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Ahead of Obama’s Visit, Israel Installs New Government

Israel prepares for US President Barack Obama’s first visit, as well as introducing the 33rd government coalition – PBSNewsHour

Palestinian Unity Government

A unity government is being formed between Hamas and Fatah representatives. It is to be headed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and will include members from both factions, as well as independents.

Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, along with a number of Hamas leaders, have acquiesced the new plans. Under the conditions for the unity government, Hamas may continue ruling in the Gaza Strip, so long as it abstains from the use of violence.

Previously, Hamas approached the offer with suspicion. One of the group’s leaders, Salah al-Bardawil said “Fayyad does not represent the Palestinian leadership” and that due to his lack of legitimacy, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority is “not authorized to speak about public affairs.

However, in recent days, the ice has begun to melt. Mahmoud a-Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza says he is open to the deal; and according to Israel Radio, Fayad says he is willing to go to Gaza to discuss further, the unity deal with Hamas. Also, Nabil Shaath, a top official in the Fatah Party, told The Associated Press that he would go to Gaza soon to negotiate with Hamas leaders to work out the terms for a unity deal.

Meanwhile, two Grad-model Katyusha rockets hit the southern Israeli town Beersheba for the first time since Operation Cast Lead. The rockets fell in a residential Beersheba neighborhood; one rocket landing in the yard of a home, causing large damage. No physical injuries were reported but five people were treated for shock.

Last Wednesday afternoon, an explosive device detonated while IDF soldiers passed near the Gaza security fence during a routine operation and a mortar shell was fired at the force. No one was injured and no damage was reported.

Along with the border skirmish, five mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in the Sedot Negev Regional Council area on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a strange flipflop for American President Obama, was instructing the U.S. representative to the United Nations to veto the Security Council resolution, last Friday, that would have condemned Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal.

It Is Time to Stop the Sun Like In the Days of Joshua

The Israeli solar energy industry is blaming government bureaucracy for its sluggish progress.

The Arab oil nations of the world have geopolitically isolated the Jewish Country since its founding.

This is not news.

So, in the green era that we are living in, it is not that Israel’s unpopularity in the Arab world does not provide an energy incentive. It does. What’s the hold-up?

The location of the country, so near to the equator, leaves us to question why we seem to be straddling behind everyone else in solar energy usage and development.

While not necessarily strapped for natural gas, solar water heaters on homes and buildings account for roughly 3% of Israel’s energy demands. That’s just not enough if we are in a race with North America and Europe (and not enough to bring down the formidable gas price).

“Solar for Israel is a survival tactic,”

Claims Karin Kloosterman of Green Prophet, but

“Consumers don’t have the confidence to buy into the idea. I’ve read reports that the Israeli government is trying to back pedal on their commitments and I’m not surprised. Bureaucracy in Israel is a nightmare.”

Rigid disjointedness at the PUA (Public Utilities Authority) is reportedly injuring small Israeli firms: Solar power vendors in Israel still need foreign partners for most bank loans and the PUA still demands opinions of “international consultants” for much of the product development process.

Israeli firm, SBY Solutions is threatening to sue the state because the PUA eliminated a requirement that developers of high-voltage solar installations perform overseas projects at first, to obtain licensing. SBY Solutions is currently working on solar projects in Eastern Europe.

According to Neal Ungerleider of Fast Company, Israeli companies catering to small customers are having better luck. MCO Industries signed a $50m deal with the Texas-based Sun Freedom, selling them solar water heaters at $800 a pop. Negev-based, Friendly Energy signed a $23.8m deal to develop photovoltaic panels for an industrial solar farm in Italy.

As far as domestic deals go, last month, the government gave permission to The Clean Wind Farm company to erect 80 large 2.5 megawatt wind turbines. However, some are skeptical that the Jewish Country does not have sufficient wind speeds to “sustain a robust wind power industry.”

Israel’s goal is to generate 10% of electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020. Doubtless, the goal is within-reach, but will it be enough?

Happy Birthday Israel

On Monday, just ahead of the 62nd Independence Day, the Government Secretariat published rare papers documenting the first government meeting in Israel.

The meeting, which was held in Tel Aviv just two days after the state was established on Sunday, May 16, 1948, centered on a debate about the selection of ministers and updates on the war situation at the front.

Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser said:

“It’s exciting to see with the perspective of time gone by how things were handled, and how historical decisions still affecting our lives today were made.”

David Ben-Gurion, serving as both prime minister and defense minister, opened the meeting with this speech:

“We will open the first meeting of the provisional government and hear a report by Moshe Shertok (Sharett). I assume as self-evident, if there has not been a decision on this matter yet, that any discussion during these meetings, whether important or not, is certainly confidential and no one is permitted to discuss it with anyone else, not even his close friends or confidantes, because these are matters of the state and not of the people participating in these meetings…The situation in Tel Aviv is well-known – explosions. I do not have any details on the last bombing. This morning four port workers were killed…The Egyptian columns are progressing from the south. There is an unconfirmed report of a naval landing around Majdal (currently Ashkelon). Posters aveeenistributed in the Negev calling on Jews to surrender. A convoy of 200 vehicles has arrived in Beersheba…The pressure on the way to Jerusalem and its surroundings has been relieved. We conquered Latrun but were taken out of there. The Arabs got hold of a treasure – one of the new cannons and a few armored cars… We have conquered nearly all of Jerusalem, from the heart of the entrance… and the Old City, which is besieged by Jews nearly on all sides. The Jews in the Old City are besieged by the Arabs.”

Ben-Gurion then continued on listing the ministers, 12 in all. Minister of Immigration and Health Haim-Moshe Shapira told those who were present:

“I am presenting the question of the assembly of the system. Each should do as he sees fit.”

Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok, who later served as prime minister under the name Sharett, said:

“Half of the Jewish settlement is comprised of natives of Israel. They have no association with this word. The other half contains many Yemeni Jews, Germans, and others who have no such association. This word may have the connotation of bragging, but it is a nice Hebrew word with a pleasant sound to it. Trustee is unacceptable to me because there is a concept of trustee for a trust fund.”

Ministry of Miscommunication

This is a beauty. The ministry of communications announced in recent days a fight against this pesky VoIP (Voice over IP) trend. In a directive to all 56 ISPs in Israel, the ministry asked that no Internet calls be allowed to take place over their infrastructure. The general manager of the ministry claims that 10-15% of the international calling market is being lost to Internet calling services.

When you walk around the neighborhood in my area, you can actually hear the sounds of messenger alerts and computers ringing with incoming calls. Israel was a leader in the field and VoIP has a significant part in its technological identity. Apparently for the Ministry of Communuications this has little significance.

I read this on The Jeff Pulver Blog:

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Israel spearhead much of the VoIP industry in the early days? Didn’t I just go to Israel six months ago to pay homage to the pioneers of the VoIP Industry? Didn’t I also meet with several Israeli Cabinet Ministers about ensuring Israel’s ongoing role in advanced Internet-based communications? Aren’t I planning to host VON Israel specifically because of the innovative, entrepreneurial, enterprising and forward-looking approach to communications and the Internet emanating from Israel?

So for the record – don’t take it to heart. It means absolutely nothing. This is a political move and a way to pass the buck to the ISPs for something the ministry of communications has no chance in hell of ever achieving !

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