BAHRAIN WILL ‘MAKE PEACE WITH ISRAEL A SUCCESS STORY’: Israel and Bahrain are working to quickly bring the normalization of their ties to fruition, Bahraini Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani said in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Al Zayani said, “the whole world is watching, and we are determined to make this a success story and a case study for others.” The Bahraini minister led the first-ever trade delegation from his country to Israel, since normalization was announced in September. He arrived on Tuesday with 40 government officials and businesspeople. Israel and Bahrain signed agreements to cooperate in tourism and culture during Al Zayani’s visit. Al Zayani met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday. Peace between Bahrain and Israel “leaves this world a better place for future generations than the one we inherited,” he told Netanyahu. (JPost / VFI News)
SLOVENIA DECLARES ALL OF HEZBOLLAH A ‘CRIMINAL AND TERRORIST ORGANIZATION’: Slovenia on Monday designated Hezbollah in its entirety a terrorist organization, joining a growing number of European states who have taken similar steps in recent weeks to end differentiation between the group’s political and armed wings.
In a statement, the small Central European state’s government said that it will henceforth treat the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based group as “a criminal and terrorist organization posing a threat to peace and security.” “Hezbollah’s activities are intertwined with organized crime and the conduct of terrorist or paramilitary activities on a global scale,” the government in Ljubljana said in a statement. The decision followed the recommendations by the Permanent Coordination Group for Restrictive Measures, which is headed by a Slovenian Foreign Ministry official, which presented the government with a report on Hezbollah’s “activities and mode of operation,” according to the statement. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL DECLINES TO ENFORCE ‘PAY FOR SLAY LAW’ ON TAX PAYMENTS TO RAMALLAH: The government of Israel did not deduct the amount the Palestinian Authority paid terrorists and their families from the taxes and tariffs collected for the PA and transferred to Ramallah on Wednesday.
The Finance Ministry confirmed that Israel paid NIS 3.768 billion to the PA, and deducted only the cost of services provided, not the “pay for slay” funds, as the terrorist salaries have been called. Palestinian head of the General Authority on Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh announced the payment on Twitter, remarking that “the Israeli government transfers all financial dues of the clearance to the account of the Palestinian Authority.” The 2018 “Pay for Slay Law,” which mandates the security cabinet to deduct the funds the PA pays terrorists pursuant to an annual report from the Defense Ministry, requires the freeze to be implemented immediately following the cabinet decision. However, the government did not do so this week. A Finance Ministry representative said on Wednesday that those deductions, of NIS 50 million per month for 12 months, will begin only next month. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S NEW MISSILE SHIP ARRIVES FROM GERMANY: At the conclusion of a long process of construction and extensive preparation in Germany, the new Saar 6 warship will run up the Israeli flag on Wednesday as it is officially transferred to the Israeli navy. It will then set out on a journey that will end with its renaming as INS Magen in its new home in the Haifa base.
The missile ship INS Magen is one of the four new Saar 6 corvettes whose purpose includes protecting Israeli gas rigs and also more broadly to protect Israel’s maritime interests and police its naval borders, an area double the landmass of Israel. Speaking on Galei Tzahal this morning, General (Res.) David Ben Besht, formerly the Navy Commander, welcomed the acquisition of these new ships. “These ships are simply marvelous; they answer precisely to Israel’s needs, given the existing threats from Lebanon and Syria,” he said. (INN / VFI News)
STUDY: ONE IN FIVE ISRAELIS SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION: One out of every five Israelis reported suffering from high or very high levels of depression, according to a new study by Tel Aviv University and the Academic and Technology College of Tel-Hai.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, symptoms of depression have increased significantly – from 14% in May 2020 to 18% in July 2020 and to 20% in October. At the same time, the study found that at the peak of the second wave, almost one in three people in Israel (29%) suffered extreme or highly extreme symptoms of anxiety. Here, too, the data presents a sharp increase – from 23% in May to 27% in July and now 29%. In contrast, in 2018, only 12% of the population expressed high and very high anxiety levels in 2018 and only 9% expressed these levels of depression. (JPost / VFI News)
OECD SEES ISRAEL ECONOMY GROW 2.3% IN 2021, BELOW GLOBAL AVERAGE: The OECD is projecting Israel’s economy will grow a mere 2.3% in 2021, below the global average, after contracting 4.2% this year, as increased unemployment and a likely rise in insolvencies after a second national lockdown “will weigh” on economic recovery.
“The projections assume a more gradual exit from the second lockdown compared to the first one,” the OECD said in its December 2020 Economic Outlook report published Tuesday. “GDP will recover only modestly by 2.3% in 2021 before expanding by 4.2% in 2022 as an effective vaccine is rolled out. High uncertainty, increasing unemployment in the near term, and a likely rise in insolvencies once government support is withdrawn will weigh on consumer demand and investment.” The OECD forecasts world GDP to contract by 4.2% this year, with a 7.2 percent drop for the Euro area and a 3.8% decline for G20 nations. GDP in the US is expected to contract by 3.7% and in the UK by 11.2%. (TOI / VFI News)
JEWISH ASTRONAUT JESSICA MEIR MAY BE FIRST WOMAN ON THE MOON: Since astronaut Jessica Meir returned to Earth in April from the International Space Station, she — like all of us — has spent a lot of time indoors and cooped up.
While many of us have spent our confinement dreaming of future trips, Meir is working on her own travel plans to a singular destination: She wants to walk on the moon. It’s not just a pipe dream. Meir, the fourth Jewish woman (and 15th Jew overall) to travel to space, made the Guinness Book of World Records when she and fellow astronaut Christina Koch conducted the first all-female spacewalk — lasting 7 hours, 17 minutes — on Oct. 18, 2019. Not long afterward, the pair did it again. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAELI GYMNAST LINOY ASHRAM TAKES GOLD AT EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won a gold medal in the individual rhythmic category at the European Championships on Sunday, becoming the first athlete to win the prize in decades who was not from a former Soviet country or Bulgaria.
Ashram edged out Alina Harnasko of Bulgaria in a nearly unprecedentedly close tiebreaker. Israel also won the group rhythmic gymnastics gold at the competition in Kyiv, Ukraine. Several highly-rated teams from Russia, Bulgaria, and Italy did not participate this year due to the logistical complications of the coronavirus pandemic. Ashram, a 21-year-old Israeli defense forces veteran born to Mizrahi and Sephardic parents, will represent Israel at the Tokyo Olympics, which has been rescheduled to summer 2021. (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