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Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Liberman’

Israel Sets Its Own Precondition for Talks With PA

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Israel has for the first time set its own precondition for any return to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beyteynu party, announced the Jewish State will not negotiate again with the PA unless it withdraws all 15 of its applications to international treaties, conventions and memberships in United Nations (UN) agencies and organizations.

“We will not agree to unilateral actions by the Palestinians without exacting a price from them for that behavior,” Liberman stated in an interview Tuesday morning on Voice of Israel government radio.

While Israel favors negotiations, he said, he does not intend for Israel to be “a sucker.” The PA has incessantly set preconditions as a means of dragging security and other concessions out of Israel prior to entering any form of negotiations. As usual, the current round of talks saw Israel forced by the United States – whose arm was twisted by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas – to free dozens of terrorist prisoners in a new round of “good will gestures.”

Four groups of prisoners were to be freed in the deal intended to bring Abbas to the negotiating table and to keep him there, totaling 104 terrorists, including 20 Israeli Arab citizens who were not even technically under PA jurisdiction. To date 78 terrorists have already been freed.

However, this time Israel set a condition of its own: the prisoner release was to be linked to the progress made in the talks, and to the participation of Abbas at the table. But Abbas rarely showed, and had not been seen since November 2013. The talks had accomplished little of significance from the start. Nor did Abbas keep his word, following a pattern he showed during the last such round of negotiations in 2009-2010.

Meanwhile, the final prisoner group would have included the Israeli Arab terrorists, causing a fierce debate among politicians and citizens. Releasing them before the end of the talks, scheduled for April 29,  would have left no reason for PA negotiators to come back the next day.

Israeli ministers and citizens balked and the tranche was blocked. Instead, Israel suggested extending the talks till the end of 2014 and offered to free the final group, as well as an additional 400 prisoners if the PA agreed. In response, an infuriated PA decided to go with a flurry of international applications instead, and also threatened to go to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Liberman directly blamed Abbas for sabotaging the talks, saying the PA chairman submitted the applications just as both sides were about to complete a deal for a prisoner release. The foreign minister added there is no way that Israel is willing to narrow down talks to the sole issue of borders, at the behest of the PA. The Jewish State is willing to negotiate all outstanding issues, but demands from the PA to exclude all core issues but one are not acceptable.

Coalition Crisis Looming Over Israel-PA Talks?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

There are no last-minute breakthroughs to report by either side in the Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations, and PA representatives report no progress while Israeli ministers are squabbling.

PA sources told reporters Sunday night, “The crisis continues. During the entire meeting the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found.”

But as the “framework agreement” talks continue to fall apart, Israel’s government coalition is now facing a crisis of its own.

In a Knesset plenum session on Monday, Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called on the Hatnua party led by chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and the Yesh Atid party headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid to leave the government. “The failure echoes in all areas,” Herzog charged. “This is a government of failure that does not provide peace, only depression.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beyteynu party, seems to be heaping his own fuel to the fire. Liberman opened the door to new elections yesterday (Sunday April 6) with incendiary comments at The Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference in New York, saying he would rather face new elections than extend the talks with the PA in another “grand deal.”

Liberman opposes the proposal advanced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that would have extended the current talks until the end of 2014. The proposal would have freed the last tranche of 30 terrorists – including 20 Israeli Arab citizens – as well as an additional 400 more PA prisoners chosen by Israel as well.

The proposal and the unilateral membership applications by the PA to 15 international United Nations agencies and organizations, have torn apart Netanyahu’s coalition.

Despite intense efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk, absolutely no progress has been made in months. Both men appear to realize that there is not much more to be done, and now appear to be backing away from the process at this point.

Liberman Vetoes Haredim Participation in the Coalition

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly vetoed the idea of bringing Haredim into the coalition government, according to senior Likud sources, as reported by Makor Rishon.

Now that the fight over the Haredi draft law is over, advisers to PM Netanyahu believe that it is time to bring the Haredim into the coalition, and if that upsets Yair Lapid to the point where he pulls his Yesh Atid party out – so be it.

But resistance came from an unexpected source.

According to Likud sources, Liberman said, “I won’t remain in the coalition, if that were the case,” referring to Haredim joining the government.

Liberman has been a staunch supporter of drafting Haredim.

In another example of the tensions between Liberman and the Haredi community, Liberman and Aryeh Deri (Shas), who were friends in the past, are apparently not friends anymore.

This past week Aryeh Deri said that he could see Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) replacing Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu’s people have begun an anti-Deri campaign as a result of that remark, reminding Shas supporters how Deri dragged their party to the far Left, a position which doesn’t represent the view of the majorty of Shas voters.

The outspoken Haredi MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), who has called for the destruction of non-Haredi Hesder yeshivas, had angry words to say about PM Netanyahu, the Knesset, the government, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Liberman, adding that he will “never forgive” Netanyahu or those that were involved in the Haredi draft bill, not even on Yom Kippur, according to a Makor Rishon report.

The funny thing about politics is that one should never say never.

Liberman: Peace Agreement Is Distant, But Talks Are Necessary

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Peace between Israelis and the Palestinians is unlikely, but talks must continue if only to manage the conflict, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said.

“Trust between the two sides is about zero,” Liberman said Friday evening at the annual Saban Forum, a gathering in Washington of Israeli and U.S. persons of influence.

Liberman said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would not achieve an agreement within a year, as Kerry has anticipated, and cautioned against creating “expectations.” Liberman excoriated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as undemocratic and unrepresentative.

However, Liberman also said he was grateful to Kerry for restarting talks with the Palestinians, saying that dialogue was crucial to preventing violence.

“It’s crucial to keep this dialogue,” he said during his interview-style appearance. “It’s important to manage this conflict.”

Liberman said differences between the Obama and Netanyahu governments on Iran policy were clear, but – in an implied rebuke of Netanyahu, who has sharply criticized U.S. policy – he said such disputes should be handled privately.

“I don’t like all the public discussion about the Iranian issue,” he said. “It’s impossible to discuss on TV screens.”

Netanyahu has said that an interim sanctions relief for nuclear rollback deal negotiated last month between Iran and the major powers is a bad one and will allow Iran to advance toward a nuclear weapon.

Acquittal of Lieberman and More Sanctions for Iran

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai broadcasts from the General Assembly of the United Jewish Federations and is joined by Knesset insider Jeremy Man Saltan. Together, they discuss the acquittal of Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman of criminal charges after seventeen years and how it will affect his reputation around Israel. They move on to analyze how sanctions on Iran should change. The segment ends with a focus on tension being sparked by intra-Jewish friction and its affect on the Kotel (Western Wall)

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Avigdor Liberman, Tough Foreign Minister, is Back

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

He’s been called the most investigated politician in Israel – and that’s saying something! But after enduring years of others sifting through the bowels of his political history, Avigdor Lieberman was unanimously acquitted of corruption charges last Wednesday. On Monday, Nov. 11, Liberman was reinstated as Israel’s Foreign Minister.

Liberman had been charged with suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.

The vote in the knesset to reinstate Liberman took place Monday afternoon.  The vote was 62 to 17. Members voting against the Yisrael Beiteinu chair included members of the leftist Labor and Meretz parties, as well as Arabs from the Balad party.

Balad leader Jamal Zahalke said bringing back Liberman meant bringing back “the bad spirit of racism, fascism and mafia to the Knesset.”

Zahalke frequently speaks out against what he calls Israel’s system of “Apartheid.” The Israeli Arab received three degrees from Israel’s Hebrew University, serves in the Israeli Knesset and is the leader of a political party in Israel.  Some Apartheid.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had left the Foreign Ministry’s top position open since Lieberman stepped down in December, 2012, after Liberman was indicted on graft charges. Liberman served as Israel’s Foreign Minister since April, 2009.

Frequently referred to by many in the mainstream media as a “hard-liner,” a “hawk,” or other pejorative terms, Liberman is likely to confirm that view if he, as is expected, refuses to agree to still further concessions and appeasement efforts towards the Palestinian Arabs.

Liberman’s propensity for straight talk about the Palestinian Arab leadership is certain to raise hackles with the U.S. administration which has been trying desperately to browbeat Israel into overlooking the terrorist creed of its so-called “peace partner.”

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-democracy-dealt-debilitating-blow-with-governance-act/2013/08/01/

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