Each week, the briefing will provide a quick overview of the big stories in Israel to keep you up to date.
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This past week, Ehud Olmert became the first former Israeli Prime Minister to go to jail. He was convicted on bribery charges in three different cases. One involved issuing permits for the Holyland development in Jerusalem when he was Mayor. Another involved receiving large quantities of cash in envelopes from New York businessman Morris Talansky. Olmert, who is imprisoned in a special wing of the prison, may serve an additional 9 months for two cases that are still pending.
You can hear more details in the JPost Podcasts's recent Only in Israel episode, available at jpost.com/podcast
A French diplomatic initiative to hold an international conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace met headwinds when German Chancelor Angela Merkel said that “this is not the time for progress." The comments came during a visit from Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu. When outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presented the initiative in January, he threatened to formally recognize a Palestinian state if the effort failed.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot raised controversy for comments about the IDF's rules of engagement for dealing with stabbing terror attacks. Speaking to high school students, Eisenkot said “The IDF doesn’t need to get swept up in clichéd statements like ‘Kill or be killed’ or ‘Whoever comes at you with scissors needs to be killed.’ “The tools that are at the soldiers’ disposal are sufficient.” He then added: “I don’t want to see a soldier empty a magazine [to shoot] a young girl with scissors.” The Labor and Yesh Atid parties criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for not defending Eisenkot from harsh criticism lobbed by members of the Likud and Bayit Yehudi parties.
One Israeli was killed and several wounded in a series of stabbing attacks this past week. Most of the alleged attackers were killed as well.
It was a tough week for BDS, the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel. The British government issued guidance that “procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate” and said that any public bodies “found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties.” In France, the Paris City Council adopted two nonbinding resolutions condemning attempts to boycott Israel, which are illegal in France. And a German bank said it was looking into shuttering the account of a top BDS website in Germany.
A rebellion inside the governing coalition may stymie plans to create a large “Las-Vegas style” casino and tourism complex in Eilat. The proposal was met with strong objections from religious parties Bayit Yehudi, United Torah Judaism and Shas. Prime Minister Netanyahu has backed the casino as a way of boosting Eilat’s international tourism profile.
The Jerusalem Municipality announced a contest to redesign the city's iconic Zion Square in memory of Shira Banki, a 16-year-old who was stabbed to death by a religious extremist last July during the capital’s annual Gay Pride Parade. The prize will go to the design that best engenders tolerance.
And in the US, just days before winning the South Carolina Republican Primary, Donald Trump assailed US President Barack Obama as "the worst thing that's ever happened to Israel." The comments came a day after Trump said he himself would be "neutral" in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, because he didn't want to say who was at fault in the conflict. He said he would still give peacemaking "one hell of a shot."