Posts Tagged ‘Defense Minister’
Against the background of the gas attack in Syria and the reports about hundreds of victims, perhaps more than a thousand, Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said on Wednesday that “the Syrian regime has lost control over the country, is present only in about 40 percent of its territory and is finding it difficult to subdue to opposition forces.”
Speaking at a ceremony welcoming the new Jewish year at the defense ministry compound in downtown Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that “for some time now this has not been an internal Syrian conflict. We decided not to intervene in this conflict, but we drew red lines to make sure our interests are not harmed.
The defense minister expressed skepticism about the ending of the war in Syria. “We don’t envision the end of this situation, since even the toppling of Assad won’t bring about a conclusion. There are many open, bloody accounts yet to be settled by the various elements.”
“It’s a conflict that has turned global, with one axis receiving support from Russia and the other bein helped by the U.S. and Europe. Lebanon is connected to the massive Iranian support and therefore the war has been dripping into its territory as well. Inside Lebanon there are focal points of confrontation as well. But, generally speaking, the borders are peaceful and we are watching to make sure the cannons are not trained on us,” Ya’alon said.
According to rebel sources in Syria, the number of dead as a result of the chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus has topped 1,300, including women and children. The rebels are claiming this was a massacre of innocent civilians, who were hurt by poison gas in the area of the Guta camp, a rebel held spot outside Damascus.
A Syrian government spokesperson has said in response that those claims are unfounded, and are intended to sabotage the work of the UN inspectors who have just arrived in Syria to investigate earlier reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.
Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the 20-member inspection team, told news agency TT that he finds the reports of such a high number of casualties suspicious.
“It sounds like something that should be looked into,” he told TT over the phone from Damascus. “It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place.”
Minister Ya’alon referred to situation in Egypt as well, saying there has been relative quiet on the Israeli border with Egypt, but noted that extremist elements like the World Jihad will attempt to destabilize the border.
He warned against the recent developments in the Sinai, such as the execution by Islamist terrorists of 25 Egyptian policemen, spilling over into Israel.
“Over the past week, the Sinai border has been the hottest, and it obliges us to realign for it.”
Iran’s newly appointed defense minister, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, has links to the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks terrorist attack in Beirut that killed 199 American and French servicemen, says an Israeli think tank.
According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), Dehghan, who has spent his entire military career in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, was sent to Lebanon in the early 1980s to help organize and train Shi’a militia units that would become known as Hezbollah. Part of his mission was to establish Iranian control over Hezbollah through the creation of a central command center.
According to JCPA’s Dr. Shimon Shapira, “It was from this headquarters that Iran controlled Hizbullah’s military force and planned, along with Hizbullah, the terror attacks on the Beirut-based Multinational Force and against IDF forces in Lebanon.”
“The order to carry out the attacks was transmitted, and the funding and operational training provided, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon under the command of Hossein Dehghan,” Shapira wrote for JCPA.
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has called for direct talks with the United States regarding the Iran nuclear program. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called such talks a ploy for Iran to continue to enrich uranium.
On Monday evening, the Knesset will host the swearing in ceremony for Israel’s 33rd government, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s third term—second consecutive—as prime minister (his first term ran from June 1996 to July 1999).
Immediately after the ceremony, Netanyahu will convene a brief cabinet meeting, with a toast. Then the bunch (22 ministers and 8 deputies) will travel to the presidential residence, for the traditional group picture.
The Knesset session will open with the selection of the Speaker of the House. It will likely be Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, who will replace the former Speaker, Reuven Rivlin, who wanted very much to continue in his post but, unfortunately, had committed the ultimate sin of criticizing the Prime Minister’s anti-democratic tendencies, not the kind of slight which Netanyahu’s wife Sara easily forgives.
As usual, Netanyahu never shared with Rivlin his plan to depose him. In fact, as far back as a year ago, he assured the popular Speaker—who is also closely associated with the Settlement movement—that he’d have his support for the post of President when Shimon Peres completes his 7-year term, 2014.
Yuli Edelstein’s life’s story is fascinating: Born in the Soviet Union to Jewish parents who converted to Christianity (his father is a Russian Orthodox priest), Edelstein discovered his Jewish connection through his grandparents. He studied Hebrew back when that was considered a subversive act, for which, in 1984, he was sent to Siberia (the charges were drug related, but everybody knew it was the Hebrew thing). He made aliyah with his wife, Tanya, served in the army, and entered politics, ending up in the Knesset in 1996. He has switched between several parties, until finally landing in the Likud, and has held several ministerial portfolios. And if he doesn’t catch Sara’s ire, he could become as memorable a Speaker as Rubie Rivlin.
But the biggest losers, without a doubt, are the Haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. They were almost literally kicked out by Yair Lapid, who stated openly that, should he be seen in the government group picture with the Haredim, his voters would abandon him. Surprisingly, Naftali Bennett, his newly found brother from a different father (Yair’s father, the late MK Tommy Lapid, was a true hater of the religion), supported the dubious position that, in order to truly help the Haredi public, government had to first be cleared of Haredi partners.
Shas, a party that depends completely on patronage for its very existence, is seething with anger over Bennett’s “betrayal.” It’s hard, however, to take seriously the victimized self-pity of Shas, whose spiritual father Rav Ovadia Yosef dubbed the Jewish Home party a “Goy Home.” Altogether, it appears that, perhaps counter intuitively, the National Religious leaders as well as the rank and file, have been harboring heaps of resentment against the Haredim. The Haredi slights of several decades, including their occupation of the Ministry of Religious Services and the Chief rabbinate, doling out jobs to Haredi officials who reigned over a population that looks nothing like them—those slighted chickens have been coming back to roost.
Take for instance Rabbi Hayim Drukman, who responded to both the Haredi pols and to Netanyahu, who accused the Lapid-Bennett axis of “boycotting” the Haredi parties. Rabbi Drukman Argued that “the Haredi public are the biggest boycotters, boycotting for years the Torah of the national religious public.”
“Any Haredi apparatchik who gets elected to the Knesset, immediately becomes a rabbi, while the real rabbis of the national religious public are noted in the Haredi press by their first names (without the title ‘Rabbi’). Is this not boycotting?” Rabbi Druckman wrote in the Saturday shul paper “Olam Katan.”
Inside Shas, the short knives have already been drawn and they’re aimed at MK Aryeh Deri, the former convict who came back from the cold to lead Shas into a glorious stalemate (11 seats before, 11 after).
“We were very disappointed in Deri,” a senior Shas pol told Ma’ariv. “He did not bring the votes he promised Rav Ovadia, there was no significant change in seats, and, in fact, Deri is responsible for our failure.”
In United Torah Judaism they also seem to regret their alliance with Shas, it’s highly likely that, in a few months, they’ll opt to enter the government without Shas.
Reshet Bet announced early Friday morning that the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi have resumed their talks, after a 12-hour disconnect, and reached a final agreement on a new government, which will be introduced later today, Friday.
The agreement was reached after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and asked him personally to overlook the slight of not receiving the title of Deputy Prime Minister. He told him that in the new government there will be no Deputy Prime Ministers at all.
Both Bennett and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid responded curtly to a news item they heard over the radio on Thursday, that the Deputy positions, about which they had reached a verbal agreement with the Likud-Beiteinu negotiating team, were taken away.
Likud circles not particularly enamoured with the PM spread the rumor that it was Sara Netanyahu, Benjamin’s wife, who insisted, at the last minute, on sticking it to her husband’s new coalition partners.
The PM’s circles denied the rumors, saying it was just another vicious attack on Sara Netanyahu, and her personal arch-enemy, Naftali Bennett.
Habayit Hayehudi circles said in response that it was not a reassuring way of ushering in a new coalition—killing unilaterally an item everybody had shaken hands on.
The Bennett people refused to attend the meeting Thursday evening in which the government deal was supposed to be finalized, and the first coalition crisis appeared to have erupted even before there was a coalition in place.
Netanyahu had to swallow a frog in apologizing to Bennett personally, and Bennett and Lapid in return swallowed the frogs of not becoming acting PMs when Bibi is away touring the world.
Now the fact that Sara’s contribution effectively killed the position of Deputy PM, Netanyahu will not be able to dole out bites at this honor to senior Likudniks, such as MK Silvan Shalom, who won’t receive a real portfolio. Thank you, Sara.
The Shas and United Torah Judaism factions are livid, obviously, arguing that if they’re out of office, their constituency is going to be ignored. Well, not exactly ignored, more like enlisted and made to study Math and English in yeshiva.
MK Aryeh Deri, who was reinstated in the Shas Knesset list with the hope of increasing its size (they ended up with 11 – just like the Knesset before), was making the rounds all day Thursday, promising to be part of a fighting opposition, whose utmost goal would be to topple this government. A renowned Haredi leftists, who pushed his party into signing on to the Oslo Accords, Deri said he had no problem cooperating with Labor, Meretz, and the Arab lists, to bring down Netanyahu.
Unless he get a government seat sometime down the road.
Habayit Hayehudi will possess five portfolios in the new government, although those will be divided among only three ministers. So Naftali Bennett is now also Minister of Religious Services.
The 20 Likud MKs are competing over a mere 15 positions of power: seven ministerial roles, four deputy ministers, four heads of Knesset committees and the role of Speaker of the House. The portfolios of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Tourism and Absorption has been given to members of the Israel Beiteinu, while members of the Likud will take Interior, Transportation, Communications, Homeland Defense, and the Strategic Affairs Ministry.
A big improvement would be the appointment of former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon as Defense Minister. Yaalon, whose boss at the time, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, opted not to renew his contract in 2005, because he did not trust the former to pursue zealously the evacuation of thousands of Gush Katif Jews. Mofaz appointed Dan Halutz to the job, and Halutz promptly bungled an invasion of Gaza and a war in Lebanon.
Beginning next week, probably on Monday, Israel’s 33rd government—Netanyahu’s third—will be sworn in, featuring 22 ministers, including the Prime Minister, and eight deputy ministers. The Speaker is expected to be the current Minister of Information and Diaspora, MK Yuli Edelstein.
In the almost-final compromise agreement reached Thursday, Netanyahu agreed to give up the education portfolio, which will go to Yesh Atid’s MK Rabbi Shai Piron, Likud-Beiteinu will get Interior, and Habayit Hayehudi will head the Knesset Finance Committee.
During recent coalition talks with Netanyahu, Shaul Mofaz, head of the 2-man Kadima party asked to be named Defense Minister.
Mofaz used to be the IDF Chief of Staff, so the idea isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, other than the fact that Mofaz is only the head of a 2-man political party, and in the previous government he managed to only remain a member of Netanyahu’s coalition for a record breaking two months.
Netanyahu turned down Mofaz’s request, after which Kadima joined the Lapid-Bennett alliance.
8:21 PM IDF Spokesman confirms, Defense Minister green lights calling up 30,000 reservists.
8:19 PM Direct hit on house in Be’er Sheva. No injuries reported.
8:16 PM 5 rockets shots down by Iron Dome system over Be’er Sheva.
8:14 PM Rockets landing near Kiryat Melachi during funeral of Mira Sharf HY”D and Aaron Semadje HY”D.
8:10 PM Explosions over Ashkelon. More rockets fired at Be’er Sheva, Benei Shimon and Ramat Negev.
8:09 PM Watching Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv during air raid siren.
8:08 PM Shooting attack on IDF jeep near Kalkilya, no injuries.
8:07 PM Rocket explosions heard around Ashdod. No confirmation of rockets landing or Iron Dome.
8:05 PM Palestians from Gaza shooting at Army vehicles on Israeli side of border.
8:03 PM More sirens in Ashdod, Kiryat Melachi, Be’er Tovia, Yavneh, Ashkelon Beach and Yoav.
7:54 PM Sirens now in Be’er Tovia, Ashkelon, Shafir, Kiriyat Melachi.
For many Israelis, the Presidential election in America had a special urgency because of the increasing nuclear threat from Iran, and the hope that Romney would take a more militant stance than Obama. I wrote a short story on the tragedy of looking to America for our salvation, which appears in my award-winner collection of short stories, “Days of Mashiach” which was translated and published in France this year by a non-Jewish publisher, with reviewers comparing me to Voltaire and the famous fable writer, Jean de la Fontaine. Big deal. Anyway, enjoy the story, and for readers who value true Jewish literature, I invite you to check out some of my other books at Amazon.
ORDERS ARE ORDERS
By Tzvi Fishman
For the third time that day, Izzy was looking through the snapshots his wife had sent him when a rock richocheted off the guard tower. Outside in the dimming twilight, he couldn’t see a thing. It wasn’t the first time that a rock had hit the tower during his three months on the isolated Samaria hilltop. Arab kids had nothing better to do than throw rocks at Jewish soldiers. To be on the safe side, the young Israeli tightened the strap of his helmet. Orders were orders. And in the army, safety came first.
His gaze turned back to the pictures. How happy his son looked at his first birthday party, as if he understood its significance. Izzy had asked for a special leave to attend the celebration, but since he had only one week remaining in his Hesder army service, the request had been denied.
“Pang!” “Pang!” “Pang!”
Smashing against the metal guard tower, the rocks sounded like bullets. Down below, at the crest of the hill, on the other side of the sheep pen, a group of dark figures had gathered. Izzy stuck his rifle out the window in warning. Just to be sure, he called his two buddies, who were out patrolling the area in a jeep. Some people thought the settlers were irresponsible for staying put on remote hilltops like these during the Intifada, but Izzy didn’t agree. Israel was the land of the Jews, and a Jew had the right to live wherever he chose. It was the job of the government and the army to protect its citizens, whether they lived in Netanya or Hevron.
To his way of thinking, the situation was absolutely absurd. So what if a Jew wanted to live in a cabin on a desolate hill in the heartland of biblicalIsrael. Why should the whole world make such a fuss over it? Why should it bother foreign presidents and kings? Didn’t they have better things to worry about than what a handful of Jews were doing on the other side of the globe?
The twenty-one year old soldier tried his best not to think about it too much. Instead, he studied Gemara whenever he could. He spoke to his wife every day. In a week, he’d be finished with being away in the army, and he could get down to being a father to his one-year old boy.
When a brick smashed through the thick plastic pane of the window, Izzy instinctively ducked. Down on the hillside, a mob of Arabs was advancing his way. Across the dirt road, on the roof of the small wooden cabin, an Arab youth was hauling down the Israeli flag. As luck would have it, the settler who lived on the one-man yishuv was off at a wedding. Besides the barking dog, Izzy was the only defender on the remote, windswept givah.
Figuring he may need some back-up, he phoned his friends in the jeep, but they were being stoned too.
“We’re on our way,” they told him.
Rocks pounding the guard tower reverberated like popcorn popping in a microwave oven. Izzy fired off a few shots in the air to warn off the attackers, but the Arabs continued to advance on the tower. Like the good soldier he was, he wouldn’t fire at them until he received a direct order. His rabbis had taught him that the government of Israelwas holy, the Israeli army was holy, and so was its chain of command. Calling his Mem-kaf, he described the situation and requested permission to shoot.