Israel on Tuesday announced the advancement and authorisation of 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements, the Jerusalem Post reports.
News of the new construction was issued by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman within minutes of the announcement that the Amona outpost would be evacuated early on Wednesday morning.
“Some 2,000 units are ready for immediate marketing and the remaining are in different stages in which [plans] will be deposited and or validated,” the Defence Ministry notice said.
“We’re in a new era where life in Judea and Samaria is returning to its normal course,” Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman said.
The announcement follows last week’s declaration of the advancement and authorisation of 2,500 units in West Bank settlements.
The back-to-back announcement of 5,500 new settler units within a single week is almost unprecedented.
According to partial list of the 3,000 units provided by the Defence Ministry, the authorisations are as follows: 700 units in Alfei Menashe, 600 in Beitar Illit, 650 in Beit Aryeh, 200 in Oranit, 50 in Nofim, 150 in Givat Ze’ev, 70 in Shavei Shomron, 100 in Karnei Shomron, 100 in Shiloh, 100 in Metzodat Yehudah and 80 in Kfar Eldad.
Most of the units are close to the pre-1967 lines and within the settlement blocs.
Settlers are concerned that Netanyahu plans to move forward on a plan according to which he will build within the blocs and freeze the isolated ones. The settler leadership believes Netanyahu will present such a plan to US President Donald Trump when he meets with him in Washington on February 15, a meeting that was announced by the White House on Monday.
President Reuven Rivlin stepped in on Tuesday to put an end to a brewing diplomatic crisis with Mexico, apologising to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for any offense caused by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s tweet on Saturday night regarding border walls, the Jerusalem Post reports.
“I am sorry for any hurt caused as a result of this misunderstanding, but we must remember that we are talking about a misunderstanding, and I am sure that we can put the issue behind us,” Rivlin told his Mexican counterpart.
“The security situation in Israel, and the entire Middle East, brought us to the important decision to build a wall on our border,” Rivlin said. “We have no intention to compare the security situation in the State of Israel, and the steps forced upon us, to the situation of any of our friends around the world.”
The president said that he was sure that “nobody intended to compare between the situation of Israel and the situation of Mexico – rather, this was a misunderstanding. The ties between us are so very strong and important, and we must leave behind us any such misunderstanding.”
The current crisis was triggered when Netanyahu posted the following tweet Saturday night: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”
This tweet, Netanyahu has since clarified, was a response to comments Trump made about Israel’s policies on border walls during a Fox interview on Thursday. Netanyahu’s tweet enraged Mexico, which demanded an apology.
Rather than apologizing, Netanyahu clarified the tweet on a couple of occasions, most recently Tuesday morning at a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv where he said he wanted to take the opportunity to “explain or clarify what I did and did not say in my tweet the other night.
“I did point out the remarkable success of Israel’s security fence, but I did not comment about US-Mexico relations,” he said.
The Mexican president met Rivlin in September when he was in Israel attending Shimon Peres’s funeral.
An Israel-based travel agency is returning to Morocco after 13 years. The Flying Carpet company will be launching packages for travellers fly from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh and Casablanca, Yediot Aharonot reports.
The line will begin flying in May and will operate for two months with an option to extend.
The flights will be carried out by Italian budget airline Neos, and will include a short stop in Catania, Sicily, before continuing on to Morocco.
Flying Carpet used to fly direct between Tel Aviv and Marrakesh, but stopped in 2004 because of the Second Intifada and a low point in diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco.
However, Israeli tour operators continued to offer packages to Morocco, flying through a third country such as Spain.
The main reason that these flights are going to be stopping in Catania, Sicily for a short period of time is because Morocco and Israel don’t have a mutual flight agreement. Therefore, planes from one country are not allowed to fly directly to the other.
To get around this, the plane will land in Catania, where passengers disembark from the aircraft, receive new tickets showing the origin of the flight being from Italy, and re-board the plane, and then fly on to Morocco. The plane's flight log will also register as only flying to and from Italy, as opposed to and from Israel.
Wednesday, February 01, 2017