When Hillary Clinton’s choice for VP, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, joined the Democrats who avoided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 2015 speech to a joint session of Congress, he announced: “There is no reason to schedule this speech before Israeli voters go to the polls on March 17 and choose their own leadership.” Revealing that he had labored to delay the Netanyahu appearance, Kaine said, “I am disappointed that, as of now, the speech has not been postponed. For this reason, I will not attend the speech.”
Before Kaine made his announcement, only three other senators had planned to boycott the speech: the two anti-Netanyahu Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders and Pat Leahy, and Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz. All the other Democratic senators were reluctant to commit either way, and told the press they were thinking about it. Even the biggest Democratic opponent of the Iran deal, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, did not forcefully call on his fellow Democrats to show—not willing to upset an already irate President Obama. Most Democratic legislators who said they’d avoid the speech came from blue states and blue districts. But when Kaine, whose state of Virginia until 2008 voted Republican for president, gave permission to Democrats from red states to boycott Netanyahu when he declared he was skipping the speech.
The Forward on Friday wrote that Kaine “Will be the Jewiest Vice President” under Hillary Clinton, describing him as “a friend to the Jewish community for about as long as he’s been in public service.” But when one reads the reasons why Kaine is so “Jewey” according to the Forward, one realizes Kaine would be a bonanza to leftwing Israeli Jews, very much like the folks who are currently in the White House.
Kaine supports a two-state solution, argues the Forward; also, he is a religious Catholic (so he knows all about the auto-da-fé); during his time as the governor of Virginia, Sabra built the world’s largest hummus factory outside Richmond, and hummus is Jewish, isn’t it, ask anyone from Cairo to Ramallah to Damascus; and Kaine hosted several Passover seders and played matchmaker to Conservative Rabbi Jack Moline’s daughter.
So, in considering Kaine’s pros and cons regarding Israel, you have his support for a nuclear deal with Iran, and his support for a Palestinian State, while on the plus side you have lots of hummus.
It was the first such visit in nine years and a basic act of normalization for most countries. But in Egypt, it sparked outrage. Rumors that the two government leaders had enjoyed their time together only added fuel to the fire, so to speak.
Irate journalists were doubly upset that security forces from the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had not allowed their demonstration to get out of hand. Moreover, mention of the protest didn’t even make it to the media until a week had gone by.
Protesters at the time complained bitterly about the “many people who were going to participate” but who had not been allowed to “pass the barriers” because “they lacked press credentials to join the Syndicate event.” All were blocked, they said, by government security forces. Nevertheless, the demonstrators carried on.
“We came … to burn this despicable flag, the flag of the apes and pigs,” said the leader of the irate protesters. “Today we will burn a picture of the one called the ‘Prime Minister of the Zionists’ and that of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, and we will burn the Israeli flag.'”
The group of demonstrators is seen in a brief video of the protest posted on YouTube by Daily News Egypt newspaper, chanting and using a cigarette lighter to set fire to a bed sheet transformed into a crude effigy of an Israeli flag, and a few pictures, each with a big red “X.”
Their anger and frustration is clear, as is their hate, which seems directed nearly as much at their own president as it is at his Jewish northern neighbor.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and the secretary of the Guinean president signed an official agreement establishing diplomatic ties on Wednesday evening in Paris.
The Republic of Guinea is a Muslim country in sub-Saharan West Africa, which used to be a territory within French West Africa. The state was established in 1958 after it gained independence from France. Although Israel previously had diplomatic relations with the Territory of Guinea and French West Africa, those connections were severed after the Republic of Guinea became independent.
“We are closing an important circle with the renewal of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” stated Gold after the signing of the agreement. “Israel calls on all countries that have yet to renew their ties with Israel to follow Guinea’s example. This way, we can all act together for the benefit of the region’s nations.”
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a diplomatic delegation to several sub-Saharan countries—Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia—with the aim of reestablishing and strengthening existing diplomatic and commercial ties.
During that visit, Netanyahu hinted to the press that he intends to “meet with a leader of a Muslim African country with which Israel previously never had diplomatic relations.”
Later today, Netanyahu commented that “yet another African country will announce renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel in the next few days.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror guerrilla organization that Israel will deal a “powerful response” if forced to respond to aggression from the group.
The prime minister made the remark at a ceremony held in Jerusalem Tuesday to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Netanyahu expressed empathy for the families of the soldiers who were killed in the war, and he warned Hezbollah it will face an “iron fist” if the group attacks Israel again.
The previous war was launched with a cross-border raid in which terrorists from the group attacked an IDF patrol that was traveling along Israel’s northern border.
Two Israeli reservists were abducted that day and both were murdered. It took years and a German negotiator plus a prisoner swap with a hundred-plus dead terrorists and a handful of live terror inmates to get the Israeli reservists’ bodies back for burial by their families.
Among the terrorists traded to Hezbollah was child-killer Samir Kuntar, who later commanded Hezbollah terror forces in the Syrian Golan Heights.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday fielded questions he did not get a chance to read in advance from MKs, in a fashion reminiscent of the British Parliament’s Question Time. This was Netanyahu’s first-ever Question Hour appearance.
Question 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.
MK Yael Cohen Paran (Zionist Camp) asked Netanyahu, “It was written that an allegation is being checked [by police] that your son, Yair Netanyahu, used a passport with a fake name that the Mossad gave him to open a bank account in Panama to which hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled. I want to ask you, did your son Yair Netanyahu get a falsified passport, and in which situations can a citizen get a passport with a fake name?”
In response, Netanyahu said, “There’s no passport, no Panama, no bank account, nothing. There is a flood of foolishness, of nonsense, of fabrications, of lies. Although they’ve been dealing with this for many years, they haven’t found anything for one simple reason: there isn’t anything and there never was anything. There’s no fire and no smoke. There’s hot air – a lot of hot air. Spoiler alert – nothing will come of this, because there is nothing. Therefore, I ask all those who are asking questions and those who may have hope in their hearts: don’t hurry to have suits made. Stop the tailors. Spoiler alert – nothing will come of this, because there is nothing.”
“Since there are those who are still interested in all sorts of things like this, I want to give you all a tip: In the beginning of September I am going to Holland and afterwards I’m continuing to the UN General Assembly,” Netanyahu continued. “Since I’ve noticed that these piles (of nonsense) usually come in certain proximity to my political travels, here I’m giving you the time to come up with new things.”
Netanyahu told the House he was delighted to have this opportunity to speak to the MKs, whom he said asked better and more challenging questions than the press does. “I’m enjoying every minute,” he said, and looked it.
Addressing a question by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) on the anti-gay remarks made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein and why he did not address them, PM Netanyahu said “I’m not a professional internet commentator and neither do I work on MK Zandberg’s schedule, but the comments are unacceptable. The LGBT community is part of us. They are citizens like everyone else. Israel needs to be a home for all Jews.”
Asked by MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) whether he would “launder the land theft in Amona,” the prime minister said “I do not support the laundering or appropriation of lands anywhere, and I suggest that you be careful when using such terms, because they apply to many places. The court ruled that [the Jewish settlement Amona in Samaria] should be evacuated, even if there is no specific ownership over it. It is private land, but it is not known who it belongs to exactly.”
“Amona is a matter of doing justice in an issue that’s been going on for many years. Several proposals have come up, and the Defense Minister asked for a few days to examine the matter. All involved parties would like to see a settlement rather than anything else.”
MK David Amsalem (Likud) asked PM Netanyahu about the US Senate report establishing that the US State Department had interfered with the previous Israeli elections by funding the V-15, or “Victory in 2015” organization, which operated with the explicit goal of causing Netanyahu to lose the election. “I want to explain what is improper about V15,” Netanyahu said. “We have non-profits that need to work with the minimum transparency, but there is one thing that we cannot accept – bypassing the election law. How does the [election] financing law work in Israel? It sets out how each party should fund its election [campaign]. The law limits the amounts. V15 bypassed this. How? They said ‘we’re not giving to a party but rather opposing a party.'”
Netanyahu said the money was used to influence the results of last year’s Knesset election. “We in Likud complained about this loophole and didn’t get relief from the court. It’s clear to me that this is intervention. These are huge sums. This needs to be stopped, for everyone, by the way.”
Addressing a question by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) on the conversion crisis, PM Netanyahu said, “The rabbinate is not mine. It was established in arrangement in the State of Israel from the time [the country] was established and even before that. I can’t tell you that I have managed to reach a consensus. I haven’t.”
MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Camp) asked Netanyahu about the “expulsion bill.” Netanyahu said, “In the United States [a legislator) can be dismissed with a small majority without any explanation. I believe that in Israel’s Knesset there cannot be MKs who support terror or the annihilation of Israel.”
MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp) mentioned a video clip from a 1990s talk show that resurfaced recently, in which Netanyahu said he supports a two-term limit for prime ministers.
Netanyahu – who is now on his fourth term, third consecutive one – said “When I made that remark I was referring to direct elections [for prime minister]. There are restrictions if someone is elected in the presidential system. I voted in favor of changing the system of government in contrast with my party’s position. If you strengthen governance, limit the number of terms, and if you do not strengthen governance, do not limit the number of terms.”
MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) asked Netanyahu what his diplomatic plan was. “The desirable solution for us is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” he said, adding that the Arab League’s peace initiative could be a basis for peace talks with the Palestinians, but only in a revised form.
“If it’s a script, then certainly we cannot [agree to it]. If it’s a basis to open talks, then sure,” he said.
The former chief of staff for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned a second time under caution on Monday.
Ari Harrow was taken for questioning last week upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, although he was told he was not being arrested.
After 14 hours of interrogation “under caution” — implying he was indeed a suspect in the unspecified investigation — he was released to five days of house arrest.
The interrogation was carried out in connection with a probe into allegations of fraud in an initial investigation into the activities of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, as well as other government figures.
Earlier last week Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an initial probe into the prime minister’s actions as part of the wider investigation of financial activity by government officials.
Harrow served as chief of staff to Netanyahu in 2014.
Former Prime Ministerial Chief of Staff Ari Harrow was detained Thursday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport upon his arrival from abroad. Harrow served as chief of staff to PM Benjamin Netanyahu in 2014.
A spokesperson for Israel Police said the National Fraud Investigation unit asked Harrow to provide testimony about Netanyahu’s alleged financial misappropriations. Earlier this week, Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an initial probe into the prime minister’s actions as part of the wider investigation of financial activity by government officials.
Although the Los Angeles-born former chief of staff was taken into custody, it was made clear that he was not under investigation himself, nor was he being arrested.
Other government officials who have been under investigation include Opposition Leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog, former Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum and former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov of Yisrael Beitenu, and former Defense Minister Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer among others.