News Digest — 7/12/19

Netanyahu: The Days Of Uprooting Jews From Their Land Is Over

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Wednesday (10th) that a Likud government would never uproot any community in Israel again, even in the framework of a peace agreement.

Speaking at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Samaria Regional Council, he declared, “Accept my commitment – it doesn’t come with a time limit: We won’t let any community in the land of Israel be uprooted in the name of a diplomatic plan.  We won’t uproot people – we’re done with that nonsense.”

Netanyahu built the first new village in Samaria in twenty years, whose residents were those expelled from Amona.

In front of a partisan crowd of 6,000 in the village of Revava, the prime minister then doubled down on his commitment, saying as he did in his previous campaign, “I also don’t differentiate between the large settlement blocs and isolated communities.  Any such place of settlement is Israeli as far as I’m concerned.”

This was as close as Netanyahu came to his pledge, made three days before the April polls, to annex Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria if he was re-elected.

He did add that he was “currently working to secure international recognition of these principles.”  And he also vowed that at least from the security aspect, Israel would always remain in control, saying, “The IDF will continue to control all the ground west of the Jordan River, including the Jordan Valley.”

With a chance to address some 35 ministers and MKs from various groups, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan spoke of the need to apply “sovereignty” in Judea and Samaria.

“This is the time to apply sovereignty,” he declared in his speech.  “Not just to the communities that consist of only 3% of the region, but to the entire region.”  He said “in any political plan, it’s clear, and it’s our demand, that Judea and Samaria remain forever in the hands of the State of Israel.”



IDF Unveils New System To Defeat Arson Balloons From Gaza

On Thursday (11th), the IDF’s Gaza Division presented a system they developed to better cope with the fire-balloon threat from Gaza, Makor Rishon reports.

The IDF says by analyzing its data, it has come up with a more effective way of fighting the balloon fires and reducing damage.  The first step is understanding the wind direction which will enable the firefighters to reach the source of the blaze sooner.

The army also employs observers, who identify the balloons as soon as they’re launched from the Strip.  There is then an effort to intercept them before they cross the border into Israel. If that fails, local firefighting crews are directed to the blaze while it’s still in its early stages.

The military has also set up a special situation room dedicated to dealing with the problem.

Statistics the IDF released appear to bear out its claims that the improved system is working.  In 2018, there were on average, nine fires a day – that number rising to 30 during times of crisis between Israel and Hamas.  That number in 2019 was two a day with 10 fires during times of crisis.

The extent of damage has dropped dramatically as a result.  In 2019, 345 acres of open area were burned. In 2018, 8,400 acres were destroyed.

The terror group Hamas began launching incendiary devices into Israel in April 2018 – first with kites and then with balloons.  The news will likely be welcome to Netanyahu’s government, which has been the target of criticism from opposition parties, over its failure to stop balloon arson attacks.



EU Foiled In Effort To Prevent Members From Opening Embassies In Jerusalem

The European Union (EU) attempted to prevent its member states from opening official offices in Jerusalem, but failed due to the opposition of two of its members, Israel’s Kan 11 News reported Wednesday (10th).

The draft of an EU document stated, “Until a final agreement on Jerusalem is reached, the EU and its member states will continue to respect the international agreement on the location of the diplomatic missions.”

It did not pass because according to EU rules all such official statements must be backed by all 28 members.  The Czech Republic and Hungary vetoed the document.

The EU has been frustrated by Israel’s success in convincing its members to buck the official EU stance opposing recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before an agreement is reached with the Palestinians.

The Czech Republic and Hungary have proven to be two of Israel’s staunchest allies.  When the supranational body tried to convince its members to denounce the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem in May 2018, it was Hungary and the Czech Republic, joined by Romania, which blocked an attempted condemnation.

Last November, the Czech Republic inaugurated a trade and tourism center in Jerusalem called “Czech House.”  Hungary opened an official trade mission in March.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Israel in February, Slovakia’s prime minister announced that his country will open a cultural, information and innovation center “very soon in Jerusalem.”

His Romanian counterpart announced at the AIPAC conference in March that her government “intends” to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

According to Arutz 7, EU sources said, “The European Union and its Member States will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem, including on the location of the diplomatic representations, until the final status is resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties involved.”



UN Atomic Watchdog Finds Nuclear Material At Iran Site Exposed By Netanyahu

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it found evidence of radioactive activity in a Tehran warehouse, Channel 13 reported Thursday evening (11th).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech at the UN General Assembly in September accused Iran of keeping a “secret atomic warehouse” just outside its capital, despite the 2015 deal with world powers that was meant to keep it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Holding up a poster-board map of an area near Tehran, the Israeli leader said Iranian officials were keeping tons of nuclear equipment in a warehouse near a rug-cleaning operation.

“You have to ask yourself a question: Why did Iran keep a secret archive and a secret atomic warehouse?” Netanyahu asked the world leaders.  “What Iran hides, Israel will find,” he stated.

The IAEA reportedly investigated the allegations and confirmed that Iran has indeed been storing illicit materials in the warehouse.

Netanyahu spoke by telephone with U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday evening (11th), a spokesman for the prime minister said.  They discussed regional developments and security issues, focusing especially on Iran.



PM Praises Egyptian President, Calls Him ‘Friend And Colleague’ 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted Israel-Egypt relations on Wednesday (10th), saying both countries share strategic regional interests and cooperate on multiple fronts.

Netanyahu made the remarks at an event marking Egypt’s National Day, hosted by Egyptian ambassador to Israel Khaled Azmi at his residence.

“We’re celebrating 40 years of peace between Israel and Egypt.  On the 40th year of our peace, we hope to achieve many other things between us and in our region.  We have to understand the historic achievement of having this peace, as we now approach the fifth decade,” Netanyahu said.  “It has had to weather some storms. It is weathering storms now. I don’t mean between us, I mean a storm that is ravishing our region right now and seeks to impose on us an unforgiving, violent creed.”

Netanyahu said both Egypt and Israel and “many others in the region” were united in the battle against extremism and terrorism.  He went on to tout how President el-Sissi, “my friend and colleague has stood firm, as has our peace.” Netanyahu said he “couldn’t imagine what our region would be without this peace.” 

He said that he has been impressed by Sissi’s policies and actions, also his leadership and wisdom, and added that “I have gleaned insights about the nature of the challenges that we face,” during meetings with the Egyptian president.

“We also cooperate in many areas that can increase the economic well-being of our two nations.  There is now Israeli gas flowing into Egypt, an experimental effort. In four months, they’ll be more,” Netanyahu said.



Florida Principal In Holocaust Scandal To Be Fired

Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy said in a videotaped message Wednesday (10th) that he is recommending that the school board not renew the contract of the principal of Spanish River High School, William Latson.

This development follows the news this week that Latson had been reassigned after writing an email in which he stated that he could not say that the Holocaust was a historical fact.

Fennoy said in his video that the email exchanges between a parent and the principal caused “real distress” and were “deeply concerning.”

In the email in question, Latson said that he needed to remain “politically neutral” about the Holocaust.  He wrote, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historic event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”

The superintendent, seeking to be “absolutely clear,” said that schools cannot be “fact-neutral-environments.”  He also said that teaching historical facts does not infringe on free speech.

Fennoy shared that he removed Latson as principal of Spanish River High since he “lost confidence” in his leadership over the incident and is requesting that Latson’s contract not be renewed next year.

School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri said in a statement that he would support Fennoy’s recommendation.

Meanwhile, Latson was reassigned to an office job in the Boca Raton school district after the story became public knowledge.

It was reported that the email exchanges started a year ago.