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Jordan's King Vows to 'Thwart Unilateral Israeli Action' in Jerusalem

By Israel Hayom & Reuters

King Abdullah of Jordan has vowed that his country would oppose any attempt by Israel to change the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and particularly on the Temple Mount. In a speech before his parliament, Abdullah said Jordan would "continue to oppose and thwart any unilateral Israeli steps in Jerusalem, and defend its Muslim and Christian holy sites. The ground in Jerusalem is soaked with the blood of our dead. The holy city has been entrusted to us."

In the wake of the attempt on right-wing activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick's life last week, the Jerusalem District Police temporarily barred all worshipers from Temple Mount, as a precautionary measure. The move met with scathing criticism from Jordan, which threatened to revoke its 1994 peace treaty with Israel if the status quo at the volatile compound was changed in any way.

During Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged restraint. "We are determined to safeguard the status quo [in Jerusalem], for all religions, and prevent further escalation on the Temple Mount or around the Temple Mount. It is easy to start a religious fire, but it is very difficult to extinguish one. What we need right now is to exercise restraint and responsibility. ... I urge MKs from all Knesset factions, as well as my fellow ministers -- these are sensitive times and we should not play into our enemies' hands.

"We need to exercise restraint and work together to see cooler heads prevail," Netanyahu told the ministers, further asking that they "avoid taking private initiatives or making inflammatory statements" regarding Temple Mount.

Israel Radio on Monday quoted a report by Kuwait's Al-Jarida newspaper indicating that Netanyahu and Abdullah held a clandestine meeting over the weekend in efforts to ease recent tensions over the escalation of violence on the Temple Mount. The report has not been confirmed by any Israeli official. The Kuwaiti newspaper reported that both leaders agreed to widen the cooperation between Israel and the Waqf -- the Muslim administrative body in Jerusalem -- to facilitate the calming of tensions in the city.


US: Kerry Won't Unveil Peace Plan in Talks with Palestinians

By AFP

Top US diplomat John Kerry on Monday was to meet the chief Palestinian negotiator but would not unveil an American peace plan, an official said, adding such a move would be unproductive.

"There are no current plans to introduce a peace plan," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, dismissing reports that proposals would be laid on the table during Kerry's meeting with Saeb Erakat in Washington. Kerry's bid to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians ended in failure earlier this year, leaving bitter recriminations on both sides.

US officials have insisted progress was made during some nine months of intense shuttle diplomacy, but have resisted calls to formulate Washington's own peace plan as a means of bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table.

"It's up to the parties to take steps," Psaki said. "We know what the issues are, we know what the conditions would be, but it's up to them. So we're only going to take steps that we think would be productive."

Psaki on Monday blasted Israel for approving plans for 500 settler homes in East Jerusalem. The office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week said it would build more than 1,000 new settler homes in the part of the holy city captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"It would be unfortunate" if after "the unequivocal and unanimous" opposition of the US and international community "Israeli authorities would actively seek to move these plans forward," Psaki said. She insisted the United States would be "willing to be a capable partner" if there was a move to resume negotiations, but said there was no current "evidence of that." On the part of Israel, Psaki said: "If they were going to restart a peace negotiation, we would be seeing actions and we'd be seeing efforts on their part to do that."

A senior Palestinian official said at the weekend Washington was seeking to dissuade the Palestinians from pursuing further claims to statehood at the United Nations. To that end Kerry was planning to put forward some proposals on the way forward, the Palestinian official said, asking not to be named. She added that Kerry and Erakat would look at ways to lower tensions in East Jerusalem after a series of clashes and attacks in recent weeks.


US Army Buys Its First Iron Dome from Israel

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Israel had been struggling to sell the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system abroad, but the Israel Defense website revealed on Sunday that a major purchaser has been found: the United States. Apparently the US Army will acquire one Iron Dome battery, and based on tests it will conduct on the system decide whether or not to purchase more units of the Israeli defense system that reportedly boasted a 90% hit rate in Operation Protective Edge.

Israel Defense notes that at the beginning of Iron Dome's development the US Army didn't have much confidence in the system, which is why it was funded with a special budget and not the ordinary annual US defense budget that is allocated for other anti-missile systems such as the Arrow.

Having seen the system proven in war, the US now apparently is considering deploying it to defend military establishments and US soldiers around the world, as its short-range missile defense capability is not in great demand in America.

Recently cooperation was agreed upon between the Israeli defense company Rafael which developed Iron Dome and the American company Raytheon, by which they will develop Iron Dome together on American soil.

By doing so, Iron Dome may be included in the "normal" defense budget for Israel, which requires roughly 75% of Israel's defense spending to be of American-made military hardware. It also will allow Israel and the US to offer the system for sale to several other countries, such as Poland, Ukraine and South Korea.

India has also reportedly been interested in buying the Israeli-made system, with defense ties between the two countries soaring of late, and with India increasingly buying from Israel rather than the US.


New IDF Tablet Sends Real-Time Footage From the Field

By YnetNews.com

The Israel Defense Forces is currently completing development of a heavy-duty personal tablet for its field commanders. Equipped with a seven-inch screen, the tablet will be able to broadcast direct video feeds from various cameras in the commander's sector, thereby providing him with a live picture of events in the field.

The device will also serve to send and receive additional vital informational from out in the field. The commander can either carry the tablet on his person, usually strapped to the thigh, or place it in a readily accessible pouch in the backpack of his communications officer.

The tablet has yet to pass through its baptism of fire, but its designers, from the Center of Encryption and Information Safety at the IDF's Computer Services Directorate, did work on their latest software updates with combat soldiers during the course of Operation Protective Edge.

The tablet, based on a system developed by American company CTI, has the capacity to display video images relayed by all the relevant IDF cameras in the sector – on land, in the air and at sea. Currently, when a company commander out in his jeep receives an alert about an incident along the border fence, he has to maintain radio contact with all of the lookout stations in an effort to get a complete picture of the situation; this takes time and can lead to misunderstandings and errors.

With the tablet, however, he can simply hook up to the live feed – relayed simultaneously to all the command elements – and see exactly what is happening on the ground right away.

This is a complex technical capability: The highly encrypted wireless transmission is carried along a high bandwidth, without delays anywhere along the line, even in areas in which there is no cellular network coverage.

The new tablet will be incorporated into the extensive system of surveillance and monitoring measures, known as Crystal Ball, employed by the IDF during Protective Edge. The system, which provides video coverage of a huge area at any given moment, has the ability to receive real-time video images from specific locations and then relay them to the appropriate forces as required. The video footage can come, for example, from drones and surveillance balloons in the sky, from vessel out at sea or near the coast, from fixed cameras, and even from a soldier's helmet-mounted camera.

Crystal Ball is unique in that it gathers and consolidates all the video footage collected by the various IDF entities into a single, standardized system that is fully accessible to commanders at various levels, in keeping with operational needs. Thus, the system's controllers function somewhat like directors in a television studio who view footage coming in from a number of cameras and need to decide at any given moment which camera to use to display the images that are broadcast to the viewers.

The system's senior commander is faced with a map on which appear the various cameras and the angles they cover; and with one click, he can bring up a live feed from a specific camera and relay the live images to the forces in the field. He decides who receives which feed. One click gives you live images from an Israel Navy ship off the coast of Gaza, and another click gives you the perspective from a camera on the beach.

The beach landing by terrorists near Kibbutz Zikim during Operation Protective Edge offered a good example of the system's capabilities. The IDF lookout spotted the infiltration, and the images were immediately fed into the Crystal Ball system. Helicopters were scrambled to the area, and the live images were relayed to the pilots too. The circle closed quickly and the response was swift.

The IDF's Computer Services Directorate has also developed a satellite transceiver designed to facilitate communication in areas where wireless communication is impossible. The system – which can be turned into a fully-fledged communications unit, complete with an antenna and broadcast dish, within minutes – is portable and can be carried by two soldiers.

The transceiver serves in essence as a relay station, creating a network accessible from the soldiers' radios and communications devices. The data is carried by satellite. The idea behind the development is that if one of the communication systems crashes, there will always be another one to facilitate the functioning of the data and command and control systems.

`Moving Up: Israel Now 38th Best Country to Live in for 2014

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Quality of life in Israel keeps on improving, according to the 2014 Legatum Global Prosperity Index, as the Jewish state moved up one place in 2014, from the 39th most prosperous country in the world to the 38th.

The Global Prosperity Index "defines prosperity in terms of wealth and well-being," based on statistics and data from 142 countries, according to the report.

`The report also includes a dizzying array of sub-indices, including Education, Social Capital, Health, Personal Freedom, Governance, Economy, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, and Safety & Security.

Israel, overall, did well in most sub-indices, with the best sub-index being Social Capital (19th worldwide) and the worst being Personal Freedom (97th).

A close analysis of the report reveals a plethora of interesting facts about life in Israel - and, overall, that Israelis have their basic needs more than well-provided for and enjoy a wide range of social, educational, and economic opportunity.

Economically, Israel is doing considerably better than the global average. While only 1.8% of respondents said Israel's economy was "getting better" (comparable to the global rate of 1.9%), Israel does have a sky-high capital per worker rate of 110512.8 (compared to 53494 worldwide - nearly double).

Likewise, 89.5% of Israelis said they have access to adequate food and shelter and 70.4% said they were satisfied with their overall quality of life. Worldwide, just 70.4% of respondents said they had food and shelter - and just 59.4% said they were satisfied with current living standards.

Oddly, Israelis have a far higher mobile phone per-person rate compared to the global average, with 122 mobile phones per 100 people and 97% of households owning a mobile phone (compared to 106.8 per 100 people and 84.7%).

However, the general public is not satisfied with governmental efforts to address poverty, with only 14.1% of respondents saying the government is doing enough for the poor (compared to 38.2% worldwide).

Israel does have high confidence in its military, however, with 81.9% expressing confidence in the IDF (compared to 73.3% worldwide confidence in national armies). Israel is safe, as well: 70.7% of respondents said they "felt safe walking alone at night" (compared to 61.5% worldwide).

Health and education also fared well in Israel. 94% of Israelis are vaccinated against infectious diseases (89.4% worldwide), and 80% said they were "satisfied" with their level of personal health (compared to 78%).

The average lifespan in Israel is 81.7, compared to 70.7 worldwide; however, Israelis do suffer from anxiety, with 52.5% of respondents saying they "felt worried yesterday" (vs. 38.5% worldwide).

Meanwhile, Israelis are highly educated, the poll shows, with 101.7% of Israeli teenagers enrolled in secondary education (versus just 79.9% worldwide) and 96.7% of Israeli children enrolled in primary education (vs. 90.5%). 65.8% of Israeli adults were, are, or have been enrolled in higher education institutions - considerably higher than the global rate of 39.6%. Overall, 70.2% of Israelis are satisfied with the level of education (compared to 66.1%).

Overall, Israel ranked the second-highest for well-being in the Middle East, just behind the United Arab Emirates (28th). The top five were Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, and Canada; the lowest five were Yemen, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Australia ranked seventh; the US, tenth; and the United Kingdom, 13th.


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