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May 30, 2016 / 22 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘government’

State Dept. Says Liberman Appointment ‘Raises Legitimate Questions’ About Direction of Israeli Govt

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The U.S. is not happy about the appointment of Israel’s new defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, to the coalition government. This became patently obvious at Wednesday State Department briefing (May 25, 2016) in Washington DC after a long round of questions on other topics — most of them about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds during her tenure as Secretary of State — when the session was nearly over. There were just a few minutes left, said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who seemed almost to be waiting for someone — anyone — to ask the question.

And then finally, the very last one, squeezed in at the final second, a reporter managed to deliver the perfect pitch over home plate. Following is the question — clearly a softball — tossed to the harried spokesperson, who practically leaped to answer it, and his response.

Q: I know it’s like the fifth day in a row, but at least it’s now formally been announced that Avigdor Lieberman is to be Israel’s defense minister. Do you have any comment on the new Israeli government and his appointment to that job in particular?

Mr. Toner: I do. We have seen reports an agreement’s been reached to expand the coalition.

“We’ve also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. And we also know that many of its ministers have said they opposed a two-state solution.

“This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in – headed in, rather – and what kind of policies it may adopt, but ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions.

“We’re going to work with this government as we have with every Israeli government that preceded it, with the goal of strengthening our cooperation, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel, and in our commitment to working towards a two-state solution.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Tells Knesset He Wants ‘Broader Government,’ Herzog: Stop Zigzagging

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

During Monday’s special plenary session honoring the memory of Theodor Herzl, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) said, “I wonder what Herzl would have said had he seen the massive construction, the building of roads, the economic growth, the absorption of immigration, the scientific innovations and the fact that the state of the Jews discovered gas at sea and will extract it for the benefit of its citizens.”

“I met today with the French Prime Minister and stressed that [the Israeli] government wants peace,” Netanyahu also said, relating, “I told him that I seek to move forward in the diplomatic process on the basis of the outline of a demilitarized Palestinian state which recognizes the Jewish state. [But] the two principles of demilitarization and mutual recognition are not preconditions for the opening of negotiations. The process must be direct, bilateral and devoid of international dictates.”

“I am working with all my power to expand the coalition,” the PM told the Plenum, speaking as he did on the eve of signing a new deal with MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to join his coalition government, expanding it from 61 to 67 members. “I said I would do so when we established the government, and I am continuing with these efforts to form a government that is as broad as possible. The door is open to anyone who wants to [join] for the good of the country. There is much to do and a lot to fix, but there is no justification for the complaining that is rampant in certain circles. Israel is a stable, advanced, innovative and democratic state, and this House is proof of that.”

Following the Prime Minister’s speech, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp – Labor) addressed last week’s political storm in which many have depicted him as being used by Netanyahu for leverage to bring in Lieberman. “During the past couple of weeks I have stood upright against unprecedented attacks, against an incited crowd and against violent exclamations which I have never heard before,” Herzog complained, adding, realisticly, “It is possible that I have jeopardized my political seat, and have shaken it so much that it will be difficult to stabilize. But as opposed to other leaders – I did not join politics to pass the time. In an era where leaders change their minds according to the morning wind blowing on Facebook, I have chosen to stick to my words.”

Herzog’s poison arrow was shot unambiguously at MK Shelly Yachimovich, the former Labor chairwoman Herzog had unseated, whom he nicknamed “Princes of Facebook,” for her frequent—albeit effective and biting—posts.

“In the past couple of months, due to the terror wave and the futile feeling which characterizes the relationship with our neighbors, I have tried to evaluate the situation [based on the statements] of senior leaders from around the world and our region,” Herzog continued to make his case. “Some may seem familiar to you and some less, some are part of the senior leadership of the area and some are younger, whose names cannot be revealed yet. These leaders have a crucial influence over our fate, the fate of our families and children. I wanted with all my might to identify the glimpse of light in the darkness. I have reached the conclusion that we are facing a rare regional opportunity based on a group of Arab leaders who are moderate, young, powerful and lack the Israel complex that their predecessors have had, and who are willing to take action and lead a powerful and stirring process against our neighbors.”

“I have chosen to risk my internal political status and extend a hand to the rival political leader about whom I have said during the elections – ‘it’s either us or him’ – in order to recruit all possible national power and together change the present and the future of our children,” Herzog continued his gallant attempt to explain his abysmal failure in negotiating with his “rival political leader.”

“I know I have let down many of my supporters, my colleagues and friends and a broad public that did not believe Netanyahu in the first place, but I had decided anyhow to not let the opportunity slip away as it stands right in front of our eyes and depends upon Israel having a different, more moderate, government. That is the condition. I chose to give it a try,” Herzog stated.

“Sadly, at the end of the day, while choosing between being a leader that will be remembered in history as going against the flow, and a leader that goes with the flow into the ocean of forgetfulness, Netanyahu has made his choice,” Herzog lamented. “He has slammed the door on the European and American leaders and became a captive of the extremist political group which will lead him and us into a national disaster which we are already a part of, and some of us decide to live in the illusion that everything will be fine.”

In this context, Herzog did not explain how a 55% majority of the House can be considered “extremist” while the remaining 45% are the proverbial moderates. In effect, he described anyone on the right as extremist, while anyone on the left, including the Joint Arab List’s MKs Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, and Basel Ghattas, who stood at attention in honor of Arab terrorists killed by Israel, are part of the moderate center.

“I am sorry Mr. Netanyahu that you have chosen to zigzag again,” said Herzog, whose zigzagging during the 2015 campaign included landing MK Tzipi Livni and five colleagues in top spots on his party’s candidates list, and changing the party name from the traditional—and honest—Labor to Zionist Camp, which includes renowned Zionist MK Zouheir Bahloul, who declared earlier this year that Arab attacks on IDF soldiers manning check posts are not acts of terror. “I am sorry that you are the one who slammed the door,” said Herzog, who had fled the negotiations when he finally realized Netanyahu had been double-dealing with Lieberman. “I am sorry that you have chosen to abandon the benefit of the State in favor of your narrow political interest. Your Twitter may remember you favorably, but history won’t.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who opened the House debate, said, “We have a serious problem with the culture of argument here; with the ability to listen, which has deteriorated [greatly]; with the lack of respect, the blatant contempt and the obscene language. Our ideological and cultural richness is a source of uniqueness and strength, but we all have a lot of work to do in order to narrow the artificial gaps between us which some make certain are nurtured, because, truthfully, we have more things in common than things that separate us.”

“A [government] is also judged by its ability to bridge the gaps between positions and converge in order to better serve the public,” Edelstein said, concluding, “Therefore, there was no other choice but to work towards expanding the coalition. The first step in this direction should be welcomed, and I hope additional Zionist parties will join. We must stand together, better and more united, in front of the great challenges facing us. This is an important message, internally, for the Israeli public, and also externally, for all those who are eagerly waiting to see our internal disintegration – God forbid.”

MK Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid faction, said “Herzl envisioned a state with equal rights for women at a time when such a notion was almost avant-garde. He wrote that every citizen will be obligated to give two years for military or civil service and that religious coercion would be forbidden. He spoke of the need for a clean country that would protect the environment. He wrote about a country where education is free for everyone, where there is a clear separation between the military and politics; a state that is technologically advanced. He believed that the Arabs of the land are entitled to equal rights.”

OK, that last part, about Herzl advocating for Palestinian rights is a bit of a stretch. As Ernst Pawel noted (The Labyrinth of Exile: A Life Of Theodor Herzl, Farrar, Straus, Giroux), “His attitude toward the indigenous population was one of benign indifference at best. He never questioned the popular view of colonialism as a mission of mercy that brought the blessings of civilization to stone-age savages… He fully believed that the Palestine Arabs would welcome the Jews with open arms; after all, they only stood to gain from the material and technological progress imported by the Jews.”

Some things never change.

JNi.Media

Shiloh Musings: National Unity Government? UGH!

Monday, May 16th, 2016

I think we all know that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has really wanted a national unity government for a long, long time. I can see his point, but I’m happier with the status quo, and that’s the same reason why he wants an expanded government coalition.

Bibi wants a national unity government, because his narrow, bare minimum 61 out of 120 MK coalition is too tight to allow him to make any policy changes. That’s, davka, why I like it. I hate to think what he and Leftist Herzog have up their sleeves when putting them together.

Arutz 7 claims they’re negotiating…

Report: Netanyahu offers Zionist Union nine gov’t ministries
Unity gov’t talks continue apace, as sources close to the prime minister say he’s made a very generous offer to opposition leader Herzog.

Lately, Isaac Buji Herzog has been making statements that give the impression he has moved towards the Right, meaning Center. And since Bibi has been doing the same from the Right, their positions are meeting/similar in some cases. I guess they are now following the same game plan…

It means that next elections there will be nothing to choose between; both large parties will be pretty much the same. Granted that the MKs aren’t, but they don’t run the show.

If Herzog bites, then will Tsipi come along? And will Bennett remain in the coalition?

What do you think?

Batya Medad

Netanyahu Openly Calling on Lieberman to Join Government

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been engaged through proxies in a long and seemingly failed negotiation with Zionist Camp Chairman (for now) Itzhak Herzog, declared during his weekly cabinet meeting that he intends to “publicly call on (Israel Beiteinu Chairman MK) Lieberman to join the government.” Netanyahu added that, as a signing bonus, he would promote a solution for the pensions of newcomers from Russia, Liberman’s base constituency. Netanyahu sounded optimistic, according to Israeli media outlets, about his ability to get Lieberman, his closest coalition partner for most of the 19th Knesset, to join up. He also said the chances for the Zionist Camp joining are low at this point.

Liebrman quickly responded to Netanyahu’s invite on his Facebook page, calling it a spin. He added that Netanyahu has been conducting his flirtation with Zionist Camp leading MKs Herzog and Livni “in direct contradiction of what he promised during the election campaign,” and that “Netanyahu’s government is not rightwing.”

“Should there be a serious and truthful approach to Israel Beiteinu, we will respond to it, “Lieberman concluded.

David Israel

Report: Habayit Hayehudi to Leave Netanyahu’s Government in Six Months

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

As the Israeli media continue to generate reports about the behind the scenes hectic negotiations between Likud and the Zionist Camp (Labor) over the latter’s joining Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government, Habayit Hayehudi—which stands to lose some of its key portfolios in the shuffle—is threatening to leave the coalition in six months should the threatened move take place.

But Labor is not moving in so fast, for a number of reasons: first, about a third to a half of their MKs, as well as many activists, object to joining with the very political enemy they have sworn to topple; second, Labor is leery of coming in as little more than a rubber stamp for the Netanyahu policies they oppose, without the ability to change said policies. Which is why on Friday Labor chairman Itzhak Herzog posted an ad on his Facebook page listing his conditions for joining:

Lowering the cost of living; involvement in the offshore natural gas outline; authority to act to block international boycotts (presumably by pushing the Jewish settlements under the bus); guarding the Supreme Court’s integrity (from the assaults of Habayit Hayehudi Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who is pushing to tame the hyper-activist court; eliminating “racist legislation”; starting negotiations with the countries of the region (is Syria available?); and implementing the plan to disengage from the “Palestinians.”

The ad was deleted shortly after it had been posted, probably because it was an open admission that Labor is indeed in negotiations with Netanyahu. But the content signaled a strong break to the left as the price for their joining, essentially wiping off most of Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman Naftali Bennett’s achievements so far.

According to NRG, Bennett plans to crash the Netanyahu coalition in six months, with or without Labor taking up residence in the cabinet. This is because Bennett must differentiate his party from the Likud. Last elections, Netanyahu’s message to the rightwing voter, which Bennett tacitly supported, was that it made no difference which of the two equally pro-settlements party you voted for, in the end both parties would be in government.

That generous gesture cost Habayit Hayehudi a whopping four seats, and pushed Likud up to 30 seats. This time around Bennett is determined to get those seats back, and he’d like to be able to tell his voters, simply: a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for Labor.

On Saturday night, dozens of Labor activists demonstrated outside Herzog’s home, demanding that he abandon his cabinet aspirations. The Labor youth is not enamored with the chairman, although he has brought in the highest number of Labor seats in recent memory. Herzog cannot risk a rift with the very people on whom he would later have to count to canvas voters and man local election offices for him. Or as young activist Ne’ama lazimi told NRG Saturday night, “You don’t serve Bibi, you replace him.”

JNi.Media

French Government Returns Stolen Degas to Jewish Owners

Monday, May 9th, 2016

“Trois danseuses en buste,” a late 19th-century charcoal sketch of three ballerinas by Edgar Degas which was discovered in 1951 in the building where the Nazi German Embassy resided during the occupation and had since been in the Louvre, was finally returned to its rightful owners on Monday, news outlets reported.

French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay handed the work to Viviane Dreyfus, whose late father Maurice, the owner of the stolen drawing, died in 1957. Ms. Dreyfus said she was “extremely touched” by the gesture, and confessed she didn’t know the work existed, much less that her family owned it, since her father had never spoken about it.

According to the French government, the country’s museums are in possession of some 2,000 similarly unclaimed works, out of which some experts are certain at least 145 were stolen from their Jewish owners by the Nazis.

David Israel

Nadav Argaman Takes Over As Head of Shin Bet (ISA)

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) deputy director Nadav Argaman officially takes the helm today of the domestic intelligence agency.

He will be sworn in Sunday afternoon. Argaman has spent his entire career working in the security field.

Argaman was appointed earlier this month to take over as head of the agency, replacing outgoing leader Yoram Cohen.

The Shin Bet is responsible for dealing with terrorist activities on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line (also known as the “Green Line”).

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/nadav-argaman-takes-over-as-head-of-shin-bet-isa/2016/05/08/

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