web analytics
September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’

Analysis: Obama $38 Billion MOU Designed to Shackle Congress, Fight Not Over

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement regarding the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US, saying: “In a short while, in Washington DC, a historic agreement will be signed between the United States and Israel. This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.”

A few lines down, Netanyahu wrote: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” and, “I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support, which crosses party lines and embraces the length and breadth of the United States.”

There, in the cross-section between the President and Congress, is where the drama over the US aid package to Israel will be taking place in the coming months. It also explains why the PM has embraced a deal that is, clearly, a step back in terms of Israel’s ambitions for US military aid.

According to Ha’aretz, citing senior defense ministry officials, as recently as last July US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and then Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon have reached an agreement in principle on a $45 billion aid package over ten years. Why is Israel now willing to settle for $7 billion less? Ha’aretz, typically, blames the cut on Netanyahu’s refusal to toe the line on the Iran nuclear deal, and his insolent battle against the President in Congress over it. But that doesn’t explain why Sec. Carter was offering the larger amount months after Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech in Congress.

Like all deals, the $38 billion MOU must still be confirmed in the Senate, first by the Appropriations Committee and then by the full Senate. One key member of the committee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who earlier this week told the Washington Post: “The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion. I said, ‘Tell the administration to go [expletive] themselves.’”

The 10-year aid package reaching its conclusion in 2017 was set at “only” $31 billion, but, in addition, Congress has been awarding Israel additional funds: $729 million in 2014 to help with the acquisition gaps caused by the Gaza War, as well as to help the development of the Iron Dome system. In 2015 Congress gave Israel $620 million in addition to the aid package, and this year the estimates are around $600 million. So that the aid Israel currently receives from the US is pretty close to the MOU’s $38 Billion. Israel will only benefit from an additional $100 million annually. For a country boasting a $300 billion annual GDP, this is the definition of chump change.

Why, then, did Netanyahu agree to an MOU that compels Israel to pay back whatever amount Congress adds in military aid, which would include an attempt by, say, Senator Lindsey Graham, to tack on an extra $7 billion to the proposed package?

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

The MOU awards the Israeli missile defense development effort $500 million per year, more than the $487 million Congress gave it in 2016, but less than the Senate appropriations bill for 2017, which gives Israel $600 million. By the way, Obama asked for only $145.8 million in the budget. So, should the MOU go through the Senate, Israel would lose $600 million right off the bat. And Israel signed a letter, as part of the MOU, that any amount tacked on to the aid package in later years, Israel would be obligated to give back.

A White House official said this is better for Israel, since “the fact that under our offer Israel can count on the administration’s commitment to provide a substantial level of missiledefense assistance for a 10-year period is substantively different from the missile- defense support it has received in previous years.” There’s some truth to it — rather than go lobbying every year for that money, Israel is guaranteed a moderately lower sum, it’s already in the bank.

“You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham is irate because the MOU was a White House attempt to neutralize the Republican Congress’s ability to forge an independent relationship with the Jewish State. They can continue to invite Bibi to talk to them against the next president, if they so wish, but they can’t give him a penny. Vindictive? Probably. But also understandable. This President spent much of his two terms in office fighting Congress over foreign policy. He’d like to leave his successor a cleaner slate, at least when it comes to dealing with Israel.

The MOU is also better for the Pentagon, which, together with the White House, can keep all the money going to Israel inside one, manageable package. Should the need arise for additional funds, Israel would have to go to the President, not Congress, and when Israel asks for something, Israel also has to give something. Also, in six years, according to the MOU, Israel will lose the right to spend any of the aid package on its own military industrial complex — all the money must stay in the US. Of course, by then Israeli manufacturers would follow Elbit and Rafael and forge partnerships with US corporations, but the jobs in Israel would be lost.

“I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers,” Senator Graham wrote on his website. “Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.” He added, “Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform. I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”

So, it’s obvious why the MOU represents a good deal for the Administration. But why was Netanyahu “duped” into signing the MOU? There are two possible explanations, and they both have to do with the coming lame duck session of Congress. Since last summer, there have been persistent rumors in Jerusalem and Washington that, once the November 8 election is over, the Obama Administration would spend its last breath on squeezing a 2-state deal out of Israel. To do that, the rumors went, Obama would join the majority in the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that push Israel against the wall. It would be ugly, it would be painful, there would be no support for the move from either the Democrats nor the Republicans, but it won’t matter. It would be a move that can’t be stopped by Congress, and Israel would, at last, bow to the pressure.

Did Netanyahu sign the MOU in return for an Obama promise to leave him alone between Nov. 9 and January 17? Perhaps. Of course, the above nightmare scenario is not something we would expect from any US president, except for the fact that President Obama has been so capricious and unpredictable about his bizarre “Arab Spring” campaign, that if anyone would dream up something like that it would be him.

The other point has to do with the conversation Netanyahu had with Senator Graham earlier this week, in which, we understand, Graham did most of the talking, and only part of it was taken up by expletives. The Senator from South Carolina, with Bibi’s blessing, can bury the MOU. He has at his disposal several parliamentary means of delaying it until after the start of the new year. It won’t be simple, and there are members on the Democratic side of the Appropriations Committee who are decidedly not friendly to Israel (Senator Patrick Leahy, Dem – Vt comes to mind) who would attack Graham viciously. But if Graham can drag this deal long enough, he could get it tossed and rewritten by the next Administration.

JNi.Media

PM Netanyahu: ‘Certain Relief Today’ After Visit to Hospital Bedside of Former Pres. Shimon Peres

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the bedside of former President Shimon Peres late Wednesday night, and spoke with his family and the medical staff at Sheba Medical Center.

“I think that I speak for the entire Israeli people, as well as for many people outside Israel, who feel a certain relief this evening,” he said in a statement after the visit.

“The Sheba Medical Center has an exceptional staff of doctors, caregivers and nurses, an exceptional staff for an exceptional man,” he said.

“My prayer has, at least, strengthened today having seen the dedicated care as well as signs of hope. We will all continue to hope and prayer,” the prime minister said.

Peres was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage. He was taken to the Neurosurgical ICU, sedated and placed on a respirator. An initial CT scan clearly showed the bleeding from the stroke, and a second CT scan an hour later showed little improvement.

Nevertheless, by Wednesday morning, there was some noticeable improvement, with Peres responding to verbal conversation by squeezing the doctors’ hands and showing signs of responsiveness during times of reduced sedation.

Doctors expressed guarded optimism but have warned the 93-year-old elder statesman has a long way to go, and that it is far too early to offer a prognosis.

Hana Levi Julian

Prosecution Objects to Arab Petition to Demolish Homes of ‘Jewish Terrorists’

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The state prosecution on Wednesday announced its intent to object to a petition to the High Court submitted by the father of the Arab boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir who was murdered by three Jews in 2014. The petition requests that the state demolish the homes of the families of Abu Khdeir’s killers, the way it does in cases where Arab terrorists murder Jews.

The prosecution argued that it would be a mistake to treat Jewish and Arab terrorism equally. “Of course, every act of terrorism is unacceptable,” the prosecution wrote in its statement, “but we cannot ignore the gap in the scope of terrorism carried out by Palestinians and eastern Jerusalem Arabs compared with terror which is carried out by Jews.”

The kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir took place in the early morning of July 2, 2014, one day after the burial of three Israeli teens who had been kidnapped and murdered by Hamas agents. Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Arab, was forced into a car by three young Jews on a street in eastern Jerusalem. Police located his charred body a few hours later at Givat Shaul in the Jerusalem Forest. The autopsy results suggested he had been beaten and set on fire while still alive.

The murder was condemned by the families of the three murdered Israeli teens, who sent Abu Khdeir’s family their condolences. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas blamed the murder on Israel and demanded that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu condemn it “as we condemned the kidnapping of the three Israelis.” However, when Israel included Abu Khdeir in the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial at Mount Herzl, his family insisted that his name be removed at once.

In February 4, 2016, two minors who participated in the Abu Khdeir murder were sentenced, one receiving life imprisonment, the other 21 years. The court ruled that their leader was Yosef Haim Ben-David, who was sent for psychiatric evaluation. On February 22, 2016, a court appointed psychiatrist testified that Ben-David was fit to stand trial, and on April 19, 2016 he was found guilty of murder. While awaiting sentencing, Ben David tried to commit suicide in his cell. On May 3, 2016, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.

David Israel

PM Netanyahu Extends Eid al-Adha Greetings to Muslim, Druze Faithful

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended holiday greetings on Sunday to Israel’s Muslim and Druze citizens, in advance of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha.

“On the occasion of the Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, I am happy to extend holiday greetings to our Muslim and Druze citizens — Kol a’am wa antom bekhair,” he said. “On the holiday we cherish values that the Jewish faith also sanctifies: Fear of Heaven, family and helping one’s fellow.

“This is an additional example of the many things that unite us in our lives together in the State of Israel.”

The festival marks the willingness of Ishmael, the firstborn son of the Biblical patriarch Abraham – known to Muslims as Ibrahim – to be sacrificed to Allah, who appeared to his father in a dream and commanded him to sacrifice his son.

To this very day, Muslims set aside the finest lamb in the flock from birth, raising it to adulthood for the purpose of sacrifice for the feast of Eid al-Adha. Those who have no flock are enjoined to purchase a sheep or if money is scarce, then at least, a fine kid or goat for the ceremonial slaughter.

Up to one million sheep and goats have been held in three quarantine stations outside the ancient Red Sea port town of Berbera, in Somaliland, having been shipped from markets around the Horn of Africa over the past several weeks across the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia.

They are all destined for ceremonial slaughter during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, and the Eid al-Adha celebrations to be held there on September 12.

The holiday marks an event referred to by the Jewish faith as the “Akeida” but which is precisely the mirror opposite in its details: Jews are taught that the younger son, Isaac, went with his father that day, and it was his life that was later spared when God’s Messenger Angel stayed Abraham’s hand as he raised it with the knife.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Marks 15 Years After 9/11, Welcomes Facebook Delegation to Israel [video]

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack on America, with a special opening statement at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“Our memories are long,” the prime minister said, “our determination is boundless.

“Civilized societies must band together to defeat these forces of darkness, and I’m sure we will,” he said.

Netanyahu also said the fight against terrorism is being waged on the social media networks, and noted that a senior delegation from Facebook is currently in Israel.

“The goal here is to improve cooperation against incitement… to terror and murder on the social network,” he said.

“The internet has brought considerable blessing to humanity, but folded within it – to our regret – is also a curse, because terrorists and inciters are using the internet to attack mankind,” he pointed out.

There have been mixed results from past efforts to stymie publicity gambits by terrorist groups, anti-Semitic and BDS hate groups on the Facebook social media site, along with successful ploys by those entities to kick off pro-Israel advocates and support groups.

Netanyahu said Israel would fight these phenomena. “Therefore I welcome the cooperation, or at least the desire for cooperation, that Facebook is showing, and we hope that these will lead to better results,” he said.

Hana Levi Julian

State Dept. Not Huge Fans of Netanyahu Video on Peace and ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ [video]

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

One of the disturbing points few in the media discussed back in 2005, when the Israeli government was strong-arming its 8,000 or so citizens off their lands in the Gaza Strip, was the fact that no one was entertaining the possibility of letting the Jews of Gaza become citizens of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, one of the things government agents took care of early on in the process was to disarm the residents of Jewish Gush Katif, so that they, too, wouldn’t dream of staying and defending themselves on their own.

Now one of the Israeli politicians who voted 4 out of 5 times for the program to exile the Jews of Gaza, including the dead and buried, then Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), has begun to ask that very question, this time regarding the Jews of Judea and Samaria: how come no one is talking about transferring the Jewish communities, along with their people, over to Palestinian Authority rule, as a legitimate Jewish minority with equal rights? Why is everyone insisting the area must remain free from Jews?

In a video he posted this weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking why everyone around the world is convinced Jewish settlements are such a threat to peace. Because while no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel are an obstacle to peace, having close to half a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria makes peace impossible.

“It’s called ethnic cleansing,” Netanyahu says on the video, noting that while Israel’s diversity “shows its openness and readiness for peace, the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.”

On Friday, State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau used her daily press briefing to rebut Netanyahu’s accusation, although a careful reading of her attack on the PM reveals she didn’t really answer his main argument.

The reporter who cited the Netanyahu video did a good job of digging up the key points, saying the PM is “talking about settlements and talking about the Palestinians wanting to have a state that has no Jews in it at all and saying that this is ethnic cleansing. And he also says that that demand is outrageous, that it’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find it outrageous. And then he says some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”

Trudeau responded: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.”

She explained that “settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties,” and the next line out of her mouth was: “We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace.”

So, to reiterate, 1. Shame on you, Mr. Netanyahu for using bad words; 2. We will deal with the status of those Jews in Judea and Samaria when everything else has been resolved; 3. Jews living in Judea and Samaria are a menace to peace.

Why? What if the PA and the Israelis decide that they want Jews living in a free Palestinian State, carrying Palestinian passports and enjoying equal rights? How then would today’s settlements have been a threat to peace?

Trudeau continued with the familiar, regurgitated statements about the thousands of new settlement units being built (we wish) and the vicious demolitions of illegal Arab structures in accordance with Israeli law, which the US should respect but doesn’t. She then announced that the US is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli Government on this. … We’ll have our conversation with our Israeli allies and friends and we’ll see where that goes.”

Not everyone in Israel is happy with the Netanyahu video. MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint Arab List, accused the PM of revising history. And MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said that with one video Netanyahu managed to wipe out her accomplishments in the Sharon government, guaranteeing that the clusters of settlements would remain part of Israel as part of a two-state solution.

Israeli rightwingers will probably start drilling the PM on Sunday, after they emerge from their Shabbat rest. They won’t be happy with the fact that the PM has so openly entertained the possibility of a Palestinian State as a given fact. But the points Netanyahu made were sound and they could go a long way in stirring the presidential campaign’s foreign policy debate.

JNi.Media

Knesset to Hold Special Debate on Shabbat Train Crisis

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

After the signatures of more than 50 MKs havebeen submitted to the Knesset Secretariat, Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to convene the plenum on September 19, while the Knesset is still in recess, to discuss motions for the agenda on the following topics:

1. The degradation of Shabbat and the harm caused to soldiers and civilians due to the train crisis

2. The political conduct of the government and the person at its helm caused severe harm to tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians

3. The hysterical conduct, lack of planning and waste of millions due to personal political considerations

The debate will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a.k.a. “the person at the helm.”

The Knesset Rules of Procedure determine that, in accordance with the Basic Law regarding the Knesset, when at least 25 MKs demand to convene the Knesset plenum during a recess, the Knesset Speaker will schedule a special debate.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-to-hold-special-debate-on-shabbat-train-crisis/2016/09/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: