web analytics
September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘minister’

Minister Steinitz: Intelligence Says Assad Army Used Chemical Weapons

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Minister of International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Kol Israel Thursday morning that Israel’s Intelligence service estimates that the Assad army indeed attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, adding that it was not the first time the Syrian army has done this.

Steinitz said the worldwide condemnation of Assad’s war crimes have been mere lip service, since no concrete steps have so far been taken to stop Assad’s ongoing massacre of his countrymen.

The minister called the UN inspection just begun in Syria “a joke.”

“The UN isn’t inspecting yesterday’s events, but events that took place half a year ago. Moreover, the designation of the investigation, to find out whether or not chemical weapons were used—without investigating who used them—is outright ridiculous,” the minister said.

Last night, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did call for an investigation of Wednesday’s gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, where as many as 1,300 people are said to have been killed. It is not clear, however, if his call is heeded by the Security Council.

Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who is considered a leading candidate to become the next president of Israel, said that what goes on in Syria is nothing less than a holocaust and a genocide, and the world—which condemns Israel for every tiny misstep—is standing by without doing anything.

Ben Eliezer emphasized that the red line drawn by President Obama has long since been crossed, and that Israel must remain on alert to prevent any of the Syrian chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah or al-Qaeda hands.

The Syrian government is denying any involvement in the attack, accusing the rebels of staging a propaganda ploy. And Assad’s traditional patron, Russia, is not flinching in its unabashed defense of its man.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition, Reuters reported.

“All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation,” Lukashevich said. “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of UN experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

Thirty-five member countries have called for the UN inspection team which has just arrived in Damascus to be allowed to investigate the newest attack.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, “This represents, no matter what the consequences are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences. We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation. Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus. We hope that they will be given access to the area by the government.”

The UN Security Council met in an emergency session over the incident, with protesters demonstrating outside its headquarters. When it ended, Argentina’s UN ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters: “There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.”

Which means the council is not explicitly calling the inspection team to investigate, it only welcomed Ban Ki-moon’s calls for one.

“The members of the Security Council also welcomed the determination of the Secretary-General to ensure a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation,” said Perceval, who is president of the council this month.

In other words, Russia said Nyet, and the new incident will remain outside the purview of the inspectors.

Kosher Slaughter Ban Shows Poland Has a Jewish Problem

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, has a Jewish problem.

In a painful affront to the Jewish community, it recently defeated a government initiative to reinstate the legality of kosher slaughter of animals. This prompted Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, to threaten resignation and triggered sharp criticism of the Sejm from Jewish communities in Poland and around the world.

What happens in Poland regarding Jews has special significance because of the Holocaust. More than 90 percent of the country’s three and a half million Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation. Poland began legislating against kosher slaughter in 1936, and once the Germans occupied the country three years later, the practice was banned entirely.

Since the fall of the communist regime in 1989, however, Jewish life in Poland has undergone a remarkable, and previously unimaginable, renaissance. Full recognition of the rights of Jews to practice their faith – including kosher slaughter – was enshrined in an agreement the government signed with the Jewish community in 2004.

Indeed, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, addressing an overflow crowd at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington several weeks ago, declared it was his country’s responsibility to ensure “that today’s Jewish community in Poland is safe, welcome and respected.”

He honored Poland’s Jewish community “not just for how it died, but for how it lives, and how it is coming back to life.”

When legislation was adopted a few years ago mandating the use of electronic stunning equipment before an animal is killed – a practice prohibited under Jewish law –the Jewish community was granted an administrative exemption. In January, however, a court ruled the exemption unconstitutional. Alleged violations of animal rights trumped age-old Jewish religious practice.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government framed legislation to override the court decision. What should have been a fairly easy corrective measure was instead defeated on July 12 by a vote of 222 to 178, leaving in place the judicial ban.

Thirty-eight Sejm members representing Tusk’s ruling Civic Platform party joined with the opposition in voting to outlaw ritual slaughter. In Poland, this was viewed as a major victory for animal rights advocates, as their views prevailed against the nation’s farmers and meatpackers, who had developed a lively business exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim countries.

Jews, however, see matters quite differently. From their perspective, the Sejm’s action stigmatizing kosher slaughter as inhumane blatantly contradicts Foreign Minister Sikorski’s pledge to make Jews “safe, welcome and respected.” They point out that kosher slaughter, whereby the animal is rendered immediately unconscious by severing the carotid artery, is humane, and that the continued legality of hunting in Poland, which results in far greater and more indiscriminate pain to animals, suggests there may in fact be another, unstated reason for outlawing kosher slaughter: anti-Semitism.

In the wake of the Sejm vote, pejorative comments about Jews in some of the Polish media and online give some credence to these fears.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident. The situation for European Jews looks even grimmer in a broader context. Just a few months ago, a similar scenario unfolded in Germany when a court banned ritual circumcision, another fundamental element of the Jewish religion, on the grounds that it mutilated children without their consent. There, too, anti-Semitic motivation was not hard to discern in certain quarters amid the talk about physiological and psychological harm.

Fortunately, Chancellor Angela Merkel navigated a bill through the German parliament overruling the court and reestablishing the religious freedom of Jews to continue an age-old tradition of their faith. Whether Poland will successfully follow her example and push through a law guaranteeing the right to kosher slaughter remains to be seen.

Such attacks on Jewish religious practice, in fact, constitute just one front in a wider struggle over the future of Jewish life in Europe. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, increasing by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012. In France, there was an astounding 58 percent jump over that same period, including the targeted murder last year of four Jews, three of them small children, in Toulouse.

Vocally anti-Semitic political parties are represented in the Greek and Hungarian parliaments and are gaining power on the local and regional levels in other countries. Public opinion polls show alarmingly high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes. Demonization of Israel in the media and among some intelligentsia is often indistinguishable from Jew-baiting. No wonder that opinion surveys point to a striking number of European Jews contemplating emigration.

Definition of Insanity: Failed Negotiators Trying Yet Again

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin attempted to conjure arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat into a worthy partner for peace, it seems we have not learned the necessary lessons from the past.

As the “peace process” continued to hit bumps along the way, Israel and its American ally attempted many different variations, all of which led to the same failed result. Perhaps the problem with Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations lies not with the process but with the people involved in representing the parties at the table.

In most professions, when one fails at his job and leaves the project in question in chaos and disarray, he is not asked to keep working on the task at hand. Not so when it comes to the “peace process industry.”

Saeb Erekat is the main representative for the Palestinian delegation. He has held this position in one form or another since 1991 and has not brought the Palestinians one inch closer to peaceful coexistence with Israel. More troubling, it is clear he never really revised his radical views about the Jewish state. During the second intifada, Erekat accused Israel of massacring 500 Palestinians in Jenin, completely ignoring the facts showing that one-tenth of that number had been killed and most of those were armed terrorists. As recently as 2007, Erekat denied the possibility of the Palestinians ever recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Representing the United States at the latest round of talks is former ambassador Martin Indyk. Like Erekat, Indyk has been a major player in the peace industry since the early 1990s, and he also can point to zero achievements in bringing peace and prosperity to our region. On the contrary, when Indyk served as the American ambassador to Israel during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first term, he was known for his disparaging attitude toward the democratically elected government of Israel.

Since leaving public office, Indyk has revealed his true political leanings. Until his recent appointment by Secretary of State Joh

n Kerry, Indyk chaired the International Council of the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that has refused to stop funding groups that call for boycotting Israel.

Finally, we are left with Israel’s chief negotiator. Compared to Erekat and Indyk, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is a relative newcomer to peace negotiations. Nevertheless, she too has endured countless hours of negotiating with the Palestinians. Most troubling, her views do not represent the majority of the current government and are at odds with the average Likud voter, not to mention the Israeli public, which sharply spurned her in the recent elections.

While serving under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Livni offered the Palestinians more than 95 percent of the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and the unprecedented division of Jerusalem – an offer that was ultimately rejected by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Erekat.

As a father of three small children, there is nothing I want more than to believe that the latest round of talks will lead to true and lasting peace. But we all know that a definition of insanity is the endless repetition of the same experiment in the hope of obtaining a different result. Therefore, all sides should end the insanity and appoint negotiators who have not failed us in the past and who truly represent the best interests of the people they aspire to represent.

(JNS)

Obama, Erdogan Agree over the Phone on Syria, Egypt

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

President Obama spoke by phone on Wednesday from California with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, at the Prime Minister’s request, about developments in Syria and Egypt., according to a White House press release.

The President and the Prime Minister discussed the danger of foreign extremists in Syria and agreed on the importance of supporting a unified and inclusive Syrian opposition.

They also expressed concern about the situation in Egypt and a shared commitment to supporting a democratic and inclusive way forward. The two leaders agreed to have their teams continue to coordinate closely to promote our shared interests.

The President gave his best wishes to the Prime Minister and the Turkish people on the beginning of their Ramazan holiday.

As it happens, the Syrian rebels—which the U.S. is supporting—suffered a very serious defeat on Wednesday, as 62 rebels were killed in an ambush.

Meanwhile, President Obama has announced that his administration would be providing an additional $195 million in food and other humanitarian aid to Syria. To someone in Syria, anyway.

It is believed that more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the fighting began, some 28 months ago. It is also estimated that close to 2 million people have fled Syria and are seeking refuge in neighboring nations, mostly Turkey and Jordan.

As to Egypt, its new government has no intention of letting Islamists come back to power, and is prepared to use violence against Islamist protesters.

Temple Mount Closure And EU Boycott

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

On Tisha B’Av Prime Minister Netanyahu dramatically declared that Israel would not allow foreigners to interfere with our borders. This may have sounded like good news to local ears, but on the very same day the prime minister contradicted his own policy.

On the morning of Tisha B’Av, hundreds of Jews, among them three Knesset members, attempted to enter the Temple Mount – but were denied access. The next day Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin made a second attempt to enter the Mount but was turned away. When MK Yariv Levin asked about this fiasco in the Knesset plenum, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich answered, as usual, that there is no policy change regarding the Mount and that anyone who wishes to enter can do so. He said that Jewish visitors enter the Mount every day with no problem and that the closure of the Mount to visitors (including Knesset members) was the security decision of the local commander.

Aharonovich knowingly lied to the Knesset. Everyone involved with the Temple Mount issue knows that since Netanyahu acquiesced to the demands of the Muslim wakf and denied me access to the Temple Mount, police control of the holy site has rapidly deteriorated. The Temple Mount has become a staging ground for a vicious struggle, with cries of “kill the Jews!” becoming routine there. Jews are consistently distanced from the Mount and Israel’s police project unprecedented spinelessness, fear and defeatism in the face of the burgeoning brazenness of the Muslim wakf.

Israeli police have all the means at their disposal – if they choose to use it – to disperse the Arab rioters within minutes and to make it possible for the Jews to visit their holiest site. But, as it is wont to do, Israel’s police adopted the role of security fig leaf for the prime minister, who is giving the holy Mount’s sovereignty to Jordan and the Muslim wakf – while talking mightily about not allowing foreigners to interfere in Israel’s sovereignty.

Aharonovich claimed that the Mount was closed, due to security considerations, as per the decision of the local commander. But there is a truly reliable side to this story contrary to his version of events. Here is the relevant part of the Jordan News Agency’s July 16 report from Ramallah:

Israeli Police Prevent Jewish Extremists From Entering Al-Aqsa Compound Due To Demand By Jordan

Following the pressure exerted by [the] Jordanian government on the Israeli authorities, the Israeli police on Tuesday closed the Mughrabi Gate, one of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s doors, and prevented Jewish extremists from entering it.

Director of the Islamic Waqf in occupied Jerusalem, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, told Petra [News] that the Israeli police closed the gate and prevented extremists and foreign tourists from entering Al-Aqsa compound today, “the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple,” after Jordanian pressure and intervention by the Department of Islamic Waqf and [the] Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Walid Obeidat.

He confirmed that the ban came as a result of the intensive communications undertaken by Jordan to prevent the desecration of Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan. Al-Khatib praised the vital Jordanian role in protecting Jerusalem and the holy sites.

This report, verified by additional sources, is nothing new. The prime minister has used the police, the attorney general’s office and the courts before in his quest to implement a political decision when wanting to cede sovereignty on the Temple Mount to the Muslims. And he’s done this without the Knesset’s authorization. This is how issues surrounding the Temple Mount have been disposed of since it was liberated. Netanyahu has simply expanded the practice.

The capitulation on the Temple Mount leads to the construction halt in Jerusalem. In other words, the organs close to the heart become infected with the same illness: the loss of sovereignty syndrome. In this manner, our existential legitimacy in the entire land is crumbling before our eyes.

What do we expect of the European Union? After all, for 46 years we have been saying that the land of Israel is theirs – not ours. We hurried to give the heart of Jerusalem and the nation, the Temple Mount, to the Muslim wakf. We refused to declare Israel’s sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. We recognized another, conveniently invented “nation” as indigenous to the land, recognized its terrorist liberation movement, and armed it with Israeli weapons. We vowed to retreat so as to enable the establishment of a state for this make-believe “nation” in the heart of biblical Israel. We expelled and destroyed entire Jewish communities. We committed ourselves to the two-state principle.

But over the past 20 years not one of our leaders, at any level, has said that this is our land – no ifs, ands, or buts. This straightforward phrase simply does not exist in the lexicon of Israel’s political and military leadership.

So why are we surprised that the Europeans are tired of this entire subject? It took them 46 years to be convinced that we are serious that this really is not our land, that we are nothing more than foreign conquerors in Palestine. Perhaps the Arabs are not nice, they think, but they are very, very right on this issue. After all, Israel’s political Left and Right have both bowed to their claims and recognized the justice of their cause. Yitzhak Rabin shook the hand of their murderous leader, while Netanyahu hugged him with both his hands. So what can we expect: that after we have admitted that we are the problem, the Europeans will allow us to continue to threaten world peace?

We no longer have anywhere to run from the scales of justice. When you do not put your weight on one side of the scale, the other side is heavier. You can be prettier, nicer, more European – and even a peace seeker. But if you have abandoned your side of the scale, the other side will always win.

We lost the justice of our cause when we gave the Temple Mount to the Muslims. The only way to restore our justice is to remove the Muslim wakf from the Mount and to empower our holiest site as the center of holiness and exclusive sovereignty of Israel.

Govt. to Court: Names of Prisoners Going Free Kept Secret from Bennett

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

On Wednesday, the State asked the High Court to reject a petition of the families of terror victims against the decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as part of renewing the peace process.

The State made ​​it clear that the purpose of the ministerial committee formed to decide on which prisoners will be released and when, is to keep the negotiations secret from some coalition partners.

A quick review of the current coalition partners suggests that the party in government who is most likely to oppose the releases is Jewish Home, as well as the majority of the Likud MKs.

“The decision to appoint a small team of ministers, including concerned senior government ministers, was adopted in order to ensure the confidentiality of the discussions that will take place within the team, so as not to reveal the full breadth of the negotiations conducted with the Palestinians in a way that could harm the peace process and even thwart it,” the state told the court.

The “team” includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitz, Science Minister Yaakov Peri and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

There is not a single Jewish Home Party representative on the “team.”

According to the State’s Attorney’s response to the high court, the first group of Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands will be released next week, and the next three groups will be released on the fourth, sixth and eighths month of the negotiations with the Palestinians, depending on the success of the talks.

In its response to the victims of terror petition, the state argued that the release of prisoners is a purely political matter, which the High Court has always considered to be outside of its purview.

“The issue of releasing prisoners is an integral part of a political process which the government has begun, and which the decision to release the prisoners an integral part of, and will be made along the way in accordance with the progress made by the two sides of the negotiations,” the State Attorney’s Office insisted. “The position of the bereaved families has been and will be brought before the proper authorities and will be considered as part of every decision.”

The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

Lunacy.” That’s how Danny Danon describes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to hand over 104 killers to the Palestinian Authority as a “goodwill gesture.”

He’s hardly alone, as many observers (including myself) are outraged by this move. But Danon, 42, has a unique place in this debate because he (1) sits in Israel’s parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, he (2) is chairman of Likud’s powerful Central Committee, and he (3) serves as Israel’s deputy minister of Defense. In American terms, his criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden. But McChrystal was gone within days whereas Danon continues to gain influence and stature.

Danon’s ability to denounce his own prime minister’s actions points to his not being a routine politician. Three qualities stand out: a devotion to principle, a mastery of tactics, and the ability to articulate a vision.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Danon has remained true to the core principles of his party and his country. His righteous opposition when his party makes mistakes – such as the 2009 freeze on building residences for Jews on the West Bank or accepting the two-state solution – shows a strength of character. As he points out, “It’s not easy being in a room of thirty people, alone saying no.”

His rise through Israel’s national camp institutions reveals tactical skill: serving as assistant to Uzi Landau, as head of the World Betar Organization, then head of the World Likud Organization, as organizer of street protests and challenger to the prime minister for the party’s leadership. These efforts culminated in his strong showing in his party’s electoral list (coming in No. 5) and the jaw-dropping 85 percent of the vote he won in elections to lead Likud’s Central Committee. With reason, the Forward newspaper calls him “a master of social and conventional media” and the Times of Israel deems him “a major stumbling block toward Palestinian statehood.”

Finally, the vision: Its fullest articulation is found in his 2012 book, Israel: The Will to Prevail (Palgrave), where he sketches an ambitious and contrarian view of his country’s foreign policy. Arguing that “history shows us Israel is often better off when she acts on her own behalf … even if that means contravening the wishes of U.S. administrations,” he concludes that the Jewish state “fares best when she makes decisions based on her own best interests.” Jerusalem, he holds, should pursue its goals “with or without backing from her allies.” This argument, commonplace enough for most states, is audacious in the case of small, beleaguered Israel.

Danon’s moment may have arrived. As Netanyahu appears to be making excessive and immoral concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Danon has emerged as a leading dissident ready to challenge his prime minister (remember “lunacy”). Should Netanyahu feel no longer welcome in his own party and leave it to found a new one (following exactly in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 footsteps), Danon will be a potential candidate to lead Likud and win a subsequent election.

One sign of his rise is the invective used against him. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni coined the term “Danonism” and demanded that Netanyahu reject it. Gideon Levy, an extreme left columnist for Ha’aretz newspaper, disdainfully but fearfully writes that “little Danny Danon will be big, the sugar of the Israeli right. … [he] will go far.”

Looked at in historical perspective, since the taciturn but principled Yitzhak Shamir left the prime ministry in 1992, his six successors variously engaged in political betrayal, ethical corruption, and delusional egotism. Sharon (2001-06) abandoned his electoral mandate to the point that he had to flee his own party, even as his financial shenanigans had him in constant trouble with the law. Ehud Olmert (2006-09) had to resign due to a cloud of corruption charges. Focused on the Iranian threat, Netanyahu did well since 2009 but his recent offer of 104 murderers disturbingly contradicts the electoral platform of a half year ago.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/the-right-moment-for-israels-danny-danon/2013/08/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: