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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘liberman’

Danny Ayalon Shows his True Colors

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

When he served as Israeli Ambassador to the United States during the Disengagement, Danny Ayalon did not merely execute his duties as ambassador, but threw his personal support behind the Disengagement.

For instance in an interview a month before the expulsion was carried out, Ayalon said that “The prime minister had to make the decision because he knew this was the best course of action to take and the best way to strengthen Israel” (emphasis added).

When Ayalon returned to Israel and jumped into politics, he joined Yisrael Beitenu, led by Avigdor Liberman who opposed the Disengagement as a Minister in Ariel Sharon’s government.

Yisrael Beitenu presented itself as being to the right of the Likud and its leader Benjamin Netanyahu (though now the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu sit together as one faction in the Knesset).

In the last government, Liberman served as Foreign Minister and Ayalon served as his deputy. Ayalon even released an English version of video explaining Israel’s right to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and narrated the video himself. Needless to say, Israel, Liberman and Ayalon worked against Palestinian efforts to get recognized as a state without Israeli agreement at the United Nations.

Ayalon, for instance, was quoted as criticizing the Palestinians’ statehood bid, saying:

The Palestinian Authority, which cannot even collect municipal taxes, wishes to pose as a state… It is clear that the P.A. does not meet the minimum requirements of a state. It also fails to meet another requirement of the U.N. Charter — to be a peace-loving nation. Ayalan also took up Yisrael Beitenu’s Anglo division-campaign, which focused on recruiting the support of Israel’s English-speaking immigrant community which is a little bit more conservative, especially on foreign policy, than the rest of Israel.

Then, unexpectedly  Liberman informed Ayalon that he would not be included in Yisrael Beitenu’s Knesset list. Not long after that Ayalon recalled things he did previously did not which were added to the indictment against Liberman.

Now, Ayalon has taken up the left-wing position regarding the U.N. General Assembly vote recognizing Palestinian statehood, arguing that Israeli should offer the Palestinians recognition as a state:

“Israel will give the Palestinians sovereignty and independence and in return, they will recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and will guarantee security arrangements.” That’s a position which doesn’t quite match his prior criticism of the Palestinian’s U.N. bid, his assertion that regardless of what recognition they may receive the Palestinian Authority simply is not a state, his previous criticism of Palestinian Authority funding going towards terrorism, or the general realistic approach towards the Palestinian Authority, which he, Liberman and Netanyahu have championed during the government’s term.

Far from punishing the Palestinians from their efforts to side step Israel at the United Nations, such an offer would reward them and would incur immense amount of international pressure on Israel to sweeten the deal by making more unilateral concessions or to just recognize Palestinian statehood regardless of what the Palestinians agree to.

Aside from the merits of Ayalon’s new position, his zigzagging over the years is yet another lesson in how political ambitions affect a politician’s positions or at least the part of his philosophy he chooses to emphasize to the public.

New Lapid Bennett Axis Enters Coalition Talks Together

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Now it’s getting real, at least according to the newly right-wing daily Maariv: the chairman of Yesh Atid, the leather-jacketed, cool TV journalist and host Yair Lapid, and the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, the knitted yarmulke wearing, hi-tech wizard, NRP resurrecting Naftali Bennett have agreed on coordinating their positions when facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations team.

Both leaders – the two most distinct winners of the recent election – have been holding their own negotiations, and agreed to present a unified position as their conditions for joining the next government.

Together, their two parties present a formidable block of 31 seats, equal to the Likud-Beitenu yield in the elections. Should they stick by their mutual commitments—which, in itself would be a refreshing Israeli phenomenon—they could easily force Netanyahu’s hand away from a partnership with the two Haredi parties, Shas and Torah Judaism. Those two only have a measly 18 seats to offer the embattled PM.

According to Maariv, which has recently been purchased by Shlomo Ben-Tzvi’s Hirsch Media, owner of the right-wing daily Makor Rishon—and as such is very reliable on issues concerning Bennett and the settlements movement—the two parties agreed that they would either join the coalition together or not at all. (This means that, should both remain outside the government, Lapid would be Opposition leader, to Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich’s chagrin).

Senior Likud officials have confirmed, according to Maariv, that such an agreement really exists, adding that it significantly limits Netanyahu’s room for maneuvering.

Netanyahu’s ideal coalition government would rely on Jewish Home, Shas and Torah Judaism (61 seats) with Kadima’s additional 2 seats and Shaul Mofaz, possibly, as Defense Minister. Indeed, Bibi has no interest in inviting Lapid to a seat of power in his government, which could make him even more popular four years from now.

So that, strangely enough, it is Lapid who depends on Bennett rather than the other way around, to keep his word. But, political nickels and dimes aside, the two men can only help each other by being known to cooperate publicly: two young men, both successful in their own rights, injecting honesty and principles into Israel’s cynical, depressing, old politics. And as such they’re certainly making Bibi look bad.

One man to watch for is Israel Beiteinu’s chairman Avigdor Liberman, who appeared pessimistic on Sunday regarding the possibility of putting together a viable coalition. “It’s very difficult to find a common denominator here,” he said. “The ideological split is sometimes very polar, so the end result is that instead of compromise we get ‘shatnez’ (halachically unlawful hybrid between wool and linen) that doesn’t allow us to move in any direction, and it does not allow us to bring any of the changes that the people are expecting.”

Liberman said that, as far as he’s concerned, the main issue for the next government should be changing the system of government. He said the issue would be determined in the guidelines of the next government, without wasting time on various governance committees. Likud and Israel Beitenu will meet in the coming days to present an offer on this count that would be acceptable to both parties.

According to Liberman’s proposal, the head of the largest party automatically becomes prime minister. Each government will have 18 cabinet ministers and four deputy ministers. The ministers will give up their Knesset membership, to ensure the separation of powers.

The voting threshold should go up three percent, says Liberman. Removing the Prime Minister will require a special majority of 80 Knesset members, and failure to pass a budget will not dissolve the Knesset. Votes of no confidence will require 61 signatures.

All of the above proposals reflect Liberman’s mounting frustration with the workings of government over the past decade or so, as he has experienced it intimately. His notions of a solution are typically direct, if not outright brutal, favoring the larger parties at the expense of the very parties Likud-Beitenu wants to seduce into the next government: Shas and Torah Judaism. It’s no wonder, then, that he is pessimistic about the chances for an effective government.

Indeed, the new pact between the two young mavericks Lapid and Bennett has effectively created two major, right-of-center blocks: Lapid-Bennett Vs. Netanyahu-Liberman, each with exactly 31 seats. Expect Liberman to push for partnership with the other “big party” – even if it requires Netanyahu to overcome his fears of an even stronger Lapid.

Liberman Meets with Bennett

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

While Netanyahu reportedly has his hands full with Yair Lapid’s coalition demands, Avigdor Liberman met with Naftali Bennett today to discuss Bennett’s joining the coalition,  according to Avigdor Liberman’s Facebook page.

Liberman said they discussed the political options currently on the table as well as the Chareidi draft issue. They agreed to continue talking.

Bennett had previously told President Shimon Peres that his party wants to see Netanyahu as prime minister, despite the less than spectacular treatment he’s been getting from the Likud.

Netanyahu also sent his lawyers to talk with Shas.

Understanding Israel’s Upcoming Election

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

The Israeli election set for January 22 and the coverage thereof is very strange in several respects. It is a contest in which his opponents seek to beat centrist Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, of the Likud party, in a remarkably inept manner and in which international understanding of the issues is at the low level we’ve become used to seeing.

Here’s a simple way to understand the situation. The right-wing parties and the left-wing parties are each likely to get roughly the same number of seats that they received in the 1999 election. The difference is that in 1999 the rightist parties divided their vote among three parties and today have largely united into one. The moderate left in 1999 gave their votes mainly to one party and now are dividing it among four.

In addition, viewing the actual electioneering by the left makes one appreciate just how fraudulent political consultants are. They claim that they are going to help the candidate win but have no idea of how to do so. And in Israel they borrow childishly from the latest fads in American politics without regard to the differences. Here are the themes pushed by the moderate left opposition:

–Bibi is for the rich. This slogan is unlikely to work in a country where lower income generally corresponds with more conservative voting. The idea is obviously stolen from Barack Obama’s campaign. But Obama was going for large African-American, Hispanic, and student blocs plus some middle class sectors that could be stirred up over hatred of the rich. This has no relevance for Israel.

–Bibi will get you killed. This theme is accompanied by a picture of a mushroom cloud. But is the idea that he will get you nuked by attacking Iran or by not attacking Iran? It isn’t clear. And since Netanyahu has the best claim to preserve the country’s security that approach is likely to be counterproductive.

–Bibi doesn’t want your vote. This is the newest poster to appear though it isn’t clear who’s promoting it. That makes no sense at all.

–The choice of photographs. Former Prime Minister Tsipi Livni, the candidate of her own party—and one of the quartet seeking moderate/moderate left voters—has a photograph on her poster that looks as if it were selected by her worst enemy. In it she appears ugly, angry, and confused.

–Livni’s ad has several shots of Obama and one of her standing with new Secretary of State John Kerry. They seem to argue that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas really wants peace but Netanyahu blocked it. Perhaps this ad was designed by left-liberal American Jewish political consultants. It won’t go over well in Israel.

Shaul Mofaz, candidate of Kadima, Livni’s former party that is expected to collapse completely in the election, has a terrible photograph of himself with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That relates to Kadima’s founder but is unlikely to win any votes. Rather than projecting leadership, the other left-of-center party leaders seem to be seeking anonymity.

What’s astonishing is the obtuseness of the opposition, especially Labor. Netanyahu is going to win but the way to get the largest vote, becoming the official opposition and possibly his coalition partner, is to run on an energetic program of domestic improvements. The obvious opposition approach should be that it is the time to improve schools, the infrastructure, and reduce housing and food prices.

People are waiting to be told that their living standards can be improved without threatening their security. A winning theme would be to say Netanyahu has neglected these domestic issues. True, the economy has done very well but the price of relatively high employment, rapid growth, and low inflation has been high prices.

For breakfast just now I paid $3 for a croissant and $3 for a coffee in a country where income levels average half those in the United States. Young people can’t afford an apartment in a country where rentals are relatively rare and there is not a strong mortgage system or tax deductions for paying one.

That’s why there were social protests in 2011. While going into big debt and increasing subsidies—the trap into which most Western economies have fallen—would be a mistake there are certainly good shifts to be made. Instead, voters are being treated like idiots who will be won over by some silly slogan convincing them that either the prime minister is evil or will get them incinerated. That won’t win an election.

What to Do when your Partner Is under Indictment and It’s 3 Weeks before Election Day? Lie a Lot…

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

On Tuesday night, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was questioned for 40 minutes at the offices of the Lahav 433 unit in Lod. The unit was inaugurated back in 2008, as part of the police intelligence unit, to investigate major crimes and corruption. Needless to say, it’s a very busy unit.

But they took time off their busy schedule, on the request of the prosecutor’s office, to ask Mr. Liberman some questions—a most unusual move, considering the fact that the case was already being presented to the court, or a minute or so before the submission.

This is because what was expected to be a walk in the park for Liberman may end up being a walk in the same park, but in prison garb and hauling a garden spade and a wheelbarrow. Why? Possibly because you can’t push around all the people all the time. On occasion, they push back.

A while ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was asked by the prosecution whether or not Minister Liberman was involved in promoting the appointment of an ambassador to Belarus (a major no-no – these appointments must be made strictly by an appointments committee staffed by mostly civil servants and chaired by one Danny Ayalon). At the time, Ayalon could not, for the life of him, recall whether or not Liberman was influencing the process, or even if he was present in the room during the committee meetings.

Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes you forget something completely, and then something dramatic happens and, all of a sudden, you remember everything. In Ayalon’s case it had to do with the famous ride he allegedly took with his boss, FM Liberman, to a press conference where Liberman was going to announce the list of top Israel Beiteinu candidates for the Knesset. Allegedly, while in the car together, on the way to the event, Liberman turned to his deputy and informed him that, by the way, he’s not on the list.

There was wide speculation as to why Ayalon was being punished – in the end it was decided he was just too uppity for Liberman’s taste. Why, Ayalon was becoming very popular on his own, what with his facebook page and his You Tube clips, and the incident when he forced the Turkish ambassador to sit in a tiny chair just to humble him a bit. Ayalon was visibly shaken by the snub, but still managed to mumble to the press that he is there only to serve, blah blah blah.

Turns out, shortly thereafter, according to a prosecution leak, Danny Ayalon started remembering stuff. Suddenly—so goes the leak—the appointments committee chair recalled, for instance, that Liberman actually did influence the appointment of our man in Belarus (who is serving time as we speak for alerting Liberman regarding another investigation against him) – in fact, Liberman was in the room during the committee meeting.


So now everything is going to change, because the prosecution smelled blood in the water, and so it told the court to wait a while, there’s new stuff coming, and Liberman found himself yet again before a police interrogator – or a few of them.

Liberman came to his police interrogation directly from the National Hall in Jerusalem, where he and his co-leader on the Likud-Beiteinu list, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, launched their the Knesset elections campaign.

A week ago, Liberman resigned from his post as Foreign Minister, so that he could get over the court case, or the plea agreement, quickly, in time for him to return to active campaigning. Now it’s no longer a sure thing. Not with the strong indications from the prosecution leaks that a new body of evidence is being accumulated against him, as, apparently, a few other committee members have started to recall stuff.

When you’re down and out, folks are no longer so deeply afraid of you. Even when you’re potentially down and out, some brave souls would find the courage to kick you a little further in the wrong direction on the slope.

Now Netanyahu is in a huge bind. First, he’s starting to get ready to absorb the ricochets from a potential Liberman conviction that would disable the latter for a while. First, he’s going to have to adjust to a smaller Knesset faction. From 42 seats in the outgoing 18th Knesset, he’s facing anywhere from 36 down to 32. Life with Liberman the liability will be far less comfortable than life with Liberman the asset.

Liberman Done In by Former Deputy

Monday, December 24th, 2012

The person behind the recent frantic efforts of Israel’s police to extend its investigation in order to enhance the indictment against Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, has turned out to be none other than his deputy – Danny Ayalon. And as you may recall, Ayalon has been dumped by his boss from the top spots on the party’s Knesset candidate list. Rumor had it that Liberman only told Ayalon about his demotion in the car on the way to the press conference where said list was presented.

Hell hath no fury like a deputy foreign minister scorned, it turns out.

On Monday night, both the Channel 10 and Channel 2 news editions have reported that new testimonies were collected from members of the Appointments Committee at the Foreign Ministry—which approved the appointment of Zeev Ben Aryeh to the post of Israel’s ambassador to Belarus.

Ben Aryeh was convicted of passing to Liberman information about an investigation which was being conducted against the latter.

The new information appears to be making things a lot worse for the former FM.

Both news channels report that the most significant testimony against Liberman was provided by Ayalon, who was chairman of the Appointments Committee. Ayalon’s testimony appears to implicate Liberman in actively promoting Ben Aryeh’s appointment.

However, that’s not the only new testimony picked up by the police. According to the reports, more testimonies have been taken which support Ayalon’s accusation.

It was further reported that Liberman is expected to be summoned as early as next week to a police interrogation, and that he will be confronted with Ayalon’s testimony.

Channel 2 has also reported that Liberman is expected to argue that Ayalon’s testimony is infected by the latter’s need for revenge following his humiliation at the hands of his boss.

Liberman resigned his post last week, and this new twist might prevent him from campaigning or even being permitted to resume his Knesset membership.

Liberman’s successor at the helm of Israel Beiteinu will likely be the candidate at the number 2 spot, Yair Shamir, son of the departed Prime Minster from Likud, Yitzhak Shamir.

Ayalon will remain as the Deputy Foreign Minister until the elections.

Liberman Steps Down as FM But Indictment Postponed

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Yisrael Beytenu leader – and just-stepped-down Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – is in legal limbo, with his anticipated indictment delayed at the last minute.

Analysts say the move may have been taken in order for the State Prosecutor’s Office to interview additional witnesses from the Foreign Ministry appointments panel regarding the appointment of former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh.

The indictment is expected any day, though initial reports stated it would be filed on Tuesday.

Charges will include fraud and breach of public trust.  Liberman has denied any wrongdoing and expressed outrage that the State continues to threaten him with indictments that never materialize.

Other reports indicate that indictments may have been postponed so that a plea bargain could be formulated.  The state has said it would not back down from “moral turpitude” charges, which could force Liberman out of politics for more than seven years.

Liberman has said that his criminal conduct involved not coming forward with the illegal passing of classified information to him from Ben-Aryeh in 2008.

The information was a Justice Ministry document requesting legal assistance from Belarus in investigations against Liberman.  Ben-Aryeh was convicted in May of obstruction of justice.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/liberman-steps-down-as-fm-but-indictment-postponed/2012/12/19/

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