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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’

Woman of the Year 5776: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

The January 22, 2013 general elections in Israel marked the emergence of two new parties; one, journalist Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, was yet another attempt to grab the undecided center among Israel’s voters; the other, Habayit Hayehudi, was a coalition of National Religious parties led by hi-tech executive Naftali Bennett and his long-time political ally, a 30-something computer engineer from Tel Aviv named Ayelet Shaked, who stood out as the only secular Jew in an otherwise Orthodox Jewish party. Both parties did well, although Lapid’s party took seven more seats than Bennett’s (19 vs. 12). Both parties also represent new challenges to the current power status quo in Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud leading a right-leaning coalition government over an opposition being led by Labor (a.k.a. Zionist Camp).

At this point in the life of the 20th Knesset, the polls are showing Yesh Atid as the new largest party, siphoning off votes from Likud’s centrist voters and Labor’s more nationalistic supporters, as well as from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party which barely passes the threshold percentage in the polls. At the same time, Likud is also being bitten on its right flank, by Habayit Hayehudi. And, also for the first time, the National Religious leader Naftali Bennett has been speaking openly about his ambition to be Israel’s next prime minister, at the helm of a rightwing, pro-religious, pro-settlements government.

That ambition is a new thing to a party that, since its incarnation as NRP in 1956, has always seen itself as a second banana, always in government, be it with leftwing or rightwing majority parties, but never at the helm. And while Chairman Bennett has been outspoken about his ambition to carve out a new direction for the country in the image of his party’s ideology, another Habayit Hayehudi leader has been giving the nation an idea of how a national religious government would carry out its agenda — Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Since the end of the 1990s, it has become clear that Israeli Jews are only going to become more traditional, even religious, and, consequently, the chance for a left-leaning party to receive the largest percentage of the vote will continue to grow dimmer. But while political positions have been given by the voter to rightwing governments, key decisions on issues that are close to the heart of the same rightwing voters have continued to lean to the left. This has been most notable in the liberated territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, where evictions of Jewish settlers have been carried out over the past decade and a half by rightwing-led governments, and those same governments have been refusing to implement Israeli civil law in Jewish communities hat have been living under martial law since the 1970s.

This is because the judiciary in Israel has been ruling as a shadow government, unelected and with a leftwing, secular agenda. In addition, Israel has had the most activist supreme court anywhere in the West, a court that has seized for itself powers well outside the norm in countries that uphold the principle of three branches of government. In countless cases, the high court has acted as a legislator, siding with the opposition against a ruling government (the recent vote on exploiting Israel’s natural gas come to mind, when the court torpedoed a government signed contract with US and domestic companies). The judiciary has also had its hand on the executive branch through the Attorney General and the legal counsels who are appointed to every ministry, and who often force the hands of elected officials using the threat of legal action against them.

The appointment of Ayelet Shaked to be the Minster in charge of this judiciary stronghold of the real power in Israeli society was received with a great deal of alarm and trepidation in the leftwing media, which called her “Israel’s Sarah Palin,” and accused her of inciting the mobs against the Supreme Court justices, “as if she were the worst [Internet] talkbacker and not the minister in charge of the holiest holy of every democracy — its separate and independent judiciary.” (Uri Misgav, Haaretz, Aug. 11, 2015).

The attack came in response to the new Justice Minister’s tweet on the same evening the Supreme Court was convening to rule on a law designed to block infiltration of illegal migrants from Africa through Israel’s southern border. Shaked tweeted that the law had already been quashed twice by the court, causing the infiltration, which had been reduced to single digits, to grow to dozens of new border crossings.

“If the law is revoked a third time,” Shaked tweeted, “it would be tantamount to declaring south Tel Aviv an official haven for infiltrators.” She then added that, until the court’s ruling, she would upload every two hours a new video describing the “intolerable life conditions of south Tel Aviv residents,” urging her followers to spread the message.

The court took notice and restricted itself to a few minor corrections, mostly regarding the length of time an illegal migrant could be held in a locked facility until his case is resolved by the Interior Ministry. The court continued to take notice throughout Shaked’s first year in office, and has been noticeably mindful of the need to avoid unnecessary friction with a Justice Minister who is probably the most popular minister in Israel. How popular? In 2013 she was picked by the Knesset Channel as the summer session’s most outstanding MK, and in 2014 as the second most outstanding MK of the winter session. In 2015 the Jerusalem Post ranked her 33rd on its list of the most influential Jews in the world. In 2015 she was ranked by Forbes Israel as the fifth most influential woman in Israel. And in 2016 Lady Globes ranked her second on its list of 50 most influential women.

Most importantly, Minster Shaked has afforded Israelis a view of a nationalist, rightwing politician who can be trusted to run the country’s third most complex system, after Finance and Defense. As Justice Minister, Shaked also chairs the ministerial legislative committee which decides which bills receive the backing of the government. Her role is comparable to that of the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House, in terms of influencing the legislative process. And the fact that she has been a competent, creative and resourceful Justice Minister might suggest to people in the secular center and right of center that her and Bennett’s party is worthy of their vote.

Shaked and Bennett are in troubled waters currently, over the fate of Amona, a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria that the Supreme Court has slated for demolition by early December, 2016, over claims to ownership of the land by Arab PA residents. The fact is that no one on the right in Netanyahu’s government believes that Amona could be saved, which Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated openly. Shaked wants to see the residents being relocated to a nearby plot of land, that could turn out to be just as problematic. But both Bennett and Shaked are also interested in advancing new legislation that would compel future claimants to settle for fair market value or comparable land from the Israeli government. At stake are an estimated 4,000 homes, the bulk of which were built as part of a government sponsored settlement program. The Supreme Court has rejected these “arrangement law” initiatives, and the current AG, Avihai Mandelblit, also objects to them, even though he himself is on the record as supporting them in the past.

For now, Shaked and Bennett are under attack by their voters, who cannot believe that a government that is as rightwing as this one would still engage in the forceful removal of Jews from their homes. And the last thing Shaked and Bennet want is to be forced to resign from Netanyahu’s government over this dispute.

Shaked, like Bennett, is a vehement enemy of the two-state solution. But she is also a liberal when it comes to many legislative initiatives. She has fought court activism; she objected to imposing jail sentences on Yeshiva students who refuse to enlist; and she supports a free and open market and reducing state regulations of businesses. She also believes in cutting down on new laws.

Noting that her government legislative committee has processed over the past year and a half no less than 1,500 new legislative proposals, Shaked wrote an op-ed in the right-leaning website Mida, saying that “every time the Knesset puts its faith in a new law intended to serve a worthy cause and solve a social or economic problem, we are, in effect, raising our hands to support a vote of no confidence. … It’s a vote of no confidence in our ability as individuals and as communities to manage ourselves in a good enough manner; it’s a vote of no confidence in the wisdom of the nation and of each person to create and preserve mechanisms that are better than those which are designed artificially by experts; it’s a vote of no confidence in the ability of familial, social and economic communities to run their own lives and strive successfully to reach their goals.”

Spoken like a true, sane Libertarian. And a Libertarian who knows how to combine the principles of freedom with the ideals of nation and Torah — could make one fine prime minister some day. Which is why we believe 5776 was the year of Ayelet Shaked.


Israel’s Leviathan Consortium and Jordan Sign $10b, 15-Year Gas Deal

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Members of the Leviathan consortium, which includes Israel’s Delek group and the U.S.-based Noble Energy firm, signed a $10 billion contract on Monday to supply the Jordan Electric Power Company with natural gas for 15 years, beginning in 2019.

With the new agreement Israel will have become Jordan’s largest supplier of natural gas, providing the Hashemite Kingdom with approximately 45 billion cubic meters of the energy resource.

Israel’s Likud Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called the deal “an extremely important national achievement,” according to Channel 10 television news. “This is an important milestone in strengthening the ties and strategic partnerships between Israel and Jordan and the entire region,” he emphasized.

Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling, was quoted by the Hebrew-language NRG news site as saying the deal “establishes the Leviathan oil field as a serious player on the energy map… It will contribute to the prosperity of [both] Israel and Jordan.”

Hana Levi Julian

Everyone Wants a Photo Op With the Jewish Prime Minister

Monday, September 26th, 2016

What a change there is in the world when the candidates for President of the United States vie for some face time with the Prime Minister of the Jewish State of Israel.

Trump and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Trump and Netanyahu

Photo of the Day

Trump Promising Netanyahu Jerusalem Embassy, Wants Advice on Building Fences

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Trump campaign press release following the meeting Sunday between Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP presidential candidate stated that Trump told Netanyahu “a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” The statement also said Trump “agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America,” and “there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries,” should Trump be elected.

Trump emphasized that Israel is a “vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism.” According to the statement, the nuclear deal with Iran and ways to defeat ISIS were also discussed, as well as “Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders.”

A short while before Sunday’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate and indefatigable tweeter tweeted: “Looking forward to my meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Trump Tower at 10:00 AM.” The meeting lasted an hour and twenty minutes behind closed doors, and the two did not speak to the press before or after.

The Prime Minister’s office released a laconic statement saying, “Netanyahu presented to Trump Israel’s positions on regional issues related to its security and discussed with him Israel’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region.” The PM’s office also said that Netanyahu thanked Trump for his friendship and support for Israel. The meeting included Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law, Jewish businessman, investor and political operative Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet next with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who has already committed to inviting the Israeli PM to her White House as soon as she’s sworn in. Clinton is on the record as supporting the nuclear deal with Iran, but repeats her commitment to Israel’s security. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Clinton said “Trump should worry every Israeli, regardless of his positions on Israel.”

The two meetings were arranged when a senior Netanyahu official told reporters after his meeting with President Obama that he hadn’t been approached by either candidate for a meeting while he’s in the US, but should they invite him he’d be delighted to accept. A day later the invite came from the Trump campaign, followed by one from Hillary.

Monday night the world will follow with bated breath the first presidential debate between the two candidates. Many Israelis have reported setting their alarm clocks (or apps) to wake them up at 4 AM Tuesday, to watch the Monday at 9 PM match.

David Israel

Kerry’s Last Ditch Effort to Get Netanyahu to Commit Political Suicide

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

According to a report in Haaretz Sunday, we have no idea what was said in the Friday meeting in New York between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry. This is important to note, because both versions of the report, Hebrew and English, have zero information regarding the “hastily organized” meeting, and yet the headline and the story are presented as if Kerry had said really mean things to Netanyahu’s face. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, no one knows.

Kerry is in the midst of his final attempt to shape the Israel-PA conflict resolution in his image, and he has been going at it with everything he has including the kitchen sink. Haaretz, which cites Kerry’s leaked comments in a Monday, Sept. 19 meeting of the PA donor states, is implying that the Secretary of State, who was “extremely agitated” at last Monday’s meeting, on Friday told Netanyahu that Israel is bound to end up as a binational state, unless it capitulates to the PA’s demands. Could be.

The Kerry-Netanyahu meeting took place following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the “Middle East Quartet” — the US, Russia, the UN, the EU, as well as the foreign ministers of France and Egypt. They all hated the idea of Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and said so in a statement that attacked those pesky Jewish communities who “are steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution. The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

As usual, no one considered the possibility of those Jewish communities remaining as part of a new Palestinian State. Just as Netanyahu had noted in his much vilified video a week or so ago, that new Palestinian State must be cleansed of its Jews.

The Ha’aretz report relied heavily on leaked portions from Kerry’s agitated speech before the PA’s donor countries, where he cited the ailing former president Shimon Peres who had warned that continued Jewish life in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, in Kerry’s words, “will bring one war, not one state. Make no mistake about it, I believe that is the risk if we continue on the current course.”

It’s almost bizarre to hear Secretary of State Kerry, whose country is mired in an endless war across the entire Middle East, threatening the one country in the region who wins its wars. Save for the Iranian nuclear threat, securing which Kerry was responsible for more than anyone else, Israel has no real enemies in the region, and those who are crazy enough to do war with the Jewish State would not lay down their arms and rockets because it signed a deal with Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry asked the assembled foreign ministers last Monday: “How does increasing the number of settlers indicate an attempt to create a Palestinian state? The status quo is not sustainable. So either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.”

In his famous recent video, Netanyahu asked (in mock innocence) how can the fact that a few thousand Jews build homes and work the land impede a Palestinian State. It can only do so if the envisioned state must be free from Jews (try Google translating it into German). Israel has a sizeable Muslim minority, close to 20%, why can’t the PA have a sizeable Jewish minority? The argument didn’t catch on, especially not by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called the Netanyahu idea “absurd.”

Kerry was livid at Israel for not keeping its promises to him 100 percent, and said bitterly, “I was told the Allenby Bridge [between the West Bank and Jordan] would open 24/7. It never did. I was told that the 3G [PA cellular service] agreement signed nearly a year ago would take place within months. It still is not fully implemented.” He also stated that in order to hurry the process towards the two-state solution, “we need to fundamentally change the dynamic by resuming the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority in Area C, which was called for in prior agreements.”

Here’s what happened in Area C: under the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, Israel was going to withdraw from 13% From Area C (full Israeli control), turning it into Area B (PA administration, IDF security). Israel withdrew from 2%, and then, a suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya during the 2002 Passover seder killed 30 civilians and injured 140. So Israel took back those 2% and launched a campaign to destroy the terror infrastructure across Judea and Samaria.

In the end, the Secretary of State along with the rest of the civilized world want Israel to go back to a situation where those mass bombings are once again possible. Which is what the two-state solution was all about in the first place, from the PLO’s point of view.


PM Netanyahu Hopes Obama Continues UN Vetoes Till End of Presidency

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 2 television news in an interview aired Saturday night that he hopes U.S. President Barack Obama continues to use America’s veto power in the UN Security Council to back Israel until the end of his tenure next January. Netanyahu told the interviewer that he hopes the White House will continue to stand by Israel and that Obama won’t help the Palestinian Authority unilaterally establish a new Arab state.

In response to a question about whether Obama had given Netanyahu his promise not to help establish such a state without Israel’s cooperation, the prime minister replied, “If you’re asking me whether he spoke with me about this, the answer is, ‘no.’ …

“President Obama has previously vetoed anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, though, and [he] said in his speech [this past week at the UN] that peace will not be achieved through statements. We can only hope that this will continue to remain the consistent approach of the Americans until the end of his presidency,” Netanyahu said.

Hana Levi Julian

Hudson Institute Awards 2016 Herman Kahn Prize to Israeli PM Netanyahu

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

The Hudson Institute has awarded its 2016 Herman Kahn Prize to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “in appreciation for his leadership and achievements in leading the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu and his wife Sara attended the institute’s gala event Thursday night in New York City.

The prime minister discussed his policies vis-à-vis socio-economic and foreign policy issues in his acceptance speech, and said there was no alternative to Israel’s great alliance with the United States, which is based on shared values.

At the same time, Netanyahu said Israel is working to strengthen its standing in the international arena, so the automatic majority against Israel in the United Nations will disappear.

He noted the strength of Israel is based in its abiding faith and said that its position is strengthening thanks to its strength and its knowledge. Netanyahu also said that in the Middle East, “One makes peace with the strong,” adding that Israel is strengthening daily.

The prime minister predicted that in the end, modernity will defeat radical Islam.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hudson-institute-awards-2016-herman-kahn-prize-to-israeli-pm-netanyahu/2016/09/24/

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