Briefing: Eurovision and Europe’s vision for peace

May 15, 2016

Israel celebrated its 68th birthday this week. Independence day followed the annual Remembrance Day, in which Israelis memorialized the 23,477 people who have fallen in the country's wars and terror attacks.

Speaking at a Remembrance day event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "We will not give up our hope to achieve peace with our enemies- But first we will achieve peace with ourselves."

The subject of peace came up several other time throughout the week.

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French Foreign Minster Jean-Marc Ayrault arrived in Israel Saturday night meet with to Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on a peace initiative France plans to launch at the end of this month.

On Sunday, Netanyahu attacked the initiative, telling his cabinet that it gave the Palestinians an opportunity to evade direct negotiations.
 
Such an initiative, he said “just pushes peace farther away and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict, which is the recognition of the state of Israel [as Jewish state].”
 
In a Twitter Q&A session last week, Netanyahu said he would be open to an updated version of the Saudi initiative, which offered Arab peace with Israel in exchange for a return to the pre-1967 lines, among other things.

Netanyahu also reiterated his willingness to “to meet President Abbas today, right now.”

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After enjoying a long weekend for Independence Day, Israelis may have hope for more leisure time in the future as well. MK Eli Cohen, of Kulanu, is advancing a bill that would create a long, three-day weekend once a month. In an interview with the Post, Cohen said that Israelis work more hours than most of their OECD counterparts, but are less productive. The bill is still in its early stages, but Cohen hopes it will be in effect by 2017.

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Is Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid Israel’s shadow Foreign Minister? In an interview with Jerusalem Post Knesset Correspondent Lahav Harkov. Lapid said the fact that Israel currently lacks a foreign minister is a problem, not an opportunity. Still, the former television host and finance minister has been traveling the globe, trying to boost Israel’s interests from the opposition. You can read the full interview on JPost.com.

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In US politics, billionaire Sheldon Adelson has reportedly warmed up to the candidacy of Donald Trump. Adelson reportedly decided to donate nearly $100 million dollars to Trump’s presidential campaign after the two spoke in a private meeting.

Some projections have put the cost of funding the last six months of the presidential race at a staggering $1 billion.

Trump’s decision not to self-fund the general election may weaken an argument he made during the primary, in which he said his wealth meant he was not beholden to big donors or moneyed interests.

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Israel’s Eurovision entrant Hovi Star performed his song “We Are All Made of Stars” in the Eurovision song contest on Saturday, but only took 14th place in the final tally. Israel also took pride in France’s contestant, Amir Haddad, who grew up in Herzliya, and finished in 6th place with “J'ai cherché”.

The winning entry came from Ukraine’s Jamala, with a political song called “1944” about the scars left by Soviet deportations from Crimea.

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And finally, Yaakov Katz  began his tenure as the Jerusalem Post’s new editor-in-chief  last week. In his first Editor’s note column, Katz warned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing a high-stakes game of poker in negotiating a deal with US President Barack Obama over renewing Israel’s ten-year military aid package. “Whatever the government does, it needs to be sure that politics are off the table,” he wrote.

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