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April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bennett’

The Mysteriously Missing Religious Alliance

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

While the Lapid-Bennett alliance is still holding strong, much to Netanyahu’s consternation, recriminations are flying between the religious parties as to why no religious political bloc formed instead, which would have given the religious parties more power in negotiations with the Likud.

According to a report in the online Hareidi paper, Kikar Shabbat, MK Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) claimed that the Hareidi parties refused to join together with them to create a religious alliance.

MK Meir Porush (UTJ) responded and said that they sat with the Jewish Home, both before and after the election to discuss the idea, but never got an answer.

Porush said they offered to work in strengthening the settlements, and to look out for the needs of the National-Religious, and in exchange, Jewish Home would work to protect Yeshiva students [from the draft].

Porush claims that Bennett promised to think it over and give them an answer, but he never received a response.

Porush left a door open and said that perhaps Bennett requires more time to think over the offer, and not that he is refusing their offer completely.

Porush also dismissed the claims that it was Rav Shteinman that “ripped up” the cards, after he refused to support the idea of a religious bloc with Jewish Home, and even going so far as refusing to meet with National-Religious rabbis in his home to discuss the idea. Porush said that the Degel HaTorah faction inside the UTJ gave a “green light” to protect Torah learning and the offer is still there.

On Monday, the Hareidi Hebrew Mishpacha newspaper ran an article entitled,  “Migron [settlement] in Exchange for Ponovitch [yeshiva]” and “Haredi Price Tag”.

Ponevitch for Migron

Mishpacha claimed in the article that senior members of UTJ said they would work to destroy the settlements if the Bennett-Lapid alliance isn’t broken, as it endangers Torah learning, and that “Torah learning is more important than the Land of Israel”.

The article didn’t discuss how their “retaliatory” price tag attack would affect their own Hareidi constituents in all-Hareidi settlements such as Beitar Ilit, Modiin Ilit and Tel Tzion.

 

Likud-Beteinu Closes First Partner (updated)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

It only took a month, but Likud-Beteinu finally managed to close a deal with its first coalition partner, Tzipi Livni’s HaTnua party.

Livni will reportedly receive the Justice Ministry and be an inner cabinet member.

Amir Peretz will serve as environmental protection minister, and Amram Mitzna will be chairman of the Knesset House Committees.

It was announced at the joint statement that Livni would also be in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Justice Minister is one of the most powerful positions in the government, as she (in this case) can kill any proposed bill that she disagrees with. Furthermore, all the progress made by the previous government in ending the incestuous self-appointment process of Supreme Court justices can potentially be reversed overnight.

On Eve of Obama’s Visit, the Right is Silent

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents, is again asked why Obama is coming to Israel.

He laughs.

“Why is he coming? First they asked why he didn’t come. Now that he’s coming, they ask why he’s coming.”

Hoenlein’s view is that Obama is coming to Israel simply because of the constant attacks on him for not coming.

Still, I ask him, do you believe there is a danger that we will pay a political price for the visit—retreating from territory, freezing construction in Judea and Samaria, releasing terrorists from prison?

Hoenlein allows that the possibility exists. “But principally, as the White House said, the visit is meant to show the continuing friendship between the two countries.”

Hoenlein has been in the business for 35 years. When he warns of a danger, it’s not just because a Jew always has to worry. It’s a concrete warning—not least when we both know that there are Jews who will see to it that we have good reason to worry.

You can be quite sure that parallel to the official Israeli emissaries making their way to Washington at this time, there are a number of Israelis who make a living off the Palestinian issue going as emissaries of themselves.

Who is sponsoring these peace-mongering harbingers of terrorist attacks?

There are for-profit corporations, among them Israeli companies, that make their money from political consulting and brokering services. Their patrons include governments, government foundations, and intelligence bodies.

This is nothing new, though. In every generation there are people who work in the service of the enemy. Otherwise why would the prayer against informers be an integral part of the Amida prayer?

Judging by past experience, these brokers will offer their good offices—or have already offered them—to the State Department and the foreign media, both journalists writing background articles prior to Obama’s visit and those who will tag along during the trip. The brokers are already preparing beautifully produced folders with diagrams and flowcharts detailing the steps toward peace with the Palestinians and the prices to be paid: freezing Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, giving away more of Area B, releasing terrorists from jail … forgetting only the additional price to be paid in blood.

These proposals have been floated previously, including several that were published in The New York Times. They are a cause for concern for the people of the State of Israel, who at the moment are living relatively peacefully.

Transferring parts of Areas B and C to the Palestinians would diminish the ability of the IDF to move around those areas. Enough blood has already been spilled for it to be crystal clear that Palestinian police officers simply don’t deliver the goods when it comes to providing security. Only the IDF does that. Moshe does the job. Moussa does not.

Benny Begin was among the first to see the problem with outsourcing Israeli security to the P.A. He was warning already in 1993 about people who during the day are P.A. policemen, but at night are terrorists. I spoke with him this week, and he discussed at length why he hasn’t changed his mind.

The release of terrorists, which is liable to accompany the surrender of territory, is a catalyst for terrorist attacks. It funnels high-quality manpower to the terrorist organizations and reduces Israel’s capacity to punish and deter the terrorists.

Ostensibly, the rationale for “gestures” such as these is that the world will see that the Palestinians fail to reciprocate and then stand at our side.

The problem is that it never worked. And it still doesn’t.

Every gesture or concession simply sets the stage for the next set of Israeli concessions. Menachem Begin thought that the evacuation of Sinai would save Judea and Samaria. Then came the pressure on Shamir to participate in the Madrid Conference. Then the retreat from Gush Katif was supposed to save Judea and Samaria. No sooner was the retreat from Gaza completed than the world renewed its pressure on Israel to withdraw from from Judea and Samaria.

Isn’t it time to switch approaches and change direction, to bring something truly new to the political arena, to put up an iron wall that will stand up against these pressures? To signal that the era of limited political endurance and insufficient national stamina is finally over?

Netanyahu Not Discounting New Elections, Likud Says

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not discounted the possibility of holding new elections, senior sources in the Likud-Beitenu faction say, according to the Israeli publication, Ma’ariv.

Netanyahu has had a hard time forming a government because of the feud between the Yesh Atid and Jewish Home parties on the one hand, who desire a universal draft policy, and Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, who want to maintain the status quo in which the vast majority of Haredim do not serve, pursuant to an exemption for yeshiva students.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Jewish Home chairman Naftalli Bennett have reportedly agreed to enter or stay out of the government as a bloc. The two parties comprise 31 Knesset Members between them, and Netanyahu will not practically be able to form a coalition with out them.

Forming a coalition with them will not be easy either, as Shas and UTJ would not join due Yesh Atid and Jewish Home’s insistence on a universal draft plan. In that case, Netanyahu would likely have to include Tzipi Livni, and possibly also Kadima to form a stable coalition of seventy seats.

The possibility of new elections is only the latest in public posturing by the various parties engaged in coalition negotiations.

By law Netanyahu has 28 days to form a government which has the backing of the Knesset and can ask for an extension of 14 days. If Netanyahu cannot form a coalition by then, the President would then ask another Member of Knesset to form a government, who would then have fourteen days to form a government. If a government could not still not be formed, new elections would have to be held.

Latest Coalition Building Rumors and Threats from Israel

Monday, February 18th, 2013

With no coalition in site, threats and insults are what the public is hearing coming from the various Israeli political parties.

Bennett’s Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) is holding steadfast in their alliance with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party in negotiations with the Likud, and this alliance is apparently frustrating Netanyahu to no end.

Sources say that Bennett doesn’t trust any of Netanyahu’s offers, particularly when he repeatedly only learns of the offers from pollster Minah Tzemach on the news, days before he actually hears of the offer from the Likud. In response to the poor treatment he’s getting, a source in the Jewish Home party allegedly said that the Jewish Home is no longer the Likud’s lapdog.

Bennett, who has an acrimonious history with Netanyahu, was also the last party leader that Netanyahu reached out to talk to, and that includes the radical leftwing party, Meretz.

Ma’ariv reports that the Likud is threatening to go back to elections if Bennett doesn’t agree to join the coalition with the Chareidi parties.

Reportedly, the Jewish Homes response was that Netanyahu is “shooting blanks”, and that if elections were held today, the voters would punish the Likud down to 12 seats for not first going with their natural partner, the Jewish Home.

The Likud made what some consider a generous offer to the Jewish Home, but in the Jewish Home party they suspect that Netanyahu wants to play Lucy to their Charlie Brown, and pull the offer away from them at the last minute as Shamir did in 1988 to the Hareidim, and the goal is only to break the Bennett-Lapid alliance, and get one for a cheaper price. That they only heard of the offer on the news days before they heard of the offer directly from the Likud, didn’t help the Likud’s credibility

On Channel 2 they are reporting that Netanyahu plans to first create the coalition with HaTnua, Shas, UTJ, and Kadima, and only then invite Jewish Home in, leaving Yesh Atid out.

Other rumors flying around is that if Jewish Home joins without the Ultra-Orthodox parties, the Hareidi parties will retaliate with a “Price Tag” attack, and will vote for dismantling outposts and settlements.

During the elections, the religious parties, particularly Shas, crossed a number of red lines and severely disparaged the Jewish Home party.

Bennett has turned out to be the cornerstone of the coalition. Jewish Home can sit with Lapid in the coalition, or they can sit with the Hareidim, while Lapid can’t sit with the Hareidim without destroying his credibility. And with those restrictions, there simply can’t be a coalition without the Jewish Home party.

This provides Bennett with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to empower the Jewish Home party like never before, and take back some of the powers grabbed by the Ultra-Orthodox over the years and give it to the National-Religious.

Bennett’s Unholy Alliance with Lapid

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I’m not going to pretend I was satisfied with the Likud’s election campaign, or even all of Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s policies/positions over the last four years (e.g., Bar Ilan, the freeze, etc.). But in the past four years, we’ve had, first of all, a government that lasted  just about four years, which is quite an achievement in and of itself in Israel. And we’ve managed to stave off international pressure while getting sanctions in place against Iran. At the same time we’ve had modest domestic achievements, keeping the economy stable despite a global crisis and lowering the monthly cost of living.

Yet, leading up to the elections, I was shocked by how many people were so ready to abandon the Likud and Netanyahu, despite the fact that they knew only he could be Prime Minister and would need a strong showing for the Likud-Beitenu slate in order to have a stable center of gravity for his coalition.

On the day of election, I argued that weakening the Likud-Beitenu, even if by voting for the Jewish Home, to Netanyahu’s right, will actually strengthen whatever left-of-center party will join the government. That’s because even if “the right” has a majority of the Knesset, even 65 seats, a stable government requires more than that. Netanyahu will have no choice, just as he did after the last election, but to bring at least one party from the left in to stablize the coalition. Otherwise any coalition partner could bring down the government.

As the Likud-Beitenu dropped in support, that became more and more true, since the less seats it would have the more vital each coalition partner would be. While that would make Jewish Home more vital to the coalition, it would also have a similar affect on the other parties. The only method Netanyahu has of neutralizing that problem is by bringing in more parties. Practically, the weaker Likud-Beitenu was, the more necessary a left-wing party would become to the coalition. That party was Yesh Atid, which seems to be the most centrist of the sizable left-wing parties.

That prediction, or actually warning, came true with a vengeance. Not only did the Likud lose seven mandates worth of votes to Jewish Home (Jewish Home got 12 and Power to Israel got two, for a total of 14 – seven mandates greater then these two parties represented in the prior Knesset), but Yesh Atid almost doubled in size, going from a predicted 10 to 19 mandates.

So, predictably, Netanyahu’s first post-election call was to Yair Lapid.

At that point Netayahu had two realistic possibilities for a right-of-center coalition: Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Yesh Atid+Shas (with a moderate Haredi-draft plan) for a 72 seat coalition OR  Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ-Livni-(Kadima) for a 67-69 seat coalition without Lapid (unclear draft plan, but relatively decent foreign policy positions).

(A Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ coalition would amount to 62 seats, would result in do-nothing government, with a bad budget, and might even fall by the time the next budget came up).

When it became clear that Lapid’s demands were too inflexible, making Shas unwilling to join the coalition, meaning the first option was not going to happen, the second option became more necessary. So Liberman went about trying to make it happen, meeting with the Jewish Home. Talks began with Livni as well. But then Bennett and Lapid formed an alliance:  Bennett would not join the government, unless Lapid also joined.

Practically, that means that Netanyahu can’t form a government without Lapid. It also means that Lapid will be strengthened in his demands, specifically his universal draft plan (which sees lowering the amount of yeshiva-exemptions to a mere 400, lower than it was in the early years of the state) and Shas and UTJ will not sit in the government. Lapid will be doubly strengthened in his demand for a renewed focus on the peace process (he still clings to Golda Meir’s non-sense slogan of, you only make peace with your enemies), because not only does he have more leverage with Netanyahu, but also because Netanyahu will need to bring in more left-wing partners to stabilize the coalition, such as Tzipi Livni who demands that she lead a renewed negotiation effort.

Netanyahu tried to break the alliance by offering Bennett virtually everything he wanted prior to elections – greater say over government guidelines and ministries – in exchange for being the first party to join the coalition. That would have weakened Lapid’s position and forced him to moderate. But Bennett refused.

Israeli Coalition Negotiations: You Can’t Have it All

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In Israel, we had elections a few weeks ago, January  22.  It was just before my two week trip to the states and I’ve been back a week.  And it doesn’t yet seem like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been able to put together a government coalition.

During the election campaign, I blogged a lot about the difference between a coalition party and and opposition party.  Netanyahu understands the differences very well, IMHO almost too well.  Inflexible “principles” are for the opposition only, not the coalition.  There’s a moral/ideological price to pay for that “Volvo.”

Netanyahu isn’t new to coalition politics.  It’s his third big attempt, and he succeeded pretty easily the two previous times, even after the elections when Likud did not get the most Knesset votes.  But this time, he has to contend with political newbies, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett who are taking their campaign promises and alleged agreement with each other much more seriously than the more jaded and experienced politicians would.

Leaks from Likud reveal that NRP-Bayit Yehudi’s Bennett had been offered some very good positions for his people, but he isn’t biting alone.

Likud Beytenu offered Bayit Yehudi the Education Ministry, a top socioeconomic portfolio, and a deputy defense minister who would deal with settlements, Likud sources said on Tuesday.
A Likud source said the offer was conditioned on Bayit Yehudi conducting marathon coalition talks over 48 hours to become the first party to join the coalition.

The media keeps saying that he and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid’s have made a deal to pressure Bibi by sticking to the same basic government conditions/principles.

Lapid is sticking to what could be a socially, spiritually and military upheaval in the IDF, almost 100% draft of chareidim.

Yesh Atid wanted to set the age of enlistment for haredim at 18, as in the rest of the general population, and allow exemptions for only 400 exemplary yeshiva students every year. In the first five years, however, Lapid imagined offering full exemptions to ultra-Orthodox students who requested them, introducing a gradual increase in ultra-Orthodox conscription.

This may have sounded good when asking secular Leftists for their votes, but many of those voters don’t really want their children to be influenced by extremely observant Torah loyal Jews.  Esser Agaroth has an interesting post about that.

The Left only wants to enlist Haredim for the purposes of indoctrinating them into state loyalism. It has NO interest in having IDF units which inspire curiosity in its children about God and His Torah, about prayer, Shabbath, and Tefillin, or any other authentic Jewish observances.

That’s what this all boils down to.  We’re really fighting for the soul of the Jewish People, especially those in Israel, not for Volvos.  So, nu, will the wily Netanyahu succeed in crafting a new coalition before his deadline, or not?

*A Volvo was once the make of cars used by Israeli Government Ministers.  All ministers and sgan (deputy) ministers are provided with chauffeured limousines, cars plus drivers as perks of power.  So, referring to the “Volvo” is to refer to those perks.

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