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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Coalition’

Incoming Defense Minister Rattles Israeli Political Establishment

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The news that MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, will be Israel’s next defense minister has rocked the political establishment on the right and left.

Liberman, a tough-talking former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought the Defense Ministry portfolio for years – and appears set to receive it after a deal struck with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Liberman’s rise followed a tumultuous day of negotiations and backroom deals in which both Liberman and MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the historically left-wing Labor party, vied for the job of defense minister and the chance to enter Netanyahu’s government.

“I regret the prime minister’s decision. I did not imagine that he would make such a paradoxical and dangerous move,” said MK Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning. “The prime minister has been very proud of what he called ‘a reasonable, balanced and responsible’ defense policy, while Liberman’s statements give an opposite impression.”

Netanyahu received harsh criticism from opposition parties as well, including Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who blasted Netanyahu for “bartering the most sensitive and important positions as if nothing mattered” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Liberman was an ally of Netanyahu – the two ran together in a united party during the 2013 election after which Liberman became foreign minister – until they had a public falling out two years ago. The Yisrael Beiteynu party remained in the opposition after last year’s election, and as recently as March Liberman castigated Netanyahu as a “liar, cheat, and con man.”

Liberman has been a frequent advocate for a harsher military response toward Palestinian Authority terrorism, notably against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground,” he said, adding that such an Israeli policy cannot be implemented when the government is comprised of “a coalition of nerds.”

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East and a former British prime minister, colluded with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to push Herzog into the government – a move reportedly designed to facilitate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. According to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Blair even met with Herzog’s political partner, MK Tzipi Livni, in her Tel Aviv home this week, despite the fact that she is sitting shiva – the Jewish mourning ritual – for her brother.

Liberman is set to replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Likud member who has recently clashed with Netanyahu over a series of issues related to the IDF’s independence from the political establishment.

Ya’alon, apparently alluding to the news of his ouster, said on Thursday that Israel is facing a crisis of leadership. “There is a loss of our moral compass on basic issues,” Ya’alon said. “If I had to give a golden tip, it would be to navigate with a compass rather than a weather vane. Navigation with a compass is tried and true, and it’s also a question of leadership.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Musical Chairs: What This New Rightwing Coalition May Look Like

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

I can’t deny it, it’s exciting that we’re potentially getting a right-wing coalition, at least on paper and according to the rumors.

A lot of changes are said to be afoot. Let’s take a look at them.

Liberman as Defense Minister: This could be great – if he walks the walk as much as he talks the talk.

It remains to be seen how he’ll act once he has the job, but after months of Ya’alon talking down to the nation from his pseudo-moral perch and rushing to castigate our soldiers in the public arena before running proper investigations, it will be good to have a Defense Minister who is hopefully more interested in winning wars and crushing the enemy rather than telling us how moral his army is compared to the rest of the country and then telling us how the army’s first job is to educate the country, as he’s handing over another terrorist’s body.

Netanyahu will need to decide if he wants Ya’alon around anymore, or if he’s become too much of a political liability for the Likud. This could always just be a ploy to get Ya’alon back in line and to shut up, but I doubt it.

But that’s only the first of the changes that may soon happen.

Liberman’s party is potentially also getting the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, so Minister Ze’ev Elkin would be moved from there to become the Minister of the the Economy – Bennett’s old job.

And speaking of Naftali Bennett, he may be moved from being the Education Minister to being appointed as Israel’s Foreign Minister.

It’s a great move. His English is good enough, he understands the foreign media, and he brings his ideology with him to the job. It’s also astounding that a member of Bayit Yehudi (Mafdal) party will hold one of the top 3 positions (to the best of my memory), as amazing as it was when a Bayit Yehudi member was appointed Justice Minister.

Unfortunately, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked may have to take over the Education Ministry.

It’s practically guaranteed she’ll do an amazing job as Minister of Education. Probably even better than Bennett (Shaked is potentially Prime Ministerial material, if she improves her English).

What’s disappointing is that she was doing an incredible job in reforming the justice system in Israel, and things were starting to change for the better.

But all is not lost, the Likud’s Yariv Levin might be moved over from the Tourism Ministry to take over Justice. He comes from a legal background, he’s a staunch right-winger and will hopefully want and be able to finish what Shaked started. The upside is that he won’t be as much as a lightning rod as she was, so it may be easier for him to complete the task.

Tzachi Hanegbi may get Strategic Affairs. He can’t do us too much damage there.

Overall, the coalition will be more stable.

With Liberman as Defense Minister may see the end of the building freezes and the anti-democratic administrative detentions/distancing orders without trials, perhaps he’ll implement a plan to help the poor, trapped Gazans emigrate to first-world countries where they won’t be under the tyranny of Hamas, and who knows, maybe he’ll try to extend Israeli law onto at least Area C.

One can certainly dream.


Analysis: An Afternoon of Hard Maneuvering May Yield New Defense Minister and 67-Member Rightwing Coalition

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Israeli media reported Wednesday evening that MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to join his government and receive the portfolios of Defense and Immigrant Absorption — which is a nice package considering Liebrman is only adding six seats to the coalition.

But what a difference six seats make. With the budget vote coming up this Summer Session, Netanyahu will be able to breathe easy. Last session, three rogue members of his Likud faction chose to abstain from voting just to make a point, which helped derail some government legislation, awarding undeserved wins to the opposition. With 67 members, the fourth Netanyahu government can live out its entire four-year term.

Also, unlike the earlier potential coalition partner, Isaac Herzog’s left-leaning Zionist Camp, Lieberman is a natural fit in the current government. When he ended his 90 minute private meeting with the PM (which followed the PM’s meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, where the latter was given his walking papers), most of Likud’s senior ministers were quick to congratulate and welcome him back into the fold. Liebrman really is no stranger to Likudniks — from 1993 to 1996, with Netanyahu in place as party chairman, Lieberman served as the Likud party’s director-general. When Netanyahu was elected to his first term as prime minister, Lieberman served as director-general of the prime minister’s office, the equivalent of the White House chief of staff, from 1996 to 1997. With a few noted exceptions, Lieberman has been to the right of Netanyahu, and left his side to start Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 over concessions Netanyahu granted the Palestinians in the 1997 Wye River Memorandum. But these days there’s very little daylight between Lieberman and the majority of the Likud Knesset faction.

In addition to Netanyahu’s need for coalition stability, the other issue behind Wednesday’s dramatic change was the growing gap between Defense Minister Ya’alon and the rest of the Likud party, which could have put Netanyahu’s future in danger had he continued to be associated with his DM. In several key episodes in the country’s fractious confrontations with Arab terrorists, Ya’alon appeared to be going out of his way to drag the Netanyahu government to the left.

Last Purim, an IDF medic in Hebron shot and killed a terrorist who had already been neutralized by six bullets to his body. The soldier’s commanders on the ground planned to give him a disciplinary hearing at the time, but an Arab B’Tselem agent shot and released a video of the event, and shortly thereafter military police picked up the medic on murder charges. Ya’alon supported the MP and the military prosecutors, despite an unprecedented wave of protest against the IDF brass that frightened Netanyahu. The PM met with the Medic’s father, the charges were reduced to manslaughter and the case may yet be dismissed, but the PM felt that his DM had stuck him in an untenable spot with the Likud diehard rightwing voters.

Then came the notorious Holocaust Memorial Day speech of the IDF deputy chief of staff, who compared, albeit not directly, episodes such as the Hebron shooting of the terrorist to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Again, Netanyahu’s core voters were outraged. He ordered his DM to extract and apology from the general, but the IDF would not apologize, and denied the charges instead.

Finally, there were the terrorists’ bodies. On several occasions, Netanyahu opposed returning the bodies of killed terrorists to their families for burial without some cost, the least of which would be to let them wait a few days, or weeks, as a deterrence to others. In early May, against Netanyahu’s explicit request, Ya’alon ordered the return of the body of a terrorist who had been killed after attacking and wounding three IDF soldiers, one critically, with his car. Then the IDF said something preachy about having no interest in detaining the bodies, ostensibly as political chips.Netanyahu was livid. Anyone who was following those events and understood the growing resentment in Likud against Ya’alon, could see that his days at the helm were numbered.

It isn’t clear whether Netanyahu was very smart or just very lucky when he allowed himself to be talked by his finance minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) into inviting MK Isaac Herzog to join his coalition government. On its face the move looked crazy if not stupid: for one thing, it wasn’t at all certain that more than half of the Zionist Camp MKs would make the switch over, seeing as they view Netanyahu as the poison tree that must be uprooted, not the shade tree for their top members to sit on lucrative portfolios. So the most Bibi would have gotten were 15 or 16 new MKs, but at the cost of Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi 8 seats, which would have netted him only 7 or 8 additional seats — but would have alienated his rightwing voters. So why did he embark on this apparent fool’s errand? Like we said, either because he is frighteningly clever or frighteningly lucky.

Avigdor Liebrman’s mission from the first day of the 20th Knesset has been to topple Netanyahu’s government and come back after the next elections as the most viable rightwing leader. This is why he refused Netanyahu’s repeated courting in the spring of 2015, and continued to bide his time in the opposition, together with Arabs and leftists, the people he dislikes the most—waiting for his chance. He figured, when the time came, with a big enough issue, and with Bibi’s rogue MKs doing their bit, Lieberman could deliver the deadly blow to Netanyahu, with a resounding vote of no confidence.

But when it started to look as if the Zionist Camp was going to boost Bibi’s numbers beyond the point of toppling, Lieberman realized it was time to shelf his revenge plan and get inside the tent before he’d lose any hope of leaving an impression on his voters this term. And so, seemingly out of the blue, Lieberman gathered a press conference in the afternoon, even as Bibi was scolding Bogie (Lauren Bacall’s nickname for Humphrey Bogart which somehow stuck with Ya’alon during his long and decorated military service) — and the Russian refusnik of yesterday suddenly started to play a serenade to Bibi on his balalaika. For the right price—defense and absorption, and the right terms—the death penalty for terrorists, for instance, he and his Yisrael Beiteinu are definitely ready to jump in.

Netanyahu may have been clever or lucky, but Lieberman was, without a doubt, brilliant. He may appear from this day on as serving Netanyahu, but it will be the PM who’ll be forced to do his bidding on security, because it is Lieberman and not Netanyahu who speaks for the rightwing Likud voters. If Bibi flinches at one of Lieberman’s calls (which the latter will issue politely and calmly) — then Bibi’s voters could easily go for the alternative. Say what you will about Avigdor Lieberman, but he could teach a class on maneuvering to a school of sharks.

As a result of all of the above, and should the coalition talks between Bibi Netanyahu and Yvette Lieberman be successful, Israel will have its first truly rightwing government ever. The Haredim are concerned about the draft, but it’s doubtful the new DM will focus on that hornet’s nest at this stage of his new career. If he does, it would bring a quick and unhappy ending to the 20th Knesset.

The one remaining unknown at this point is Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who really wanted to bring the Zionist Camp into the government and is now stuck to the left of Netanyahu, and with polls that show his Kulanu party dropping from 10 to 7 seats come next elections, while his identical twin, Lapid, is projected to win 19 or 20 seats next time around. Kahlon could kill this latest coalition deal in a kamikaze departure followed by resounding vote of no confidence, at which point nothing could save Bibi’s fourth government.

Oh, what interesting times we’re having.

David Israel

Netanyahu-Liberman Meeting Successful

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu Chief Avigdor Liberman met today at 4 PM to discuss the possibility of Liberman’s party joining the coalition.

According to reports the meeting was successful, and both sides will be setting up negotiation teams to finalize the terms of Liberman joining the coalition. The two sides hope to conclude negotiations by Friday.

Before the meeting Liberman set three conditions for entering the coalition, which he shared with journalists at a news conference Wednesday morning. The former minister of foreign affairs said his party would demand the defense portfolio, imposition of the death penalty for terrorist murderers, and pension reforms.

The Likud’s rumor mill is running full force, and it’s saying that Liberman will be getting the position of Defense Minister and Moshe Ya’alon will be getting the boot. Reportedly Netanyahu also offered Liberman the Aliyah (Immigrant Absorption) portfolio as well, to sweeten the deal. Ya’alon is very much out of favor within the Likud these days as he hasn’t stopped running off his mouth with a range of statements that have angered much of the Likud’s rank and file, even causing PM Netanyahu to call him onto the carpet the other day.

Update: PM Netanyahu spoke with Defense Minister Ya’alon and informed him that Liberman had accepted the position of Defense Minister if he joins the coalition.

Labor chief Yitzchak Herzog is also facing problems, and if it looks like Herzog failed or got played by Netanyahu, he could be facing a putsch within his own party.

Shalom Bear

Netanyahu and Herzog Meet to Discuss ‘Unity’ Coalition Amid Labor Party Backlash

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader and Zionist Union faction Chairman Isaac Herzog met on Sunday night to discuss the prospects of establishing a national unity government, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.

The meeting took place despite fierce backlash from members of Herzog’s Labor party and his political allies, who consider joining Netanyahu a betrayal, and recent polls showing Herzog’s support plummeting.

“I am not deterred by polls like these, which are about momentary fads,” said Herzog in comments to a closed conference aired on Tuesday by Israel Army Radio. “When checking them thoroughly, we can see that most of the public does not know what they mean, and still gives 30% support to the move, most of whom are from the bloc that I lead rather than the bloc on the right.”

Herzog explained last week that he will join Netanyahu’s coalition if he is given the “mandate” to deal with serious issues facing the country, including “to separate from the Palestinians” and “to make the United States and Europe our allies again.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich, a former Labor party head, is one of several of party members to strenuously object to a national unity government.

“This was an offer that should have been rejected with contempt long ago,” Yachimovich wrote last week in her weekly newsletter.

“It wouldn’t be a unity government,” she added. “It would be a right-wing government in every way, with Labor creeping in without conditions to get portfolios and positions.”

Opposition to a national unity government has also been pushed by members of the Coalition, including Likud MK Yoav Kisch.

“A narrow government that is faithful to settlements is better than a broad government lacking in values,” said Kisch last Thursday, implicitly claiming that a unity government with the Zionist Union would undermine the government’s ability to continue construction in Judea and Samaria.

“The very act of negotiating with Netanyahu is political profiteering and job trading. It’s disgraceful and constitutes a betrayal of the public trust,” Labor party MK Stav Shafir commented on Sunday.

Herzog dismissed such objections during a private meeting with Labor party activists in a recording aired Sunday on Israel’s Channel 10 news.

“If we can speak with Mahmoud Abbas, we can speak with Netanyahu,” Herzog said, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Reports: Likud and Labor Closer than Ever to Coalition

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Over the past few days there has been significant progress in the secret coalition negotiations between Prime Minister Netanyahu (Likud) and MK Itzhak Herzog (Zionist Camp – Labor), Channel 10 News reported Tuesday night. Sources inside the Zionist Camp have told Channel 10 that they believe the chances for the move are “greater than ever.” Herzog has been keeping in the loop his key members, MKs Tzipi Livni, Shelly Yachimovich and Eitan Cabel.

Still, as of Tuesday night, Herzog is yet to say yes to the Netanyahu offer, and it appears that the latter is not prepared to spot him a significant policy change on the peace negotiations, nor even revising the government’s guidelines agreement, or dropping Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi. The only thing Netanyahu is willing to offer are ministerial portfolios, with the Foreign Ministry going to Herzog himself. So far, of the three key members the Labor chairman has consulted, only MK Cabel supports the deal, Livni and Yachimovich have rejected it out of hand.

Incidentally, a week ago there were rumors that Yachimovich would be in line for Minister of the Economy, the office that controls the off-shore gas deal with major American and Israeli companies, a deal Yachimovich has fought to kill all the way up to the Supreme Court. But, apparently, even this opportunity for the cat to be appointed to guard the cream is not enticing enough for the former Labor Chairman Yachimovich.

Israel has seen its share of wall-to-wall coalition governments, especially in the 1980s, and in each instance it has been Labor which acquiesced to join with Likud as a secondary partner, even when the two camps had come in dead even in the elections. But, as Ha’aretz pointed out Wednesday, on more recent occasions when Labor joined the right despite the enormous gaps between them on social and economic issues, the excuse has been the dream of the 2-state solution. And so, in 2005, Labor joined the late Ariel Sharon government to assist in the eviction of Jews from Gaza; and in 2009 Labor joined Netanyahu’s government after the latter had given his Bar Ilan speech promising the 2-state, which he followed up with a 10-month settlements construction freeze.

But in 2016 Netanyahu cannot offer anything even close to the 2-state, because such a move could spell his end as Likud leader. Bennett et al would leave the government and join with Lieberman to form a patriotic, pro-sovereignty block that, together with the right flank of Likud, would soon turn Netanyahu into a pariah in his own camp.

Netanyahu honestly wants Labor in his government, if only to rid him of the constant bickering of several Likud MKs who are threatening to vote against his bills, most profoundly against his budget, which is due in the coming Knesset session. With 61 MKs as the basis for his government, Netanyahu faces mock executions every week. If Labor moves over, even if only 15 or 16 out of the 24-MK faction agree, and even if Bennett and his 8-MK faction walk, Netanyahu would still have netted and additional 7 or 8 coalition members. He’s willing to pay for it with as many as 9 ministerial portfolios, as well as a few key committee chairmanships for the aspiring non-ministers in Labor.

But he can’t afford to U-turn on abandoning the 2-state solution at this point in the game.


A New Coalition To Deal With The Get Problem

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Over the past two years it has been my privilege to be involved with an organization called Tahel, the Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children. Based in Israel and headed by Debbie Gross, it serves Orthodox abused women and children. I presented lectures at both the 2014 and 2015 organizational conferences in Jerusalem.

During my first trip, a thought came to my mind after meeting attorneys from around the world who deal with one of the most troubling problems when it comes to divorce in the Orthodox community – the difficulties many women have in obtaining a Get.

My idea was to form an organization of attorneys that would essentially be a forum for the discussion, and eventually the implementation, of ideas that have worked in various venues that have substantial Orthodox communities. The organization would encourage collaboration between attorneys, dayanim, and lay leaders.

Based on my experience as an attorney who regularly practices in the Supreme Court and batei din, I knew the need existed for such an organization. My semicha from Rav Pam, zt”l, enabled me to understand and work through the halachic issues involved.

At Tahel’s December 2015 conference at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem, I introduced the organization I founded – the Yashar Coalition – to a wide array of mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, rabbanim, and, of course, attorneys.

The principles of the Yashar Coalition are: (1) no representation of clients who will not give a Get at the conclusion of the matter; (2) facilitation of a prenuptial agreement accepted by a wider spectrum of the Orthodox community; (3) discussions of ideas and legislation that have worked in various communities in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as creative measures that have been adopted by batei din throughout the world.

The Yashar Coalition is actively working on the draft of a prenuptial agreement with the goal, as mentioned in the organization’s founding principles cited above, of obtaining wider acceptance of prenuptials from community rabbis and rosh yeshivas both within and outside the United States.

Additionally, we have been meeting with local public officials regarding possible passage of new legislation to assist in this regard. Details will be forthcoming.

On the one hand, we will never have the police powers the state of Israel has in the area of religious divorce. On the other hand, we can attempt to introduce legislation, drafted with separation of church and state in mind, that can assist those who have been unable to obtain a Get.

The attorneys of the Yashar Coalition come from South Africa, Australia, England, Canada, Israel, and the U.S. We will be holding a symposium in New York on May 23. To register, go to registration @yashar coalition.org.

Readers interested in becoming involved with the Yashar Coalition can e-mail Yasharcoaltion@gmail.com or call my office at (212) 321-7092.

Martin E. Friedlander

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-new-coalition-to-deal-with-the-get-problem/2016/04/21/

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