European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 03/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 03/01/2017

Major Headlines
  • Police question Netanyahu in corruption investigation

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was questioned on Monday night for more than three hours by police at his residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem over suspicions he received illegal gifts from two businessmen, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Police were with the prime minister for a little over three hours, before leaving his residence around 11 p.m., after the first of what is expected to be several interrogation sessions.

Police would not provide any further details.

Netanyahu – who has denied the allegations – is suspected of receiving improper gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from Israeli and foreign businessmen, in a manner which breached his duty of trust as a public servant.

Earlier on Monday, the prime minister continued to show confidence that the investigation into corruption allegations against him would lead nowhere.

“I see the spirit of celebration in the television studios,” Netanyahu said at a Likud faction meeting. “Wait with the celebrations; don’t hurry.”

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post


  • Minister proposes annexing large settlement east of Jerusalem

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday called on the government to pass a law annexing Ma'aleh Adumim, a large settlement east of Jerusalem, to Israel by the end of the month, Ha’aretz reports.

Bennett serves in the government as minister of education.

"Before the end of January, we, together with all the coalition parties, will propose a bill for the imposition of Israeli law on Ma'aleh Adumim," Bennett said. "I expect all members of the government to support the bill."

The annexation of Ma'aleh Adumim is a flagship of Habayit Hayehudi policy and one of the ways in which Bennett wants to differentiate his party from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud during the Donald Trump's administration.

The issue of annexation is one of the most divisive in the coalition, due primarily to concern over the reaction of the international community to the move.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of the Likud, said on Saturday that unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank would be a “disaster” and is opposed by his party.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said that “the forces that are demanding annexation are growing stronger, and they’re brainwashing the public with lies – like coming and saying, ‘We’ll annex Area C and the world will consent to this,’” said Herzog, referring to the part of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military control. “Area C is 60 per cent of Judea and Samaria. Not only does this have no chance, but it would create a Bosnia or a Syria here.”

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz


  • Ben Gurion Airport saw surge in passengers in 2016

Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport was packed with travellers last year, with traffic up 11 per cent over 2015 – to 2.13 million passengers, Ha’aretz reports.

But it was not tourists coming to Israel, but Israelis flying abroad which was responsible for the growth, the Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday.

“Seventy per cent of all the traffic for the year at Ben-Gurion was Israeli travellers and only 30 per cent  was [foreign] tourists,” said Shmuel Zakai, the airport’s director general, saying the proportion of foreign tourists was the lowest it has been for five years.

Tourist arrivals are only now showing signs of recovery after the blow they suffered during the 2014 Gaza war, when rocket attacks briefly closed the airport at the height of Israel’s summer tourist season. Arrivals rose 2 per cent this year, though they remain down from 2013 levels.

Turkey and its airlines have emerged as a major force in Ben-Gurion, according to the authority. Turkey accounted for the biggest destination for fliers going through Israel’s main international airport – 1.6 million travellers, although nearly all of them were using Istanbul to connect to third countries.

Click here to read the full article in Haaretz

 

  • Knesset member Ghattas suspended

MK Bassel Gattas (Joint List) will be suspended for six months from all Knesset activities except for voting in the plenum, the Knesset Ethics Committee determined on Monday.

Ghattas is currently under house arrest after he was caught on camera smuggling cell phones, SIM cards and documents to prisoners convicted of terrorism, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The Joint List MK will retain the right to vote, which cannot be revoked as long as he remains a lawmaker. Ghattas will also continue to draw a salary, because an MK's pay can only be blocked by a unanimous vote.

MK Youssef Jabareen (Joint List) was the one MK who voted against Ghattas' punishment, saying that the committee should wait for the end of the investigation.

Ghattas called the decision "political revenge," and said he would consider petitioning the High Court of Justice against it.

"The Ethics Committee named itself the judges and gave a ruling before the claims against me were clarified, so it is clear to all that this decision was not appropriate," Ghattas stated.

Ethics Committee member MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) said that Ghattas fatally wounded the Knesset's dignity.

"An MK cannot take advantage of his immunity, trample the law and harm the police and prison authority's work," she stated. "Smuggling equipment and phones is a serious crime that security factors deal with." Azaria also pointed out that Ghattas also has previous ethics violations under his belt and that the committee increases punishments for those with prior violations.

"This is a moral statement to other MKs: You cannot take advantage of your immunity in this way," she said.

On December 18, Ghattas visited Ketziot Prison, some 70 km southwest of Beersheba, where he met with Walid Daka, who is serving a life sentence for torturing and murdering 19-year-old soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984, and with Bassel Basra, who is serving a 15-year sentence for security offenses. Both men are Fatah members.

Ghattas was caught on camera giving documents to Daka and giving Basra four envelopes, in which prison guards found 12 cell phones, 16 SIM cards, two chargers and one headset.

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017
More News
Israel Press Review of 03/02/2017
- Israel and Turkey renew strategic dialogue - Israel and Ukraine healing rift from Security Council vote - Ryanair launches 15 new flight routes between Israel and Europe
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