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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘defense’

Netanyahu: No Cuts in US Support for Missile Defense

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office issued the following statement regarding the dispute between the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Obama Administration over US support for Israel’s anti-missile program:

“In the wake of numerous misleading reports, the Prime Minister’s bureau would like to clarify there has been no cut in American assistance. There is an internal debate between Congress and the White House on the size of the annual supplement to the missile defense program.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is working to anchor this supplement as part of the discussions on the assistance agreement for the next ten years.

“Not only will security assistance for missile defense not be cut, it will be increased.

“The attempt to turn the dialogue with the US into a domestic Israeli political tool is improper; expressions of panic are not warranted,” the PM’s statement concluded.

David Israel

AIPAC ‘Deeply Disappointed’ Obama Won’t Up Israel’s Missile Defense by $445 Million

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) issued a statement criticizing the White House Office of Management and Budget’s “Statement of Administration Policy” which threatened to veto the Senates $576 billion defense spending bill, among other reasons because the statement of policy “opposes the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs.”

Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $600 million in funding for 2017, which represents an increase of $455 million over the president’s original request.

The statement of administration policy released Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget reads: “The bill is inconsistent with the [Bipartisan Budget Act], and the administration strongly objects to the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation. … If the president were presented with H.R. 5293, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

One of those “problematic ideological provisions” is the increased allocation for Israel’s missile defense research and development.

The White House used the same tactic against the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which the president also threatened to veto.

AIPAC said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” with the White House’s choosing to include the increase in defense spending on Israel’s missile programs in the components of the budget to which it objected. “On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade,” AIPAC said. “These cooperative programs—including the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome—are critical for Israel’s defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to US missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for consistently supporting these key programs, and urge their full funding in both the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization and Appropriations Acts.”

Incidentally, on the same day the White House announced it would not increase the funding for Iron Dome, among other programs, DefenseNews reported that after five years of a stellar performance in which Iron Dome has been credited with more than 1,500 operational intercepts—a 90% success rate, and despite a reported widespread global interest, government and industry sources say Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket intercepting system, developed by state-owned Rafael Ltd., has not yet been sold to a single customer.

“Who else in the world is constantly threatened by rockets?” former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Uzi Rubin asked DN, noting: “It’s essentially only us and perhaps sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf, where for obvious reasons, we do not yet export.”

Rubin did not mention that in other, saner parts of the world, persistent rocket attacks from, say, Mexico, against, say, the US, would result in a one-time search and destroy response, rather than with a technological solution such as Iron Dome that contains those unceasing rocket attacks. You don’t have to be Donald Trump to figure that one out.

David Israel

DM Liberman Names New Defense Ministry Chief

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has named Sharon Shalom has his new chief of staff for the Defense Ministry.

Shalom previously served as Liberman’s chief of staff at the Foreign Ministry between 2009 until 2015, when Liberman served as Foreign Minister of Israel.

Shalom is 41 and has 4 children.

Jewish Press News Briefs

DM Avigdor Liberman: ‘War and Peace Must Have Support of Majority’

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman held his first meeting with the military top brass in the IDF late Tuesday following the pomp and circumstance involved in his installation as head of the defense ministry.

At his first working meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and the generals, Liberman underlined his vision of the importance of the bond between the army and the civilians.

According to a report broadcast by Israel Radio, the new defense minister told the generals that in a democratic society, matters of war and peace must express the will and enjoy the support of the majority of the people.

Liberman said “We cannot engage in unnecessary conflicts. In Israeli society we are only allowed to fight unavoidable wars.”

Earlier in the day he also held a conversation with his predecessor, former Likud Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, as well.

Hana Levi Julian

The Defense Minister’s Pen

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

It has been stated many times that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. To be perfectly honest, in a war situation I prefer the sword (or machine gun, tank, F-16 or nuclear bomb!) but in many situations, the pen is indeed extremely mighty. I am not exaggerating when I write that with a few strokes of a pen, Israel’s history can be changed forever. Allow me to explain.

The whole country is ecstatic over the recent appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s new Defense Minister. Some people are ecstatically excited while others are ecstatically depressed but everyone is ecstatic! The people who I usually hang around with are all telling me how – finally – we have a Defense Minister who will do what must be done. They are convinced he will destroy Hamas and every one of their tunnels coming from Gaza, annihilate Hezbollah and the 150,000 rockets pointed at Israel from Lebanon and will strengthen the IDF to its glory days of the Six-Day War and Entebbe. Sounds too good to be true? It is.

Lieberman will do none of those things. The toughest part of his body is his mouth and he will use that in many ways but at the end of the day, he will accomplish very little, and I can prove it. I will be the first to admit that defeating Hamas and Hezbollah are complex issues that will not be solved overnight so let’s give him time with those issues. Let’s focus instead on a different and far easier task: What will he do with his pen?

For various ridiculous reasons, the State of Israel has never annexed the land Hashem gave the Jewish nation back in 1967. All of Judea and Samaria – with its population of 450,000 Jews – is still not officially part of the State of Israel. This has many legal ramifications but let me focus on just one: Every building project in those areas, every road, house, Yeshiva, factory and mikva can only be built with… the signature of the Defense Minister! Right now, as you read these words, there are 50,000 housing units (combination of private homes and apartments) in Judea/Samaria that have passed all approvals, except one. Their plans have been designed by professional architects, inspected and signed off by engineers, passed all safety checks, conform to all building codes and – in many cases – even have mortgage approvals! The problem is that none of these 50,000 housing units, plus over 200 new factories and 50 new shuls, yeshivas and mikvas can be built until one last thing is done… Israel’s Defense Minister signs his name on those plans.

Can you imagine what Immanuel will look like when 3,000 new Haredi families move in? How about Gush Shiloh with 1,500 new families and Gush Etzion with 1,200? This will change the map forever and will make the “facts on the ground” so powerful that it permanently changes all the dialogue around the negotiating table. And what do those families in Immanuel, Shiloh and Bat Ayin need? The “John Hancock” of Avigdor Lieberman. He can literally do it before you finish reading this article!

And now for the million dollar question: Why won’t he do it? What is stopping him… no ink in the pen??

The answer to this question is similar to the reason why Ariel Sharon threw 10,000 Jews out of their homes in Gush Katif. It is also the answer to why no Prime Minister ever annexed the liberated lands since ’67 and why every single government – even the right wing ones – never allowed Jews free access to build in Hebron, Shechem and the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the same answer to why Jewish prayer is forbidden on Har Ha’Bayit and to why Kever Rachel is protected today more than Fort Knox. It is because our leaders are dreaming incorrectly.

If the dream for Israel is to become a super-technological and modern country with great beaches, tourist attractions, hiking trails and Jewish history then we did it!! We are a fabulous success story! We are a Hebrew speaking Singapore… and more! We invented WAZE and the computer chip. We cured life threatening diseases and discovered ways to make the desert bloom. Obviously, in the middle of all these modern advances, we cannot let our Judaism get too much in the way. Yes, we will stop everything on Yom Kippur and allow things here and there but that cannot be our focus. We need to compete with the world, be accepted by the “family of nations” and be loved in the UN. We need to run to help poor people in Africa, even though there are hungry Jews in Netanya. We need to provide field hospitals in Sri Lanka even though thousands of Jews are waiting for operations in Afula and Jerusalem. We need to provide free electricity to people in Gaza as we disconnect the electricity in Bnei Brak.

If that is the dream, then the new minister; Avigdor Lieberman is perfect. He is the guy who supports importing pork into Israel so his non Jewish Russian buddies can have bacon with their eggs. He supports the creation of a Palestinian State (and said so on the FIRST DAY of his new job!) since that will prove that Israel is a true member of the international community and that is why he will never, never sign the paper that approves the building of 50,000 new homes in Judea and Samaria. Yes, he will throw a bone once in a while to quiet the masses but 50,000? Never! I would be surprised if he approves 2,000.

Please don’t make the same mistake over and over again. You need to learn this one golden rule: The key is the dream. Sit down and focus on what Israeli leaders are dreaming about. A modern, technological state with some Judaism or a Jewish state that is modern and technological? Where is the focus? Where are the priorities? If the focus is on being Jewish then we will build 50,000 homes and much more in every area of the country. We will still have great hi-tech and medical breakthroughs and save the world… but the focus will be on Israel being strong, proud and guided by authentic Jewish values and concepts. Sadly, Avigdor Lieberman, Bibi Netanyahu and even Naftali Bennet do not share that dream which is why they will all fail.

With Hashem’s help, new leadership will emerge with the dream of fulfilling what we pray for every day and only when that happens will the pen of the Defense Minister run out of ink from all the approvals he will be signing.

Shmuel Sackett

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

New Defense Minister Facing Challenges Within and Without

Friday, May 27th, 2016

The State Dept. deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner on Thursday reiterated verbatim his statement from the day before about the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) had chosen to bolster his coalition government by inviting MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) to serve as his defense minister. Toner said, “We’ve seen the agreement that has been reached to expand the coalition. We also know that this is the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history.” He knows this because, he said, “We’ve seen – or we know that many of its ministers have said they oppose a two-state solution. And what I said yesterday is the same as what I’m going to say today: this raises legitimate questions about the direction that the new Israeli Government may be headed in, and what kind of policies it’s going to adopt. We’re going to judge this government by the course it charts and the actions it takes going forward, but yes, we are concerned.”

It isn’t clear from the statement whether Toner is aware of the fact that the reason the current Netanyahu government is “the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history” has to do with the fact that Israel’s voters have been voting rightwing parties in at an increasing rate, and the fact that so many government ministers oppose the 2-state solution has to do with the fact that the majority of Israelis oppose it. Just like, incidentally, the majority of Arabs do as well. But the attacks on Liberman’s appointment are coming not just from Washington, DC, but from inside the Netanyahu government.

The coalition agreement Netanyahu and Lieberman signed on Wednesday included a commitment to promote a new amendment to the Basic Laws, Israel’s closest thing to a constitution, which would limit the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn Knesset laws. The amendment would require a majority of 8 out of the 15 justices to overturn a law.

On its face, this is not a bad idea. In the loose and soft boundaries between the branches of government in Israel, the Supreme Court has become so activist, it has practically begun to legislate, by trimming and cutting laws based on petitions from individuals as well as from Knesset opposition factions. It should be noted that in Israel a petitioner need not prove a direct and personal injury from a given law, it’s sufficient that they object to it. And so we’ve seen recently how the Knesset opposition factions which lost the vote on the off-shore gas deal took the law to the high court, which killed it on its face, and then recommended which precise changes in the law would help it pass the court’s approval. In short, the high court added its vote to the opposition to defeat an elected prime minister. That’s bad enough as it is, but the fact that the panel judges dealing with these petitions don’t even require the approval of a majority of the court is about as anti-democratic as they come.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) did not see it that way, and on Wednesday night announced that he would veto any attempt on the part of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu to limit the power of the Supreme Court. “So as not to keep you guessing, I’m telling you in advance — this will not happen,” Kahlon tweeted in response to the new coalition agreement.

Kahlon is desperate to appear as if he matters in the Netanyahu government. His popularity has been sinking, while the clout of his rival in the center of the map, Yair Lapid, has been soaring. In a political environment where the Supreme Court is the only means by which the Tel-Aviv elite has been able to force its will on the rightwing majority in Israel, distinguishing himself as the gallant defender of the court couldn’t hurt Kahlon’s creds, whether the point he’s making is reasonable or not.

Then, on Friday morning, another Kulanu politician, Environment Minister Avi Gabbay, announced his resignation on account of the Lieberman appointment. Gabbay, who is not an MK, and whose ministerial appointment was Kahlon’s choice, said in a statement, “Despite the great importance I see in [my] ministry and in our significant activities to reduce air pollution and in many other areas, the recent political moves and the replacement of the defense minister are in my view a grave act that ignores what’s important to the security of the state and will cause another escalation and the tearing up of the nation.”

So Lieberman should expect more attempts to torpedo his decisions in his new role from the left side of the Netanyahu coalition, which, with its 10 seats, could topple the government and bring on new elections whenever it wishes. Lieberman should also anticipate some friction with the Haredi parties, which are facing a decree from the Supreme Court to accept Reform and Conservative conversions, and would be likely pushing new legislation to bypass the court — legislation Lieberman may not necessarily embrace.

Finally, there are the Arabs. The four rockets that were shot at Israel by the Salafist group Omar Al Hadidi Battalions, and the feeble retaliation by the Israeli air force, illustrated the complexity of the realities inside the Gaza Strip — realities that cannot at the moment be solved with the new defense minister’s much quoted calls to just going in and taking it over. For the moment, both Hamas and Israel are interested in maintaining the quiet. But the Salafists want to heat up the front — they steal those rockets from Hamas storage and shoot them at Israel to encourage a retaliation that would bring an escalation. They’ve missed every time they’ve shot so far, but all they have to do is hit once, kill or injure a civilian inside Israel, and watch the flames that would surely follow.

The Salafists are invested in provoking the Hamas government into military action, with posters that show Hamas as the jailers who serve Israel, the warden. They’ll continue to do everything in their power to rile up a defeated, depressed Arab population. Which is why the right Israeli move at this point is containment—unless Israel wishes to fight the next war on the enemy’s terms. This is why the retaliation Wednesday night was only against two targets, one of them a Hamas naval commando training facility which the IDF has wanted to take out for some time. Despite his reputation and the irrational reactions he seems to generate in DC and across the aisle at home, Lieberman will not, for now, change the containment policy, mostly because it serves Israel’s needs.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-defense-minister-facing-challenges-within-and-without/2016/05/27/

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