Israel Briefs: Medical Cannabis Exports Likely, Ukranian Jew Who Tried to Hijack Plane Dies and More

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Lawmaker: Medical Cannabis Exports Likely

Israel would allow medical cannabis exports by year’s end if legislation submitted by Yoav Kisch, chairman of parliament’s internal affairs and environment committee, is approved, Reuters reported.

“We believe it’s medicine and it’s important. … It’s a big potential for Israeli farmers and the economy,” said Kisch, who estimated that tax income could increase by 1 billion shekels ($268 million) a year.

Israel is among the world’s largest medical cannabis producers because of its climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies, Reuters reported.

Some parliament members have expressed concerns that increased cultivation could push more drugs onto Israeli streets, but Kisch’s bill — which passed the first of three votes — would impose tougher regulations on exporters, as well as jail terms and fines for violations.

Donors Can’t Pay Netanyahu’s Legal Fees

Israel’s State Comptroller’s Permits Committee on Dec. 5 rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to allow donors to pay his legal fees related to three investigations, JTA reported.

“The financing of legal outlays arising from a criminal investigation, which includes a suspicion of criminal acts in connection with various wealthy people, should not be done by wealthy people,” the State Comptroller’s Permits Committee said in its decision.

Netanyahu wants to use funds provided by cousin Nathan Milikowsky and American millionaire Spencer Partrich.

Netanyahu is accused of helping to advance the interests of wealthy businessmen in exchange for positive media coverage.

Ukranian Jew Who Tried to Hijack Plane Dies

Anatoly Altman, who tried in 1970 to escape the former Soviet Union by hijacking a plane, died Nov. 29 in Haifa, JTA reported. He was 77.

Altman, a Ukranian Jew, was part of “Operation Wedding,” which was an attempt by several Jews to hijack a plane in St. Petersburg.

He was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, but was released in 1979, immigrated to Israel and made aliyah.

During his 1970 trial, he said, “Today is a very difficult day, but I’m happy, too. Because today I started my way home (to Israel). … And I’m sure, maybe it may take years in prison, but I’m sure I’ll get home to Israel, and from today until that time in the future, I say ‘Shalom to Eretz Yisrael.’”

Attempt to Smuggle Cellphones Stopped

Several Arab Israelis and West Bank Palestinians were arrested by the Shin Bet in connection with a plan to smuggle cellphones to prisoners through drones, The Times of Israel reported Dec. 6.

The Shin Bet said the some of those arrested had been involved in other smuggling attempts between 2016-18. The smuggling was to be in exchange from money from terror groups.

“The smuggling was directed from the prison by terrorist elements known to the security forces,” the security agency said in a statement. “The phones that were captured were meant for security prisoners from terror organizations serving long prison sentences for their involvement in attacks and promoting terror activity.”

The suspects were trained to fly the done and were in contact with prisoners about where a package with 60 phones would be dropped, the Shin Bet said.

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