle with Israel.

Iran, which has dispatched proxies and built armies to surround the State of Israel, aspires  to build yet another army on the border of the Golan Heights,” Bennett said as he stood in the Golan.

“We will continue to act wherever and whenever necessary, at our initiative, and on a daily basis, in order to roll up the Iranian presence in Syria.  They have nothing to look for there,” Bennett said.

“Their adventure on our northern border needs to end.  Thus, we will ensure not only the peace of the residents of the Golan Heights but of all citizens of Israel,” he explained.

But he clarified that Israel’s ties to the Golan were not dependent on the argument that it was territory necessary for Israel’s security.

“I would like to make one thing clear – our position regarding the Golan Heights is not connected to the situation in Syria,” Bennett said.

The “horrors taking place in Syria may make it seem as if it would be preferable for the Golan to prosper under Israeli hands” then to be “yet another arena for killings and bombings,” Bennett said.

“But even in the situation – which could happen – in which the world changes direction regarding Syria, or regarding the Bashar Assad Regime, this has no connection to the Golan Heights” and Israeli sovereignty there, Bennett said.

Golan Heights development is a strategic goal for this government, Bennett said, as he promised to double, if not quadruple the population there.

“In six weeks, the government will approve a national plan for the Golan Heights that will include investment in development, infrastructure, business and renewable energy,” Bennett said.

“We are now working to complete the plan that will change the face of the Golan Heights,” he said.



Lapid To PA: Join Abraham Accords, Our Hand Is Extended In Peace

The Knesset held an event Monday afternoon (11th) to mark the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords with the participation of the architects of the peace agreements, Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowich, as well as Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump.  The Moroccan ambassador to Israel also took part alongside them.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said at the event that during his meetings in Washington that he would deal with expanding the agreements, among other things.  “One of the topics on my trip tonight to Washington is the expansion of the number of countries in this agreement.  The Abraham Accords will go down in history as one of the moments when people chose life.  The new government in Israel not only accepted and embraced the Abraham Accords, it moved them forward.  It made them a lever of new realities: economic, security and political.”

Lapid thanked opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Trump for leading the agreements.  “I want to thank President Trump for his part in the agreements and thank opposition leader Netanyahu for doing a great deal with these agreements.  The State of Israel owes him a lot.”

He called on others to join the Accords, especially the Palestinian Authority.  “I take this opportunity to call on the Palestinians, as well as the citizens of every Arab nation, to turn to peace.  The people of Israel have not returned to their ancient homeland to fight, but to build a life of prosperity and good neighborliness here.”

“Peace is not a compromise, it is the most decisive decision we can make.  Peace is not a weakness, it embodies within it all the power of the human spirit.  War is submission to all that is evil in us, peace is the victory of all that is good in us,” Lapid said.

“From here, from the free capital of Israel, Jerusalem, I say to all our enemies, “If you wage war on us, you will lose.  We are stronger than you think, willing to sacrifice more than you believe.  But, if instead you decide to join the Abraham Accords to bring prosperity, jobs, a culture of progress and success to your peoples – our hand is extended to you.  Let’s do it together,” Lapid added.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “as long as they said it was impossible to make peace with the Arab world without making peace with the Palestinians, we could not make peace.”

“We broke the Palestinian veto and brought in four historic peace agreements, the ‘Avraham agreements,’” Netanyahu said.



PM Calls New Shin Bet Chief ‘Courageous Fighter, Daring Commander’

The deputy director of the Israeli Security Agency, Ronen Bar, was confirmed as the next chief of the organization at Monday’s (11th) cabinet meeting.

The 55-year-old Bar’s nomination got the necessary clearance from the special vetting panel overseeing such appointments last week, resulting in the unanimous confirmation vote early Monday morning (11th).

Bar will start his new job at the helm of the organization, known as the Shin Bet security agency, on Wednesday (13th), replacing incumbent Nadav Argaman, who has been the director since 2016.  The agency is tasked with counterterrorism, VIP protection and other internal matters.

Speaking with Israel Hayom shortly after the vote, Bar said: “I thank the prime minister for the trust he has placed in me and the backing, and I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to start working with the great employees there.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued his own statement, calling Bar a “courageous fighter and a daring commander who has for his entire life been in the pursuit of the ultimate goal: bolstering Israel’s security.”

Bar, who is married and a father of three, speaks Arabic fluently.  He has a Bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University in political science and philosophy and a Master’s from Harvard University in Public Administration.  He served in the IDF’s elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal and later joined the Shin Bet as a fighter in its Operations Unit.  In 2018, he was promoted to deputy director.

He won many citations for the many activities that he commanded.  During his confirmation process, the vetting panel also received an anonymous letter claiming misconduct on his behalf.  But the panel rejected the claims, saying he had successfully rebuffed the allegations.



Delivery Drones Carrying Medical Supplies, Sushi Soar Above Tel Aviv

Sushi, ice cream and blood platelets and plasma were flying high in the skies Monday (11th) over central Israel, thanks to a cutting-edge drone delivery pilot program backed by Israel’s Innovation Authority.

The deliveries conducted via drones were phase three in an eight step program created by Israel’s National Drone Initiative.

The delivery drones flew over Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat HaSharon and Hadera, but exclusively in open areas far from population centers and congested urban streets.

Hungry swimmers can order sushi to be delivered to Herzliya’s Tzuk Beach, or ice cream to Charles Clore Park near Jaffa, but not to an apartment located in the middle of a dense, highly populated Tel Aviv neighborhood.

Blood will be transported from Magen David Adom centers to Sheba Tel HaShomer hospital in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.

The test could potentially pave the way for drone deliveries of critical biomedical supplies using drones in the future.

In a statement, Israel Innovation Authority CEO Dror Bin said the program showed that Israel is “on its way to creating a globally leading ecosystem in this field.”

“Within the framework of the demonstration, there were cargo delivery flights by commercial firms in different areas directly to the end consumer,” said Bin.

“Such unique collaboration between the Innovation Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority and Ayalon Highways is a catalyst for additional public entities such as the IDF Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah emergency services and other commercial entities who will benefit from the extraordinary capabilities demonstrated in this pilot.”

Itamar Ben-Meir, CEO of Ayalon Highways’ aerial control center, added that Monday (11th) marked “a meaningful step for the National Drone Initiative.”

The demonstrations were carried out by 16 private UAV companies, in collaboration with the Israeli Police, the National Fire Department, and the IDF Home Front Command.