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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Coalition’

Coalition Chair: No Coming back from Netanyahu Vs. Transport Minister Crisis

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) admitted on Saturday that the crisis between Prime Minster Netanyahu and his Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has reached an irreversible phase, which could mean that the PM will fire his Minster in the coming days. The rift between the two Likud politicians is not new, and the last few months have seen several attempts by Katz to attack Netanyahu on a variety of issues, some personal (Katz has been promised the foreign ministry which Netanyahu is keeping to himself for now), others have to do with actions by Katz that are threatening the stability of Netanyahu’s government.

Last week, Katz forced a confrontation between his PM and the Haredi coalition partners over massive works in the Israeli train infrastructure that were scheduled for Shabbat. The protests from the Haredim resulted in Netanyahu ordering his minister to limit the Shabbat works to only those projects which could result in danger to the public should they be carried out on a weekday. In the end, the railroad and Tel-Aviv’s main urban highway, Netivey Ayalon (Rt. 20) were blocked to traffic throughout the last Shabbat in August, with heavy traffic jams that ended only when the works were concluded around 8 PM Saturday.

Last Friday, Sept. 2, five minutes before the start of Shabbat, Katz ordered the cancellation of all the projects that received special dispensation, pushing them off to Saturday night and Sunday. The order for the technical teams to abandon the work sites was given after they had taken apart some of the rails, so that there was no way to resume service Saturday night. In fact, as of Saturday night, train passengers have been told the service would only be renewed Sunday night.

Both sides, Netanyahu and Katz, are blaming each other for the crisis, with Meretz and Labor siding with the transport minister and urging their people to demonstrate in front of the shut down stations. Only a few hundreds have arrived at those rallies Saturday night — which blame Netanyahu for capitulating to the Haredim. In addition, the opposition parties have collected 25 MK signatures to call a special session of the legislature to debate “the desecration of Shabbat and the harm to soldiers and civilians by the train crisis.”

Sunday is the day thousands of IDF soldiers who spent Shabbat at home are riding the trains back to their bases, many of them for free. Now the IDF is working overtime rustling up buses for these soldiers. In a small and tense country like Israel, messing up with the schedule of our kids going back to the Army does not make one a popular politician. Which is why Meretz Chair Zehava Galon has already appealed to the Supreme Court against both Netanyahu and Katz, demanding that they be compelled to terminate their decision to cut Shabbat railroad works.

Netanyahu issued a statement Saturday saying, “This is an initiated and unnecessary crisis on the part of Minister Yisrael Katz designed to undermine relations between the Prime Minister and the ultra-orthodox public or alternatively to damage the image of the Prime Minister among the general public. From the outset there was no need to initiate work on Shabbat. It would have been possible to carry out the work on other dates that would not have harmed the ultra-orthodox public, passengers or soldiers. For example, it would have been possible to combine the work with the eight-day shutdown of the railroad – which has the approval of the Transportation Ministry – in the coming weeks. Israel Katz is holding passengers and soldiers as hostages in an unnecessary and artificial crisis that he initiated after having failed in his attempt to take over the Likud institutions. The Prime Minister is outraged over Minister Katz’s cynical attack on passengers and soldiers and is doing his utmost to minimize the damage to these publics in the next 24 hours. To this end, the Prime Minister and Defense Minister have agreed to place buses at the disposal of soldiers over the next 24 hours. The Prime Minister has also instructed the Transportation Ministry to boost public transportation between Tel Aviv and Haifa with additional buses.”

Yes, Katz tried and failed to take over the Likud institutions, about two and a half weeks ago, he got a huge majority (95%) of the Likud Secretariat, which he happens to head, to agree to the narrowing of the absolute power the Likud Chairman, one Benjamin Netanyahu, had enjoyed in personnel appointments and distribution of party funds. Katz apparently assumed Netanyahu was experiencing a weak period, what with police looking into his and his wife’s use of public funds, and figured the prime minister would shy away from confrontation with the third strongest man in Likud. He was outrageously wrong. The PM called him to his office at 9 AM the next day and, reportedly, handed him an unsigned letter of resignation, which he expected Katz to sign unless he issued a statement walking back the entire secretariat vote from the day before.

Katz capitulated, but apparently did not stop sulking and looking for new ways to force a showdown with the PM. The reason for his combative stance has to do with Netanyahu’s inviting Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) into his coalition government, which boosted his hold on his government and reduced the ability of any individual coalition member to get his way. Katz is aware that his days in this government are numbered, Netanyahu will never keep his promises to him regarding the foreign ministry, so, frankly, he might be better off outside the tent than inside.

Meanwhile, the Likud is splitting up between Katz and Bibi supporters, and the fact that several Likud ministers have thrown their weight — albeit politely — behind Katz, may be enough to avoid an actual showdown. Meanwhile, for the next 24 hours or so, Israeli train passengers remain in dire need of transportation alternatives.

JNi.Media

Analysis: Trump’s Anti-Terror Plan Calls for Tough Immigrant Vetting, International Coalition Against ISIS [video]

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”

Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”

This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”

Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”

“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.

Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.

Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.

After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.

“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”

He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.

On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”

So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”

Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”

At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.

At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”

“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”

Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”

“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.

“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.

“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”

“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.

In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.

It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”

Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.

 

JNi.Media

Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

JNi.Media

New Poll Sees Israeli Left Collapsing, Purely Rightwing Coalition Government

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Following the surprising results of a GeoCartographia poll a week ago, showing Likud down from 30 to 25 seats, the Zionist Camp (Labor) dropping from 24 to 8 seats, Habayit Hayehudi soaring from 8 to 16 seats, and Yesh Atid rocketing from 11 to 22 seats, on Thursday a new poll by Maagar Mochot (Heb: Think Tank) showed a more moderate reflection of the same trend. The new poll, conducted for FM103 Radio, shows Likud still in first place with 27 seats (3 fewer than its current mandate), Habayit Hayehudi rising, but only to 13 seats (a +5), Yisrael Beiteinu gaining 4 seats to rise from 5 to 9 seats, and Yesh Atid still soundly beating its identical twin at the center, Kulanu, as Yair Lapid’s party rises from 11 to 21 seats, while Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu drops from 11 to 6 seats.

On the left, the Zionist Camp (Labor) slows down its sharp drop, and scores 10 seats, compared with its current 24 (the other poll gave it only 8). Meretz picks up one seat to rise to 6 seats, and the Joint Arab List maintains its 13 seats.

The Haredi block stands at 15 seats (last poll gave it 18), with Shas at 8 (+1) and United Torah Judaism at 7 (+1).

The ideological map reflected in the new poll is most encouraging to the rightwing parties: 49 seats go to the three rightwing Zionist parties, and 15 to the Haredim, meaning that Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his fifth term, could easily put together a rightwing government relying on a workable 64-seat majority, without ambiguous center-right partners such as Kahlon. The question then would become, does Netanyahu actually want a purely rightwing government, which would likely expect him to impose Israeli law in Area C, change the rules of engagement, invest heavily in Jewish expansion in Judea and Samaria, alter the undemocratic way in which Israel’s judges are picked, and a myriad other burning issues which so far he had been reluctant to pursue, blaming it on his more secular, centrist partners.

The rightwing parties could possibly combine their numbers to boycott either Kahlon or Lapid, or both, from the future coalition government — the Haredim because they despise Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu because they’d like to pursue an aggressive agenda in Judea and Samaria, where a good portion of their constituency resides.

Our friend Jeremy Saltan, a.k.a. Knesset Jeremy, who moonlights as HaBayit HaYehudi’s Anglo Forum Chairman, has launched the Israeli Poll of Polls, strictly for political addicts. Here’s his most recent handiwork, copied from his website.

 

Party KnessetJeremy Polling Average (June/July/August) Change since previous KJPA (April/May) KJPA (April/May) All Polls since Elections 2015 Election
Likud 25.3 -1.4 26.7 26.4 30
Yesh Atid 20.3 0.3 20 19.3 11
Bayit Yehudi 13.5 2.2 11.3 12 8
Joint List 13 0.2 12.8 12.8 13
Zionist Union 11 -1.8 12.8 14.4 24
UTJ 8.8 0.8 8 7.5 6
Yisrael Beitenu 8.2 -0.8 9 8.4 6
Kulanu 6.8 0 6.8 6.7 10
Shas 6.7 1 5.7 6.5 7
Meretz 6.3 -0.5 6.8 6 5
Right-Religious 69.3 1.7 67.5 67.4 67
Center-Left-Arab 50.7 -1.7 52.5 52.6 53

 

 

JNi.Media

Coalition Kills Core Curriculum Prerequisite for Haredi Schools

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

After the previous Netanyahu cabinet set a prerequisite requirement for all Haredi educational institutions to teach core curriculum subjects such as English and Math, a new bill will change the rules to absolve the same institutions of those requirements, Israel’s Channel 10 News revealed Wednesday.

During the coalition negotiations for the current Netanyahu government, United Torah Judaism and Likud agreed that the core curriculum law would be revoked. Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) has objected to this move earlier this year.

According to Channel 10, the elimination of the obligation to teach core curriculum subjects will not result in reducing the budgets of Haredi yeshivas who pass on the extra material. This way these institutions will get more money but will not incur new expenses.

The current law sets three prerequisites for declaring Haredi educational institutions as eligible for state funding: teaching core curriculum subjects, testing to measure growth and effectiveness, and eliminating discrimination against students from non-Ashkenazi ethnic groups.

According to the emerging legislation, advanced by Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (UTJ), Haredi institutions will be absolved of having to teach any foreign language at all. They will also not be obliged to teach math if they don’t want to. These same institutions will also be absolved of participation in testing.

The only change the new legislation introduces is stronger controls on the prevention of discrimination in Haredi yeshivas.

David Israel

Likely Compromise Found in Coalition Rift over Reform, Conservative Mikvahs

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) on Monday morning presented a compromise solution for the problem caused by last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling siding with the demands of Reform and Conservative petitioners for equal access to state-run mikvahs-ritual baths. Last February, the Supreme Court ruled that local religious councils must make state-run mikvahs available for conversion ceremonies run by Israeli Reform and Conservative clergy.

Last week, the Knesset Interior Committee debated a bill proposed by Shas and UTJ, the two ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, determining that the use of public mikvahs in Israel will be conducted strictly according to halakha and under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) for his part on Friday announced that he plans to submit the bill in order to prevent the implementation of the court’s ruling. This would be in keeping with the coalition agreement between UTJ and Likud, which says that each time the Supreme Court issues a ruling that jeopardizes issues close to the heart of the Orthodox-Jewish party, the government must submit a bill to bypass the court.

Gafni, who argued that the court’s new ruling violates the national status quo on issues of religion and state, also cited the coalition’s obligation to maintain the same status quo.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, an Orthodox Jew who was part of the unanimous decision in favor of the Reform and Conservative petitioners, suggested in his ruling that the religious council in question, in Be’er Sheva, illegally segregated against Israeli citizens. “From the moment the state has constructed public mikvahs and made them available to the public — including for use in conversions — it cannot practice inequality in their usage,” Elyakim wrote. Rubinstein added that “the state’s decision not to supervise dipping in the mikvah that is conducted as part of a private conversion does not justify preventing it.”

One of the other two judges on the panel was Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab. Chief Justice Miriam Naor was the third judge. It should be noted that while last week Ha’aretz complained about a decision by Judge Rubinstein favoring the Chief Rabbinate, implying he should have recused himself from deciding Orthodox Jewish issues because he wears a yarmulke (sic), the same paper did not make a similar complaint in this case.

The MK Bitan compromise will suspend the application of the Mikvah law for nine months, during which time two to four mikvahs would be built for the Reform and Conservative public. The Jewish Agency is expected to bear the costs of construction. Meanwhile, the coalition would work on a softer version of the Shas-UTJ bill, which would skirt the Supreme Court ruling but not actually bypass it. The first draft was scheduled to be presented to the Interior committee Monday morning.

According to MK Bitan, “We are not planning to pass a Supreme Court bypassing law, but instead to find solutions to the problems raised by the court’s ruling. According to the understanding, we will build between two to four mikvahs in various locations in the country for the Reform and Conservative public so they can dip there according to their method.” Bitan stressed that “we must maintain equality for everyone in spending resources.”

A Haredi party source that spoke to JNi.media on the condition of anonymity said the Bitan compromise will most likely be accepted since it does not actually compel religious councils to share existing mikvahs with the Reform and Conservative, but allocates to them new mikvahs. Nevertheless, the Haredi coalition parties are likely going to be subjected to attacks from the Haredi media, which see the very idea of allowing the two non-Orthodox movement a foot in the door as ushering disaster. Some in the Haredi media, such as Ha’peles, would like to see the Haredi parties using their critical role in Netanyahu’s small coalition to extract deeper concessions regarding the non-Orthodox mikvahs.

JNi.Media

Bennett: ‘You Can’t Be in Favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while Establishing the State of Palestine in English.’

Monday, June 6th, 2016

On Sunday night, during the celebrations of Jerusalem Liberation Day at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, the academic crown jewel of the rightwing Greater Israel movement, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett flatly accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of lying about his true intentions regarding a Palestinian State. “You can’t be in favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while establishing the State of Palestine in English,” he said, obviously pointing to the PM, who was present at the same ceremony, and accusing him of telling his voters (in Hebrew) during the last campaign that he was opposed to dividing the land, while scheming with foreign dignitaries and a number of Israeli politicians to bring on some form of the two-state solution.

The relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) is about as bad as can be, feeding on 20 years of bad blood, resentments, betrayals and condescension. Ten years ago, after fighting in the 2006 Lebanon War, Bennett served as chief of staff for Netanyahu, who was then the opposition leader. He helped Netanyahu dig his way up from a deep electoral hole, but couldn’t get along with Mrs. Netanyahu (few could). Eventually, in 2008, Bennett and his political partner, Ayelet Shaked, set out to carve their own path among Israel’s rightwing voters.

When they returned victorious in 2013, with 12 seats, as leaders of a National Religious Party that everyone had been certain was going to leave the political stage — they were considered Netanyahu’s natural coalition partners — but Sara Netanyahu put down her foot. Instead of a negotiation between friends, Bennett et al were put through the wringer. It took the intervention of a third party leader, MK Yair Lapid, who forged an ad hoc, mutual-benefit alliance with Bennett, to finally open the door. Then, after the 2015 elections, when Bennett generously endorsed Netanyahu’s message that it made no difference if the settler community voted for Likud or for his own party, because he had been promised they’d all be part of the same winning coalition in the end — Bennett ended up as the last man the PM had turned to for a government post. Promises of the Defense Ministry were reneged on, and Bennett, a party chairman, ended up with a second-tier portfolio. Mind you, Bennett believes a full five of Likud’s 30 Knesset seats should have gone to him. That’s ten years’ worth of resentment.

And now, as Netanyahu continues his pursuit of a broader coalition with MK Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp (Labor), voices in Labor are starting to say that they’d consider the offer only if the PM is sincere in his desire for a two-state solution, and the profound way in which he could signal that commitment would be by sacrificing the only dedicated enemy of the very idea of a Palestinian State, Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi. If Netanyahu were to go ahead and fire, or demote Bennett and the other two Habayit Hayehudi ministers, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel, it would mean that five seats worth of voters who believed Netanyahu was just as anti-two-state as Bennett, actually cast their vote to get themselves and their families evicted from their homes and lands. There’s plenty to resent there.

“There are some, in Israel and the world, who join various Arab initiatives according to which we would divide the land, divide–God forbid–Jerusalem, and return to the 1967 lines,” Bennett said, “because the world is pressuring, and we must appease them. I tell these individuals tonight: never.”

As to the dual-language policy, Bennett told Netanyahu: “It’s time to say in a clear voice: the Land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel. In Hebrew, English, Russian and French, in summer, in winter, during elections and when there are no elections. Why? Because the world is listening to us. To every word we say. The world recognizes weakness, just as it recognizes strength. The world sniffs whenever we are not certain of our right to the land, and attacks us with the fury of boycotts.”

It was a painful, raging attack, that marked the worst day in the complex relationship of these two politicians. But it would be a mistake to suggest that Bennett was acting emotionally. In fact, this had to be a well planned assault, ahead of a foreseeable dismissal of Habayit Hayehudi from the coalition. Even before Sunday’s de facto declaration of war, Bennett’s party was up at least three seats in the polls, while Likud was down by those same three seats — that was the Judea and Samaria vote. And should Netanyahu actually pursue peace negotiations at this juncture, those three seats could grow to become five, putting in risk Likud’s numeric supremacy in the next Knesset.

It was such an aggressive attack on Bennett’s part, that the pushback had to come from Likud’s own rightwing, pro-settlements wing: an anonymous Likud senior official was cited by the press, but everyone knew it was Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, who accused Bennett of hypocrisy—since he had lived comfortably in the previous coalition government with Minister Tzipi LIvni, while the latter was in charge of the two-state negotiations. Elkin, speaking as senior anonymous Likud man, also said it was Bennett who was threatening the stability of the most rightwing government in Israel’s history.

In the end, the cooling down of the internal fighting came from the new defense minister, Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), also a former Netanyahu lieutenant in Likud who broke up with the boss and has maintained a terrible personal relationship with him, complete with bad blood and burgeoning resentments. Liberman said Monday morning: “I call on Naftali Bennett to calm down. Right now we need fewer declarations and more coordinated, quiet work.”

“If he can’t hold back, I suggest he undergo surgery to remove his short fuse,” Liberman said about Bennett, in a bearish kind of humor.

Incidentally, you may recall that Liberman has endured his share of ridicule upon taking on his important new position, because in an interview Liberman had given only last April, he promised that should he become defense minister, he would demand that Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniya return the bodies of Israeli soldiers in his possessions or face death. There’s even a website counting the days since Liberman’s appointment and noting that the Hamas leader is still alive.

“I suggest to anyone who is asking me regarding taking care of Haniya to wait until the end of my term, and not [harass me] in my first week in office,” the new defense minsiter said.

Except that in that interview Liberman actually said Haniya should be counting his days on this earth from Liberman’s first day in office. So the inquiries are certainly legitimate.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ahead-of-coalition-reshuffle-bennett-revving-up-attacks-on-netanyahu-liberman-urging-calm/2016/06/06/

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