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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘livni’

Would PA Allow Jews in Jerusalem?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

With Tzipi Livni a possibility to head Israel’s negotiating team in talks with the Palestinian Authority, it is important to review her stance on the future status of Jerusalem – and to investigate what really is holding up all chances of a successful peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In late 2008, Livni was elected to replace Ehud Olmert as head of the Kadima Party. She then proceeded to fail in her attempt to form a new government under her leadership – and the reason for this was her consent to grant Arab control to parts of holy city. This, together with the economic decrees against the “disadvantaged population,” led the Shas Party to refuse to join her government.

As foreign minister in 2008, Livni promised P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede it the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim in the framework of a peace agreement. She repeatedly stated that though she believes strongly in historic Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, she also believes in the “right of our children to live in peace” – to which end she was willing to make far-reaching territorial concessions even in Yerushalayim.

Is there any chance of reaching an agreement with the PLO that does not include some form of dividing Jerusalem with Muslims? The answer appears to be negative. Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written an important and thorough historic study of the issue, concluding that the current P.A. mindset “clearly render[s] hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

Specifically, Baker writes, standing in the way of an agreement is the Moslems’ refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s religious and historic rights to Yerushalayim, even without accepting these as absolute and exclusively binding.

Just a few months ago, Abbas referred to “the alleged [Jewish] Temple” in Jerusalem, and vowed that “there will be no peace, security, or stability unless [all Israelis are] evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state.”

“This statement,” Baker wrote, “basically denying any Jewish linkage or right to Jerusalem, uttered by the head of the Palestinian Authority who is considered in the international community to be moderate and reasonable, serves as an example of the tremendous political, historical, psychological, legal, and religious challenge that the issue of Jerusalem poses to the Middle East negotiating process.”

Any agreement regarding Jerusalem, he continued, must be “predicated on absolute acknowledgement of, respect for, and acceptance by each side of the historic and religious rights of the other in Jerusalem. Continued mistrust, attempts to dislodge, undermine or destabilize the other side vis-à-vis its own constituency or the international community, and attempts to delegitimize the integrity or historical rights of the other side would clearly render hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

It is not only Abbas who negates Jewish rights in Jerusalem. A P.A. survey in 2011 found that nearly three-quarters of the respondents – 72 percent – support the denial of thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

We must remember, too, that Abbas has said no Jews would be allowed to live anywhere in a Palestinian state.

From Israel’s side, 77 percent told Dahaf public opinion pollsters in December that “Israel could not rely on the Palestinians to ensure freedom of worship” even in the framework of a peace agreement. Interestingly, it is not well-known that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering both Mecca and the center of Medina. Undoubtedly, if this fact were to be exposed more widely, it would dramatically increase the number of Israelis who realize the division of Jerusalem means the end of their visits to the Western Wall – for there is no reason to believe that if Jews may not visit Mecca or Medina, they would be able to visit the Temple Mount or anywhere else in the Old City under Muslim rule.

Ambassador Baker notes in his article that even when Israel supported various internationalization schemes in Jerusalem, this was basically to ensure universal freedom of worship in all holy places, not to give up sovereignty. The Arab sides did not accept even this.

Regarding the Arab refusal to accept the 1947 Partition resolution, historian Shlomo Avineri has written that unlike in the Jewish community, there was no debate within the Arab community: There, “an absolutist position – ‘we have all the rights, the Jews don’t have any right’ – continued to be the foundation of their response…”

Bibi in Overtime, but Is a Coalition any Closer?

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

I know someone whose tax dealings would make my CPA father very nervous; that friend says that his accountant uses “creative bookkeeping.”  That phrase “creative bookkeeping” keeps popping into my head when I read all of the articles about how Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can make a government coalition with various incompatible political parties.

Many of the same people also claim that the same Arabs who want to totally destroy us, men, women and children, (as Haman from the Purim Holiday’s Megillat Scroll of Esther unabashedly had planned) also claim they can be placated with the gift of land and then make peace with us.  You really need a creative, unrealistic imagination to believe that.  To put it simply, it would go against the laws of nature.  Maybe they want to keep a grown tiger as a pet, thinking it’s a tabby on steroids…

Last night, I popped into the living room and checked what was on the news.  I saw the news clip official meeting of the Prime Minister with President Shimon Peres.  Netanyahu had just formally requested another two weeks to form his coalition.

The big question would be: Is it possible for Bibi to form a viable and stable coalition?

The pundits claim it can be done.  Times of Israel’s Yoel Goldman shows that Netanyahu does not need the thirty-one seats Lapid and Bennett could give him:

If Labor, with its 15 Knesset seats were to unexpectedly join Likud-Beytenu (31), Netanyahu could then turn to Shas (11) and United Torah Judaism (7) to complete a 70-seat Knesset majority.

Bennett and Lapid, two newbies, inexperienced first-time MK’s and party leaders have been “negotiating” under the premise that Bibi will buckle and give into their demands.  One of their demands is that the hareidi, aka ultra-Orthodox parties be kept out of the coalition.  Being so adamantly “anti” any sector is Israeli society is a bad sign for ambitious politicians who dream of being Prime Minister some day.  Actually it reminds me of Yitzchak Rabin, who as Prime Minister said he was the Prime Minister for those who supported him, not for the “settlers” — people like me, who opposed his Oslo Accords.

One thing that Netanyahu does understand is that a Prime Minister should have as broad a coalition as possible to represent all sectors in Israeli society.

Bennett and Lapid have been concentrating on the simple arithmetic.

31+31=62
Likud + Lapid + Bennett = 62

Sixty-two are a majority, more than half of one-hundred-twenty.  They have been counting on Netanyahu needing them so desperately that he’d let them write the deal.  At this point, Tzipi Livni is the only party leader to have already signed and she got a great deal.

I wouldn’t bet on this one.  Netanyahu is one wily politician, and he may shock us all, which is what he likes to do.  Considering that the polls are showing Lapid leading Bibi if there were to be new elections, maybe that’s why Lapid isn’t wiling to compromise.  But he should remember that when Netanyahu called for elections a few months ago, the polls predicted that Bibi’s Likud, even with Yisrael Beitenu, should expect at least 50% more seats, so early polls should not necessarily be relied on.  And I highly doubt that your average NRP aka Bayit Yehudi voter approves of Bennett’s fanatically anti-chareidi stand.

Stay tuned….

Visit Shiloh Musings.

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.

Jewish Home: Bringing in Livni Makes it Harder for Us to Join the Gov’t

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Senior officials in the Jewish Home responded to Tzipi Livni’s joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s  coalition, saying that it lessens the chances of the Jewish Home joining the government, the Israeli publication Ma’ariv reported today.

The criticism focused on the fact that Livni, who took a turn to the left on foreign policy and territorial issues since her departure from the Likud several years ago, will be allowed to manage the revival of the peace process with the Palestinians.  Shortly after the elections, Livni had made it clear that she would only join a government if she would be given such a position.

Ma’ariv cited senior Likud officials who responded saying that according to the coalition agreement with Livni, the Prime Minister will be the one to lead the negotiating team and that the Likud wants the Jewish Home to join the coalition.

Livni’s party, the “Movement Led by Tzipi Livni” won six seats in the Knesset, while the Likud-Beitenu won 31 seats. By signing a coalition agreement, the prospective coalition now has 37 seats. Sixty-one seats (a majority of the Knesset) are needed to form a coalition, but even more are needed to form a stable coalition.

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.

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.

The Future Coalition and the Israeli Right

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

So the final results are almost completely tallied and it’s pretty bad for the right-wing, especially Likud-Beitenu, despite the fact that the Benjamin Netanyahu will likely form the next government.

The only threat to Netanyahu forming the government is a joint Shas-Lapid boycott. Likud-Beitenu and Jewish Home comprise 43 seats. Shas and UTJ (17) bring it up to 61 or Lapid (19) will bring it up to 62. Only if Lapid, Shas and UTJ (or even Lapid and Shas) boycott Netanyahu will Netanyahu not be able to form the government. That scenario would also require Livni and Yachimovitch and Lapid to agree on making one of these three their candidate for Prime Minister, which is even more unlikely. Also, Shas publicly endorsed Netanyahu for Prime Minister in an advertisement prior to the elections, apparently counting on the fact that Lapid will compromise on a universal draft.

Nevertheless, for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition (closer to 70 seats) he would need to Shas and/or UTJ compromise with a plan to draft Hareidim, as he said in his “victory” speech last night that he plans to make a priority and because Lapid is now too large to ignore, especially relative to a weak Likud.

Kadima – which escaped what would have been a well-deserved political death – could be another leftist party which Netanyahu could bring on board to strengthen the coalition, especially if Shas will not join.  This would bring the coalition up to 64 seats, that’s still not that stable, but at least Kadima won’t be able to ask for much with it’s meager two seats.

That would mean giving Mofaz something that Mofaz would feel will make him and Kadima relevant until the next elections, perhaps some lessor ministry or as a minister without portfolio. (Mofaz’s other options to survive through the next elections are (a) to somehow re-establish himself outside the government, which is unlikely; (b) to rejoin the Likud with his tail between his legs, which is also unlikely considering how he treated Netanyahu after Netanyahu brought him into the coalition before; (c) merge with another left-wing party which would be equally embarrassing for him and also unprofitable for the other party; or, (d) wait for Olmert to return and save him).

Some other thoughts:

* The success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid in garnering 19 mandates, making it the second largest of all parties is the biggest surprise of the election. It’s almost twice as high as Lapid polled before the elections and 19 more than Lapid had before as this is his first election. Like Liberman before, Lapid will likely be Netanyahu’s major partner as under almost any coalition figuration Yesh Atid can bring down the coalition.

* The Jewish Home’s success was not as great as predicted but it was still quite an achievement to garner 12 Knesset seats. The joint Jewish Home-National Union list represented only seven seats in the outgoing Knesset and only a few months ago hoped to get up to 10 seats in the next Knesset. Kudos to them for running a great campaign, including Anglo candidate Jeremy Gimpel who chaired the English-speakers campaign and Jeremy Saltan who was the English-speaker’s campaign manager, despite the fact that Gimpel himself will not be in the next Knesset.

* The Likud-Beitenu’s drop from 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset to 31 in the next is the second biggest surprise. Liberman said last night that he does not regret the merger: Of course he doesn’t, his party only dropped to 11 seats in the Knesset, from 15, despite the fact that he has been indicted, based on testimony from one of his former lieutenants and was absent during the campaign.

The Likud on the other hand lost its upward momentum and now comprises only 20 Knesset seats (only one more than newcomer Lapid). That’s quite an embarrassment for the what is supposed to be the leading party in Israel.

Not that Liberman/the merger should take all the blame. The campaign was terrible from almost every angle – functionally and strategically – and Netanyahu’s no-risk political philosophy may also be to blame for failing to motivate new voters, even though it is good for managing a coalition and providing much-needed stability to the country.

* The “Right” as a whole lost out. Instead of 65 seats (or more, even up to 71 according to some polls), it now has 61. And, remember, the right-wing bloc is not necessarily all right-wing. UTJ is only right-wing on religious issues. On Judea and Samaria, standing up to the international community and economic issues, it is to the left. Shas is also to the left on economic issues and with Aryeh Deri back at the helm it is not clearly to the right when it comes to security-territory issues. Even without Deri, Shas was the prop that kept the Olmert government together after the Second Lebanon War. So really the Right has only 43 reliable seats (Likud-Beitenu + Jewish Home).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/hadar/the-future-coalition-and-the-israeli-right/2013/01/23/

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