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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Lieberman’

Israel Hands Over Terrorist Corpse to Family Months After Attack

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – After months of negotiations, Israeli authorities handed over the body of the terrorist who committed a shooting attack on a bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot in March despite firm opposition to the move by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Muhammad al-Kalouti, 21, was buried in a small ceremony heavily guarded by police at the Bab al-Zahra cemetery in Jerusalem last night. Al-Kalouti had been killed by security forces while perpetrating the attack.

The Israeli government often holds the bodies of terrorists both as a deterrent against future attacks and because funerals in the past have turned into massive demonstrations of incitement. Officials only returned Al-Kalouti’s body after the family deposited NIS 20,000 in collateral with the police and pledged not to have more than 30 people at the ceremony.

Defense Minister Liberman is a firm proponent of withholding the bodies of terrorists from their families, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that the move did not have legal justification and ordered the body released. The Supreme Court has also demanded answers from the government as to why terrorists’ bodies have not been handed over after it ruled on the issue in July.

Liberman criticized Mandelblit’s decision yesterday, telling reporters that “the role of the attorney general is to be an advisor, not a judge.”

Liberman’s predecessor Moshe Yaalon had opposed withholding the bodies of terrorists from their families and had argued that the policy only provoked more attacks.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Obama, Liberman Statements Expose Raw Nerves in Jerusalem, DC, over Iran Deal

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

On Thursday, President Barack Obama claimed that Israel’s “military and security community” has realized he was right all along and now supports his nuclear deal with Iran. “The country that was most opposed to the deal,” he told a press conference, “acknowledges this has been a game-changer.”

That same military and security community, currently under new management, reacted swiftly and bitterly, saying that deals have value only when they are based on existing reality, and are entirely without value if the facts on the ground are the opposite of those assumed by the deal.

It then added a harsh reminder, that the 1938 Munich accord, whose “basic assumption, that Nazi Germany could be a partner to any kind of agreement, was wrong,” failed to prevent WW2 and the Holocaust, because world leaders at the time ignored the explicit threats made by Hitler and the rest of the Nazi leadership.

The Israeli response, despite the mention of the Holocaust, was considered by Israeli analysts to be showing restraint. For one thing, it was not delivered personally by Prime Minister Netanyahu, nor by the actual head of the “military and security community,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. The boorish voice in this incident belonged to Obama. As a NY Post editorial put it, “What could President Obama have been thinking?”

Or, as the unsigned Liberman response implied, how can anyone in their right mind trust “the agreement with Iran, which itself explicitly and publicly announces that its goal is to destroy the state of Israel.”

It continued: “A US State Department document published this year states that Iran is the chief state sponsor of terror world-wide. Therefore, the Israeli security establishment, the nation of Israel, and many other nations around the world, understand that agreements like those signed between the world super powers and Iran aren’t helpful. They only damage the uncompromising struggle against nations which support terror.”

Netanyahu’s office issued a much softer response, following Liberman’s office’s statement, saying that despite the difference of opinions over the Iran deal, “Prime Minister Netanyahu still believes that Israel has no greater ally than the United States. As Netanyahu said in his UN speech last year, it’s important that those who were for the agreement and those who were against it cooperate to fulfill three goals; to make sure that Iran doesn’t violate the agreement, to deal with Iran’s regional aggression, and to dismantle Iran’s global terror network. The Prime Ministers expects these goals to become part of shared policies, and that the alliance between the United States and Israel only grow stronger not only with President Obama, but also with his successor.”

JNi.Media

Liberman to Arab MK: Conditions at Checkpoints Are Unreasonable, Harmful

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

In a question-and-answer session in the Knesset this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Addressed a question by MK Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List) about the conditions at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, Liberman said “What’s happening at checkpoints is unreasonable, and there is no doubt it harms our security.”

“There are three authorities that deal with this issue — the Airports Authority, Defense Ministry and Public Security Ministry, and this creates a complicated chaos,” Liberman explained.

Liberman expressed his hope that the matter will be taken care of in next year’s budget, “to improve things from every perspective – security and humanitarian.”

Liberman was asked by MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) about the reconciliation agreement with Turkey and whether it constitutes recognition of the Hamas’ regime in Gaza. “Our starting point must be Egypt,” the defense minister said. “It is our most important, serious ally in the Middle East. How will it affect our relations with Egypt? Personally, I’ve invested a lot of effort in building relations of trust and cooperation [with Egypt]. There are many other considerations here which we must take into account.”

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis asked Liberman why IDF soldiers who became disabled during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge have yet to receive the benefits they deserve. “There is an absolute commitment to this issue, and those who are dealing with it are doing so with dedication. It has been examined in the various committees, and as a minister I have to trust those professional echelons. The disabled themselves are part of the formulation of those benefits. Intense debates are being held in order to improve their situation,” Liberman answered.

MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) asked the defense minister about his summoning of Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding a program on Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish which was aired by the station. “It is okay to air an episode on Darwish, but in the framework of ‘know your enemy,’ together with the mufti and Goebbels,” Liberman retorted.

Asked by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) about his decision to revoke the entry permit to Israel of senior Palestinian Authority official Mohammed al-Madani, Liberman said, “Part of the tradition in the Palestinian Authority is that the same people who at nighttime deal with harming Israel and worked hard to annihilate the State of Israel, during the daytime speak a lot about brotherhood among the nations, peace, and so forth.”

The minister noted that he cannot make such a decision alone. “There is the opinion of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They are certainly not political people. Only after they tell me in writing that they strongly suggest [a permit be revoked] do I perform the formal act.”

Al-Madani, the minister said, “is not an innocent person who thinks about brotherhood and peace between Jews and Arabs.”

“Questions Hour” is a new parliamentary feature in the Knesset’s plenary sessions. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. At least three-quarters of the questioners must come from the ranks of the opposition.

JNi.Media

Defense Minister Liberman Attacks Predecessor’s Public Conviction of Hebron Shooter

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday criticized his predecessor, MK Moshe Yaalon (Likud) on the latter’s public comments following the incident of IDF medic Sergeant Elor Azaria who shot dead a terrorist that had already been neutralized. “Deciding in advance [that Azaria had broken the law] was a serious mistake,” Liberman said.

Liberman was visiting the IDF reception and screening center, where, he said, “I enlisted in the IDF 37 years ago, in 1979, and now I’m coming back as defense minister.” A combat recruit who enlisted in the Golani and Givati brigades, asked Liberman about the rules of engagement, to which the defense minister answered: “We want to maintain the most battle ready and the best operational army, and also the most moral army. These are the values that guide us.” Liberman recommended that soldiers who are not sure about the rules of engagement ask their superiors.

Answering a question from another recruit regarding the political horizon of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Liberman said that “whoever believes that a political maneuver would improve our situation vis-à-vis terrorism is wrong. Terrorism is not rational, ISIS and the crazies devote their lives to dying as shahids. You can’t appease them through a political maneuver.”

Liberman added that Hamas is no different from ISIS and Al Qaeda. He told the recruits, “Look at what’s going on in the Muslim world. More than 90% of the victims are within the Muslim world. We live in a very tough neighborhood, a neighborhood of deep changes. Moses committed a strategic blunder when he brought us here and not to the Swiss-Italian border. We’re in a very problematic neighborhood.”

Regarding his summoning last week of the Army Radio commander for a hearing over the broadcast of a program about anti-Israeli poet Mahmoud Darwish, Liberman said, “I suggest everyone go back and read the goals of the military station as they were set by Ben Gurion at its establishment. [For this same station to devote time] to someone whose entire work is a call to the Jewish people to go away, and in one of his poems he describes eating the liver of the ‘occupier’ — someone got confused here. It’s my duty as defense minister to clarify; but we don’t get involved in content but in the army’s spirit.”

David Israel

Liberman Reads Riot Act to Army Radio Chief Despite AG’s Objections

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

New Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has spent his first month in office directing the military apparatus in substantially different directions, most notably his order for the generals to come up with a concrete plan to remove the Hamas government in Gaza — it turned out they hadn’t thought it would be useful to have one. And as the defense ministry and the army are starting to sound and act in a different manner than they did under Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), the new defense boss is mending the more ideological aspects of the military system. He has added his support to the chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s call to shut down the left-leaning Army Radio station, and on Thursday he became directly involved in the same station’s programming.

To be precise, earlier this week the Army Radio station devoted a program to the poetic works of Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008), a member of the Israeli Communist party who is widely perceived as a “Palestinian symbol” and served as an artistic spokesman for Arab opposition to Israel. In 1988, one of his poems, “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” was cited in the Knesset by Yitzhak Shamir (Likud) for demanding that the Jews leave Israel:

“O those who pass between fleeting words / As bitter dust, go where you wish, but / Do not pass between us like flying insects / For we have work to do in our land,” Darwish called on Israel’s Jews, and concluded: “So leave our country / Our land, our sea / Our wheat, our salt, our wounds / Everything, and leave / The memories of memory / O those who pass between fleeting words!”

Following the broadcast on Army Radio, which included Darwish’s texts in its “Broadcast University” series on “Israeli founding texts,” Defense Minister Liberman summoned Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel to a disciplinary hearing Thursday at noon.

“On its face it appears to be a serious issue, whereby someone who wrote anti-Zionist texts that are still fueling acts of terrorism against the State of Israel merits to be included along with his texts by the military station in the foundation texts of Israeli society, together with Jerusalem of Gold and The Silver Tray (two popular and very beautiful song by Naomi Shemer and Natan Alterman respectively),” Liberman said. “Obviously this constitutes an [ideological] eclipse which cannot be ignored.”

On Wednesday night Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit phoned Liberman to inform him that he does not have the authority to intervene in the Army Station’s programming. Mandelblit based his warning on a 2015 opinion by Vice Counsel on Legislation Affairs Dina Zilber, that ruled against ministers intervening in the military station.

And now Liberman decided to ignore Zilber’s opinion, which is almost unheard of in Israeli governmental politics. In many ways this might prove to be Liberman’s bravest act so far, and he may live to pay for it as an irate judicial civil service could rise up against him.

Already the president of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, told Israel Radio that the intervention by the Minister of Defense in Army Radio broadcasting was dangerous, and said that it frightened her. “I cannot believe this is happening,” she told left-leaning hot Aryeh Golan Thursday morning. Yes, the red wagons are being circled.

David Israel

Israeli Cabinet Approves Deal With Turkey Despite Pressure from Families of Israelis Held in Gaza

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli security cabinet approved a reconciliation deal with Turkey on Wednesday by a vote of 7-3. The deal, which was supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was opposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The deal, which was signed Tuesday, comes six years after Israeli forces intercepted a flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade, leaving 10 Turkish citizens[editor: who attacked IDF soldiers] dead and causing a rift in Israeli-Turkish relations.

Three conditions on the part of Israel are to be met: (1) an official apology for the 2010 flotilla incident is to be issued, (2) as well as $20 million in compensation for families of those killed. In addition, (3) Turkey will be permitted to deliver aid to Gaza by way of the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The families of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza War, whose bodies are currently being held by Hamas in Gaza, expressed disdain for the deal.

The families demanded the return of the soldiers’ bodies before any aid can be provided to Hamas-ruled Gaza, a condition not included in the current deal.

The Shaul family protested outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, demanding for the recall of the peace agreement. The Goldin family submitted a letter to the Prime Minister’s office.

Together with the Shaul family, relatives of Avera Mengistu, attended the protests. Mengistu, a Israeli man with a history of mental-illness, who is believed to be in Hamas custody after crossing into Gaza and undergoing interrogation by Hamas operatives on September 7, 2014. Mengistu’s whereabouts and condition are unclear, though Hamas officials claimed he was released following interrogation.

Mengistu’s brother, Ilan, denounced the reconciliation agreement, saying: “The government needs to listen to our cries and to understand that we’re speaking of a humanitarian issue here. Avera is my brother and a brother to all of us. We need to bring him home.”

“It is unacceptable that while government permits a humanitarian agreement with Gaza, the humanitarian rights of my brother are forgotten,” he added.

The Israeli cabinet decided to discuss imposing harsher conditions on Hamas prisoners currently held in Israeli jails as a means to pressure Hamas to release the Israelis held in Gaza.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with the three families for a half hour in the prime minister’s office, informing the families that the UN will appoint special representatives to handle the matter of returning the bodies and the missing Israeli.

Seven of the ten ministers who voted in favor of the deal met with the families before entering the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem to vote on the agreement.

Several Knesset members who opposed the deal expressed worry over the condition of paying the families of presumed terrorists as well as Turkey’s interests in entering the agreement, citing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Israel rhetoric in recent years.

MK Naftali Bennett expressed caution over the deal, explaining that “reconciliation with Turkey is important at this time and to the interests of the State of Israel, however payment of compensation to the perpetrators of a terrorist act is a dangerous precedent that Israel will regret in the future.”

“As long as there is Turkish influence over Hamas, it is (the Turks) who should do all they can to ensure that Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, may their memories be a blessing, return to Israel,” Bennett said.

Netanyahu adamantly defended the deal at a press conference in Rome on Monday announcing the agreement.

“We are not entering a honeymoon. I’m not trying to beautify this agreement or look at it through rose-colored glasses,” he said. “What I am saying is that our vital interests are promoted by this agreement, that on balance it leans towards our interests.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Liberman Embarks on First visit to DC as Defense Minister Amid Military Aid Dispute

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) is coming to Washington DC on his inaugural visit as Defense Minister against the background of a dispute between the White House and Congress over increasing US support for Israel’s missile defense research and development. He’ll be meeting with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who maintained a personal friendship with Liberman’s ousted predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud). Liberman and Carter are expected to discuss the White House proposal for a long-term US military aid, which would be larger than the current package, but conditioned on Israeli agreement not to solicit additional military aid from Congress.

Last Tuesday the Administration opposed a call by Congress to increase funding for Israel’s missile defense program by $455 million, to $600 million, well above the 2017 fiscal year White House budget request.

Israel is looking to expand the US annual military aid package from the current $3.2 billion to upwards of $4.5 billion, a portion of which would go to purchases from Israeli companies. The White House is looking at a more modest increase over 10 years, and for the entire amount to be spent in the US.

According to a senior defense ministry source speaking to Ma’ariv, the military aid package is not the central purpose of the visit, rather the trip is mainly planned for introductory meetings with key players in the defense department and in Congress. “We don’t expect dramatic breakthroughs in the coming week,” the source said.

Liberman will also meet with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Committees.

On Wednesday, Liberman will attend the Lockheed Martin roll out ceremony for the F-35 fighter planes purchased by the Israeli air force — the first of which is expected to arrive in Israel in December. The defense minister will also tour an Elbit Systems plant and meet in New York with the defense ministry purchasing delegation.

According to Walla, there is a dispute between the professional echelon in the defense ministry and Prime Minister Netanyahu over the American proposal, with the DM staff recommending signing the aid package now, and Netanyahu preferring to wait out this administration and dealing with the next president, Clinton or Trump, either one of whom would be more pro-Israel.

Liberman is much more liked by the current administration than Netanyahu, because back when Secretary of State John Kerry was still pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the 1967 borders, Liberman, then Israel’s foreign minister, supported the US effort, saying this was the best deal Israel could expect.

In that vein, Liberman is expected to use the opportunity of his US visit to allay fears regarding his hawkish reputation on defense, by making a major dovish statement about the two-state-solution.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/liberman-embarks-on-first-visit-to-dc-as-defense-minister-amid-military-aid-dispute/2016/06/19/

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