European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 12/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 12/01/2017

Major Headlines
  • Bill banning boycotters from Israel advances in the Knesset

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved on Wednesday a bill that allows the Interior Ministry to ban people who call to boycott Israel from entering the country, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The legislation, pushed forward by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) will be voted upon in second and third readings.

The bill was originally proposed by former Bayit Yehudi MK Yinon Magal, but Smotrich took it over when the former resigned from the Knesset in 2015 over sexual harassment allegations.

"We should remember that the right to enter the State of Israel should not be taken for granted. There is no reason to allow someone who wants to harm the state to come in," said Smotrich in the committee meeting. 

Opposition MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said that the bill serves to silence political views.

"The purpose of the bill is to censor the occupation objectors. All of us are against boycotting Israel, but this bill includes the call to boycott areas that are under Israeli military control."

"This bill asks to silence people on the bases of political opinion, and people should have the right to have a political opinion here," Zandberg added.

In addition, MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) condemned the legislation as "irrelevant," stating that "we are against boycott, but at the same time we are boycotting others."

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post


  • High Court rules for women’s Western Wall prayer

In a landmark High Court decision on Wednesday, the state was given 30 days to find “good cause” why a woman may not read aloud from a Torah scroll as part of prayer services at the Western Wall, the Times of Israel reports.

The sweeping decision, jointly addressing three petitions on related topics, ruled that assuming the government cannot find “good cause,” not only may women read from the Torah at the Western Wall, but also that the government may no longer argue that the Robinson’s Arch area of the plaza constitutes “access to the Western Wall.” The court did not address a January 2016 government decision to build a permanent pluralistic prayer pavilion in the Robinson’s Arch area, which is currently also an archaeological park.

Further, contrary to current practice under the plaza’s administration by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, women will no longer be subjected to body searches for “contraband” Jewish ritual objects by foundation staff.

If the state fails to find “good cause” for not permitting women to read from the Torah, it is yet to be determined whether they will be granted access to the hundreds of scrolls now located in the men’s section of the Western Wall plaza.

“Just when it seemed the rabbinate’s power was overwhelming, the court’s verdict regarding our demand to read Torah at the women’s section of the Western Wall reflects both courage and wisdom,” said Anat Hoffman, head of the Women of the Wall activist group.

“Today, we have come much closer toward implementation of the Western Wall agreement on gender equality and religious freedom at the Wall. I am elated because when I was looking for justice, and then courage, they were missing, and now the highest court in the land has shown me both.”

One of the three joined cases, the petition for women to read from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, was brought by a Women of the Wall splinter group, the “Original Women of the Wall” (OWOW). Some 14 months ago, the group asked the High Court to nullify a directive brought by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation head Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch barring Torah scrolls in the women’s section.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel


  • Ofra residents protest demolitions at Knesset

Residents from the Ofra settlement in the West Bank arrived at the Knesset on Wednesday to protest the High Court ruling to demolish nine homes built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land, Yediot Aharonot reports. 

In a letter distributed throughout the halls of the Knesset, residents said, "We demand a change in the status of the land once and for all. The impotence and inaction of the government and the prime minister will not cause us to lower our heads and humbly accept the destruction of homes in Ofra."

Residents met with Knesset members Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Yoav Kish (Likud), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), Amir Ohana (Likud) and Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) to demand that they prevent the planned demolitions.

Currently, the chances of regulating the statuses of the homes in question in order to prevent demolition are weak. While residents understand this, they are claiming that it is time to promote the Regulation Bill, which will resolve the status of Ofra.

Several days ago, officials from the Ministry of Defence met with the owners of the nine houses slated for demolition and tried to persuade them to leave voluntarily and even offered assistance in doing so. Residents rejected their proposal.

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot

Thursday, January 12, 2017
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