UPDATES 9 am Israel time, Saturday, December 14 2013:
**As the storm slowly begins to dissipate (snow is still falling in Jerusalem and in northern Israel), there are some 30,000 Israeli homes with no electricity, including 13,000 in Jerusalem.
Here is a list of neighborhoods and communities currently without power:
Jerusalem: Gilo Center, Katamon, the Greek Colony, Industrial Area Talpiot, Baka, Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev
Around Jerusalem: Ein Karem, Beit Horon, Kiryat Anavim, Ein Rafa, Telshe Stone, Beit Meir, Ramat Raziel, Har Gilo, Sho’eva Abu Ghosh, Mount Holly, Tzur Hadassah, Mevo Betar, Givat Ze’ev
Judea and Samaria: Yitzhar, Geva Binyamin, Michmash, Nakhaliel, Ateret, Halamish, Ofarim, Beit Hagai, parts of Kiryat Arba, Ma’ale Efraim, Ofra, Kochav Yaakov, Itamar, Shave Shomron, Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, Tapuach, Shiloh, Eli, Talmon, Nili, Dolev, and some neighborhoods in Ariel
Southern Israel: Masada and Ein Gedi
Central Israel: “some streets” in Herzliya, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Holon, Petah Tikva and Rishon Lezion
Northern Israel: Majdal Shams Industrial Zone, Elrom, Dalton, Sasa, Yaron, Baram, Canaan, Alma, several Golan moshavim, neighborhoods around Tzfat, Tuba Zangaria, Kibbutz Ortal
Because it is Shabbat, there are no current rainfall and snowfall totals for the country–but it is expected that the last few days have been record-breaking.
Nevertheless, we awakened to a beautiful rainbow here in Ashdod this morning.
**For anyone who was watching the news two days ago, the unanimous election of Israel as a permanent member of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research based in Geneva) was momentous. Israel has been an observer at the world’s top particle physics lab since 1991 and associate member since 2011. Israel is now the only non-European country to be a member of CERN.
What does membership mean? More access to research–and a greater participation in the control mechanisms of the facility. Israel will have to pay 0.31% of CERN’s operating budget (by contrast, the largest contributor, Germany pays 18.65% of the budget), but whatever Israel pays, the benefits are definitely worth it.
John Kerry’s road show has now been stuck in Israel in the throes of the snowstorm for the last few days–thus giving Kerry extra time to try to cajole PM Netanyahu into ever greater concessions. Yesterday, the American Secretary of State said that he still expects to see an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of April.
The framework of what the Americans want is now becoming ever clearer, but the terminology of describing the “agreement that is not an agreement” has devolved into hilarity–over the meaning of “interim” and “permanent”.
Yesterday, after meeting with Kerry in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas was at great pains to say that under no circumstances will the Palestinians accept an “interim agreement”, but now, he said, they are suddenly willing to accept a “permanent agreement implemented in stages.”
What is a “permanent agreement implemented in stages”? An interim agreement in which each stage of the process is completed before the next stage is implemented. When all stages are completed, then there is a permanent agreement.
Aside from obviously crucial questions of substance, some basic questions in any such agreement would be:
1) How long will each stage take? Are we talking months? years? Kerry’s proposal about a 10 year IDF presence in the Jordan Valley alone has apparently been utterly rejected by the Palestinians.
2) What happens when the Palestinians don’t keep their commitments? Look at what happened after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Within months, the Palestinians were sending suicide bombers into Israel. What makes anyone think that the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aksa Martyr’s Brigade, Al-Qaeda and a hundred other Palestinian terrorist groups will not do the same again?
3) From the perspective of the Israeli public, when would there be a referendum on the “agreement”? Would it come at the beginning of the process when there would a possibility to have some real input–or at the end of the process when the agreement would be a fait accompli? Obviously, the ever devious Netanyahu-Livni duo would prefer the latter.
An “interim permanent agreement implemented in stages” that becomes a fait accompli–this is the goal of the Americans and the Netanyahu-Livni negotiating team.