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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘decision’

Prisoner Release Highlights Erosion of Israel’s Will

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Under pressure to restart talks with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, Israel has diverged from its refusal to accede to Palestinian preconditions and agreed to free 104 Palestinian terrorists from its jails. It’s a mistake. Israel should withstand the pressure and say no. Why?

Because it makes a mockery of justice – and inflicts unimaginable pain on families of the victims – when multiple murderers walk free. It also boosts the standing of terrorist groups; encourages the kidnapping of Israelis for the purpose of extorting the release of further terrorists; demoralizes Israeli counter-terrorism personnel who risk life and limb to capture these murderers; erodes Israeli deterrence to vanishing point when the most bloodthirsty murderers know they are likely to be freed early; and, above all, results in the subsequent murder of additional Israelis by terrorists freed under such deals.

In short, we’ve been here before and the results have been tragic. The Almagor Terrorist Victims Association (ATVA) disclosed in April 2007 that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the previous five years had been killed by terrorists who had been previously freed from Israeli jails.

An earlier ATVA report showed that 123 Israelis had been murdered by terrorists freed during the period 1993-99. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has observed that the terrorists released in the 2004 Elhanan Tenenbaum prisoner exchange deal caused the death of 231 Israelis.

In agreeing to this morally unjust, tactically unwise, strategically harmful, militarily hazardous and life-endangering unilateral concession, we see the profound and purposeless erosion of Israeli will.

In the past, Israel at least scrupled not to free those with “blood on their hands” and demanded the return of living Israelis, however lopsided the exchange. In July 2008, however, Israel agreed to release to Hizbullah a gruesome murderer, Samir Kuntar, and four others prisoners in return for merely the corpses of two kidnapped Israelis. In August 2008, Israel freed 198 jailed terrorists, including two with blood on their hands and 149 others guilty of attempted murder, as a “confidence-building measure.”

In October 2009, Israel freed 20 Palestinian terrorists – not for a life or a corpse, but for a video of a kidnapped Israeli. And in October 2011, Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of convicted terrorists, in exchange for a single kidnapped Israeli serviceman, Gilad Shalit, leading Hamas’s Khaled Meshaal to crow that “This is a national achievement for the Palestinian people…we promise the rest of the Palestinian detainees to liberate them…. Those released will return to armed struggle.”

On this occasion, however, Israelis cannot even take refuge in the consolation that they freed a loved one, retrieved a corpse or even obtained a video. They cannot even say that they exacted any concession from the PA. To the contrary, Mahmoud Abbas just reiterated that he will not permit “the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is not unaware of the danger; to the contrary, he once warned against the very thing he now intends to do. In his 1995 book Fighting Terrorism, Netanyahu observed that refusing to release terrorists was “among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.” With this release, he erodes his credibility by dishonoring his pledge to withstand Palestinian preconditions.

U.S. pressure alone explains Netanyahu’s decision, not some valuable quid pro quo. How else to account for a decision opposed by 85 percent of the Israeli public and the Shin Bet head, Yoram Cohen? The Obama administration has not expressed a new determination to see Iran cross no red lines in its march to a nuclear weapon. Obama has not altered his earlier negotiating baseline of an Israeli return to the 1949 armistice lines. Abbas’s goal of a judenrein Palestinian state has just been reiterated, not withdrawn.

Those trying to make sense of the decision speak of Israel keeping the U.S. on board in dealing with Iran – which suggests that Israel has lacked this all along. The idea that the U.S. needs some Israeli concession to unify its Arab allies against the Iranian nuclear threat is in any case absurd, given the imploring of Arab leaders for Washington to deal with the problem, as revealed by the Wikileaks documents.

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.”

Who Am I Voting For, and How Should You Vote?

Monday, January 21st, 2013

There’s no doubt that this is an unusual Israeli election. There are no real fights going on about how to deal with the Palestinians, nor about social welfare, and no one is even mentioning Iran.

The general consensus in Israel is that the outgoing government had us on the right track and was a good government, and this election is about whether the next government should focus either slightly more on this, or slightly more on that – issues it was already dealing with.

For now, the traditional Left-Right debate is irrelevant, simply because the majority of the nation understands the Left is as wrong about the Palestinians as they are about socialism.

And that’s why instead of the Left-Right debate, we have this massive infighting between political parties who are supposed to be on the same side.

This election is also significantly dirtier than any other I can recall in recent times, because it’s essentially internecine, with the parties not fighting over the undecided Center, but over their own existing shared voter base.

At JewishPress.com we’ve spent countless hours discussing the pros and cons of voting for each particular party, and for the purpose of transparency, we need to disclose that all the members of the staff have a relationship with one party or another, starting from our Likud Central Committee members, down to being friends, acquaintances and neighbors with the candidates and staff of HaBayit HaYehudi and Otmza L’Yisrael.

With Election Day tomorrow, in the office we face another unusual event, with the exception of our Likud Central Committee members, most of us are still undecided as to whom we plan to vote for. And the wavering is interesting, either Likud-Beytenu – HaBayit HaYehudi, HaBayit Hayehudi – Otzma L’Yisrael, and even Likud-Beytenu – Otzma L’Yisrael.

The success of each party carries with it, its own risks and benefits, and I hope to share with you some of the discussions that have made this election decision such a difficult one.

Likud-Beytenu

There’s almost no doubt that the Likud will be the largest individual party.

For the most part, it has an excellent list of prospective MKs. It is prepared to deal with the important national issues that this country faces such as Chareidi integration, electoral reform, and Iran.

With the exception (we’ll get to that) of the settlements, Netanyahu has been an excellent Prime Minister, he’s protected Israel’s interests, and there’s no doubt he’s qualified to continue leading the country.

A large Likud would give them the mandate to do what they want, and what needs to be done.

But there’s a definite downside.

First of all the Settlements.

We certainly can’t ignore that Netanyahu heavily invested in settlement infrastructure such as schools and roads, as well as upgrading Ariel University. And no established Jewish towns were evacuated in this last term.

But he’s had the settlements on a starvation diet when it comes to additional housing – something that would have also helped the country’s center too, by releasing a lot of the housing pressure.

Then there was the Settlement Freeze, and letting Ehud Barak have a free and violent hand in Judea and Samaria, and there is the still purposely unadopted Edmond Levy report. Netanyahu had political reasons to use the Jews of Judea and Samaria as pawns in the larger political game, but it’s still unpleasant to be a pawn.

There’s no reason to assume that under a new Netanyahu-led government it won’t be more of the same, especially if things change and the Palestinian issue becomes important again.

The threats and intimidation coming out of the Likud, that there will be negative ramifications if a significant number of Settler don’t vote Likud, aren’t helping them win over friends and voters either.

The second issue comes down to who will also be sitting in the coalition.

There’s little doubt that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will be in, despite his left-wing, secularist views, or perhaps even because of them. He’s a comfortable partner for Netanyahu.

Kadima is likely to be there if they pass the threshold, and possibly even Tzipi Livni.

Numerically there won’t be a choice, particularly if Netanyahu doesn’t want the Chareidi parties in – which it seems he doesn’t.

Haredim Temporarily Off the Hook, Only 1,300 to Do National Service

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

On Sunday the Israeli cabinet approved a proposal submitted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Minister in Charge of National Service Daniel Hershkowitz regulating the absorption of about 1,300 young Haredim in the civilian national service. The Supreme Court’s elimination of the Tal Law which used to regulate Haredi conscription also interrupted the absorption of new volunteers into the non-military service.

Earlier this year the court declared the Tal Law unconstitutional and required the state to come up with a better alternative. As such an alternative had not been proposed by August, when the old law expired, Haredi youths could face normal enlistment, like their non-Haredi peers. The new order preserves the old situation—criticized by the court—whereby only a miniscule number of Haredim are enlisted.

Critics of the government are saying that the new decision was intended to improve Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations with the Haredi parties, especially with Shas, after the January election.

“The operation of the civil service as a means of promoting the Haredi share in the national burden has been recognized by the Supreme Court as an appropriate option for enlistment, and the government recognizes the importance of the civilian service as one of the major means of increasing an equal sahre the burden,” says the draft resolution that was approved today.

This resolution offers automatic exemption from military service to around 1,300 young Haredim and regulates their national service, which is available to volunteers age 26 and older without children, or age 22 with one child or more. However, the proposal emphasizes that this is merely a temporary solution “until such time when the issue is resolved through legislation,” and it will expires in August, 2013.

The decision has already elicited passionate reactions across the political system. Tzipi Livni, Chairperson of the Movement headed by Tzipi Livni, said that “Netanyahu prefers his natural coalition partners over those who actually bear the burden. The government’s intention to circumvent the High Court and to continue perpetuating the historical injustice is outrageous, immoral, and does not withstand the high court test.”

According to Livni, “on the eve of the elections, the government chooses to spit in the face of the Zionist majority which serves in the army, enlists for reserve duty every time anew, and is no longer willing to ignore this prolonged failure.”

Livni pledged to “work to change the situation radically and enforce a condition in which the service requirement applies to all levels of society, including Haredim and Arabs. There is no social justice or equality without full equality in shouldering the burden.”

The prime minister’s office stressed that without today’s decision on national service thousands of Haredim who are eager to join the police, EMT, and firefighting services, could not do it because the Tal Law regulating civilian service recruitment expired last August.

The PM’s office also noted that the data show that 85% of Haredim who joined the civilian service were later integrated into the labor market. Three months ago there were 2,026 Haredim enrolled in civilian service, Netanyahu’s office added, but because the Tal law had not been extended, their number dropped to 1,450. Today’s decision will bring the number to more than 2,000.

Israeli Court Allows Country’s Most Celebrated Gay Couple to Divorce

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

In a precedent decision, which will undoubtedly be considered good news for all Israeli same-sex couples, especially those who aren’t getting along so much any more, a family court in Ramat Gan allowed the couple Prof. Uzi Even and Dr. Amit Kama, both men, to divorce, Ynet reports.

In the ruling, first of its kind, the judge determined that the family court is “the natural forum, the proper forum in which to hear this kind of a divorce case, since the rabbinical court does not recognize same-sex marriages and views them as sinful.” The judge further ruled that the rabbinical court is too “foreign and artificial a forum” to discuss the issue of same-sex relations.

Prof. Even, 64, is a former Meretz MK, and head of the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Amit Kama, 44, is a professor of Communications at Emek Yizrael College. The two met 19 years ago, and since they live as a couple. Their struggles for the rights of same-sex couples received wide coverage in the local Media.

Even was the first openly gay man elected to the Knesset. The two have adopted Yossi, a 30-year-old man who had been living with them for almost 14 years. That adoption—although largely symbolic, given their son’s age—was also a ground breaking family cort case.

For the record, when Even and Kama met, almost two decades ago, homosexual relations were prohibited by law, and they could be subject to ten years in prison – although that was not very likely.

Now, having been the most celebrated Israeli gay couple, the two decided to go their separate ways (no idea which one of them broke the news to Yossi).

Professor Even said there was no legal way for him to turn from being married to being divorced. “This is an absurd situation and I fought it for three years,” he said. “I met someone else and I live with him. He is a foreign national and the Interior Ministry wants to deport him, which was hurting me, because I could not go on with my life without solving the problem of my divorce. They would not give him resident status, only a tourist visa, because I’m already married and there was no legal way for me to get a divorce.”

According to Even, when he approached the rabbinic court, which is in charge of marriages and divorces of Jewish residents, “it started a holy raucous. They refused to record our documents, receive the fee, schedule a meeting. They told us to wait. So we waited a few days. Finally I had enough and I took back the suit, and filed it instead with family court.”

Even suggests that the court’s decision could serve as a precedent not just for the gay community, but for the public at large. “Now we’ll wait and see if the Ministry of the Interior will endorse the decision. I’m doubtful that they will be enlightened about it.”

“Why are they having so much trouble changing my marital status? Why are they forcing me to remain married to someone I no longer live with?”

Even and Kama were married in Canada and their status was changed to married by the Israeli interior ministry. Their marriage hit the rocks back in 2009 and they’ve been living separately since. The two have signed a separation agreement which was accepted by family court in 2011. The couple then requested that the court recommend to the interior ministry to change their status from married to single.

The family court judge indeed recommended the status change, but the Ministry of the Interior refused to change the status based solely on the signed agreement, arguing they had to approach the rabbinical court. But the rabbinical court rejected their request for a ruling saying it did not have the legal framework within which to discuss it.

The family court judge who granted the couple the divorce wrote in his ruling that the various branches of the civil court are the natural forum for such a case, where there exists a long list of decisions determining the specific rights and obligations of same-sex couples.

Amid International Condemnation, Israel Selling New Apartments East of Jerusalem

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias commented Saturday night on the cabinet decision to approve the construction of 3,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria, saying in the coming days his office will start selling hundreds of new housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev.

Pisgat Ze’ev, named after Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the ideological forefather of the Likud movement, is the largest residential neighborhood in Jerusalem, with a population of more than 50,000. The neighborhood was established by Israel as one of the city’s five ring neighborhoods on land that was annexed after the 1967 Six Day War.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this as per the Edmond Levey report which determined that Judea and Samaria rightfully belong to Israel. This report, while not yet officially state policy, is turning into a guiding document for Israeli policy.

The U.S. opposes construction in the area because it effectively sabotages a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Pisgat Ze’ev is situated east of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, west of Hizma, south of Neve Yaakov, and north of ‘Anata and the Shuafat refugee camp.

A source in the housing and construction ministry told Kikar HaShabbat that since, after the Israeli government decided on an unprecedented, ten-month freeze on construction, Abbas refused political negotiations, “There is no benefit in maintaining a de facto construction freeze while Abbas is delegitimizing Israel. Abbas’s move at the UN will not bring the Palestinians any closer to having their own state.”

“At the same time,” the same source maintained, “we are committed to increasing the supply of residential land throughout the country. Our policy of increasing the supply of land has culminated in the marketing of more than 130,000 housing units in recent years, generating a 13-year record of the volume of active construction. We have to persist with this policy to further lower demand and prices.”

Following the Palestinians unilateral move at the UN declaring themselves a state, and in abrogation of the Oslo Accords,Israel appears to be both flexing muscle and retaliating for the Palestinians unilateral UN move, and this seems to be worrying the Palestinians and their supporters.

The NY Times on Sunday quotes anti-settlement activist, attorney Dani Seidemann, as saying: “Now approaching the point of no return,” the announced new construction drive would be “the largest settlement surge in Jerusalem since the 1970s.”

And Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told the Times that Israel is moving at “a mad pace” to “impose its own solution” to the conflict. “They want to predetermine the fate and status of Jerusalem,” she said, adding that Israel “does everything to create on the ground facts that would make any solution impossible.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Saturday expressed his concerns over Israeli plans to establish 3,000 new settlements in East Jerusalem. “The UK strongly advises the Israeli government to reverse this decision,” Hague said in a statement reported by AFP.

Hague also cautioned that “the window for a two-state solution is closing, and we need urgent efforts by the parties and by the international community to achieve a return to negotiations, not actions which will make that harder.”

He added that the decision makes a sustainable two-state solution increasingly difficult.

We sincerely hope so.

The US condemned the Israeli project on Friday, saying it was “counterproductive.”

“Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Washington that the Obama Administration has been clear with Israel that establishing settlements set back the peace negotiations.

Again, we sincerely hope so.

France on Saturday and called on Israel not to go through with its decision to expand settlements. “I call on Israeli authorities to refrain from any decision to that effect and to clearly show their willingness to restart [peace] negotiations,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Finally, the AP quoted Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour, who called the Israeli announcement “a provocation.”

“They are trying to provoke us to react — I don’t know in which way,” Mansour told the General Assembly.

Figure it out.

Speak Softly, Carry a Big Russian?

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Two weeks ago I wrote this to my mother;

My assessment is that Benjamin Netanyahu is not big enough to do a proper job in Gaza. When I vote in the next elections here in January, I will vote for Avigdor Liberman, currently the Foreign Minister, the man the left wing Israeli press loves to demonize. Provided, of course, he has not been indicted for some crime or other. I know the Attorney General has been investigating him for about a dozen years, without getting anywhere, but they’re always right on ‘the verge’ of indicting him. Basically, he’s a gracious man, an émigré from the FSU, who speaks with a heavy Russian accent and doesn’t bother with the ‘speak softly – carry a big stick’ type of diplomacy we’re so used to in the west. Goes more for the Russian, ‘bellow at the survivors – after you’ve beaten the ringleaders to a bloody pulp with the howitzer,’ kind of thing.

Just goes to show what a useless assessor I am, doesn’t it? It’s clear I know nothing about him at all. All I’ve done is delude myself, once again. Listen to this quote:

“I am proud that we have a leadership that can make decisions even when they are contrary to its electoral interests,” Liberman told Channel 2 News about the decision to call a ceasefire in Gaza rather than choosing to launch a ground assault.

“It is obvious that a majority of the population was in favor of continuing the operation,” Liberman added, “but power is not only about hitting but also about holding back… This was not a strategic operation. We explicitly said that there are three goals: stopping the rocket fire, restoring deterrence and destroying Hamas’s stockpiles of long-range Fajr missiles. We achieved all those goals.” (as reported by Elad Benari for Arutz 7)

Liberman says we achieved all three goals, which makes him a liar carrying a very small gummy-bear, indeed.

a.) We didn’t stop Hamas rocket fire, Hamas stopped it.

b.) We did not restore deterrence. There never was any and there isn’t any now. Any quiet is the result of a Hamas tactical decision, not a situation imposed by the IDF.

c.) Finally, we have no clue as to the numbers or location of the long-range Fajr missiles in Hamas’s arsenal. They were still being fired as the ceasefire took effect.

What Liberman is saying is this: “I know things you don’t. The view looks very different looking out of the window in my office. I can’t explain it without revealing classified info and losing my job, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that we, in the government, know what’s best for you.”

Nice. Very nice.

What happened is that by the time Mr. Liberman and his colleagues agreed on the inescapable necessity for a ground invasion, and pumped themselves up into a full blown testosterone party, they were undercut by Ehud Barak telling them that we had run out of Tamir anti-missile missiles with which to restock the Iron-Dome batteries. That, were we to invade Gaza, the exchange would turn very sanguinary for us in Israel, leaving Mr. Liberman with nothing to contribute.

In effect, we were a week late.

A week is a long time in politics, too, Mr. Liberman, as you will discover.

We who were watching the debacle unfold knew soon after the third day of hostilities that the war was lost. You missed the opportunity to invade when it presented itself; when it practically prostrated itself in front of you, begging to be taken.

Because you know things we don’t? Somehow I doubt it.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

(Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)

The journalistic piece quoted above ends with the following: Referring to the potential impact the ceasefire may have on the elections, Liberman said: “The public knows exactly what I represent. In this case, the right decision was made, even if it is not popular and against my electoral interests.”

You can say that again, sir, with knobs on.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/speak-softly-carry-a-big-russian/2012/11/25/

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