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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Liberman’

Will Sara Forgive Bennett? Will Yair Adopt Mofaz?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

The weeks between the time the elections committee closes shop and the results are final, and when the president calls in the man or woman who would be the next prime minister are as heady as draft week and as silly as spring break, but without the booze. For the next couple or three weeks, expect to hear—including from yours truly—the wildest speculations and combinations of who’s in and who’s out. Take all of it with a chunk of salt, but don’t ignore the rumors and speculations altogether, because somewhere in there hides the one true prediction.

The problem is, at this relatively early stage of the game, that even the people at the top who are expected to create the perfect coalition don’t yet know where they’re headed. As Ha’aretz revealed this morning, the country’s semi-official king and queen, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, are doing their darndest to make sure Jewish Home is not in the coalition, because of their “murky personal relationship with the head of the party, Naftali Bennett.”

This is such a classic tale of no good deed going unpunished. Back in 2006, when Bibi Netanyahu was on the matte, beaten and defeated, probably crying in his sleep and wondering if that furniture chain store would take him back – it was Naftali Bennett and Ayala Shaked who showed up and—as volunteers—picked up the fallen politician and infused his dreadful campaign (he had just led the Likud to a 12-seat presence in the Knesset). But Bibi’s third wife, Sara, was interjecting herself into every aspect of the work, until on one harrowing day that forever changed the future of the Jewish nation, Naftali Bennett asked her politely to get out of his way and let him work. Or unfortunate words to that effect.

You don’t say things like that to your boss’s wife, and you certainly don’t say it to Sara Netanyahu. It was epic, it was Shakespearean – and not the comedies. And the bad blood from that encounter is still alive and piping hot.

According to Ha’aretz, quoting a senior Netanyahu aide, Sara has vetoed Bennett, and “if possible in terms of the government, Netanyahu certainly prefer not to include Bennett in his government.”

Incidentally, Bibi’s other ousted chief of staff, Natan Eshel, is considered Sara’s true and trusted friend, and so speculations abound that he’ll be back at the helm in the new government. He’s the guy who was sexually harassing the office help. But he gets along with Sara, which is the most crucial qualification over there.

The other reason Bibi doesn’t want Bennett in is that Bibi is planning to give back something substantial in order to revive the peace process, not just words and pretense, but an actual piece of land, which may or may not involve removing Jewish residents – and he expects that Bennett would walk out at that point. So why empower him further by giving him a stage off of which he can do a dramatic exit?

What is it with Bennett and exits, anyway?

So, if Jewish Home is out, who’s in? Top choice, of course, is Yair Lapid, the most important man in Israel today, the man who could literally decide the country’s future—even more emphatically than Sara Netanyahu, and that’s saying something.

We’ve been assuming all along that the first partner Bibi picks up would be Lapid: combine Likud-Beitenu’s 31 seats with Lapid’s 19, and you got yourself a solid foundation for a government. All you need afterwards are the Haredim—notoriously easy to buy off—and if you don’t want Bennett, then maybe Tzipi Livni, and Kadima which made it in with Shaul Mofaz and another guy. At that point you can even invite Bennett in graciously, but only give him something like Tourism, or the Ecology.

Except that Yair Lapid, who originally was talking about letting the Haredim off for five years before implementing the crucial “equal burden” principle in army service, has had a change of mind. Realizing his own voters won’t forgive that kind of largess—Five years? Might as well go for Eternity—and now he’s been saying he wants everybody in uniform at age 18, except maybe a 400 Torah geniuses (Do we actually have that many? I’m just wondering – how do you farher—test a genius?).

Meet Yair Shamir, the Man who Could Replace Avigdor Liberman

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Yair Shamir says he doesn’t discuss hypotheticals.

For the Israeli Air Force commander turned technocrat turned politician, these topics include how to respond to settlement evacuations or achieve Palestinian statehood, a fracture in the U.S.-Israel relationship or Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman’s departure from politics.

Shamir, the 67-year-old scion of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, is Yisrael Beiteinu’s No. 2. With Liberman, the former foreign minister, under indictment for fraud and breach of trust, he is the de facto heir apparent to one of Israel’s largest political parties.

Assuming that mantle would be quite a shift for Shamir, who entered politics only last year. He served 25 years as a pilot and officer in the IAF before moving on to private business. Until 2011 he served as chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries, the country’s leading aircraft manufacturer. Before that he was an executive at El Al Israel Airlines, a large telecommunications firm, a venture capital fund and a computer equipment company.

Entering politics was a “nationalist decision,” Shamir told JTA, a choice “to give my coming years to strengthen Israel on the national level and not on the private level.”

Last year he was appointed deputy to Liberman in Yisrael Beiteinu, a party that originally focused on Russian immigrant concerns but since has attracted Israelis with nationalist views from other backgrounds. Shamir tries to avoid talking about the party without Liberman.

“The press is trying to create a rivalry between us,” Shamir said. “I’m almost convinced that he’ll come out innocent. A public figure who is found guilty in court shouldn’t be a public figure, but everyone needs to follow his own conscience.”

That attitude fits into Shamir’s overall political philosophy. He professes deep respect for pluralism and democracy while also opposing a Palestinian state – a position that puts him at odds with Liberman. Liberman has called for redrawing the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank to include more Jews and exclude as many Arabs as possible.

Shamir follows in the ideological footsteps of his father, who served as prime minister from 1986 to 1992 and died last July. As leader of the Likud party, the elder Shamir opposed any compromise with the Palestinians – even after the outbreak of the first Intifada – and strongly supported West Bank settlement expansion.

“I see him as my lighthouse,” Shamir said of his father. “A lighthouse isn’t the nicest building. It’s a simple building but it stands on a cliff and always shines its light, in bad and good weather. It’s not shaken by a storm or a calm sea.”

Like his father, Shamir wants Israel to hang tough in the constantly unstable Middle East. His top priority as a politician, he says, will be to contribute his business experience to government by strengthening the country’s infrastructure and economy.

“The only way to maintain the land and the people is to be strong economically and militarily,” he said. “When you look at who Israeli politicians are, there isn’t enough representation of industry and agriculture, the people that are really doing anything.”

When it comes to opposing a Palestinian state or settlement evacuations, Shamir says the State of Israel deserves the entire Land of Israel and sees no reason to be conciliatory as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains intractable. That’s why he treats a scenario of settlement evacuations and Palestinian statehood as a hypothetical.

“Right now there’s no hocus-pocus solution,” Shamir said. “The Arabs there who call themselves Palestinian, they’ll stay or go, but we’ll definitely stay. We need to keep building in the land.”

Shamir seems like a throwback to the Likud of his father’s time – a party committed to Greater Israel. And while he isn’t traditionally observant, Shamir calls himself a “believing Jew.” He supports the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and keeps a copy of the Tanya, its principal philosophical tract, on his desk, along with a Bible.

Yisrael Beiteinu has merged lists with Likud for the upcoming elections, but Shamir says the present-day Likud has lost sight of what’s important to Israel’s growth: immigration and settlement. As a party founded by Russian immigrants, Yisrael Beiteinu was attractive to Shamir, he said. He runs an organization called G’vahim that specializes in helping academics immigrate to Israel.

Expelling Jews is a Red Line

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I was surprised to read in JewishPress.com, Yair Shamir’s article, where he states that he opposes a Palestinian state.

I was surprised, because over Shabbat, I read in Makor Rishon an interview with his party’s leader, Avigdor Liberman, where Liberman explicitly stated that he would support the uprooting of settlements that aren’t inside settlement blocs, in exchange for peace, including his own home in Nokdim, Gush Etzion.

Liberman continued on to say that peace isn’t possible under the current conditions, only because Abbas isn’t a partner,.

But that last line is more than a bit disingenuous, because on Sunday, I read that Liberman said that seeking a two-state solution will be an important element of the next government.

Like Shamir, Liberman also said that he is also opposed to a Palestinian state.

But as I understand him, Liberman says he supports the creation of autonomous, demilitarized Palestinian areas, or alternatively two states with population transfers. I’m not sure what the differences between any of these plans are at this point. If it walks like a Palestinian duck…

I’ve also heard rumors that Liberman is angry at Shamir for something he recently said. Perhaps it was about opposing the Palestinian state, without adding on the autonomous area bit? Or perhaps it was for attacking Netanyahu for supporting the two-state solution.

I don’t know.

The bottom line is that Liberman has explicitly stated that he accepts the dismantling of settlements, and he will be actively pushing for a resolution based on a two-state solution in his next term, and he openly accepts that uprooting Jews will or at least may be part of that solution.

And to top it off, now there are reports that Netanyahu has delayed E1, by “hesitating” to approve the projects there, and not filing them. That’s a worrisome development.

I don’t know much about Shamir’s actual positions, and whether or not he stands 100% behind Liberman, but since its Liberman and Netanyahu who are setting policy, and not Shamir, I am honestly concerned that a vote for Likud-Beytenu is a vote to expel Jews from their homes.

It’s unfortunate, because there are so many important issues on the Yisrael Beytenu agenda that they want to deal with, such as reforming the electoral system, Hareidi integration, and so on. But instead, Liberman chose to insert a red line like this into his party’s position.

Yesterday, Naftali Bennett, was attacked for his position on not uprooting Jews. He wisely responded that all the Jewish parties should sign an affidavit that they won’t expel Jews. He received cheers and applause for saying that. And his party is only going up because of it.

Today, Rav Ovadiah’s son said the same thing.

The bottom line is this.

The Israeli people do not want any more Jews uprooted, and the Israeli people do not believe that pulling back to any variation of the ’67 lines will bring peace with the Arabs.

It’s unfortunately quite clear that Netanyahu and Liberman do not see eye to eye anymore with what most of the population wants or believes is good for us, and it’s only because the Likud list is a pretty good list, that Likud-Beytenu hasn’t dropped even further or faster.

Expelling Jews is a red line, and no matter what other benefits Likud-Beytenu may bring, it’s a red line that they’ve told us they may very well cross.

Netanyahu and Liberman need to come out and explicitly state that under no circumstances will Jews be expelled during their term in power.

That’s my red line.

Former Foreign Office Director Says Likud Demanded Ayalon’s Ouster, Liberman Denies

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Before we start, you should know that a senior adviser at the Yisrael Beitenu party who read this article says it’s completely wrong, but doesn’t know the real reason for Ayalon’s dismissal.

Now we can start:

The morning after the surprise dismissal of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon from the Likud Beiteinu list by his party boss Avigdor Liberman, Israel Channel 2 News interviewed Alon Liel, a former director of the ministry of foreign affairs and the Israeli ambassador to Turkey, who said that the career ending move stemmed from an old dispute between Likud Minister Silvan Shalom and Ayalon.

“When Danny Ayalon was ambassador in Washington, he had a bad falling out with his boss then, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom,” Liel told Channel 2 news. “From what I know and remember, when Ayalon finished his assignment, he wanted to join the Likud and was unequivocally vetoed by Shalom.”

“I think those old wounds were opened now,” Liel continued. “Maybe (the removal of Ayalon) was even one of the preconditions for the consolidation of Israel Beiteinu and Likud. That’s how I see it.”

The office of senior Vice Prime Minister and current Minister for Regional Development and the development of the Negev and Galilee Silvan Shalom said in response that they have no knowledge of the allegation. “This misinformation has no connection to reality,” they concluded.

The Foreign Minister’s office was a great deal harsher in its response (you can almost hear the Russian accent emanating from the text): “Alon Liel will say any nonsense to get air time, and he takes advantage of the fact that he served for about three months as director of this ministry to express his insignificant opinions.”

The ministry’s response went on to remind readers that Liel used to head an organization that advocated giving back the Golan Heights to the Syrian regime, “and the consequences of such a move are realized by everyone today.”

You must remember, after sticking in the knife, ya’ gotta’ turn it a couple times…

Incidentally, rumor has it that Liberman and Ayalon were riding together to the press conference where Liberman was about to announce his list of candidates to join the list elected in a democratic primary by Likid members (silly notion, right?), when Liberman turned to his deputy and said, “By the way, you’re not running.”

Again, The Jewish Press source in the foreign ministry says Ayalon had known about his own dismissal for some time. But Ayalon’s facebook page yesterday offered this comment:

“Today, I was informed by Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman that I will not be a candidate for the next Knesset.”

And that’s all she wrote…

Good Morning, We’re Having a Palestinian State and Israel Kind of Approves

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

In yesterday’s State Department press conference, Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that the U.S. will be voting “no” on the effort by Mahmoud Abbas to raise the United Nations status of the Palestinian Authority so that “Palestine” will move from being merely an “observer” to what is known as a non-member observer state.

At this time, the only official U.N. non-member observer state is the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, which is the representative of the Vatican.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas landed in New York last night.  The Resolution endorsing the change is expected to be voted upon in the U.N. General Assembly this Thursday, Nov 29.

The government of Israel is adamantly opposed to the change in status for the Arab Palestinians, and is hoping that other countries will support its position.

But, in a surprise announcement, a top diplomatic Israeli official in Jerusalem told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that Israel no longer intends to dismantle the Oslo Accords if Abbas goes through with his UN gambit.  Technically, such a move negates the Oslo process, and Israel has long threatened to consider the Oslo Accords fully abrogated if the Arab Palestinians attempt to achieve results outside of negotiations.

It was not readily apparent what response, if any, the government of Israel will have to a change in status for “Palestine” at the U.N. But the announcement made Tuesday was in conflict with statements made over the past few weeks by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in which he threatened that the Oslo process would be cancelled if Abbas went forward with his effort at the U.N.

Thus far only the U.S. has officially declared its intention to vote against the Palestinian statehood resolution.  Nuland explained the U.S. position to reporters yesterday, Nov 27:

We’re focused on a policy objective on the ground for the Palestinian people, for the people of Israel, which is to end up with two states that can live peacefully next to each other. Nothing in this action at the UN is going to take the Palestinians any closer to that. So yes, we’re going to oppose it because we think it is the wrong move. We think it makes other steps that might improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis harder. Other countries will make their own decision. This is not a new issue. We’ve been talking about it for more than a year, and so we’re just going to have to see what happens later on in the week.

It is anticipated that Canada will vote against the Resolution, and Germany may abstain, but already both France and Britain have publicly stated they are committed to voting in favor of the resolution.  Switzerland and Portugal are also expected to support the measure.  No doubt the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will all vote in favor of the measure.

Unlike a Resolution in the Security Council, in the General Assembly there is no such thing as a veto.  A simple majority vote is all that is necessary for the measure to pass. Full member status can only be obtained through a vote at the Security Council. Last year Abbas went to the Security Council to seek full member status for “Palestine.” The United States, however, made clear its intention to veto the measure, and the effort was withdrawn.

After some badgering by reporters over whether the change in status would have any impact on the peace process, Ms. Nuland said, categorically, “We oppose any move in the General Assembly. We think it’s going to make the situation harder.”

And Abbas is going to the UN with the support from an unexpected source – longtime political rival leadership of Hamas is now supporting the U.N. bid.  No clear explanations have been offered for this about-face.  However, there are those who suspect Hamas anticipates victory over Abbas’s Fatah as the sole representative of the Arab Palestinian people.  If so, then they will be the representative party at the United Nations.

It is widely expected that the U.N. Resolution will pass, but even if it does “Palestine” will not be a full member of the UN.

A draft copy of the Resolution, dated 26 Nov 2012,  was obtained by The Jewish Press.  The Resolution reiterates all of the demands the Arab Palestinians have made, with no concessionary language whatsoever, and includes demands for the release of prisoners, the “right of return,” the cessation of all Israeli “settlement” activities, including in “East Jerusalem,” that the capital of “Palestine” will be “East Jerusalem,” and,

the attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the vision of two States, an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, on the basis of the pr-1967 borders.

The Resolution also calls on the Security Council to favorably consider the application submitted last year to the United Nations for full membership for ”Palestine.”

Yisrael Beiteinu Launches New Video Campaign

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party has launched a new and very creative YouTube video that highlights the achievements of their party over the past 4 years.

The video is in Hebrew, but there are English subtitles if you click on the Captions button.

Avigdor Liberman: Ulpana and Tal Law Replacement ‘Two Major Tests’ for New Coalition

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Foreign Minister and Israel Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, speaking at a press conference before a party meeting, welcomed Kadima’s entrance into the coalition but stressed that the new government faces two major tests – finding a replacement for the Tal law and the impending evacuation of the Ulpana outpost.

“This is a coalition Israel needs,” Liberman said, but “these are the two most important tests, and I hope we’re wise enough to pass them.”

Referring to the Tal Law, which expires in August, he said that coalition chairman and Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin’s recent proposal was inadequate. “We will not accept it. We expect a serious proposal, and to be consulted about it. We will fight to make sure that the bill will be serious and comprehensive.”

In light of the High Court’s ruling on Monday that Ulpana must be evacuated and destroyed by July 1, he said: “I hope that we will quickly resolve the problem. The residents who have lived in Givat Ulpana for years are law-abiding citizens. This is not an illegal outpost. It is the state’s mistake, and it must take responsibility. There are ways to regulate the matter with legislation.”

Liberman supports the passage of a law that will circumvent the High Court’s ruling by legalizing Ulpana, especially in light of the fact that the state permitted Ulpana residents to build their homes and community.

Liberman also ridiculed Yair Lapid, who was preparing to shake up the political arena in the now-aborted early elections. “The chances of being elected president of the United States are much higher than the chances that his party will still exist in 2020. This is obviously a one-campaign party.”

Netanyahu, Liberman, Prepare for Election Day Battle Over Haredi Draft

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

After the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the Tal Law, which sought to encourage the inclusion -over time- of Haredim in military service, the court, for all intents and purposes, has required the state to draft some 60,000 Haredi youths this August, in addition to 7,000 yeshiva students who already serve in keeping with the expiring, old law.

Prime Minister Netanyahu this week told representatives of reservist activists, who are protesting as part of the “suckers’ encampment,” that the Tal Law will be replaced with “a more egalitarian and just law,” and that “the division of the burden must be changed. What has been is not what will be.”

The 2002 Tal Law, named after retired Supreme Court justice Tzvi Tal, must be extended every five years. Among other things, the law allowed full-time yeshiva students to delay their army service until age 23, at which time they could choose to study full time, enlist for a shorter military service, or volunteer for a year of national service.

“I know that there are many hitchhikers who voted to automatically extend the Tal Law. I am not one of them,” Netanyahu told the protesting reservists. “The Tal Law will be replaced by a more egalitarian and just law, and I will submit it.”

Netanyahu said the new law would include civilian national service for Arab citizens, who are not required to serve in the military.

Meanwhile, à la guerre comme à la guerre, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, along with the head of the Labor and Meretz parties, have threatened to bring proposals for early elections before the Knesset in the coming days.

Likud coalition partner Yisrael Beytenu has also threatened to bring a request for early elections over amending the Tal Law, with party leader Avigdor Liberman saying that “Our obligation to the coalition is over.”

In preparation for the August deadline, and perhaps as a show of political muscle on the eve of an approaching early election, on May 9 Yisrael Beytenu will introduce the bill “IDF, National, or Civilian Service Law Proposal” in the Knesset, to regulate, once and for all, the enlistment of all Israelis into military, national or civilian service.

Submitted by MKs David Rotem, Moshe Matalon, Robert Ilatov, Anastassia Michaeli, Hamad Amar, Lia Shemtov, Faina Kirshenbaum, Alex Miller, and Orly Levy Abekasis, the new law sets out to promote “equal sharing of the burden of service among the State’s citizens.”

The new law introduces a framework in which every citizen will serve in the IDF, or in national or civilian service.

While “National Service” is already established as an alternative, voluntary option for Israeli youths who do not wish to serve in the IDF for a variety of reasons, the new law establishes compulsory “Civilian Service,” or community service, in “institutions for the absorption of new immigrants, health care, institutions for the elderly population, nursing homes, welfare departments in local authorities, fire services, the Israel Police Force, Environmental Protection and volunteer organizations.”

The new law will keep in place some of the existing deferrals of military service, such as the “Hesder Yeshivas,” which integrate periods of active IDF service and periods of study. Likewise, the Defense Minister may “exempt or grant a deferral from IDF service to outstanding students at universities, outstanding athletes and outstanding artists, provided that the number of exemptions and deferrals under this section not exceed one thousand per year.”

It is unclear what will be the basis for the quota of one thousand exemptions. The Jewish Press attempted to seek an explanation from the IB faction as to why this particular number but so far have not received a response.

But the number coincides with the other limit, of a maximum of one thousand exemptions and deferrals per year to long-term yeshiva students, “in order to continue the cultivation of prodigies among yeshiva students.”

And shortly afterwards, the new law arrives at the center piece of the matter – overturning of the Deferral Law for long-term yeshiva students. In one, laconic phrase, the proposal decrees:

“The Deferral of Service Act for Long-term Yeshiva students of 2002 (5762) is hereby overturned.”

The proposal concludes with an ideological substantiation of the above, curt statement:

“The idea that Torah study somehow forbids seeking employment or justifies deferring IDF service is incompatible with the Jewish faith. Maimonides explicitly states: “Anyone who decides that he will occupy himself with Torah and will not do any work profanes the Name of God, degrades the Torah, extinguishes the light of religion, hurts himself, and removes his life from the world to come – for it is forbidden to derive any benefit from matters of Torah in this world” (The Laws of Torah Study 3).

“Therefore, it is proposed that every citizen be obligated to serve the State of Israel. Anyone serving a complete term of civilian service, will be exempted from IDF service. Conditions and terms during and after the term of service will be comparable to the terms of those who served in the national service, whose terms are regulated by legislation.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/the-knesset/netanyahu-lieberman-prepare-for-election-day-battle-over-haredi-draft/2012/05/01/

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