World leaders commemorate Shimon Peres in Jerusalem

Peres laid to rest in Jerusalem Friday morning; World leaders attend funeral, give eulogies; Obama, Bill Clinton, Kerry attend from USA; Abbas attends funeral

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World leaders gathered in Jerusalem Friday morning to commemorate the late Shimon Peres who died on Wednesday of this week. United States President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry all attended the funeral and gave eulogies. Numerous international heads of state and leaders were present, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his eulogy in which he spoke of Peres’s love and commitment to the State of Israel and the state’s love for Peres. He stated “The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon and the state to which he dedicated his life. Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vison and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world. Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.

He went on to state, “Shimon Peres not only led a long life, but a meaningful life. He played an active role as a senior partner in the national rebirth of the Jewish people. He belonged to the generation that emerged from bondage to liberty, that struck roots in our ancient homeland, and wielded the Sword of David in its defense. Shimon made a monumental contribution to guaranteeing our capacity to defend ourselves for generations. And for that he will have the gratitude of generations. At the same time, he made every effort throughout his adult life to achieve piece with our neighbors.”

Addressing the peace process and conflicts of past, he stated “In a turbulent Middle East in which only the strong survive, peace will not be achieved other than by permanently preserving our power. But power is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end. That goal is to ensure our national existence and co-existence. To promote progress, prosperity and peace – for us, for the nations of the region, and for our Palestinian neighbors.”

President Obama traveled from the United States to Jerusalem to attend and speak at the funeral. Obama opened his eulogy by stating “A free life, in a homeland regained. A secure life, in a nation that can defend itself, by itself. A full life, in friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always. A bountiful life, driven by simple pleasures of family and by big dreams. This was Shimon Peres’s life. This is the State of Israel. This is the story of the Jewish people over the last century, and it was made possible by a founding generation that counts Shimon as one of its own. Shimon once said, ‘The message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.’ For Shimon, that moral vision was rooted in an honest reckoning of the world as it is.”

Obama spoke of Peres’s long life and contributions to the state of Israel, stating “Shimon was probably remembered more for a peace process that never reached its endpoint…” in reference to Peres’s involvement in the Oslo Accords and on.

Obama also took the opportunity to speak of the peace process with the Palestinians, mentioning Abbas’s presence at the funeral, stating “President Abbas, whose presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace,” later stating, “Out of the hardships of the diaspora he found room in his heart for others who suffered. He came to hate prejudice with the passion of one who knows how it feels to be its target. Even in the face of terrorist attacks, even after repeated disappointments at the negotiation table, he insisted that as human beings, Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews, and must therefore be equal in self-determination. Because of his sense of justice, his analysis of Israel’s security, his understanding of Israel’s meaning, he believed that the Zionist idea would be best protected when Palestinians, too, had a state of their own.”

On US-Israel relations, he stated “As Americans and Israelis, we often talk about the unbreakable bonds between our nations. And, yes, these bonds encompass common interests- vital cooperation that makes both our nations more secure. But today we are reminded that the bonds which matter most run deeper. Anchored in a Judeo-Christian tradition, we believe in the irreducible value of every human being. Our nations were built on that idea. They were built in large part by stubborn idealists and striving immigrants, including those who had fled war and fled oppression. Both our nations have flaws that we have not always fixed, corners of our history which date back to our founding that we do not always squarely address. But because our founders planted not just flags in the eternal soil, but also planted the seeds of democracy, we have the ability to always pursue a better world. We have the capacity to do what is right.”

Obama ended his eulogy stating, “The last of the founding generation is now gone. Shimon accomplished enough things in his life for a thousand men. But he understood that it is better to live to the very end of his time on Earth with a longing not for the past but for the dreams that have not yet come true — an Israel that is secure in a just and lasting peace with its neighbors. And so now this work is in the hand of Israel’s next generation, in the hands of Israel’s next generation and its friends. Like Joshua, we feel the weight of responsibility that Shimon seemed to wear so lightly. But we draw strength from his example and the fact that he believed in us- even when we doubted ourselves. Scripture tells us that before his death, Moses said, ‘I call upon heaven and earth to bear witness this day that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.’ “Uvacharta Bachayim.” Choose life. For Shimon, let us choose life, as he always did. Let us make his work our own. May God bless his memory. And may God bless this country, and this world, that he loved so dearly.”

Peres was laid to rest following the national ceremony and was buried at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem in the “Great Leaders of the Nation” section next to Yitzchak Rabin.

 

Gate shrine from First Temple era unveiled at Tel Lachish

Findings from King Hezekiah’s efforts to abolish idol worship found; Gate is the largest known gate from the First Temple period in Israel

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Israeli archeologists revealed findings of a rare, First Temple era gate shrine from an archeological dig at the Tel Lachish National Park near Hevron this week. The dig was conducted in early 2016 with findings only revealed this week.

Findings from the location are from King Hezekiah’s efforts to abolish idol worship in the region from the 8th century.

According to the head Israel Antiquities Authority’s excavation, Sa’ar Ganor , “Tel Lachish was the most important city in Judea, after Jerusalem. This is the biggest city-gate we have found in the Land of Israel. The size of the gate is consistent our historical and archaeological data that indicates Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem. According to biblical descriptions, the gate of a city was where everything happened. The elders of the city, the judges, governors, kings, and bureaucrats-all of them sat on the benches at the city gates. The benches were found in our dig.”

Ganor described significant findings from the site, including a room for sacrifices and additional proof of King Hezekiah’s efforts. He described that the “steps to the gate-shrine in the form of a staircase ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed. An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies.”

He explained that his team found “two four-horned altars and scores of ceramic finds consisting of lamps, bowls and stands in this room. It is most interesting that the horns on the altar were intentionally truncated. That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah, whereby religious worship was centralized in Jerusalem and the cultic high places that were built outside the capital were destroyed: “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles…” (II Kings 18:4).

The archeologists also pointed out that a toilet was installed in the holy of holies, but was never used, proving the placement of the toilet as symbolic and additional desecration of the site.

Archeologists also found arrowheads and weapons likely from Assyrian King Sennacherib’s siege of Judah and Jerusalem.

 

Shimon Peres to be laid to rest during national ceremony on Friday in Jerusalem

Former Israeli president, finance minister and prime minister Shimon Peres dies at age of 93; National ceremony to be held during Peres funeral on Friday

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Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president and one of the nation’s founding fathers, died on Wednesday morning at the age of 93. He will be buried during a national ceremony to be held on Friday morning in Jerusalem.

Peres was hospitalized following a stroke two weeks ago, remaining in critical condition under sedation.

Shimon Peres served prime minister of Israel twice, served as her ninth president and received the Noble Peace Prize.

Peres was born in Poland (now Belarus) and made “aliyah” (the Hebrew/Jewish term for immigration to Israel) with his family at the age of 11 in 1934. Peres began his military career in 1947, serving in the Haganah forces before the creation of the State of Israel and Israel Defense Forces. Peres was a close aid and friend of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

After Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Peres served in Israel’s navy before entering the Ministry of Defense. At the age of 29, Peres became the youngest Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Defense to date.

In 1959 Peres officially entered politics, serving as Deputy Defense Minister. In 1977 he succeeded Yitzchak Rabin as the head of the Labor Party. In 1984 he became prime minister and served as both deputy prime minister and finance minister alongside Yitchak Shamir.

Peres is most significantly known for his work in the peace process with the Palestinians, particularly during the Oslo Peace Accords, for which he received a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin in 1994.

Peres continued his active role in Israel’s political realm, serving as the chairman of the “Havodah” Party (Labor Party) in 2003 after resigning from the post in 1997. During this period, Peres was focused on creating and forming the Peres Center for Peace.

In 2007, Peres became Israel’s ninth president, holding the position until 2014. Peres served Israel’s defense institutions, military and country for over 66 years.

His burial will take place on Friday, a national ceremony to be held to remember one of Israel’s greatest leaders. He will be buried at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem in the “Great Leaders of the Nation” section next to Yitzchak Rabin. Dozens of heads of state from around the globe are expected to attend.

Israel signs $10 billion natural gas deal with Jordan

Deal will boost both Israel and Jordan’s economies; First energy export deal made by Israel; Deal to span over 15 years

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Israel’s gas consortium signed a historic agreement to provide Jordan with over $10 billion in natural gas. The agreement, signed on Monday, is Israel’s first energy export deal and will span over 15 years with gas deliveries from Israel’s Leviathan gas field to began as early as 2019.

Investors in Leviathan, the largest of which are Noble Energy Inc., and Israel’s Delek Group, have been in talks over the agreement with Jordan for the past year. Head of Noble Energy’s Israel Branch, Binyamin Zomer, described the benefits the deal will have on Israel’s economy, environment and relations with Jordan. He stated “Signing this contract is historic in terms of what it means for the development of the oil and gas industry in Israel, the positive impact it will have on our economy, environment, and energy security, and, more importantly, the positive impact this industry in general, and Leviathan in particular, will have on our relationship with our neighbors.”

According to Delek’s CEO Yossi Abu, the gas deal is just the start of new trade and improved diplomat relations in the region. He stated that by “supplying natural gas to Jordan will enable our neighbors in Jordan to benefit from efficient, clean and cheap energy, just like the citizens of Israel. It will contribute to the prosperity of Israel and Jordan and will strengthen ties and active partnerships between the two. The Leviathan consortium will continue to push forward additional deals including with Egypt, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.”

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz stated that the deal serves as an “important milestone in strengthening the ties and strategic partnerships between Israel and Jordan and the entire region.”

The agreement will provide Jordan with 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas over 15 years. A previous deal was made with Jordan in 2014 with Noble Energy for gas exports from Israel’s Tamar gas field which will begin this year.

Israel’s Leviathan gas field holds a reported 22 trillion cubic feet of gas, its Tamar gas field holding over 7 trillion cubic feet, making Israel the largest and most sought-after natural gas supplier in the region.

In February, Israel, Greece and Cyprus announced the creation of a regional trilateral committee to increase cooperative agreements and relations in the fields of energy, tourism, technology and research, mainly that of the construction of a pipeline for gas exports from Israel’s gas reserves to Cyprus and Greece.

 

 

 

 

Netanyahu meets with Hillary Clinton

PM finishes US tour, meets with Trump and Clinton; Netanyahu: No matter what the election results, next U.S. president will continue strong alliance with Israel

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with United States presidential candidate Hillary Clinton just hours following his meeting with Donald Trump on Sunday. Both Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer and Clinton’s senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan were present during the meeting.

There were few reports given of either meeting, but Clinton’s campaign stated that their meeting focused on Clinton’s commitment to Israel’s security as well as discussion on Iran, Syria and a two-state solution. Her campaign stated that Hillary affirmed that “a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States’ and ‘reaffirmed unwavering commitment’ to the relationship.

The Office of Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on their meeting “Prime Minter Netanyahu discussed with Secretary Clinton a broad range of issues relating to advancing peace and stability in the Middle East as well as the potential for economic growth through technological innovation.”

Following his meetings with Clinton and Trump, Netanyahu addressed Israeli press stating that “It is important for Israeli citizens to know no matter the election results we will have a friend in the White House. The next president will continue the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.”

On his tour in the United States, which included meetings with over 15 African leaders, President Obama and his address before the General Assembly, Netanyahu stated “We broke down the automatic block against us affecting our position in the United Nations. I want to break down our isolation in the international arena.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Donald Trump in New York

Talks addressed regional threats, US-Israel cooperation, particularly in areas of security and defense; Netanyahu to meet Clinton Sunday

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with United States presidential candidate Donald Trump in New York Sunday morning. Their meeting comes ahead of a meeting between Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton scheduled for later Sunday.

Their meeting centered on improving Israel-US relations, in particular in Israel’s “hi-tech and biotech economy”, security and cyber defense. They both addressed regional threats, particularly nuclear Iran and ISIS. They additionally discussed “Israel’s successful experience with a security fence”

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office released the following statement on their meeting “Prime Minister Netanyahu presented Israel’s positions on regional issues related to Israel’s security and efforts to achieve peace and stability. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support of Israel.”

The meeting reportedly lasted over an hour and a half, the Trump campaign stating on their meeting “Mr. Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism. He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State…. Finally, Mr. Trump acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”