Israel Update: 28 December 2017

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President Morales announced on December 24 that Guatemala will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of the U.S.

At least 10 other countries are in talks to move their missions, with Israel’s Channel 10 reporting that the next country likely to announce an embassy move is Honduras.


A 2-day-old baby boy born in a refugee camp in Cyprus to a pair of Syrian refugees was airlifted to Israel early Saturday for emergency surgery to repair a life-threatening heart defect that the Cypriots were unable to treat. The Syrian father and son arrived at an Israeli hospital, where they were accompanied by an Arabic-speaking medical team, early Saturday morning and doctors began prepping the infant for surgery.




The Israel Foreign Ministry established contact with Bangladesh – a Muslim country without any diplomatic ties with Israel – to offer significant humanitarian aid for Muslim refugees from the Rohingya minority who fled from Myanmar. Bangladesh said that the aid could not be accepted due to the political ramifications that could ensue. The Israel Foreign Ministry is exploring other routes through which to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees.,7340,L-5060069,00.html



Compared to the populations of 21 Muslim and Arab countries, Arab Israelis have the highest life expectancy. The life expectancy of Arab Israelis at birth in 2015 was 79, higher than such wealthy countries as Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain. It is also equal to that of the general U.S. population.


Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems has won a $46 million contract to equip NATO’s Airbus A330 tankers with direct infrared countermeasures self-protection systems, along with infrared-based passive airborne warning systems which will allow the aircraft to operate more safely in hostile environments.



Israel foiled 400 major terror attacks in 2017, including 13 suicide attacks and 8 kidnappings. A further 1,100 lone wolf attacks were thwarted. There were 54 attacks in 2017, compared with 108 in 2016


Israeli police arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian woman who repeatedly attempted to cross into Israel on Wednesday, at one point using the documents of her 7-year-old sister. After attempting to resist the police officers, she confessed that she intended to carry out a terrorist attack in Jerusalem


Representatives from the (US) Secret Service, New England Homeland Security, the U.S. DEA, the state police, and police chiefs from five cities and two universities attended  attending a weeklong counterterrorism seminar in Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League of New England. Worcester (Mass.) Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said that a major benefit of the seminar was meeting with other police chiefs and federal officials and that what they all heard and related to was an emphasis on understanding possible threats and being prepared for any emergency.




Open Sesame is an Israeli app that allows users to control a touch-screen smartphone or tablet hands-free. Instead of swiping with a finger, users control the device with small head movements or voice commands. The technology can help people who are paralyzed or have limited mobility due to diseases such as MS or ALS.


Deputy ambassador to South Africa Ayellet Black recently led a course on drip irrigation and crop management in Swaziland with two Israeli experts. A severe drought, caused by the effects of El Nino, almost crippled Swaziland last year and left hundreds of thousands without food. The Israelis trained 19 trainers in the agricultural field so they can train farmers on how to irrigate and manage crops correctly and increase yields.



Seven Israeli players were denied visas to participate in a speed chess championship hosted by Saudi Arabia on Dec. 26-30

The Israeli players are seeking compensation from the organizers, the World Chess Federation (FIDE plus assurances that in future “every country hosting an international event will commit to hosting Israeli chess players, even if it’s an Arab state.” The Israel Chess Federation is demanding that FIDE competitions set to take place in Saudi Arabia over the next two years “be immediately cancelled,


Ukrainian Grandmaster Anna Muzychuk lost the two World Champion titles she won last year by declining to go to Saudi Arabia citing concerns about the treatment of women there.

Hikaru Nakamura an American Grandmaster also declined to participate in the event stating: “To organize a chess tournament in a country where basic human rights aren’t valued is horrible “



New Jersey Governor Christie announced last week that the state has divested all of its investments from the Danish bank Danske due to its boycott of Israeli companies. New York State outlawed state business with Danske because of a violation of its anti-BDS law. In September, Colorado added Danske to a blacklist for its anti-Israel business activities.

The Norwegian government announced that as of 2018 it would stop supporting and funding organizations promoting a boycott against Israel, stating that it believes in dialogue and cooperation to create mutual trust as part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.,7340,L-5061828,00.html


U.N. VOTE – analysis

Raphael Ahren (Last week) , the UN General Assembly voted to reject U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city. Nine countries – the U.S., Israel, Togo, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Marshall Islands – voted no. There were 35 abstentions and 21 countries absent.The fact that a total of 65 nations did not actively vote against the U.S. was “hugely significant,”  an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. On Nov. 30, 2017, 151 countries had voted in favour of a General Assembly resolution to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem that condemned Israel in much harsher terms

Herb Keinon: Of the 28 EU countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and Romania abstained and Lithuania did not show up. 15 African states abstained, Togo voted for Israel, and Kenya and Zambia did not show up. In Latin America, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay abstained. Among the Caribbean countries, once reflexively voting against Israel, Antigua-Barbuda, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad-Tobago abstained. With the exception of Syria and Yemen, no other Arab countries took the podium to slam Israel, a role instead played by Turkey, Venezuela, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cuba, Iran, Malaysia and North Korea



Ramy Aziz (Egyptian researcher and political analyst): The mishandling of the Palestinian issue by the Palestinians themselves, and the permitting of a number of different countries and groups to use their issue on the basis that it represents a religious war between Muslims and Jews, has not only damaged the issue but completely derailed it…As for those who try to exacerbate the situation by selling lies about religious sites and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the U.S. president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has stressed the U.S.’ respect for the current situation in the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and P.M. Netanyahu has explicitly stressed that there would be no change to the status quo of the holy sites. For decades, since the return of Jewish control over Jerusalem, millions of Muslims have visited and prayed in Al-Aqsa Mosque freely without anyone stopping them.


Danielle Pletka: But Jerusalem actually is the capital of Israel. It is the seat of the Israeli prime minister, its parliament, its Supreme Court and its president. It is established practice for sovereign nations to choose their own capitals. The Palestinians are cross. Hamas and others promptly declared Days of Rage to do what they do on most days that end in “y,” terrorize civilians and destroy property. Moving a building is not a pretext for violence, and all who accept the notion that terrorism has a justification are part of the problem…Ultimately, it will not be the location of the U.S. embassy that will shape the fate of the region. Rather, it will be the birth of a partnership between the two sides in the belief that all will be better off at peace.


Daniel Siryoti: Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are displeased with the way the Palestinian Authority has reacted to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… Despite the lip service and the appearance of consensus on Jerusalem in the form of harsh condemnations, the Arab states have avoided taking concrete measures to counter the American declaration. Senior Arab officials have gone as far as to urge Abbas to scale back his rhetoric aimed at the international community. A senior Jordanian official said, “We are very worried that the Palestinians’ actions over Jerusalem, their efforts to shun the U.S. from the peace process, and their insistence on international intervention are a double-edged sword that…could bring about the exact opposite of the intended result.


Osita Ebiem (a rights activist, independent scholar and an advocate for Igbo self-determination and independence): As Igbo people, we state in no uncertain terms that the position assumed by Nigeria in the Jerusalem matter is merely the country’s official position which the Igbo nation does not in any way support or subscribe to. We condemn in strong terms this ridiculous attempt by the government of Nigeria to besmear and scandalize us as a people. Igbo people have always taken pride in standing and voting on the side of justice and truth. Therefore in this matter we stand with the United States, Israel and others who are courageous enough to stand on the right side of history, truth and justice.



Khaled Abu Toameh: The Iraqi government has approved a new law that effectively abolishes the rights given to Palestinians living there by changing the status of Palestinians from nationals to foreigners. It deprives Palestinians living in Iraq of their right to free education, healthcare and to travel documents, and denies them work in state institutions… Iraqi leaders, however, can afford to sit back and relax in the face of Palestinian appeals and condemnations. No one is going to pay any attention to the misery of the Palestinians in any Arab country… A Palestinian girl who punched an Israeli soldier in the face draws more media interest than Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. A protest of 35 Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem against Trump and Israel attracts more photographers and reporters than a story about endemic Arab apartheid and discrimination against the Palestinians. The hypocrisy of the Arab countries is in full swing. While they pretend to show solidarity with their Palestinian brothers, Arab governments work tirelessly to ethnically cleanse them. Palestinian leaders, meanwhile care nothing about the plight of their own people in Arab countries. They are much too busy inciting Palestinians against Israel and Trump to pay such a paltry issue any mind at all.