By ICEJ NEWS—
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s visit to the family of Yotam Ovadia, who was stabbed to death last Thursday amidst a terrorist attack on the Jerusalem suburb of Adam, sparked outrage in the Palestinian Authority, which issued a statement accusing Friedman of “provocation” adding that the position of the Trump Administration was “illegal and illegitimate, and a blatant violation of the international law.” However, the statement continued, the “steadfastness and persistence of the Palestinians, as well as their support for their legitimate leadership, are capable of foiling the illusions and conspiracies of the American administration.”
Friedman responded by Tweeting “Yesterday I visited a young widow grieving the death of her husband, murdered last week by a Palestinian terrorist. I was heartbroken by her tears and those of her in-laws who had lost their only son. Today, the PA Foreign Ministry condemned my visit. Nothing more to say.”
Controversy Over Jewish Nation-State Law Reaches IDF
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot issued a statement on Monday urging military officers to keep politics separate from their service following two posts by Druze officers to their personal Facebook accounts in which they announced their intention to resign following the recent passage of the Jewish Nation-State Law. “As a national army whose mission is to protect the security of the people of Israel and to win wars, we are committed to preserving human dignity, regardless of origin, religion or gender. It always was and always will be,” Eisenkot said. “We have undertaken that the joint responsibility with our Druze, Bedouin and other minority members serving in the IDF will continue to lead our way.”
“Trust us, we have your back,” Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, the religious leader of Israel’s Druze community, was quoted as saying by Ynet following a meeting with Eisenkot earlier in the day. “We have no quarrel with the IDF. You are all loyal soldiers and officers and I trust that you will leave yourselves, and the IDF, outside of public controversies.”
However, an open letter signed by several former IDF generals, including Chiefs of Staff, called for the Law to be amended to acknowledge the contribution of soldiers from the Druze and other minority communities.
“This land has absorbed the blood of their sons that has spilled, and they have stood with us shoulder to shoulder…Beyond any position or political affiliation, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them,” read the statement in part.
Iranian Officials Angrily Reject Trump Invitation to Talks
Monday’s statement by US President Donald Trump that he was ready to meet with Iranian officials without pre-conditions to discuss the many contentious issues between Teheran and Washington was met with outraged rejection by many Iranian officials as the day went on Tuesday, with many characterizing the proposal as a set up for the Islamic Republic to be humiliated. Meanwhile, protests against the clerical regime continued in Teheran and many other Iranian cities over economic hardships and other issues, while officials in Washington said they are continuously in contact with regional allies to coordinate on policy towards Iran.
LGBT Pride Parade in Jerusalem Set for Thursday
Jerusalem was in preparations for the annual “LGBT Pride” parade scheduled to Thursday, with Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern sending a letter to the office of Mayor Nir Barkat requesting that the LGBT rainbow flags hung from lampposts outside two of the capital’s most revered synagogues be removed. “Everyone is able to understand that flags which unfortunately symbolize the opposite (of holiness) should not be flown there,” Stern said in the letter. No response to the letter had been issued by press time.
Hainan Airlines Opens TA-Guangzhou Route
Chinese air carrier Hainan Airlines dealt another blow to the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel this week when it announced the launch of a new route between Tel Aviv and the Pearl River megacity of Guangzhou. Officials and business leaders in Israel and China praised the decision as the beginning of new opportunities to strengthen tourism, scientific research and mutually beneficial economic ventures in both countries.