US WORKING ON ANOTHER NORMALIZATION DEAL IN JANUARY: The US is pushing for another Arab or Muslim state to normalize relations with Israel in the three weeks before US President Donald Trump leaves office, a Trump administration source said on Wednesday.
“We’re working very hard on making it happen,” said the source, who has been involved in negotiations for the Abraham Accords, as the agreements are called. A second Trump administration source confirmed the ongoing efforts. Sources in Jerusalem and Washington have said in recent weeks that Indonesia, Mauritania, Niger, or Oman could be next to join the accords. All three have had a certain level of secret or unofficial ties with Jerusalem in the past. There have also been persistent reports of progress with Pakistan. (JPost / VFI News)
HEALTH MINISTRY: DUE TO SHORTAGE, ISRAEL WILL TAKE 2-WEEK VACCINE BREAK: Israel will have a two-week break in the vaccination of the general public due to an expected shortage of vaccines and the need to hold on to an amount that can be used for the second “booster” shot required by people who have been inoculated once, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy said on Thursday.
Levy was referring to reports that the vaccine campaign will stop in ten days due to a shortage. In addition, the director-general addressed the issue of vaccines among teaching staff, as well as cases in which the entire population is invited to be vaccinated before the vaccines run out. When asked if the vaccine will run out in 10 days, Levy replied: “No, we will start a second round of vaccinations. There will be a two-week break, but we are working on renewing the shipping inventory because we started a little ahead of time.” (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S POPULATION NEARS 10 MILLION MARK AS COUNTRY ENTERS 2021: Israel will grow to 10 million people in the coming years, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, on the eve of the new year of 2021.
With a total of 151,000 new additions in 2020, Israel’s general population stands at nearly 9.3 million, including 6,870,000 Jews (73.9%), 1,956,000 Arabs (21.1%) and 465,000 people (5%) belonging to other ethnic groups. In other words, Israel’s population grew by 1.7% in 2020. Some 84% of that was due to natural population growth, subjected to the number of overall births and deaths, while 16% was due to international migration into the country. Data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics before have previously indicated that the country’s population will reach 10 million by the end of 2024, 15 million by 2048, and 20 million by 2065. (JPost / VFI News)
COVID CRISIS SINKS 50,000 ISRAELI FAMILIES BELOW POVERTY LINE: Covid-related lockdowns have pushed nearly 50,000 households in Israel under the poverty line in October. Attendees of the recent Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economics and Society received the daunting statistic that there is merely one job opening for every 16 unemployed people. And that’s not everything.
“The economic crisis brought on by covid is unprecedented in its scope and strength,” Minister of Labor, Social Welfare and Social Services Itzik Shmuli said at the conference. The event was organized by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI). Two and a half million Israelis have been damaged economically by the crisis, nearly 50,000 households have sunk below the poverty line and about 100,000 are currently closer to poverty. (INN / VFI News)
LONDON UNIVERSITY ACCUSED OF FOSTERING ‘ANTISEMITIC,’ ‘TOXIC’ ENVIRONMENT: The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) allegedly fosters a “toxic, antisemitic environment,” according to an independent appeals commission.
The appeal was made by SOAS student Noah Lewis, who won his initial ruling but appealed because the school should “address the issue of institutionalized antisemitism and a toxic atmosphere,” the Algemeiner said. As a result of this appeal, the latest decision awarded a much higher settlement amount and in the university’s Appeal Panel recommending that there be a continued investigation into the root cause of the antisemitic environment at SOAS. (JPost / VFI News)
FINAL NEFESH B’NEFESH ALIYAH FLIGHT OF 2020 LANDS IN ISRAEL: The final Nefesh B’Nefesh flight of 2020 landed in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, carrying 48 new immigrants to the Jewish state, NBN announced. The 48 olim who landed this week join the 3,168 people who moved to Israel from North America in 2020.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, some 2,625 people have immigrated to Israel from North America since the beginning of the pandemic. NBN received 6,704 applications from people who wanted to immigrate to Israel, which is a 126% increase in interest in aliyah compared to the 3,035 applications in 2019. “As we look back at the challenges everyone faced in 2020, we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished together,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We look forward to watching each oleh [new immigrant] grow and build their new lives in Israel, and eagerly look ahead to 2021, a year with the potential to exceed all expectations in aliyah.” (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL OFFICIALLY JOINS REGIONAL GAS FORUM: The cabinet authorized Israel’s membership in the new East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) on Tuesday, after resolving a dispute between ministers on the matter.
“The vision became a reality!” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz tweeted, pointing out that he and his Egyptian counterpart Tarek al-Mulla initiated the EMGF. “The blessing of gas leads us to historic cooperation with Arab and European states that will only broaden, along with contracts to export natural gas to Jordan and Egypt worth tens of billions of dollars, and more to come,” Steinitz added. (JPost / VFI News)
US TO LABEL PRODUCTS FROM PARTS OF JUDEA AND SAMARIA AS ‘MADE IN ISRAEL’: Products from parts of Judea and Samaria sold in the United States will be labeled “Made in Israel” as of December 24 as per regulation issued by US Customs.
According to the US Customs regulation, “Goods produced in the territorial areas of the West Bank where Israel continues to exercise relevant authorities—specifically Area C under the Oslo Accords and the area known as ‘H2’ which is under Israeli administrative control consistent with the 1997 Hebron protocol—must be marked as […] ‘Made in Israel.'” On the other hand, “Goods produced in Areas A and B under the Oslo Accords, which are under the civilian oversight of the Palestinian Authority for these purposes, along with the area known as ‘H1’ from the 1997 Hebron Protocol, must be marked as […] ‘Made in West Bank.'” (INN / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff