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May 24, 2016 / 16 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Lieberman’

Netanyahu: Expanded Coalition Will Push for Peace Process

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that an expanded parliamentary coalition will make a renewed push for peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The comments were made at the weekly cabinet meeting days after striking a deal to bring five Knesset seats of MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition, with Liberman as the new defense minister.

“I want to clarify that the new government will continue to work toward a political process with the Palestinians, and we will do so with the help of regional actors,” Netanyahu said, seeking to allay concerns that the hardline Liberman will hinder dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

“From the beginning when we established the coalition, I have said that my intention is to expand the coalition,” stressed Netanyahu. “Sixty-one is better than 59, but the broadest coalition as possible is the most important thing for Israel.”

Israel’s current government has held on to the narrowest possible majority of 61 MKs out of total of 120 MKs. An agreement with the Yisrael Beiteinu party would increase the coalition’s majority to 66 MKs, after one Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker announced that she would not join with her party.

In a meeting with Likud ministers earlier in the day, Netanyahu expressed his continued openness towards including the opposition Zionist Union faction led by Labor party Chairman Isaac Herzog in the coalition. Netanyahu noted that several ministerial positions remain in his hands, including the Foreign Ministry portfolio, which Herzog said had been offered to him last week in a round of failed discussions.

According to Herzog, Netanyahu offered him the job of foreign minister as well as sweeping verbal commitments about working toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians – but refused Herzog’s request to commit those promises to writing.

Marc Gottlieb

Ya’alon Out, Temple Mount Activist Yehuda Glick In

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Friday announced his retirement from his post and from politics. He wrote on his Facebook page: “This morning I informed the prime minister that following his conduct during recent developments, and because of my lack of confidence in him, I resign from the government and will be taking a time out from the political life. I will deliver a statement to the media at noon at the Kirya (the IDF command compound in midtown Tel Aviv).

It is expected that Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) will take up Ya’alon’s Defense portfolio as part of his deal with PM Netanyahu to enter his coalition.

Ya’alon’s retirement brings to the Knesset the next candidate on the Likud list, Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, who has survived an assassination attempt in October 2014 by an Arab terrorist over his activity. Netanyahu was unhappy with Glick’s presence on his party’s list, and, in fact, refused to employ the “Norwegian Law,” which permits party ministers to resign from the Knesset to make room for rank and file MKs—just so Glick won’t become a Likud legislator. Well, now Ya’alon forced that bitter pill down Bibi’s throat. MK Glick will bolster the rightwing section of the Likud, and will make it tougher for Netanyahu to deliver concessions to the Arabs.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) issued a statement Friday saying, “Minister Ya’alon is a principled man who contributed a lot to the State of Israel. His place should have been next to the cabinet table. I am sad to see him retire from politics.”

American born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Likud member since 1997, lives in Otniel. He was among the founders of former MK Moshe Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction in Likud.

Glick is chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and former executive director of The Temple Institute, a group that supports the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

He is also active in pro-settlement forums inside the party. As such, Glick has been the coordinator of the lobby for implementing Israeli Law in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which is headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud). Interestingly, openly gay MK Amir Ohana, who was ahead of Glick on the candidates list and has been upgraded to the legislator only a few months ago, served as Glick’s security guard after the assassination attempt.

Ha’aretz journalist Nir Hasson credits Glick as having put the Israeli left on the defensive by “uncovering the absurdity created at the Temple Mount” by a status quo that, by permitting Muslim prayer while prohibiting Jewish prayer, “discriminates against people because of their religion”

American political commentator Bernie Quigley compared Glick to Gandhi: “Earthy, wise, thoughtful, nonviolent and compassionate.”

Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner called Glick a non-violent man, and “the friendly face of the Temple Mount movement.”

Mazal Tov, MK Glick, we know you’ll do us proud.

David Israel

Analysis: An Afternoon of Hard Maneuvering May Yield New Defense Minister and 67-Member Rightwing Coalition

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Israeli media reported Wednesday evening that MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to join his government and receive the portfolios of Defense and Immigrant Absorption — which is a nice package considering Liebrman is only adding six seats to the coalition.

But what a difference six seats make. With the budget vote coming up this Summer Session, Netanyahu will be able to breathe easy. Last session, three rogue members of his Likud faction chose to abstain from voting just to make a point, which helped derail some government legislation, awarding undeserved wins to the opposition. With 67 members, the fourth Netanyahu government can live out its entire four-year term.

Also, unlike the earlier potential coalition partner, Isaac Herzog’s left-leaning Zionist Camp, Lieberman is a natural fit in the current government. When he ended his 90 minute private meeting with the PM (which followed the PM’s meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, where the latter was given his walking papers), most of Likud’s senior ministers were quick to congratulate and welcome him back into the fold. Liebrman really is no stranger to Likudniks — from 1993 to 1996, with Netanyahu in place as party chairman, Lieberman served as the Likud party’s director-general. When Netanyahu was elected to his first term as prime minister, Lieberman served as director-general of the prime minister’s office, the equivalent of the White House chief of staff, from 1996 to 1997. With a few noted exceptions, Lieberman has been to the right of Netanyahu, and left his side to start Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 over concessions Netanyahu granted the Palestinians in the 1997 Wye River Memorandum. But these days there’s very little daylight between Lieberman and the majority of the Likud Knesset faction.

In addition to Netanyahu’s need for coalition stability, the other issue behind Wednesday’s dramatic change was the growing gap between Defense Minister Ya’alon and the rest of the Likud party, which could have put Netanyahu’s future in danger had he continued to be associated with his DM. In several key episodes in the country’s fractious confrontations with Arab terrorists, Ya’alon appeared to be going out of his way to drag the Netanyahu government to the left.

Last Purim, an IDF medic in Hebron shot and killed a terrorist who had already been neutralized by six bullets to his body. The soldier’s commanders on the ground planned to give him a disciplinary hearing at the time, but an Arab B’Tselem agent shot and released a video of the event, and shortly thereafter military police picked up the medic on murder charges. Ya’alon supported the MP and the military prosecutors, despite an unprecedented wave of protest against the IDF brass that frightened Netanyahu. The PM met with the Medic’s father, the charges were reduced to manslaughter and the case may yet be dismissed, but the PM felt that his DM had stuck him in an untenable spot with the Likud diehard rightwing voters.

Then came the notorious Holocaust Memorial Day speech of the IDF deputy chief of staff, who compared, albeit not directly, episodes such as the Hebron shooting of the terrorist to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Again, Netanyahu’s core voters were outraged. He ordered his DM to extract and apology from the general, but the IDF would not apologize, and denied the charges instead.

Finally, there were the terrorists’ bodies. On several occasions, Netanyahu opposed returning the bodies of killed terrorists to their families for burial without some cost, the least of which would be to let them wait a few days, or weeks, as a deterrence to others. In early May, against Netanyahu’s explicit request, Ya’alon ordered the return of the body of a terrorist who had been killed after attacking and wounding three IDF soldiers, one critically, with his car. Then the IDF said something preachy about having no interest in detaining the bodies, ostensibly as political chips.Netanyahu was livid. Anyone who was following those events and understood the growing resentment in Likud against Ya’alon, could see that his days at the helm were numbered.

It isn’t clear whether Netanyahu was very smart or just very lucky when he allowed himself to be talked by his finance minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) into inviting MK Isaac Herzog to join his coalition government. On its face the move looked crazy if not stupid: for one thing, it wasn’t at all certain that more than half of the Zionist Camp MKs would make the switch over, seeing as they view Netanyahu as the poison tree that must be uprooted, not the shade tree for their top members to sit on lucrative portfolios. So the most Bibi would have gotten were 15 or 16 new MKs, but at the cost of Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi 8 seats, which would have netted him only 7 or 8 additional seats — but would have alienated his rightwing voters. So why did he embark on this apparent fool’s errand? Like we said, either because he is frighteningly clever or frighteningly lucky.

Avigdor Liebrman’s mission from the first day of the 20th Knesset has been to topple Netanyahu’s government and come back after the next elections as the most viable rightwing leader. This is why he refused Netanyahu’s repeated courting in the spring of 2015, and continued to bide his time in the opposition, together with Arabs and leftists, the people he dislikes the most—waiting for his chance. He figured, when the time came, with a big enough issue, and with Bibi’s rogue MKs doing their bit, Lieberman could deliver the deadly blow to Netanyahu, with a resounding vote of no confidence.

But when it started to look as if the Zionist Camp was going to boost Bibi’s numbers beyond the point of toppling, Lieberman realized it was time to shelf his revenge plan and get inside the tent before he’d lose any hope of leaving an impression on his voters this term. And so, seemingly out of the blue, Lieberman gathered a press conference in the afternoon, even as Bibi was scolding Bogie (Lauren Bacall’s nickname for Humphrey Bogart which somehow stuck with Ya’alon during his long and decorated military service) — and the Russian refusnik of yesterday suddenly started to play a serenade to Bibi on his balalaika. For the right price—defense and absorption, and the right terms—the death penalty for terrorists, for instance, he and his Yisrael Beiteinu are definitely ready to jump in.

Netanyahu may have been clever or lucky, but Lieberman was, without a doubt, brilliant. He may appear from this day on as serving Netanyahu, but it will be the PM who’ll be forced to do his bidding on security, because it is Lieberman and not Netanyahu who speaks for the rightwing Likud voters. If Bibi flinches at one of Lieberman’s calls (which the latter will issue politely and calmly) — then Bibi’s voters could easily go for the alternative. Say what you will about Avigdor Lieberman, but he could teach a class on maneuvering to a school of sharks.

As a result of all of the above, and should the coalition talks between Bibi Netanyahu and Yvette Lieberman be successful, Israel will have its first truly rightwing government ever. The Haredim are concerned about the draft, but it’s doubtful the new DM will focus on that hornet’s nest at this stage of his new career. If he does, it would bring a quick and unhappy ending to the 20th Knesset.

The one remaining unknown at this point is Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who really wanted to bring the Zionist Camp into the government and is now stuck to the left of Netanyahu, and with polls that show his Kulanu party dropping from 10 to 7 seats come next elections, while his identical twin, Lapid, is projected to win 19 or 20 seats next time around. Kahlon could kill this latest coalition deal in a kamikaze departure followed by resounding vote of no confidence, at which point nothing could save Bibi’s fourth government.

Oh, what interesting times we’re having.

David Israel

Herzog Suspends Talks on Entering Coalition: ‘Netanyahu Must Choose Me or Liberman’

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Opposition leader and Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog announced on Wednesday that he was suspending talks about entering into the coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing Netanyahu’s planned meeting the same day with Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party.

“If Netanyahu wants to take Liberman to his government, he can do so and we will give them a hard time from the opposition. And if he accepts our demands, I already said and say again that we will consider it,” Herzog said in a Jerusalem press conference.

“Now more than ever, the choice is between Liberman in the Defense Ministry or us in the Defense Ministry. The choice is between craziness and sanity, between political and economic isolation and prosperity,” Herzog added.

Herzog’s announcement follows weeks of rumours and political maneuvering about the Labor party, an historically left-wing party, entering Netanyahu’s right-wing government. Herzog and Netanyahu met on Sunday night to discuss a potential “unity” government, a move that has provoked furious opposition among a segment of Labor’s own ranks.

A press conference by Liberman on Wednesday announcing that he would meet Netanyahu and consider joining the government, however, forced Herzog to take a step back. Herzog explained that he would not negotiate with Netanyahu “in parallel” with Liberman.

“I do not follow Liberman’s agenda or whims,” Herzog said. “I go with my truth. And just like in the past I was not swayed by threats or insults, I will not be now either. I preserved my principles and insisted on our path throughout the negotiations, and that’s why we do not have a coalition agreement with Netanyahu.”

“Avigdor Liberman’s press conference today clarified the historic choice Netanyahu is facing: either going to war and having funerals or going on a journey of hope for all Israeli citizens,” Herzog added. “Those are the choices and there is no other choice.”

Michael Bachner and Jonathan Benedek contributed to this report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Analysis: Bennett Threatening to Walk If Bibi Gives Shaked’s Justice Portfolio to Bougie

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Two left-leaning Israeli media outlets, Ha’aretz and Channel 10, on Monday signaled the formation of advanced negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Opposition Leader Itzhak Herzog (Zionist Camp a.k.a. Labor) to build a broad coalition. The talks, which have been egged on by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), were interrupted by police investigation of Herzog over election corruption charges. Now, as it appears that the investigation is about to be concluded without a recommendation for an indictment against the son of Israel’s late president and grandson of Israel’s late Chief Rabbi, the rumors of new talks have returned to the foreground in full force—but, as we noted, mostly from the left. Is it wishful thinking or reality?

Ha’aretz on Monday framed the story as a new confrontation between Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennet and the prime minister. According to the daily, Bennett has been threatening that if Netanyahu transfers the Justice portfolio from his party’s number 2 Ayelet Shaked to an incoming Labor minister, the National Religious would depart the coalition. Bennett is quoted as having said “behind closed doors” that “we see in the Justice portfolio an essential issue, which would mean the same as changing the government’s guidelines agreement. It’s not just a personnel issue.”

Ha’aretz, which has been advocating the kicking of Bennett et al to the curb since about the time Netanyahu presented his 61-seat coalition, relishes the story which it presents as the first ultimatum made by a coalition party leader this term. That is, of course, inaccurate, not only because said ultimatum is yet to be voiced publicly, but because Haredi MK Yisrael Eichler in March voiced an actual ultimatum regarding the reversal of Netanyahu’s permissive policy regarding the Reform and Conservative in Israel.

Ha’aretz cited a “senior Likud member” who insisted that the Justice portfolio is, nevertheless, on the table, because Netanyahu is convinced that he can’t go on much longer with his tiny and fragile majority. Over the Winter Session, the PM was blackmailed by several of his members, which cost him a few key votes and ended up costing his government an arm and a leg in flying to Israel hordes of Ethiopian Christians who may or may not have Jews somewhere in their background—all because two pro-Ethiopian Likud members stayed out of the plenum when they were most needed.

But an examination of the reality in both Netanyahu’s coalition and Herzog’s opposition reveals several hurdles the two leaders may not wish to tackle, never mind jump, at this point. There’s little doubt that Bennett, whether he threatened or didn’t threaten with an ultimatum “behind closed doors” would leave the coalition in a huff over Netanyahu’s violation of the coalition guidelines. He will then join with Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu in a rightwing block that would make Netanayahu’s life miserable at every turn, and will certainly cost him a hefty chunk of the Likud base. With several Likud members already barricading themselves along the party’s rightwing wall, this could mark the beginning of the end for Bibi.

But that’s not all. Despite the fact that about a third of Labor, especially the Histadrut trade union chairman Avi Nissenkorn, are very much in favor of joining a Netanyahu government without Habayit Hayehudi, a third of the party—those MKs who don’t stand to gain portfolios or committee chairmanships—are only somewhat inclined to follow, and a third, led by Herzog’s chief opponent MK Erel Margalit, are vehemently opposed to the move and will surely vote with the opposition on most issues.

So that even if Netanyahu manages to wed Herzog, he won’t be getting much more than half his seats as a dowry. He’d be giving up a sure 8 seats and getting in return an iffy 12 to 16, with a chance for open rebellion in the Likud’s right flank.

JNi.Media

Vilified ‘Executioner’ IDF Soldier Appears Vindicated by Evidence

Friday, March 25th, 2016

It has happened so often: video or other media which appears to show an Israeli soldier or other security official doing something heinous, is later revealed to be a snapshot that distorts reality – either intentionally or otherwise. For when the full context of the incident in question is revealed, there is virtually no culpability on the part of the Israeli.

You might think that the world, and certainly the Israeli government, would be a bit more cautious before condemning an Israeli based on anything other than a diligent investigation.

You might think so, but you’d be disappointed.

It appears that this false rush to judgment may very well be what happened to an Israeli soldier on Thursday, Mar. 24. That soldier was responding to a stabbing attack by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The soldier has been widely portrayed as having shot one of the terrorists point blank in the head, after the terrorist appeared already disarmed – by those not directly involved – and sprawled on the ground.

A video of the soldier shooting the terrorist in the head, taken by a member of the extreme leftist NGO B’tselem, portrays the Israeli as an executioner, and that is how it was labeled and then went viral.

That soldier was not only vilified by the entire shockingly large subset of humanity which stands ready, at any moment, to brand Israelis as bloodthirsty armed villains, but also by Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

That soldier, from the Kfir Brigade, was thrown in an IDF prison.

Never mind that the initial explanation for the gunshot provided by the soldier in question was that the terrorist was wearing a zipped-up coat despite the heat- which every Israeli or visitor to Israel knows is an issue of concern – that still was not enough to mollify the world audience or the Israeli leadership.

Not even that, according to weather reports, the temperature in Hebron on the day of the incident was 88 degrees fahrenheit/31.1 degrees celsius. A violent terrorist wearing a long-sleeved jacket, zipped up to the neck, should have been of concern to everyone. At least one photo, shared with the world by Hamas’s al-qassam brigades, appears to show a bulge under the jacket.

Hebron terrorist on an 88 degree day, wearing zipped up, long-sleeve jacket covering possible bulge.

Hebron terrorist on an 88 degree day, wearing zipped up, long-sleeve jacket covering possible bulge.

In a public statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Media Office on Thursday afternoon, Netanyahu said: “”What happened today in Hebron does not represent the values of the IDF. The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Netanyahu was joined in condemning the IDF soldier by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Only Knesset Members Oren Hazan (Likud), Betzalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) and Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) defended the IDF soldier.

Peace Now’s Yariv Oppenheimer was outraged and publicly maligned the Magen David Adom medical personnel for not endangering their lives in order to physically examine and treat the terrorist.

BUT.

Less than a day after the incident evidence has emerged which could completely vindicate the action of the condemned Israeli soldier.

According to a civilian paramedic who was at the scene, those responding to the stabbing incident feared the terrorist was wearing an explosive vest and he was about to detonate it, which is when the IDF officer shot him.

This paramedic said that the soldiers and emergency personnel began to yell that the terrorist is still moving, and they think he has a bomb on him.

The eye- and earwitness said he heard it with his own ears, and that if the B’tselem video had an audio recording it would confirm that this is what happened.

Just think what would have happened if the soldier had not responded as he did in such a situation. If the terrorist did have a suicide vest, not only would the terrorist have died, but so would have all of the Israelis and Arabs at the scene. Including the B’tselem videographer.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

MK Avigdor Liberman: ‘It’s Israel’s Turn to Help Support Diaspora Jewry’

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

In a small sparsely-furnished office, containing a cherry wood desk, a matching credenza, an Israeli flag, some small personal photos and a large framed print of the father of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is seated a man larger than life, the head of Yisrael Beiteinu and former Foreign Minister of Israel: Avigdor Liberman.

When the JewishPress.com met with Liberman late one morning this past week, he was told that most non-Israeli Jews really don’t have a good sense of who he is. So he was asked to explain himself.

ALIYAH, JEWISH CONTINUITY, ABSORPTION

Liberman began this way:

“First of all, my highest priorities are Aliyah, Jewish Continuity and Absorption. My positions are clear right wing without compromise, but very pragmatic.”

One of his pet projects combines all three priorities: he envisions schools of Jewish education everywhere in the Diaspora, along the lines of American schools abroad. Those schools would focus on both Judaism and Zionism.

Liberman explained the need for this educational initiative: “At the Saban meeting, people like [American Jewish journallist] Jeffrey Goldberg talked about the problem of the younger Jewish generation not being so supportive of Israel.”

“He said that the decline in support was due to Israeli government policies. But that’s not the problem,” Liberman said.

The problem is that the “younger generations of Jews don’t really know much about and so don’t care much about Israel.”

This dovetails with Liberman’s preoccupation with Jewish assimilation. He cites statistics and surveys which predict the near total extinction of Jews in only a few more generations.

“Fewer than 10 percent of American Jews have a Jewish, Zionist education. In places like France, Russia, even Canada, there is a 70 percent assimilation rate,” Liberman explains, with horror.

Naturally, the first question is who would fund such a project? Knowing that even many American Jewish Federations have turned away from significant contributions to Jewish day schools, the prospect seems bleak.

But Liberman isn’t looking to the Diaspora as the primary funding source. He explains: “during the 1940’s and ’50’s, Israel was a small, poor country and needed tremendous financial and political support – which it received – from the Jewish Diaspora.

“Now, with Israel’s vibrant economy, it’s our turn to give back and our turn to help support the Jewish people. We are a strong country with a huge budget,” explains Liberman.

Liberman believes that Israel must contribute something on the order of $365 million – which should be met with matching funds – to this vitally important enterprise.

The suavely-dressed, slimmed-down, blue-eyed politician sees this contribution by Israel not just as providing moral support to the waning Diaspora Jewry, but as a crucial investment, “it is for our future as well.”

The idea was first pitched by Liberman nearly a year ago in a speech in the United States. The concept was immediately overshadowed by the subsequent Israeli elections and, increasingly, by the nation’s focus on the then-looming and seemingly catastrophic Nuclear Iran Deal which the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia), plus Germany (the P5+1) was negotiating, and then concluded, with Iran.

Liberman believes his concept is critical if there is to remain a global Jewry outside of Israel. Not surprisingly, one of the reasons Diaspora Jewry with a strong Jewish and Zionist identity matters so much is as a steady source for Aliyah.

But the current governing coalition “does not care about the Diaspora,” Liberman said.

This discussion led naturally to the question of why Yisrael Beiteinu walked away from being in the ruling coalition. It’s of course harder to promote enormous new projects from the outside.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mk-avigdor-liberman-its-israels-turn-to-help-support-diaspora-jewry/2016/01/09/

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