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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’

A Pundit’s Prophetic Words

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Last week The Jewish Press carried an op-ed column by Charles Krauthammer titled “Israel and Hamas: Does No One Remember Anything?” The piece was a study in penetrating clarity; in other words, typical Krauthammer.

It’s little wonder his book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics (Crown Forum) topped the nonfiction bestseller lists for several months in late 2013 and early 2014 – a highly unusual feat for a collection of previously published newspaper and magazine columns.

Probably my favorite piece of writing from Krauthammer appeared as the cover story of the November 9, 1998 issue of The Weekly Standard and was titled “The Coming Palestinian State.”

As I noted several years back in one of my Monitor columns, the article, which unfortunately is not included in Things That Matter, fairly shouted crystal ball. (Note to Monitor readers: I hope to resume the column in the near future on at least an occasional basis.)

Krauthammer began “The Coming Palestinian State” with a defense of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance at the Wye River summit (this was, of course, Netanyahu’s first go-round in the prime minister’s chair), which had been derided by critics on both the left and the right.

Netanyahu, Krauthammer wrote, had by the time of his election in 1996 come to accept Oslo as a fait accompli – had in fact campaigned not on a platform of abrogating the treaty but of insisting on Palestinian compliance and reciprocity.

“The point,” argued Krauthammer, “is that Netanyahu never was a zealot. He has long believed that a solution to the Palestinian question would require some territorial compromise. He was never a ‘Land of Israel’ ideologue. He would, of course, have preferred to hold on to every inch for security reasons. But he understands realities.”

Netanyahu’s primary goals were to halt the one-sided nature of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and to somehow safely steer the country through, if not completely around, the interim territorial withdrawals agreed to by the previous Israeli government.

Yasir Arafat had been under the impression that even before the start of “final status” negotiations Israel would hand over approximately a third of the disputed land in each of three redeployments – in effect leaving Israel with no bargaining chips just as the key issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian statehood were placed on the table.

“Netanyahu’s entire strategy for the last two years,” Krauthammer explained in that 1998 article, “undertaken at huge diplomatic and personal political cost, has been to reduce Arafat’s expectations. He had to make Arafat realize that whatever the provocations, whatever the diplomatic damage, however sour Israeli relations with the Arabs, however damaged Israeli relations with the United States, however many rock-throwing and tear-gas incidents this would provoke on the West Bank, Arafat was simply not going to get 90 percent of the land in the interim phase.

“On this he won. Wye ratifies the victory. Arafat had 27 percent of the territories when Netanyahu came to power. Wye gives him 13 percent more. Oslo’s interim phase will end with Israel having given up 40 percent of the land.

“From the Israeli point of view, this is an extraordinary achievement. It leaves Israel with a serious chunk of territory on the West Bank to bargain with.”

It was when he turned his attention to the specifics of what Arafat received at Wye that Krauthammer’s tone took a darker turn. That additional 13 percent of land promised to Arafat, he pointed out, was crucial not so much for its size as for the isolated pockets of Palestinian-controlled territory that would now be linked. And with Gaza and the West Bank connected by two special roads, the land under Arafat’s jurisdiction suddenly appeared more than ever like a real state.

Netanyahu to Meet Obama in March

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be visiting the U.S. next month, to meet with president Barack Obama.

In a meeting of the Likud Beitenu faction in the Knesset today, Netanyahu said his visit has four goals: continuing the political struggle to deny Iran a nuclear weapon; advancing the “peace process”; recruiting investors in Israel’s technology market; and encouraging tourism to Israel.

Netanyahu is expected to be a guest of honor at the AIPAC conference, to be held March 2-4 in Washington, DC.

Netanyahu Will Not Meet Pope during Rome Visit

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not meet with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome, as the Israeli leader’s office had announced.

The Vatican reportedly never was asked to schedule a meeting for this week, and due to complex and conservative Vatican protocol cannot schedule a visit with one week’s notice, which would be insulting.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement last week saying that Netanyahu would meet with the pope at the Vatican on Wednesday and during the same trip meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome to discuss the peace talks with the Palestinians, as well as Iran, Syria and other issues of mutual concern.

On Sunday, the Vatican officially informed the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, Zion Evrony, that a meeting of Netanyahu and Francis could not be scheduled this week.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with the pope earlier this month in Rome.

The pope has expressed an interest in visiting Israel, though no date has been set.

Israeli Air Force Shoots Down Hezbollah Drone

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The Israeli Air Force shot down a drone approximately five nautical miles off the Haifa coast as it flew towards the Mediterranean Coast at a height of approximately 6,000 feet. No one has claimed responsibility for the attempted infiltration, but it is assumed that Hezbollah or an affiliated terrorist group tried to penetrate Israeli air space.

A gag order on the IAF interception with a missile fired from an F-16 jet was lifted approximately three hours after the drone was blown up in mid-air.

“Israel is prepared to deal with any threat posed from Syria or Lebanon in the air, land or sea,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the IDF announced the incident.

Last November, a drone managed to penetrate Israeli airspace and was downed only after it reached the southern Hevron Hills, approximately 15 miles northeast of Be’er Sheva.

The drone was identified over the Gaza coast. Security officials did not release additional information, and it was speculated – without any confirmation – that the drone may have been headed towards the Dimona nuclear facility but that the IDF electronically took over the drone and directed it over a relatively unpopulated area.

The infiltration also may simply have been an attempt by Hezbollah to test Israel’s ability to detect low-flying drones.

Thursday’s drone may be an attempt by Hezbollah to draw attention away from its involvement in Syria, where heavy casualties have been reported the past several days. Hezbollah’s intense fighting alongside loyalists to Syrian President Bashar Assad further endangers the spread of the civil war into Lebanon, dominated by pro-Assad and Hezbollah parties against fiercely anti-Syria parties.

Hezbollah is largely financed by Iran, and Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad desperately need each other. Once one of the links in the “evil of axis” falls, all of the regimes’ leaders will be in danger.

Netanyahu on Bulgaria Bombing: ‘All Signs Point to Iran’

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The attack, which Israel’s government is blaming on Iran, comes on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead. Israel, Argentina and many other governments blame Iranian agents for that incident; Tehran denies the allegations.

“All signs point to Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “In just the past few months we’ve seen Iran try to target Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Cyprus and more. The murderous Iranian terror continues to target innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react forcefully to it.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak added, “This is clearly a terrorist attack initiated probably by Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or another group under the terror auspices of either Iran or other radical Islamic groups. We are in a continual fight against them. We are determined to identify who sent them, who perpetrated [the attack], and to settle the account.”

The Lebanese-based Hezbollah, which is armed by Iran, denied responsibility for the attack, according to the website Novinite.com.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said his government “strongly condemns this aggression and terrorism.”

“Such a horrible act committed on the territory of a sovereign country, a member of the EU, is a provocation at the efforts of the democratic society towards world peace,”  Borisov said, according to the FOCUS News Agency. “I guarantee that we will investigate this incident so as to punish the perpetrators with the entire severeness of the law. I am convinced that the Bulgarian and the Israeli nations will get stronger and more united after this tragedy.”

The mayor of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, home to nearly 5,000 Jews, ordered stepped-up police patrols of areas linked to the Jewish community, according to reports.

Israeli Political Constellation Realigns As Kadima Quits Government

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

For the second time in just two months, the Israeli political universe was upended when Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima Party voted to quit Israel’s governing coalition.

Kadima’s departure, the result of a breakdown in negotiations over reforming Israel’s military draft law to include haredi Jews, shatters the 94-seat super-majority that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controlled in the 120-seat Knesset.

It also raises questions about the future of Kadima, Israel’s draft, and the timing of new elections.

While the loss of Kadima’s 28 seats still leaves Netanyahu’s coalition with the majority it needs to govern, Netanyahu is seen as more likely to move up Israel’s next elections, which now are scheduled for the fall of 2013.

Netanyahu had been set to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections nine weeks ago when Mofaz stunned the Israeli political establishment by bringing Kadima, Israel’s main opposition party, into the governing coalition. The move was seen as a gambit by Mofaz, who had won Kadima’s leadership several weeks earlier, to stave off elections in which Kadima was set to lose significant ground.

For Netanyahu, the coalition deal was a way both to hobble the opposition and give him more leeway in formulating a new military draft law. In February, Israel’s Supreme Court struck down the current draft regulation, called the Tal Law, which excuses haredim from universal mandatory military service for Israeli Jews. The court ordered that a new law be enacted by Aug. 1 or else all Israeli Jews would be subject to the draft. Netanyahu’s other coalition partners include haredi parties that oppose drafting large numbers of haredi men or subjecting them to national service.

The debate over the new draft law has roiled Israel in recent weeks. Many Israelis long have resented what they see as the free ride given to haredi Israelis, who are not required to serve in the army but are still eligible for state welfare benefits.

In the end it was Kadima that quit the government in protest over proposed reforms that it said did not go far enough.

At a news conference Tuesday announcing Kadima’s decision to leave the government, Mofaz said he had rejected Netanyahu’s proposal of deferring national service until age 26; Kadima wanted the draft deferral to end at age 22.

“It is with deep regret that I say there is no choice but to decide to leave the government,” Mofaz told a closed-door meeting of Kadima. Only three of the party’s 28 Knesset members voted in favor of staying in the coalition.

“Netanyahu has chosen to side with the draft dodgers,” Mofaz told reporters after the meeting. “I have reached an understanding that the prime minister has not left us a choice and so we have responded.”

In a letter to Mofaz from Netanyahu’s office, the prime minister responded, “I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the state of Israel is facing many significant challenges. I will continue to work toward the responsible solution that Israeli society expects.”

With just two weeks to go before the Tal Law expires, it’s not clear where Kadima’s departure leaves the future of Israel’s military draft.

What seems certain is that Kadima has been weakened by the episode. Two months ago, polls showed Kadima stood to lose two-thirds of its Knesset seats in new elections. Government opponents harshly criticized Mofaz when he then decided to hitch his centrist party to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party.

“Unfortunately, everything I warned about two months ago and everything I expected to happen, happened,” said Chaim Ramon, a Knesset member who quit Kadima when Mofaz joined the government.

“Netanyahu’s allies are the haredim and the settlers. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself and the public. This move has brought on Kadima’s demise and Shaul Mofaz is the one accountable,” Ramon said.

If new elections were held today, Kadima likely would implode, with the biggest chunk of its seats going to Likud (Kadima originally was created as an offshoot of Likud) and others to a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, or to left-wing parties.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/the-knesset/israeli-political-constellation-realigns-as-kadima-quits-government/2012/07/18/

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