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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Likud’

Knesset Committee Approves Flag Burning Bill for Final Vote

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Monday approved for a second and third reading in the plenum an amendment proposed by MK Nava Boker (Likud) to Israel’s Flag, Emblem and Anthem Law, which seeks to increase the punishment for dishonoring the national flag or emblem. The bill equates the punishment for dishonoring the national symbols with the punishment for doing the same to the symbols of countries friendly to Israel.

Currently the law sets the punishment for dishonoring the Israeli national flag and symbols at up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 300 Israeli liras (pounds). The lira was replaced by the shekel as Israel’s legal tender back in 1980, which shows how long it has been since any legislator was last troubled by the dishonoring of the national flag.

However, dishonoring the flag of a friendly country will put you in prison for up to three years, and the alternative financial penalty is $15,000, so the bill seeks to extend the sentence and fine to those same levels.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) complained about the fact that “we belittle ourselves. Anyone whose national flag is burned will be offended. When we are insulted the result is a conviction for a year, and when someone from abroad is upset it’s three years? Do the police keep records of the number of convictions given for such an offense? The national emblems are a source of national pride in every country. It is not a political matter. An American whose flag is burned is offended.”

“Freedom of expression does not mean you are allowed everything. Even religious emblems deserve elementary respect. A person who arrives at a synagogue or a mosque cannot do whatever he wishes. Even at a concert you don’t stand up and laugh. There is no need to exaggerate, but it’s illogical that there are no sanctions against those who burn flags,” Amsalem added.

MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf (Joint Arab List) asked to lower the punishment from three years in prison as the bill states, to a day, and remove the financial penalty. His request was rejected.

David Israel

Liberman, Bennett, Shaked to Vote Against Turkish Deal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So far, only two government ministers, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, both from Likud, are on the record as supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay upwards of $21 million as reparations to the families of anti-Zionist Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers with metal rods, rocks and knives when they attempted to take over the ship Mavi Marmara back in 2010. The deal also included a public apology (check) and easing the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which always ends up as a wise move when dealing with Hamas.

The loud objections from both sides of the aisle which the Netanyahu deal has raised on Monday may be the reason that four ministers Netanyahu was counting on to support him are yet to say anything on the subject: Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Katz (Likud). Meanwhile, three ministers have erected a strong front against the deal: Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).

Liberman this week denied reports that he had committed to supporting the deal, as part of his entering the Netanyahu government. In closed sessions he went as far as to say that if he thins the deal is bad, he would vote against it.

Bennett said on Tuesday morning that “the State of Israel must not pay reparations to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. A rapprochement with Turkey is important for this time and for the interests of the State of Israel, but paying reparations to terrorists is a dangerous precedent the State of Israel would regret in the future.”

A Channel 10 News survey released Monday showed that 56% of Israelis object to the deal with Turkey, and 67% believe it should have been conditioned on the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers in Hamas’ possession, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.

David Israel

Government Approves $18.6 Million Transfer to Settlements

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

The government on Sunday approved a budget increase of $18.62 million to the settlements in Judea and Samaria in response to the new security situation. This amount will be added to the initial budget for the settlements of $88 million established in the coalition agreement between Habayit Hayehudi and Likud last year.

As the new decision puts it, “Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria have been experiencing unique security realities on a daily basis because of their geographic location and the quality of life in the area. Since the beginning of October 2015 there has been an escalation in the security situation in Judea and Samaria following the wave of terror attacks and additional terrorist activities. The security escalation influences a variety of areas of life, including psychological and sociological, and economic damage to businesses which require unique responses and services.”

The money will be transferred to the settlements from a variety of current budgets. The transfer will include a one-time award by the Interior Ministry to local municipal councils to the amount of $3.88 million, according to criteria that has been used in the past for security-related awards. Another $2.59 million will be paid out by the Ministry of Agriculture to a project converting structures into permanent housing units and renovating public structures in rural communities. And a total of $3.1 million will be used for the construction and operation of resilience centers, for enhanced welfare and social services, treatment of youth at risk, and support for businesses that were hurt by the security situation. The money for those programs will be taken out of the budgets of the ministries of education, finance, welfare, and health.

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Camp) called the decision “enraging,” blaming the government for channeling money to the settlements at the expense of development towns on Israel’s geographic and social periphery. Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) argued that the budgetary boost was essential to the communities in need and would contribute greatly to the resilience of these communities. He said, “It is our duty to care for the communities that are on the frontline of the war against terror and are courageously facing complex security and social challenges.”


Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

FM Kahlon Tussles With Netanyahu Over Casinos in Eilat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon apparently is teaming up with Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a minor political brawl against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The argument is over funding, as usual – this time, a plan to open a casino in Eilat.

In the past Kahlon has sidestepped the issue altogether by saying, “Everyone knows there will not be a casino here.”

The Finance Ministry has taken steps to block gambling activities that target Israelis and others who have low incomes and difficulty walking away from their hopes for easy money.

“Last week we decided to put an end to slot machines and horse races – gambling activities that ruin families. These machines are placed in poor neighborhoods to sell them illusions and hopes while taking money out of their pockets,” Kahlon said, according to the Globes business news site.

“Sadly, this has been going on since 2003 – it has been talked about for years and we decided to take action; soon we’ll remove them, and Mifal HaPayis can scrap them as far as I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head a commission to look into the possibility of developing a gambling spot in the southern resort city.

But Kahlon told journalists at the start of the Kulanu faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday: “The State of Israel does not need casinos. It needs to provide education, values, and jobs – not a casino.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israel ‘Shocked and Horrified’ at Orlando Massacre, But Life Must Go On

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was speaking on behalf of the entire nation at the opening of the cabinet meeting on Monday when he offered condolences to the United States over the Orlando massacre.

The attack carried out by an ISIS terrorist at an Orlando night club in the wee hours of Sunday morning left 50 people dead and another 53 wounded, plus countless others deeply traumatized in the Florida city where Disney, among others, feel at home on the East Coast.

“We are all shocked at the horrific massacre in Orlando,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly government cabinet meeting.

“On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I would like to again express our condolences to the American people and the families at this especially difficult hour.

“This terror threatens the entire world and it is necessary – first of all – that the enlightened countries urgently unite to fight it. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people,” he said.

The prime minister then went on to discuss the economic improvements being considered by the government – including the separation of credit companies from the major Israeli banks.

“Competition in the banking sector will ease the credit situation for small and medium business,” he said. “And separation between the major banks and credit card companies is the start of a comprehensive reform that will be good for all Israelis.”

Hana Levi Julian

Likely Compromise Found in Coalition Rift over Reform, Conservative Mikvahs

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) on Monday morning presented a compromise solution for the problem caused by last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling siding with the demands of Reform and Conservative petitioners for equal access to state-run mikvahs-ritual baths. Last February, the Supreme Court ruled that local religious councils must make state-run mikvahs available for conversion ceremonies run by Israeli Reform and Conservative clergy.

Last week, the Knesset Interior Committee debated a bill proposed by Shas and UTJ, the two ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, determining that the use of public mikvahs in Israel will be conducted strictly according to halakha and under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) for his part on Friday announced that he plans to submit the bill in order to prevent the implementation of the court’s ruling. This would be in keeping with the coalition agreement between UTJ and Likud, which says that each time the Supreme Court issues a ruling that jeopardizes issues close to the heart of the Orthodox-Jewish party, the government must submit a bill to bypass the court.

Gafni, who argued that the court’s new ruling violates the national status quo on issues of religion and state, also cited the coalition’s obligation to maintain the same status quo.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, an Orthodox Jew who was part of the unanimous decision in favor of the Reform and Conservative petitioners, suggested in his ruling that the religious council in question, in Be’er Sheva, illegally segregated against Israeli citizens. “From the moment the state has constructed public mikvahs and made them available to the public — including for use in conversions — it cannot practice inequality in their usage,” Elyakim wrote. Rubinstein added that “the state’s decision not to supervise dipping in the mikvah that is conducted as part of a private conversion does not justify preventing it.”

One of the other two judges on the panel was Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab. Chief Justice Miriam Naor was the third judge. It should be noted that while last week Ha’aretz complained about a decision by Judge Rubinstein favoring the Chief Rabbinate, implying he should have recused himself from deciding Orthodox Jewish issues because he wears a yarmulke (sic), the same paper did not make a similar complaint in this case.

The MK Bitan compromise will suspend the application of the Mikvah law for nine months, during which time two to four mikvahs would be built for the Reform and Conservative public. The Jewish Agency is expected to bear the costs of construction. Meanwhile, the coalition would work on a softer version of the Shas-UTJ bill, which would skirt the Supreme Court ruling but not actually bypass it. The first draft was scheduled to be presented to the Interior committee Monday morning.

According to MK Bitan, “We are not planning to pass a Supreme Court bypassing law, but instead to find solutions to the problems raised by the court’s ruling. According to the understanding, we will build between two to four mikvahs in various locations in the country for the Reform and Conservative public so they can dip there according to their method.” Bitan stressed that “we must maintain equality for everyone in spending resources.”

A Haredi party source that spoke to JNi.media on the condition of anonymity said the Bitan compromise will most likely be accepted since it does not actually compel religious councils to share existing mikvahs with the Reform and Conservative, but allocates to them new mikvahs. Nevertheless, the Haredi coalition parties are likely going to be subjected to attacks from the Haredi media, which see the very idea of allowing the two non-Orthodox movement a foot in the door as ushering disaster. Some in the Haredi media, such as Ha’peles, would like to see the Haredi parties using their critical role in Netanyahu’s small coalition to extract deeper concessions regarding the non-Orthodox mikvahs.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/likely-compromise-found-in-coalition-rift-over-reform-conservative-mikvahs/2016/06/13/

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