NEGOTIATION COLLAPSE The Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process collapsed after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah signed a unity pact in Gaza City with its militant rival Hamas on April 23 (above). Israel suspended the talks a day later, saying it would not negotiate with a Palestinian leadership supported by the Islamist terror group. A nine-month negotiating period brokered by the US was due to end April 29, and US President Barack Obama said there might be a pause in US efforts.THE BIG IF If Hamas recognizes Israel, then Israel could resume talking to the Palestinians, both Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said on April 27. At the same time, if Hamas accepts the Quartet’s (UN, US, EU and Russia) terms – recognizing Israel, rejecting terror and acknowledging previous agreements – “it won’t be Hamas anymore. But today we don’t see that happening,” Lapid said.APARTHEID STATE If Israel does not make peace soon, it could become an “apartheid state” like South Africa, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a closed meeting of world leaders recently, it was revealed April 28. “A two-state solution is the only real alternative,” Kerry told the gathering. “Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”JEWISH AND ISRAELI Over 20 percent of Israeli Jews feel more “Jewish” than “Israeli,” a poll revealed April 27. BINA, an organization for Jewish identity in Israel, released the poll ahead of Independence Day, which is marked on May 6. This compared to 13.6 percent who identify primarily as “Israeli” instead of “Jewish.”The overwhelming majority (60.8 percent) of respondents said they feel just as “Jewish” as they do “Israeli.”GAZA ROCKETS Six rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in southern Israel on April 21. One of the missiles hit a street in the city of Sderot, causing damage but no injuries. The Israel Air Force responded by attacking targets in Gaza.SURVIVOR ASSISTANCE The government approved on April 27 a plan to assist Holocaust survivors in Israel, to the tune of some one billion shekels ($287 million) per year. This comes in addition to the 835 million shekels the Finance Ministry has allocated for survivors as part of a five-year support plan. Of the 193,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today, some 50,000 live in poverty, according to a report published by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. ASIAN PARTNER The Asian region will overtake the United States as Israel’s second biggest export destination this year, the Economy Ministry announced on April 20. The region is expected to come in as Israel’s second-largest trade partner for 2014 behind the European Union, shifting the United States into third place.CHRISTIAN ENLISTMENT The IDF will begin to send enlistment notices to Christian Arab youths of military age, informing them of the possibility of joining the military, Army Radio reported on April 22. Their service, however, will remain strictly voluntary. Until now, Christian citizens wishing to volunteer for service had had to do this on their own.PASSOVER KILLING Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, a senior member of the Israel Police, was killed when a gunman opened fire on Israeli cars near Hebron as they traveled to a Passover Seder in the Kiryat Arba settlement on April 14. His wife and nine-year-old son were wounded in the attack.HOME FRONT POLITICS Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan tendered his resignation on April 22 and advised the Prime Minister to shut down the ministry. The move came after a protracted struggle between Erdan and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who rejects the idea that an additional ministry is needed to prepare civil defenses for wars and emergencies.