Things change

I go away for a short trip and things change.  I come back and I find that Pres. Putin of Russia has apparently persuaded the Pres. of the PA, Mahmud Abbas, to finally meet with PM Netanyahu of Israel, in Moscow and without pre-conditions.  Since his pre-conditions were intended to prevent such a meeting, significant pressure must have been brought. For example, Abbas insisted that before meeting, Netanyahu must accept the borders of a Palestinian State as the pre-1967 ceasefire lines and must agree to allow all (so-called) Palestinian refugees to return to “Palestine” (meaning Israel).  This meeting hasn’t materialized yet, so we’ll see if its real.  But, anyway, who would make a deal with an 82-year-old illegal dictator who does not represent anybody.  Any deal made with Abbas would be worthless.

While I was away the special police unit that deals with major crimes arrested our Netanya Mayor, Miriam Fierberg-Ikar.  She is accused of taking bribes from real estate dealers.  I and most others are frankly not surprised by this outcome, since the rate of building in Netanya is incredible, and I am sure the competition for putting up large buildings is very intense, so the tendency for Mayors to take bribes from real estate developers must be very great.  Still, it is a bit of a shock to have a popular Mayor who has been in power for decades, suddenly arrested.

The trial of Sgt. Elior Azaria continues, this is the IDF soldier who in March shot a terrorist in the head after he was on the ground already shot and supposedly “neutralized.”  But, now a reputable forensic pathologist has given evidence that according to his analysis, the terrorist was in fact dead before Azaria shot him.  This somewhat complicates the picture, since there is a video that shows Azaria shooting the terrorist while he is lying on the ground face down, but he does appear to move in the video.  The question is was this a death twitch of was he in fact still alive and able to move.  A first aid worker who arrived at the scene just before Azaria shot the terrorist also stated that he shouted out, “be careful, he may have a suicide vest.”  Whether Azaria heard this or whether he acted without any other input, is still unknown.  Under the circumstances they should give this soldier the benefit of the doubt.  It is true that it is against IDF procedure to shoot an already downed and neutralized enemy, but in this case who can be sure?

The controversy over work done on the Sabbath on the major civil engineering projects in Israel, particularly the Tel Aviv Metro and the fast railway connection from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, still continues.  But, in a case brought to the Supreme Court it was ruled that work can continue on the Sabbath according to law, if this results in faster completion of the project, saving large sums of money to meet deadlines and if the safety and convenience of the public demands it.  This is a  victory for Transportation Minister Katz and a defeat for the ultra-orthodox religious parties in the Government Coalition.  It remains to see how this decision will still play out.

The US and Israel finalized the military aid package after much negotiation.  It comes to b$38 over ten years.  That is a lot, but at b$3.8 per year that is not mcuh more than Israel has been getting for decades.  Note that at least 70% of this has to be spent in the US, so there is not much loss to the US economy in making this deal.  Certtainly it is good for Israel to ensure its future qualitative military edge. Israel is the best ally the US has, notwithstanding Pres. Obama’s preference for the Muslims.



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