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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ayelet Shaked’

Raucous Knesset Passes NGO Foreign Funding Transparency Bill

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The Knesset plenum on Monday night passed the NGO Law, a.k.a. the Transparency Law, by a 57 to 48 majority. The new legislation’s official title is “Law on disclosure requirements for recipients of support from a foreign political entity.” It was the brain child of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and it requires NGOs that receive more than 50% of their budget from a foreign source to report this fact to the NGO registrar and to note it in a visible fashion in all their publications as well as their communications with public officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Monday night on his Facebook page that “the purpose of the law is to prevent an absurd situation whereby foreign countries intervene in Israel’s internal affairs through their NGO funding while the Israeli public is unaware of it. Contrary to the arguments on the left, passing the law will increase transparency, contribute to creating a dialog that reflects accurately the views of the Israeli public and will bolster Democracy.”

The vote followed a boisterous, even rowdy six hour debate during which the opposition submitted no less than one thousand reservations, and opposition members expressed resolute objections to the bill. Meretz chair Zehava Galon accused the bill’s authors that their purpose “isn’t enhancing the transparency but [constitutes] political persecution. … the bill’s authors and promoters wish to shut the mouths of organizations that challenge government policy.”

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) warned that the new law “defames our reputation in the world worse than any NGO could have done and destroys us from within.” Other ZC members were also of the opinion that the law is intended to quash opposition to the rightwing majority, at the expense of Israel’s reputation as a world democracy.

For comparison, the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), passed in 1938, requires that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. The purpose is to facilitate “evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons.” In 2007 the Justice Department launched an online database which can be used by the public to search filings and current reports.

The US law requires periodic disclosure of all activities and finances by people and organizations that are under control of a foreign government, of organizations or of persons outside of the United States (“foreign principal”), if they act “at the order, request, or under the direction or control” of this principal (i.e. as “agents”) or of persons who are “controlled or subsidized in major part” by this principal. Organizations under such foreign control can include political agents, public relations counsel, publicity agents, information-service employees, political consultants, fundraisers or those who represent the foreign power before any agency or official of the United States government.

But the US law provides explicit exemptions for organizations engaged in “religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits or of the fine arts,” as well as for those “not serving predominantly a foreign interest.”

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) told the House that “anyone wishing to influence the agenda of the Israeli public must be transparent. It is inconceivable that foreign states would hide behind associations and organizations acting on behalf of interests that are not in line with those of the State of Israel. Now everything is on the table, everything is revealed, and they will undergo the public’s scrutiny.”

Slomiansky proceeded to read from a list of just how much money some leftwing NGO received from abroad—some of whom get 100% of their budget this way—and the opposition benches went on the warpath, drowning his voice with their angry shouting.

JNi.Media

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, Bennett, Shaked to Vote Against Turkish Deal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So far, only two government ministers, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, both from Likud, are on the record as supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay upwards of $21 million as reparations to the families of anti-Zionist Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers with metal rods, rocks and knives when they attempted to take over the ship Mavi Marmara back in 2010. The deal also included a public apology (check) and easing the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which always ends up as a wise move when dealing with Hamas.

The loud objections from both sides of the aisle which the Netanyahu deal has raised on Monday may be the reason that four ministers Netanyahu was counting on to support him are yet to say anything on the subject: Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Katz (Likud). Meanwhile, three ministers have erected a strong front against the deal: Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).

Liberman this week denied reports that he had committed to supporting the deal, as part of his entering the Netanyahu government. In closed sessions he went as far as to say that if he thins the deal is bad, he would vote against it.

Bennett said on Tuesday morning that “the State of Israel must not pay reparations to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. A rapprochement with Turkey is important for this time and for the interests of the State of Israel, but paying reparations to terrorists is a dangerous precedent the State of Israel would regret in the future.”

A Channel 10 News survey released Monday showed that 56% of Israelis object to the deal with Turkey, and 67% believe it should have been conditioned on the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers in Hamas’ possession, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.

David Israel

Justice Committee Approves NGO Foreign Funding Transparency Bill for Final Vote

Monday, June 27th, 2016

After rejecting dozens of objections, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved for its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum a bill which would require non-governmental organizations that get more than half their funding from foreign governments or governmental agencies to make the public servants and elected officials they meet with aware of this fact and also report it in all their written publicity material.

The committee decided to merge three bills: one sponsored by the government and two other proposed by MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) and Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit HaYehudi).

NGOs that will violate the so-called NGO Transparency Law will be fined $7,500. The law, if passed, will not apply retroactively, meaning these organizations will not have to declare such contributions that were received in the past. The law, should it be approved, will go into effect in January 2017 and will only apply to donations received from that date on.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) praised the transparency law, saying it would expose the fact that anti-Israeli NGOs are being funded by foreign governments. She said in a statement, “Countries should know that expressing their opinion about events inside Israel should be done via the familiar diplomatic channels. There is no comparable foreign intervention in a state’s internal affairs anywhere in the world, and there is no democracy that would have approved it. We, too, will not permit such a blunt intervention without exposing its foreign funding sources and bringing it to the public’s attention and to the attention of its elected officials.”

After the bill was approved by a vote of 7-6, Constitution Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the bill was revised to avoid any constitutional harm. Addressing members of the opposition, he said, “You also admit that nothing much is left of [the bill].”

As to the opposition, its members on the committee were not happy. Neither was MK Benny Begin (Likud), who was elected with the strong intervention of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but who might as well be in the opposition. Begin said the legislation may produce results that do not coincide with the legislator’s intention. “We should operate thrrough diplomatic means,” he argued. “This was proven by the negotiations with Holland, Britain and Switzerland.”

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said, “If it were up to MK Smotrich, the law would differentiate between Jewish and Arab donors. The law is devoid of any legal content.”

MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) said the bill “shames and slanders NGOs which criticize the government’s work. Someone recently said that there are buds of fascism in the country. That is what there is in this law – buds of fascism against organizations that promote human rights.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said the bill clearly “persecutes” NGOs, and called to “throw out of the Knesset legislators who introduce such bizarre laws.”

MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint Arab List) said, “There is a person who contributes tens of millions of dollars to an NGO through a company that is listed in Panama. If we are talking about transparency, then an NGO which is hiding its funds should reveal its sources [of funding].”

MK Revital Swid (Zionist Camp) said the bill was introduced solely “for the political gain of parties that want to show their public that they acted and labeled.”

MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Camp) stated that the purpose of the law is to “poke in the eye and say ‘Here, we did it to you on purpose.'” He said NGOs will easily find a way to circumvent the law.

Back in January, Bild, Germany’s largest circulation daily newspaper, supported Shaked’s NGO transparency bill, which had been attacked as anti-democratic by a Washington Post editorial. Bild noted that the criticism of the bill ignores the fact that millions of foreign dollars are given each year to anti-Israeli NGOs which operate inside Israel and support the boycotts against the Jewish State. Can the bill, which merely requires those NGOs to openly reveal their funding sources, really be compared to Putin’s blatantly anti-democratic rule, Bild was wondering.

David Israel

Official: Israeli CEO Salary Cap Law May Result in Hundreds Fleeing Banking Industry

Monday, June 20th, 2016

As many as 80 senior employees at Israel’s two largest banks, Hapoalim and Leumi, are threatening to leave shortly, in response to a new law capping the salaries of senior bank officers, Israel Army Radio reported Monday. The report cites a letter from the Supervisor of Banks in Israel Bank Hedva Bar to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), which warns that as many as 215 senior bank administrators are expected to retire from the two top banks. Bar added that in the rest of Israel’s banks the numbers of departing administrators would be smaller.

So far Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Keinan and the number two administrator at Bank Leumi Danny Tsiddon have already retired, and according to Bar there are 39 high ranking administrators at Hapolalim and 43 at Leumi who are at a very high risk of retiring.

These figures are particularly worrisome to Bar, who wrote that such mass departure could expose the banks to a real crisis — a managerial breakdown as well as a loss of knowledge and experience. The banks are preparing for such a scenario and have set aside the funds in case all these CEOs would be leaving close to one another and the banks would have to lay out their severance pay all at once — about $70 million.

Meanwhile, the banks have lost their first appeal to the Supreme Court against the salary cap law. And the Knesset, the Finance Ministry and Israel Bank have informed the court that they object to an interim ruling on the senior CEO salary cap law. The banks were asking for the time out to try to figure out whether the salary cap would include the severance and pension benefits the senior bank administrators have accumulated — would those funds also be limited to $650 thousand a year like the capped salaries? The banks fear that if the caps apply retroactively and include severance pay and pensions, a much larger number of bank officials would be seeking to leave before the law goes into effect in October.

The Knesset and the State argued in court that the banks are actually requesting the suspension of a law that otherwise passes constitutional muster in the eyes of the high court — something the court has applied on very rare occasions in the past.

The Knesset and the State also told the court that, assuming the appeal hearings would take roughly three weeks, this should be ample time for the banks to figure out the intricacies of the law and whether or not it applies retroactively.

JNi.Media

Bennett: ‘You Can’t Be in Favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while Establishing the State of Palestine in English.’

Monday, June 6th, 2016

On Sunday night, during the celebrations of Jerusalem Liberation Day at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, the academic crown jewel of the rightwing Greater Israel movement, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett flatly accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of lying about his true intentions regarding a Palestinian State. “You can’t be in favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while establishing the State of Palestine in English,” he said, obviously pointing to the PM, who was present at the same ceremony, and accusing him of telling his voters (in Hebrew) during the last campaign that he was opposed to dividing the land, while scheming with foreign dignitaries and a number of Israeli politicians to bring on some form of the two-state solution.

The relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) is about as bad as can be, feeding on 20 years of bad blood, resentments, betrayals and condescension. Ten years ago, after fighting in the 2006 Lebanon War, Bennett served as chief of staff for Netanyahu, who was then the opposition leader. He helped Netanyahu dig his way up from a deep electoral hole, but couldn’t get along with Mrs. Netanyahu (few could). Eventually, in 2008, Bennett and his political partner, Ayelet Shaked, set out to carve their own path among Israel’s rightwing voters.

When they returned victorious in 2013, with 12 seats, as leaders of a National Religious Party that everyone had been certain was going to leave the political stage — they were considered Netanyahu’s natural coalition partners — but Sara Netanyahu put down her foot. Instead of a negotiation between friends, Bennett et al were put through the wringer. It took the intervention of a third party leader, MK Yair Lapid, who forged an ad hoc, mutual-benefit alliance with Bennett, to finally open the door. Then, after the 2015 elections, when Bennett generously endorsed Netanyahu’s message that it made no difference if the settler community voted for Likud or for his own party, because he had been promised they’d all be part of the same winning coalition in the end — Bennett ended up as the last man the PM had turned to for a government post. Promises of the Defense Ministry were reneged on, and Bennett, a party chairman, ended up with a second-tier portfolio. Mind you, Bennett believes a full five of Likud’s 30 Knesset seats should have gone to him. That’s ten years’ worth of resentment.

And now, as Netanyahu continues his pursuit of a broader coalition with MK Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp (Labor), voices in Labor are starting to say that they’d consider the offer only if the PM is sincere in his desire for a two-state solution, and the profound way in which he could signal that commitment would be by sacrificing the only dedicated enemy of the very idea of a Palestinian State, Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi. If Netanyahu were to go ahead and fire, or demote Bennett and the other two Habayit Hayehudi ministers, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel, it would mean that five seats worth of voters who believed Netanyahu was just as anti-two-state as Bennett, actually cast their vote to get themselves and their families evicted from their homes and lands. There’s plenty to resent there.

“There are some, in Israel and the world, who join various Arab initiatives according to which we would divide the land, divide–God forbid–Jerusalem, and return to the 1967 lines,” Bennett said, “because the world is pressuring, and we must appease them. I tell these individuals tonight: never.”

As to the dual-language policy, Bennett told Netanyahu: “It’s time to say in a clear voice: the Land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel. In Hebrew, English, Russian and French, in summer, in winter, during elections and when there are no elections. Why? Because the world is listening to us. To every word we say. The world recognizes weakness, just as it recognizes strength. The world sniffs whenever we are not certain of our right to the land, and attacks us with the fury of boycotts.”

It was a painful, raging attack, that marked the worst day in the complex relationship of these two politicians. But it would be a mistake to suggest that Bennett was acting emotionally. In fact, this had to be a well planned assault, ahead of a foreseeable dismissal of Habayit Hayehudi from the coalition. Even before Sunday’s de facto declaration of war, Bennett’s party was up at least three seats in the polls, while Likud was down by those same three seats — that was the Judea and Samaria vote. And should Netanyahu actually pursue peace negotiations at this juncture, those three seats could grow to become five, putting in risk Likud’s numeric supremacy in the next Knesset.

It was such an aggressive attack on Bennett’s part, that the pushback had to come from Likud’s own rightwing, pro-settlements wing: an anonymous Likud senior official was cited by the press, but everyone knew it was Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, who accused Bennett of hypocrisy—since he had lived comfortably in the previous coalition government with Minister Tzipi LIvni, while the latter was in charge of the two-state negotiations. Elkin, speaking as senior anonymous Likud man, also said it was Bennett who was threatening the stability of the most rightwing government in Israel’s history.

In the end, the cooling down of the internal fighting came from the new defense minister, Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), also a former Netanyahu lieutenant in Likud who broke up with the boss and has maintained a terrible personal relationship with him, complete with bad blood and burgeoning resentments. Liberman said Monday morning: “I call on Naftali Bennett to calm down. Right now we need fewer declarations and more coordinated, quiet work.”

“If he can’t hold back, I suggest he undergo surgery to remove his short fuse,” Liberman said about Bennett, in a bearish kind of humor.

Incidentally, you may recall that Liberman has endured his share of ridicule upon taking on his important new position, because in an interview Liberman had given only last April, he promised that should he become defense minister, he would demand that Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniya return the bodies of Israeli soldiers in his possessions or face death. There’s even a website counting the days since Liberman’s appointment and noting that the Hamas leader is still alive.

“I suggest to anyone who is asking me regarding taking care of Haniya to wait until the end of my term, and not [harass me] in my first week in office,” the new defense minsiter said.

Except that in that interview Liberman actually said Haniya should be counting his days on this earth from Liberman’s first day in office. So the inquiries are certainly legitimate.

JNi.Media

Shaked Drops Bomb: Habayit Hayehudi Ready for New Elections

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who is also a member of the Netanyahu security cabinet, on Sunday morning delivered a punch to complement her party’s chairman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s confrontational stance regarding the need to revamp the communications between the security ministers and the IDF. Shaked told Army radio that Habayit Hayehudi is prepared to vote against the appointment of MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) as defense minister, thus blocking the entrance of his faction to the coalition, as long as Netanyahu refuses to appoint a military attaché to every security cabinet minister.

Shaked said this demand is not new, but has in fact been posed to Netanyahu by Bennett several times this year, and received no response from the PM. “Sooner or later, as cabinet members, we are given the responsibility in times of war, which is why we need to receive all the relevant information and be able to see the entire picture.”

Shaked revealed that Bennett had raised the issue at the coalition negotiations a year ago, and Netanyahu said this was not a matter for the coalition agreement, promising he would take it up with Bennett later. But, as is often the case with Netanyahu’s promises, later never came.

“This is not a party issue or a portfolio issue,” Shaked insisted, making clear that “we will vote against Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu entering should this issue not be resolved.” She explained that the issue is not very complicated: decision makers in war-time should be updated on the facts on the ground in order to make good decisions. “We just want to make sure the issue has been resolved,” she reiterated.

Naftali Bennett on Sunday morning has issued his most combative press release to date, stating, “I left hi-tech and entered politics after seeing, as a commander during the second Lebanon war (2006), what happens when the state leaders send soldiers into battle without knowing what they’re doing.”

I didn’t need a job or the money,” Bennett noted, “I swore to myself that I would not allow what I had seen to happen again. Our demand is as simple as it is dramatic: we want that the commander of the chief of staff and of the IDF, meaning the security cabinet, the body that makes life and death decisions, will stop being blind.”

Bennett insisted that “Right now it is blind by choice.”

Citing his fight with the IDF chief of staff and the defense minister during the 2014 Gaza War over the threat of Hamas terror tunnels that led into Israeli territory, Bennett accused the security apparatus and the prime minister of intentionally keeping the security cabinet in the dark, and, in fact, discouraging IDF commanders from sharing relevant information that might contradict the official military line. He blamed the fact that the war began too late and without consideration of the tunnels’ threat for the fact that the war lasted way too long — 51 days — and cost so many lives (63 IDF soldiers).

“I am not able to give in any longer,” Bennett declared.

Shaked rejected the announcement by Netanyahu’s office that yet another committee would be appointed to examine the Habayit Hayehudi demands. “There have been many committees,” she noted, pointing out that their recommendations have never been applied.

Finally, a coalition member party who votes against the PM’s legislation, in this case the expansion of his coalition, is subject to a swift dismissal of its ministers from the cabinet. When asked, Shaked said she was not worried. “We don’t believe this should lead to new elections,” she told Army Radio, “but if it does, we’re ready to run.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/shaked-drops-bomb-habayit-hayehudi-ready-for-new-elections/2016/05/29/

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