European Jewish Congress
Israeli Press Review of 14.07.2016
Israeli Press Review
Israeli Press Review of 14.07.2016

Major Headlines
  • IIsrael angered by French foreign minister’s meeting with Hezbollah

Israel has responded with anger to a reported meeting between the French foreign minister and members of the Lebanese terror organisation Hezbollah, suggesting the move was comparable to meeting with representatives of the Islamic State, the Times of Israel reports. 

Jean-Marc Ayrault met with a political delegation of Hezbollah in Lebanon on Tuesday, according to local media reports.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement urging France to follow the example of Arab states that have blacklisted Hezbollah as a terror organisation.

“It’s a shame that the French foreign minister didn’t consult with Arab states that do not make a distinction between the military and political arms of Hezbollah,” read the Tuesday statement. “It is clear that Foreign Minister Ayrault would not meet with the ‘political wing’ of Islamic State.”

In May the Arab League declared the Lebanon-based Shi’a group a terrorist organisation, with all but two of the 22-member bloc voting for the resolution. The declaration came a little over a week after the predominantly Sunni Gulf Cooperation Council took a similar stance by blacklisting the group.

As opposed to the European Union, which only defines the group’s military wing as a terrorist organisation, the Arab League and GCC made no distinction between the group’s political and military arms.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel


  • IDF sticks with rabbinical appointment despite controversy

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot announced on Wednesday that, despite the public controversy, Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim will be appointed as the chief rabbi of the IDF. Eisenkot made the announcement after holding a meeting with Karim following the recent publication of controversial statements the rabbi had made concerning women, gay people, and refusing orders, Yediot Aharonot reports.

The statement released by the chief of staff's office said, "Col. Karim made clarifications during the conversation on all the matters that have come up in recent days, and he clarified beyond any doubt that he and all IDF soldiers are completely subject to IDF orders and the IDF Code of Ethics. 

"The rabbi promised that he personally and the rabbinate headed by him will respect every single person, regardless of religion, sex and sexual preference, and because he sees the IDF as an army of the people absorbing of its recruits, no matter whom they are. The chief of staff spoke with Col. Karim about the chief rabbinate's tasks and how he envisages the rabbinate under his command, and he felt that he and the rabbi see eye to eye on these issues."

The chief of staff emphasised that he disapproves and does not agree with the rabbi's pronouncements that have caused the controversy and that they are inconsistent with the IDF's values. 

Karim's appointment to the position of chief rabbi of the IDF was announced on Monday. Shortly afterwards, controversial statements that he had made in the past came to light, mostly when answering readers' questions on the religious website Kipa. The rabbi ruled that when a military order is at odds with Jewish law, a soldier is allowed to refuse an order, that wounded terrorists must be killed, that women must not testify in court or serve in the IDF, that raping gentile women during wartime was permissible, that gays and lesbians have "backward tendencies." 

On Wednesday evening, Karim publicised a letter to all IDF soldiers. In it, he stated, "It is inconceivable that any soldier or commander would act contrary to orders." He also wrote, "I understand the diversity and variety that exists amongst IDF soldiers and the important contribution that every soldier makes without regard to their sexual orientation. We will continue being everybody's rabbinate."

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


  • Finance minister backs tax reductions despite central bank’s objections

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) opened a meeting with party members on Tuesday by announcing that he intends to lower income tax by 1-2% for Israelis earning up to 13,000 NIS, as well as for companies. Following a previous income tax reduction in the beginning of the year, an additional 2% reduction would bring it to its lowest point yet, Yediot Aharonot reports.

“As I have promised, the new budget will focus on growth encouragement,” said Kahlon at the meeting. “This will be done through two steps: investing and lowering taxes.” He went on to say that the Finance Ministry would act to decrease taxes by billions of shekels, defending the decision ahead of any criticism it could bring about. “Last year’s decision to lower the VAT and corporate tax were similarly attacked, but looking back it was the right decision. Taxes belong to the public, and as such they should be returned to the public when there is a surplus.” 

By comparison, last year’s decision to decrease the VAT by 1% translated into an annual 5 billion NIS loss in tax revenues. It should also be noted that during the year’s first quarter, only a 1.3% growth was found.

Kahlon’s decision goes against Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug’s expressed recommendation that the Finance Ministry raise taxes so that the government could provide its citizens with better services.

Israel currently ranks among the lowest countries in the OECD in terms of the tax burden placed upon its citizens, placing 26 out of 34. 

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


Thursday, July 14, 2016
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