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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli Government’

Agriculture Minister: Israeli Farmers Will Export Cannabis in Two Years

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) is planning for Israel to begin exporting medical cannabis, Cannabis Magazine reported on Sunday. Referring to the new experimental cannabis farm at Israel’s Volcani Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Ariel promised that “within two years we will have a regulated protocol for growing cannabis, at which point we’ll allow farmers to grow it.” Nevertheless, the minister would not refer to Cannabis as an agricultural product.

The program regulating the medical cannabis industry was approved by the Israeli government some two months ago. But because of the objections of Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ), and despite the support of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), the program does not include approval for growing cannabis for export.

Unfortunately, cannabis growers in Israel are saying the only way they could afford to sell their product in Israel at a reasonable price is if they could raise most of their crops for export.

At the same time, the fact that the Volcani Institute is experimenting with Israeli cannabis suggests that eventually, when the time is right politically, Israeli cannabis might blow the competition out of the bong, since it is renowned for its agricultural research, focusing on plant sciences, animal sciences, plant protection, soil and environmental sciences, food sciences, and agricultural engineering, that have made Israeli farm products among the most prized in the world.

A sign announcing the launch of Israel's health ministry's medical cannabis center. / Photo courtesy Volcani Institute

A sign announcing the launch of Israel’s health ministry’s medical cannabis center. / Photo courtesy Volcani Institute

Over the weekend, Minister Ariel told Israel Radio that “the Agriculture Ministry is now devoting significant-size plots for experimentation and exhibition of cannabis growing,” in preparation for instructing Israeli farmers on the most efficient and productive methods of growing the plant. Ariel said he does intend to eventually reach a political consensus in the Netanyahu cabinet in favor of exporting cannabis. He expects the process of cultivating products, developing the proper protocol for growing and shipping, and getting political approval to take about two years, which means this could take place during the current Netanyahu government.


Netanyahu OKs Major Road Works on Shabbat with Tacit Haredi Approval

Friday, August 26th, 2016

After a tense night of negotiations, on Friday morning Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he succeeded in resolving the potential coalition crisis with the two Haredi parties in his government over work that had been scheduled for Shabbat at the Derekh HasHalom (Heb: Peace Road) train station in Tel Aviv. The resolution was that works which must be carried out because of risk to human life will proceed on schedule on Shabbat, while other works will be delayed until after Shabbat.

The Prime Minster’s office released a statement announcing the establishment of a new committee, headed by Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz, to look into enhancing communication between the Ministry of Transport and the Haredi factions.

Haredi party officials have told Walla that “the crisis is behind us. The Prime Minster’s announcement was made in full coordination with us. We see it as our success, when Netanyahu announces that works which do not pose risk to human life will not be carried out on Shabbat.”

Members of Netanyahu’s inner circle have reportedly requested that the Haredim not turn the resolution into a victory celebration, and so they have maintained a restrained response.

Over the past 24 hours, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Health Minister Yakov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni (both from UTJ) sent Netanyahu an urgent letter Thursday night, demanding a halt to the works on Shabbat, warning of a possible coalition collapse. “Should these works be performed by order of the Israeli government, causing public desecration of Shabbat, this would constitute a serious precedence and a blatant violation of the status quo,” they wrote.

What ensued was a back-and-forth debate as to who is in fact in charge of making Shabbat-work decisions: Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Welfare Minister Haim Katz, who is in charge of Work and Rest decisions, or Prime Minister Netanyahu. They approached Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt who ruled that the authority is, indeed, with Haim Katz, but since this constitute a coalition breaking issue, it should be sent up to the PM.

David Israel

IDF Military Advocate General Issues Update on 2014 Gaza War-Related Criminal Investigations

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) on Wednesday issued a press release regarding a number of alleged “exceptional incidents” that took place during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Many of these claims originated in complaints that were transmitted to the MAG Corps on behalf of Arab residents of the Gaza Strip, as well as by several NGOs. Other allegations were made in media reports, as well as by internal IDF operational reports.

To date, the MAG Corps has received some 500 complaints about 360 incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation. Some alleged incidents received more than one complaint.

Each complaint suggesting misconduct by IDF forces, undergoes an initial examination. If the allegation is deemed credible, prima facie, and is sufficiently concrete, it is referred to the MAG for a decision as to whether an immediate criminal investigation is warranted without further examination, or whether the incident should be referred to the General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments (FFA Mechanism), for a prior factual examination before making a decision on whether to open a criminal investigation.

To date, in the wake of allegations that indicated prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, the MAG has ordered the opening of criminal investigations without the need for prior factual examination with regard to 24 exceptional incidents. Of these criminal investigations, the MAG decided to issue indictments against three IDF soldiers, accused of looting and of aiding and abetting looting. The legal proceedings regarding these charges are underway at the present time.

Regarding 13 other criminal investigations, the MAG has closed the cases without undertaking any criminal or disciplinary proceedings. The remainder of the investigations are still ongoing – some are still underway, and some have been completed with their findings having been submitted to the MAG for review.

Other allegations, which did not indicate prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, were referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination. This mechanism, which was initiated while the operation was still underway, collates information and relevant materials and undertakes inquiries, in order to assess the facts of exceptional incidents. These efforts are intended to provide the MAG with as much factual information as possible in order to reach decisions regarding whether or not to open a criminal investigation, as well as for the purpose of a “lessons-learned” process and the issuance of operational recommendations that will assist in mitigating the risk of exceptional incidents occurring in the future.

All in all, to date, around 360 complaints and reports relating to around 220 exceptional incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation have been transmitted to the FFA Mechanism for examination, after undergoing an initial examination by the MAG Corps.

To date, after reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG has referred seven incidents for criminal investigation. One of these investigations has already been the subject of a decision by the MAG. Other investigations have been completed and are awaiting review of their findings by the MAG, or are currently ongoing.

With regard to around 80 additional incidents that were examined by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG decided to close the case without opening a criminal investigation, where the actions of the IDF forces involved did not give rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal behavior. However, in relation to some of these incidents, the MAG recommended reviewing operational methods in order to assess whether any changes should be made. In certain cases that were closed, the MAG found that no involvement of IDF forces could be identified in regard to the incident.

David Israel

Cisco Laying Off 14,000 Worldwide, 300 at Most in Israel

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The San Jose, CA headquartered networking giant Cisco is about to announce the layoffs of as many as 14,000 employees, or about 20% of its global workforce, according to sources close to the company. Early retirement package plans have already been offered to many employees, as Cisco is preparing to publicize its fiscal quarter results Thursday evening. According to Calcalist, the layoffs will include between 200 and 300 Israeli employees.

Cisco Israel, headquartered in Netanya, employs more than 1,500 workers. Last October it let go of 40 employees and over the past three years of about one thousand. At the same time, according to Calcalist, Cisco has also been recruiting new employees in Israel, as well as making acquisitions: Cloudlock for $293 million in June, and Leaba for $320 million in March. Cisco has also signed a cooperation deal with Israel’s largest financial institution, Bank Hapoalim, and announced a new initiative with the Israeli government, turning the Negev into the “world’s first digital region.”

According to CRN, the heavy cuts are the inevitable result of Cisco’s transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organization. CRN cites a source familiar with Cisco’s transformation that said “they need different skill sets for the software-defined future than they used to have. In theory the addressable market could be higher and the margins richer, but it will take some time to make this transition.”

The notion that a good portion of that future growth will involve Israel’s quality software workforce bodes well for the local hi-tech industry.

David Israel

Head of Mid-East Think Tank Suing Obama over Aid to Nuclear Israel

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy (IRMEP), has filed a lawsuit against the entire US government, including President Obama, Secretary Kerry, CIA Director Brennan and Defense Secretary Carter, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for the $234 billion the US has given Israel in military foreign aid since 1976 — in violation of US law that prohibits aiding countries with nuclear capability who are non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Smith insists that his lawsuit is not about foreign policy (which the court would have dismissed outright), but “about the rule of law, presidential power, the structural limits of the US Constitution, and the right of the public to understand the functions of government and informed petition of the government for redress.”

In an article Smith published in Sept. 2014, when the current lawsuit was initially launched (Lawsuit Challenges U.S. “Ambiguity” Toward Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal), he explains his real reasons why Israel must not be allowed to have a nuclear arsenal:

“In a crisis or time of increased tension, Israel can threaten to use its arsenal as a lever to coerce the transfer of US military supplies and other support rather than pursue peaceful alternatives,” Smith argues, adding that “the international community views the US as hypocritical when it cites the NPT in reference to Iran or North Korea.”

Actually, we’ve seen up close how the international community views this “hypocrisy” just a year ago. As soon as it became clear in the summer of 2015 that Iran was going to be allowed to develop its nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states went on a mad dash to acquire their own nukes. Why hadn’t they done the same in all the decades since Israel had allegedly first acquired its own nuclear device? Because they couldn’t imagine a situation whereby Israel would use it against them.

The lawsuit cites the fact that the White House and Israeli government are currently negotiating a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to serve as the basis for a FY2019-2028 foreign aid package of 4 to 5 billion dollars annually (actually, that’s the Israeli request, so far the most the White House has mentioned is $3.5 billion). In addition, the suit claims, “Congress will soon pass and the President will sign into law the final installment of the current FY2009-2018 foreign aid package. The US Treasury will provide an interest-bearing cash advance in October 2017 that Israel can use to fund its own military-industrial programs and purchase US arms.” That, too is more what Israel has been hoping for and less what the Administration is willing to give. At the moment, the US wants the entire military aid package to be used in American factories.

Smith claims the US aid deal with Israel is in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments to the Foreign Aid Act of 1961.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was modified by the Symington Amendment (Section 669 of the FAA) in 1976, which banned US economic and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections.

The Glenn Amendment was later adopted in 1977, and provided the same sanctions against countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology or explode or transfer a nuclear device.

Noam Chomsky, a vociferous anti-Israel critic, has blamed successive US presidents of violating the law by granting an exception for Israel. The fact is that US presidents have granted similar benefits to India and Pakistan as well.

Smith’s suit says “Defendants have collectively engaged in a violation of administrative procedure … while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the US to Israel.”

The suit claims that “these violations manifest in gagging and prosecuting federal officials and contractors who publicly acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons program, imposing punitive economic costs on public interest researchers who attempt to educate the public about the functions of government, refusing to make bona fide responses to journalists and consistently failing to act on credible information available in the government and public domain. These acts serve a policy that has many names all referring to the same subterfuge, ‘nuclear opacity,’ ‘nuclear ambiguity,’ and ‘strategic ambiguity.’”

The Institute for Research: Middle East Policy is an enormous archive of newspaper articles, books, audio, video, lawsuits, and surveys, dedicated to Israel, or, rather, the vilification of the Jewish State. Despite the institute’s name’s reference to being about Middle East policy, it’s all Israel, mostly about the secrets and clandestine policies of Israel. But it’s doubtful the current lawsuit, almost two years in the system by now, will go anywhere in federal court. In the end, the president is permitted to do whatever he or she wants in foreign policy, using good advice and their own intellectual faculties.

Let’s all vote for a president who is endowed with both.

David Israel

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

AG Recommends Evacuating Amona, Residents Hoping for Political Rescue

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Sunday that there is no legal obstacle barring a review of the status of lands adjacent to the community of Amona in Benjamin regional council, to start a discussion of potentially moving there the residents of the community which has been slated for demolition by the end of the year by the supreme court. Mandelblit spoke at a discussion with government officials of regulating the status of Amona.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Amona community is illegal under Israeli law, based on petitions of presumed original Arab owners of the land who had been rounded up by anti-Zionist groups like Peace Now and Yesh Din. Since then, the court has ruled again on the Amona case, ordering that the Jewish residents must be evacuated, the housing and infrastructure destroyed and the area be handed to the Arabs.

According to the Amona residents, when the community was founded in 1995 it was by a state initiative, promoted by then housing minister Natan Sharansky, who invested millions of dollars in creating an infrastructure, paving roads and promoting construction, all of it under the auspices of the state. If there were irregularities with the land purchase, it was the state’s problem, not theirs. Had they known the land was privately owned they would have stayed away, but they were told by the state to move in — let the state deal with the alleged original owners.

It should be noted that when Mandelblit was being considered for the AG appointment, he was favored by the right for his idea that in just these kinds of cases, with anti-Jewish settlement activists signing up claimants against existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and the claimants prove ownership (which is not so hard to do considering the land registration archives are kept in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority) — said claimants be compelled to accept fair market value for the property, or comparable property. Mind you, this is after some Arab real estate agent had received full pay for the same land.

Now, despite his wise recommendation on grandfathering existing Jewish communities, the AG is obviously feeling that he can’t go to battle against a clear Supreme Court ruling to demolish Amona, and so he recommends finding an alternative land not for the alleged Arab owners, but for the very real Jewish residents instead.

Amona was the site of one of the most brutal attacks of Israeli government forces on Jewish residents in the state’s history. On February 1, 2006, Amona Jewish residents and protesters were evacuated by 10,000 Israeli Police, Border Police, and Army troops. The estimated 4,000 Jews on the Amona grounds mostly consisted of youths from nearby communities. More than 300 were injured, including some 80 security personnel. Among the injured were three Knesset members. After several hours, the Amona homes had been demolished. A few girls that were evacuated accused police officers of sexual assault.

In March 2006, the Knesset parliamentary inquiry into the events at Amona determined that security forces had employed brutal force, striking protesters with clubs and charging them with horses. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra was criticized for preventing police commanders from testifying at committee hearings. The committee also found contradictions between the testimonies of the Army Chief of Staff and the Internal Security Minister.

Today, none of the coalition parties wants to position itself behind a similar evacuation effort, a move which could kill their political aspirations among their rightwing voters. Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu officials have stated recently that this government will not permit the destruction of Amona. When the brutal evacuation took place in 2006, it was carried out by the same government that had evacuated Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005, yet another traumatic event in recent Israeli history. That government was ruled by the Kadima party, a political albatross invented by soon-to-go-comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which has since disappeared from the political map, and serves as a warning to all Israeli rightwing parties wishing to err leftward.

With that in mind, it can be expected that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Liberman and Justice Minister Shaked come up with a solution that keeps the Jewish settlers in place, risking the ire of the high court, as well as of Israel’s many friends in the free world. It should provide for great political theater, as these three politicians will show their ability to both capitulate and gravel while proudly standing erect. It’s time to call in the chiropractors.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ag-recommends-evacuating-amona-residents-hoping-for-political-rescue/2016/08/08/

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