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July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Bennett’

Livni, Bennett clash on benefits for Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s negotiator in renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict talks, abstained from a cabinet vote approving national benefits including housing subsidies and loans for more than 600 Israeli communities on the grounds that a record number of Judea and Samaria communities were included on the list.

Livni acknowledged that there is “no doubt that we need to provide the citizens living in [the Judea and Samaria communities] with security—that is our responsibility,” but said she believes it is “wrong and contrary to national interests to take funds that should be going toward diminishing social gaps and using them to encourage settlement in these secluded and dangerous settlements.”

While Livni fears the inclusion of Judea and Samaria communities will jeopardize renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said, “It is our duty to encourage the continued settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

Due to security threats Judea and Samaria communities face, those communities “deserve national benefits,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s Folly: Territory Giveback Referendum Passes First Reading

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The Knesset bill mandating a national referendum before the government gives away areas of sovereign Israel passed its first reading in the Knesset in a vote of 66 to 45. The bill will now go to committee for deliberations and amendments and is expected to be presented to the Knesset plenum during its fall session.

The vote on the referendum was taken on the last day of the 19th Knesset’s first session, ushering in the much needed summer break.

According to the national referendum bill, should Israel be forced to give back territories within the 1948 green line—in case of land exchanges—as well as the annexed territories of East Jerusalem and the Golan heights, the voter will have to decide for or against the move in a special referendum.

The bill, which has already been approved by the 18th Knesset, is up for adoption as a “Basic Law,” which is as close as Israeli law gets to a constitutional amendment. The upgrade would mean that it would require a majority of 61 MKs to change it.

The law distinctly avoids any reference to Judea and Samaria, which to date have not been annexed and therefore are not governed under Israeli law. This fact is likely to be forgotten as the “peace negotiations” are proceeding without a hitch. In other words, the government should be able to evict Israelis from anywhere east of the 1967 border without the voters’ input via the referendum, and such an eviction—quite like the Gush Katif expulsion—can still be undertaken with a simple majority: 20 MKs in favor, 19 against, could finish off Jewish life in Judea and Samaria as we know it.

The new, upgraded law was promoted most heavily by Jewish Home and its leader, Naftali Bennett, who boasted like week that his party has proven “why the Jewish nation needs the Jewish Home in the government… We said openly that we would not remain in a government that would deal on the basis of the ’67 borders – and this will no longer happen. It shows that when we insist we get results.”

Not quite. The fact is that, as far as the half million Israelis living in Judea and Samaria—most of whom are Jewish Home voters—the parameters of the national referendum bill certainly are on the basis of the ’67 borders. From the point of view of any Jew living in Ariel, Karney Shomron, or Efrat, the new bill constitutes their betrayal by Bennett et al.

The bill is a huge loss to Jewish Home, whose leader is just not astute enough, apparently, to realize how his lunch money was taken a second time by smarter politicians. Netanyahu is the huge winner of last night’s vote, because he will get a year of industrial peace out of it. Despite the subtle point regarding Judea and Samaria, Israelis would be convinced that, come givebacks time, they would be able to influence the process with their referendum votes – but they won’t.

Should the Palestinians be smart enough not to attack Israel with rockets or start an intifada while negotiations are in session (a Yid can always hope), Tzipi Livni and the gang could forge a peace agreement that would satisfy a majority of Israelis. For one thing, the Palestinians could easily avoid any discussion of the Golan Heights – it’s not their territory. As to East Jerusalem – the two sides could decide to co-own it. There have been similar proposals in the past, which died only because the Arabs rejected them (thank God). This time around they might agree that East Jerusalem would be governed by both Israel and the PA, and local residents would be asked to decide which ID card they prefer (two bits they’d all opt for the “blue card”).

Most Israelis would embrace such a deal, which, on its face, does not take away East Jerusalem and maintains their free access to the holy sites (except Temple Mount). Having achieved majority support this way, Netanyahu and Livni can basically give back all of Judea and Samaria and it won’t affect the results of the referendum.

Of course, Jewish Home would then leave the coalition government in a huff, fallen heroes and whatnot, to be replaced swiftly by Labor, or Shas, or both.

In the immortal words of the president of Freedonia Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx in Duck Soup): “Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot.”

Incidentally, last night Prime Minister Netanyahu came across positively Churchillian with his retort to Arab MK Jamal Zahalka. The latter cried from the podium at Minister Yuval Steinitz: “You are the enemy of peace, we were here before you – and we’ll be here after you.” Netanyahu asked to be allowed to speak, took the podium and said directly to Zahalka: “The first part of your statement is incorrect, and the second part will not happen.”

He received great applause, proving to anyone who cared to watch that he had been there before one Naftali Bennett got elected MK, and he would be there long after Mr. Bennett is asked by his party members to return to his promising career in hi tech.

On Second Thought, Maybe Israel’s Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I was appalled to learn a week ago that the Israeli prime minister had apologized to his Turkish counterpart for his government’s actions during the Mavi Marmara incident, seeing this as feeding the Turkish government’s inflated sense of grandeur and power.

That prediction was borne out in spades.

The municipality of Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, put up billboards on city streets reveling in the Israeli apology. They are not subtle, showing a sad-looking Netanyahu beneath a larger, buoyant Erdoğan, separated by the Mavi Marmara itself. Addressing Erdoğan, they read: “Israel apologized to Turkey. Dear Prime Minister, we are grateful that you let our country experience this pride.”

Erdogan himself claims not only that the apology has changed the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict but that it obligates Israel to work with Ankara in its diplomacy with the Palestinians. He told parliament:

The point we have arrived at as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus is bringing about a new equation.

Erdogan also claimed that Israel agreed to cooperate with Turkey on talks with the Palestinians. Hürriyet Daily News goes on to paraphrase Erdoğan:

He said all his regional interlocutors, including Khaled Mashaal of the Hamas, admit that a new era has begun in the Middle East what they all call after Turkish victory on Israeli apology.

No less notable is Erdogan’s petty put down of the Israeli side:

Erdogan said his conversation with Netanyahu took place under the witness of Obama but he wanted first to talk with the US President as he missed his voice. “I talked to him and we have reviewed the text and confirmed the [apology] process. we have therefore accomplished this process under Obama’s witness,” Erdogan said, adding this phone conversation has also been recorded alongside with written statements issued from all three sides.

Ryan Mauro sums up Turkish actions over the past week:

Erdogan is extending his time in the spotlight by demanding that Israel pay $1 million to each of the nine casualties’ families, ten times the amount Israel has offered. He isn’t yet dropping his case against the Israeli generals involved in the raid, nor is he fully restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. And he’s announced that he will visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in what is a thinly-concealed victory lap.

Indeed, the Turkish gloating has been so conspicuous and extended that it may have prompted to a healthy sense of reality. So long as the Mavi Marmara incident hung over their relations with Ankara, Israelis and others could believe that an apology would magically undo the past decade. The illusion could persist that the Turks, however unreasonably, just needed to put this unpleasantness aside and things would revert to the good old days.

Now that Israelis humiliated themselves and Erdogan is rampaging ahead, some are awakening to the fact that this apology only made matters worse. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of economy and trade, slammed the Turkish response:

Since the apology was made public, it appears Erdogan is doing everything he can to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israel-Turkey relations. Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it. It should also be clear to Erdogan that if Israel encounters in the future any terrorism directed against us, our response will be no less severe.

Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom colorfully notes that Israelis “didn’t expect to feel that only several days after Israel’s apology, Erdogan would already be making us feel that we had eaten a frog along with our matzah this year.”

Perhaps after all the apology was a good thing. For a relatively inexpensive price – some words – Israelis and others have gained a better insight into the Turkish leadership’s mentality. It’s not that they suffer from hurt pride but that they are Islamist ideologues with an ambitious agenda. If the misguided apology makes this evident to more observers, it has its compensations and possibly could turn out to be a net plus.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner under the title, “On Second Thought … Maybe that Israeli Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea,” March 29, 2013.

What Disturbs Me Most about the New Coalition

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I don’t know if anyone’s happy with the new government, at least not in the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties.  There weren’t too many ministerial pickings left over after Bibi handed out the goodies to Livni, Lapid and Bennett.

There’s something that really bothers me about this coalition.  I felt it in my kishkes, and I had trouble saying what it really is…

There’s something inherently undemocratic in a government coalition which aims to change the lives of a large and growing sector of the country/society while refusing them the rights to join the coalition and help draft the laws to make the changes just and possible.

Yes, I’m referring to the forcing of Haredim to be drafted into the IDF.

Now please get me right.  I am not in favor of their (Haredi) universal policy idealizing a life a just learning Torah.  I don’t see it as Jewish.  It’s not.  It’s more like the Christian monasteries and nunneries with the crucial difference that the Haredim marry and are encourage to have lots of children.  It’s also a Christian, not Jewish, belief that “men of the cloth” shouldn’t bear arms, serve in armies etc.

But I don’t think its just nor moral for some sectors of society to try to legislate major changes in the lives of others.  It unfortunately smacks of the early days of the State of Israel when religious immigrant children were sent to secular Aliyat Hanoar schools and worse.

The making of changes must be done gradually and with the cooperation of the affected sector of society.  That means the the only fair, just and democratic way to increase the draft of Haredim must be done with their cooperation.  In recent years more Hareidim have joined the army, and more Hareidim are studying key secular subjects and professions and working.  This will take time.

Blocking Hareidim from the government coalition means that the government will seem like (or actually be) a dictatorship, rather than a democracy.

Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett and Livni are making a big immoral and undemocratic mistake.

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Israel’s New Government: Not What You Think

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On the issues about which the world is obsessed, Israel’s new government is basically a continuation of the old one. That is the key point to keep in mind regarding the new coalition which has a comfortable 68-seat majority, well over the 61 minimum parliamentarians required.

Basically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a strong position as these things go. It is notable that there is not a single other person seriously considered to be a serious candidate for prime minister. Of course, he will have the usual headaches of managing a disparate coalition in which parties will quarrel, threaten to walk out and make special demands.

The coalition consists of Netanyahu’s Likud (merged with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party); Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which might be called traditionally liberal in American terms; Naftali Bennett’s right-wing and dati religious (Modern Orthodox, in American terms) party, Habayit Hayahudi; and Tzipi Livni’s rather shapeless and personalistic Hatnuah party. A key element of this coalition is the alliance of Bennett and Lapid in opposition to the Haredi (mistakenly called “ultra-Orthodox” in the West) religious parties.

While this is certainly a conservative-dominated government, I have yet to see anyone in the mass media point out that it includes two of the three largest left of center parties!

Of the three key ministries, Netanyahu will be foreign minister, holding that post “in trust” for indicted former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party ran on a joint list with the Likud. In practice, this means Netanyahu will have close control over implementing his policies internationally. The defense minister is the very able Moshe Yaalon, a Likud member and former head of military intelligence.

Lapid will run the Finance Ministry, dealing with issues on which he has no experience at all. This is not so unusual in parliamentary systems, where senior civil servants actually run the ministries. But Lapid holds this post because his signature issues are to urge reforms in the economy. His party will also get education, social services, health, and science and technology.

Here is something of a paradox. Israel has been one of the most successful countries in the developed world because it has refused to join the high-spending, high-debt, subsidy-oriented policies of Europe and now the United States. Unemployment and inflation have been low; growth has been relatively high. The problem, though, is that prices are also relatively high compared to incomes, causing problems especially for young people and consumers generally.

Lapid is expected to revise the management of the golden eggs without doing harm to the goose that laid them. Arguably, the number-one issue for this government is whether Lapid can perform well. His father, a popular journalist, followed the precise same course as the son a few years ago and failed completely. The junior Lapid has no actual political experience and does have characteristics of Tel Aviv beautiful people society. If he falters, his party will disintegrate in the next election.

As for Bennett, the amusing spin on much coverage is that his party has succeeded, that settlers even dominate the government, because he will have a couple of minor ministries which don’t have much power. Actually, he got less than I would have expected. While the settlements might benefit a little economically from these positions–and from the party’s holding the chairmanship over the Knesset finance committee–they will not have much authority and control little money directly.

If there is a big winner in the new government it is Lapid’s reformist liberals (in the old American sense, not the redefinition imposed on that word by the American far left). They are going to have a chance to show if they can improve social services, a fairer distribution of resources (the issue isn’t so much between rich and poor but across different sectors), and an economy that retains its growth while managing the problem of high prices, among other things.

Meanwhile, although the world is obsessed with non-existent issues regarding the long-dead “peace process” or fantasy options for Israel to make friends with neighboring Islamist regimes by giving even more concessions, Israel strategically is focused on defense.

Four of the six bordering entities—Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and soon Syria—are ruled by radical Islamist groups that openly declare their goal of wiping Israel off the map. And that list doesn’t even include extremely hostile Iran (whose drive toward nuclear weapons cannot be forgotten for a moment) and the virulently anti-Israel regime in Turkey.

Will it Be Good for the Jews?

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Yes, even here in Israel we must always ask the question: “Will it Be Good for The Jews?”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s latest coalition government has many competing factions.

MK Tzipi Livni, Israel’s newest Justice Minister, stressed on Saturday that she would not support the basic law bill “Israel is the national state of the Jewish people,” whose promotion is part of the new coalition agreements with the Jewish Home party.

Maybe “competing” is too gentle a word.

Netanyahu is hoping to be able to control his warring partners, certainly long enough to see himself soaring in the polls and trying for better election results.  Bibi’s Likud and partner Yisrael Beitenu bombed terribly in the recent elections, losing a critical amount of Knesset seats.  His formal announcement to President Peres was the easy part.  Governing with such partners will no doubt be the greatest challenge to Netanyahu’s political career.

Livni’s chance of being Prime Minister is now nil, but by controlling the Justice Ministry she will have a lot of power.  That’s why she demanded it.  And unfortunately, Bibi gave in.

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have both been promoting themselves as Centrists, just like Bibi had done earlier in his political career, since neither are shy about admitting that they dream of holding the top position, Prime Minister.  Right now they are working together against Bibi, but when they weaken him sufficiently, no doubt their alliance will crumble, like very fresh matzah.

Do I feel sorry for Bibi?  No!

Benjamin Netanyahu made his bed when he put pragmatic secular politics over Jewish values and Jewish History and Jewish Rights to The Land of Israel.  Our greatest leaders, from Biblical time onward were those who could see that God controls the big picture.

That’s why the only two of the “spies” who had been sent to לתור (latur)stakeout the Land (Numbers Chapter 13 בְּמִדְבַּר), who merited to enter it forty years later were the ones who trusted that God would make it possible for the Jewish People to rule it as Jews.

Remember that our first king, the Benjaminite Saul was deposed by God as punishment for not obeying His orders.  God replaced Saul with David who understood the power of God could overcome all human power and weapons.

Too bad that Benzion Netanyahu didn’t name his second son David…

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A Coalition of Wannabes

Monday, March 11th, 2013

If we can believe the media on this, Israel’s sitting Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will beat the clock and has managed to negotiate coalition deals with enough political party leaders to form a government.

In a rare case of disagreement with Dry Bones (whose latest cartoon said that “Bibi’s coalition is made up of politicians who support him but don’t really trust him”), I don’t quite see this motley crew as not trusting Netanyahu. I see two different things:(1) The party leaders who have signed with, or have promised to sign with Bibi all want to replace him as Prime Minister; (2) It’s not that they don’t trust Bibi, but that he doesn’t really trust them.

Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Shaul Mofaz are the party leaders who’ve signed up (according to media leaks) with Bibi along with Avigdor Lieberman.  They all consider themselves national leaders  and potential Prime Ministers. This is going to be a make it or break it experience for political rookie Yair Lapid.  The high school drop-out will be following quite a few academic heavy-weights as Finance Minister.  Among his predecessors are Netanyahu,  masters degree in Business Administration from M.I.T, and Yuval Steinitz, who holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University.  I wonder who’s going to be running Lapid’s crash course in economics.

Mofaz and Livni have been rapidly losing support, while Lapid and Bennett have captured the imagination of the public.  No doubt that Netanyahu will have a very challenging time trying to keep them all in line and functioning as a government.

Good luck Israel!

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