Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ Category

1500 Jerusalem homeowners up in arms over secret sale of church land – The Times of Israel

Some 1,500 owners of properties in Jerusalems wealthiest neighborhoods have discovered that the land on which their homes sit has been sold, in secret, to private real estate companies.

They fear that when their leases end some of them as soon as in 18 years time they will face the choice of either paying high sums to renew their leaseholds or having to sell and move.

With their homes already down 30 percent in value because of the approaching end of the leases, they also dread a scenario in which the developers buy their buildings for rock-bottom prices, then raze and rebuild them or add stories and resell them, together with the land, for huge profits.

In a Byzantine tale that weaves together real estate, property, mysterious offshore bank accounts, religion and politics, it has emerged that the Greek Orthodox Church has sold key real estate in the capital to private investors.

A view of Marcus Street in Talbieh, on which the Jerusalem Theater is located. Talbieh is one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods with a large number of Greek Orthodox Patriarchate-owned properties (Courtesy Eiferman Realty)

The deals were reportedly made not only behind the backs of the homeowners, but also without the knowledge of the Jewish National Fund to which the church originally leased the land for 99 years and the state.

The Greek Orthodox Church the second biggest owner of land in Israel after the Israel Lands Authority acquired some 4,500 dunams (1,110 acres) of real estate in the center of Jerusalem during the 19th century, primarily for agriculture. In the 1950s, just after Israels independence, it agreed to lease its land to the JNF for 99 years with an option to extend.

Even Israels parliament, the Knesset, is built on Greek Orthodox-owned land.

Somehow, the church managed to secretly sign contracts the first in 2011, and another in August 2016 to sell the land to groups of companies about which very little is known, but all of which were represented by Jerusalem lawyer Noam Ben David, according to the Calcalist business daily, which broke the story last week.

The cost of the two deals is estimated at NIS 114 million ($32.4 million) a figure which is said to reflect the fact that relatively few years remain on the leases still being paid by the JNF.

The 2016 deals, for some 500 dunams (125 acres) in central Jerusalem, were all registered through the legal offices of Ephraim Abramson and included an appendix naming many of the properties and property owners included in the deal, the report said.

The deals included more than 200 plots in the wealthy neighborhood of Talbieh, where the prime ministers and presidents residences are located, and in Nayot, near the Israel Museum leases that will run out in 30 years.

Angry residents at a meeting to discuss the Greek Orthodox Church sale of land to private real estate developers, July 4, 2017. (Channel 2 screenshot)

The deal came to light when the Greek Orthodox Church petitioned the Jerusalem District Court last week to have the Jerusalem City Council exempt it from payments relating to the 500 dunams it has sold off.

Complicating the story is the fact that Shlomo Deri, the vice chairman of JNF and the brother of interior minister and Shas party head, Aryeh Deri, is involved with one of the investor groups, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday.

Shlomo Deri, who told Channel 2 that he had no conflict of interests in the deal, was questioned by police last year as part of an ongoing corruption investigation against his politician brother.

A Shas activist named Moshe Idan is also said to be involved in the same deal to purchase two areas of real estate in the upscale Rehaviah neighborhood from the Greek Orthodox Churchs Ratisbonne Monastery.

While the JNF is not involved in that particular deal, it should have something to say about the other real estate sales.

Shlomo Deri, the brother of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in Jerusalem on December 23, 2015 (Flash90)

Laywer Noam Ben David, who represents the investors, told Calcalist, We still havent decided what to do with the rights, but we will do everything in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality. That seems to be in the shared interests of us and the residents.

He explained, All the tenants living in the leasehold apartments know that the lease ends in 2050, just like with regular lease agreements. and all the tenants know that they will leave the apartment. Whoever buys the apartment knows that and therefore the price of the apartments has gone down by 30%. Thats the reality of property today.

He indicated that the developers were eyeing empty spaces within the areas purchased for future building projects.

He would not reveal the identities of the investing developers. Indeed, the Calcalist report said that the developers asked the Jerusalem Municipality to keep the names secret because of the potential damage that could be caused to the investors and even the secondary leaseholders (apartment owners.)

The residents had assumed that the JNF would succeed in extending the leases when they expire.

Yehuda Greenfeld-Gilat, an architect and member of the Jerusalem City Councils Yerushalmim faction, which has taken up the case, told Calcalist that the homeowners had been sold off like meat.

How can a city manage itself in such a way that churches sell entire plots to private developers?

Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), a founding member of the Yerushalmim party in Jerusalem and a former Jerusalem deputy mayor, told the Knesset Interior Committee at a meeting on Wednesday that residents could not be abandoned and that were still likely to discover that countries such as Iran and Qatar may be behind these secret groups of developers, which would be contrary to the whole Zionist ethos. We must stop the current situation.

She said she would advance legislation to protect homeowners whose properties were located on Greek Orthodox-owned land.

Her bill would mean that deals to sell the land would have to be approved by the Knessets Constitution, Law and Justice committee, that buyers would have to be Israeli citizens or Israeli-owned companies, that lease extensions would be dealt with by a national body, the cost of extensions would not be passed onto residents, and in cases where a national institution was not involved in a church land transaction, the state would use the tools at its disposal to protect the residents against losing their homes.

Azaria added that the issue was relevant to other parts of Israel where the Greek Church also owns extensive tracts of land.

View of Jerusalems Nayot neighborhood on January 10, 2015, after a snowy day. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel Kimche of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies think tank told Calcalist, Rights of ownership give the group of investors complete freedom to decide.

They can change the purpose of the land and ask the city council for permits to build anything on the lands they own.

The developers can start now to move on plans, because in any event, the process takes ten years. Slowly slowly, the [JNF] leases will end, and then new building rights will fall into the hands of the developers like ripe fruit, he said. In addition, the developers can always re-lease the land and demand lots of money for doing so.

The Greek Patriachate confirmed the sales, and said that it had offered the JNF the chance to renew the leases, but that the latter had done nothing.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

The JNF has blamed the Jerusalem City Council which was notified of last years deal in September for not having updated it on the sale, Calcalist said.

In a statement to Channel 2, the organization said that it had always dealt with the leasehold issue, and that now, after the deal that was made has become clear, it would act to protect the rights of the residents.

JNF, as the manager of the Jewish peoples money, operates responsibly and is determined not to allow real estate traders, whose full identity is not even known, to bring pressure to bear on residents in order to make personal profits on their account.

The problem is a national problem and the JNF calls on the government and the other relevant bodies to organize, as soon as possible, a round table meeting to solve the problem.

The Jerusalem Municipality said it was reviewing its position on the matter.

In a completely separate land transaction several years ago, the Greek Orthodox Church leased what is widely believed to be the original Hill of Evil Counsel in Christian tradition to two overseas investors who intend to build 61 luxury apartments.

The hill is located in the neighborhood of Abu Tor.

Church insiders explain that all the deals are aimed at generating cash to buy back properties that they claim were sold illegally by the former patriarch Irineos a claim Irineos denies. These included land in the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate, which Palestinians hope will one day form part of a future state, as well as the monastery of Mar Elias, on the way to Bethlehem.

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Remembering the Indian soldiers who helped liberate Jerusalem … – The Jerusalem Post

Indian Lancers guarding Turkish prisoners in Jerusalem in December 1917. (photo credit:LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

Welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and thank you for the sacrifices made by your countrys soldiers who saved the Jews of the Land of Israel 100 years ago and eventually led to the Jewish states creation.

An idyllic fenced park in the middle of the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem, just a four-minute Waze-directed detour from Hebron Road. This cemetery, which I visited for the first time last week, is the burial site for 79 Indian soldiers who died here fighting for the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917. Another cemetery for the Indian soldiers is in Haifa.

More than a million Indian troops fought with the British Army in WWI, at the Western front in Europe, in Africa, Mesopotamia and the Middle East. On the Sinai-Palestine front, 95,000 Indian combatants served; approximately 10% were killed. In 1914-1918 period, they fought the Turkish-German armies at Gallipoli, the Suez Canal, through the Sinai and Palestine and finally Damascus, with crucial battles in Gaza, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nablus and Megiddo.

The Indian soldiers joined other troops in the Sinai-Palestine campaign from Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, as well as the Jewish Legion. These auxiliary forces relieved British troops badly needed on the Western front in Europe.

The Indian troops served in the cavalry, camel corps, infantry and logistics units. A large number were Muslims, and the Turks attempted to weaken their resolve with religious appeals. Except for a few cases, the Turkish propaganda failed. The importance of Muslim soldiers was understood by the British commander Edmund Allenby. After capturing Jerusalem, he cabled to London, The Mosque of Omar and the area round it has been placed under Moslem control, and a Military cordon, composed of Indian Mahomedan officers and soldiers, has been established round the Mosque. Guards have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachels Tomb. The Tomb of Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control.

Allenbys respect for the Indian soldiers can be seen in his receiving their salute as they marched past him outside of Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem on December 11, 1917, when Allenby entered the city.

The war ended in 1918, but British and Indian troops remained to police the British Mandate and put down Arab disturbances. Their photographs can be found in the Library of Congress American Colony collection, the British Imperial War Museum and other archives.

Later this year, a large Australian delegation will visit Israel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the gallant ANZAC capture of Beersheba, which opened the way for the liberation of Jerusalem weeks later.

The author is director of publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. A former Israeli diplomat, he is author of American Interests in the Holy Land Viewed in Early Photographs and the forthcoming World War I in the Holy Land Viewed in Early Photographs.

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Israel fumes over ‘sad, pathetic’ UNESCO decision on Jerusalem – The Times of Israel

Israeli officials angrily rejected a resolution by a UN body condemning its activity in East Jerusalem and the Old City, with the Foreign Ministry saying the move was irrelevant.

After the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organizations World Heritage Council on Tuesday evening passed a resolution denouncing Israeli activity in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry responded by saying the decision cannot change the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people.

The Jordanian-sponsored resolution in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organizations World Heritage Council called Israel the occupying power in the Old City of Jerusalem and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the countrys claims to East Jerusalem. Israels annexation of East Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community.

Another bizarre and irrelevant decision by UNESCO, that is acting on behalf of the enemies of history and the truth, the Foreign Ministry said in statement. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and no decision by UNESCO can change that reality. It is sad, unnecessary and pathetic. It is worth noting that the decision didnt even get a majority of votes.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbass Fatah movement welcomed the vote. Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said it was historic justice and was another reflection of the international position which opposes Israeli policy, and of our position which rejects recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation.

Ten countries voted in favor of the text, which was significantly softer than previous resolutions. Only three member states Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso opposed the resolution, while eight abstained.

The resolution slammed the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.

However, Decision 41 COM 7A.36 also stressed the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions, language not found in last years text and seen as a significant softening of the language.

It also did not refer to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, as the 2016 resolution did, defining it as a Muslim holy site of worship.

Despite the text lacking the bite of previous resolutions passed by the body, it was still met with angry denunciations by Israeli officials.

Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin, speaks during a press conference at the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem on March 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin lambasted UNESCO as detached from reality and said Israel would not halt excavations or other activity in the Old City.

This body continues to demonstrate its partisanship and its denial of the history of the Jewish people, saidd Elkin who is also Environmental Protection minister.

Education Ministry Naftali Bennett, who heads an Israeli committee dealing with UNESCO, said the UN body was failing in its duties to protect world heritage sites by focusing instead on Israel.

UNESCOs repeated fake claims do not change the Jewish connection to Jerusalem or reality on the ground, said Bennett, who heads the Jewish Home party in the coalition. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people long before Islam was introduced to the world, and it will remain Israels capital forever.

Instead of protecting hundreds of sites destroyed by radical Islam, including the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, UNESCO is acting against the only Middle Eastern country safeguarding all holy sites and granting worshipers religious freedom, he said.

Israels UN envoy Danny Danon also condemned the vote outcome as disgraceful.

Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the worlds only Jewish state the occupier of the Western Wall and Jerusalems Old City, Danon says in a statement. Yesterday, I toured the City of David and the Old City with UN ambassadors from around the world and explained the deep and ancient connection between the Jewish people and the holiest sites of our nation. No faux heritage committee can sever the bonds between our people and Jerusalem.

Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, Cuba and Zimbabwe voted in favor of the resolution.

Angola, Croatia, Finland, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Tanzania and South Korea abstained.

The annual vote on a Jerusalem-themed resolution at UNESCOs World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Krakow, Poland, was originally scheduled to take place next week. But Palestinian diplomats advanced the debate, presumably to blindside Israeli officials who are currently busy fighting another Palestinian initiative at UNESCO regarding the West Bank city of Hebron.

A vote to inscribe the Old City of Hebron on UNESCOs World Heritage List is scheduled for Friday.

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Greek Orthodox Church sells Jerusalem land to anonymous investors – The Jerusalem Post

A Greek Orthodox priest watches pilgrims roam around the ancient church of nativity, where many Christians believe Jesus was born.. (photo credit:DOV LIEBER)

The Greek Orthodox Church last week sold 50 hectares of land in central Jerusalem some 124 acres containing more than 1,000 housing units in numerous buildings to an anonymous group of investors, spurring fears of a hostile takeover.

For many years, the land was leased to the Jewish National Fund in agreements that are about to expire, leaving the residents future rights in limbo.

It remains unclear which homes will be affected.

MKs Rachel Azaria and Akram Hasson of Kulanu, Yossi Yonah of Zionist Union, Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid and Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism are scheduled to discuss the matter during a Knesset meeting on Wednesday.

According to Azaria, the residents were aware the land was leased by JNF but were led to believe it would remain so for many years to come.

The land was leased by the church to JNF in the 1950s for 99 years, she said. Buildings were constructed on it in which people have been living for decades.

The residents knew that the agreements would expire within a certain time, but they assumed that the lease to JNF would be extended for a further period.

Azaria noted, however, that a few months ago the Jerusalemites Party on the city council determined that private developers received a 200-year lease on some of the land in 2011, and that an additional investor group signed a similar agreement one year ago.

Following this, the city council received a flood of inquiries from residents of the area who did not know what the future held for them, she said. Last week, a large gathering of the residents was held by the Jerusalemites Party and addressed by council member Itai Gutler and architect Yehuda Greenfield. The residents are demanding to know who among them is affected by the agreement between the church and the developers and who is not, what the agreements say, and what they mean for them.

Azaria said the tenants who purchased units in the buildings in the 1950s were made aware that the land was owned by the church, but they dealt directly with the JNF.

We are talking about people who have lived in these neighborhoods for decades and knew that they were dealing with JNF, she said. Its not a matter of one building or a few families, but very large and prestigious neighborhoods in the heart of Jerusalem. Hundreds of residents who assumed that the lease from the church would be extended never imagined that they would find themselves having to deal with private developers who will suddenly hold the land when the lease agreements expire.

Azaria added: In such a situation, they are liable to find themselves with nothing.

To avert a full-blown housing crisis, Azaria said she requested an early debate in the Knesset in conjunction with a petition that the residents brought against the Jerusalem Municipality to obtain information that is currently being withheld.

The second demand is that someone should take the matter in hand and conduct negotiations with the developers on behalf of the residents, rather than each apartment owner having to deal with the developers themselves, Azaria said. This is a major event concerning a substantial part of Jerusalem and one that will affect its character.

Noting that the unknown developers, in exchange for extending the lease, could ask for additional building rights and build on open areas, Azaria said the government must oversee all elements of the transfer to ensure the residents rights.

It is important that the state should intervene on the matter, she said. The value of the residents apartments is constantly falling, even in neighborhoods like Rehavia. Anyone who buys an apartment in these areas now is taking a risk, and that affects the value of the properties.

The Jerusalem Municipality said in a statement that it was actively working with all parties involved in the matter.

In a meeting with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Mayor Nir Barkat described dealing with this matter and [prioritizing] it at the highest level of importance, the statement said. Later, a meeting took place in the office of the director-general of the municipality, attended by representatives of JNF, the Justice Ministry and others, and it was decided that there should be further joint action by all the bodies involved in order to put an end to the residents uncertainty and to ensure continuation of the lease.

The municipality statement continued: All state bodies are taking coordinated action via several channels, and the officials of the church are also expected to cooperate on the matter.

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Israeli politicians tear into UNESCO Jerusalem vote – Israel News … – The Jerusalem Post

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LIVE: Indian PM Modi at Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived for a historic visit in Israel on Tuesday afternoon.

Modi’s visit is the first by a sitting Indian premier to the country.

Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu personally greeted Modi at Ben-Gurion Airport, along with the top tier of Israel’s leadership known as “segel aleph” an honor afforded to only a few select leaders, such as US presidents and popes.

From the airport, the two men drove to Mosha Mishmar Hashiva, near Beit Dagan, and visited the Danziger Dan flower farm, one of Israels leading floriculture companies, with approximately 80,000 square meters of state-of-the-art greenhouses specializing in reproduction of plants.

Modi then traveled to Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, where he will be staying, before making his way to Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center Yad Vashem.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center Yad Vashem as a “poignant reminder of unspeakable evil,” following his tour of the museum on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Modi on his tour, guided by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. They visited the Hall of Names, participated in a memorial Ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance and toured the Children’s Memorial.

At the conclusion of his visit, Modi wrote in the Yad Vashem Guest Book: “I am deeply moved by my visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum. It is as much a poignant reminder of the unspeakable evil inflicted generations ago as it is a symbol of the endurance and fortitude of the Jewish people. As we deal with conflict, intolerance, hatred and terror in our time, Yad Vashem serves as a mirror to society around the world. May we not forget the injustices of the past and its devastating toll on humanity and remembering the past. We may empower our children to make compassionate, just and righteous choices for their future.”

Modi visited the Prime Minister’s Residence Tuesday evening where Netanyahu and Modi delivered statements before sitting down to an intimate dinner.

The Indian prime minister started off his address calling Netanyahu “Yedid hayakar,” or dear friend in Hebrew.

Herb Keinon and Tamara Zieve contributed to this article.

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First health clinic for African refugees opens in Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

African migrants protest in front of the Knesset, January 8, 2014.. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))

The capitals first medical clinic serving Jerusalems 3,000 uninsured African refugees and asylum-seekers from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia opened this week to treat the largely marginalized and at-risk population.

The Terem Jerusalem Clinic for Asylum Seekers is the brainchild of first-year Hebrew University of Jerusalem medical student Roni Ben-Ami, who said she witnessed refugees avoid getting proper treatment because they knew they could not afford it.

I am a medical student, and as I developed a deeper and more professional understanding of the Israeli health system, I realized that not everyone is receiving the excellent medical care that the National Health Insurance enables, said Ben-Ami on Tuesday.

Uninsured asylum seekers in Jerusalem dont have affordable access to health care, she lamented.

To receive treatment, Ben-Ami said patients previously had to travel to the Terem emergency health clinic in Tel Aviv, which has facilities serving uninsured members of the African refugee population for nominal fees.

To create the Jerusalem clinic, she said she partnered with Terem to procure the necessary equipment and management model to accommodate Jerusalem-based refugees.

On Sunday, the Jerusalem clinic located at 80 Yirmiyahu St., near the central bus station opened its doors for the first time, charging patients a standard fee of NIS 40 to see a doctor, obtain x-rays, and perform blood tests.

The fee covers their examination and diagnosis, said Ben-Ami, noting that a volunteer staff of 10 physicians have agreed to meet with patients once a week without payment.

The doctors are mainly general practitioners, but we also have psychiatrists, and are trying to get more specialists, she continued. We also have about 10 medical school student volunteers who are volunteering for free.

The clinic is also staffed with translators to assist patients during their registration and treatment.

It is important to say that the clinic is linguistically and culturally accessible to the patients, she emphasized.

Presently, Ben-Ami said the clinic can only afford to function once a week, but hopes to expand hours as more resources become available.

Were open in July on Sundays between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and in August will be open only on Wednesdays, she said. Of course, the asylum seekers in Jerusalem will need the clinic every day, so were hoping to be open two days a week in the future.

While ancillary funding from Terem has allowed the clinic to become operational, Ben-Ami said donations will be necessary to accommodate all prospective patients living in the capital.

Terem has been very generous in helping us and given us the facility, x-ray machines and labs, and our officer manager, Orel Ben-Ari, has been instrumental in helping us run the clinic, she said.

Ben-Ami noted that the clinic does not treat children under 12 because the Health Ministry provides health insurance for the children of asylum seekers for a small fee.

We dont want to encourage parents not to get health insurance for their children under 12, she explained.

Meanwhile, the medical student said the clinic desperately needs financial support from donors to meet growing demand.

If someone needs more extensive treatment, we presently cant give it to them because we can only afford basic medicine, she said, adding that the clinic hopes to partner with Jerusalem-based hospitals to help absorb the prohibitive costs.

We want to work with Hadassah University Medical Center and Shaare Zedek at some point soon, she said.

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In Jerusalem, few Labor voters think new leader will oust Netanyahu – The Times of Israel

At the opening of the sole Labor party voting booth in Jerusalem on Tuesday, leadership candidate Avi Gabbay was speaking confidently to reporters about his chances for success when a gust of wind flattened his campaign tent in the foreground and sent a dozen blue-shirted activists scrambling. It made a rather apt metaphor for a party which governed Israel for the first 30 years of state, but has struggled increasingly in recent years to impose itself.

The activists for ex-Kulanu minister Gabbay had the strongest presence at the polls in the largely conservative capital, where the number of journalists and volunteers present greatly outnumbered the voters for a center-left party flailing for a political comeback.

Arriving with his elderly mother on his arm, ex-Kulanu environmental protection minister Gabbay who crossed the political aisle after quitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government in 2016 told the assembled reporters that the second round of voting on July 10 would be a match between him and current party leader Isaac Herzog.

A short while later, faint chanting and cheering grew stronger as Labor MK Erel Margalit arrived with an entourage, setting off a yelling match between dueling activists struggling to drown each other out.

Labor party candidate Avi Gabbay seen with supporters outside a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Margalit and Gabbay embraced awkwardly.

The second round of voting will be between Herzog or former Labor leader Amir Peretz and himself, Margalit told reporters.

The Labor partys 40-year political dry spell will soon end, said the Jerusalem-based entrepreneur and sitting MK. Remember, the Jewish people had 40 years in the desert before they arrived at the promised land, he said.

But despite pledges by all seven candidates to would unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Likud in the next elections, many Labor voters on line were unconvinced.

Supporters of Labor party candidate Avi Gabbay shout slogans outside a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 )

I dont know if hes strong enough, but thats all there is, said Motke Stockhammer, a pensioner and lifetime Labor party member who was backing Herzog in the leadership race. I dont think the party at all will be able to oust Netanyahu

Even some of Gabbays volunteers appeared skeptical, as one ironically revised the ubiquitous Israeli election chant Ho ha, whos that coming? The next prime minister to The next economy minister, earning quiet snickers from the others.

The leadership contest for the ailing Labor party plagued by internal divisions since current leader Herzog engaged in coalition negotiations to join Netanyahus government in 2016 will move to a second round of voting next week between the top two contenders, should none of the candidates receive more than 40 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

The primary pits Herzog against ex-Labor leader Amir Peretz, Gabbay, Margalit, Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev, and two other candidates whose chances of success were not considered realistic. The results were set to be announced around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

The race comes after the Labor party has slipped in the opinion polls over the past year; surveys now predict it could lose as many as half of its 24 Knesset seats to the rival centrist Yesh Atid party.

Labor party candidate Erel Margalit arrives to vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shalom Brinn, also a pensioner, said he was supporting Margalit because today, to win you need to be a movie actor. Hes the only one who has it.

Gabbay is also very good, but too quiet, he opined.

The grievances with the party were on display as Brinn said he would abandon ship if its current or former leaders regained control.

If Peretz or Herzog get in, Ill need to find myself a new party, he said, adding that he doesnt know which one. This is the generation that destroyed the party.

Orit Cohen, a high school teacher in Maale Adumim, said she was voting for Margalit because hes a refreshing change. Cohen, who joined the Labor party a decade ago after shifting her political allegiances from the right, cautiously predicted that Margalit could oust Netanyahu.

Labor party members cast their vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 )

I very much want to believe yes, she said.

But Niva, a university student who voted for Bar-Lev and declined to give her last name, said she was mostly seeking a new opposition leader.

I dont think Netanyahu will go anywhere in the coming decades, she said.

She was standing with Gabbay-backing student, who asked to remain anonymous and was more optimistic about his chances, noting that general elections were not scheduled for another two years, giving the candidates ample time to mount a challenge.

For two years, being a member of the party was embarrassing

He said that over the past two years, being a member of the party was embarrassing and its conduct both internally and externally was plastic, unconvincing and inauthentic.

Finally, a politician has come who is broadcasting something that in my view, in his discourse and style, is real, he said of Gabbay.

While support for Jerusalem residents Gabbay and Margalit appeared to dominate in the capital, Sonia Cohen, a long-time Herzog activist and adviser to the Labor party chief on neighborhood issues, insisted the opposition leader would do better the second time around.

In the Labor party, they cut off heads all the time they dont let the chairman work, said Cohen, who referred to the partys tested trend of choosing a new leader in each primary vote. He went through this baptism by fire already, when they tried to cut off his head. In the next four years, when he leads again, maybe theyll let him work and prove his capabilities and he has capabilities.

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog arrives with his wife Michal to casts his vote at a polling station in Tel Aviv on July 4, 2017.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Nor did Cohen, a Labor member for 30 years, think a victory for Herzog would send him racing back into negotiations with Netanyahu.

I dont think hell enter the coalition; he wants to create a bloc of his own, she said.

Labor Party members cast their vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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In Jerusalem, few Labor voters think new leader will oust Netanyahu – The Times of Israel

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Major Terrorist Attack Foiled on Jerusalem Outskirts by Border Guard Police – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: TPS

Israeli Border Guard Police officers prevented a deadly terrorist attack mid-afternoon Tuesday after spotting six suspicious-looking occupants in a vehicle coming up to the Mazmoria checkpoint on the outskirts of southern Jerusalem, leading to Gush Etzion.

The front and rear license plates on the car did not match. Moreover, the driver had no identification card at all neither a green Palestinian Authority ID, nor an Israeli blue teudat zehut car either and refused to answer any questions when asked. In fact, not one of the six occupants of the vehicle had any identification with them.

At that point, personnel at the checkpoint proceeded to carry out a full-scale, thorough search of the vehicle.

The soldiers uncovered a number of firebombs (Molotov cocktails) two of them already prepared for operation two shock (stun) grenades hidden within the car, and a bag with five sharp knives, making it clear that a major terrorist operation was underway.

The crossing was closed, a sapper was called to the scene, and the area was cleared until the end of the investigation, said a spokesperson for Jerusalem District Police.

The would-be terrorists, all Arab residents of the Palestinian Authority, were all taken into custody and transferred to security personnel for interrogation.

During initial questioning, the suspects admitted they intended to go to Jerusalem and carry out an attack, the police spokesperson said.

There is no doubt that an attempt was made to carry out an attack that could have had serious consequences in the Jerusalem area.

Efforts to locate, prevent and thwart attempts by terrorists to carry out their attacks are continuing throughout Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the crossings around [the capital].

The seizure of the vehicle and the arrest of the suspects at the Mazmoria crossing is a central and added layer to the wise operational activity that is being carried out at all times, the spokesperson added.

The Border Guard Police officers operating in the surrounding area provide a crucial security envelope in the effort to prevent the entry of hostile elements and to ensure the safety of the residents.

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Major Terrorist Attack Foiled on Jerusalem Outskirts by Border Guard Police – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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1500 Jerusalem homeowners up in arms over secret sale of church land – The Times of Israel

Some 1,500 owners of properties in Jerusalems wealthiest neighborhoods have discovered that the land on which their homes sit has been sold, in secret, to private real estate companies. They fear that when their leases end some of them as soon as in 18 years time they will face the choice of either paying high sums to renew their leaseholds or having to sell and move. With their homes already down 30 percent in value because of the approaching end of the leases, they also dread a scenario in which the developers buy their buildings for rock-bottom prices, then raze and rebuild them or add stories and resell them, together with the land, for huge profits. In a Byzantine tale that weaves together real estate, property, mysterious offshore bank accounts, religion and politics, it has emerged that the Greek Orthodox Church has sold key real estate in the capital to private investors. A view of Marcus Street in Talbieh, on which the Jerusalem Theater is located. Talbieh is one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods with a large number of Greek Orthodox Patriarchate-owned properties (Courtesy Eiferman Realty) The deals were reportedly made not only behind the backs of the homeowners, but also without the knowledge of the Jewish National Fund to which the church originally leased the land for 99 years and the state. The Greek Orthodox Church the second biggest owner of land in Israel after the Israel Lands Authority acquired some 4,500 dunams (1,110 acres) of real estate in the center of Jerusalem during the 19th century, primarily for agriculture. In the 1950s, just after Israels independence, it agreed to lease its land to the JNF for 99 years with an option to extend. Even Israels parliament, the Knesset, is built on Greek Orthodox-owned land. Somehow, the church managed to secretly sign contracts the first in 2011, and another in August 2016 to sell the land to groups of companies about which very little is known, but all of which were represented by Jerusalem lawyer Noam Ben David, according to the Calcalist business daily, which broke the story last week. The cost of the two deals is estimated at NIS 114 million ($32.4 million) a figure which is said to reflect the fact that relatively few years remain on the leases still being paid by the JNF. The 2016 deals, for some 500 dunams (125 acres) in central Jerusalem, were all registered through the legal offices of Ephraim Abramson and included an appendix naming many of the properties and property owners included in the deal, the report said. The deals included more than 200 plots in the wealthy neighborhood of Talbieh, where the prime ministers and presidents residences are located, and in Nayot, near the Israel Museum leases that will run out in 30 years. Angry residents at a meeting to discuss the Greek Orthodox Church sale of land to private real estate developers, July 4, 2017. (Channel 2 screenshot) The deal came to light when the Greek Orthodox Church petitioned the Jerusalem District Court last week to have the Jerusalem City Council exempt it from payments relating to the 500 dunams it has sold off. Complicating the story is the fact that Shlomo Deri, the vice chairman of JNF and the brother of interior minister and Shas party head, Aryeh Deri, is involved with one of the investor groups, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday. Shlomo Deri, who told Channel 2 that he had no conflict of interests in the deal, was questioned by police last year as part of an ongoing corruption investigation against his politician brother. A Shas activist named Moshe Idan is also said to be involved in the same deal to purchase two areas of real estate in the upscale Rehaviah neighborhood from the Greek Orthodox Churchs Ratisbonne Monastery. While the JNF is not involved in that particular deal, it should have something to say about the other real estate sales. Shlomo Deri, the brother of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in Jerusalem on December 23, 2015 (Flash90) Laywer Noam Ben David, who represents the investors, told Calcalist, We still havent decided what to do with the rights, but we will do everything in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality. That seems to be in the shared interests of us and the residents. He explained, All the tenants living in the leasehold apartments know that the lease ends in 2050, just like with regular lease agreements. and all the tenants know that they will leave the apartment. Whoever buys the apartment knows that and therefore the price of the apartments has gone down by 30%. Thats the reality of property today. He indicated that the developers were eyeing empty spaces within the areas purchased for future building projects. He would not reveal the identities of the investing developers. Indeed, the Calcalist report said that the developers asked the Jerusalem Municipality to keep the names secret because of the potential damage that could be caused to the investors and even the secondary leaseholders (apartment owners.) The residents had assumed that the JNF would succeed in extending the leases when they expire. Yehuda Greenfeld-Gilat, an architect and member of the Jerusalem City Councils Yerushalmim faction, which has taken up the case, told Calcalist that the homeowners had been sold off like meat. How can a city manage itself in such a way that churches sell entire plots to private developers? Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), a founding member of the Yerushalmim party in Jerusalem and a former Jerusalem deputy mayor, told the Knesset Interior Committee at a meeting on Wednesday that residents could not be abandoned and that were still likely to discover that countries such as Iran and Qatar may be behind these secret groups of developers, which would be contrary to the whole Zionist ethos. We must stop the current situation. She said she would advance legislation to protect homeowners whose properties were located on Greek Orthodox-owned land. Her bill would mean that deals to sell the land would have to be approved by the Knessets Constitution, Law and Justice committee, that buyers would have to be Israeli citizens or Israeli-owned companies, that lease extensions would be dealt with by a national body, the cost of extensions would not be passed onto residents, and in cases where a national institution was not involved in a church land transaction, the state would use the tools at its disposal to protect the residents against losing their homes. Azaria added that the issue was relevant to other parts of Israel where the Greek Church also owns extensive tracts of land. View of Jerusalems Nayot neighborhood on January 10, 2015, after a snowy day. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) Israel Kimche of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies think tank told Calcalist, Rights of ownership give the group of investors complete freedom to decide. They can change the purpose of the land and ask the city council for permits to build anything on the lands they own. The developers can start now to move on plans, because in any event, the process takes ten years. Slowly slowly, the [JNF] leases will end, and then new building rights will fall into the hands of the developers like ripe fruit, he said. In addition, the developers can always re-lease the land and demand lots of money for doing so. The Greek Patriachate confirmed the sales, and said that it had offered the JNF the chance to renew the leases, but that the latter had done nothing. Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) leads the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon) The JNF has blamed the Jerusalem City Council which was notified of last years deal in September for not having updated it on the sale, Calcalist said. In a statement to Channel 2, the organization said that it had always dealt with the leasehold issue, and that now, after the deal that was made has become clear, it would act to protect the rights of the residents. JNF, as the manager of the Jewish peoples money, operates responsibly and is determined not to allow real estate traders, whose full identity is not even known, to bring pressure to bear on residents in order to make personal profits on their account. The problem is a national problem and the JNF calls on the government and the other relevant bodies to organize, as soon as possible, a round table meeting to solve the problem. The Jerusalem Municipality said it was reviewing its position on the matter. In a completely separate land transaction several years ago, the Greek Orthodox Church leased what is widely believed to be the original Hill of Evil Counsel in Christian tradition to two overseas investors who intend to build 61 luxury apartments. The hill is located in the neighborhood of Abu Tor. Church insiders explain that all the deals are aimed at generating cash to buy back properties that they claim were sold illegally by the former patriarch Irineos a claim Irineos denies. These included land in the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate, which Palestinians hope will one day form part of a future state, as well as the monastery of Mar Elias, on the way to Bethlehem.

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Remembering the Indian soldiers who helped liberate Jerusalem … – The Jerusalem Post

Indian Lancers guarding Turkish prisoners in Jerusalem in December 1917. (photo credit:LIBRARY OF CONGRESS) Welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and thank you for the sacrifices made by your countrys soldiers who saved the Jews of the Land of Israel 100 years ago and eventually led to the Jewish states creation. An idyllic fenced park in the middle of the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem, just a four-minute Waze-directed detour from Hebron Road. This cemetery, which I visited for the first time last week, is the burial site for 79 Indian soldiers who died here fighting for the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917. Another cemetery for the Indian soldiers is in Haifa. More than a million Indian troops fought with the British Army in WWI, at the Western front in Europe, in Africa, Mesopotamia and the Middle East. On the Sinai-Palestine front, 95,000 Indian combatants served; approximately 10% were killed. In 1914-1918 period, they fought the Turkish-German armies at Gallipoli, the Suez Canal, through the Sinai and Palestine and finally Damascus, with crucial battles in Gaza, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nablus and Megiddo. The Indian soldiers joined other troops in the Sinai-Palestine campaign from Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, as well as the Jewish Legion. These auxiliary forces relieved British troops badly needed on the Western front in Europe. The Indian troops served in the cavalry, camel corps, infantry and logistics units. A large number were Muslims, and the Turks attempted to weaken their resolve with religious appeals. Except for a few cases, the Turkish propaganda failed. The importance of Muslim soldiers was understood by the British commander Edmund Allenby. After capturing Jerusalem, he cabled to London, The Mosque of Omar and the area round it has been placed under Moslem control, and a Military cordon, composed of Indian Mahomedan officers and soldiers, has been established round the Mosque. Guards have been established at Bethlehem and on Rachels Tomb. The Tomb of Hebron has been placed under exclusive Moslem control. Allenbys respect for the Indian soldiers can be seen in his receiving their salute as they marched past him outside of Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem on December 11, 1917, when Allenby entered the city. The war ended in 1918, but British and Indian troops remained to police the British Mandate and put down Arab disturbances. Their photographs can be found in the Library of Congress American Colony collection, the British Imperial War Museum and other archives. Later this year, a large Australian delegation will visit Israel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the gallant ANZAC capture of Beersheba, which opened the way for the liberation of Jerusalem weeks later. The author is director of publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. A former Israeli diplomat, he is author of American Interests in the Holy Land Viewed in Early Photographs and the forthcoming World War I in the Holy Land Viewed in Early Photographs. Share on facebook

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Israel fumes over ‘sad, pathetic’ UNESCO decision on Jerusalem – The Times of Israel

Israeli officials angrily rejected a resolution by a UN body condemning its activity in East Jerusalem and the Old City, with the Foreign Ministry saying the move was irrelevant. After the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organizations World Heritage Council on Tuesday evening passed a resolution denouncing Israeli activity in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry responded by saying the decision cannot change the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people. The Jordanian-sponsored resolution in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organizations World Heritage Council called Israel the occupying power in the Old City of Jerusalem and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the countrys claims to East Jerusalem. Israels annexation of East Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community. Another bizarre and irrelevant decision by UNESCO, that is acting on behalf of the enemies of history and the truth, the Foreign Ministry said in statement. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and no decision by UNESCO can change that reality. It is sad, unnecessary and pathetic. It is worth noting that the decision didnt even get a majority of votes. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbass Fatah movement welcomed the vote. Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal said it was historic justice and was another reflection of the international position which opposes Israeli policy, and of our position which rejects recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation. Ten countries voted in favor of the text, which was significantly softer than previous resolutions. Only three member states Jamaica, the Philippines and Burkina Faso opposed the resolution, while eight abstained. The resolution slammed the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law. However, Decision 41 COM 7A.36 also stressed the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions, language not found in last years text and seen as a significant softening of the language. It also did not refer to the Temple Mount compound solely by its Muslim names, Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, as the 2016 resolution did, defining it as a Muslim holy site of worship. Despite the text lacking the bite of previous resolutions passed by the body, it was still met with angry denunciations by Israeli officials. Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin, speaks during a press conference at the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem on March 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90) Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin lambasted UNESCO as detached from reality and said Israel would not halt excavations or other activity in the Old City. This body continues to demonstrate its partisanship and its denial of the history of the Jewish people, saidd Elkin who is also Environmental Protection minister. Education Ministry Naftali Bennett, who heads an Israeli committee dealing with UNESCO, said the UN body was failing in its duties to protect world heritage sites by focusing instead on Israel. UNESCOs repeated fake claims do not change the Jewish connection to Jerusalem or reality on the ground, said Bennett, who heads the Jewish Home party in the coalition. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people long before Islam was introduced to the world, and it will remain Israels capital forever. Instead of protecting hundreds of sites destroyed by radical Islam, including the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, UNESCO is acting against the only Middle Eastern country safeguarding all holy sites and granting worshipers religious freedom, he said. Israels UN envoy Danny Danon also condemned the vote outcome as disgraceful. Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the worlds only Jewish state the occupier of the Western Wall and Jerusalems Old City, Danon says in a statement. Yesterday, I toured the City of David and the Old City with UN ambassadors from around the world and explained the deep and ancient connection between the Jewish people and the holiest sites of our nation. No faux heritage committee can sever the bonds between our people and Jerusalem. Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, Cuba and Zimbabwe voted in favor of the resolution. Angola, Croatia, Finland, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Tanzania and South Korea abstained. The annual vote on a Jerusalem-themed resolution at UNESCOs World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Krakow, Poland, was originally scheduled to take place next week. But Palestinian diplomats advanced the debate, presumably to blindside Israeli officials who are currently busy fighting another Palestinian initiative at UNESCO regarding the West Bank city of Hebron. A vote to inscribe the Old City of Hebron on UNESCOs World Heritage List is scheduled for Friday.

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Greek Orthodox Church sells Jerusalem land to anonymous investors – The Jerusalem Post

A Greek Orthodox priest watches pilgrims roam around the ancient church of nativity, where many Christians believe Jesus was born.. (photo credit:DOV LIEBER) The Greek Orthodox Church last week sold 50 hectares of land in central Jerusalem some 124 acres containing more than 1,000 housing units in numerous buildings to an anonymous group of investors, spurring fears of a hostile takeover. For many years, the land was leased to the Jewish National Fund in agreements that are about to expire, leaving the residents future rights in limbo. It remains unclear which homes will be affected. MKs Rachel Azaria and Akram Hasson of Kulanu, Yossi Yonah of Zionist Union, Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid and Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism are scheduled to discuss the matter during a Knesset meeting on Wednesday. According to Azaria, the residents were aware the land was leased by JNF but were led to believe it would remain so for many years to come. The land was leased by the church to JNF in the 1950s for 99 years, she said. Buildings were constructed on it in which people have been living for decades. The residents knew that the agreements would expire within a certain time, but they assumed that the lease to JNF would be extended for a further period. Azaria noted, however, that a few months ago the Jerusalemites Party on the city council determined that private developers received a 200-year lease on some of the land in 2011, and that an additional investor group signed a similar agreement one year ago. Following this, the city council received a flood of inquiries from residents of the area who did not know what the future held for them, she said. Last week, a large gathering of the residents was held by the Jerusalemites Party and addressed by council member Itai Gutler and architect Yehuda Greenfield. The residents are demanding to know who among them is affected by the agreement between the church and the developers and who is not, what the agreements say, and what they mean for them. Azaria said the tenants who purchased units in the buildings in the 1950s were made aware that the land was owned by the church, but they dealt directly with the JNF. We are talking about people who have lived in these neighborhoods for decades and knew that they were dealing with JNF, she said. Its not a matter of one building or a few families, but very large and prestigious neighborhoods in the heart of Jerusalem. Hundreds of residents who assumed that the lease from the church would be extended never imagined that they would find themselves having to deal with private developers who will suddenly hold the land when the lease agreements expire. Azaria added: In such a situation, they are liable to find themselves with nothing. To avert a full-blown housing crisis, Azaria said she requested an early debate in the Knesset in conjunction with a petition that the residents brought against the Jerusalem Municipality to obtain information that is currently being withheld. The second demand is that someone should take the matter in hand and conduct negotiations with the developers on behalf of the residents, rather than each apartment owner having to deal with the developers themselves, Azaria said. This is a major event concerning a substantial part of Jerusalem and one that will affect its character. Noting that the unknown developers, in exchange for extending the lease, could ask for additional building rights and build on open areas, Azaria said the government must oversee all elements of the transfer to ensure the residents rights. It is important that the state should intervene on the matter, she said. The value of the residents apartments is constantly falling, even in neighborhoods like Rehavia. Anyone who buys an apartment in these areas now is taking a risk, and that affects the value of the properties. The Jerusalem Municipality said in a statement that it was actively working with all parties involved in the matter. In a meeting with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Mayor Nir Barkat described dealing with this matter and [prioritizing] it at the highest level of importance, the statement said. Later, a meeting took place in the office of the director-general of the municipality, attended by representatives of JNF, the Justice Ministry and others, and it was decided that there should be further joint action by all the bodies involved in order to put an end to the residents uncertainty and to ensure continuation of the lease. The municipality statement continued: All state bodies are taking coordinated action via several channels, and the officials of the church are also expected to cooperate on the matter. Share on facebook

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Israeli politicians tear into UNESCO Jerusalem vote – Israel News … – The Jerusalem Post

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LIVE: Indian PM Modi at Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived for a historic visit in Israel on Tuesday afternoon. Modi’s visit is the first by a sitting Indian premier to the country. Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu personally greeted Modi at Ben-Gurion Airport, along with the top tier of Israel’s leadership known as “segel aleph” an honor afforded to only a few select leaders, such as US presidents and popes. From the airport, the two men drove to Mosha Mishmar Hashiva, near Beit Dagan, and visited the Danziger Dan flower farm, one of Israels leading floriculture companies, with approximately 80,000 square meters of state-of-the-art greenhouses specializing in reproduction of plants. Modi then traveled to Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, where he will be staying, before making his way to Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center Yad Vashem. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center Yad Vashem as a “poignant reminder of unspeakable evil,” following his tour of the museum on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Modi on his tour, guided by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. They visited the Hall of Names, participated in a memorial Ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance and toured the Children’s Memorial. At the conclusion of his visit, Modi wrote in the Yad Vashem Guest Book: “I am deeply moved by my visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum. It is as much a poignant reminder of the unspeakable evil inflicted generations ago as it is a symbol of the endurance and fortitude of the Jewish people. As we deal with conflict, intolerance, hatred and terror in our time, Yad Vashem serves as a mirror to society around the world. May we not forget the injustices of the past and its devastating toll on humanity and remembering the past. We may empower our children to make compassionate, just and righteous choices for their future.” Modi visited the Prime Minister’s Residence Tuesday evening where Netanyahu and Modi delivered statements before sitting down to an intimate dinner. The Indian prime minister started off his address calling Netanyahu “Yedid hayakar,” or dear friend in Hebrew. Herb Keinon and Tamara Zieve contributed to this article. Share on facebook

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First health clinic for African refugees opens in Jerusalem – The Jerusalem Post

African migrants protest in front of the Knesset, January 8, 2014.. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)) The capitals first medical clinic serving Jerusalems 3,000 uninsured African refugees and asylum-seekers from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia opened this week to treat the largely marginalized and at-risk population. The Terem Jerusalem Clinic for Asylum Seekers is the brainchild of first-year Hebrew University of Jerusalem medical student Roni Ben-Ami, who said she witnessed refugees avoid getting proper treatment because they knew they could not afford it. I am a medical student, and as I developed a deeper and more professional understanding of the Israeli health system, I realized that not everyone is receiving the excellent medical care that the National Health Insurance enables, said Ben-Ami on Tuesday. Uninsured asylum seekers in Jerusalem dont have affordable access to health care, she lamented. To receive treatment, Ben-Ami said patients previously had to travel to the Terem emergency health clinic in Tel Aviv, which has facilities serving uninsured members of the African refugee population for nominal fees. To create the Jerusalem clinic, she said she partnered with Terem to procure the necessary equipment and management model to accommodate Jerusalem-based refugees. On Sunday, the Jerusalem clinic located at 80 Yirmiyahu St., near the central bus station opened its doors for the first time, charging patients a standard fee of NIS 40 to see a doctor, obtain x-rays, and perform blood tests. The fee covers their examination and diagnosis, said Ben-Ami, noting that a volunteer staff of 10 physicians have agreed to meet with patients once a week without payment. The doctors are mainly general practitioners, but we also have psychiatrists, and are trying to get more specialists, she continued. We also have about 10 medical school student volunteers who are volunteering for free. The clinic is also staffed with translators to assist patients during their registration and treatment. It is important to say that the clinic is linguistically and culturally accessible to the patients, she emphasized. Presently, Ben-Ami said the clinic can only afford to function once a week, but hopes to expand hours as more resources become available. Were open in July on Sundays between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and in August will be open only on Wednesdays, she said. Of course, the asylum seekers in Jerusalem will need the clinic every day, so were hoping to be open two days a week in the future. While ancillary funding from Terem has allowed the clinic to become operational, Ben-Ami said donations will be necessary to accommodate all prospective patients living in the capital. Terem has been very generous in helping us and given us the facility, x-ray machines and labs, and our officer manager, Orel Ben-Ari, has been instrumental in helping us run the clinic, she said. Ben-Ami noted that the clinic does not treat children under 12 because the Health Ministry provides health insurance for the children of asylum seekers for a small fee. We dont want to encourage parents not to get health insurance for their children under 12, she explained. Meanwhile, the medical student said the clinic desperately needs financial support from donors to meet growing demand. If someone needs more extensive treatment, we presently cant give it to them because we can only afford basic medicine, she said, adding that the clinic hopes to partner with Jerusalem-based hospitals to help absorb the prohibitive costs. We want to work with Hadassah University Medical Center and Shaare Zedek at some point soon, she said. Share on facebook

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In Jerusalem, few Labor voters think new leader will oust Netanyahu – The Times of Israel

At the opening of the sole Labor party voting booth in Jerusalem on Tuesday, leadership candidate Avi Gabbay was speaking confidently to reporters about his chances for success when a gust of wind flattened his campaign tent in the foreground and sent a dozen blue-shirted activists scrambling. It made a rather apt metaphor for a party which governed Israel for the first 30 years of state, but has struggled increasingly in recent years to impose itself. The activists for ex-Kulanu minister Gabbay had the strongest presence at the polls in the largely conservative capital, where the number of journalists and volunteers present greatly outnumbered the voters for a center-left party flailing for a political comeback. Arriving with his elderly mother on his arm, ex-Kulanu environmental protection minister Gabbay who crossed the political aisle after quitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government in 2016 told the assembled reporters that the second round of voting on July 10 would be a match between him and current party leader Isaac Herzog. A short while later, faint chanting and cheering grew stronger as Labor MK Erel Margalit arrived with an entourage, setting off a yelling match between dueling activists struggling to drown each other out. Labor party candidate Avi Gabbay seen with supporters outside a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) Margalit and Gabbay embraced awkwardly. The second round of voting will be between Herzog or former Labor leader Amir Peretz and himself, Margalit told reporters. The Labor partys 40-year political dry spell will soon end, said the Jerusalem-based entrepreneur and sitting MK. Remember, the Jewish people had 40 years in the desert before they arrived at the promised land, he said. But despite pledges by all seven candidates to would unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Likud in the next elections, many Labor voters on line were unconvinced. Supporters of Labor party candidate Avi Gabbay shout slogans outside a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 ) I dont know if hes strong enough, but thats all there is, said Motke Stockhammer, a pensioner and lifetime Labor party member who was backing Herzog in the leadership race. I dont think the party at all will be able to oust Netanyahu Even some of Gabbays volunteers appeared skeptical, as one ironically revised the ubiquitous Israeli election chant Ho ha, whos that coming? The next prime minister to The next economy minister, earning quiet snickers from the others. The leadership contest for the ailing Labor party plagued by internal divisions since current leader Herzog engaged in coalition negotiations to join Netanyahus government in 2016 will move to a second round of voting next week between the top two contenders, should none of the candidates receive more than 40 percent of the vote on Tuesday. The primary pits Herzog against ex-Labor leader Amir Peretz, Gabbay, Margalit, Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev, and two other candidates whose chances of success were not considered realistic. The results were set to be announced around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. The race comes after the Labor party has slipped in the opinion polls over the past year; surveys now predict it could lose as many as half of its 24 Knesset seats to the rival centrist Yesh Atid party. Labor party candidate Erel Margalit arrives to vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) Shalom Brinn, also a pensioner, said he was supporting Margalit because today, to win you need to be a movie actor. Hes the only one who has it. Gabbay is also very good, but too quiet, he opined. The grievances with the party were on display as Brinn said he would abandon ship if its current or former leaders regained control. If Peretz or Herzog get in, Ill need to find myself a new party, he said, adding that he doesnt know which one. This is the generation that destroyed the party. Orit Cohen, a high school teacher in Maale Adumim, said she was voting for Margalit because hes a refreshing change. Cohen, who joined the Labor party a decade ago after shifting her political allegiances from the right, cautiously predicted that Margalit could oust Netanyahu. Labor party members cast their vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 ) I very much want to believe yes, she said. But Niva, a university student who voted for Bar-Lev and declined to give her last name, said she was mostly seeking a new opposition leader. I dont think Netanyahu will go anywhere in the coming decades, she said. She was standing with Gabbay-backing student, who asked to remain anonymous and was more optimistic about his chances, noting that general elections were not scheduled for another two years, giving the candidates ample time to mount a challenge. For two years, being a member of the party was embarrassing He said that over the past two years, being a member of the party was embarrassing and its conduct both internally and externally was plastic, unconvincing and inauthentic. Finally, a politician has come who is broadcasting something that in my view, in his discourse and style, is real, he said of Gabbay. While support for Jerusalem residents Gabbay and Margalit appeared to dominate in the capital, Sonia Cohen, a long-time Herzog activist and adviser to the Labor party chief on neighborhood issues, insisted the opposition leader would do better the second time around. In the Labor party, they cut off heads all the time they dont let the chairman work, said Cohen, who referred to the partys tested trend of choosing a new leader in each primary vote. He went through this baptism by fire already, when they tried to cut off his head. In the next four years, when he leads again, maybe theyll let him work and prove his capabilities and he has capabilities. Labor party leader Isaac Herzog arrives with his wife Michal to casts his vote at a polling station in Tel Aviv on July 4, 2017.(Miriam Alster/Flash90) Nor did Cohen, a Labor member for 30 years, think a victory for Herzog would send him racing back into negotiations with Netanyahu. I dont think hell enter the coalition; he wants to create a bloc of his own, she said. Labor Party members cast their vote at a polling station in Jerusalem on July 4. 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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Major Terrorist Attack Foiled on Jerusalem Outskirts by Border Guard Police – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: TPS Israeli Border Guard Police officers prevented a deadly terrorist attack mid-afternoon Tuesday after spotting six suspicious-looking occupants in a vehicle coming up to the Mazmoria checkpoint on the outskirts of southern Jerusalem, leading to Gush Etzion. The front and rear license plates on the car did not match. Moreover, the driver had no identification card at all neither a green Palestinian Authority ID, nor an Israeli blue teudat zehut car either and refused to answer any questions when asked. In fact, not one of the six occupants of the vehicle had any identification with them. At that point, personnel at the checkpoint proceeded to carry out a full-scale, thorough search of the vehicle. The soldiers uncovered a number of firebombs (Molotov cocktails) two of them already prepared for operation two shock (stun) grenades hidden within the car, and a bag with five sharp knives, making it clear that a major terrorist operation was underway. The crossing was closed, a sapper was called to the scene, and the area was cleared until the end of the investigation, said a spokesperson for Jerusalem District Police. The would-be terrorists, all Arab residents of the Palestinian Authority, were all taken into custody and transferred to security personnel for interrogation. During initial questioning, the suspects admitted they intended to go to Jerusalem and carry out an attack, the police spokesperson said. There is no doubt that an attempt was made to carry out an attack that could have had serious consequences in the Jerusalem area. Efforts to locate, prevent and thwart attempts by terrorists to carry out their attacks are continuing throughout Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the crossings around [the capital]. The seizure of the vehicle and the arrest of the suspects at the Mazmoria crossing is a central and added layer to the wise operational activity that is being carried out at all times, the spokesperson added. The Border Guard Police officers operating in the surrounding area provide a crucial security envelope in the effort to prevent the entry of hostile elements and to ensure the safety of the residents.

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