On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government stressed its commitment to the peace process with the Palestinians as well as Arab states. The Israeli government presented its coalition guidelines, which state that "The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel's security, historical and national interests." This statement was the second in a long list of 18 of the government’s policy priorities. Other top goals include reducing the cost of living, promoting immigration and integration, protecting minority rights, and protecting the environment.
Previously, Obama administration officials had stated that they were skeptical about Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution and were therefore re-evaluating their approach of promoting direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. This would leave open the possibility of withdrawing traditional diplomatic support for Israel at the UN and possibly even supporting a UN Security Council resolution imposing the terms of an agreement on Israel, a move that Washington has opposed in the past. The recently released coalition guidelines clarify that the new government’s policies will be consistent with those of previous Israeli governments: they will pursue a negotiated solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. The White House has yet to comment on whether the Obama administration is still re-evaluating its approach to the peace process.
At the same time, the Palestinian Authority remains committed to its unity government with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas, which has not accepted the Quartet’s principles of recognizing the state of Israel, rejecting violence, and adhering to previous agreements made between the PLO and Israel. Hamas continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel.
An Iranian spokesman rejected calls made Wednesday by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran open up military sites for inspection, Iran's semi-official news agency PressTV reported, saying that the demand was an inaccurate interpretation of the "additional protocol" of the nuclear deal made with Western powers. Reuters reported Wednesday that Amano called on Iran to open up military sites for inspection. In an interview in March, Amano explained that it was necessary to have snap inspections of Iran's facilities, saying, "I think the implementation of the additional protocol is essential to have the confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities. Otherwise, we can give the assurance that the activities under — in the declared activities are in peaceful purpose, but we cannot say whether everything is a peaceful purpose or not." The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) also rejected Amano's call then.
Amano has said a number of times in recent months that the IAEA could not confirm “that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Iran's failure to account for all of its past nuclear work prompted Amano's expressed doubts about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. (via TheTower.org)
Israeli startup Guesty remotely manages 2,000 Airbnb properties and is eyeing other vacation-rental websites. Ever wonder how Airbnb homeowners get back to you so quickly when you send them that first inquiry email asking if their apartment is available to rent? They don’t; at least not themselves.
The most efficient Airbnb hosts employ third-party services like Israel’s Guesty to handle the booking and management process – everything from email communication with potential renters to post-visit laundry pickup and housecleaning. Guesty is one of dozens of new Airbnb services to spring up in the last few years. Most companies offer on-the-ground value, such as lock boxes and key pickup and electronic locks so owners can open the door to their apartment from their computers. This Israeli company takes a different approach, focusing on services that don’t require a physical presence. These include responding to inquiry emails promptly at all hours of the day, providing directions and answering renter questions by email or phone (“I forgot the Wi-Fi password” or “Which subway do I take to JFK?”), refreshing booking calendars and even screening guests to fit the homeowner’s requirements. (via Israel21c)