April 10, 2016
This past week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated an invitation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conduct talks in Jerusalem, saying he would clear his schedule for such a meeting. The remarks came four days after Abbas said in a Channel 2 interview that he was awaiting such an invitation.
President Reuven Rivlin also responded to Abbas’ comments with an offer to meet the Palestinian leader in order to promote negotiations between the sides. Thus far there have been no reports of a meeting being set.
US democratic candidate Bernie Sanders angered Israel supporters with several comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an interview with the New York Daily News paper.
In the interview, Sanders said that based on his recollection “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza” in the 2014 war.
Sanders clarified the comments after an outcry and a phone call with Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt, who pointed out that the highest casualty figures for Gaza in the war were about a fifth the amount Sanders cited, and many of the casualties were combatants.
Sanders, who also said Israel would have to improve its relationship with the Palestinians if it wanted a positive relationship with the United States, admitted that he had not recalled the accurate figures.
A Parole board denied a request from former President Moshe Katsav for early release from prison.
Katsav, who was convicted in December 2010 on two counts of rape, had asked to be released after having served two-thirds of his seven-year sentence.
Turkish and Israeli teams made progress towards finalizing an agreement to mend ties. In London talks, the two sides agreed a deal will be finalized in the next meeting to be convened very soon. Turkey was once Israel's closest regional ally but ties collapsed in 2010 after the Mavi Marmara incident, where 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli Marines after violently attempting to breach the Gaza blockade.
Cyber-hacking group Anonymous targeted Israel for the fourth time in its annual Israel Ops attacks. Experts in a quick response group, CERT-IL, said the attacks were largely unsophisticated and did little lasting damage. The attacks tend to target unprotected websites, not sites linked to critical national infrastructure, though previous attacks have brought down or vandalized websites such as the Yad Vashem website.
Senior politicians condemned Bayit Yehui MK Bezalel Smotrich for advocating a separation of Jews and Arabs in maternity wards.
Smotrich had said that, “after giving birth [his] wife wants to rest and not have a party like Arab women do,” and his “wife would not want to lay down next to someone who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby in 20 years.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said the comments were “a symptom of increasing hostility to minorities,” while Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid compared the comments to those commonly made “in Germany in the 1930s.” Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett condemned the comments as well.
The Israel Electric Corporation limited power to Palestinian cities including Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron over an unpaid NIS 1.74 billion debt from the Palestinian authority. The IEC restored full power after receiving a NIS 20m payment, but warned that it would reduce levels again if a broader deal addressing the debt isn’t reached.
Hamas banned a Gaza City conference that was supposed to call for ending divisions among the Palestinians and achieving “national unity.”
Hamas security officers raided the conference hall at the Al-Quds Hospital and expelled the organizers and participants, sources in the Gaza Strip reported. According to the sources, the officers summoned some of the organizers for interrogation.
Israel and its neighbors are making plans to put politics aside and cooperate in scientific research. The governments of Israel, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are working together on SESAME, an accelerator machine that generates intense light beams for advanced scientific and technological research.
SESME will be the first synchrotron light source and first major international scientific center in the Middle East, and is expected to be up and running by the middle of 2017.
And finally, Forbes Magazine held its first international 30 under 30 summit in Israel, drawing a wide range of celebrities to the Holy Land. President Shimon Peres opened the conference, which also had panels led by Yossi Vardi, HBO’s Girls star Zosia Mamet, and anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinsky.