Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump are to meet in February with discussions expected to cover a range of security issues, the Jerusalem Post reports.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in announcing the meeting on Monday, said, "our relationship with the only democracy in the Middle East is crucial to the security of both our nations, and the president looks forward to discussing continued strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation with the prime minister."
Netanyahu then issued a statement saying he "deeply appreciated" Trump's "kind invitation" and the warm words about Israel.
"I look forward to discussing with him the areas of cooperation between us that are so vital to the security and well-being of our two countries," he said.
The meeting is seen as one of critical importance in coordinating positions on a number of issues, including Iran, the Palestinian diplomatic process, and the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Israel said on Monday it was seeking clarification on whether US President Donald Trump’s travel ban applies to tens of thousands of Israeli Jews born in Middle Eastern countries, the Times of Israel reports.
The executive order signed on Friday banned nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries for 90 days but has sparked confusion in its interpretation, with people unsure whether they can travel.
Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the decree, including around 45,000 Iranians and 53,000 Iraqis, according to official statistics.
The majority are over the age of 65 and many fled persecution. Their Israeli passports say where they were born.
The US Consulate in Jerusalem referred a question by AFP to the US State Department, which several hours after being asked to respond was still unable to clarify whether the ban includes Israeli Jews.
The Israeli authorities were also seeking clarification, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.
Michael Wildes, a partner at the Wildes and Weinberg immigration law firm in the US and a former public prosecutor, said the wording of Trump’s order was unclear.
He explained that the order refers to “aliens from countries” but does not explain how citizenship is defined.
The Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs was to hold a special hearing on Tuesday on the government’s decision to bar a group of nine Venezuelan converts from emigrating to Israel, Ha’aretz reports.
The decision has sparked widespread outrage in the Jewish world, with prominent rabbis, representing denominations across the spectrum, urging the government to reverse it.
The nine Venezuelans – five adults and four children – were converted by a Conservative rabbinical court in early 2014, before the economic crisis in Venezuela erupted. They are currently facing shortages in food and medicine.
The converts were notified that their visa applications had been rejected by the Ministry of Interior because they had not been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for a long enough period.
Representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, the Jewish Agency, the Conservative and Reform movements, and various organisations engaged in immigration promotion and Jewish pluralism have been invited to attend the Knesset meeting.
Nationalistic intent was the motive for the January 3 shooting attack that left one Israeli killed and another moderately wounded in Haifa, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cleared for publication on Monday.
According to the Shin Bet, the interrogation of Muhammad Shinawi, a resident of the Haifa neighbourhood of Halisa, revealed that he had deliberately shot Guy Cafri, 47, and Yechiel Illouz, 48, with a Carlo Gustav gun that he had in his possession because of his "hatred for Jews," the Jerusalem Post reports.
Cafri was killed and Illouz, a judge on the Haifa Rabbinical Court, was seriously injured in the pair of shootings, which shook the coastal city.
Initially, police suspected a criminal motive for the pair of shootings and the victims - who are not known to police as persons of interests - were shot in a case of mistaken identity. Yet, as the case developed nationalistic motivations have become the central suspicion.
On Monday, Shinawi was indicted in the Haifa District Court on charges of murder, attempted murder and the use of a firearm for the intent of terrorism.
According to the Shin Bet, he had set fire to Jewish vehicles during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and his hatred of Jews had intensified in recent years as his religious belief was “Jews are heretics who deserve to be killed.” The catalyst for the attack reportedly stemmed from his girlfriend who said that he “loved Jews,” and called him a “Zionist Jew.”
Tuesday, January 31, 2017