Newsletter : 13fx1210.txt
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Netanyahu: Any Peace Agreement will be Brought to Referendum
By The Times of Israel
A day after Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he would support a coalition shift to back
a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu assured his
fellow Likud-Beytenu lawmakers Monday that any agreement would be subject to a national
referendum, and not just Knesset politics.
"Any agreement reached will come to a referendum," Netanyahu declared in a
Likud-Beytenu faction meeting. "I committed to it and this is essentially correct and
would happen if any agreement is reached." Netanyahu also told the faction he did not
anticipate an accord being signed in the near future, in comments that contrasted with
recent upbeat assessments by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The referendum bill, proposed by coalition chair Yariv Levin, passed its first reading
in the Knesset on August 1 with 66 in favor and 45 opposed. The proposed legislation is an
extension of a 2010 law and would require all land-for-peace deals to be submitted to a
public vote. The law would cover areas in sovereign Israel, including East Jerusalem and
the Golan Heights, but would not apply to the West Bank. The referendum bill is currently
undergoing revision and will be brought to a second and third reading at a later date.
"What will determine whether an agreement will be reached is not the composition of
this or any other coalition, but rather the essence of the deal," Netanyahu said,
addressing Lapid's remarks Sunday that a coalition change may be in order to further a
On Sunday, Lapid vowed to not let the peace process be derailed by extremists, hinting
at opposition to a deal by the nationalist Jewish Home party, which sits in the coalition.
"I'm determined to do everything within my power to ensure that this government stays the
course even if developments in the peace negotiations necessitate a coalition
realignment of one kind or another," he said.
Earlier Sunday Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett called peace negotiations that
did not include Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, "a joke."
The referendum bill was initially met with fierce opposition by a number of prominent
Knesset members, including current Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, former opposition
leader Shelly Yachimovich, Lapid, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is managing talks
with the Palestinians. "When we declare war, we don't ask the nation (what they think),"
Livni said in July. "This is how it should also be regarding any political settlement." In
a critique leveled at the proposed law, Liberman referred to the bill as a way for
"decision makers to run away from responsibility." Bennett has touted a referendum as "the
only way to prevent a rift in the nation."
Israel and the Palestinians are five months into a planned nine-month negotiation aimed
at coming to a peace agreement. Despite reports from both sides that the talks are
reaching a dead end, the US, which is brokering the talks, has remained optimistic. On
Friday, Kerry said the sides were closer to peace than they had been in years.
Iranian Newspaper Fears `Trap' for Rouhani at Mandela Funeral
By The Times of Israel
An Iranian newspaper has warned the country's President Hassan Rouhani not to attend
the funeral of South African Nelson Mandela, because it may be a trap to bring him in
contact with President Barack Obama.
An editorial titled "Satan lays a trap, this time in Johannesburg" in the Kayhan daily
laid down the dangers to Rouhani of a chance meeting with the "head of the Great Satan
government," AFP reported on Sunday. "Some domestic and foreign media outlets are using
the funeral ceremony as a pretext to push Rouhani toward a meeting with the head of the
Great Satan government," according to the editorial board of the hardline paper.
Mandela, a former president of South Africa, died on Thursday at the age of 95. He is
due to be buried in a state funeral next Sunday in his home country.
Rouhani and Obama have not met face to face, although the two leaders spoke by
telephone for 15 minutes in September when the Iranian leader attended the United Nations
General Assembly in New York. Iran has not yet announced who will represent it at the
funeral, which will be attended by heads of state and dignitaries from around the world.
Following the news of Mandela's death last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif posted a message on his Twitter account: "We in Iran join the people of South
Africa in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, who inspired humanity with his courage and
compassion," he wrote.
Rouhani began his presidency in August 2013 and has made it his policy to present a
more moderate approach to Western nations than his predecessor did. If he does decide to
attend the funeral and risk a meeting with Obama, Rouhani can take solace in the fact that
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the "Little Satan," will be thousands of
Knesset Minister Shalom: Dead Sea 'Water Agreement Fulfills Herzl's Vision'
By YnetNews.com & The Times of Israel
Representatives of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a historic pact
between the three administrations in Washington on Monday. The agreement green-lights
construction of the Two-Seas Canal, which will connect the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
Energy Minister Silvan Shalom who is also the minister for regional cooperation
and infrastructure represented Israel at the signing ceremony.
"This is a historic agreement which fulfills the vision of Herzl for the construction of a
water canal," said the minister Monday evening. "We decided to execute the process in
stages and the first stage is a water desalination plant in Aqaba (Jordan) and the
pipeline to save the Dead Sea," added the minister.
Shalom noted that this is "another layer to peace with the Palestinian. It is a day of
celebration with no clichés. We are implementing the trilateral agreement to help
residents of the region, to save the Dead Sea, to supply water and electricity, and to
bring about strategic, economic, and political cooperation. This is a success story."
The Israeli minister further added that "the damage of not doing anything is bigger
than the cost of the project. We are progressing slowly because of ecological issues.
Let's hope that this deal would be a hopeful window for regional peace."
Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser stressed that the accord is not political: "This
is an agreement with a humanitarian aspect, designed to aid those who need water. There is
an ecological aspect as well since we are trying to save the Dead Sea," adding "Without
water there will be no employment and poverty will spike. This is why we cooperate with
our regional partners."
PA's minister in charge of water issues, Shaddad Attili, noted that "the agreement is
unrelated to the Oslo Accords. The beauty is that this is a regional deal and it is
important to everyone to save the Dead Sea. Despite political issues and the
(Israeli-Palestinian) conflict, we proved that we can all work together."
According to the agreement, approximately 100 million cubic meters of water per year
will be carried northwards, which will help slow the desiccation of the Dead Sea. The
Jordanians will receive 30 million cubes for their own southern region and an additional
50 million cubes of grey-water from the Kinneret for the north.
The desalination plant constructed in Aqaba will allow the Israelis, Jordanians, and
Palestinians to split millions of additional cubic meters of water.
As part of the agreement's negotiations, the Palestinians requested a foothold in the
northern part of the Dead Sea, but Israel refused. Instead, the Palestinian Authority will
receive approximately 30 million cubic meters from the Kinneret either desalinated
water or grey-water at production cost which will increase water supplies for West
The entirety of the pipeline will be laid in Jordan, thus circumnavigating issues
raised by environmental organizations in Israel. Barring unexpected delays, the
construction of the pipeline and purification facility will be completed within four to
Dov Litbinof, the head of Tamar council which largely borders the Dead Sea
praised the agreement, but said that it would not contribute much to the
environmental situation. "Just a drop in the ocean," he said. "There is no disagreement
that this accord is excellent for the relations and international cooperation with Jordan
and the Palestinians, and it will also help many farmers in the Arava."
He added: "This is a historic move and is really a breakthrough on this issue. But it will
not help the Dead Sea. Every year the water level drops 120 centimeters (4 feet), which is
approximately 1.6 billion cubic meters a year. Thus, any person who calculates the
addition 100 million when 1.6 billion is subtracted understands the reality. It is my
responsibility as the man in charge of the Dead Sea to do everything in my power to
prevent the lowered water level every year. We need to keep fighting for new solutions,"
The idea of a conduit between the two bodies of water was first put forward by the
British during the 19th century. In the 1990s, after Israel and Jordan signed a peace
agreement, the idea of laying a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea began to gain
TripAdvisor: Jerusalem 4th Destination On Rise
Leading travel website TripAdvisor.com has announced the winners of its 2013 Travelers'
Choice Awards for Destinations on the Rise, ranking Israel's capital city of Jerusalem in
the fourth place. The awards highlight 54 spots globally that have seen the greatest
increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest, year-over-year.
"For travelers looking for inspiration for their 2014 travel planning, TripAdvisor
travelers have helped us put a spotlight on some amazing destinations that caught the eye
of travelers this past year," said Barbara Messing, the website's chief marketing officer.
The Travelers' Choice Awards include several categories such as hotels, all-inclusive
resorts, islands and restaurants.
The Destination on the Rise list reviews 54 places around the globe. Havana, Cuba was
the No. 1 ranked destination for the top 10 in the world, followed by La Fortuna de San
Carlos, Costa Rica in the second place and Kathmandu, Nepal in the third place. Jerusalem
ranked fourth. Cusco, Peru came in fifth, followed by Ambergris Caye in Belize, Sapporo in
Japan, Hanoi in Vietnam, Corralejo in Spain and Fortaleza in Brazil.
According to TripAdvisor, "Religious pilgrims have been traveling to Jerusalem for
centuries, yet you don't have to share their zeal in order to appreciate this city's
profound cultural and historical significance. Plan on seeing the major sights, but also
leave plenty of time to walk through the streets and simply immerse yourself in the daily
life of such an ancient and revered place."
The first don't-miss site is the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, which has been ranked by
the popular website as one of the world's top 10 museums. Other recommended places on a
list of 248 things to do in Jerusalem include the Israel Museum, the Old City, the Western
Wall Tunnels, the Western Wall, Hezekiah's Tunnels, the Biblical Zoo, the Mount of Olives,
and the Jewish Quarter.
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