Newsletter : 14fx1229.txt
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Hamas' Khaled Meshaal Heads for New Exile
Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshaal, forced to quit his old headquarters in Damascus
after abandoning his longtime host Bashar Assad and finding sanctuary in Doha - is again
being hounded from pillar to post. A deal struck between Egypt and Qatar could result in
the Hamas leader settling in the Iranian capital. This would afford Tehran a foothold in
the Gaza Strip, its second Mediterranean outpost after Lebanon on the Israeli border.
The Egyptian-Qatar deal, revealed here by DEBKAfile's Middle East sources, covers the
future of the Muslim Brotherhood, the nemesis of Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisis,
and its offspring, the Palestinian Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Their memorandum of
understanding was concluded December 24, in Cairo by a delegation of Qatari intelligence
chiefs and the new Egyptian director of intelligence Gen. Khaled Fawzi. They spent most of
the day hammering out the following six points:
1. Qatar withdraws its support from all Brotherhood operations against Egypt and Saudi
Arabia; 2. This point applies equally to any Hamas activity that may be interpreted as
inimical to Egypt 3. Qatar's assistance to Hamas will be limited to "civilian" projects
(such as repairing war damage in Gaza), which too will be subject to President El-Sisi's
approval; 4. Given the close cooperation maintained at present between the Egyptian
president and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on affairs relating to Gaza,
Israel will implicitly have the right to disqualify certain Palestinian projects in the
enclave; 5. Qatar is to shut down the anti-Egyptian propaganda channel run by its Al
Jazeera television station; 6. The emirate is not required to sever all its ties with the
Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, just to keep them under control as its "strategic
DEBKAfile's sources add: Brotherhood leaders have exited Doha and made arrangements to
establish residence and a new center of operations in London, U.K. Khaled Meshaal, after
he was denied permission by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to set up shop in Istanbul,
is on the point of a decision to relocate his offices in Tehran. Iran would thus gain a
proxy foothold in the Gaza Strip, its second outpost on the Mediterranean after the first
was provided by Hizbullah in Lebanon. If Meshaal decided to settle in Tehran, Iran would
acquire a handy springboard for action against Egypt and southern Israel.
Iranian Soldiers Photographed on Lebanon-Israel Border
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has published a report documenting
photographs of Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers "killing time" at the Lebanon-Israel
border. Preliminary information suggests the pictures were taken in October, but were
released only recently, along with verbal threats against Israel. Several photographs
published contain the caption: "We have arrived to the cursed Israel."
The Twitter account linked to the Revolutionary Guards uploaded a number of the
pictures on Thursday, with the headline, "The Islamic Republic soldiers are on the border
of occupied Palestine." The soldiers' faces were blurred, so as not to be identified.
According to MEMRI's reports, the photos were also published a week and a half ago on the
Iranian military's website. In this case, the soldiers' faces are visible.
The Iranian military's websites showcases photos of soldiers taken in the Bekaa Valley
and Baalbek in south Lebanon. "We have come close to the motherland of corruption - the
cursed Israel. With Allah's help, we will trample over their bodies" the website
In October, the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said that terrorists
from Hezbollah, which controls south Lebanon, could be found operating in the area near
the Litani River - in violation of a United Nations resolution.
More recently, on Thursday, the Iranian army began a massive military drill sprawling
from the farthest eastern expanses of the Islamic regime all the way to its southern
maritime borders opposite the principality of Oman, in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf
A full 13,000 Iranian soldiers are taking part in the six-day drill, reportedly marking
the first time the Iranian navy is conducting a drill so far offshore. Iranian media
reported Saturday that Iran has begun running tests on a new weapon in their arsenal:
domestically produced exploding "suicide" drones meant to strike targets on land, air and
Iranian Navy Commander, Habib Allah Sayyari told a news conference that one of the main
objective of the extensive military exercise is to convey a message of peace. He claims
that Iran's neighbors need to know that improving the combat capabilities of the Iranian
army are not directed toward anyone in particular, but are intended only for the
protection of Iran's borders and interests.
PA: Security Council to Vote Monday on 'End to Occupation'
By Israel Hayom
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said Friday that a
Palestinian-proposed Security Council resolution setting a 2017 deadline for an "end to
the occupation" would be brought to a vote on Monday. Erekat's statement came after a
meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
According to Erekat, changes have been made to the wording of the resolution to make it
more palatable to Security Council members, including the U.S., which has hinted that it
would likely veto the resolution if it was approved.
Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported that Qatar would suspend the
financial and diplomatic support it provides to Hamas. According to the report, this is
due to a thaw in the relationship between Qatar and Egypt. In a reported deal brokered by
Saudi Arabia, Qatar agreed to halt its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas
is an offshoot, and cease Qatar-owned Al Jazeera's unfavorable coverage of Egyptian
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Argentinian President Adopts Jew to Counter Werewolf Curse
By Israel Hayom & Reuters
Last week, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez presided over the lighting of
Chanukah candles with the Tawil family, whose son Yair was, according to urban legend,
prevented from turning into a werewolf when the president adopted him as godson Fernandez
adopted the Jewish 21-year-old from a Chabad family as grandson, as part of a superstition
turned tradition about werewolves.
According to the legend, if a family has only sons and no daughters, the seventh son
will become a werewolf, or "Lobizon," that would attack others and turn them into
werewolves. A law passed in the 1920s allows the president to adopt the seventh son as a
godson to prevent the family from suffering the cursed fate.
Up until 2009, the law only applied to Catholics. Yair Tawil was the first Jew to be
adopted since the law was changed. Tawil's parents had asked for Yair to be adopted as
early as 1993, but were denied. Tawil appealed to the president in a letter and cited the
2009 ruling as a reason for him to be reconsidered for adoption, thus avoiding the curse.
Recipients of the presidential adoption are also eligible for a full educational
The werewolf shows its true nature on the first Friday after the boy's 13th birthday,
legend says. The boy turns into a demon at midnight whenever there is a full moon, doomed
to hunt and kill others before returning to human form. Belief in the legend was so
widespread in 19th century Argentina that families began abandoning - even murdering -
their own baby boys.
That atrocity sparked the Presidential practice of adoption, which began in 1907, and
was formally established in 1973 by Juan Domingo Peron, who extended the tradition to
include baby girls.
In a series of tweets, Fernandez described the meeting as a "magical moment" with a
"marvelous family." She described Yair as "a total sweety," and called his mother "Queen
Esther." The President also tweeted that the Tawils "are a very special family. They have
a sort of peace, happiness and a lot of love that is not common."
Stunning Pictures of Israel from Space Posted by NASA Astronaut
Stunning pictures of Israel taken from space were posted on Friday to the Facebook of
the International Space Station. The photos, taken by commander of the current Expedition
41 to the ISS Barry Wilmore, were shot as the ISS passed over Israel from a height of 431
kilometers (268 miles) and appeared with a caption: "Israel -- completely clear -- on
Christmas morning from the International Space Station. Astronaut Barry Wilmore woke up
early on Christmas to reflect upon the beauty of the Earth and snap some images to share
with the world."
The first image was taken from the south and shows the contrast between the desert and
green Israel. The image shows the country without a cloud in the sky, which enable the
nation's natural borders to be spotted easily: Inside the Green Line, everything is green,
while outside it, the prominent color is brown.
The second picture, taken directly above the Dead Sea, shows how the world's saltiest
body of water is shrinking. The southern part of the Dead Sea -- where the Dead Sea Works
is located -- has already dried up. The third picture was taken above the Sea of Galilee
and the lake is shown amid green fields and orchards.
Thousands of visitors to the page have seen the photos, and an argument sprang up
between Israelis and Palestinians after the latter demanded that the entire area shown be
called "Palestine." One visitor tried to broker a compromise, proposing that it be called
neither Israel nor Palestine, but rather "Mother Earth." "Learn to love, not hate," he
admonished the others.
Spiritual Leader of Israel's African Hebrews Dies
By VOA & YnetNews.com
The American-born spiritual leader of Israel's African Hebrew movement, Ben Ami Ben
Israel, has died at 75.A movement spokesperson said Ben Israel died suddenly Saturday. The
cause of death is unclear. Ben Israel was born in Chicago. He had what he called a
"vision" in 1966 to lead about 400 other black Jews to Israel. The group arrived in
Liberia and migrated to Israel three years later.
Suspicious Israeli officials settled the group in the desert town of Dimona, where Ben
Israel's followers struggled to gain recognition as Jews from senior Israeli rabbis and
citizenship from the government. The African Hebrews were eventually given permanent
residency, and Ben Israel was granted Israeli citizenship. The group now numbers about
2,700. The community, which some labeled a cult, was established in Chicago's
underprivileged neighborhoods as part of the Black Hebrews movement.
The members of the community have a unique vegan lifestyle and fast every Saturday. The
community sustains itself with vegan restaurants located in Tel Aviv and Dimona, where
they now call home.
The Hebrew African Israelites were shocked by the death of Ben-Israel, who had been
receiving treatment at the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva for an illness. The
community issued a day of mourning and canceled school on Sunday.
In a statement released by the community it was written: He devoted his life to the
community, the state of Israel and the land of Israel. He created a unique model of social
development that should be encouraged and emulated. Despite the disagreements between the
community and the country at the beginning of our journey, Ben Ami was consistent in his
commitment to the country. The Hebrew community will remain loyal the vision of our leader
and will continue his vast work in Israel and around the world."
The Mayor of Dimona, Beni Biton, said: "In the past few days 61 housing units were
approved for their community. He personally worked on the matter along with the former
internal minister Gideon Sa'ar who helped them much. He was not able to see the big vegan
festival that we conducted because he didn't feel well."
"We love Israel with all of our hearts, get drafted into the army and see ourselves as
an inseparable part of the State of Israel," Ben-Israel said in the past.
Ben-Israel, a former Baptist, founded the community after a coworker enlightened him on
the notion that he was a descendent of the biblical Israelites and in 1966 Ben-Israel
claimed he had received a vision from the angel Gabriel.
Apartment Rental Prices in Israel See 60% Rise in Past Decade
Apartment rental prices in Israel have skyrocketed in the past several years, according
to figures released by the Housing Ministry, as an increasing number of couples say they
can't afford to pay the costs of housing. The report shows that rental prices have gone up
by an average of approximately 58% from 2008 to September 2014 considerably higher
than the consumer price index. The situation is worse in Tel Aviv, where rental prices
increased by 72% over the past six years.
According to the Housing Ministry's figures, the average rent for apartments in Tel
Aviv was NIS 2,749 per month (about $701 based on NIS 3.92 to $1 US)). The following eight
years saw a moderate increase in prices, with the average rental price at NIS 3,277 per
month in 2008. Since then, the price has gone up to NIS 5,643 on average per month (about
The following data refers to the average rent for apartments of all sizes: In Tel Aviv,
the rental price for a small apartment (1.5-2 rooms) is NIS 3,984 per month. Average rent
for a bigger apartment (2.5-3 rooms) is NIS 4,954. Those renting a 4.5-5 room apartment
pay no less than NIS 8,200 on average.
In Jerusalem, rental prices for apartment have risen more moderately, with a smaller
leap of 48% in the past six years. In 2008, the average price of an apartment in the
capital stood at NIS 2,688 - today it stands at approximately NIS 4,000 per month. The
average rental price for a 1.5-2 room apartment in Jerusalem is NIS 2,884 per month. Rent
for apartments with 3.5-4 rooms is NIS 4,510 almost the same price as a 2-room
apartment in Tel Aviv.
Amos and Aliza Saban are worried about the future of their 29-year-old daughter Karin,
who lives in Be'er Sheva in a rented apartment with her husband and two children, aged
three and two months. "Things were much easier in our days," they say. "Today a simple
3-room apartment costs about NIS 750,000-800,000. The salary can barely cover baby formula
and diapers. The children are becoming a burden to their parents. Even if they want to
save up for their retirement, they can't."
When Karin and her husband got married four years ago, they moved to live with one of
their parents, as they couldn't afford to rent an apartment. Today they live in a 3-room
apartment, for which they pay NIS 2,200 per month. However, Karin adds, "Now that our
family is expanding, we have to move and a new apartment will cost NIS 3,000 per month.
We'll have to work very hard to maintain the home." "The idea of purchasing an apartment
seems like a dream. The government does not do enough to lower housing prices. It just
rises and rises," Karin adds.
According to figures from Central Bureau of Statistics released in 2013, which rely on
the 2012 household expenses survey data, there has been a decline in the proportion of
ownership of apartments by young married couples ages 30-39 over the last 16 years.
Between 1997 and 2002 the percentage of 30-39 year olds who owned apartments decreased
from 68.7% to 56.7%. As a result, there's been a rise in rental rates for that age group,
from 25.2% to 37.2%. The CBS reported that this trend has been registered mostly among
The drop in share of apartment ownership among young couples contributed to the general
trend of lowered real estate ownership in the population. The CBS found that from 1997 to
2012 there was a drop from 70.2% to 67.9% in the rate of ownership of at least one
apartment in the overall household.
Conservative Judaism Youth Group Relaxes Inter-Dating Rules
In a controversial yet subtle move, United Synagogue Youth (USY) passed a new
resolution that drops the binding "expectation" that leaders will not date non-Jews, and
replaces it with a "recogni[tion of] the importance of dating within the Jewish
USY is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The new
amendment was adopted at USY's annual international convention in Atlanta. In practice,
while until now members were prevented from serving in regional leadership positions if
they dated non-Jews, the new amendment means that this criterion is no longer binding.
JTA cited the example of a USY member from Maryland who said she considered running for
her region's board, until she learned that the now-changed USY rules precluded her from
doing so because she has a non-Jewish boyfriend. Under the new resolution, she and others
like her would be allowed to serve as USY leaders.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, was quoted
by JTA as saying, "Encouraging Jews to marry other Jews is the most successful path toward
creating committed Jewish homes. At the same time, we can't put our heads in the sand
about the fact that we live in an incredibly free society, where even committed Jews will
marry outside the faith. If they do, we must welcome them wholeheartedly and encourage
them to embrace Judaism," he added.
Rabbi Elan Adler, a pulpit rabbi for 25 years in American Orthodox synagogues who made
Aliyah 5 years ago, told Israel National News in response to Wernick's words: "As
traditional Jews, we keep our heads well out of the sand, in our wide-ranging contacts
with people of other beliefs. At the same time, to paraphrase a book title from 20 years
ago, intermarriage begins with an inter-date. The only way to guarantee a Jewish future
and prevent assimilation is to ensure zero tolerance for inter-dating," said the rabbi.
The seminal 2013 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jewry found that among Jewish
respondents who have gotten married since 2000, nearly six-in-ten have a non-Jewish
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