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July 23, 2016 / 17 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘budget’

France Continues Funding PA General Budget, thereby Paying Salaries to Terrorists

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to the PMW website}

Following Palestinian Media Watch‘s exposure that the Palestinian Authority general budget funds the PA hate and terror promotion and rewards terrorist prisoners with high salaries, the US, the EU, Norway, and other European donors all stopped giving money to the PA general budget so that their money would not go directly to pay salaries for Palestinian terrorists.

This is not true for France. The PA announced last week that France signed agreements to give the PA money for various projects and in addition: “financial aid directly to the public treasury in the amount of 8 million euro.”

The PA general budget that France is contributing to pays monthly salaries to terrorists like Hamas bomb maker Abdallah Barghouti, whose bombs murdered 67 people, and Abbas Al-Sayid, who planned two suicide bombings in which 35 were killed, as well as all other Palestinians imprisoned for terror crimes.

The French government should note that the PA pays more than $12 million a month in salaries to terrorist prisoners. [Official PA TV, June 11, 2014] Accordingly, France’s 8 million euro ($8.9 million) will cover approximately three weeks of terrorists’ salaries.

The PA salary payments to terrorists have been documented extensively by PMW since 2011, most recently in the report The PA’s Billion Dollar Fraud, which documents that despite having promised international donors that it had ceased rewarding terrorists with salaries, the PA still continues this practice.

Recently, Mahmoud Abbas has indirectly confirmed PMW’s charge. When the Norwegian Foreign Minister complained to Abbas about the PA paying terrorists’ salaries, Abbas did not deny it but said it is not with Norwegian money: “In the meeting, I emphasized that this support program in which financial payments are increased the [longer] the prisoners serve time [in prison], is unacceptable… Abbas responded by repeating assurances that Norwegian funds are not going to finance the program.” [Dagen (Norway), May 4, 2016]

This is not true for France, which funds the PA budget directly.

The following is the article in the PA daily about French funding of the PA’s general budget:

“[PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah briefed the government members during the weekly meeting held today [May 25, 2016] in Ramallah, regarding results of the meeting he held in his office yesterday with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls… The [PA] prime minister expressed his gratitude to the French government for the ongoing support that it gives to the Palestinian people, whether directly or through the European Union. Likewise, he praised the three agreements that were signed during the visit. They are the agreement to fund the administration of a wastewater project in Hebron in the amount of 13 million euro, the agreement to carry out research and for the French Agency to give technical aid for future development of Palestine in the amount of 500,000 euro, and the agreement to give financial aid directly to the public treasury in the amount of 8 million euro.”
[Donia Al-Watan (independent Palestinian news agency), May 25, 2016]

Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf:
“The Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs [Today the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, that receives the same budget from the PA, Ed.] established in the Palestinian National Authority has the third highest monthly budget in the PA, meaning it is the third largest PA government ministry. That is, over 40 million shekels [i.e., 12 million dollars] a month, which the Palestinian Authority pays the prisoners, the released prisoners and their families.”
[Official PA TV, June 11, 2014]
Palestinian Media Watch

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Arrive in Israel March 7

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden is set to visit the State of Israel on March 7.

Biden’s two-day visit is aimed at reaching an understanding before the two countries sign a defense memorandum of understanding.

The Vice President’s visit comes after a statement made two weeks ago by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he said that if the U.S. and Israel cannot reach an “understanding” on the budget, it would be better to postpone signing the memorandum until the next president is sworn in. Netanyahu has asked for a $2 billion raise to $5 billion in annual defense aid. The current budget ends in 2018; but Netanyahu is looking ahead towards the research and development time it takes to put together the various elements on the military “laundry list.”

The prime minister said that more is needed in order to buy advanced aircraft and refueling aircraft as well as to develop anti-missile systems, intelligence equipment, cyber technologies and advanced tanks.

Senior U.S. officials have reacted by warning that America’s budget is not going to improve and that Israel will not get a better deal with the next president, regardless of who that may be.

Hana Levi Julian

Knesset Coalition Avoids 266 Hr. Budget Debate as Opposition Submits 32,000 Amendments

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

(JNi.media) “Despite the opposition’s amendments, 32,000 altogether—which shows how serious they are—we will pass a budget this week,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before the start of the budget debate which began Wednesday afternoon.

Rookie Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon opened the budget debate with a call to Knesset Members to vote for his budget, and the Knesset plenum is already engaged in second and third voting on both the state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law for 2015-2016–which incorporates all bills and legislative amendments required for the government to fulfill its economic policy. The agenda calls for 600 votes, give or take, a process that will last many consecutive hours until some time Thursday morning.

This legislative marathon began with a brilliant parliamentary trick on the part of the opposition parties, led by MK Itzhak Herzog (Zionist Camp). The idea was to topple the government through excessive amendments. The math was simple: by law the budget must be approved by Thursday night at the latest, or the government falls and the country goes to new elections. So the opposition parties amassed 32,000 amendments to the budget, expecting that with a vote on each amendment the debate would last well into Shabbat afternoon, and by then the Netanyahu government would have been a faint memory.

But there are crafty parliamentarians on the Coalition side, too, and they decided on a precedent: they bunched related amendments together to create six hundred groups, allotting one vote per group, so that the process would last not more than 15 hours—give or take.

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) threatened to appeal the anti-ambush ambush call of the House Committee to the High Court, and MK Israel Eichler (UTJ) told him: “Be my guest, submit all the amendments to the Supreme Court and let the justices sit and vote for two weeks running on those 32,000 amendments. They are the real sovereigns anyway, let them legislate a little…”

Netanyahu, whose 61-59 majority government was not supposed to last through the start of the Jewish year appears to be sailing calmly into New Year’s, and is very pleased with his budget, which “maintains a proper, responsible macroeconomic framework for Israel, but also adds billions to education, welfare and health, and is accompanied by very important reforms to lower the cost of living, streamline our bureaucracy and advance the Israeli economy. The economy is very strong, very stable, one of the most prominent among the world’s economies, and our responsibility is to continue this trend.”

“All that’s required of us is 24 hours of discipline,” Netanyahu commented on the marathon budget vote. “We proved that we are good at being disciplined, our small electoral advantage is meaningful, and we will maintain it and pass the Budget.”

Finance Minister Kahlon was especially proud of his defense budget: “We have reached an historic agreement with the security forces and the army,” he boasted to Calcalist. “An agreement which includes a large scale streamlining of the system alongside intensification and a multi-year budget. We’ve done away with the phenomenon of IDF officers having to court the politicians to get a bigger budget, otherwise they’d stop military training — we made that phenomenon disappear and it is no more.”

Kahlon continued: “We raised conscripts’ pay by 50%,” noting, “I think that’s not enough, they deserve more.” Israeli enlisted men and women get laughably small monthly salaries, which widens the gap between soldiers from rich and poor homes. “We want a strong economy, a healthy society and a strong army,” Kahlon said.

JNi.Media

City of Jerusalem & Parents’ Group Declare School Strike Over Inadequate Security

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The Jerusalem municipality joined the city parents’ association to declare a school strike Thursday for students in grades 9-12 to protest inadequate government security funding.

High schools throughout Jerusalem will be on strike as both the city and the parents demand the government pay for security measures that will protect schools throughout the school day.

Elementary schools are in session as usual.

“As long as the government is shirking its responsibility for school security, we will not abandon our children,” explained Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in a statement released Wednesday night.

According to the statement, security for Jerusalem schools is funded only until 1:30 pm.

Security coverage at school is not funded after that time, and those communities who cannot afford to pay for it may simply have no coverage until the end of the school day.

Hana Levi Julian

Knesset Approves Budget in 1st Voting Round as Shas Threatens to Pull Support

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

(JNi.media) On Wednesday night, at the end of a seven-hour debate, a majority of 57 coalition MKs supported the Netanyahu government budget proposal, versus 53 opposition votes, with Minister of the Economy Aryeh Deri absent from the session during a vote so closely related to his office. Deri threatened that should the issue of zero VAT on essential products not be resolved by the following voting round, his party, Shas, would oppose the budget.

The Knesset’s first voting round approved the Budget bill for the years 2015-2016. Immediately thereafter, the Knesset passed the Economic Arrangements bill in a first vote, with Economy Minister Deri absent from that vote as well.

Immediately thereafter, the Knesset passed the Economic Arrangements Law first reading with the same. This vote also absent Economy Minister Deri.

The Economic Arrangements Law includes all the necessary changes in legislation needed to implement the measures the government wants to enact as part of the state budget. A new economic arrangements act has been presented annually to the Knesset since 1985, adjacent to the state budget proposal. The law is a set of proposed changes in many areas, each of which requires special legislation. Instead of drafting a bill on every individual subject, the government packs all those provisions in a single bill.

The state budget for 2015 will reach $84 billion, and $89 billion in 2016. The deficit target in 2016-2015 would be 2.9% of GDP. For comparison, Israel’s next door neighbor, Jordan, with roughly the same size population — about 8 million — has an annual budget of $10.5 billion.

A senior Shas official explained that Shas MKs approached Minister Aryeh Deri Wednesday night and expressed anger that the issue of the zero VAT on essential products has not been finalized with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, despite having been agreed on at the cabinet budget meeting. At a consequent meeting with his faction members, Deri ordered them to vote for the budget in the first round, but threatened that if the zero VAT legislation would not come through, the Shas faction would not support the budget.

Deri, who was absent from the vote, struck an offset deal with an opposition member who committed to also abstain. Altogether, the MKs did not permit the fact that not all coalition members were on hand at the vote to be turned into a consequent vote of no confidence, since such an attempt would have ended in little more than theatrics. On Wednesday night, MKs were more interested in addressing real issues.

Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman slammed the budget proposal, calling it “Isra-bluff.” Lieberman asked, “How can we approve a budget without knowing the size of the defense budget, which counts for its largest part? How can we approve a budget when we’re told about 4%, across the board cuts?”

According to Lieberman, the problem is that the Prime Minister doesn’t know how to make decisions, only how to babble and chat.

Finance Minister Kahlon said the proposed budget is one of the best Israel has had in recent years. “The budget brings good news on the cost of living,” said Kahlon, adding that the greatest threat to the country’s stability are the social gaps: “This is a national task and this Government is working bring the periphery closer and promote competition,” he said.

“I became Minister of Finance in awe,” Kahlon told the Knesset. “What I’m trying to pass is an Israel in which there is equality, there is compassion, there is a mutual responsibility and there are social values. There are weak and poor among us, converts, widows and orphans. We mustn’t be cynical about this.”

JNi.Media

Economics Committee Tussles with Finance Over Broadcast Authority

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Knesset Economics Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel has sent a sharply-worded ‘reminder’ to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon not to forget the Israel Broadcasting Corp. in his new 2015-2016 budget.

In the letter, signed together with committee member Prof. Yossi Yona, Cabel noted that last week’s budget approval didn’t mention any funding for the yet-to-be established new broadcasting corporation.

And the current Israel Broadcasting Authority, meanwhile, is already in liquidation.

Without any financial resources to keep the IBA going, or to launch the IBC, television screens in Israel might go dark, Cabel pointed out – a violation of the broadcast law passed last year.

The Finance Minister was enjoined by special legislation approved in Knesset last year to resolve all of its fiscal issues with the Israel Broadcast Authority.

These include the cost of its operations and the startup for the new IBC, the letter states. More to the point, however, is the lack of logic in the IBA having to request its funding each month.

Therefore, Cabel informed Kahlon that he has called an emergency meeting of the Economics Committee, to be held during the Knesset recess – and Finance Ministry officials will be required to attend, recess notwithstanding – to discuss the ministry’s breach of law.

Minister Without Portfolio Ofir Akunis, who handles communications issues, received a copy of the letter, as did Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chair of the special committee involved in preparing the amended public broadcasting law.

Hana Levi Julian

Cabinet Passes 2015-2016 Budget, DM Ya’alon Abstains

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

The Cabinet passed the 2015-2016 budget early Thursday morning after a long day of wrangling and debating.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was the only holdout, abstaining due to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support for recommendations by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to set the defense budget at NIS 55.3 billion for 2016. Kahlon conditioned on raising the budget to NIS 59 billion on the adoption of the recommendations of the Locker Committee.

The Locker Commission, headed by Maj.-Gen. (res) Yochanan Locker last year issued a 77-page report calling for massive across-the-board cuts to the IDF budget. Included were 53 recommendations on budget savings and “efficiency reforms” totaling NIS 9.6 billion annually between 2016 and 2020 that Locker said could be “reinvested” as new funds by the IDF.

Among the recommendations were cuts to pensions for IDF non-combat officers, capping the defense budget at NIS 59 billion, limiting mandatory service for men to two years and 11 percent cuts in personnel.

The IDF viewed the recommendations as short-sighted, pointing out the new challenges facing the military such as the need for advanced development of cyber defense, Iron Dome anti-missile training and technology and similar cutting-edge financial needs. At the time, Ya’alon also said the commission’s recommendations were incompatible with the threats facing Israel which have not decreased but rather, have only changed.

Additions to Israel’s present budget were made throughout the day on Wednesday to individual budgets in ministries where coalition promises had been made.

The ministers had already been warned ahead of time by Netanyahu that the government would collapse if they did not stop their demands and get behind the budget.

From the outset, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said bluntly, “The State of Israel will have a budget because otherwise it will not have a government and our economic and security situation will deteriorate. Demands always exceed what there is but in the end, the right decisions are made. We will do so this time as well.”

An extra NIS 8 billion ($2.1 billion) had already been pulled together for the NIS 414 two-year budget, but ministers clamored for more spending on education, defense and police. In addition, there was an outcry over value added tax (sales tax) which social activists want eliminated on basic goods.

An addition of NIS 1.7 billion was made, for example, to the budget of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan over the next two years.

Cutbacks were cancelled in the budget of Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev, and an additional NIS 50 million was found to sweeten the deal.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett received NIS 290 million for his budget as well, to ease the cutbacks to his ministry’s coffers.

“We have to continue the economic growth and that is why taxes will not increase,” Netanyahu said when introducing the budget on Wednesday. “When the money gets to the citizens, they will make better use of it than the bureaucrats will.

“There are reforms here that reduce the cost of living for citizens. It’s important to reduce the price of food, transportation and health, and to increase the supply of housing,” he said.

After having passed the Cabinet, the budget will go to the Knesset plenum for a vote on August 31. Final passage of the budget must be completed in the Knesset by November 19.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cabinet-passes-2015-2016-budget-dm-yaalon-abstains/2015/08/06/

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