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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘government’

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Shabbat Train Coalition Crisis – and Weren’t Afraid to Ask

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

The Shabbat infrastructure railroad works that have rocked Israeli politics over the past two weeks have been going on quietly during Shabbat for the past ten years, with the Haredim turning a blind eye on them, and everybody remaining happy. Now at least two wars are being waged over the same routine works, one between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, the other between UTJ and Shas and the Prime Minister and Transport Minister — because the rule of thumb for Israel’s Haredi parties is that as soon as a government violation of Shabbat is exposed publicly, it must stop or the Haredim walk. That was the reason the Haredim stood up on their hind legs a week ago, when the Israel Train Company announced delays in entering Tel Aviv on Shabbat due to infrastructure work that could not be done during the week.

The Israel Railways corporation is state-owned. It means that, unlike the privately owned bus and taxi services, which operate during some or all of Shabbat, depending on the city, the railroad must obey the laws of Shabbat, at least as long as the Haredim are part of government. “Had the railroad company continued to perform those projects quietly, without media attention, the Haredim would have kept quiet,” a source inside UTJ told JNI.media. “But as soon as it became known, no Haredi party could remain in government with those works going on.”

This was the root of the crisis which on Sunday morning is paralyzing traffic across Israel. Someone at the IR decided to make a big announcement — most likely because they had the public’s interest in mind. The infrastructure works necessitated closing down Rt. 20, an eight-lane highway that cuts through the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and on Shabbat ushers in thousands of shoppers and entertainment seekers from around Israel.

As soon as they became public, those railroad projects turned into a ticking bomb. Last week, the Haredim accommodated the Netanyahu government, because, frankly, Netanyahu has been the most pro-Haredi prime minister ever, and anyone who would replace him would necessarily be harder to work with. So they agreed to the concept that there were some infrastructure projects that had to be carried out on Shabbat, because on regular weekdays they would threaten the lives of the thousands of motorists roaming nearby.

The following Thursday, before the most recent Shabbat, the Haredi parties again examined the planned works and approved three out of the 20 proposed projects as, in fact, constituting risk to lives on weekdays.

But over the past week there were growing voices in the Haredi community that expressed doubt regarding the very idea that the secular Transport Ministry, which is not run by rabbis, would rule on halakhic issues such as Pikuach Nefesh (Heb: saving a life). As a result, those three approved projects received added scrutiny from the Haredi politicians, who concluded they were no different from the rest and should be carried out on weekdays as well.

The former chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisrael Lau, told Israel Radio that secular politicians are trying to “hold the stick on both its ends,” a Talmudic term meaning trying to argue both ends against the middle. On the one hand, Rabbi Lau said, secular politicians are demanding that businesses be permitted to stay open on Shabbat, because Shabbat is the only time hundreds of thousands of Israelis are able to pack Tel Aviv in search of shopping, dining and a good show; on the other hand, Shabbat is when those railroad works should be carried out because that’s when the city is empty, and none would be harmed from potential work accidents.

The train infrastructure works which began at 5:30 PM Friday, were interrupted two hours later by an order from the prime minister’s office, after Shabbat had already begun. These works constituted the three out of 20 projects which the Haredi Parties initially agreed were dangerous to life had they been carried out during the week, but then those same Haredim had a change of mind and/or heart, at the very last minute, literally.

Initially, the PM’s office and the Transport Ministry ordered the Israel Train Company to proceed with the works into Shabbat, as had been the case every month for the past 10 years. A group of 200 employees arrived at 5:30 PM at the railroad track segment between Tel Aviv and Hertzlia, and started to take it apart. But later that same early evening, the Haredi parties announced they reject the compromise, which is why at 6:30 PM, moments before the start of Shabbat, the PM’s office ordered the work to stop.

The order reached the workers at the site at about 7:30 PM, and they dropped everything and left. No one bothered to consider what would happen Saturday night and Sunday, since it would take about 25 hours to complete the work. A similar infrastructure project near Atlit, south of Haifa, was likewise interrupted Friday night.

So, who is the real culprit in this crisis? The Haredim for insisting that a government in which they are members not openly desecrate Shabbat? The Prime Minister’s office, which capitulates to Haredi pressure because this coalition is probably the best political combination Netanyahu could have hoped for, and he’s not giving it up over one day’s suffering by Israeli passengers? Or is it Transport Minister Katz, who chose to turn an ordinary, behind the scenes project that’s been going on uninterrupted — into a full-blown coalition crisis?

We suggest all of the above. And the solution to this crisis will probably be the firing of Transport Minister Katz, because he started it, looking to erode the boss’s coalition. Expect blood — Yisrael Katz has friends inside Likud, who may rise up to defend him, as Welfare Minister Haim Katz has already done.

JNi.Media

Turkey’s President Erdogan Shakes Hands With Israel’s Female Diplomat, Shani Cooper

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shook hands Wednesday with Israel’s female interim head of its embassy in Ankara, Shani Cooper, who has been appointed to field the office until permanent ambassadors are appointed by the two countries.

The ceremonial handshake was part of a tradition carried out with the diplomatic corps each year to celebrate Turkey’s Victory Day on August 30.

This time, Erdogan specifically asked to welcome Cooper — a move seen by analysts as an effort to send a positive message to Israelis who are closely watching the Turkish leader in the wake of a six-year break in relations between the two countries.

Cooper responded warmly to the request, expressing Israel’s support for Erdogan and the Turkish nation.

Erdogan requested an interpreter, through whose services he responded with positive remarks on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. He wished Cooper good luck on her position as well.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan’s office sent the approved, signed agreement with Israel to the office of Turkey’s prime minister. Simultaneously in Israel, the government cabinet ministers also issued their final approval on the document as well.

The agreement is considered to be officially ratified and becomes effective after seven days if no objections are filed on either side.

Hana Levi Julian

Government to Expel BDS Activists. Bravo!

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Word From Jerusalem}

The decision by the Interior and Public Security ministers to form a special task force to expel foreigners engaged in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities is a long overdue but urgent call for remedial action against anti-Semites and renegade Jews who demonize and delegitimize us. In this context, I applaud the government for, albeit belatedly, taking action to expel or bar entry to foreigners who come into Israel in the guise of tourists in order to promote or assist BDS and provoke West Bank Palestinians against the IDF. There is also is a strong case to prosecute Israelis who engage in such seditious activities.

No doubt this will lead to a torrent of hysteria by the delusional left who will claim that this “denial of freedom of expression” is another move by the government towards implementing a “fascist” regime.

This legislation should have been introduced a long while ago and the timing coincides with impending actions by European governments, currently floundering in their efforts to provide security to their citizens under attack from crazed Islamic fundamentalist killers – both imported and homegrown. They will be seeking to impose legislation which will to some extent impose limits to unfettered civil liberties if they compromise security. If they fail to act they will be overwhelmed at the polls by radical right wing parties which have already mushroomed in response to the recent terrorist rampages.

The situation in Israel is infinitely more acute than in any other country. The Jewish state is the only country in the world whose right to exist is constantly challenged by neighboring states motivated by fanatical Islamic anti-Semitic dictatorships. Israel’s purported peace partner has made it clear that a Palestinian state is merely the first step towards the ultimate goal of eliminating Jewish sovereignty in the region. Ironically, even though much of the world refuses to recognize it, the reality is that today most Israelis are ready to separate from the Palestinians if this could be implemented in conjunction with long term security. It is the Palestinians, brainwashed by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, who only see an end of conflict with the destruction of Israel

In addition, unlike the situation in Europe, Israel is an oasis of relative tranquility in a continent of dictatorships and fanatical Islamic rogue states where the concept of human rights is simply nonexistent. Moreover over the past few years the region has become transformed into the most brutal killing fields in the world where hundreds of thousands have been cruelly massacred and millions displaced from their homes at levels of barbarism reminiscent of the Dark Ages.

It thus particularly galling for Israelis to witness governments and media listing terror attacks throughout the world and yet exclude Israel, the greatest victim. Their sickening justification for these omissions is that terror attacks in Israel differ from those in Europe because they are based on “resistance to occupation”. Never mind the fact that terror in Israel far predates 1967 when Israel repulsed the combined Arab armies which then sought to conquer it. The fact is that Israel has been the canary in the coal mine of terrorism and many Europeans are now likely to try to emulate our techniques and strategies in dealing with their own threats.

The government seems to have only now, belatedly, recognized that a crucial component in the effort of Israel’s enemies to destroy us is the war of ideas – and we are painfully losing this battle. Not to mention the vast sums of money foreign governments surreptitiously pour into NGOs, not for the promotion of human rights but in order to delegitimize the State of Israel.

Our government has been nonchalant and intimidated by the delusional left from taking steps to protect itself from internal and external enemies.

There is also a strong case to prosecute Israelis who engage in activities which subvert the state or seek to delegitimize it. When the extreme leftwing media, academics and activists broadcast self-evident lies demonizing their country and besmirching it by falsely accusing the Israel Defense Forces of engaging in war crimes, in the present climate this amounts to subversion. No other country confronting the threats to its existence would tolerate such behavior or enable taxpayers’ funds to be employed towards subsidizing “cultural” activities designed to demonize the nation.

Can one envisage how Churchill would have dealt with such behavior during the Second World War? A British parliamentarian expressing seditious remarks supporting those seeking the destruction of the nation – such as MK Haneen Zoabi has done – would face charges of high treason.

Bleeding hearts opposing the exclusion of foreign BDS activists should review US policy during the Cold War which denied entry to any foreigner who had been a member of the communist party. The dangers confronting Israel are infinitely greater than those the US then faced from the Soviet Union.

And we should be under no illusions. Since the creation of the State of Israel we have been and continue to live in a state of war. The vast majority of the Israeli public would doubtlessly agree that limited curtailment of civil liberties is highly justified if it inhibits those engaged in demonizing and delegitimizing us or even saves a single Israeli from becoming a terrorist casualty.

Isi Leibler

New Poll Sees Israeli Left Collapsing, Purely Rightwing Coalition Government

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Following the surprising results of a GeoCartographia poll a week ago, showing Likud down from 30 to 25 seats, the Zionist Camp (Labor) dropping from 24 to 8 seats, Habayit Hayehudi soaring from 8 to 16 seats, and Yesh Atid rocketing from 11 to 22 seats, on Thursday a new poll by Maagar Mochot (Heb: Think Tank) showed a more moderate reflection of the same trend. The new poll, conducted for FM103 Radio, shows Likud still in first place with 27 seats (3 fewer than its current mandate), Habayit Hayehudi rising, but only to 13 seats (a +5), Yisrael Beiteinu gaining 4 seats to rise from 5 to 9 seats, and Yesh Atid still soundly beating its identical twin at the center, Kulanu, as Yair Lapid’s party rises from 11 to 21 seats, while Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu drops from 11 to 6 seats.

On the left, the Zionist Camp (Labor) slows down its sharp drop, and scores 10 seats, compared with its current 24 (the other poll gave it only 8). Meretz picks up one seat to rise to 6 seats, and the Joint Arab List maintains its 13 seats.

The Haredi block stands at 15 seats (last poll gave it 18), with Shas at 8 (+1) and United Torah Judaism at 7 (+1).

The ideological map reflected in the new poll is most encouraging to the rightwing parties: 49 seats go to the three rightwing Zionist parties, and 15 to the Haredim, meaning that Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his fifth term, could easily put together a rightwing government relying on a workable 64-seat majority, without ambiguous center-right partners such as Kahlon. The question then would become, does Netanyahu actually want a purely rightwing government, which would likely expect him to impose Israeli law in Area C, change the rules of engagement, invest heavily in Jewish expansion in Judea and Samaria, alter the undemocratic way in which Israel’s judges are picked, and a myriad other burning issues which so far he had been reluctant to pursue, blaming it on his more secular, centrist partners.

The rightwing parties could possibly combine their numbers to boycott either Kahlon or Lapid, or both, from the future coalition government — the Haredim because they despise Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu because they’d like to pursue an aggressive agenda in Judea and Samaria, where a good portion of their constituency resides.

Our friend Jeremy Saltan, a.k.a. Knesset Jeremy, who moonlights as HaBayit HaYehudi’s Anglo Forum Chairman, has launched the Israeli Poll of Polls, strictly for political addicts. Here’s his most recent handiwork, copied from his website.

 

Party KnessetJeremy Polling Average (June/July/August) Change since previous KJPA (April/May) KJPA (April/May) All Polls since Elections 2015 Election
Likud 25.3 -1.4 26.7 26.4 30
Yesh Atid 20.3 0.3 20 19.3 11
Bayit Yehudi 13.5 2.2 11.3 12 8
Joint List 13 0.2 12.8 12.8 13
Zionist Union 11 -1.8 12.8 14.4 24
UTJ 8.8 0.8 8 7.5 6
Yisrael Beitenu 8.2 -0.8 9 8.4 6
Kulanu 6.8 0 6.8 6.7 10
Shas 6.7 1 5.7 6.5 7
Meretz 6.3 -0.5 6.8 6 5
Right-Religious 69.3 1.7 67.5 67.4 67
Center-Left-Arab 50.7 -1.7 52.5 52.6 53

 

 

JNi.Media

Report: Government Supports Electric Company Blackouts over PA Debt

Monday, August 8th, 2016

According to an Army Radio report, the Israeli government has altered its position on permitting the Israel Electric Company to halt service to various Arab cities in Judea and Samaria for lack of payment of an accrued debt reaching $450 million. The money is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) and the Palestinian Authority. A few months ago, the IEC began a selective disconnection for a few days at a time of individual Arab cities, the PA appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court and the court placed an injunction on the practice pending a hearing.

The state has now responded to the PA cities’ petition,with a supporting statement by deputy head of the Israeli National Security Council Jacob Nagel, saying that while the government has the authority to order the IEC to continue providing electricity regardless of the Arabs’ huge debt, it also has the authority to approve of the blackouts as a means of encouraging payment, and as of now the concerned entities, including the political echelon, have decided to let the IEC do as it pleases to recoup the debt.

This marks a 180 degree change in Israel’s traditional policy which preferred to spend Israeli taxpayers’ money to pay for the PA deadbeats, to prevent a global protest of how the Israelis are depriving the Palestinians of electricity. In fact, it was the current head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, who, back when he was head of the NSC, joined with then Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to compel the IEC to bite the bullet and continue to provide free electricity to the PA.

This, according to the Army Radio report Monday, is no longer the government’s position. The Supreme Court injunction will remain in place for the time being, but once there is a hearing, the court would have to abide by the opinion of the sovereign government and permit the IEC to do what it takes to collect from its PA customers.

It could mean those PA folks would be stuck without their Internet connection and the world would be spared many gigabytes of incitement.

David Israel

Pres. Rivlin Urges Israeli Arabs to Enlist for National Service

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin urged the Arab citizens of Israel on Sunday to enlist for National Service, a civilian arm that recruits young adults for a year or more service to the country, instead of doing military service.

Many of Israel’s observant Jewish girls volunteer for National Service, and according to director-general Sar-Shalom Jerbi, some 4,500 Israeli Arab citizens are also participating in the program.

National Service volunteers are found in nearly every agency, school, and hospital throughout the country. They act as tutors, counselors, mentors and assistants in any place they are needed. During times of high tension in particular, their presence is especially important.

There are precious few volunteers that speak Arabic fluently, who can provide qualified assistance in schools and clinics in the Israeli Arab sector; an increase in National Service volunteers for this sector would be invaluable.

But Rivlin would like to see those numbers increase, and this weekend urged the country’s Israeli Arab population to allow its young high school graduates to sign up, despite political disagreements.

The president said at a ceremony in the presidential residence in Jerusalem held to recognize outstanding national service volunteers, “We are one society, and we all live in one country; we are mutually responsible for one another.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel is also responsible for the program. At the ceremony he underlined the importance of those serving in National Service, saying their contribution is no less than that of the soldiers serving in the IDF and other security forces.

Those who serve in National Service are deemed eligible for most of the benefits granted to veterans of the military upon completion of their service.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Revisits Importing Foreign Workers for Hi-Tech

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

The government Cabinet discussed a proposal Sunday to inject more foreign workers into the hi-tech sector.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his opening remarks that while new sectors of Israel’s population are being trained — including the hareidi-religious and Israeli-Arab populations — the government is still considering permits for foreign workers.

The decision, he said, would “aid in the continued growth of the high-tech sector in Israel. The demand is enormous and the supply of workers is small,” he explained. “We are using various means to increase the supply of trained high-tech workers. We have turned to populations that have not been involved in high-tech until now, such as the ultra-orthodox and of course our Arab citizens.

“We are also trying various means to train our young people, also in mathematics, computer and science studies – this will take time.

“In the meantime, we are interested in assisting the absorption of a limited number of expert workers, who could help in passing the standardized exams in order to ease the absorption of workers with unique know-how.

“The Cabinet will make it possible for their spouses to stay in Israel and work here legally,” he said.

“This is what is being done in the Silicon Valley in the United States, and this is giving them considerable strength and, of course, it doubles employment for the local population in the United States. We will do this here as well,” he said.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-revisits-importing-foreign-workers-for-hi-tech/2016/07/31/

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