News Digest — 5/15/20

US Envoy: Embassy Relocation To Jerusalem Was One Of The Happiest Days Of My Life

Top officials in the administration of US President Donald Trump in Israel and elsewhere took to social media on Thursday (14th) to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the US Embassy in Israel’s relocation to Jerusalem, the capital.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who two years ago unveiled the US symbol on the new embassy building, mentioned the anniversary on her Twitter page: “Two years ago today @realDonaldTrump kept his promise and opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  I was honored to be in Israel to celebrate this historic occasion.”

Trump aide Avi Berkowitz tweeted: “Two years ago today @realDonaldTrump kept his promise and opened the @usembassyjlm.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “It was a remarkable moment for our two countries and a magnificent tribute to our deep and historic friendship, and desire to advance peace in the region and the world.”

In honor of the special day, the US Embassy put out a special video clip featuring Chief Rabbi of Israel Meir Lau, Major General (res) Doron Almog, and a number of Israeli men and women.

Ambassador David Friedman said that “70 years ago after David Ben Gurion announced the founding of the State of Israel, the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, on May 14, 2018, one of the happiest days of my life.”



Car Ramming Attack: IDF Soldier Hit Near Hebron

After months of relative quiet in the West Bank, tensions have once again risen with three attacks against IDF troops which have taken place over the span of 48-hours.

On Thursday afternoon (14th), an IDF soldier was injured after a Palestinian drove into him at high speed near Hebron.  According to the IDF, the driver accelerated toward troops standing next to a military observation post outside the settlement of Negohot in the Har Hebron Regional Council.

The 21-year-old soldier who was treated in the field by Magen David Adom paramedics was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba with injuries to his upper body, in moderate to serious condition.  He was said to be conscious.

The terrorist was shot and critically injured, later succumbing to his wounds.  According to Ynet the 19-year-old Palestinian was from the Hebron area and left a suicide note in his pocket.

The attack comes days after 21-year-old Sergeant First Class Amit Ben Yigal was killed during an arrest raid in the Palestinian village of Ya’bed when a large boulder was thrown at his head from a roof top, by a Palestinian.

On Tuesday afternoon (12th), a Palestinian was shot after he jumped out of a truck at the Kalandiya crossing and attempted to stab a security officer.  The suspect was transferred to the hospital for medical treatment.

The vehicular attack Thursday (14th) also comes a day before Palestinians commemorate Nakba (catastrophe) Day marking Israel’s creation on May 14th, 1948.  Nakba Day is usually marked on May 15th with an increase of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Defense officials said that due to the coronavirus pandemic, they felt Nakba Day would be relatively quiet this year.  Nevertheless, both the IDF and the Palestinian Authority are on high alert for any violence that may erupt.

While there will not be any large-scale demonstrations, rallies are expected in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas called for digital activities and “Zoom meetings” to mark Nakba Day.

While there was a decrease in violence during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the IDF is starting to see an uptick in violent incidents.  It is hoped that Nakba Day will be quieter this year.



IDF Gearing Up For Annexation Of Judea And Samaria

The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for three scenarios if the government’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria comes to fruition, reports Arutz Sheva.

In one scenario there will be no major disturbances other than mild riots, and in the second scenario, terrorist attacks and larger riots in Judea and Samaria and Gaza will occur.

In the most extreme scenario, the Palestinians will launch violent riots and a continuous wave of deadly terrorist attacks on a grand scale.

According to a recent poll, over two-thirds of Palestinians living across Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip support a new intifada against Israel to stop the implementation of President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.

For its part, the US has publicly supported Israel’s plans to move forward with annexation.

Prior to his recent trip to Israel, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is “Israel’s decision,” a clear indication that the US would support such a move.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas warned in a speech to Fatah leadership in Ramallah last week, “If Israel annexes the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank, we will consider ourselves free of all previous agreements with Israel and America, and even consider withdrawing from the Oslo Accords.”

The PA rejected the American peace plan outright when Trump revealed it in January, even though it provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state in 70 percent of Judea and Samaria.



Arab World Moving On, But West Still Indulging Palestinian Return Fantasy – Benjamin Kerstein

→ The greatest tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today is that while the Arab world is moving on from the war against the Jewish state, the West is still encouraging Palestinian rejectionism by giving legitimacy to a fictitious “right of return” that would flood Israel with millions of refugees, former Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf said Tuesday (12th).

→ Her new book, The War of Return, co-authored with Adi Schwartz, posits that this “right” essentially does not exist anywhere in international law and in fact violates international norms regarding the treatment of refugees everywhere else in the world.

→ The Palestinians, however show no sign of giving up on the right of return because it is the one way they may still be able to convert Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics.

→ Wilf said, “You’re beginning to hear voices in the Arab world…who are beginning to say, the Palestinians have made a mess of things, they made a mistake.”

→ “The way they’re speaking, no Westerner would dare speak.  They’re saying very hard truths: That it’s over.  That it’s time to move forward.”

→ “The tragedy is that as the Arab world is slowly moving away from their support for the Palestinian vision that the war of 1948 is not over and could still be undone, we have Western countries giving a billion dollars to UNRWA, thereby continuing to fuel the Palestinian vision…that the outcome of 1948 could still be rolled back.”



Missouri Lawmakers Approve Anti-BDS Bill

Lawmakers in Missouri on Thursday (14th) passed a bill to ban the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel, The Associated Press reports.

The GOP-led House approved the measure by a majority of 95-40.

The legislation is in response to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which promotes a boycott of Israeli institutions and businesses.

The Missouri bill would require companies to sign a contract pledging not to boycott Israel in order to do business with Missouri.  It wouldn’t apply to contracts worth less than $100,000 or companies with fewer than 10 employees, noted AP.

Republican Rep. Holly Rehder led the Senate bill through the House.  She said doing anything to support the boycott movement goes against Missouri’s economic policies and would be “absurd.”

“The legislature has taken bold action to combat the insidious and hateful BDS movement that singles out Israel and encourages punitive actions against its economy and citizens,” said Nancy Lisker, director of the American Jewish Committee St Louis Region.

Missouri joins a host of states that have passed legislation against BDS in recent years.  These include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.