Israel and Honduras signed a declaration on bilateral security cooperation on Thursday (Dec. 8), with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman inking the deal for the Jewish State, and his counterpart, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Armando Reyes Rendon, signing for his nation.
The meeting came on the heels of talks held between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Orlando Hernandez earlier in the day. The two leaders met in Jerusalem privately and then held an expanded meeting with ministers from both countries. Hernandez is on his second visit to Israel (his first was in October 2015).
Prime Minister Netanyahu told Honduran President Hernandez, “This is a great opportunity, a concrete progress of friendship for security, prosperity and peace.”
Pursuant to existing bilateral agreements regarding security cooperation and the protection of classified documents, the two sides decided to increase cooperation and tighten links.
The agreement includes cooperation on security equipment, training, reciprocal visits between defense ministries and joint projects on the transfer of technological information, all subject to the existing agreements.
It was also agreed to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation in water, agricultural development and additional areas.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Wednesday afternoon told the EU countries’ ambassadors to Israel that the Jewish State’s primary goal is to protect its citizens, defend its sovereignty and “prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from Syria to the Hezbollah.”
Liberman stressed that “we have no intention of intervening in the Syrian civil war, but when I’m asked, time after time, what would be the nature of a possible future order in Syria, I reiterate my position that it makes no difference what kind of order will win out – in any case the Iranians and Assad must leave Syria and must not be part of the new order.”
The defense minister told the ambassadors that in recent months he’s seen a growing cooperation between Hamas and ISIS in the Sinai. “In today’s world it is quite clear that we can’t count on the international community, and every country must count only on itself,” he said.
Liberman also told the ambassadors that it would be unrealistic and impossible to reach a permanent arrangement between Israel and the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, especially in light of the extremist positions of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“Therefore the idea of a permanent arrangement will be delayed for at least a few years, and meanwhile we must provide for normal life for Jews and Arabs alike in Judea and Samaria,” Liberman said, adding, “Today it’s clear the settlements are not an obstacle to peace, and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the focal point nor the cause of instability in the Middle East – and yet, European leaders continue to view the settlements as the biggest problem in the world.”
“At least 500 people are killed every day in the Middle East, from South Sudan to Iraq,” Liberman noted, “which is much more serious and important than hat’s happening in Amona – but you don’t see any mention of it in European media.”
“The fact that you keep talking only about the settlements is hypocritical,” Liberman concluded, telling the ambassadors, “I’m waiting for you to start talking bout North Korea and the Iranian ballistic missiles.”
Five US made armored jeeps were imported on Sunday for the PA security forces via the Allenby bridge that connects the PA with Jordan, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday. The purchase was made with the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, to boost the ability of PA security forces to deal with increasing challenges. United States Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Frederick S. Rudesheim made the deal happen, with the cooperation of Israeli and PA military officials.
Delivered in the middle of the night, the armored jeeps were loaded on transporters under Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli supervision and were transported to PA security bases. They will most likely be used against Fatah forces loyal to Mohammed Dahlan in PA refugee camps. According to Ha’aretz, the PA has been asking for Israel’s approval for the deal for four years now, and it took US intervention to finally get it.
Under PM Netanyahu Israel has not been fond of letting the PA import weapons and other military equipment, which the Russian government has been offering for some time, including light arms, ammunition, two-way radios and flak jackets. The approval for the five armored units attests both to Israel’s approval of the job PA security forces are doing fighting terrorists in refugee camps, and its assessment that these forces need a boost to keep going.
The Netanyahu Security Cabinet ended an overnight meeting early Monday morning without a conclusion as to the future of Amona, in Samaria.
Amona is a community of some 40 Jewish families in Samaria, slated by the Supreme Court for demolition on Dec. 25. The Ministerial Legislative Committee has decided unanimously to submit for the Knesset’s approval the Regulations Act compelling Arab claimants against Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to accept market value for their land rather than force the demolition of the community – especially in cases when the Israeli government had been involved in establishing said communities.
The Knesset passed the bill in its initial form last week, with a majority of 58 to 51. Now a joint committee made up of the Constitution, Law and Justice and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees, chaired by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), is hectically busy amending and preparing the bill for a second vote at the Knesset plenum.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) are still doubtful about the chances of the Regulations Act to pass muster at the Supreme Court.
A representative of Attorney General Avichai Madelblit told the joint committee last week that her office views the bill as inherently illegal and expects it to be knocked down on “constitutional grounds,” despite the fact the Israel does not have a constitution.
But Chairman Slomiansky declared that the new bill is dealing with issues that are at the heart of the Israeli democracy. “After 50 years, it’s time for the legislator to deal with our 450,000 representatives countrywide whose status is still suspended.”
Education Minister and HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Sunday met in New York with three staffers of President-Elect Donald Trump and asked that the new Administration not automatically adopt the two-state solution as its official policy but examine alternatives to what has been the Obama and GW Bush administrations’ default approach, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday.
The meeting between Bennett and the Trump staffers appears to have contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s explicit instruction not to conduct direct meetings with the incoming president’s people. Bennett’s office described his visit to New York as a routine work trip, for meetings with US Jewish organizations as part of his role as minister of diaspora affairs.
According to knowledgeable sources, Bennett suggested what he termed “Palestinian autonomy on steroids” in parts of Judea and Samaria, alongside a gradual application of Israeli sovereignty over other parts, such as the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim.
It is estimated that Bennett asked to meet with Trump’s circle in response to an announcement by Defense Minister and Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman, that Israel should be happy with a new US administration that merely approves the 2005 Sharon-Bush agreement, whereby Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria may build to meet the need of the existing population, but not start new outposts.
The Trump people were aghast at the Liberman statement, accusing him of “passing on the left” of the president-elect.
Netanyahu’s office issued a written directive at 4 PM Sunday through Cabinet Secretary Zahi Braverman, asking cabinet ministers not to make contact with the president-elect or his staff except through the PM’s office or the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC.
Last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Uri Ariel HaBayit (HaYehudi) sent a letter of support to Stephen Bannon, Trump’s controversial strategist advisor, telling Bannon that although he, Ariel, may not agree with him on everything, he is grateful to him for his stand against the Iran nuclear deal and the anti-Israel boycotts.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was the first foreign ambassador the president-elect met at Trump Tower in New York.
President Elect Donald Trump’s associates are enraged over a statement Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made this week, suggesting Israel must cool its heels over Trump’s election and approach him with modest proposals regarding settlement construction. Speaking to political reporters on Wednesday, Liberman said, “If we receive confirmation of the Bush-Sharon understandings, we should grab it with both hands.”
The Bush-Sharon understandings recognized the need for construction to support the growth of the existing population in Judea and Samaria inside the settlement blocks — but no launching of new settlements.
According to Makor Rishon, Trump’s people were aghast at the very fact that Liberman was shooting his mouth off before meeting, never mind coordinating anything with them. And they were even more upset for the fact that the defense minister chose to “pass Trump on the left,” as one Trump aide put it.
Several key Trump officials have said that the Israelis have not yet digested the window of opportunity the last election has opened, adding that, should Israel ask for it, the new administration would even consider supporting annexing those settlement blocks, never mind building there.
Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who supported Trump’s election and is in contact with the transition team, warned that Liberman is “drying out 200 thousand residents who live in areas outside the settlement blocks.”
“The message the defense minister has delivered to the new administration is horrendous, especially since any first year Poli-Sci student knows that the Trump people or on the outs with the Bush line of the Republican party,” Dagan added. “The Bush family didn’t vote for Trump, and contrary to them, the Trump people support a united Jerusalem and construction across Judea and Samaria.”
“This is why the president elect’s people pulled their hair out when they heard what Liberman said,” Dagan noted.
But the decision, made by the government after recommendations by the security cabinet, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry, is under scrutiny by some Israeli media that has been said to be seeking ways to undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Attorney David Shimron, who has been the prime minister’s personal lawyer for many years, is also representing the German company that sells the submarines — a sale Israel’s Channel 10 has alleged was opposed by the IDF and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
An IDF spokesperson said Thursday, however, that the military had informed the cabinet of a “need” for new submarines. The National Security Agency (NSA), said in a statement that there has been a “wave of false reports” and that in fact, the deal with Germany to purchase the latest group of new submarines was fully supported by Ya’alon.
Israel’s Channel 10, accused of a vendetta against Netanyahu, reported Tuesday night that Shimron is being accused of a serious conflict of interest because he represents both the German shipbuilder and has held high-level meetings with its Israeli representative, Miki Ganor.
Shimron told media in a statement, “I have not spoken with any state officials about the privatization of the naval shipyard nor have I dealt with any state officials about vessels purchased by the State of Israel.”
Likewise, Netanyahu told Channel 10 that he has never discussed Shimron’s private clients with him. “The only reason for the deal with the Germans is strategic and economic considerations,” he said.
In a statement on his Facebook page late Wednesday, the prime minister noted that the agreement on the submarines was carried out “in an orderly, professional manner with no outside influence and with the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the National Security Agency.”
Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting last month that negotiations were close to completion for the purchase of three more submarines for the Israel Navy, at a cost of NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion), pointing out the acquisition was a strategically important move.
The prime minister has said the submarines will play an important part in the protection of Israel’s natural gas fields, and in the defense of the Jewish State against a nuclear-armed Iran.
“The acquisition of ships was done in a professional, organized way without any external influences,” said the National Security Council in a statement.
“In the course of preparations to protect natural gas fields and installations the government decided to purchase four ships. The decision was taken on recommendation of the security administration, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry. During the course of our investigation, a number of possibilities were suggested for acquiring ships in accordance with the operational requirements of the IDF. At the end of our professional investigation it was decided based on political, operational, technological and budgetary considerations to base the acquisition on the agreement between the Israeli and German governments.”
The Council also underlined the fact that then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was involved in the decision-making process.
“The decision was supported by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Ministry, and various officials from other government offices. It was also supported by then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in accordance with the IDF’s position. Within the framework of the deal, Israel was granted a significant grant from the German government by virtue of the special relationship between the two nations, rendering the cost of the project lower than any of the other alternatives.”
Former head of the National Security Council General Yaacov Amidror (res.) explains to Channel 2 how the process of deciding to buy the submarines was made (in Hebrew):