FURTHER UPDATE 7 pm:
It has just been announced on Israeli TV that a deal has been reached between the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians to extend the “peace talks”. Israel has agreed to release the final batch of 26 murderers in addition to 400+ more Palestinian criminals in Israeli prisons; the Palestinians have agreed to withdraw their applications to the United Nations and elsewhere (despite the statements today of Mahmoud Abbas–see below); and the U.S. has agreed to release Jonathan Pollard.
We should take this announcement with a heavy dose of salt. In this part of the world, “deals” have a way of unraveling–will the Israeli cabinet approve such a deal? will Abbas really withdraw the applications? will Obama commute Pollard’s sentence?
UPDATES 6 pm Israel time, Thursday, April 10 2014:
**March was another record month for Israeli tourism with 303,000 tourists entering the country. The salient points:
–245,000 entries were by air of which 10,200 flew into Eilat
–39,000 came through border crossings including 32,000 from Jordan (Allenby) and 6,000 from Egypt (Taba)
–19,000 arrived in Israel via cruise ships
Isn’t it amazing that as international governmental and non-governmental attempts to isolate Israel increase, tourists pour into the country in ever greater numbers?
**The “peace process” sputters on with Martin Indyk, Tzipi Livni, and Saeb Erekat continuing to justify their existence by holding day and night “emergency” meetings. PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas indicated today that he is now willing to extend the talks past the April 29 deadline, but he is not willing to withdraw his 15 applications to international organizations.
Oh, and by the way, Abbas also reiterated that the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, and that he will not extend the talks unless he has a written commitment that “East Jerusalem” will be the capital of the new state of Palestine.
PM Netanyahu’s office let it be known yesterday that it is belatedly considering stopping payment of money to the PLO/Palestinian Authority that the Palestinians use to pay terrorists salaries while they are in Israeli prisons and stipends to families of suicide bombers.
Each month Israel transfers to the Palestinians $400 million in tax monies that it collects for the Palestinians. Of this this amount, the PLO/Palestinian Authority pays $153.5 million to the aforementioned terrorists and terrorist families.
**Meanwhile, Israel Economic Minister and head of the Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett declared that Israel needs to annex Area C of Judea and Samaria once and for all. It is time, he said, for Israel to take the initiative and not continually be on the defense.
Your humble servant could not agree more. Area C–which is about 60% of Judea and Samaria–contains all of the Jewish community blocks with their 360,000+ residents and about 60,000+ Palestinians. All residents of the area should become citizens of Israel.
**A “mortar rocket” fired from Gaza last night hit Sha’ar Hanegev. There were no warning sirens so this time the IDF spokesman was unable to spout his usual “it was a false alarm”.
More than this the spokesman could not say that “it hit in Gaza” or it hit in “open spaces” because the projectile exploded beside the kibbutz’s swimming pool and damaged surrounding buildings. Fortunately no residents were physically wounded.
*Israel successfully launched its Ofek-10 military satellite into space yesterday from the Palmahim Air Force base in central Israel. The satellite is expected to greatly expand Israel’s intelligence gathering ability–especially as regards the ongoing development of the Iranian nuclear program.