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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Crisis’

Knesset to Hold Special Debate on Shabbat Train Crisis

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

After the signatures of more than 50 MKs havebeen submitted to the Knesset Secretariat, Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to convene the plenum on September 19, while the Knesset is still in recess, to discuss motions for the agenda on the following topics:

1. The degradation of Shabbat and the harm caused to soldiers and civilians due to the train crisis

2. The political conduct of the government and the person at its helm caused severe harm to tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians

3. The hysterical conduct, lack of planning and waste of millions due to personal political considerations

The debate will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a.k.a. “the person at the helm.”

The Knesset Rules of Procedure determine that, in accordance with the Basic Law regarding the Knesset, when at least 25 MKs demand to convene the Knesset plenum during a recess, the Knesset Speaker will schedule a special debate.

David Israel

Netanyahu Calms Coalition Crisis, Grabs Credit for Transport Minister’s Achievements

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning opened his weekly Cabinet meeting with a statement regarding the brewing Israel Railways-related coalition crisis. “Since Friday, we have been dealing with reducing the congestion that was created last night and today due to the Israel Railways’ work projects. I want to thank you, Mr. Defense Minister, I spoke with you and you responded immediately. I instructed the defense establishment to assist in transportation for soldiers. The Transportation Ministry is operating a reinforced network of buses in order to ease things for passengers.”

Netanyahu then rebuked his rebellious cabinet member, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), without mentioning him by name, saying, “This crisis is completely unnecessary. There was no need to reach this situation. There has been a status quo in the State of Israel for many years; we honor it. When work needs to be done on Shabbat – it is done, as it was last Shabbat on the Ayalon highway. When it does not need to be done on Shabbat – it is not done. This has been our guiding principle; this is the principle that will continue to guide us.”

Taking for himself the credit that mostly belongs to the gregarious Transport Minister, Netanyahu said, “Over the past seven years the Government has invested almost $9 billion in a massive expansion of highways, railways, and – of course – interchanges and tunnels. We succeeded in doing this without unnecessary crises. When nobody wants a crisis, it is possible to avoid it. On this matter I expect full cooperation by all ministers. Ministers are appointed in order to avoid crises and solve problems, not create them.”

David Israel

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.


Israel Publishes Plan to Solve Urgent Water Crisis in Jewish and Arab Communities in Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria convened on Monday to discuss and approve a new executive plan to implement an immediate solution to the water shortage in both Jewish and Arab communities in Judea and Samaria. A total of 26 water reservoirs of up to 400 cubic meters each will be built throughout the region to reduce the amount of water shortages, at a cost of six million shekels (approximately USD 1.5 million).

The plan was formulated as a result of a collaborative effort by the Civil Administration, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Water Authority, Israel’s national water company Mekorot, the National Emergency Authority, and local councils in the region.

“I am glad that all the relevant authorities have come together to find a short-term solution that will enable regular water supply after years of neglecting the water infrastructure,” said Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. “This is not the last word though. I intend to work together with National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz to promote long-term master plans for developing the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.”

However, due to a lack of funds for the project and the urgency of finding a solution to the water shortage in the mid-August heat, Minister Ben-Dahan is expected to request additional funding from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

According to Mekorot, there is currently a water shortage of 7000 to 9000 cubic meters a day in Judea and Samaria. Experts in the field claim that this is due to a long period of negligence in the water sector and that none of the authorities had adequately prepared for the increase in population and in agricultural fields that require large amounts of water.

The severe shortage has affected both Jewish and Arab residents of the region. However, Palestinian Authority and international organizations as well as media outlets have been blaming Israel for what they perceive as a deliberate policy to withhold water from Palestinian Authority communities.

Israeli sources have repeatedly denied the charges, citing that the shortage existed in Jewish communities as well. The Israeli Water Authority has blamed Palestinian Authority Arabs for stealing water and for refusing to convene the Israeli-PA Joint Water Committee, which was established under the 1993 Oslo Accords, a step that would be necessary in order to upgrade the outdated infrastructure.

Idit Druyan, spokeswoman for Deputy Defense Minister Ben-Dahan, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the solution would affect Jewish and Arab communities alike.

“The pipe system needs to be fixed to prevent it from becoming overloaded in certain spots,” Druyan said. “When this is done and balance is restored to the various parts of the pipe, all communities will benefit.”

“Today, the problem mainly affects communities that are 800 meters above sea level,” she added. “Once we fix that problem, then the lower communities, including the Palestinian villages and towns, will also have more water.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Official: Water Crisis in Samaria Caused by Arabs Stealing 400 Million Gallons a Year

Friday, July 1st, 2016

On Thursday, during an emergency meeting on water shortages in Samaria in the office of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi), it was revealed that systematic water theft by Arabs, as well as dereliction of duty on the part of the Israeli water authorities, are to blame for the current crisis.

Over the past two weeks or so, the Jewish communities of eastern Samaria—Karney Shomron, Ariel, Kdumim—have been under emergency water procedure. These communities, with roughly 60,000 residents, experience interruption of their water service every few days, and it has been presumed that the shortages are due to the failure of the water authority to expand its infrastructure to match the Jewish and Arab population growth in Samaria.

On Monday, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) ordered Knesset Finance Committee management to freeze debates over budgets intended for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), including freezing its budget of about $20 million until the water crisis in Samaria is resolved.

Also on Monday, Yesha Council heads met with Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and presented alarming data on the absence of long-term infrastructure planning by the various government ministries throughout Judea and Samaria. Steinitz promised to take over the coordination of the different entities, including the Water Authority and the national water utility Mekorot.

The Thursday night meeting in Ben-Dahan’s office on the water shortage in Judea and Samaria (most acutely in Samaria) included representatives of COGAT, the Civil Administration, and the water Authority. During the meeting, Ben-Dahan stated that “for many years there has been neglect of everything having to do with the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, which resulted in the absence of promoting master plans to develop the water resources in the area. Unfortunately, none of the entities involved has been properly prepared to deal with the growth in both the Jewish and Palestinian populations, as well as the growth in agricultural land which require a great deal of water.”

“In addition,” Ben-Dahan stated, “there’s the phenomenon of water theft by the Palestinians in the amount of 5,000 cubic meters of water daily, a factor in the shortage of water.”

To illustrate, 5,000 cubic meters is the equivalent of 1,100,000 gallons a day. Over one year, water theft by Arabs in Judea and Samaria reaches a staggering 401,500,000 gallons.

The debate in Ben-Dahan’s office, reported by Srugim, resulted in short- and long-term solutions. Over the next few days there will be a regular rotation of 15 water trucks that will refill the reservoirs in communities where they have dried out. In addition, the entities involved will examine the possibility of constructing 27 above-ground pools to provide for locations where the crisis has been particularly acute. Existing pumping stations which have been left in disrepair in Ariel and additional locations will be repaired speedily.

In coming weeks, both Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan and Minister Steinitz will meet to plan the promotion of a master plan for the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.

Interestingly, not one word was said about ways of preventing the flagrant theft of water by Arabs.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian Authority side, the responsibility for the shortage is being placed squarely on Israel. In mid June, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that Israel was “waging a water war against the Palestinians. Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service, Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”

Ayman Rabi, executive director of the NGO Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera that “some areas had not received any water for more than 40 days. People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity. Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litters per capita per day.”

Mekorot denied cutting the water supplies, but admitted there was a reduction in water supply “as a result of the shortage of water supply.”

“We have made a broad reduction of the supply to all residents in the area,” Mekorot told Al Jazeera. “All the facilities are working and the capability to supply is less than the rate of consumption. The water authority recently approved a master plan for the water sector and accordingly we will build the systems that will meet the West Bank’s required consumption.”

Now, if only Mekorot had told Ministers Ben-Dahan and Steinitz about this new master plan, it would have saved everybody a lot of time.


Can Lawyers Help Solve The Agunah Crisis?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Family law attorney Martin Friedlander told members of the legal and mental health community who gathered at the Yashar Conference in New York City that perfecting a halachic prenuptial that would be accepted as the norm and used in all sectors of the Jewish community would curtail a host of problems – from Get refusal, to establishing basic financial support arrangements, and shortening the amount of time a divorce proceeding, once initiated, would take.

Friedlander specifically outlined a universally-accepted halachic prenuptial which would designate a pre-determined sitting beis din, as opposed to a Zablah, where the parties each choose one judge, and those two choose a third. He also said the issue of Shalom Bayis would be tracked. He said neither of these stalling tactics could be used, thereby forcing legal costs to skyrocket, while extending the time one must cover for living expenses, with the goal of causing one party to run out of money and be forced into a settlement offer that is highly unfavorable to them.

While some say that lawyers should not be involved in liberating agunot, and that it should rather be left for rabbinical courts to handle, Nathan Lewin, the renowned American Constitutional lawyer, said, “It’s because of lawyers that partial steps have been taken to resolve the problem of Get refusal.”

Lewin related how, when he was in Yeshiva College, there was uproar when Rabbi Shaul Lieberman at the Jewish Theological Seminary added a clause to the kesubah about a halachic prenuptial. “Then I go out into private practice and 30 years later, I am asked by the OU and the Agudath Israel of America to write a friend-of-the-court brief that it is constitutional to have parties go to arbitration in beis din.”

Lewin explained he wrote a fiend-of-the-court brief supporting the Conservative kesubah in the case of Avitzur vs. Avitzur, heard before the N.Y. Court of Appeals, where the Court found that agreements binding couples to alternative dispute resolution forums was constitutionally permissible. The holding in this case was later codified in New York Domestic Relations Law §253.

Lewin said that in 1983 Agudat Yisrael of Israel realized the agunah problem was a serious crisis and called a meeting of top legal minds, including Aaron Twersky, Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Lewin, among several others, to Israel. They met in the Agudat Yisrael’s offices, and spent an entire day trying to brainstorm on a legal resolution, “The result was an agreement that Get refusal was a barrier to remarriage; it’s a simple notion, if someone goes to court to dissolve a marriage, he or she shouldn’t be able to say, ‘Give me an order that dissolves my marriage while I’m still retaining a barrier to the marriage of my spouse.’ ”

On that basis, in 1983, Lewin says, “Agudath Israel of America, with the help of the New York State Assembly and Sheldon Silver, who was very active and very supportive, got the 1983 Get Law enacted. I personally drafted the language of the 1983 NY Get Law and have notes in my files from Rabbi Moshe Sherrer asking me, ‘Please, it’s an emergency situation, the Assembly is only in session for a couple more weeks.’ ”

Lewin said that today every time he visits Israel, he is asked to visit the Rabbinical Court to discuss cases of Israeli husbands who have absconded to the United States without giving their wives a Get. While the Israeli Rabbinate would like to extradite these men, Lewin explains that’s since “they haven’t committed a crime, so it’s impossible to extradite them… the answer is, again, to look at creative novel legal mechanisms that might affect them in some way.” Lewin suggests establishing a registry for those who impose barriers to remarriage in order to shame them, just as there are registries of sex offenders. He also suggests having one’s tax return audited at the request of the wife who has not received a Get.

Talya Faigenbaum, an attorney from Australia, explained that Australian courts will not enforce a prenuptial agreement that requires parties to go to arbitration in beis din. However, she has found alternative solutions that are proving effective in obtaining a Get in Australia, where an order of protection is issued on the grounds of abuse and control. Under Australian law, abusive behavior is not necessarily classified as “physical abuse,” and it is considered abuse to prevent your partner from keeping connections with his or her spiritual beliefs or practices. Thus failure to provide a Get and thereby prevent a woman from moving on with her Jewish religious life may fall into the category of spousal abuse and ultimately criminal law.

Alyza Lewin, law partner and the daughter of Nathan Lewin, said this issue is very personal as she has a close relative who is trapped as an agunah. She spoke of the Get Law that is currently before the city council of Washington, D.C., which she describes as brilliant.

“The first part is modeled on the NY Get law requiring an affidavit accompanying a complaint for divorce that the plaintiff will remove all barriers to remarriage. The second part recognizes that putting up any kinds of obstacles to remarriage are a form of abuse which could be equivalent to a tort where one could seek damages,” Alyza Lewin explains. “It was originally narrowly drafted to apply to this specific religious group, but is now broad enough to apply to people who are being stalked, harassed and prevented from maintaining personal relationships.”

Addressing the question of the point at which one can establish Get refusal, Alyza Lewin said, “I have a problem labeling it Get refusal and think ‘Get abuse’ is a better term, because if in the negotiations a woman is being asked to take positions, or give up rights, to obtain the Get, to give up, and give up, and give up, that is a form of abuse as it’s going on. We don’t have to wait until the Get refusal at the end…even if at the end of the day she receives her Get, she’s been abused, because she’s had to give up all these things, and that’s been going on long before the final day the recalcitrant spouse may decide not to show up, even though he said he’d show up.”

Devora Mandell

Bennett Coalition Crisis Averted, Liberman (Still) to Be Defense Minister

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Another overnight marathon negotiation session has resulted in a repeat 11th hour resolution of the latest coalition crisis in the Netanyahu government with Bayit Yehudi party chairman Naftali Bennett.

The cabinet voted to approve the appointments of Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman as defense minister and party member Sofa Landver as Minister of Aliya and Absorption.

Bennett had threatened to vote against the appointments, together with his party’s ministers – bringing down the government in the process.

If all goes according to plan, the two will be sworn in as ministers by Monday afternoon, after the vote is confirmed in the Knesset plenum.

The resolution came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted a mitigating proposal Sunday by Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party.

Under the plan, the acting head of the National Security Council, Brig.-Gen. (ret) Ya’akov Nagel – or his deputy – would temporarily act as military attache to the security cabinet.

He would remain in place until a committee to be formed by Netanyahu and headed by former NSC head Ya’akov Amidror is tasked with finding a way to meet Bennett’s demands on upgrading cabinet briefings without compromising national security, and returns with its recommendations.

Bennett had threatened to take his ministers and his eight party mandates and leave the coalition unless security cabinet members received one-to-one military attaches, access to classified information, field operations sites and IDF bases, and real-time security updates.

In order to keep the 61-seat coalition government in place, Netanyahu has needed to keep Bennett’s party on board.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/coalition-crisis-with-bennett-averted-liberman-still-to-be-defense-minister/2016/05/30/

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