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Friday, Feb. 23 '18, ח' באדר תשע"ח


by Arutz Sheva Staff

The Trump administration is considering an offer from billionaire business magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson to pay for part of the US Embassy's move to Jerusalem, The Associated Press reported.

The report noted that the US State Department is investigating whether private donations may be accepted for the purpose.

Adelson made his offer in December 2017, shortly after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and promised to move the Embassy there.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a security plan for moving the US Embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, anonymous officials reported.

Adelson donated $5 million to US President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, and he is one of the Republican party's largest donors. Adelson finances the Hebrew-language daily freebie, Israel Hayom, which continuously ranks as Israel's most popular paper.

Both the White House and Adelson declined to comment on the report. And the State Department said it had "nothing to announce" and "no confirmation or details" about whether Adelson would finance the move.

by David Rosenberg

Israel is currently holding talks with 10 different nations over the possible relocation of their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed Thursday.

Following President Donald Trump’s December 6th announcement that he had ordered the US State Department to begin work transferring the US mission to Israel from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, just one other country, Guatemala, followed suit.

Later that month, however, Hotovely hinted that other countries may also be interested in transferring their embassies.

On Thursday, Hotovely told American Jewish leaders that Israel is currently engaged in talks with 10 different countries regarding the relocation of their embassies.

Speaking with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, currently visiting Israel as part of their annual leadership mission to Israel, Hotovely briefed leaders on the progress made towards securing the embassy relocations.

"We are in a dialogue with over ten countries to transfer their embassies to our capital, Jerusalem," said Hotovely.

"We want to see at least another 10 countries that will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem after the US in the coming years."

Hotovely also discussed the politicization of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the Palestinian Authority leadership’s use of what Hotovely termed "fake refugees" as a political weapon against Israel.

"For the first time, the Israeli leadership is no longer willing to accept the idea of fake Palestinian refugees. Only this week in his speech at the UN, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) spoke of ‘six million Palestinian refugees’ who were not born in Israel - six million people raised on the idea that they will ‘return’ to the State of Israel. This approach is certainly not leading us towards a peace process, but instead to perpetual conflict. The international community has for years ignored this ‘demand to return’, and it serves to eternalize the conflict. Therefore, anyone who seeks peace should stop supporting the idea of the refugees that UNRWA continues to espouse, and the demand for a return whose aim is the destruction of Israel."

The Deputy Foreign Minister expressed optimism regarding Israel’s warming ties with nations around the world, including India and China.

"We are opening up to new markets in Latin America, we are strengthening ties in Asia with powers like China and India, and working to continue to strengthen our alliances and existing friendships, as well as new strategic partners in the Middle East." She concluded: "We need your help, the representatives of the Jewish communities in the United States, in strengthening the unity of the Jewish people."

by Tzvi Lev

The Judicial Selection Committee elected Chavi Toker to head the Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Thursday, making her Israel's first-ever female haredi judge.

The nine-member committee, headed by the Justice Minister, is responsible for all judicial appointments in Israel. Aside from the Justice Minister, the committee is composed of an additional cabinet minister, two MKs, including one from the opposition, two Bar Association representatives, and three Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice.

Toker is the daughter of Rabbi Rafael Volf, a well-known Bnei Brak-based public figure who was considered to be the right-hand man of Rabbi Menachem Shach, the longtime leader of the Lithuanian haredi world until his death in 2001. She is married to the son of the late Rabbi Nahman Toker, dean of the Hevron Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Givat Mordechai neighborhood.

Toker grew up in Bnei Brak and attended the haredi Beis Yaakov network schools during her school years. After marrying, she moved to Jerusalem and studied law at Hebrew University. Toker graduated with distinction and worked at the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Unit, before transferring to the Jerusalem District Attorney's office.Toker is a mother of four and her eldest recently enlisted into the Givati Brigade's haredi Tomer Company.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked had promised in January that she would nominate the first haredi female justice, telling the haredi Kikar Hashabbat newspaper that she viewed the appointment as one of her highest priorities.

Toker will be the first haredi woman to serve as judge in Israel, but not the first female haredi judge in the world. In December 2016, Rachel Freier became the first female haredi judge to serve in the US.

by Kobi Finkler

The IDF published the results of an investigation into Thursday's incident, in which a terrorist died after attacking IDF soldiers in Jericho.

The investigation showed that the riot which broke out around the IDF forces included 50 Palestinian Authority Arabs who burned tires and threw stones and firebombs at the soldiers. One of the Arabs ran towards the soldiers holding an iron rod. In response, one soldier fired a bullet, which, the IDF investigation showed, did not harm the Arab.

The soldiers then worked to arrest the rod-wielding Arab, but the Arab fought back, attempting to grab and steal one of the soldier's weapons. The soldiers succeeded in arresting the terrorist, handcuffing him. An army paramedic examining the Arab pronounced him unharmed.

Later, the soldiers used crowd dispersal methods near where the terrorist was being held. Apparently, this exposed the terrorist to gas, which caused his death. When the terrorist's condition worsened,, he was evacuated and treated by IDF medics, who were eventually forced to declare his death.

A search of the terrorist's body revealed he had been carrying a knife, in addition to the iron rod used to attack the soldiers.

The IDF has opened an investigation, and an autopsy will be carried out.

by Yochanan Visser

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/ analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva

We will probably witness a major war between Israel and the Iranian axis this year, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the commander of IDF Operations, said during an interview with Galatz, Israel’s Army Radio on Monday this week.

"The year 2018 has the potential for escalation, not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness," according to Alon.

He added that his assessment was based on what is currently happening in Syria where the Russian and Iranian-backed pro-Assad axis is in the process of eliminating the last pockets of resistance.

Those opposition hubs, located in Idlib and eastern Ghouta, are where hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a ruthless offensive by Assad’s forces over the last week, and in east Syria where the Iranian axis seized the border town Abu Kamal this week after an extremely bloody battle.

Alon said that Assad’s victory will free up Iran’s proxies in Syria and give them the possibility to prepare for war with Israel.

"We are not allowing these things to happen without our involvement. We are acting and will continue to act," the IDF operations commander warned.

Alon’s rare interview with Israel's Army Radio Galatz came a day after Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu issued a similar warning during the annual security conference in Munich, Germany.

Holding up a piece of what was left of an Iranian drone which was downed by the IAF on Saturday Februrary10, Netanyahu compared Iran’s aggressive imperialistic drive in the Middle East with the rise of Nazi Germany and called upon the world to take action against the Islamic Republic before it is too late.

"Don’t test Israel’s resolve," Netanyahu warned while he conveyed a clear message to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad not to allow further Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

"If Mr. Assad invites Iran in militarily, that changes our position. So that is up to Iran and to Mr. Assad," Netanyahu said in Munich.

In fact, however, Israel has already changed its approach to the Syrian war and Iran’s belligerent activities in the ruined country.

This not only became clear on February 10th when the IAF bombed twelve Iran-related targets in Syria in response to an incursion of an Iranian attack drone into Israeli airspace near Bet Shean, but also from a significant change in Israel’s ‘good neighbor’ policy toward the Syrian war.

Up till now the central part of this policy has been providing medical and humanitarian aid to Syrians in the Kuneitra Province on the Syrian Golan Heights.

Some 5,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals in the Galilee and in the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa over the past few years, but recently the IDF shifted its focus toward military assistance to local Syrian rebel groups in an effort to keep the Iranian axis away from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

Elizabeth Tzurkov a research associate at the Forum for Regional Thinking (FORTH) who is an expert on Syria and holds an MA in Middle East studies from Tel Aviv university, reported last week that the IDF has now stepped into the battle for control over the Kuneitra and Daraa area along the Israeli-Syrian border.

This happened after the government in Jerusalem failed to enlist the United States and Russia for its efforts to curb the increasing Iranian threat to Israel from southwest Syria.

Tzurkov interviewed scores of rebels, civilians and activists who are living in the border area with Israel and says the IDF is providing military aid to "ragtag rebel militias in southern Syria whose interests partially align with those of the Jewish state."

Seven militias, among them Islamist rebel groups and the Free Syrian Army, receive direct military aid, according to Tzurkov who based her assessment on information obtained from numerous sources inside Syria.

She also provided a link to a video depicting the delivery of Israeli weapons and ammunition to the Firqat Ahrar Nawa militia near Kuneitra in Syria at the end of 2017.

Some of these groups previously received military aid from the U.S., but after the Trump Administration decided to halt all assistance to Sunni Arab militias fighting the Assad regime, Israel stepped in and began to deliver cash and weapons to the rebels.

The Israeli proxies now try to prevent the Iranian axis from setting up camp in the border region on the Golan Heights but also fight Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Walid, the local ISIS branch which controls a pocket of territory adjacent to the southern Golan Heights and the Jordanian border opposite the Syrian Daraa Province.

The IDF and IAF, furthermore, help the rebels with drone strikes and missile attacks on positions of Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Walid. They even allowed dozens of rebels to enter Israeli territory and cross into the Beit Jann region west of Damascus and opposite Mount Hermon in order to participate in a battle against Iranian proxies who tried to set up camp in the area at the end of 2017.

The extension of Israel’s ‘good neighbor’ policy in Syria is solely directed at the Iranian attempt to transform the country into a client state from which territory Iran and its Shiite allies want to step up their belligerent activities against the Jewish state, according to Tzurkov.

The news about Israel’s increasing involvement in the Syrian war coincided with a New York Times report mapping out scores of Iranian bases and other military installations in Syria. All of them are located in the western part of the warn-torn country.

The reason for the increasing Iranian military activities in Syria is now preparation for a multi-front war against Israel, experts say.

"The ultimate goal is, in the case of another war, to make Syria a new front between Israel, Hezbollah and Iran," NYT quoted Iran expert Amir Toumaj, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, as saying.

The seriousness of the situation has been underlined by a recent statement of the Iranian general overseeing the Iran's preparations for a war with Israel.

Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, repeated Iran’s vow to destroy Israel during a ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mugniyeh, Hezbollah’s former terror mastermind.

Claiming that Mugniyeh’s death caused an "Islamic uprising" against Israel Soleimani vowed to punish the Jewish state by wiping it from the face of earth.

Earlier, during a meeting with Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in October 2017, the Al Quds boss said Iran’s new priority was providing aid to the ‘Islamic Resistance’ meaning the loose coalition of Iranian-backed terror groups fighting Israel.

His words were not merely rhetoric and should be taken seriously.

The brilliant Iranian general, who has overseen and won virtually every major battle in Iraq and Syria in recent years, has now been tasked with preparations for war with Israel.

Soleimani has been responsible for the built up of a large coalition of Shiite militias in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and was the man behind the recent reconciliation between Palestinian terror groups and Iran.



by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Exactly a year ago to this day, I began the process of changing the face of the Supreme Court by appointing four new judges. This evening the move concludes with the appointment of two additional judges. These appointments are the additional storey in the edifice of the new Supreme Court.

The new Supreme Court is good news for Israeli democracy. It restores the judiciary to its so important role: Interpreting the norms set by the legislative branch and not replacing it.

The new Supreme Court is more diverse. It faithfully reflects the population of Israel. The new Supreme Court echoes legal concepts that have not been heard for a long time (referring to a slowdown of judicial activism and limiting standing before the courts, among other concepts, ed.) . Its people come from different schools of thought. The new Supreme Court places another section on the track that will enable a successful interface between the three branches of government.

Professor Alex Stein
Professor Alex Stein, a native of the Soviet Union, is an internationally recognized expert in various legal fields. His appointment is ‘brain gain’ (an Israeli academic returning to Israel -ed.) in the full sense of the word.

Stein has written four books, including a breakthrough book on the rules of evidence published by Oxford. He has published more than 60 articles, many of them in the world's most prestigious journals. His articles in Israel and the United States have been quoted many times, both in Israeli and American legal rulings.

Professor Ofer Grosskopf began his career as an officer in the Military Advocate General's Office. Grosskopf served as a professor and deputy dean of the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. He also authored two books and published 25 articles in Israel and abroad.

In 2009 he was appointed as a judge in the District Court, and since then he has been considered an independent and original-thinking judge. His professionalism is apparent in every field, and is known for his emphasis on the economic field.

The appointments of Stein and Grosskopf are a badge of honor for the Judicial Appointments Committee. I would like to thank the President of the Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, and the members of the Committee for their dedicated work.

by Arutz Sheva Staff


Scot Peterson, the police officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, resigned on Thursday, under investigation for failing to enter the building as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people.

Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have "gone in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer."

"What I saw was a deputy arrive … take up a position and he never went in. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches," he said. "When we in law enforcement arrive to an active shooter, we go in and address the target and that's what should have been done."

Video footage showed Peterson did none of that, Israel added, noting that Peterson was armed and in uniform when the shooting began.

The footage shows Peterson outside the building for more than four of the shooting's six minutes. He hid behind a concrete pillar, speaking on his radio, a student said.

Peterson, 54, worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office since 1985. In 2009, he was chosen as  the high school's school resource officer, responsible for safety and crime prevention in the school. There were two prior internal investigations against him.

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