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May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Lieberman’

Liberman Warns Netanyahu Not to Meet Arab Party Head

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is up in arms because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has scheduled talks with Ayman Odeh, head of the Israeli Arab Joint List of parties.

Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, himself pulled out of Netanyahu’s coalition, deliberately leaving Netanyahu the slimmest of margins with which to form a government.

Speaking in an interview on state-run Voice of Israel radio, Liberman accused Netanyahu of flip-flopping on the issue of support for a two-state solution. “Anyone who thinks going back to the 1967 lines will solve the conflict is autistic,” Liberman told the interviewer.

He complained that remarks on the issue by Netanyahu following his meeting on Wednesday with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reflected a change of heart from the image he portrayed during his campaign.

For Netanyahu to schedule a meeting with Ayman Odeh, the head of the united Arab parties, simply added more fuel to the fire.

“This man represents a list of terror supporters in the Israeli parliament, and the prime minister of Israel, who heads a government which defines itself as nationalist, is meeting with him,” Liberman complained in a statement.

“Netanyahu’s meeting with Odeh, one of the sharpest opponents of Israel being the state of the Jewish people, gives legitimacy to forces working to destroy Israel from within and gives a stamp of approval to the fifth column working inside the Israeli parliament,” he added.

Liberman, who defines himself as nationalistic, swore he would not remain in another Netanyahu government.

Likud MK Silvan Shalom to Lead Israeli Negotiating Team

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Likud Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has been appointed to become Israel’s new lead negotiator in any talks with the Palestinian Authority, as well as in strategic dialogue with the United States.

Palestinian Authority officials made it clear they were not happy with the appointment.

“He does not believe in a Palestinian state,” a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) source told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity. “He’s against a two-state solution. It’s not an issue of names. It’s an issue of policy.”

Leftist politician Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua party and a justice minister in the prior government was the last minister to head Israel’s negotiating team.

Shalom said Monday that he is “ready to review every subject in every area from the most weighty issues of the United Nations, to smaller matters such as managing joint day-to-day life.”

Having served as foreign minister from 2003 to 2006 (during the second intifada and the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza), Shalom is no novice to the role. He will also be responsible for strategic talks with officials from the United States as well, according to a report broadcast on Galei Tzahal Army Radio.

Likud members are expected to raise some opposition as well, because party member and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was expected to be given the appointment.

Hotovely evaded reporters’ questions on Monday, saying only that until she is told otherwise, she will “work diligently to fulfill [her] duties faithfully in every sector in which Israel must act.”

Although it is usually the foreign minister who manages the issue of negotiations, at present Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is holding that post. Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, the previous minister of foreign affairs, quit the coalition and withdrew his party as well.

Shalom’s new role is also likely to bring him in to security cabinet discussions on strategic issues such as how to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue vis a vis any dialogue with the United States.

Liberman Calls for Terrorist Death Penalty Like Massachusetts, and Opens Door to Joining the Coalition

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

PM Netanyahu is probably beginning to realize that 61 to 59 is going to be difficult to maintain over a long period of time. Not because members of his coalition are going to vote against coalition positions, but because it means that everyone will have to be in the Knesset for every single vote, including the Prime Minister. No sick days, no vacations, and no important meetings in the White House.

MK Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) is probably realizing how lonely it is in the opposition, sitting with MKs he has no ideological connection with, but is still upset with how the PM treated him.

Liberman has begin sending out trial balloons. He said on Saturday that he would join the coalition if there were specific changes to the coalition’s guidelines. His position now isn’t that different from the position he took when he turned down the Prime Minister’s offers of various high-level ministries. But he also made sure to point out how poorly Netanyahu is mistreating his allies, even within the Likud.

One guideline change Liberman suggested is the death penalty for terrorists. He pointed out that even Massachusetts, a capital of liberalism and higher education, decided on the death sentence for the Boston Marathon bomber.

Liberman wants the guidelines to include: having the “Jewish-National State” law passed, equal sharing of the security burden (draft), the death penalty for terrorists, and building in Jerusalem and the Settlement blocks.

Will this power couple two realize they need each other to succeed, or will they let everything fall apart?

Liberman is Persona Non Grata, and Bennett Can Forget About Judicial Revolutions

Friday, May 8th, 2015

PM Netanyahu has no one to blame for the results of his coalition negotiations but himself, though that’s not stopping him from blaming his partners (and former partners) he mistreated.

Netanyahu’s natural partners, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu, were prepared to sign with the Likud immediately and with relatively reasonable demands, but Netanyahu saved them to last, played hardball with them, and basically abused them, until they decided they had enough.

An angry Avigdor Liberman quit as foreign minister and made it clear that he won’t be part of Netanyahu’s coalition. A fed-up Naftali Bennett decided to instead go for the gold, since his trust in Netanyahu was approaching zero, and he believed he had nothing left to lose.

According to a Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu told Likud MKs that not only will Liberman not be a member of his coalition now, Liberman will not be a member of his coalition, ever. Even if Liberman changes his mind, “there’s no coming back.”

Sources in the Likud said there will be revenge on Bennett for playing hardball during the last days of negotiations, and Netanyahu is plotting to kick Bennett out of the coalition as soon as possible and bring in Yitzchak Herzog and the Zionist Camp instead.

Within Bayit Yehudi, they believe that has been Netanyahu’s plan all along, even before Bennett began playing hardball back.

According to the Makor Rishon report, Netanyahu also said Bayit Yehudi can forget about introducing any judicial revolutions, whether they be reforms in how judges are selected or any other decisions that negatively impact the judiciary, as he will personally block it.

Netanyahu plans to rely on one of the conditions in the coalition agreement which prevents proposing “explosive” legislation in the legislation committee. This condition was introduced in the previous coalition to thwart then Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from going overboard, but it still didn’t stop Livni from proposing them all the time in the committee.

Likud sources say that Netanyahu is personally holding on to the Foreign Ministry portfolio so he can offer it to any party that might join the coalition later.

Since Lapid and Liberman won’t be allowed back in, that only leaves Yitzchak Herzog and his Zionist Camp (Labor).

For his part, Herzog says that he won’t be joining Netanyahu’s coalition, but when asked to confirm that position with a party vote, Herzog refused, leaving the feeling among his party members that he is leaving that door wide open.

Even within the Likud, a minor rebellion is brewing, with MKs jockeying for the limited number of ministerial positions, and each one feeling they deserve it more than their friends and associates, and that Netanyahu owes it to them.

Netanyahu’s coalition is off to a rough start, with a lot of anger and an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.

In the previous coalition, Netanyahu tried to keep Bennett out of the government, but Bennett forced his way in and proved to be Netanyahu’s most trusted and reliable ally. Liberman has also been Netanyahu’s trusted and reliable ally for decades.

Maybe these relationships are now broken, but the thing about politics, and Israeli politics in particular, is that there is no such thing as forever –unless you’re Shimon Peres.

Tonight at Midnight: Netanyahu’s Moment of Truth

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By midnight, Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu is obligated under Israeli law to go up to the Reuven Rivlin’s presidential palace and declare whether or not he has been successful in cobbling together a coalition government.

Bibi has run out of time, and there will be no more time extensions. It’s his moment of truth.

Unfortunately, as of Wednesday morning, he is far from having a the minimum 61-member coalition that could receive the Knesset’s vote of confidence.

Netanyahu’s troubles have come from the two parties he thought he had in his pocket and thus took for granted and abused: Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu—6 seats, and Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi-8 seats.

So far, Netanyahu has secured only 53 seats, his talks with Liberman have been severed by the resigning Foreign Minister, and they appear to be on the rocks with Bennett.

Here’s an interesting point: Liberman, who is considered by many Israelis—and most of the country’s media—to be a cynical vote broker, exemplifying that with his left-right-left-right zig-zagging before the elections, quit the negotiations in a huff solely over ideological issues.

A source connected to the Yisrael Beytenu party told JewishPress.com that Netanyahu offered Liberman to continue as the Foreign Minister, and also offered him all the ministries he asked for.

Netanyahu’s previous (third) government, made serious changes in its social agreement with the Chareidi population – some good, some bad, and some good but done in a bad way.

In a collaboration between Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy Minister Bennett, and the entire coalition, Netanyahu’s previous government significantly reduced child welfare payments (which hurt the Chareidi population the most), and legislated draft laws that were, at least on paper, more draconian than previous ones–though in implementation, they actually reduced Chareidi enlistment instead of increasing it. The same government also used the budget to encourage Chareidi men and women to hit the job market, including a push to get them into universities.

In addition, the same government empowered the religious-Zionist agenda in areas of rabbinic officiating, such as marriages for non-religious Israeli Jews, or conversions for non-Jewish Israelis.

But in his haste to forge a government with UTJ and Shas parties, Netanyahu handed the Chareidi parties the offices empowered to roll back many of those reforms and achievements.

Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday morning, Liberman said: “In recent days has been shown that the Likud sold out all its principles budgets to the Chareidim, and all that remains is a debate over ministerial portfolios. The debate of the past few hours is exclusively about increasing the number of ministers and deputy ministers, and there is no substantive discussion.”

Liberman is apparently fed up with Netanyahu, his ally for more than twenty years. Liberman supported him loyally, even in decisions he despised (twice he gave his cabinet vote to a decision not to conclude heavy Gaza skirmishes with the elimination of Hamas–he explicitly demanded the destruction of Hamas in these coalition negotiations).

He’s done it while being pursued for years by the judiciary civil service over seemingly unending corruption cases, none of which have ever actually found him guilty. His deputies have been investigated several times over, but police has been unable to connect their alleged crimes to Liberman.

Naftali Bennett is yet another long-time ally who feels taken for granted and used.

For one thing, Netanyahu’s amazing vote sweep in the last few days of the March election campaign came directly from Bayit Yehudi voters. Bennett and company happily obliged this sucker-punch move, setting up a right-wing rally in Kikar Rabin where they practically called on upwards of 100 thousand of their voters to switch to Bibi.

The Likud’s rise came directly from that rally at Bennett’s expense.

And while Naftali Bennett was the first politician Netanyahu called after the elections, Bayit Yehudi was almost the last party Bibi called on for serious negotiations after he had already signed away the Ministry of Religious Affairs to Shas, so the Aryeh Deri could highlight all of Bennett’s achievements in the area of religion services reform in Israel, and then press DELETE.

Now, taking advantage of Liberman’s angry departure, Bennett upped the ante—demanding major offices in return for joining, most important among them the Ministry of Justice, which he wants to hand over to his partner, Ayelet Shaked.

This is probably the most fun thing a National-Religious leader has had the pleasure of doing, ever.

The Left has been using Israel’s Justice department as their bulwark against the Right: appointments of a long line of anti-settlement Attorney Generals? It’s Justice department. Promotions of insider, radical leftwing judges who haven’t met a deceptive “Palestinian” land seller? Justice department again. Legislation that subverts the will of the voter in favor of the will of a tiny, self-appointing judicial minority? Justice department. Blatantly undemocratic, politically motivated investigations against popular, right wing leaders (including Netanyahu)? What do you know, it’s that Justice department again.

It’s no wonder Peace Now has called the notion of appointing Ayelet Shaked Minister of Justice “Tzelem Ba’heichal” – like placing a idol of Zeus in the Holy Temple’s inner sanctuary. For them it really is nothing less.

Yesterday Bennett handed the Likud his list of demands and disappeared from sight. No interviews, Not answering the Likud’s calls. A game of chicken—with little to lose.

Especially when Bennett suspects that the reason he was offered third-tier ministries was because Netanyahu planns to fire him following negotiatiations with Yitzchak Herzog (Zionist Camp) when no longer under deadline pressures.

The Likud spread rumors that Bayit Yehudi also demanded Defense, or the Foreign Ministry for Bennett, alongside the Judiciary.

One Likud MK joked that he’s surprised Bennett didn’t go so far as demand a rotation agreement for Prime Minister.

It’s a sellers market, and Bennett, who had at least one successful business exit, is going for broke.

Netanyahu has more to lose from a new election, assuming Zionist Camp’s Yitzhak Herzog fails to cobble a government together should President Rivlin assign him the task after midnight tonight.

In a new election, Liberman’s and Bennett’s voters, who bought the Likud’s argument that only a strong Netanyahu could represent the right—all those angry voters will come back home, giving Liberman back his 12 mandates, Bennett his 12 to 16, and Bibi — will be much reduced, with 20 or so seats.

It’s going to be an interesting day.

With Liberman Out , Bennett Toughens Position, But Who Will Blink First?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Following the resignation of Avigdor Liberman from the Foreign Ministry and his decision to bring the Yisrael Beytenu party into the opposition, the Bayit Yehudi held an emergency meeting on Monday evening to reconsider their strategy and Netanyahu’s offer/threat.

Kulanu, UTJ and Shas have already signed with the Likud to join the coalition. The only options left open to Netanyahu at this point to put together his coalition is with either Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid or the Zionist Camp, and he has only until this Wednesday to sign one of them, otherwise President Rivlin will offer a different party the opportunity.

UTJ will absolutely not sit with Yesh Atid, nor does Netanyahu want Lapid in his coalition.

The Zionist Union could be a possibility, but it would be a major betrayal of the Likud voters who don’t want them in the government, and most likely they would need to dump Tzipi Livni, whom Netanyahu also doesn’t want to see again in his government, if possible. The Zionist Camp has said they won’t sit in Netanyahu’s coalition.

So, the keys to the kingdom are in Bennett’s hands.

Bayit Yehudi is a natural partner, but the Bayit Yehudi party feels that Netanyahu is not giving them a fair deal, especially after quietly acquiescing to Netanyahu’s siphoning off their voters with his emergency appeals right before elections.

Bennett also claims that Netanyahu, before the elections, offered him the Defense Ministry, and then recanted the offer after the elections.

Bayit Yehudi was also offered to chair the Judicial committee, but it is unlikely that the Likud will allow them to make major reforms against the overly powerful Supreme Court, so that position may be less valuable than previously thought.

At the emergency meeting, Bayit Yehudi saw Liberman’s withdrawal as an opportunity to get the Foreign Ministry, which they have demanding since the elections were over. Bayit Yehudi is particularly miffed that Shas got full control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and will probably now roll back all the progress that Bayit Yehudi made in rectifying that troubled field.

With the keys in his hands, Bennett has the opportunity to demand corrections in the deal with Shas (unlikely as Shas will bolt), as well as to demand a more significant post or posts.

The question is, in this game of chicken, who will blink first?

Avigdor Liberman Resigning from FM, Quitting Coalition, Heading to Opposition

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) dropped a political bombshell today, and apparently not as a negotiating tactic, when he announced he is quitting as Foreign Minister and his party will not be joining PM Netanyahu’s coalition.

Liberman, unhappy with the directions of the negotiations said his party will be sticking to its principles, and as a result, will be joining the opposition. He wants Hamas destroyed and construction in the settlements. He also wants to be Foreign Minister again, which Netanyahu doesn’t want.

Sources close to Netanyahu have said that the Likud will be keeping the Foreign Ministry.

Netanyahu has until Wednesday to form a coalition.

Even without the Yisrael Beytenu party, Netanyahu can still form a coalition of 61 with his remaining “natural” partners – Kulanu and the various religious parties. But Netanyahu has been unable to seal the deal as Shas and Bayit Yehudi are in an intractable fight over the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Yisrael Beytenu’s exit may be a blessing for Netanyahu, as it frees up some of Liberman’s ministries which Netanyahu can now offer to his remaining potential partners.

Liberman has claimed that Netanyahu wants to bring in the Zionist Camp (Labor) into the coalition.

Within the Zionist Camp, an open revolt has begun against Tzipi Livni, with Shelly Yechimovitch publicly proclaiming that she does not see Livni as the co-head of the party, after boycotting the Zionist Camp party meeting.

If it weren’t so late in the coalition negotiations game, this could have been the first shot in removing Livni from the party, and paving the way for Labor to enter the coalition, and forming a ‘National Unity’ government.

Yitzchak Herzog has denied he planned to join Netanyahu’s coalition at any point. Herzog believes that Netanyahu’s coalition will be “unstable” and “doomed to failure.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/avigdor-liberman-resigning-from-fm-quiting-coalition-heading-to-opposition/2015/05/04/

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