web analytics
October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘minister’

Knesset Committee Slams Finance Minister on Fear of Fighting Monopolies

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Five years have passed, and prices have not gone down, and in certain cases they have gone up,” members of the Knesset Finance Committee told government representatives during Monday’s meeting marking five years since the summer of 2011 popular social protest in Israel.

The committee members slammed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for “being afraid to fight the monopolies,” but members of Kahlon’s Kulanu party said in response, “We are advancing many reforms, and we can already see the results on the ground.”

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that “with all due respect to the Finance Ministry and talks of reform, in practice the prices have not gone down.”

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said, “Five years after the ‘cottage cheese’ protest, not only have the prices not gone down, in real terms they have increased, because the prices of commodities around the world have dropped 30-50%, and this is not being reflected in the Israeli market. Prices are 20% higher, on average, than in Europe. The prices of inputs have also decreased, as has the price of gas and energy, but this has not had any effect. What happened is that the monopolies and chain stores have gained huge profits at the consumers’ expense.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) explained that “the expense basket of a young family has three main components: housing, education and food. In housing the prices have only gone up; in education there has been some progress regarding ages 3-4, but not a week goes by that we are not asked to answer questions regarding family expenses related to education. An average family with three children spends some $1,300 a month on education, day care, afternoon child care, camps, and more. As far as food is concerned, some positive steps have been taken, but that nut has not been cracked and, ultimately, too much power has been left in the hands of a small number of companies.”

MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) charged that the Trajtenberg Committee, which examined and proposed solutions to Israel’s socioeconomic problems, was established only to “ease tensions” and “take the wind out of the social protest’s sails.” In practice, he said, “nothing has been done.” Vaknin called to restore price controls, saying “in the absence of competition, this is the solution.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said the problem is “greed.” The chain store owners and the major wholesalers “earn tens of millions on the public’s back,” he stated. “And meanwhile, here in the Knesset, people are strong at talking. The finance minister can make bold decisions and change the market without fearing his friends the tycoons. Here in this committee we have the power to advance a plan to dissolve the monopolies. We will enact a law to that effect.”

MK Roy Folkman of Kulanu said, “We have waged an all-out war on the monopolies. In Israel there is a very high concentration of market controls, and a finance minister who does not fear them has now arrived. We launched reforms in the importing of fresh meat and the prices have dropped. With fish as well, we created parallel importing. For years no one has dared to deal with the monopolies, which maintain a stronghold on Israeli politics, and we have started doing so. A change can already be seen in toiletries, food items, children’s toys and other items. The fight takes courage and ability. Increasing competition is the only way. Price control does not work; [corporations] would only raise the prices of other items. The business sector is more sophisticated than the regulator.”

MK Rachel Azaria, also from Kulanu, said “We are making great efforts, but every issue that reaches the Knesset gets stuck there. Every reform encounters objections, and it is nearly impossible to pass anything, including the fight against black market capital. I belong to the finance minister’s faction and it is my job to pass things, but nothing can be advanced; there are always dramas here; in some cases it’s the kibbutzim, in others kashrut – everybody has an interest. We have to be brave and deal with the basic problems: monopolies, quotas and interested bodies that prevent change. In the Arrangements Law we will introduce important reforms, and then we will see if all those who are yelling here will support them. We are the cause of the high prices. We have an opportunity to lower the cost of living, and I hope everyone here will support [the measures].”


Analysis: One Scary Outcome of Brexit Could Be Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn

Friday, June 24th, 2016

As a million more Britons said no than yes to their country’s EU membership, Israel’s future relationship with the UK may take a downturn, and not because of the argument Prime Minister David Cameron was making during his campaign to remain in the Union.

Cameron earlier this week told an audience at the Jewish Care dinner in London that he wants to be at the EU discussion table, influencing policy whenever the EU decides on yet another anti-Israel move. Cameron also attacked Brexit proponent UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s message as being “opposite of everything that makes Britain great.”

“When we’re fighting terrorism and Islamist extremism are we better doing that out on our own or fighting together with our European partners,” Cameron said at the dinner (which raised almost $7 million). “When Europe is discussing its attitude towards Israel do you want Britain – Israel’s greatest friends – in there opposing boycotts, or do you want us outside the room, powerless to affect the conversation.”

It’s a nice argument, made by the same greatest friend of Israel who only last February called Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem “genuinely shocking” during a discussion in Parliament. “I am well-known for being a strong friend of Israel, but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what had happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem, occupied East Jerusalem, it is genuinely shocking,” Cameron said during a weekly question-answer session.

With friends like that…

But that’s water under the bridge now, on Friday morning, after Cameron has already announced he is quitting his post as Prime Minister since Britain had voted to leave the European Union after being a member since the 1970s. “We must now prepare for a renegotiations with the EU,” he said, explaining that “above all this will require strong determined and committed leadership. I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in that direction.”

The Labour party’s response to the referendum results was a masterpiece of spin. Unlike the Conservatives, who were split over Brexit, Labour was all out in favor of remaining in the EU. Now read the Labour talking points as sent out to members Friday morning:

“Clearly many communities across our country feel left behind and cut off by the political establishment in Brussels and Westminster. This was a rejection of the status quo by millions of people who are not sharing in the wealth of this country, for whom the economy is not working.

“After this divisive campaign and close vote, the first task is to come together and heal the divisions. Our country is divided and things need to change. Politicians on all sides must respect the voice of the British people, who have spoken.

“Labour is the only party that can meet the challenge we now face. We realize that people want politicians who put them first. As the party that stands up for working people, Labour is best placed re-unite the country – we can do so as we did not engage in project fear, and we share people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo, which is why we put a critical case for both remain and reform.

“In making this argument Labour showed that it is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other political parties. Jeremy is uniquely placed as a critical remainer. He understands why people voted to leave, he understood people’s criticisms of Europe – and is the only leader of a major party in Britain to whom that applies.”

The talking points document concluded:

“The Tories cannot possibly provide the leadership we need — they are divided from top to bottom. It is hard to see how David Cameron has a long-term future as Prime Minister, but Labour’s immediate priority is to stabilize the country and the markets.”

Possibly. Which would throw a new, more menacing light on Cameron’s warnings regarding Israel’s only friend in Great Britain: should the Tories exit stage-right, Israel would not need to worry so much about facing a more hostile European Union, rather it should be concerned about facing arch-anti-Israel Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


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.


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.


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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/prime-minister-netanyahu-attends-moscow-ceremony-to-honor-the-unknown-soldier-of-russia/2016/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: