European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 12/12/2016
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 12/12/2016

Major Headlines 
  • Israel to ease Palestinian travel over Christmas period

Israel will ease restrictions on Palestinian travel for the Christmas season, the Defence Ministry unit in charge of policy in occupied territory said.

According to the ministry, Palestinian Christians will be allowed into Israel and about 400 will be able to travel abroad via Ben-Gurion International Airport.

In addition, about 100 Christians with relatives in the Gaza Strip would be able to visit the Hamas-controlled enclave, while 700 Palestinian Christians from Gaza will be permitted to visit east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli statement said.

Israel often eases its ban on Palestinian travel via Israel during the holidays, except during periods of violent confrontations and attacks.

Bethlehem, the West Bank city where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, is also a favourite Christmas pilgrimage site for overseas tourists. Palestinians held their annual holiday launch ceremony in Manger Square on Saturday, switching on the lights on a 15-metre-high tree, followed by fireworks.

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz


  • Greece, Cyprus and Israel sign R&D deal in Jerusalem

Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a memorandum of cooperation in research and development in Jerusalem on Thursday in a bid to strengthen trilateral ties. The formation of a regional emergency force was also discussed.

The meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his Israeli counterpart Binyamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades came after Greece and Cyprus were among the first countries to dispatch water-dropping aircraft to help put out a devastating fire in Israel last month.

Tsipras reiterated his aim to make Greece a transportation hub for natural gas from Israeli and Cypriot reserves, while the three also discussed cooperation in renewable energy.

Tsipras also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which the National Technical University of Athens is helping to restore.

Click here to read the full article in Kathimerini


  • Coalition whip prefers Israel’s Arab citizens not to vote

The whip of the ruling coalition said on Saturday that he prefers Israel's Arab citizens not vote in the national election, Ha’aretz reports.

"Ninety-five percent of them vote for the Joint List that doesn't represent Israeli Arabs, but Palestinian interests," Knesset member David Bitan told the audience at a public event in Mevaseret Zion, near Jerusalem, referring to Israel's predominantly Arab party.

Bitan was asked for his opinion on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's use of social media, including his Election Day video in which he called on his supporters to vote, warning that the "the Arabs are going to the polls in droves." Bitan, who is considered close to Netanyahu, said: "I'd rather the Arabs won't go to the polls in droves, and won't come to the polls at all."

Netanyahu has been under fire for his Election Day comment. Eighteen months later, he posted a new video on Facebook apologising to Arab citizens for any offensive comments and urges them to join in Israeli society "en masse."

The head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, called Bitan "Netanyahu's mouthpiece" and said he "continues to prove that all this leadership has to offer is explicit racism and cheap populism."

Isaac Herzog, the chairman of the Zionist Union and the head of the opposition, accused Bitan of calling to take away voting rights from minorities, "just like the top antisemites in Europe did in the past to the Jewish people."

Bitan was also criticized by a member of his own Likud party, MK Yehuda Glick, who rejected his remarks and said: "I really hope the Arabs will vote. I hope we'll be appealing enough so Arabs will also want to vote Likud."

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz


  • Israel chief rabbi: Girls should not be enlisted in the army

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said late on Saturday that women should not join the Israel Defence Forces or even sign up for civilian national service instead, Ha’aretz reports.

“All the great sages through the generations, including all Israel’s chief rabbis, believe that it is forbidden for girls to go into the army,” Yosef said in a sermon. “Gentlemen, not just to the army – but to national service too.”

He added: “Unfortunately, here too there is a weakening.”

Yosef said the drafting of women led to “calamities.” “They say there are women pilots, there are all kinds of things. What if there are women pilots? Is that the way of the Torah?” he said.

Yosef also referred to medieval sage Maimonides’ ruling that when a war was unavoidable, even a “bride” must enlist. He said that in such a case, women should do the laundry and cook, but not fight.

Last month, when the High Court of Justice upheld Rabbi Eyal Krim’s appointment as chief military rabbi, Krim said he once believed that the army “could hurt the female recruit’s modesty.” But he said that today he knows there are roles in which women soldiers’ contributions are just as important for national security as men’s.

“I have no doubt about the significant contribution of girls who serve in the IDF,” Krim wrote. “The challenge of modesty that is entailed in girls serving in the IDF remains a complex social issue …. I have been committed since the time I enlisted in the military rabbinate to find halakhic ways to help integrate women into the IDF,” he added, referring to Jewish law.

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz

Monday, December 12, 2016
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