web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bill’

Congress Boosts Sanctions—Which Are Working—But President Gets to Roll Them Back Selectively

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Congressional negotiators have settled on a bill enhancing Iran sanctions, and President Obama announced new sanctions targeting fronts for Iran.

“This bipartisan, bicameral Iran sanctions legislation strengthens current U.S. law by leaps and bounds,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee and a chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement released Monday after House and Senate negotiators finalized the legislation.

“It updates and expands U.S. sanctions, and counters Iran’s efforts to evade them,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The bill sends a clear message to the Iranian regime that the U.S. is committed, through the use of sanctions, to preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.”

Obama administration officials likely will cite the enhanced sanctions bill, due to pass both houses in its final version before week’s end, in their efforts to persuade Israel not to take military action against Iran in the coming months.

But the Obama administration, with backing from Senate Democrats, managed to roll back some provisions backed by the House and Senate Republicans.

Under the final version, for instance, the president has considerable leeway to postpone sanctions on insurers in order to give them time to comply.

Also omitted from the final version are sanctions that congressional hard-liners had sought on individuals associated with SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, as long as the body continues to deal with Iran’s central bank.

Obama administration officials in a conference call with reporters would not commit to signing the bill or endorsing all its facets, but said they were “optimistic” about working with Congress to continue isolating Iran.

Ehsan Mehrabi reported in insideIRAN.org (Report from Tehran: How Sanctions Hurt the Lives of Ordinary Iranians) that the sanctions are having a significant effect on the lives of most Iranians. Razie Sadeghi, an economic journalist who is in regular contact with the country’s economic officials, told Mehrabi that Iranian officials believe declining oil revenues as a result of the sanctions on the Central Bank and the country’s oil sector “could deliver a big blow to Iran’s economy.”

Mehrabi points out that one of the consequences of the sanctions has been the refusal of many companies to sell auto parts to automobile companies in Iran. He cites a 36% reduction in car manufacturing in the country, “which can have unpredictable consequences in regards to labor unrest.”

According to Mehrabi’s report, the majority of people blame Iran’s leaders and believe that the government’s insistence on carrying out the nuclear program is the cause of the economic problems. Nonetheless, he believes that ultimately these sanctions will hurt the people more than the regime.

CBS News reported earlier this week that financial sanctions and oil embargoes imposed upon Iran by the international community are having an effect upon Tehran’s ballistic missile program, with experts saying Iran’s ability to develop and build missiles capable of striking targets in Western Europe and beyond has been significantly impeded.

On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the sanctions are having a “serious impact” on the Iranian economy, even if their results may not be immediately obvious.

Panetta’s comments come just a day after US President Barack Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney, during his trip to Jerusalem, backed Israel’s right to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

In a separate move on Tuesday, Obama introduced new sanctions that target fronts for Iranian entities already subject to sanctions.

The new sanctions, Obama said in a statement announcing his executive order, are “authorized for those who may seek to avoid the impact of these sanctions, including against individuals and entities that provide material support to the National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company, or the Central Bank of Iran, or for the purchase or acquisition of U.S. bank notes or precious metals by the Government of Iran.”

Singled out for citation were the Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank, for having “facilitated transactions worth millions of dollars on behalf of Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions for their links to Iran’s illicit proliferation activities.”

“By cutting off these financial institutions from the United States, today’s action makes it clear that we will expose any financial institution, no matter where they are located, that allows the increasingly desperate Iranian regime to retain access to the international financial system,” Obama said in his statement.

Members of Congress to Hold Moment of Silence for Munich 11

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a moment of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches slain by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“We’re going to give one-minute speeches on the House floor and devote a substantial moment of that to silence on Thursday,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a conference call with the media on Wednesday. Following that, he and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will lead a group of lawmakers to the Capital grounds for another moment of silence.

Engel and Lowey are cosponsors of a bill calling on the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence for the Israelis during Friday evening’s opening ceremonies of the London Games. The bill unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but a vote has yet to be scheduled by the full body. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution.

“On Friday, millions of people around the world will tune in to the Olympics opening ceremony,” Lowey said. “A minute of silence would be a reminder that we must be constantly vigilant against prejudice, hate and intolerance, and it would pay tribute to the Munich 11 and their families.”

President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, along with several governments around the world, have joined the call for a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies, but the IOC has rejected the request.

“For them not to do a moment of silence, that’s being political because frankly they’re afraid of offending some of the Arab nations,” Engel said, adding later that “If you have this fiction of fraternal bonds and commonality of feeling, then it’s appropriate for the IOC to act without any politics whatsoever. The only reason they haven’t done this in 40 years is because it’s Israeli athletes, and that makes it even more disgraceful.”

Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-Fla.) added on the call, “There is still time for the world to honor these athletes and to unite against terrorism. We can’t allow the 40th anniversary of their murder to pass by, and we can’t allow it to be overshadowed by geopolitics.”

In the past, Olympics officials have attended private Israeli or Jewish ceremonies marking the tragedy, but other than the day after the murders themselves, the IOC has not held a commemoration during the Games for the Munich victims. There was a brief mention of the killings at the close of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when then-IOC head Juan Antonio Samaranch called for a moment of silence for the victims of a bombing during those Games as well as the slain Israelis.

Evolution Vs. Revolution in Struggle over Haredi Draft

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The Knesset was humming with the sound of bells on Wednesday as the call to vote for an equal service bill filled the building.

“You have a responsibility to contribute to your country, to the state that you get benefits from,” FM Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu spokesperson said. “Those who serve will receive.”

The proposed bill was shot down by a 74-20 vote.

The opposition in large part came from the Haredim. Avraham Chasida, 32, is a Chassid from Jerusalem and an army veteran. He believes that the army is a method for protecting the Jewish people. In turn, he also said that continuing to learn Torah is the only way the Jewish people will really be protected.

Chasida set up a tent in Wohl Rose Park outside of the Knesset in protest of the new bill. He explained that there has already been a natural increase in army service in the Ultra Orthodox community without force or punishment. In 2007, 305 Haredi men were serving, and in 2011 that number has increased to 2,372. The sentiment was a confusion at changing something that is already working.

“Don’t just be right, be smart,” he said. “After 64 years, you can’t take people and turn it around and switch it in one shot.”

Knesset members are also aware that the transition must be smooth. “We can’t have a revolution, we have to have evolution,” MK Tzipi Hotovely said, adding that the Army needs to be prepared for the Haredim just as much as the Haredim need to be ready for service.

However, time is of the essence, and not only because of the August 1 deadline posed by the Supreme Court. Hotovely said that the window of opportunity exists now – because in the near future Knesset representation will change.

A spokesperson for Yisrael Beytenu echoed her statement. “We’ve had 64 years to evolve,” he said. “Demographically, it will be impossible to pass this bill 20 years from now.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is now working on a bill that is quite similar to the Tal Law, and if all goes well, should be passed before the end of the month.

Despite Declarations for Equality – Knesset Shoots Down Universal Service Bill

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The Knesset was humming with the sound of bells on Wednesday as the calls to vote for an equal service bill filled the building. The Supreme Court’s decision to cancel the Tal Law has caused a crisis in the Knesset to create a new and acceptable law before August 1.

The Yisrael Beytenu party, under Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, proposed the bill. Yet despite previous claims of fairness and equality by many Knesset members, as well as the government’s previous support of the bill, an overwhelming majority (74-20) voted against the bill.

This concept of equal service is one that the Yisrael Beytenu party has always supported, and they promised to vote for any bill that included that statement, according to a spokesperson for the party. This proved to be true when the party voted for an almost identical bill proposed by the Ha’atzmaut (Independence) party of Ehud Barak.

“Despite all the talk, there is no seriousness about change coming from any other party, as no one has created a written law in response,” someone close to the Yisrael Beytenu party told JewishPress.com. “We’re days away from the end of the Knesset and the August 1st deadline is looming,” he said.

The vote occurred the day after the Kadima party pulled out of the coalition and entered the opposition, specifically because of the draft issue.

The service options covered under the new bill could include military service, national service or community service, but the point is to create one rule for everyone to create a greater equality among Israelis.

“You have a responsibility to contribute to your country, to the state that you get benefits from,” a Yisrael Beytenu spokesperson said. “Those who serve will receive,” he added, using a phrase very similar to one Prime Minister Netanyahu used regarding compromising and negotiating with the Palestinians.

The opposition in large part comes from the Haredim.

Avraham Chasida, 32, is a Hassid from Yerushalayim and also an army veteran. He believes that the army is just one tool for protecting the Jewish people. But in turn, he also said that continuing to learn Torah is the only way the Jewish people will really be protected.

Chasida set up a tent in Wohl Rose Park outside of the Knesset in protest of the new bill. He explained that there has already been a natural increase in army service among the Ultra Orthodox community, without force or punishment – and specifically because of the Tal Law. Annually, there are around 7500 Chareidim who come of draft age. In 2007, 305 Haredi men were enlisted, while in 2011 that number has increased to 2,372. The Tal Law was working, he told us.

“Don’t just be right, be smart,” he said. “After 64 years, you can’t take people and turn them around and change them in one shot.”

Netanyahu also believes that it’s not practical to force the Ultra-Orthodox into service and is therefore attempting to create a proposition with more carrots and less sticks.

Some Knesset members are also aware that the transition must be smooth. “We can’t have a revolution, we have to have evolution,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said. That is in reference to society from both sides. The army needs to be prepared for the Haredim just as much as the Haredim need to be ready for service.

However, time is sensitive, and not only because of the August 1 deadline. Hotovely said that the window of opportunity is now, because in the near future, it may not be possible to pass due to Knesset representation changes.

A spokesperson for Yisrael Beytenu echoed her statement, but with some criticism. “We’ve had 64 years to evolve,” he said. “Demographically, it will be impossible to pass this bill 20 years from now.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu is now working on a bill that is a variation of the Plessner bill, that if all goes well, could be passed before the end of the month.

Liberman Buys Time for Coalition, Hareidim Not Buying Idea of Service in Jewish Army

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The fierce political, religious, and sociological debate over whether Hareidi Jews should be mandatorily drafted into the Israeli Army like their Religious Zionist and secular counterparts hit a boiling point on Tuesday, with the Kadima party backing out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and threatening the stability of the government.  Yet Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman has made it clear that he will continue to pursue the drafting of all Israelis at the age of 18, but will uphold the current administration and keep his party at the center of the action.

“We won’t leave the coalition under any circumstances. We will fight the battle from within,” Liberman said on Wednesday in an interview with Army Radio. “Those who really want universal enlistment must support our bill. You can postpone the end, but you can’t evade a decision forever.”

Yisrael Beytenu has drafted its own version of a national conscription law following Kadima’s departure under the leadership of Shaul Mofaz over the failure of committees to draft a replacement for the Tal law to its liking.

The Tal law, which exempted Hareidi Jews in yeshiva from the military draft was declared unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice earlier this year.  If an alternative law is not drafted, all Hareidim will be subject to the draft beginning on August 1.

On this week’s Jewish Press radio program hosted by Yishai Fleisher, Hareidi tour guide and resident of the eastern Jerusalem Jewish community of Maale HaZeitim, Meir Eisenman, defended the Hareidi position against serving in the army, but also stressed the importance of understanding that despite the disagreements, Hareidi Jews support the IDF.  “I think the first thing we have to do is make a very strong difference [and not lump together Israeli Arabs and Hareidim when ].  The Hareidim are on our side, they support the state of Israel, they support the army, and they are certainly not wishing, G-d forbid, for the army to fail, and we have to make that clear distinction any time we discuss this issue,” he said.

Eisenman cited the Book of Joshua’s emphasis that there is “clear connection of inheriting the Land of Israel through the Torah of Israel” as a case for exempting full-time Torah students from participating in the IDF.  He also tied the last major terror attack – a 2009 attack in Eilat which killed 8 and injured 40 – to the summer “bein hazmanin” yeshiva break, summer vacation for Torah students.  If you look back through the latest 10- 15 years, many of the most horrific terror attacks occurred when the national study level is on a down.” The Sbarro bombing and the Number 2 bus bombing, are among those attacks, according to Eisenman, as well as the Park Hotel bombing which occurred during the Passover break.

Eisenman further said that the success of the IDF is not rational, and that Israelis should attribute at least part of their safety to Torah study.  “To see that the Jewish people, all we need is the soldier that goes and risks his life, however important it is – that he’s the only thing that’s protecting the Land of Israel and the Jewish nation and the Torah of the Land of Israel, you’re just looking at half the picture, you’re not looking at the full picture.”

Fleisher replied by saying the draft is not a threat to Torah study, but rather lets them “fulfill the great mitzvah of being in the Jewish army”.  He said “the best, the most religious” Jews – including Joshua himself – were also the greatest warriors on behalf of the Jewish nation.  “You’re going to mention the Book of Joshua and you’re going to use that as a proof that because he was told to take the Torah with at all times and study the whole time…? He’s the exact example of the Torah student who is the greatest of the generation, he’s the biggest rabbi around, and he’s the number one soldier as well,” Fleisher said.   “To me, what’s missing in this whole discussion is that soldiering and being a Torah Jew in the Land of Israel are one.  Those are connected things.”

But Hareidi leadership has not seen it that way.  In late June, thousands of Hareidi men gathered for an early morning “sack and ashes” prayer service to beseech God to “annul the evil decree” of being forced to serve in the Jewish army.  Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef recommended to cancel the “bein hazmanim” yeshiva break and continue Torah study in order that God would hear their prayers not to be drafted.

Ahead of Vote, Liberman Video Touts Importance of Equal Service Law

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party Yisrael Beytenu released a video stressing the importance of passing a law mandating equal service for all Israelis. The video shows, through dramatic graphics, how in 1948 the vast majority of Israelis served their country whereas by 2020 the majority of Israelis will not be serving.

Titled “One Citizenship. One Obligation. One Opportunity. One Vote,” the clip was released ahead of the planned vote on Yisrael Beytenu’s IDF, National, or Civilian Service Law Proposal this Wednesday in the Knesset.

The bill seeks to establish several principles, which other, similar proposed bills do not necessarily share:

The promise of equal sharing of the burden of service among the State’s citizens.

The establishment of a system in which every citizen, men and women alike, will serve in the army, or perform national or civilian service (in effect, the civilian service in this bill will include today’s national service).

The recognition of Torah study in yeshivas as an important value in the State of Israel and the establishment of a program that combines learning and service – but certainly not with the huge number of yeshiva students who today avoid the draft.

The recognition of equal burden-sharing as an important value in the State of Israel.

The establishment of a state service option, taking into account the nature of the various sectors in Israel and assuring the ability to maintain the provisions of various religions and their customs while serving.

“We promised we would bring our bill no matter what,” declared Liberman on Monday, adding, “We have no choice. We waited until the last minute to see if they come to any reasonable compromise or a satisfying solution to both the Haredi and Minorities draft. Because there is no such solution, we put up our bill to a vote.”

Regarding sanctions against those who would not serve, the Israel Beiteinu chairman said he prefers economic moves. “By putting someone in prison, we’d be playing into their hands,” he explained. “If we take someone and put him in jail, we will make them a martyr, which is what they’re looking for. But once yeshiva boy knows that he’s not getting his support and his scholarship, and the yeshiva, too, will know that it does not get their benefits, that’ll be the most effective thing. Minorities, too, if they realize they won’t be eligible for unemployment and other benefits – they’ll come around.”

As things stand on Tuesday, the chances that the bill will pass on its first reading in the Knesset are low.

Click on the CC button at the base of the screen for English subtitles.

New Bill Envisions Large Scale Settlement Uprooting, Attempts to Protect Victims

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Pinui Pitzui (compensation for evacuation) was an idea proposed by the far-left party Meretz as incentive to the Jews of Gush Katif: anyone who leaves his home before the deadline date, would be compensated amply. The assumption behind this suggestion was that most settlers chose life in the disputed territories because of cheap housing and government subsidies. In the end very few settlers took the bait.

A bill proposed on Tuesday by National Union chairman Yaacov Katz (Ketzaleh) will require the government to build new homes and infrastructure for residents of outposts and settlements before they are demolished. For a party so strongly identified with the ideals of settling everywhere in Eretz Israel but especially in the “disputed territories,” the bill sounded an awful lot like Pinui Pitzui.

Co-sponsored by five Haredi MKs – and so far not by Katz’s own faction members – the bill, titled “Preservation of the Rights of Evacuees 5772-2012,” is intended to “maintain the basic human rights and the fabric of life of a group of citizens slated to be evacuated.”

The bill states that an evacuation of a large group (20 or more housing units) can only be done after a new location has been determined in which the evacuees can continue their lives in the manner to which they had grown accustomed. This means that the new location must have an infrastructure in place, as well as comparable education and religious service to those they leave behind. The new location must also offer employment for everyone that is comparable in terms of character, pay, and commuting time. Otherwise the evacuees are entitled to unemployment compensation for 24 months.

This is the famous “key for key” exchange which Gush Katif settlers were demanding at the time, meaning – instead of giving us money, give us the key to a new home and a new life that our comparable to what we are asked to give up – and then we’ll give you the key to our home.

In addition, the Finance Ministry must have in place the entire amount slated for reparations to the evacuees, above and beyond the arrangements for resettling.

“If, after we’ve objected and fought and demonstrated, and, God forbid, lost, and the state of Israel has decided to kick Jews out of their home,” Katz’s spokesman Harel Cohen, told the Jewish Press, “and, by the way, not only Jews, anyone, it cannot do it before it built them a home elsewhere, to start their lives anew.”

Cohen said the bill intends to prevent a repeat of the terrible injustice that Sharon has done to the Gush Katif evacuees, about which he says there’s a wall-to-wall consensus – as  seven years after their uprooting, most of the evacuees still do not live in permanent homes.

I told him that to an outside observer the bill looked like the foundation for a wholesale transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria. Cohen denied this in no uncertain terms, saying the idea is to force the government to build a new Gish Katif before it takes down an old one.

It certainly appears that the right and the settlers are maturing and getting used to being associated with the ruling majority, and learning to play politics. It also explains why five members of Shas and one from United Torah Judaism are co-sponsoring the bill, as they could probably teach their national religious brethren a thing or two about exacting a price for their cooperation with government.

Cohen told me that the dean of Beit El Yeshiva and Katz’s mentor Rabbi Zalman Melamed was pushing this legislation as far back as a year ago, and at the time even Katz had difficulty with the concept – much as his three faction colleagues still do, apparently, today.

“It sounded to him like a conditional agreement” for evacuation, Cohen explained. But a year later, having agonized over the arduous process of losing the Ulpana Hill neighborhood at the High Court without even getting their opportunity to argue back, Ketzalaeh and everyone else in Beit El can certainly envision the worst happening again.

Talking to a (Man on a) Horse

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

   יְהִי-דָן נָחָשׁ עֲלֵי-דֶרֶךְ שְׁפִיפֹן עֲלֵי אֹרַח הַנּשֵׁךְ עִקְּבֵי-סוּס וַיִּפֹּל רֹכְבוֹ אָחוֹר

Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. (Gen. 49:17)

Right wing activist Itamar ben Gvir was arrested by police on Wednesday during a demonstration outside the Knesset, as protesters reacted  to the rejection of a bill that would have saved their homes from needless demolition.

It appeared, as the verse in Genesis suggests, that when dealing with the folks on horseback, the well thought out, logical argument rarely wins the day.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/talking-to-a-man-on-a-horse/2012/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: