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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Coalition’

Kerry to Labor Party Leader: If No Deal by March, US Pulls Out

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry may look like he’s pulling all the stops in pushing an Israeli-Palestinian deal, but, according to newly elected Labor party chairman MK Yitzhak Herzog, the U.S. can also read the writing on the wall. Herzog told Maariv that should there be no significant movement by the end of March, “it looks like the U.S. will take a step back and lower its profile” on the negotiations.

At the same time, Herzog was quick to point out, Kerry is filled with optimism regarding the chances of the current talks, telling his Israeli supporter on the left that both Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas have made brave and significant concessions.

Kerry’s main point in his meeting with Israel’s opposition leader Herzog was to find out how many hands would be raised in the Knesset in support of the Netanyahu concessions.

“He asked us not to enable the toppling of Netanyahu should he lose parts of the right” in his own coalition, “who will decide to vote against him once there’s progress in the talks,” a source in Herzog’s circle told Maariv.

The ever-present danger in volatile votes like this, is that once the prime minister loses the support of a sizeable portion of his own coalition members, the next move is in the hands of the opposition leader, who calls for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. At this point, if the same coalition members are angry enough, they add their votes to the opposition and take down the government.

Herzog wasn’t going to do that over the “peace process.” But the question remains whether Netanyahu really ahs the votes supporting the uprooting a constantly shifting number of Jews from Judea and Samaria (that number has gone from 150,000 down to 80,000 – neither of which have much reality to them, because the Palestinians want everything and the settlers won’t budge either, at least not without riot police bashing their faces in, which could spell the end of Netanyahu’s marriage with the right).

The same source said they were surprised by the seriousness of the current phase in the talks, and the fact that they now include all the “heavy” subjects, such as the right of return for Palestinians from around the world into Israel proper, the status of Jerusalem, Israeli control over the Jordan Valley, and, presumably, land swaps of settlements and Israeli Arab cities.

According to Maariv, based on information from senior political officials, Kerry plans to set up a direct meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas moments after the American “framework” document is finalized.

Kerry “is determined to hold a political summit meeting between the two leaders, as soon as he succeeds in getting agreements for that famous document,” the sources said.

Mind you, the “framework document” is expected to be merely a list of all the issues about which both sides disagree. Also, the document will not require the two sides to sign it, merely to acknowledge that, indeed, they disagree on those issues.

That’s not a lot to ask for. But there’s a reason for this strange document, which presents as success something which should have been the opening notes of the talks, rather than the sum total of their achievements after 7 months. Kerry intends to use this manufactured “success” as a basis for issuing a one-year extension to the talks, which are slated to conclude—based on the Secretary’s time limit—this February.

No one beats the State Department in smoke and mirror acts (Defense concentrates more on dog and pony).

Which makes our own headline here, based on the revelations in Maariv, about as hokum as anything the Secretary has been scheming. Kerry imposes a deadline, then creates a means to schlep out the deadline ad infinitum, then threatens to take his ball and go home in March, but by the time March rolls in the teams will be deep in phase two – and achieving nothing.

Aryeh Deri Feints Right

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Aryeh Deri, the head of the Shas party, has been trying to paint himself as a right-winger these past few weeks, or at least not a leftwinger, in an attempt to rid himself of the deeply ingrained image that he supported and enabled the Oslo Accords.

While Deri toured sites in Gush Etzion on Wednesday with his family, Deri’s close associates were busy conveying messages of love for the Settlers, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

Everyone who went through the Oslo years remembers Shas and Deri’s support for Oslo as they sat and enabled the Rabin-led government, allowing Oslo to pass. Deri’s associates told Makor Rishon that Deri and Shas never actually voted for Oslo, but rather they abstained from voting for it.

But they never add that Deri and Shas didn’t vote against Oslo either.

In fact, at the time, Shas’s 6 seats were absolutely required to keep the Labor-Meretz coalition alive, and if Shas has pulled out of the government, Oslo could never happened.

For good measure, as part of the rehabilitation of Deri’s image, Deri’s associates added the stain of Oslo on Deri are just lies spread by the extreme right.

The Unpredicted Consequences of the German Elections

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The German elections had two important consequences, one predicted, the other one unpredicted. As expected, the number of Islamic members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, has increased.

The Christian-Democrat CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel now has its first Muslim parliamentarian. Cemile Giousouf, the 35-year old daughter of a Turkish immigrant, was elected in Hagen, a city in the industrial Ruhr area with a foreign population of 40%.

Germany has 800,000 Turkish voters. The Turks make up the largest ethnic group within Germany’s Muslim population of some 4 million people, Previously, the Turks had five parliamentarians out of 630 Bundestag members; in the 22 September general elections, this number more than doubled to eleven. Ten of them belong to the left or far-left – five are members of the Social-Democrat SPD, three of the Green Party, and two of the Communist Die Linke (Left Party) — and one is with the center-right CDU.

The number of Bundestag members with an immigrant background rose from 21 to 34, with Die Linke having the highest percentage of immigrant politicians in their ranks followed by the Greens.

Ms. Giousouf’s Islamic convictions — her “religious otherness” as she calls it — did not pose problems for a party that claims to be founded on Christian-Democrat principles. Her candidacy was challenged, however, by another female candidate on grounds of seniority. Despite the other candidate having been active in the party for three decades, the CDU leadership preferred to give the prominent position on the party list to Giousouf because of her ethnic background. Ms. Giousouf defended this decision by stating, “If we immigrants are forced to put up campaign posters for the next 30 years, there won’t be any [immigrant] representatives in the Bundestag.”

For the first time, two black candidates were elected in the Bundestag. One of them, Charles Muhamed Huber, for Merkel’s CDU, the other, Karamba Diaby, for the Social-Democrat SPD. Both Mr Huber and Mr Diaby are of Senegalese origin.

While the international media devoted relatively little attention to Mr. Huber — despite his self-declared sympathy for the American Black Panther movement — there was huge interest in Mr Diaby, who was born in 1961 in the Muslim village of Masassoum. Through his political activities at Dakar University in the early 1980s, he came into contact with a Communist organization. In 1985, he was given a scholarship to study in Communist East Germany, where he subsequently settled.

Mr Diaby joined the SPD and became the national chairman of Gemany’s Immigration and Integration Council (Bundeszuwanderungs-und Integrationsrat). Two years ago, he gained prominence when he advocated the imprisonment of Thilo Sarrazin, a fellow SPD politician and a former member of the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank. Mr. Sarrazin had authored a book, Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], in which he said that Islamic immigration is threatening Germany’s prosperity and freedom. Mr. Sarrazin argued that most Islamic immigrants are unwilling to integrate and tend to rely more on welfare benefits than do other immigrant groups.

Turkish and Islamic organizations accused Sarrazin of “racism,” but were unable to get him sentenced in court. The SPD leadership twice attempted to throw Mr. Sarrazin out of the party, but both attempts were unsuccessful. Polls indicated that Sarrazin was backed by an overwhelming majority of the Germans, including SPD members. Mr. Diaby petitioned the Bundestag, demanding that German criminal law be changed to ensure that statements such as those made in Sarrazin’s book would be punishable with a prison sentence. The German lawmakers, however, failed to do so. The SPD leadership subsequently gave Mr. Diaby a prominent place on its electoral list, which enabled him to be elected as a lawmaker, so that he is now in a position to try to change German laws from within the parliament.

While the growth of Islamic influence within the German political system, including the Christian-Democrat Party, was predicted, an unpredicted consequence of the September 22 general elections was the Bundestag’s swing to the left, despite the electorate’s swing to the right. This is the result of the German electoral system with its 5% electoral threshold.

The biggest winners of the elections were Chancellor Merkel’s center-right Christian-Democrats. They won 41.5% of the vote — far better than in the 2009 general elections, when they had 33.7%.

The biggest losers were the Liberals. The German Liberal Party FDP, which is economically to the right of Merkel’s CDU, fell from 14.6% in 2009 to 4.8%. The electorate punished the FDP, which had promised its voters tax cuts but, despite forming a government coalition with Ms. Merkel, failed to deliver on this promise.

Although the FDP won over 2 million of the 43.7 million votes, as the party was unable to make the 5% hurdle, and as a result it did not get a single parliamentary seat. The same applied to the conservative Alternative fuer Deutschland party (AfD), a newly established party, critical of the euro. AfD won 4.7% of the vote, an unexpectedly high result for a new party, but not a single representative. The far-right NPD won 1.3%. Taken together, 10.8% of the electorate voted for a party to the right of Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, but not a single parliamentarian to Merkel’s right got elected.

Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, the FDP, AfD and NPD combined won 52.3% of the vote (51%, excluding the far-right NPD). However, in the Bundestag the parties of the Left — SPD, Greens and the Communists of Die Linke – hold 50.7% of the seats.

That the FDP fell just below the electoral threshold deprives Merkel of the possibility to form a center-right coalition. Theoretically, the left is able to form a coalition with the far-left, but as the SPD had ruled out governing with Die Linke, Germany is left with just two choices: Either a coalition of Merkel with the leftist Greens, or a so-called “grand coalition” of the CDU with the center-left SPD.

In any event, Germany’s new coalition will be to the left of the previous CDU-FDP coalition, while the voters had clearly indicated that they wanted Germany to turn to the right. The future looks promising, however, for AfD. Never before has a party that was established barely a few months before, done so well in the elections. And given that Merkel will be forced to move to the left, the prospect of disenchanted conservative Christian-Democrats flocking to AfD are huge. There is little doubt that AfD will gain seats in the European Parliament in next year’s European elections. If the AfD leadership manages to avoid internal quarrels, in 2017 the party will likely enter the Bundestag.

Civil Liberties and the Governance Act

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

I recently received an anxious phone call from an Israeli coalition MK. Due to a mix-up in the Knesset scheduling he left early for an overseas vacation.

“They want me to come back to Israel because of you,” the affable MK said to me. I inquired as to what I had done wrong.

“You are going to vote against the Governance Act,” he replied. “It is a Basic Law and the coalition needs 61 votes to pass it. If you plan to vote against the law, as you did the last time it was voted upon in the Knesset, they will force me to come back to Israel to vote.”

It was a very awkward moment, as the MK is my friend.

“Look,” I said to him, “my problem with this law is not the raising of the votes threshold [required to win a Knesset seat]. I actually support that measure. I also have no problem with limiting the number of ministers in the government. On the contrary, I would be pleased if they would lower the number of ministers to fewer than 10. My problem is with the part of the law that requires 61 signatures in order to submit a no-confidence measure in the Knesset. This will actually neutralize the no-confidence option because if you have 61 signatures, you already have a new coalition; thus no need for no confidence.

“In this situation,” I continued, “I am terribly sorry to say that you will have to come back to Israel. There is no way that I am going to vote in favor of legislation that eliminates the Opposition just to be nice to a friend. But let me check once more. Perhaps the 61-clause was taken out of the legislation. In that case, with or without your vacation troubles, I will support the law.”

I called MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), head of the Knesset’s Constitution Committee.

“Please explain to me exactly what the new version of the law says,” I asked him. “Does it still require 61 signatures for a no-confidence vote?”

“No,” Rotem replied. “The new version allows for the submission of a no-confidence measure just like it is now, except that instead of allowing for it once a week, it will be once a month. In addition, the prime minister will have to be present during the deliberations.” (I agreed to that immediately). “If you have 61 signatures,” Rotem added, “you will be able to submit the no-confidence measure in the same week. [There will be] no need to wait a month.”

I was very pleased. First, I am happy that my MK friend will not have to cut short his vacation. But more than that, I am happy because I know that I have a part in the transformation that this law underwent: from a bad law to a just and even important law. The farce of bountiful no-confidence votes, which keeps the entire government running back and forth to the plenum in the middle of their week’s work in order to reject every hiccup from Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al), was in dire need of balance. On the other hand, those in the government who thought that they could take advantage of this problem in order to undermine civil liberties also had to change.

“Enjoy your vacation and don’t forget to bring me a souvenir,” I happily told the anxious MK.

Govt. to Court: Names of Prisoners Going Free Kept Secret from Bennett

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

On Wednesday, the State asked the High Court to reject a petition of the families of terror victims against the decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as part of renewing the peace process.

The State made ​​it clear that the purpose of the ministerial committee formed to decide on which prisoners will be released and when, is to keep the negotiations secret from some coalition partners.

A quick review of the current coalition partners suggests that the party in government who is most likely to oppose the releases is Jewish Home, as well as the majority of the Likud MKs.

“The decision to appoint a small team of ministers, including concerned senior government ministers, was adopted in order to ensure the confidentiality of the discussions that will take place within the team, so as not to reveal the full breadth of the negotiations conducted with the Palestinians in a way that could harm the peace process and even thwart it,” the state told the court.

The “team” includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Science Minister Yaakov Peri and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

There is not a single Jewish Home Party representative on the “team.”

According to the State’s Attorney’s response to the high court, the first group of Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands will be released next week, and the next three groups will be released on the fourth, sixth and eighths month of the negotiations with the Palestinians, depending on the success of the talks.

In its response to the victims of terror petition, the state argued that the release of prisoners is a purely political matter, which the High Court has always considered to be outside of its purview.

“The issue of releasing prisoners is an integral part of a political process which the government has begun, and which the decision to release the prisoners an integral part of, and will be made along the way in accordance with the progress made by the two sides of the negotiations,” the State Attorney’s Office insisted. “The position of the bereaved families has been and will be brought before the proper authorities and will be considered as part of every decision.”

‘That’s Just How It Is In The Knesset’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last week, a few minutes after my stormy exchange with haredi members of Knesset, I went to what we in the Knesset call the “back cafeteria.” It is not exactly a cafeteria but rather a lounge area behind the plenum where members of Knesset alone can enter.

There are couches and chairs, a smoking room, an espresso machine, and a large plasma TV that broadcasts the Knesset channel. This is the place where Knesset members can rest a little, gossip, close deals, and even develop friendships far from the public eye.

I took a coffee and sat with two fellow Yesh Atid MKs, Rena Frenkel and Yifat Kariv, who were still short of breath from the emotions that had just been unleashed in the plenum. After a minute, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, whom I had engaged in most of the debate, appeared next to us.

Gafni is a complex person. Most of the time in the plenum he acts haughty, attacking and shouting – a “hero of interruptions” who is equipped, as I mentioned from the podium, with a very strong pair of lungs that enable him to deafen you without a microphone.

But the moment he is away from the cameras he becomes a sweet, reasonable person whom you can come to agreements with regarding laws and committee work. In my eyes, and apparently in his as well, this is not duplicitous. When one is in the plenum, one is a representative of the public. When one is in the back cafeteria, one can be a human being.

“You are making a mistake, Rabbi Gafni,” I told him.

“Regarding what?” he asked.

“Regarding the debate.”

“Why?”

“Listen,” I said. “Tomorrow I am ascending the stage at the National Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv to give my first comprehensive speech as finance minister. I am going to present the principles of the economic policies I plan to present to the government, to provide details regarding my vision for Israeli society, and to explain for the first time the reforms the finance ministry is planning to pass in the Economic Arrangement Law. ”

“So what was the mistake?” Gafni asked.

“The mistake,” I answered, “is that from every perspective it would be better for me to present this speech in the Knesset. In my view, it is more democratic and more fitting that members of Knesset be the first to hear from the finance minister regarding his financial program rather than reading about it the next day in the newspaper.”

“You are very right,” said Gafni, “so why don’t you do that?”

“Because your faction won’t let me even complete the first sentence,” I said. “We both know precisely what will happen. I will start to speak, you will begin to scream, and I won’t succeed in explaining anything. An economic plan is complex and it deserves to have a real discourse and thoughtful dialogue based on facts and realities. I need twenty-five minutes to explain the budget and I don’t think it is too much to ask MKs to listen with seriousness and without interruptions for twenty-five minutes to something that will set the course for the country’s economy.

“If you would agree to give me this opportunity, I am prepared to sit afterward for six straight hours, to listen to your side regarding every detail in the budget, to take notes, and to look into every issue with seriousness and in good faith.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Gafni.

“Why not?”

“Because that’s just how it is in the Knesset.”

“What kind of answer is that? If that is so, then we need to change it.”

“It won’t work.”

“But don’t you agree with me,” I insisted, “that this is how it should work? That this will bring honor to the Knesset and to ourselves?”

“It could be,” Gafni said with hesitation.

“So I want to challenge you,” I said. “Go to the members of the opposition and get them organized. Tell them the time has come to change the rules of the game and create a new discourse. We will establish a couple of hours without interruptions from the floor and I will listen to you and you will listen to me. Perhaps a dialogue will emerge that will make us better. Want to try?”

Biannual Budget Cancelled

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced he has canceled the controversial biannual budget concept, and the change will be implemented once this current biannual budget gets passed in the coming month.

The idea of working with a two-year budget was introduced in the previous government as a way of providing coalition stability.

In previous governments, negotiating and passing the annual budget would strain the coalition at its seams, as differing interests would often nearly rip the coalition apart. In order to avoid the risk of dissolution of the coalition, Netanyahu’s government decided to reduce the number of times the budget would need to be renegotiated.

Lapid claims that the government’s overdraft is a result of the discrepancies that resulted from the government’s expectations not meeting up to fiscal reality, and the inability to fix those errors within the fiscal year because of the 2 year plan.

The country will go back to the annual budget starting in 2015.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/biannual-budget-cancelled/2013/04/07/

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