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Israeli Unemployment Rate Drops to Historic Low of 4.9 Percent

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Unemployment in Israel has fallen to an all-time low, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

According to the bureau’s data, the April jobless rate was just 4.9 percent, below the psychological threshold of 5 percent. Unemployment among men dropped from 5.2 percent in March to 4.9 percent in April, and unemployment among women dropped from 5.4 percent to 4.7 percent in the same months.

The report also said the number of employed Israelis reached an all-time high in April of 60.9 percent, or 3.64 million, and the workforce now numbers 1.9 million men and 1.74 million women. Workforce participation in March was 60.2 percent.

Dore Gold to Be New Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General

( Former diplomat and political adviser Dr. Dore Gold was appointed Monday as director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also serving as foreign minister.

Gold most recently served as an adviser to Netanyahu during his last term in office. His appointment was set to be presented for government approval on Tuesday. He was Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in 1997-1999 and an adviser to Netanyahu in 1996-1997, when he represented the prime minister in missions to Egypt, Jordan and Gulf states.

Following many years of work in public service, Gold went on to become president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs public policy think tank, which he has headed since 2000. In his capacity at the center, Gold presented Israel’s perspective at international forums and held dialogues with the representatives of several Arab states. His best-selling book, “The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City,” was translated and published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

New Israeli Deputy FM tells Diplomats That All of Israel’s Land Belongs to Jews

( Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said in an address to the Jewish state’s diplomatic core that all of the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” she said in a broadcast to Israel’s 106 diplomats serving abroad. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”

Hotovely, who is the highest-ranking official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry due to the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not appoint a foreign minister, added, “The international community deals with considerations of justice and morality. We need to return to the basic truth of our right to this land.”

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Saudi Arabia Attack, Eyes Golan Heights

( The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for a bloody attack that killed 19 people at a Shi’a mosque in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

On Twitter, a group calling itself Islamic State’s “Najd Province,” which refers to the central region of Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for the attack. Last week, Islamic State terrorists seized control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman cities in the Middle East and a UNESCO world heritage site. Islamic State now controls roughly half of Syria’s territory.

Additionally, Islamic State has recently attempted to gain a foothold near Syria’s border with Israel in the Golan Heights, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The first such attempt by Islamic State occurred two weeks ago near Quneitra, where Syrian rebels were able to push back against an Islamic State-affiliated group called Jaysh al-Jihad.

In Address to DC Synagogue, Obama Says Anti-Semitism Is Not a ‘Passing Fad’

( In a rare presidential address at a synagogue, President Barack Obama spoke at Adas Israel Congregation on Friday in Washington, DC. Wearing a kippah, Obama touted America’s “unbreakable” bond with Israel, vowed to “block every single path” Iran might take towards developing a nuclear weapon, and called rising anti-Semitism “not some passing fad.”

Obama, whose views and policies on Israel are often the source of contentious debates in the Jewish community, said he “came to know Israel as a young man” through “incredible images,” adding that he was inspired by “Israel overcoming these incredible odds.” Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Obama said he understood Israel’s frustrations, calling the Palestinians “not the easiest of partners.”

On the uptick in global anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, Obama said, “We’ve seen a deeply disturbing rise in anti-Semitism. This is not some passing fad. When we allow anti-Semitism to take root, our souls are destroyed and it will spread.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Reinstate the ‘Strong Allied’ U.S.-Israel Relationship

( Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, an expected Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, said in an interview with Israel Hayom published Friday that the next president “needs to both symbolically and substantively reinstate the strong allied relationship between America and Israel.”

Walker, who visited Israel for the first time in May, has not yet officially announced his candidacy. He said that although he had “read and talked about” the threats facing Israel before, “to be physically in Israel, I saw and felt the very real threat.”

Iran is “the most dominant threat in the region and in the world right now,” Walker said.

“If any action were to go forward [on a final nuclear deal with Iran] they would need to dismantle their illicit nuclear infrastructure, they would need to fully disclose and be fully transparent, and submit to immediate inspection,” he said. “They would need to not only deal with Israel and acknowledge it as the Jewish state, but they would also have to deal with other Sunni states in the region with whom there is obvious tension.”

Obama Says He Speaks ‘Honestly’ About Israel, Downplays Iran’s Anti-Semitism

( In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic that was published Thursday, President Barack Obama attempted to defend his administration’s recent public disputes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Because I care so deeply about the state of Israel, precisely because I care so much about the Jewish people, I feel obliged to speak honestly and truthfully about what I think will be most likely to lead to long-term security,” Obama said, adding that it would be a “moral failing” of his presidency if he did not “protect Israel and stand up for its right to exist.”

Obama called his administration’s criticism of Netanyahu’s pre-election comments in March on a two-state solution and Israeli Arab voters “fairly spare and mild.”

“When you get in arguments with friends it’s a lot more newsworthy than arguments with enemies,” Obama said.

On Iran, Obama tried to dismiss the argument that because the Iranian government is “anti-Semitic or racist,” it isn’t interested in survival and cannot be a rational actor.

“It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations,” said Obama.

IDF Releases 15-year-old Footage of Lebanon Outpost Demolition

( A decade and a half after Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Ministry last week published footage of the demolition of the iconic Beaufort military outpost, which was located at the site of an ancient Crusader fortress on top of a cliff near the Lebanese village of Arnoun.

The video, filmed by an Israeli drone, shows two Israel Defense Forces vehicles leaving the outpost and slowly driving toward Israel. During the journey, the vehicles come under anti-tank, mortar, and light arms fire. Later, the video shows the outpost being destroyed in a huge controlled explosion.

The demolition of Beaufort was perhaps the most dramatic moment of the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Beaufort was a symbol of Israel’s 18-year military presence in southern Lebanon, which began during the First Lebanon War in 1982.

Swiss Court Orders Israel to Pay Iran $1.1 Billion Over Pre-Revolution Oil Deal

( A court in Switzerland has reportedly ruled that Israel must pay Iran $1.1 billion for not compensating the Islamic Republic for an oil deal agreed upon between the two countries before the Iranian Revolution.

The 1968 deal, conducted at a time of friendly relations between the two countries and when Iran held shares in the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co., involved the shipping and sale of Iranian oil via the Red Sea port at Eilat. Through this port, the Iranian Oil Company delivered 14.75 million cubic meters of crude oil to Israel’s Trans-Asiatic Oil Ltd. That amount of oil was worth $450 million, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

But after the country’s Islamic revolution, Iran no longer recognized Israel and all the oil contracts with the Jewish state were frozen. Iran proceeded to sue Israel in French and Swiss courts.

Robert Wistrich, Leading Scholar on Anti-Semitism, Dies at 70

( Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, widely considered the world’s leading scholar on anti-Semitism, died from a heart attack last week at age 70. He was in Rome ahead of a scheduled address to the Italian Senate on rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote or edited 29 books. Some of his most noteworthy works included “Anti-Semitism: The Longest Hatred” (1994), “Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism?” (2002), “A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad” (2010), and “From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel” (2012).

From 1999-2001, Wistrich was one of six scholars appointed to an international Catholic-Jewish historical commission that examined the Holocaust-era record of Pope Pius XII. He authored a Simon Wiesenthal Center exhibition, “The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel,” that was displayed in 2014 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

U.S. Proposes $1.9 Billion Military Package for Israel

( The United States last week proposed a $1.9 billion military package for Israel amid growing concerns over Iran.

The massive package, which was announced by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency and must be approved by Congress, includes 750 bunker buster precision-guided bombs and 3,000 Hellfire missiles, among several other items.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” the Department of Defense said in a statement, adding, “The proposed sale of these munitions will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not Be Booted From World Soccer Association

( Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body.

“We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter.

“If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a mission for peace and not on a mission to force anybody to do something.”

The Palestinians, who have been members of FIFA since 1998, have initiated a motion at the upcoming FIFA congress on May 28 to bar Israel from international competition over alleged Israeli restrictions on the movement of soccer players in and out of the disputed territories. The motion will need a three-quarters majority among FIFA’s 209 members to pass.

Iran’s Khamenei Rules Out Interviews With Nuclear Scientists, Inspection of Military Sites

( Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed not to allow international inspectors to interview Iran’s nuclear scientists or to inspect military sites under any final agreement with the P5+1 nations.

Khamenei told Iranian military commanders that he will resist any “coercion and excessive demands” by the U.S. and other world powers.

“The impudent and brazen enemy expects that we allow them to talk to our scientists and researchers about a fundamental local achieve but no such permission will be allowed,” Khamenei said on Iranian state TV, the New York Times reported.

“No inspection of any military site or interview with nuclear scientists will be allowed,” he said.

Amnesty International Details Hamas Abuse of Palestinians During Gaza War

(Anav Silverman/Tazpit News Agency) The global human rights organization, Amnesty International released a report May 26, detailing Hamas abuses against Palestinians during Operation Protective Edge last summer. According to the report, Hamas tortured, abducted and assaulted Fatah members and former PA security forces in Gaza under the cover of the conflict.

Some victims died as a result of the abuse while still others were placed under house arrest in Gaza. In addition, alleged Israel ‘collaborators’ were also shot, including the infamous incident of the six men executed by Hamas outside a mosque in front of hundreds of people including children on August 22, 2014.

“The torture and summary killing of people in captivity – including suspected “informers” or “collaborators” – are, when committed in the context of armed conflict, serious violations of international humanitarian law, constituting war crimes,” Amnesty International asserted in the report, whose findings were also based on interviews conducted by a local field worker.

The report states that at least 23 people accused of assisting Israel were executed.

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