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July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘coalition negotiations’

Tonight at Midnight: Netanyahu’s Moment of Truth

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By midnight, Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu is obligated under Israeli law to go up to the Reuven Rivlin’s presidential palace and declare whether or not he has been successful in cobbling together a coalition government.

Bibi has run out of time, and there will be no more time extensions. It’s his moment of truth.

Unfortunately, as of Wednesday morning, he is far from having a the minimum 61-member coalition that could receive the Knesset’s vote of confidence.

Netanyahu’s troubles have come from the two parties he thought he had in his pocket and thus took for granted and abused: Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu—6 seats, and Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi-8 seats.

So far, Netanyahu has secured only 53 seats, his talks with Liberman have been severed by the resigning Foreign Minister, and they appear to be on the rocks with Bennett.

Here’s an interesting point: Liberman, who is considered by many Israelis—and most of the country’s media—to be a cynical vote broker, exemplifying that with his left-right-left-right zig-zagging before the elections, quit the negotiations in a huff solely over ideological issues.

A source connected to the Yisrael Beytenu party told JewishPress.com that Netanyahu offered Liberman to continue as the Foreign Minister, and also offered him all the ministries he asked for.

Netanyahu’s previous (third) government, made serious changes in its social agreement with the Chareidi population – some good, some bad, and some good but done in a bad way.

In a collaboration between Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy Minister Bennett, and the entire coalition, Netanyahu’s previous government significantly reduced child welfare payments (which hurt the Chareidi population the most), and legislated draft laws that were, at least on paper, more draconian than previous ones–though in implementation, they actually reduced Chareidi enlistment instead of increasing it. The same government also used the budget to encourage Chareidi men and women to hit the job market, including a push to get them into universities.

In addition, the same government empowered the religious-Zionist agenda in areas of rabbinic officiating, such as marriages for non-religious Israeli Jews, or conversions for non-Jewish Israelis.

But in his haste to forge a government with UTJ and Shas parties, Netanyahu handed the Chareidi parties the offices empowered to roll back many of those reforms and achievements.

Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday morning, Liberman said: “In recent days has been shown that the Likud sold out all its principles budgets to the Chareidim, and all that remains is a debate over ministerial portfolios. The debate of the past few hours is exclusively about increasing the number of ministers and deputy ministers, and there is no substantive discussion.”

Liberman is apparently fed up with Netanyahu, his ally for more than twenty years. Liberman supported him loyally, even in decisions he despised (twice he gave his cabinet vote to a decision not to conclude heavy Gaza skirmishes with the elimination of Hamas–he explicitly demanded the destruction of Hamas in these coalition negotiations).

He’s done it while being pursued for years by the judiciary civil service over seemingly unending corruption cases, none of which have ever actually found him guilty. His deputies have been investigated several times over, but police has been unable to connect their alleged crimes to Liberman.

Naftali Bennett is yet another long-time ally who feels taken for granted and used.

For one thing, Netanyahu’s amazing vote sweep in the last few days of the March election campaign came directly from Bayit Yehudi voters. Bennett and company happily obliged this sucker-punch move, setting up a right-wing rally in Kikar Rabin where they practically called on upwards of 100 thousand of their voters to switch to Bibi.

The Likud’s rise came directly from that rally at Bennett’s expense.

And while Naftali Bennett was the first politician Netanyahu called after the elections, Bayit Yehudi was almost the last party Bibi called on for serious negotiations after he had already signed away the Ministry of Religious Affairs to Shas, so the Aryeh Deri could highlight all of Bennett’s achievements in the area of religion services reform in Israel, and then press DELETE.

Now, taking advantage of Liberman’s angry departure, Bennett upped the ante—demanding major offices in return for joining, most important among them the Ministry of Justice, which he wants to hand over to his partner, Ayelet Shaked.

This is probably the most fun thing a National-Religious leader has had the pleasure of doing, ever.

The Left has been using Israel’s Justice department as their bulwark against the Right: appointments of a long line of anti-settlement Attorney Generals? It’s Justice department. Promotions of insider, radical leftwing judges who haven’t met a deceptive “Palestinian” land seller? Justice department again. Legislation that subverts the will of the voter in favor of the will of a tiny, self-appointing judicial minority? Justice department. Blatantly undemocratic, politically motivated investigations against popular, right wing leaders (including Netanyahu)? What do you know, it’s that Justice department again.

It’s no wonder Peace Now has called the notion of appointing Ayelet Shaked Minister of Justice “Tzelem Ba’heichal” – like placing a idol of Zeus in the Holy Temple’s inner sanctuary. For them it really is nothing less.

Yesterday Bennett handed the Likud his list of demands and disappeared from sight. No interviews, Not answering the Likud’s calls. A game of chicken—with little to lose.

Especially when Bennett suspects that the reason he was offered third-tier ministries was because Netanyahu planns to fire him following negotiatiations with Yitzchak Herzog (Zionist Camp) when no longer under deadline pressures.

The Likud spread rumors that Bayit Yehudi also demanded Defense, or the Foreign Ministry for Bennett, alongside the Judiciary.

One Likud MK joked that he’s surprised Bennett didn’t go so far as demand a rotation agreement for Prime Minister.

It’s a sellers market, and Bennett, who had at least one successful business exit, is going for broke.

Netanyahu has more to lose from a new election, assuming Zionist Camp’s Yitzhak Herzog fails to cobble a government together should President Rivlin assign him the task after midnight tonight.

In a new election, Liberman’s and Bennett’s voters, who bought the Likud’s argument that only a strong Netanyahu could represent the right—all those angry voters will come back home, giving Liberman back his 12 mandates, Bennett his 12 to 16, and Bibi — will be much reduced, with 20 or so seats.

It’s going to be an interesting day.

Report: Bibi Blinks First, Ayelet Shaked to be Justice Minister

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

According to senior Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, Netanyahu “folded” and agreed to appoint Ayelet Shaked as Justice Minister, following Bennett’s counter-threats.

Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett went all the way in his game of chicken with Netanyahu, and apparently Netanyahu felt he had more to lose.

If the report is accurate, and Bennett (or Netanyahu) has no additional demands, Netanyahu’s coalition may now be under way.

Read Ayelet Shaked’s exclusive article on JewishPress.com.

Bennett Goes Underground as Likud’s Anxiety Increases

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi party, completely cut off communications today as negotiations with the Likud reached an impasse, just a day before Netanyahu’s deadline to form a coalition. No one from the Likud party was able to reach him, no matter how hard they tried. It’s a trick he clearly learned and perfected from Avigdor Liberman.

Bennett believes that Netanyahu is short-changing his party with unreasonable offers and low-level ministries, as well as giving too much to Shas and in particular the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

One rumor has it that Bennett is concerned that Netanyhu is just biding time and creating a temporary coalition until the Zionist Camp can dump Tzipi Livni, at which point it will join Netanyahu’s coalition, replacing the Bayit Yehudi party.

Breaking his silence on Tuesday evening, according to Channel 2, Bennett has demanded the Justice Portfolio for Ayelet Shaked, and that she be appointed as early as next week.

One of Bennett’s major goals is a reform of Israel’s High Court, and in particular, restricting their judicial activism, limiting their ability to unilaterally override legislative decisions made by the democratically elected Knesset, and democratizing the judicial selection process, so future judges better represent the values of the nation, and not just the far left. Currently, current High Court judges effectively select their successors.

Netanyahu does not want an open battle with the High Court this term, and as such, he has been trying to keep control of the Ministry of Justice within the Likud.

One thing is certain, the right will never forgive Netanyahu if he doesn’t form a coalition with Bennett, and instead brings in the Zionist Camp.

With Liberman Out , Bennett Toughens Position, But Who Will Blink First?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Following the resignation of Avigdor Liberman from the Foreign Ministry and his decision to bring the Yisrael Beytenu party into the opposition, the Bayit Yehudi held an emergency meeting on Monday evening to reconsider their strategy and Netanyahu’s offer/threat.

Kulanu, UTJ and Shas have already signed with the Likud to join the coalition. The only options left open to Netanyahu at this point to put together his coalition is with either Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid or the Zionist Camp, and he has only until this Wednesday to sign one of them, otherwise President Rivlin will offer a different party the opportunity.

UTJ will absolutely not sit with Yesh Atid, nor does Netanyahu want Lapid in his coalition.

The Zionist Union could be a possibility, but it would be a major betrayal of the Likud voters who don’t want them in the government, and most likely they would need to dump Tzipi Livni, whom Netanyahu also doesn’t want to see again in his government, if possible. The Zionist Camp has said they won’t sit in Netanyahu’s coalition.

So, the keys to the kingdom are in Bennett’s hands.

Bayit Yehudi is a natural partner, but the Bayit Yehudi party feels that Netanyahu is not giving them a fair deal, especially after quietly acquiescing to Netanyahu’s siphoning off their voters with his emergency appeals right before elections.

Bennett also claims that Netanyahu, before the elections, offered him the Defense Ministry, and then recanted the offer after the elections.

Bayit Yehudi was also offered to chair the Judicial committee, but it is unlikely that the Likud will allow them to make major reforms against the overly powerful Supreme Court, so that position may be less valuable than previously thought.

At the emergency meeting, Bayit Yehudi saw Liberman’s withdrawal as an opportunity to get the Foreign Ministry, which they have demanding since the elections were over. Bayit Yehudi is particularly miffed that Shas got full control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and will probably now roll back all the progress that Bayit Yehudi made in rectifying that troubled field.

With the keys in his hands, Bennett has the opportunity to demand corrections in the deal with Shas (unlikely as Shas will bolt), as well as to demand a more significant post or posts.

The question is, in this game of chicken, who will blink first?

Blockbuster Probe Could Wreck Coalition

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered a probe into the legality of a deal made between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and which may be a key to a future government coalition. Lieberman was promised that he can return to his former Foreign Ministry post if he is found not guilty on charges of breach of trust.

Lieberman resigned from his post in December after an indictment concerning the advancement of  former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, who allegedly leaked to Lieberman classified information about a police investigation concerning Lieberman.

If the deal is ruled illegal, Netanyahu would be off the hook on his promise, but Lieberman could make alternative demands that could throw a monkey wrench into coalition discussions.

Weinstein emphasized that his order of the probe does not imply that he thinks the deal is not legal. He responded to an appeal last month by the government watchdog Ometz to examine the legality of the agreement, which Ometz said is a coalition agreement and therefore needs to be approved by the Knesset.

Ometz asserted in its complaint to the attorney general that foreign ministry workers would have a problem testifying against Lieberman if the post remains open for him to return as their boss.

Aryeh Avery, chairman of Ometz welcomed Weinstein’s decisions and maintained that it “points to a violation of the law.”

He added, “I am asking for immediate intervention and cancellation of the agreement as a necessary step for Netanyahu and Lieberman  to uphold the law.

During the current coalition negotiations, Netanyahu has not yet promised the Foreign Minister post to anyone. He agreed to appoint Tzipi Livni Justice Ministry as well as be responsible for the “peace process.”

Future (Yesh Atid) chairman Yair Lapid has reportedly demanded to be Foreign Minister, a request that Netanyahu cannot agree to if he holds by the agreement with Lieberman.

Obama ‘Damned If He Visits and Damned If He Doesn’t’

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Israelis, who were so anxious the past four years for President Barack Obama to show his support by visiting Israel, now are increasingly anxious about his trip in two weeks.

“People are concerned about what the real goal is,” Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations Michael Hoenlein told Politico.

“There’s a lot of speculation…..They keep asking, ‘Why is he coming? Why is he coming?’” Hoenlein said. “I say, ‘For four years, you were saying, “Why isn’t he coming?” Now, you’re asking “Why is he coming?’”

President Obama is scheduled to leave Washington March 19 for Israel and Jordan, but that depends on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ability to form a coalition government before then.

It is assumed that that the President will postpone the trip if there is no government, and officials cannot wait until the last minute to decide. Politico cited the needs for security arrangements and placing communications equipment and advance staff before the visit.

“The White House may need to make a decision on scrubbing the trip even before Netanyahu’s March 16 deadline” to form a coalition, the website reported.

Bennett: Likud Wants Us Out, We’re Sticking with Lapid

Monday, February 25th, 2013

“Why was the coordination with Yair Lapid created?” Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett asked on Sunday on his Facebook page, and answered his own question: “Because of the Likud’s decision to leave the Jewish Home outside government.”

Bennett continued: “Without this coordination, the next government would have included Livni, Kadima, Shas, Yesh Atid, Likud, without Religious Zionism, without the Jewish Home. Such a government would have been speeding along Livni’s political line (giving up Jerusalem, giving up the city of Ariel, obsession with the PLO, etc.). This is a fact.”

Regardless of whether one can legitimately suggest that their speculation “is a fact,” sources in the Likud said in response that “the Jewish Home party was offered to be the first one to join the government. Even now, the only thing preventing the establishment of a government with a majority for the national camp is Bennett’s refusal to join the national camp government headed by Netanyahu.”

Last Friday, Jewish Home and Likud-Beitenu negotiation teams met in the Kfar Maccabiah resort, after more than a week of separation. MK Uri Ariel told IDF Radio after meeting that “we talked mainly about the subject of the ‘equal burden’ and the coalition guidelines, and will continue the meetings next week.”

Netanyahu’s goal in that meeting, too, was to separate the alliance between Bennett and Lapid, but Likud officials said that Netanyahu intends to be prime minister, and so he wouldn’t mind eventually to give in to those two, if he realizes that this is his only remaining option.

On his Facebook page, Bennett argued that it was his coordination with Lapid that “changed the map, forcing the Likud let the Jewish Home in.”

“Because of that coordination, the government will now focus on socioeconomic, internal issues, and not just on political issues (Meaning the peace process – JP)” such as lowering the cost of living, lowering housing prices, improving education to include values and promoting Jewish identity, and bolstering the Jewish presence in the Negev and Galilee),” Bennett added, as opposed to “only the obsessive engagement in talks with Abu Ala.”

Bennett went on to say that “between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home there are points of mutual agreement and points of disagreement. We will focus on implementing the things we agree on, which is quite a lot. We will continue to argue about the rest.”

During the Friday meeting between Jewish Home and Likud Beiteinu, Bennett’s team took up a key issue which previously had been advocated almost exclusively by Lapid’s party, demanding to force Haredi yeshivas to teach core curriculum subjects (Math, English, Science, Literature). A day earlier, according to Army Radio, Naftali Bennett met with Yair Lapid and with Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz, to form a three-way alliance in the coalition negotiations with Likud-Beitenu.

Bennett concluded his Facebook entry with a vow not to “deviate from our principles,” which is a bit baffling, considering his newfound commitment to the core curriculum issue, which is, essentially, someone else’s principle. But all of us can agree with his end statement, that “the public will judge us over the next four years.”

Or a lot sooner.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bennett-likud-wants-us-out-were-sticking-with-lapid/2013/02/25/

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