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June 25, 2016 / 19 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’

Netanyahu’s Can Do Minister Plans Gaza’s Offshore Island Harbor

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Yisrael Katz (Likud), who currently wears two ministerial hats: Transportation and Road Safety and Intelligence and Atomic Energy, has probably the most productive minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s three consecutive cabinets, being responsible for an unprecedented network of new, modern highways crisscrossing Israel and an ever-improving train service — all of which means that if he has made up his mind to carry out a project, it’s probably going to happen, and sooner than you may think. The project in question is the Gaza harbor island, which Katz has recently begun to promote.

Speaking at the 2016 Herzliya Conference last week, Minister Katz described his plan for an island with a port off the Gaza Strip, connected to the mainland with a three-mile bridge, with no residential buildings, and, most important—no place for Hamas to dig terror tunnels. According to Katz, an artificial island to be built on the high seas would also be a spot which was “not promised by God to anyone,” with no ideological ties to any of the warring parties in the region. This island would be built strictly for humane and financial purposes: permit the monitored, daily flow of traffic in and out of Gaza, provide construction jobs for the people of Gaza, and, eventually, who knows, there’s room for many imaginative ventures once you’ve gotten yourself an island.

“We can practically change the current reality,” Katz promised last week. And on Monday he told reporters: “I do not think it is right to lock up two million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest in making life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza [proper].”

This week, Minister Katz raised the heat under his proposal, announcing that Israel is actively seeking foreign investors to construct a $5 billion artificial island with a seaport, hotels and an airport just off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The island, comprising an area of three square miles (although once you start making islands in the sea, what’s to stop you from making them even bigger), would “ease the blockade it imposed on the Palestinian enclave a decade ago.”

Up until last week’s announcement, there were several alternative harbor proposals being discussed by the Israeli leadership, to help ease the pressure on Gaza’s civilian population without harming Israeli security. One was what seemed like an exotic idea a few months ago, of building an artificial island that would face the Gaza shore, where ships would unload their goods under strict Israeli control. One called for the harbor to be built in El Arish, a sleepy Egyptian town in the north-eastern Sinai, which is under Egyptian rule. There was also an idea to build a Gaza harbor in Cyprus. And, of course, there was the more intuitive idea of building the Gaza harbor in Gaza, but conditioning its operation on long-term ceasefire deals. Naturally, as soon as Hamas starts shooting rockets at Israel, Israel could wipe out their nice harbor.

Katz insists his man-made island proposal is under review by Netanyahu’s security cabinet, and showing “a lot of potential.” The experts are drafting plans on ways to maintaining security on the offshore island and inside the off-shore harbor. One tactic being proposed is closing down the bridge when hostilities flare up on the mainland. But with Hamas investing in training its Navy SEAL commandos, closing down the bridge may not necessarily secure the island.

Minister Katz wants the island to be built with foreign investments, and he would like to see the Saudis and the Chinese, as well as private Israeli investors picking up the tab for his project. Katz said Israel would allow foreign construction workers into its territorial waters for the project.

According to the Washington Post, citing a high level Israeli official, Prime Minister Netanyahu is “exploring the option but has not yet made a determination.”

The Palestinian Authority folks hate the plan, which they called “dubious.” The PLO fears that the man-made island would bring about “the final severing of Gaza” from the PA.

JNi.Media

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

Experts: Putin Sent Israel the Wrong Missing Tank

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted in a heartfelt ceremony from Russian President Vladimir Putin a Magach-3 Israeli tank that had been captured by the Syrians in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War, and had been on display in a museum in the Moscow area. Netanyahu posted in his Facebook page: “My wife Sara and I have participated today in an emotional ceremony of returning the tank that had fallen in Syrian captivity during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War.” But now, according to Yedioth Aharonoth, one week after Israel received the tank in which the still missing in action Israeli fighters had met their demise, it appears, to the chagrin of the mourning families, that it may not be the same tank.

On June 10, 1982, IDF 90th Armored Division was rushed forward with orders to gain as much ground as possible before a cease-fire would come into effect. Late that night the force fought its way through Syrian infantry in the Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub, in the eastern Beqaa Valley, only four miles from the Syrian border. Apparently, in its rush to gain ground, coupled with intelligence failures, the force was cut off and surrounded by Syrian army units. At dawn, the force broke out and escaped to the south, supported by Israeli artillery. The battle lasted six hours resulting in the force losing eight tanks and 30 men. The force was unable to destroy the disabled Magach-3 tanks they left behind and those were recovered by the Syrians, and were put on display in Russia and in the Tishreen Panorama Military Museum in Damascus. Three IDF soldiers remain missing in action: Zachary Baumel, an Israeli-US citizen, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman. These soldiers were captured and paraded through Damascus on top of their captured tank.

Returned tank lands in Israel / Courtesy

Returned tank lands in Israel / Courtesy

In his Facebook post, Netanyahu noted that the returned tank is “the only testimony to our missing soldiers from that battle… For 34 years we’ve been searching for our fighters and will not cease the search until we inter them in a Jewish cemetery in the State of Israel. For these 34 years the Baumel, Katz and Feldman families have not had a gravesite to visit. Now they’ll have this tank, a remnant from the Sultan Yacoub battle which they can visit and touch and remember their sons in Israel.”

Not really, says tank expert Lt. Col. (Ret) Michael Mas, who told Yedioth the returned tank is not the one inside which the three missing soldiers were fighting. “It’s very sad that the prime minister and the media follow misinformation,” Mas said. “This is not the tank that belonged to the missing. What was returned is a whole tank, and the tanks where the missing fought look different. While this is for sure one of the eight tanks captured by the Syrians in the battle, this tank bears no mark of any injuries. When Netanyahu said that the families who haven’t had a gravesite to visit will now find peace, he committed two errors: one, it’s not their tank; and two, they’re missing, not dead.”

Returned tank in Israel / Courtesy

Returned tank in Israel / Courtesy

Pirchia Heiman, Yehuda Katz’s sister, responded angrily, telling Yedioth: “All the families of the missing are enraged. What do we need all these spins for?” She asked, adding, “Since I’ve heard of the plan to return the tank I waited eagerly, I couldn’t sleep at night. Ten days ago they conducted the ceremony in Russia and there Ndetanyahu said the families would have this tank ‘to be able to touch it and the memory of their sons,” and he already knew it was the wrong tank, but we didn’t. Only the next day did we get the right shield number for the tank, not through the IDF, and I realized this wasn’t Yehuda’s tank.”

At this point it should be noted that PM Netanyahu could have avoided this embarrassment had he read up IDF reports filed 18 years ago, which determined after a thorough examination of the tank on display in Russia that it’s not the tank that belonged to the missing soldiers, and that the soldiers who fought in this tank were able to flee the scene unharmed and are alive and well.

Here’s another embarrassing point Netanyahu could have saved himself had he read the IDF reports: the three missing soldiers fought in two different tanks, one of which was burnt beyond recognition, and neither of which is the returned tank. Like cars, tanks receive identifying numbers, and this tank, 817581, is not the one.

Or, as Lt. Col. (res) Danny Krief put it, “Clearly, the Russians didn’t care which tank they handed over, and that’s what Netanyahu used for his gimmick.”

JNi.Media

Netanyahu: No Cuts in US Support for Missile Defense

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office issued the following statement regarding the dispute between the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Obama Administration over US support for Israel’s anti-missile program:

“In the wake of numerous misleading reports, the Prime Minister’s bureau would like to clarify there has been no cut in American assistance. There is an internal debate between Congress and the White House on the size of the annual supplement to the missile defense program.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is working to anchor this supplement as part of the discussions on the assistance agreement for the next ten years.

“Not only will security assistance for missile defense not be cut, it will be increased.

“The attempt to turn the dialogue with the US into a domestic Israeli political tool is improper; expressions of panic are not warranted,” the PM’s statement concluded.

David Israel

Netanyahu And NATO Representatives Commit To Mutual Cooperation, Fighting Terror Together

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with ambassadors from NATO countries earlier on Tuesday to discuss expanding cooperation between Israel and NATO against the common threat of global terrorism.

“There are so many threats that are facing NATO that are similar to the ones facing Israel,” said Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr whose embassy is currently NATO’s contact point embassy in Israel.

During the press conference, Ambassador Vehr shared a message with Prime Minister Netanyahu on behalf of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who said that Israel and NATO face common threats.

“Today our nations face greater, more complex threats than they have in many years,” Vehr said on behalf of Stoltenberg. “It is right that those countries that share common values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law work together for the good of us all.”

Netanyahu concurred with Ambassador Vehr and Secretary General Stoltenberg and also expressed his belief in mutual cooperation between Israel and NATO.

“Israel has much to contribute to NATO. I believe NATO has much to contribute to Israel,” said the prime minister. “We’ve already begun that process, but I think we can extend and increase our cooperation.”

Although not a member of the NATO alliance, Israel has already played an integral role as a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, a working group between NATO and seven Mediterranean countries focused on maintaining security in the Mediterranean region.

“Israel for many years has been an active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, the only security forum that brings together NATO allies with Israel and Arab countries. Last month, NATO and Israel went further, agreeing to establish an Israeli mission at NATO,” Ambassador Vehr said. “Having a mission will help us to take our political and practical cooperation to a higher level.”

Official authorization for such an office had been delayed by Turkey, a NATO member that has had strained bilateral ties with Israel since 2010. Turkey’s eventual lifting of its rejection to an Israeli mission was viewed by some as a sign on Turkey’s part of reconciliation with Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately welcomed the establishment of the office on May 4, referring to it as a critical step in the advancement of Israel’s security and as a demonstration of NATO’s desire to cooperate with Israel on security matters.

“We’re in the process of opening up the office as soon as possible,” remarked Netanyahu at the press conference. “We attach great importance to that.”

Netanyahu’s meeting today preceded an upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw scheduled for July 8-9, which NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg referred to last week as a “landmark summit” addressing “a changed security environment” around NATO.

Netanyahu assured NATO ambassadors that Israel is prepared to help the military alliance cope with global terrorism.

“In three weeks, you’re going to have an important summit in Warsaw and I believe the combat against global terrorism should be and probably is already a central part of your agenda,” Netanyahu told the NATO ambassadors. “Know that Israel stands ready to advance that agenda and I have no doubt that if we work together, we can roll back this terror.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

FM Kahlon Tussles With Netanyahu Over Casinos in Eilat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon apparently is teaming up with Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a minor political brawl against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The argument is over funding, as usual – this time, a plan to open a casino in Eilat.

In the past Kahlon has sidestepped the issue altogether by saying, “Everyone knows there will not be a casino here.”

The Finance Ministry has taken steps to block gambling activities that target Israelis and others who have low incomes and difficulty walking away from their hopes for easy money.

“Last week we decided to put an end to slot machines and horse races – gambling activities that ruin families. These machines are placed in poor neighborhoods to sell them illusions and hopes while taking money out of their pockets,” Kahlon said, according to the Globes business news site.

“Sadly, this has been going on since 2003 – it has been talked about for years and we decided to take action; soon we’ll remove them, and Mifal HaPayis can scrap them as far as I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head a commission to look into the possibility of developing a gambling spot in the southern resort city.

But Kahlon told journalists at the start of the Kulanu faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday: “The State of Israel does not need casinos. It needs to provide education, values, and jobs – not a casino.”

Hana Levi Julian

Restrictions Preventing MKs From Going Up to the Temple Mount to be Removed

Monday, June 13th, 2016

PM Netanyahu’s restriction preventing Knesset Members from going up to the Temple Mount is set to be rescinded, according to Israel Channel 2.

It is generally believed that Netanyahu put the restriction in place as a punitive measure against former MK Moshe Feiglin, who is a big Temple Mount advocate.

The Arab MKs have been saying they will be going up to the Temple Mount during Ramadan, and perhaps, knowing he couldn’t stop them, it was easier for Netanyahu to simply cancel this edict, rather than show that the Arab MKs walk all over his rules.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/restrictions-to-be-removed-from-mks-and-the-temple-mount/2016/06/13/

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