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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Likud’

Bennett Threatens to Prevent Government Expansion if Security Cabinet Problems Are Not Fixed

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to expand the government and add Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party to the coalition were challenged on Monday afternoon after Education Minister Naftali Bennett said he would not support the measure should his list of demands not be met.

Bennett, who leads the Jewish Home party in the Knesset, demanded during a party meeting that the prime minister solve the issues affecting the way the security cabinet operates before the changes in the government are implemented. Bennett’s party officially approved the demand during the meeting.

The problems in the security cabinet were revealed as part of the lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014 and from the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Bennett said during the party meeting that “the Winograd Committee investigated the handling of the Second Lebanon War and concluded that quality intelligence information was not shared with the members of the security cabinet and that the members were not adequately trained for their position and therefore did not function well at the moment of truth. Ten years have gone by and nothing has been done.”

“I have approached the prime minister many times during the last two-and-a-half years with this demand, including during the coalition negotiations,” added Bennett. “Unfortunately, nothing has been done. This is why I informed the prime minister of the demand yesterday evening in order to implement the plan and solve the issues.”

The plan includes attaching the security cabinet members with a military secretary who would deliver ongoing security updates and would prepare them for their position. The plan would also increase the number of tours done in the field and give the ministers better access to the information.

“Fixing the problems in the security cabinet is necessary for Israel’s security and for saving the lives of its civilians and soldiers,” added Bennett. “Israel paid a high price for the existence of these problems during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge. My approval of the changes in the government is conditional on the fulfillment of my demands.”

Likud MK Yariv Levin, head of the party’s parliamentary negotiations team, responded to Bennett’s statements by saying that the Likud “will not renegotiate opening the coalition agreement with any partner, including with the Jewish Home.” He added that Bennett’s demand “damages the ability to complete the expansion of the government.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Netanyahu: Expanded Coalition Will Push for Peace Process

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that an expanded parliamentary coalition will make a renewed push for peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The comments were made at the weekly cabinet meeting days after striking a deal to bring five Knesset seats of MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition, with Liberman as the new defense minister.

“I want to clarify that the new government will continue to work toward a political process with the Palestinians, and we will do so with the help of regional actors,” Netanyahu said, seeking to allay concerns that the hardline Liberman will hinder dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

“From the beginning when we established the coalition, I have said that my intention is to expand the coalition,” stressed Netanyahu. “Sixty-one is better than 59, but the broadest coalition as possible is the most important thing for Israel.”

Israel’s current government has held on to the narrowest possible majority of 61 MKs out of total of 120 MKs. An agreement with the Yisrael Beiteinu party would increase the coalition’s majority to 66 MKs, after one Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker announced that she would not join with her party.

In a meeting with Likud ministers earlier in the day, Netanyahu expressed his continued openness towards including the opposition Zionist Union faction led by Labor party Chairman Isaac Herzog in the coalition. Netanyahu noted that several ministerial positions remain in his hands, including the Foreign Ministry portfolio, which Herzog said had been offered to him last week in a round of failed discussions.

According to Herzog, Netanyahu offered him the job of foreign minister as well as sweeping verbal commitments about working toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians – but refused Herzog’s request to commit those promises to writing.

Marc Gottlieb

Ya’alon Out, Temple Mount Activist Yehuda Glick In

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Friday announced his retirement from his post and from politics. He wrote on his Facebook page: “This morning I informed the prime minister that following his conduct during recent developments, and because of my lack of confidence in him, I resign from the government and will be taking a time out from the political life. I will deliver a statement to the media at noon at the Kirya (the IDF command compound in midtown Tel Aviv).

It is expected that Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) will take up Ya’alon’s Defense portfolio as part of his deal with PM Netanyahu to enter his coalition.

Ya’alon’s retirement brings to the Knesset the next candidate on the Likud list, Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick, who has survived an assassination attempt in October 2014 by an Arab terrorist over his activity. Netanyahu was unhappy with Glick’s presence on his party’s list, and, in fact, refused to employ the “Norwegian Law,” which permits party ministers to resign from the Knesset to make room for rank and file MKs—just so Glick won’t become a Likud legislator. Well, now Ya’alon forced that bitter pill down Bibi’s throat. MK Glick will bolster the rightwing section of the Likud, and will make it tougher for Netanyahu to deliver concessions to the Arabs.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) issued a statement Friday saying, “Minister Ya’alon is a principled man who contributed a lot to the State of Israel. His place should have been next to the cabinet table. I am sad to see him retire from politics.”

American born Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Likud member since 1997, lives in Otniel. He was among the founders of former MK Moshe Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction in Likud.

Glick is chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and former executive director of The Temple Institute, a group that supports the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

He is also active in pro-settlement forums inside the party. As such, Glick has been the coordinator of the lobby for implementing Israeli Law in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which is headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud). Interestingly, openly gay MK Amir Ohana, who was ahead of Glick on the candidates list and has been upgraded to the legislator only a few months ago, served as Glick’s security guard after the assassination attempt.

Ha’aretz journalist Nir Hasson credits Glick as having put the Israeli left on the defensive by “uncovering the absurdity created at the Temple Mount” by a status quo that, by permitting Muslim prayer while prohibiting Jewish prayer, “discriminates against people because of their religion”

American political commentator Bernie Quigley compared Glick to Gandhi: “Earthy, wise, thoughtful, nonviolent and compassionate.”

Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner called Glick a non-violent man, and “the friendly face of the Temple Mount movement.”

Mazal Tov, MK Glick, we know you’ll do us proud.

David Israel

Incoming Defense Minister Rattles Israeli Political Establishment

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The news that MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, will be Israel’s next defense minister has rocked the political establishment on the right and left.

Liberman, a tough-talking former ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has sought the Defense Ministry portfolio for years – and appears set to receive it after a deal struck with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Liberman’s rise followed a tumultuous day of negotiations and backroom deals in which both Liberman and MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the historically left-wing Labor party, vied for the job of defense minister and the chance to enter Netanyahu’s government.

“I regret the prime minister’s decision. I did not imagine that he would make such a paradoxical and dangerous move,” said MK Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday morning. “The prime minister has been very proud of what he called ‘a reasonable, balanced and responsible’ defense policy, while Liberman’s statements give an opposite impression.”

Netanyahu received harsh criticism from opposition parties as well, including Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, who blasted Netanyahu for “bartering the most sensitive and important positions as if nothing mattered” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Liberman was an ally of Netanyahu – the two ran together in a united party during the 2013 election after which Liberman became foreign minister – until they had a public falling out two years ago. The Yisrael Beiteynu party remained in the opposition after last year’s election, and as recently as March Liberman castigated Netanyahu as a “liar, cheat, and con man.”

Liberman has been a frequent advocate for a harsher military response toward Palestinian Authority terrorism, notably against the Hamas terror group that runs Gaza.

“The elimination of Hamas is the primary mission of the Israeli government and as defense minister I will carry it out,” Liberman said before last year’s elections. “We will not reach agreements and understandings with them. The only agreement that can be reached with Hamas is when they are buried in the ground,” he said, adding that such an Israeli policy cannot be implemented when the government is comprised of “a coalition of nerds.”

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East and a former British prime minister, colluded with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to push Herzog into the government – a move reportedly designed to facilitate a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. According to the report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Blair even met with Herzog’s political partner, MK Tzipi Livni, in her Tel Aviv home this week, despite the fact that she is sitting shiva – the Jewish mourning ritual – for her brother.

Liberman is set to replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a senior Likud member who has recently clashed with Netanyahu over a series of issues related to the IDF’s independence from the political establishment.

Ya’alon, apparently alluding to the news of his ouster, said on Thursday that Israel is facing a crisis of leadership. “There is a loss of our moral compass on basic issues,” Ya’alon said. “If I had to give a golden tip, it would be to navigate with a compass rather than a weather vane. Navigation with a compass is tried and true, and it’s also a question of leadership.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Analysis: An Afternoon of Hard Maneuvering May Yield New Defense Minister and 67-Member Rightwing Coalition

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Israeli media reported Wednesday evening that MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to join his government and receive the portfolios of Defense and Immigrant Absorption — which is a nice package considering Liebrman is only adding six seats to the coalition.

But what a difference six seats make. With the budget vote coming up this Summer Session, Netanyahu will be able to breathe easy. Last session, three rogue members of his Likud faction chose to abstain from voting just to make a point, which helped derail some government legislation, awarding undeserved wins to the opposition. With 67 members, the fourth Netanyahu government can live out its entire four-year term.

Also, unlike the earlier potential coalition partner, Isaac Herzog’s left-leaning Zionist Camp, Lieberman is a natural fit in the current government. When he ended his 90 minute private meeting with the PM (which followed the PM’s meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, where the latter was given his walking papers), most of Likud’s senior ministers were quick to congratulate and welcome him back into the fold. Liebrman really is no stranger to Likudniks — from 1993 to 1996, with Netanyahu in place as party chairman, Lieberman served as the Likud party’s director-general. When Netanyahu was elected to his first term as prime minister, Lieberman served as director-general of the prime minister’s office, the equivalent of the White House chief of staff, from 1996 to 1997. With a few noted exceptions, Lieberman has been to the right of Netanyahu, and left his side to start Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 over concessions Netanyahu granted the Palestinians in the 1997 Wye River Memorandum. But these days there’s very little daylight between Lieberman and the majority of the Likud Knesset faction.

In addition to Netanyahu’s need for coalition stability, the other issue behind Wednesday’s dramatic change was the growing gap between Defense Minister Ya’alon and the rest of the Likud party, which could have put Netanyahu’s future in danger had he continued to be associated with his DM. In several key episodes in the country’s fractious confrontations with Arab terrorists, Ya’alon appeared to be going out of his way to drag the Netanyahu government to the left.

Last Purim, an IDF medic in Hebron shot and killed a terrorist who had already been neutralized by six bullets to his body. The soldier’s commanders on the ground planned to give him a disciplinary hearing at the time, but an Arab B’Tselem agent shot and released a video of the event, and shortly thereafter military police picked up the medic on murder charges. Ya’alon supported the MP and the military prosecutors, despite an unprecedented wave of protest against the IDF brass that frightened Netanyahu. The PM met with the Medic’s father, the charges were reduced to manslaughter and the case may yet be dismissed, but the PM felt that his DM had stuck him in an untenable spot with the Likud diehard rightwing voters.

Then came the notorious Holocaust Memorial Day speech of the IDF deputy chief of staff, who compared, albeit not directly, episodes such as the Hebron shooting of the terrorist to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Again, Netanyahu’s core voters were outraged. He ordered his DM to extract and apology from the general, but the IDF would not apologize, and denied the charges instead.

Finally, there were the terrorists’ bodies. On several occasions, Netanyahu opposed returning the bodies of killed terrorists to their families for burial without some cost, the least of which would be to let them wait a few days, or weeks, as a deterrence to others. In early May, against Netanyahu’s explicit request, Ya’alon ordered the return of the body of a terrorist who had been killed after attacking and wounding three IDF soldiers, one critically, with his car. Then the IDF said something preachy about having no interest in detaining the bodies, ostensibly as political chips.Netanyahu was livid. Anyone who was following those events and understood the growing resentment in Likud against Ya’alon, could see that his days at the helm were numbered.

It isn’t clear whether Netanyahu was very smart or just very lucky when he allowed himself to be talked by his finance minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) into inviting MK Isaac Herzog to join his coalition government. On its face the move looked crazy if not stupid: for one thing, it wasn’t at all certain that more than half of the Zionist Camp MKs would make the switch over, seeing as they view Netanyahu as the poison tree that must be uprooted, not the shade tree for their top members to sit on lucrative portfolios. So the most Bibi would have gotten were 15 or 16 new MKs, but at the cost of Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi 8 seats, which would have netted him only 7 or 8 additional seats — but would have alienated his rightwing voters. So why did he embark on this apparent fool’s errand? Like we said, either because he is frighteningly clever or frighteningly lucky.

Avigdor Liebrman’s mission from the first day of the 20th Knesset has been to topple Netanyahu’s government and come back after the next elections as the most viable rightwing leader. This is why he refused Netanyahu’s repeated courting in the spring of 2015, and continued to bide his time in the opposition, together with Arabs and leftists, the people he dislikes the most—waiting for his chance. He figured, when the time came, with a big enough issue, and with Bibi’s rogue MKs doing their bit, Lieberman could deliver the deadly blow to Netanyahu, with a resounding vote of no confidence.

But when it started to look as if the Zionist Camp was going to boost Bibi’s numbers beyond the point of toppling, Lieberman realized it was time to shelf his revenge plan and get inside the tent before he’d lose any hope of leaving an impression on his voters this term. And so, seemingly out of the blue, Lieberman gathered a press conference in the afternoon, even as Bibi was scolding Bogie (Lauren Bacall’s nickname for Humphrey Bogart which somehow stuck with Ya’alon during his long and decorated military service) — and the Russian refusnik of yesterday suddenly started to play a serenade to Bibi on his balalaika. For the right price—defense and absorption, and the right terms—the death penalty for terrorists, for instance, he and his Yisrael Beiteinu are definitely ready to jump in.

Netanyahu may have been clever or lucky, but Lieberman was, without a doubt, brilliant. He may appear from this day on as serving Netanyahu, but it will be the PM who’ll be forced to do his bidding on security, because it is Lieberman and not Netanyahu who speaks for the rightwing Likud voters. If Bibi flinches at one of Lieberman’s calls (which the latter will issue politely and calmly) — then Bibi’s voters could easily go for the alternative. Say what you will about Avigdor Lieberman, but he could teach a class on maneuvering to a school of sharks.

As a result of all of the above, and should the coalition talks between Bibi Netanyahu and Yvette Lieberman be successful, Israel will have its first truly rightwing government ever. The Haredim are concerned about the draft, but it’s doubtful the new DM will focus on that hornet’s nest at this stage of his new career. If he does, it would bring a quick and unhappy ending to the 20th Knesset.

The one remaining unknown at this point is Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who really wanted to bring the Zionist Camp into the government and is now stuck to the left of Netanyahu, and with polls that show his Kulanu party dropping from 10 to 7 seats come next elections, while his identical twin, Lapid, is projected to win 19 or 20 seats next time around. Kahlon could kill this latest coalition deal in a kamikaze departure followed by resounding vote of no confidence, at which point nothing could save Bibi’s fourth government.

Oh, what interesting times we’re having.

David Israel

Netanyahu-Liberman Meeting Successful

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu Chief Avigdor Liberman met today at 4 PM to discuss the possibility of Liberman’s party joining the coalition.

According to reports the meeting was successful, and both sides will be setting up negotiation teams to finalize the terms of Liberman joining the coalition. The two sides hope to conclude negotiations by Friday.

Before the meeting Liberman set three conditions for entering the coalition, which he shared with journalists at a news conference Wednesday morning. The former minister of foreign affairs said his party would demand the defense portfolio, imposition of the death penalty for terrorist murderers, and pension reforms.

The Likud’s rumor mill is running full force, and it’s saying that Liberman will be getting the position of Defense Minister and Moshe Ya’alon will be getting the boot. Reportedly Netanyahu also offered Liberman the Aliyah (Immigrant Absorption) portfolio as well, to sweeten the deal. Ya’alon is very much out of favor within the Likud these days as he hasn’t stopped running off his mouth with a range of statements that have angered much of the Likud’s rank and file, even causing PM Netanyahu to call him onto the carpet the other day.

Update: PM Netanyahu spoke with Defense Minister Ya’alon and informed him that Liberman had accepted the position of Defense Minister if he joins the coalition.

Labor chief Yitzchak Herzog is also facing problems, and if it looks like Herzog failed or got played by Netanyahu, he could be facing a putsch within his own party.

Shalom Bear

Netanyahu Invites Liberman to Meet on Unity Government

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu party chairman and MK Avigdor Liberman were scheduled to meet at 4 pm Wednesday to discuss a return to a Likud government.

Liberman denied reports that he met last week with the prime minister to discuss support for Yisrael Beytenu sponsored legislation.

Media reports also alleged Liberman was offered the defense portfolio – which might account for the tensions between Netanyahu and current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – but Liberman said Netanyahu made no offers.

Liberman set three conditions for entering the coalition, which he shared with journalists at a news conference Wednesday morning. The former minister of foreign affairs said his party would demand the defense portfolio, imposition of the death penalty for terrorist murderers, and pension reforms.

“I heard many times in the media that they offered us defense and the death penalty… we never heard any such offer,” Liberman told reporters.

“If it is true that they are offering [the] defense [ministry], the death penalty and pension reform, that is indeed a respectable offer, and there is something to talk about. But we won’t conduct negotiations in the dead of night, or via secret deals.

“The prime minister has my phone number… we haven’t ruled out anything, but it needs to be serious.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-invites-liberman-to-meet-on-unity-government/2016/05/18/

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