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Egypt opens Rafah border crossing with Gaza for three days

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Egyptian authorities on Saturday open Rafah border with the Israel-blockaded Gaza Strip for three days to allow stranded Palestinians to return home. During three days, border will be open in one sense, from Egypt to Palestine. It will be the first opening of the border since 55 days, told an Interior minister source. This border is an important strategic point for Palestinian population, indeed, it’s the own border with the rest of the world without Israel control.

Trump announces first official foreign trip to include Israel.

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U.S. President Donald Trump has officially announced he will visit Israel as part of his first foreign trip since his inauguration in January.U.S. press secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement saying, “The leaders will discuss a range of regional issues, including the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies, and by ISIS and other terrorist groups. They will also discuss ways to advance a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians”. Officials said Trump would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but declined to say where, and said dates and other details would be provided later. Trump’s visit will come ahead of Israel’s Jerusalem Day celebrations on May 24.A presidential waiver suspending the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is set to expire on June 1. Trump must decide by then whether to fulfill his campaign promise to relocate the embassy, thereby officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and renew the waiver. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had a testy relationship with both Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose leaders viewed him as being concerned less with traditional alliances than with negotiating a diplomatic agreement with Iran, which both Israel and Saudi Arabia view as an enemy. Trump’s foreign visit appears to be aimed at reinvigorating traditional alliances in the region.

Trump to visit the Vatican, Israel and Saudi Arabia on first foreign trip.

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President Donald Trump said Thursday his first foreign trip later this month will include visits to the Vatican, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, stops that his top aides hope will both combat views of the President abroad and build toward Middle East peace. The stops will come before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 meeting in Italy on May 26.  “Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries”, Trump said Thursday in announcing his trip.

Pence: U.S. Embassy move under 'serious consideration'

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President Donald Trump is giving “serious consideration” to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday, a day before a scheduled White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Trump is also “personally committed” to becoming the U.S. president who finally ends the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pence said.Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a politically charged act that would anger Palestinians who want east Jerusalem as a future capital and part of their sovereign territory. Such a move would also distance the U.S. from most of the international community, including its closest allies in Western Europe and the Arab world. The White House said on Monday that Trump will continue to talk to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about settlement activity in Judea and Samaria. The announcement was made following reports that Israel plans to build 15,000 new homes in east Jerusalem. “I’m sure that we’ll continue to have conversations with the prime minister and that’ll be something that the president will continue to discuss”, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing after being asked if Netanyahu was snubbing the U.S. president.

On eve of 69th Independence Day, 89% of population 'proud' to be Israeli

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On the eve of Israel’s 69th Independence Day, 89% of the country’s citizens say they are “proud” to be Israeli. More than half (58%) of those polled said they were “very proud” of their nationality, and another 31% said they were “fairly proud” to be Israelis. Only 8% said they “were not very proud” and 1% said they were “not proud at all”. An additional 2% said they didn’t know whether or not they were proud to be Israeli.The poll was conducted on April 26 among a representative sample of 500 Hebrew-speaking Israelis. The poll also asked respondents what they saw as the most critical problem facing Israel, and security issues were far from the top of respondents’ list of concerns: 22% cited social schisms as the biggest problem in Israel, 21% pointed to the economic situation, and 18% said corruption was the biggest problem. Only 17% pointed to terrorism as the biggest problem in Israel.

Netanyahu: I won't meet diplomats who engage with groups that slander Israel.

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On Tuesday, Netanyahu threatened to scrap his meeting with Gabriel if the German minister met with members of nongovernmental organizations Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. Both organizations have been widely criticized by the Israeli Right for damaging Israel’s reputation abroad and putting Israeli soldiers and officials at risk of prosecution. Meanwhile, Gabriel told reporters the decision was “not nice” and had caught him by surprise, since he generally had an open relationship with Netanyahu. But he added that it did not spell “the end of diplomatic ties between the two countries”.”I regret it greatly. And, I’ll say it openly, we cannot become a political football for Israeli domestic politics”, he said. “But it’s not a catastrophe. There will be another occasion to meet somewhere. We have to let things cool off”. Gabriel underscored the importance of Germany’s ties to Israel during a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, saying: “You can absolutely be sure we are committed to the friendship, the partnership and the special relationship with Israel, and nothing will change this”. B’Tselem issued a statement late on Tuesday that did not give any details of the meeting with Gabriel, but was highly critical of Netanyahu and the Israeli government’s policies and vowed to continue opposing them.

Critics blast US shipment of fighter jets to Israel

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Israel received three F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States at the weekend – a new generation of “near-invisible” planes that critics fear will free the country’s hand to launch air strikes and spying operations against neighbouring states undetected. In total, Israel has bought 50 F-35s from manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and claims it will have the first squadron combat-ready before the end of the year. It is the first country outside the US to be allowed access to the warplane, said to be the most expensive ever developed. The F-35’s main selling point is its advanced stealth capabilities, reportedly allowing it to evade even the most sophisticated antiaircraft missile systems. Lockheed describes the plane as “virtually invisible”.

Dayan said he hopes that under Trump more realistic goals will be set for the Israel-Palestinian conflict

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“If we believe that our alliance is not only with the American government but also with the American people, then we have to forge that alliance with all the relevant parts of the American people”, he told the Post. “You cannot neglect half of the population [who didn’t vote for President Donald Trump] and expect the alliance to remain intact”. For this, the consul believes Israel needs to work with both sides of the aisle in Washington and both sides of what he calls the “virtual aisle” in American public opinion. “It has no basis” stated Dayan, who admits he didn’t expect Trump to win. “Israel’s strategy is to be as friendly as we can with any administration, as long as that administration wants to be friendly with Israel”. In the previous administration, when the first step of the president was to go to Cairo and skip Jerusalem, that hindered the sense of friendship, but fortunately with this administration it’s different,” he said.Dayan said he hopes that under Trump more realistic goals will be set for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “I hope that the targets that the administration will set are those that are doable, because we need to advance, but with things that are realistic”, he said. “Unfortunately, when I see the declarations by the Palestinian leadership, I don’t see a serious will to reach an agreement”.

Pro-Israel Group seeks legal action against Barcelona BDS declaration

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Last week, the Presidency Commission of the Barcelona City Council issued a declaration calling for an end to Israel’s “violations of international law”. While the council fell short of issuing full support of BDS and declaring itself “Free of Israel Apartheid”, its declaration did give a nod in support of the movement.On Tuesday, ACOM president Angel Mas told The Jerusalem Post that the declaration by the Barcelona City Council represents a new strategy by pro-BDS movements in Spain.“We have to be very clear about what actually happened in Barcelona. Extreme Left parties have gained access to many municipalities [throughout Spain], including control of the large municipalities in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. Their original plan was very clear “to have very significant parts of Spain become ‘Judenfrei’”, Mas said, using the German term for “Free from Jews”. However, according to Mas, that plan was met with severe opposition in the media, certain branches of government and the courts. Following the municipality’s declaration, Rafeef Ziadah, a member of the International Secretary of the Palestinian National Committee of BDS issued a statement to the media in which he welcomed the resolution. “This resolution is an institutional recognition of civil society demands for an end to complicity in violations of international law through nonviolent struggle, as practiced by the BDS movement”, he said.

Israeli soldier wounded in stabbing attack near Ramallah.

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A Palestinian woman stabbed and wounded a female IDF soldier at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah on Monday morning before being apprehended by security forces at the checkpoint.The soldier, 28, sustained wounds to her shoulder. She was treated on site before being evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. According to the Israel Police, shortly before 7 a.m., a Palestinian woman approached soldiers at the checkpoint, saying she had a question. Once she was close to the soldiers, the woman pulled a knife out of her bag and stabbed one soldier in the shoulder. Security camera footage showed the assailant accosting several people in a hotel lobby. The owner of an art gallery in the area told reporters he also entered her establishment, punched her in the ear and stabbed her before fleeing.Tel Aviv Police Commander Shlomi Sagi told the Walla news site that the suspect had arrived in Tel Aviv as part of a “peace tour” for young Palestinians. He had received a one-time entry permit to Israel to participate in the tour, Sagi said.Following the attack, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai temporarily suspended all one-time entry permits into Israel.

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