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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘minister’

Netanyahu’s Can Do Minister Plans Gaza’s Offshore Island Harbor

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Yisrael Katz (Likud), who currently wears two ministerial hats: Transportation and Road Safety and Intelligence and Atomic Energy, has probably the most productive minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s three consecutive cabinets, being responsible for an unprecedented network of new, modern highways crisscrossing Israel and an ever-improving train service — all of which means that if he has made up his mind to carry out a project, it’s probably going to happen, and sooner than you may think. The project in question is the Gaza harbor island, which Katz has recently begun to promote.

Speaking at the 2016 Herzliya Conference last week, Minister Katz described his plan for an island with a port off the Gaza Strip, connected to the mainland with a three-mile bridge, with no residential buildings, and, most important—no place for Hamas to dig terror tunnels. According to Katz, an artificial island to be built on the high seas would also be a spot which was “not promised by God to anyone,” with no ideological ties to any of the warring parties in the region. This island would be built strictly for humane and financial purposes: permit the monitored, daily flow of traffic in and out of Gaza, provide construction jobs for the people of Gaza, and, eventually, who knows, there’s room for many imaginative ventures once you’ve gotten yourself an island.

“We can practically change the current reality,” Katz promised last week. And on Monday he told reporters: “I do not think it is right to lock up two million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest in making life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza [proper].”

This week, Minister Katz raised the heat under his proposal, announcing that Israel is actively seeking foreign investors to construct a $5 billion artificial island with a seaport, hotels and an airport just off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The island, comprising an area of three square miles (although once you start making islands in the sea, what’s to stop you from making them even bigger), would “ease the blockade it imposed on the Palestinian enclave a decade ago.”

Up until last week’s announcement, there were several alternative harbor proposals being discussed by the Israeli leadership, to help ease the pressure on Gaza’s civilian population without harming Israeli security. One was what seemed like an exotic idea a few months ago, of building an artificial island that would face the Gaza shore, where ships would unload their goods under strict Israeli control. One called for the harbor to be built in El Arish, a sleepy Egyptian town in the north-eastern Sinai, which is under Egyptian rule. There was also an idea to build a Gaza harbor in Cyprus. And, of course, there was the more intuitive idea of building the Gaza harbor in Gaza, but conditioning its operation on long-term ceasefire deals. Naturally, as soon as Hamas starts shooting rockets at Israel, Israel could wipe out their nice harbor.

Katz insists his man-made island proposal is under review by Netanyahu’s security cabinet, and showing “a lot of potential.” The experts are drafting plans on ways to maintaining security on the offshore island and inside the off-shore harbor. One tactic being proposed is closing down the bridge when hostilities flare up on the mainland. But with Hamas investing in training its Navy SEAL commandos, closing down the bridge may not necessarily secure the island.

Minister Katz wants the island to be built with foreign investments, and he would like to see the Saudis and the Chinese, as well as private Israeli investors picking up the tab for his project. Katz said Israel would allow foreign construction workers into its territorial waters for the project.

According to the Washington Post, citing a high level Israeli official, Prime Minister Netanyahu is “exploring the option but has not yet made a determination.”

The Palestinian Authority folks hate the plan, which they called “dubious.” The PLO fears that the man-made island would bring about “the final severing of Gaza” from the PA.

JNi.Media

Uzi Landau Quits Post as Co-Chair of KKL

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Former Yisrael Beytenu Tourism Minister Uzi Landau has resigned his post as co-chairman of the Keren Kayemet L’Israel (KKL) organization, which until recently used to be linked to the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Landau turned in his resignation in a letter submitted Monday in which he accused KKL chairman Danny Atar, a former member of Knesset, of fiscal mismanagement and improper administration at the top.

Landau wrote he had accepted the position “in order to advance [the organization’s] vision, help develop the periphery, and advance relations with the diaspora.” But he said he realized it would be impossible for him to achieve these goals with Atar at the helm.

The former minister left the Knesset in December 2014 after 31 years in Israeli politics. Although he began his political career with the Likud party, he eventually joined Avigdor Liberman in Yisrael Beytenu.

Landau was the only Likud minister to be fired by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon for opposing the 2005 Disengagement from Gush Katif in Gaza.

Hana Levi Julian

Liberman Embarks on First visit to DC as Defense Minister Amid Military Aid Dispute

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) is coming to Washington DC on his inaugural visit as Defense Minister against the background of a dispute between the White House and Congress over increasing US support for Israel’s missile defense research and development. He’ll be meeting with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who maintained a personal friendship with Liberman’s ousted predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud). Liberman and Carter are expected to discuss the White House proposal for a long-term US military aid, which would be larger than the current package, but conditioned on Israeli agreement not to solicit additional military aid from Congress.

Last Tuesday the Administration opposed a call by Congress to increase funding for Israel’s missile defense program by $455 million, to $600 million, well above the 2017 fiscal year White House budget request.

Israel is looking to expand the US annual military aid package from the current $3.2 billion to upwards of $4.5 billion, a portion of which would go to purchases from Israeli companies. The White House is looking at a more modest increase over 10 years, and for the entire amount to be spent in the US.

According to a senior defense ministry source speaking to Ma’ariv, the military aid package is not the central purpose of the visit, rather the trip is mainly planned for introductory meetings with key players in the defense department and in Congress. “We don’t expect dramatic breakthroughs in the coming week,” the source said.

Liberman will also meet with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Committees.

On Wednesday, Liberman will attend the Lockheed Martin roll out ceremony for the F-35 fighter planes purchased by the Israeli air force — the first of which is expected to arrive in Israel in December. The defense minister will also tour an Elbit Systems plant and meet in New York with the defense ministry purchasing delegation.

According to Walla, there is a dispute between the professional echelon in the defense ministry and Prime Minister Netanyahu over the American proposal, with the DM staff recommending signing the aid package now, and Netanyahu preferring to wait out this administration and dealing with the next president, Clinton or Trump, either one of whom would be more pro-Israel.

Liberman is much more liked by the current administration than Netanyahu, because back when Secretary of State John Kerry was still pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the 1967 borders, Liberman, then Israel’s foreign minister, supported the US effort, saying this was the best deal Israel could expect.

In that vein, Liberman is expected to use the opportunity of his US visit to allay fears regarding his hawkish reputation on defense, by making a major dovish statement about the two-state-solution.

JNi.Media

Polish Foreign Minister to visit Yad Vashem Wednesday

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Witold Waszczykowski will, visit Yad Vashem on Wednesday.  The Minister will tour the Holocaust History Museum, participate in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visit the Children’s Memorial and sign the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

David Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets in Moscow With President Putin

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Moscow Monday night for an official visit Tuesday (June 7) to mark 25 years of restored diplomatic ties between Israel and Russia. Netanyahu, who has met with President Vladimir Putin twice in the past several months, sat down in the Kremlin to discuss a laundry list of issues with the Russian leader late Tuesday afternoon.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a briefing with media on Tuesday that intensive contacts between Russia and Israel have been the basis for building up the bilateral cooperation. The comment came in response to a question about the frequency of the meetings between Putin and Netanyahu.

“This creates a very positive basis for new ideas regarding the bilateral cooperation,” the Kremlin spokesman said. “This includes agriculture, high-tech solutions and many other areas,” Peskov said, according to the Tass news agency.

The spokesman said an “atmosphere of confidence” reigns in the bilateral relations between the two countries. “This is a very constructive and trusting manner of communication between the president and the prime minister,” Peskov said. He added that Russian and Israel take into account each other’s concerns and express their positions “quite constructively.

Peskov noted that the exchange of information and communication flowed particularly smoothly between the military officials and staffs of the two countries.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said he was “moved,” hearing the Russian Honor Guard play “Hatikva” during the visit to the Kremlin.

One of Netanyahu’s official duties while in the Russia capital was to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a ceremony carried out in Washington D.C. as well — which he did earlier in the day as well.

Netanyahu gravely laid a wreath at the soldier’s tomb, and stood at attention as soldiers snapped to salute to honor their fallen comrade, unidentified to this day.

The staff of the Prime Minister’s office was kind enough to tweet their experience of the event, along with a photo for followers, making it clear in the content of the photo caption, that more than a few staff members were immigrants or children of immigrants who hailed from Mother Russia in the office.

Hana Levi Julian

Minister Ariel: Liberman’s 2-State Statement Nothing More than ‘Verbal Maneuvering’

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) appeared on journalist Aryeh Golan’s Israel Radio morning show Wednesday in response to the surprising statements—first by the new defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) that he was all in favor of the two-state solution, followed by the cooing response of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared eager to get together and chat peace with comrade Yvette.

And so, Aryeh Golan opened: “Mahmoud Abbas is saying if Liberman supports the two-state solution there’s no reason not to meet him. [Ma’alot-Tarshiha Mayor] Shlomo Bohbot [who met with Abbas on Tuesday, along with other Galilee regional council heads] says, I found an amazing man. Lieberman says the wholeness of the nation takes precedence over the wholeness of the land. You hear new voices from both sides regarding a meeting, [renewed] negotiations?”

“We’ve already seen Mr. Liberman speaking this way one time, that way another, presumably in accordance with international pressure and other factors,” Ariel answered. “I would have preferred it to be different, but these are the facts.” He advised: “Talks are not a scary thing. The question is what do we say during the talks.”

Golan: Prime Minister Netanyahu sounded as if he approves the Saudi initiative, ahead of the [Paris] foreign ministers conference Friday.

Ariel: I’ve said it in the past, this is not the position of the government, nor the Likud, nor any authorized political entity.

Golan: The Prime Minster is not authorized enough?

Ariel: He is first among equals. There is no decision at all, not political, not by any party, not national, certainly not in the Knesset. On the contrary, last year MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) tried to pass the Arab initiative in the Knesset and the Likud rejected it.

“I see here a verbal maneuvering,” Ariel added. “I’m sorry it’s been done, I would have preferred that he [didn’t do it] but for that you have Habayit Hayehudi — why are we here? — To speak the truth.”

Golan: And should the Prime Minister embrace the French initiative? Do you agree with Liberman’s statement (originally made by the late Rv Ovadia Yosef) that the wholeness of the nations takes precedence over the wholeness of the land?

That was Liberman’s signal slogan upon entering office this week: he cares more about national cohesiveness than about territories. That’s usually something politicians say just before making some section of the national whole really miserable (see Gush Katif in a Google search near you).

Ariel: In my opinion the French initiative is totally screwed up at its foundation. It sets an end date [for the talks]. So that the other side can just linger, play for time, until the date arrives and then Israel is to blame. Which is why the PM does not agree with the French initiative. He talks about direct negotiations about which, in this context, he is certainly right, it’s better this way — the way the peace agreements with Jordan and with Egypt were reached, in direct talks between us and the Arabs and not through others.

“As to the statement about the wholeness of the nation — there’s no contradiction here,” Ariel insisted. “It’s comparing two unequal terms, like it’s better to eat spaghetti than to dance the waltz. It’s true, but so what? It doesn’t work this way.”

“We’re about to celebrate Jerusalem Liberation Day on Sunday,” Ariel pointed out. “We’ve been in the territories for 48 years. Jordan had been there only 19 years. The slogan sounds nice, but, again, it’s a verbal maneuver in ever-changing situations.”

So, at least while Habayit Hayehudi is in government, those territories are non-negotiable. Unless you like spaghetti with your waltz.

JNi.Media

Meet Israel’s New-Old Immigrant Absorption Minister

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While most eyes have been on Avigdor Liberman being appointed as Defense Minister, another new minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu party was sworn into office on Tuesday afternoon in the Knesset. Incoming Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, an Olah (immigrant) from Russia, has now returned to the office she headed between 2009 and 2015 and will be in charge of successfully integrating Israel’s many immigrants into society.

Sofa Landver, 66, was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union (today Saint Petersburg, Russia) and moved to Israel in 1979. After serving in the Ashdod city council and in the Jewish Agency, she was elected as Knesset member for the Labor party in 1996 – the first former Soviet citizen to become a member of the Israeli parliament.

She was a Labor MK until the elections in 2003 when she lost her seat in the parliament. But in 2006 Landver made a significant political shift by leaving the left-wing Labor party and becoming a Knesset member for the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Liberman, another immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

After the last elections in March 2015 Landver was forced to leave her office when her party did not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Ze’ev Elkin, also originally from the Soviet Union, replaced her for one year until Liberman rejoined Netanyahu’s government last week.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/meet-israels-new-old-immigrant-absorption-minister/2016/05/31/

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