News Digest — 3/4/20

PA Denounces Mention Of Sovereignty In Netanyahu’s Post-Election Speech

The Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign ministry on Tuesday (3rd) denounced the speech given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the announcement of results of the exit polls in Monday’s (2nd) election.

In the speech, Netanyahu outlined some achievements he plans to accomplish over the next four years, including the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

In a statement quoted by the PA’s official Wafa news agency, the PA’s foreign ministry said that Netanyahu’s comments on annexation “should worry not only the Palestinians but the entire world.”

“The foreign ministry, while condemning in the strongest terms the statements and positions Netanyahu has made in his victory speech, expresses it deepest concerns regarding the results of the Israeli elections and warns against policies and steps Netanayhu said he will take in the event he succeeds in forming a government,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that such remarks by Netanyahu should worry anyone who claims to be keen on achieving peace according to the two-state solution and not just the Palestinian people and their leadership.

The ministry called on the international community to take a stand against “Israeli hostility,” stressing that the credibility of the United Nations, its institutions and resolutions are now being put to the test.



Pompeo Vows To Fight UN Blacklist

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced during Monday’s (2nd) AIPAC conference that he will not hold back from helping US companies conducting business in Judea and Samaria who have found themselves on the UN Human Rights Council’s blacklist.

“Neither the UN Human Rights Council nor the Office of the UN High Commissioner for  Human Rights can tell you what to do,” Pompeo said.

“If you face harassment, let America know and the US will respond by taking action to help members of our business community that are being threatened by this release that was so sorely mistaken,” he said.

According to Pompeo, all the UN blacklist does is strengthen the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Notable US-based companies that conduct business in Judea and Samaria include Motorola, Airbnb, Trip Advisor, Expedia, and General Mills.

The secretary of state took the opportunity to highlight the strong relationship between the US and Israel.

“Under President Trump, Israel is not a pariah, but a partner, and rightly so.  Our special nations share so much: a pioneering spirit, basic rights and freedoms, including religious freedom and rough-and-tumble politics,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo also slammed a letter he received in November from 106 members of Congress that criticized President Trump’s favorable attitude towards Israel.

“Their claim was that this discredited the United States as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” and “endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people,” Pompeo said.

“You know what discredits the United States?  What damages peace, what endangers security, is not recognizing the truth.  The truth must be spoken, and it’s what President Trump and our administration has done,” he added.



Israel’s Quarantined Voters Came Out In Force, But No One Wants To Count The Ballots

Following a state-wide refusal by election staff to count the ballots of those suspected of carrying the coronavirus, the task has fallen to senior officials in the Central Elections Committee (CEC), reports Times of Israel.

According to the report, each of the 4,076 “coronavirus” ballots is expected to be opened on Wednesday (4th), possibly in a specially equipped tent, by CEC senior officials wearing masks and gloves.

CEC director, Orly Adas told Ynet on Tuesday (3rd) that she had asked Magen David Adom medics to oversee the counting.

The Israel Medical Association (IMA) criticized what they considered to be over-the-top precautions.

“As far as is known, the coronavirus is not transferred via objects such as voting slips and there are no reports of the disease transferred in that way,” the IMA said in a statement.

“The public should be instructed to reduce transmission of the virus in accordance with scientific knowledge and public health principles, based on science rather than fears,” it said.

Earlier in the day, the Channel 12 news agency reported that Israeli election officials were refusing to count the “coronavirus” ballots over fear of contacting  the disease.

On Monday (2nd), suspected carriers of the virus were permitted to leave quarantine and vote in one of the 16 special tents created for them.



Israel’s Schools Practice Response To Missile Attacks

On Tuesday morning (3rd), sirens went off in schools across the country as part of the Home Front Command’s ongoing program to test preparedness for emergency scenarios, specifically for missile attacks.

This particular exercise was being held in conjunction with the Ministry of Education as well as with local authorities, and was preceded by extensive preparations in the various educational institutions, with instructions from the Home Front Command visiting schools in order to give teachers and students guidance on how best to respond to emergency situations.The exercise was held at 10:05, during recess, in order to test the ability of students to reach a protected space as quickly and efficiently as possible from locations around the school premises, rather than from individual classrooms.  It also aimed to highlight the level of preparedness of the teachers in a missile attack scenario, and enable an assessment of the suitability of the protected spaces, which are required to be regularly maintained.

A spokesperson from the IDF stated that, “This is an exercise that was planned in advance, in the context of the overall framework of such exercises conducted by the Home Front Command.  Such exercises take place on a regular basis, in order to enhance the readiness of our schools with regard to dealing with emergency situations. The exercises are conducted in tandem with the Education Ministry and various local authorities.

A total of 2,354,000 students took part in the exercise.  Of these students, 1,831,000 are elementary and high school students and 523,000 are preschoolers.  In addition, 201,000 teachers took part in the exercise.



3 Attackers Assault Jewish Man Wearing A Kippah In Brazil

Three attackers assaulted a kippah-wearing Jewish man on a street in Brazil while yelling anti-Semitic slurs.

They held down the 57-year-old victim, broke his teeth and cut his kippah with a pocketknife on Thursday (2/27) in Jaguariuna, a city of 50,000 located in the south of the country.

“It was all very fast,” the Jewish man told the Brazilian media.  “When I saw it, one of them was already blocking my way. He grabbed me by the neck.  One kicked me in the groin. When I ducked in pain, he punched me in the face, breaking my teeth and injuring my mouth.”

The victim, who told reporters that he converted to Judaism 30 years ago, said he had never suffered anti-Semitism in other countries where he had lived, including Germany and the Netherlands.

“They said Hitler should have killed more Jews,” he recalled.  “When my kippah fell to the ground, they said the next time they find me, it will be worse.  I stayed on the ground bleeding.”

Racist attacks are rare in Jaguariuna.  Police are investigating the assault as a hate-crime case.

“This is a serious act of anti-Semitism and racism that we will not tolerate in our society,” the Sao Paulo Jewish Federation said in a statement Monday (2nd).  “We are working to elucidate this case and make it exemplary in the fight against discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism.”