Israel Update: 28 June 2018
FIRST OFFICIAL ROYAL VISIT TO ISRAEL.
In a speech at the British Ambassador’s residence, on Tuesday, the Duke of Cambridge hailed the “unique character of Tel Aviv, its flair and diversity,” compared Israel’s “innovation, diversity, talent and excellence” to that of his own country, and noted that bilateral ties — including trade relations and defence cooperation — were at an all-time high, saying “There is… an essential vibrancy to this country,” Full speech (4 mins) here: https://youtu.be/VKX8oVaERaI
Having arrived Monday evening, on Tuesday the Duke visited Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where he took part in a wreath laying ceremony and met Jews who were rescued by Britain as children.
He also honoured his great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who is recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations for helping save a Jewish family in Greece during the Holocaust.
President Rivlin on Tuesday asked Prince William to convey to Palestinian Authority President Abbas “a message of peace.” Rivlin said the Palestinians need to accept that Jews have returned to their ancestral homeland and that it was about time Israelis and Palestinians end their conflict. https://www.timesofisrael.com/rivlin-asks-prince-william-to-take-message-of-peace-to-abbas/
Also on Tuesday, he attended a football match between young Jewish & Arab players in Jaffa, scoring two penalties. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQzQQ21Z6kI
Next stop was Tel Aviv beach where he met young Israelis, learned the game of footvolley and met Tel Aviv’s Mayor when visiting a lifeguard station. 10 second video clip of Prince William trying footvolley: https://mobile.twitter.com/chrisshipitv/status/1011617623778447360
And a photo with the team: https://mobile.twitter.com/KensingtonRoyal/status/1011630280166330369
On Wednesday morning Prince William took a walk on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard with Israeli Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.
The prince attended a cultural event on the rooftop of a Tel Aviv museum where he met young people engaged in youth activism, social impact and the environment. There, he lauded Israel for being way ahead of the world in its water recycling and conservation efforts. “It’s going to be a really big issue for us in the future,” he said. “I think my generation, my children as well, there’s a legacy here … we need to tidy up a bit.” He also noted that that he saw public deposit vessels for plastic waste from his car. “I was very impressed by how many plastic bottles there were in there. It’s like: ‘well done Israel, fantastic’.”
Prince William visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the Temple Mount on Thursday morning, on the final day of his trip to Israel and the West Bank. After spending several moments alone beside the stones, the prince signed the Wall’s guestbook… Donning a black skullcap, he placed his right hand on the ancient stones and then, following tradition, slipped a note inside its cracks.
Staff at Jerusalem’s King David hotel puzzled over the order in which jam/cream should be spread on scones baked for the royal visitor. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/25/prince-williams-lands-israel-historic-first-royal-visit/
COMMENT ON THE ROYAL VISIT
Raphael Ahren: The future UK monarch’s historic trip boosts the country’s international legitimacy, but also shows the world’s ongoing discomfort with Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem…even well-established diplomatic practice cannot hide a certain dissonance — some may call it unfairness — in the future monarch’s efforts to not appear to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, but then calling the Old City part of the Palestinian territories. While none of this prejudges the outcome of possible future final-status peace negotiations, and Israeli officials rightly consider Prince William’s adamantly apolitical visit a success, it also highlighted some diplomatic anomalies that remain a royal pain for the Jewish state. https://www.timesofisrael.com/prince-williams-visit-was-a-pr-coup-for-israel-and-a-royal-pain/
Tom Gross: His (Prince William’s) friendly speech in Tel Aviv effectively brought to an end the 70-year British Foreign Office-initiated (unofficial) royal boycott of Israel.
Editorial Daily Telegraph: It always seemed odd that the region’s only true democracy was off limits to the Royal Family. The unspoken rationale appeared to be that a Royal presence would give Israel kudos the British government was reluctant to bestow. The symbolism of this event, therefore, cannot be overestimated and its importance has not been lost on Israel. Seventy years after the foundation of the Jewish state, this is seen as treating Israel as a normal, established democratic nation, not an international pariah.
Roger Boyes: A shift in geopolitics has made the visit possible – and a cultural change in the Foreign Office, which has for many decades advised the royal household that it is better to butter up Arab autocrats than engage with the gritty detail of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship….The fact is the caravan has moved on. The Sunni Gulf Arabs share a common enemy with Israel: Iran. And the Palestinians are becoming a source of irritation for many Arab governments rather than a holy cause. This has left Britain out of step.
Melanie Phillips: part of his (Prince William’s) trip to the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” will include visits to the Western Wall and Temple Mount. This appears to be an all-too political FCO insult. For it goes even further than Britain’s still-obdurate refusal to accept that any part of Jerusalem is within Israel.
ROCKET ATTACKS ON SOUTHERN ISRAEL
Hamas fired at least 13 rockets at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday evening, the IDF said. Three of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
CONTINUING ARSON TERRORISM IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL
Fires are being set daily by incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza.
According to Palestine Today : 20 fires on Tuesday. 5 fires on Monday. 16 fires on Sunday. 26 fires on Saturday. 15 fires on Friday. 12 fires last Thursday.
The launching of arson and explosive device-laden kites and balloons is now a deliberate activity, planned and executed by Hamas, targeting Israeli territory from Gaza. A Hamas commander in charge of launching arson kites and balloons directs subordinates to prepare them in large quantities and in an organized manner.
Israel has deployed a system that can spot fire-starting balloons and kites in the sky, track their progress, and then direct firefighters to their landing spots, enabling them to more rapidly extinguish the flames and reduce damage…Testing has continued on a laser system that could be used to shoot down the balloons or kites in flight.
Israeli drones on Tuesday destroyed two cars and an observation post used by Palestinians to launch incendiary balloons into Israel from Gaza.
Gaza terrorists posted a video showing a large balloon that they claim can carry burning materials 40 kilometers into Israel. These are helium balloons, and Israel only allows helium into Gaza for medical reasons.
Israel has reportedly agreed to set up a floating dock in Cyprus to receive goods bound for the Gaza Strip as a way to ease the rehabilitation of the ailing Palestinian enclave, conditioning the plan on the return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terror group. Israel intends to put together a working plan in the coming months and then pitch it directly to the public in Gaza, bypassing its Hamas rulers. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-reportedly-agrees-to-set-up-seaport-for-gaza-in-cyprus/
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL AID
Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli non-profit dedicated to treating children from developing countries with heart disease, received the UN Population Award this month. SACH has treated thousands of children from 57 countries; about half are from the Palestinian territories.
Israeli President Rivlin recently hosted 29 Muslim and Christian Arab policewomen at his Residence. Over the past two years, 728 Arabs have joined the Israel Police, including 74 women, of whom close to 50 are Muslim.
Recently, Israel’s Knesset celebrated the contribution of Israelis with special needs who serve in the IDF…a wide range of disabilities has not stopped them from serving their country in uniform. There are 400 soldiers in the “Special in Uniform” programme.
While Israel’s national team failed to qualify, Israeli technology is featuring strongly at the World Cup finals in Russia. Israeli fire and smoke detection systems produced by Matael are contributing to the security of hundreds of thousands of World Cup spectators in the huge stadiums in Volgograd and Nizhny Novograd…Israel’s LiveU has deployed 300 transmission units for use by broadcast crews to enable the transmission of live broadcasts over cellular networks.
An Israeli charity which takes children with serious illnesses to major soccer tournaments has received a large donation from Roman Abramovitch who, with other donors, enabled a group of 68, including 38 caregivers, to attend three matches at the World Cup Finals.
It was an evening of kicks and camaraderie as 300 Jerusalemites — Arabs and Jews — came together to celebrate Goals and Gates, a soccer event in honour of the World Cup Monday night. https://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-and-jewish-jerusalemites-celebrate-common-love-of-soccer/
A record number of 365 terror attacks against Israelis were reported in May by Israel’s Security Agency, marking the highest monthly number of such attacks since 2015.
Civilians in southern Syria have begun to flee to the border with Israel, as government forces on Tuesday pushed deeper into rebel-held territories in Daraa province under the cover of airstrikes and Jordan said it would not accept any more refugees. Reportedly, the safest place is the border with Israel because the regime and Russian airplanes cannot strike that area. The U.N. estimated that up to 50,000 people have been displaced
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed smart nanoprobes that turn on a florescent light in presence of cancerous cells, which they say “may dramatically improve” post-surgical outcomes for cancer patients. https://www.timesofisrael.com/researchers-at-tel-aviv-u-develop-turn-on-probes-to-pinpoint-cancer-cells/
Eight Israeli startups were on the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2018 list including Utilis, a satellite-based leak detection startup; and Water-Gen, a technology that extracts fresh water from the air.
The Israel Cyber Week conference hosted 8,000 delegates from more than 66 countries. Israeli P.M. Netanyahu told the delegates on Wednesday: “Israel now receives 20% of the total global private investment in cybersecurity. Given that we are about one-tenth of 1% of the world’s population, we are punching at about 200 times our weight here. My goal eight years ago was to make Israel one of the five leading cyberpowers in the world, and I think we’ve reached that.”
Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr landed in Israel for two Tel Aviv concerts last weekend. His AllStarr Band included keyboardist Graham Gouldman formerly of 10cc,
COMMENT & OPINION
Pinhas Inbari: The EU policy of labelling products manufactured in territories east of the 1949 Armistice Lines undermines the joint Palestinian-Israeli West Bank industrial zones that provide excellent employment to some 35,000 Palestinians, who with their families account for some 200,000 people. These zones have no connection to “settlements.” Business and commercial enterprises in these 15 zones provide employment for Palestinian workers who cannot find alternative work in the PA-controlled territories. Europe is willfully ignoring the thousands of Palestinian workers who welcome Israeli commercial enterprises in the West Bank and depend on these industrial zones to support their families.