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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Israeli Government’

Bennett and Lapid Lost the Game of ‘Chicken’ and We Got Livni

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Bad news for the State of Israel and its citizens.

We’ve got Tzipi riding shotgun with Bibi at the wheel.

Tzipi’s special job will be to make peace sic with the Arabs. I kid you not.

Israel is extending its hand once more for peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at a press conference while announcing that former foreign minister Tzipi Livni had joined his coalition and will lead the Israeli peace negotiating team. “I am hoping for a peace deal based on two states for two people, as per the parameters I outlined during my speech at Bar Ilan University,” Netanyahu said at the conference. “Today Israel extends its hand once more for peace. We want a peace process, and we hope that it will yield results.”

Yes, Bibi has finally found himself a coalition partner, Tzipi the Movement  Livni, the lady who campaigned as an “alternative” to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  Yes, the Tzipi who insisted that Netanyahu is a danger to peace. Yes, the lady has a price, and Bibi met it.

Since Naftali Bennett, who aligned himself with Yair Lapid, after campaigning that he will be a valuable member of Netanyhu’s coalition/cabinet only succeeded in alienating himself further.  He thought that Bibi would be so desperate for his MK’s to add to the coalition that the PM would come begging, but no surprise the political newbie miscalculated.

It really doesn’t matter that this Netanyahu-Livni coalition agreement goes 100% against both their campaign promises, statements etc. This is politics, and politics is a search, striving for power and politicians will do and say anything to get it. And no doubt that Yair Lapid sees his future with Netanyahu in the cabinet!  He’s not going to stick with Bennett.

During the election campaign, Netanyahu had reportedly made clear to several of his senior staff that no talks were taking place with Livni or other members of her party, and that the chances of her joining the next government with him as Prime Minister were nil. “Livni managed the negotiations with the Palestinians poorly,” Netanyahu was quoted in December as having told ministers. “Her entire stance is wrong and unacceptable to me.”

So, it’s time to get comfortable and watch Bibi’s show.

Good luck to the rest of us, we’re in for a bumpy ride…

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Bennett’s Unholy Alliance with Lapid

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I’m not going to pretend I was satisfied with the Likud’s election campaign, or even all of Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s policies/positions over the last four years (e.g., Bar Ilan, the freeze, etc.). But in the past four years, we’ve had, first of all, a government that lasted  just about four years, which is quite an achievement in and of itself in Israel. And we’ve managed to stave off international pressure while getting sanctions in place against Iran. At the same time we’ve had modest domestic achievements, keeping the economy stable despite a global crisis and lowering the monthly cost of living.

Yet, leading up to the elections, I was shocked by how many people were so ready to abandon the Likud and Netanyahu, despite the fact that they knew only he could be Prime Minister and would need a strong showing for the Likud-Beitenu slate in order to have a stable center of gravity for his coalition.

On the day of election, I argued that weakening the Likud-Beitenu, even if by voting for the Jewish Home, to Netanyahu’s right, will actually strengthen whatever left-of-center party will join the government. That’s because even if “the right” has a majority of the Knesset, even 65 seats, a stable government requires more than that. Netanyahu will have no choice, just as he did after the last election, but to bring at least one party from the left in to stablize the coalition. Otherwise any coalition partner could bring down the government.

As the Likud-Beitenu dropped in support, that became more and more true, since the less seats it would have the more vital each coalition partner would be. While that would make Jewish Home more vital to the coalition, it would also have a similar affect on the other parties. The only method Netanyahu has of neutralizing that problem is by bringing in more parties. Practically, the weaker Likud-Beitenu was, the more necessary a left-wing party would become to the coalition. That party was Yesh Atid, which seems to be the most centrist of the sizable left-wing parties.

That prediction, or actually warning, came true with a vengeance. Not only did the Likud lose seven mandates worth of votes to Jewish Home (Jewish Home got 12 and Power to Israel got two, for a total of 14 – seven mandates greater then these two parties represented in the prior Knesset), but Yesh Atid almost doubled in size, going from a predicted 10 to 19 mandates.

So, predictably, Netanyahu’s first post-election call was to Yair Lapid.

At that point Netayahu had two realistic possibilities for a right-of-center coalition: Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Yesh Atid+Shas (with a moderate Haredi-draft plan) for a 72 seat coalition OR  Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ-Livni-(Kadima) for a 67-69 seat coalition without Lapid (unclear draft plan, but relatively decent foreign policy positions).

(A Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ coalition would amount to 62 seats, would result in do-nothing government, with a bad budget, and might even fall by the time the next budget came up).

When it became clear that Lapid’s demands were too inflexible, making Shas unwilling to join the coalition, meaning the first option was not going to happen, the second option became more necessary. So Liberman went about trying to make it happen, meeting with the Jewish Home. Talks began with Livni as well. But then Bennett and Lapid formed an alliance:  Bennett would not join the government, unless Lapid also joined.

Practically, that means that Netanyahu can’t form a government without Lapid. It also means that Lapid will be strengthened in his demands, specifically his universal draft plan (which sees lowering the amount of yeshiva-exemptions to a mere 400, lower than it was in the early years of the state) and Shas and UTJ will not sit in the government. Lapid will be doubly strengthened in his demand for a renewed focus on the peace process (he still clings to Golda Meir’s non-sense slogan of, you only make peace with your enemies), because not only does he have more leverage with Netanyahu, but also because Netanyahu will need to bring in more left-wing partners to stabilize the coalition, such as Tzipi Livni who demands that she lead a renewed negotiation effort.

Netanyahu tried to break the alliance by offering Bennett virtually everything he wanted prior to elections – greater say over government guidelines and ministries – in exchange for being the first party to join the coalition. That would have weakened Lapid’s position and forced him to moderate. But Bennett refused.

Israeli Coalition Negotiations: You Can’t Have it All

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In Israel, we had elections a few weeks ago, January  22.  It was just before my two week trip to the states and I’ve been back a week.  And it doesn’t yet seem like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been able to put together a government coalition.

During the election campaign, I blogged a lot about the difference between a coalition party and and opposition party.  Netanyahu understands the differences very well, IMHO almost too well.  Inflexible “principles” are for the opposition only, not the coalition.  There’s a moral/ideological price to pay for that “Volvo.”

Netanyahu isn’t new to coalition politics.  It’s his third big attempt, and he succeeded pretty easily the two previous times, even after the elections when Likud did not get the most Knesset votes.  But this time, he has to contend with political newbies, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett who are taking their campaign promises and alleged agreement with each other much more seriously than the more jaded and experienced politicians would.

Leaks from Likud reveal that NRP-Bayit Yehudi’s Bennett had been offered some very good positions for his people, but he isn’t biting alone.

Likud Beytenu offered Bayit Yehudi the Education Ministry, a top socioeconomic portfolio, and a deputy defense minister who would deal with settlements, Likud sources said on Tuesday.
A Likud source said the offer was conditioned on Bayit Yehudi conducting marathon coalition talks over 48 hours to become the first party to join the coalition.

The media keeps saying that he and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid’s have made a deal to pressure Bibi by sticking to the same basic government conditions/principles.

Lapid is sticking to what could be a socially, spiritually and military upheaval in the IDF, almost 100% draft of chareidim.

Yesh Atid wanted to set the age of enlistment for haredim at 18, as in the rest of the general population, and allow exemptions for only 400 exemplary yeshiva students every year. In the first five years, however, Lapid imagined offering full exemptions to ultra-Orthodox students who requested them, introducing a gradual increase in ultra-Orthodox conscription.

This may have sounded good when asking secular Leftists for their votes, but many of those voters don’t really want their children to be influenced by extremely observant Torah loyal Jews.  Esser Agaroth has an interesting post about that.

The Left only wants to enlist Haredim for the purposes of indoctrinating them into state loyalism. It has NO interest in having IDF units which inspire curiosity in its children about God and His Torah, about prayer, Shabbath, and Tefillin, or any other authentic Jewish observances.

That’s what this all boils down to.  We’re really fighting for the soul of the Jewish People, especially those in Israel, not for Volvos.  So, nu, will the wily Netanyahu succeed in crafting a new coalition before his deadline, or not?

*A Volvo was once the make of cars used by Israeli Government Ministers.  All ministers and sgan (deputy) ministers are provided with chauffeured limousines, cars plus drivers as perks of power.  So, referring to the “Volvo” is to refer to those perks.

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New Poll: Likud-Beiteinu Downslide Continues, Bennett Steady at 15

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

And we’re off to the races with Tuesday morning’s Walla News TNS Teleseker, as the battered Likud-Beiteinu, with one leader tied behind its back with an indictment, is unable to stop the hemorrhaging of its votes to other right-wing parties. And so, had the elections been held on Sunday, when the poll was conducted (using a sample of 500 age 18+ Israelis, with a 2 seat margin of error), Likud-Beiteinu would have dropped to 34 seats, as compared with 35 seats in the same poll a week ago.

Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home appears completely recovered from the glitch of last week’s “refusal to evacuate Jew” fiasco, and it continues to own its 15 seats, give or take, as it did in the same poll a week ago.

Shas also maintains it rise from 10 to 11 seats, and Torah Judaism’s rise from 5 to 6 seats is a fait accompli.

On the other hand, Power to Israel has dropped off the face of the Earth in this poll, a victim of the “blocking percentage” that requires a list to gain two seats before it can receive its first seat.

Except that with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 seats, it is quite possible that both Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari, the two bad boys of the Israeli right, will make it into the Knesset.

Altogether, the Likud-Beiteinu has lost 4 seats in three weeks in the Walla weekly poll, and so, even though the Right plus Haredim block maintains its 66 seat majority, Likud-Beiteinu’s share in the loot is shrinking.

On the Left things have remained about the same this week in this poll: Labor with 18, both Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid with 10 each, Meretz with 4, and Kadima is back in the race with 2 (down from its 28 seats in the previous elections). The Arab parties are down to just 10 seats from their previous projections of 12 and 11 – but that, too, is within the margin of error and the Arabs could very well end up with 12 seats.

There are a few unexpected developments reflected in this week’s poll.

First, the additional Shas seat can be explained by the anti-illegal workers sentiment among non-religious Israelis. The segment of the population that’s exposed more than any other to the phenomenon of idle African illegals loitering in their streets are working class Jews in the low income neighborhoods of the big cities, who are more likely to also be Sephardi.

Shas co-leader, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, is perceived publicly as an unabashed enemy of illegal migrants, and so, given those two factors, secular Israeli Sephardim may be feeling that their single issue would be best addressed with Shas in the government.

That brings us to the next unexpected development: paradoxically, the more secure Netanyahu appears in his future as the next prime minister, the more votes he’s going to lose. Since no one has risen to a point where they can hope to challenge Netanyahu for the top job – the more the thinking voter both on the left and on the right is going to figure out how to use their vote not to secure Netanyahu’s spot but to influence the direction of his government.

This is why both the moderate right – Jewish Home, and the moderate left – Labor, who would have otherwise voted Likud-Beiteinu, prefer now to throw their weight in favor of his potential coalition partners. This could explain why non-religious, right-wing voters who normally would be the typical Likud voters, are planning to vote for Jewish Home, a religious party.

Then there’s the unique personality of Naftali Bennett, who combines his knitted yarmulke with combat military service, an enviable exit as hi-tech developer, and a stint as Netanyahu’s chief of staff. His very common style, his earnestness and his magic touch in galvanizing the Jewish Home party from a 3-seat has been to the third largest party—albeit still just on paper—have ignited the imagination of secular Israelis who are not hostile to their own national tradition.

Moreover, Bennett insists on saying only good things about his former boss, Netanyahu, even when provoked by the beastly Nissim Mishal on TV, who kept barking at him: But Bibi hates you, he hates your guts, he’ll never let you into his government. At Likud things were not nearly as friendly, as the ruling party’s propaganda machine spent day and night portraying Bennett as an extreme right wing wolf in the sheepskin of a benign centrist. It cost Likud between 3 and 4 votes.

Netanyahu Rosh Hashanah Message Highlights Gov’t Achievements

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a Rosh Hashanah youtube message yesterday highlighting his government’s achievements throughout the year, displaying one government achievement per month.

Examples given in the video include the return of Gilad Shalit, increasing funding for education allowing children to attend school from age three, and allowing other companies to use cell phone infrastructure, adding several new cell phone companies to the market with significantly lower prices.

The video, below, is in Hebrew.

State Dept. Objects to Levy Committee’s Legalizing Outposts

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In a Monday State Deartment daily press briefing by Patrick Ventrell, director of the press office, the latter was asked by a reporter for his reaction to the Edmond Levy committee report which recommended legalizing most outposts which until now have been either in legal limbo, or on their way to being demolished. (The transcript was redacted for this report)

The reporter asked: “There’s an Israeli Government appointed committee which was asked to look into the legality of the settlements and has come forth with a ruling saying that they believe that essentially these settlements should be authorized, which is the Prime Minister’s position. The Israeli Government hasn’t accepted this ruling yet, but sort of stands ready to be accepted. Do you take any view on this creeping legalization of the settlement process? And is this useful at this point, ahead of Deputy Secretary Burns and the Secretary’s trip to Israel? Is this the kind of thing that you like to see happening?”

Ventrell: “The U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”

Question: “So you would urge the Government of Israel not to accept this panel’s recommendation?”

Ventrell: “My understanding is this is just a panel recommendation at this point.”

Question: “Is that going to be something that Deputy Burns brings up when he’s in Israel?”

Ventrell: “I’m not sure. I can’t read out his meetings in advance.”

Question: “Is it something that you can say that you’re sufficiently concerned about?”

Ventrell: “We’re concerned about it, obviously. The Deputy Secretary will be en route, and let’s see how his meetings go and see if we can report back to you when they’re over.”

Hearing Is Not Seeing

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Our Sages teach, “There is no comparison between hearing and seeing.” To be in Eretz Yisrael is not only to pray at the holy sites or go touring, but to be in Eretz Yisrael also demands that we express solidarity with our beleaguered brethren, and demonstrate our support so that they may know that we are with them.

As many of you may know, our Hineni organization has a very active Israeli branch. In addition to the many educational Torah programs that we offer, we also run a soup kitchen for the indigent and an outreach program for victims of terror. When our Israeli brethren are confronted by danger our dedicated, tireless director, Benjamin Philip, and his eishes chayil Nechamah, is always first on the scene.

During Operation Cast Iron in Lebanon, when our people in the North were subjected to constant barrages of rockets, Hineni brought hundreds of families to safety in Jerusalem. We provided them with food and shelter as well as spiritual nourishment – Torah programs for adults and children. The same was done during every crisis.

Whether the victims of terror were injured by rockets in the North, wounded by suicide bombers on the streets of Jerusalem and its environs, or assailed by rockets in Sderot, we brought them to our Hineni Center in Jerusalem so that they might have some relief. We were shocked to discover that for many of them, these visits provided their first encounter with the Kotel. As inconceivable as it may be, there are people in Israel who have never experienced the awesome sanctity of the Wall.

In addition to these Jerusalem visits, we also take these young victims of terror on visits to European Jewish communities where the local congregations host them. These trips invigorate them with strength and pride. The respect and love with which the host Jewish community welcomes them imbues them with a sense of purpose.

Suddenly, the senseless madness of their suffering takes on a new dimension. They are not just pitiful, wounded victims of terror, but heroes of Eretz Yisrael who are creating history, pioneers in their G-d-given land. It was in this spirit that our Hineni group made its way to Sderot.

We marveled at the courage of our brethren, who despite deadly barrages have remained steadfast and would not abandon the land. Even without these murderous attacks, living in outposts like Sderot requires dedication and sacrifice. But we are a nation that has survived the centuries against all odds, which has endured and triumphed over the most monstrous evil and persecution.

Now that, after 2,000 years of suffering, G-d has granted us the miracle of return to our ancient land, no force or rockets could make our people forsake it. From Sderot, we saw Gaza, literally a stone’s throw away, and which, despite its close proximity, our Israeli Government handed over to the Arabs only to see it converted into a launching pad for lethal weapons. We saw the houses that had been hit; the destruction that had been wrought, but most painful of all was to hear personal testimonies of the young people. We wept as they shared their ordeals.

We were humbled by their expressions of gratitude for our having made it possible for them to walk the streets of Jerusalem and other cities without hearing the ominous warning siren of “Tzeva adom – Red alert!” …Rockets coming … Run for the shelters.

One young woman related that she was walking with her madrichah when the ominous siren sounded. There was no place nearby to find safety and her madrichah was blown to bits before her very eyes while she sustained terrible injuries. Another girl told us that she saw her sister killed, and her mother, who was expecting a baby, suffered a miscarriage. And the tragic stories went on and on. It is not only the physical injuries that these people have sustained, but the mental anguish that has left them scarred and traumatized. We couldn’t help but wonder how they were able to go on.

As I write these words, we are in middle of the Nine Days, the saddest period of the year. So the question remains – how do they go on? But I guess that I can ask the same question of myself. How did we go on after the Holocaust? How did we rebuild after that satanic evil that no nation had ever experienced?

In my mind’s eye I see my saintly father…. I hear his voice as he tearfully charged us – “Mein teirer kinderlach – My dearest children…. we will rebuild the Torah of our fathers and mothers.”

My father uttered those words in a displaced persons camp to which we were taken after Bergen-Belsen. He charged us with that mission after he discovered that his entire family had perished and he was the lone son to survive the noble rabbinic house of his holy father, HaRav HaGaon Yisroel Halevi Jungreis, Hy”d.

Where did my father find the strength? This is the miracle of our Jewish people. The voice of G-d that we heard at Sinai kindled an eternal light in our souls. No matter where life may take us, no matter how much anguish we are subjected to, that Divine light will never be extinguished. It will always show us the way.

Tisha B’Av is the most tragic day on the Jewish calendar, but it is also the day on which Moshiach is born. The dirge that we sing on this day of sorrow is “Eli Tzion – Weep for Zion and her cities as you would weep for a woman in labor,” for even in the midst of her unbearable pain, she knows that very soon, she will behold new life and all her suffering will all have been worthwhile.

Indeed, we the Jewish people have never lost sight of that vision. We have never forgotten that even as the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B’Av, Moshiach was also born on that day, and soon, very soon, with the help of G-d, we will see our Temple rebuilt.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/hearing-is-not-seeing/2009/07/29/

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