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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Moshe Gafni’

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].”

JNi.Media

Reform Insulted by Haredi Walkout in Knesset Committee

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The Reform movement in Israel has launched a complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against United Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni, Israel Eichler, Uri Maklev and Yakov Asher, for walking out of a Knesset Interior Committee room during a debate over the Mikvahs Law. The Ethics Committee has forwarded the complaint to the UTJ faction, requesting an explanation.

The complaint was sent by attorney Gilad Kariv, who serves as Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, said: “In the name of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in israel we’d like to launch a complaint against the Knesset Members from the UTJ and Shas factions over their repeated behavior of leaving in a demonstrative manner Knesset committee debates whenever a speaker associated with Reform or Conservative Judaism gets the floor.”

“This behavior has been going on for several years,” Kariv wrote, “and it was most recently exposed in a debate of the Interior and Environmental Protection Committee, June 13, 2016. The debate revolved around the proposed Religious Jewish Services bill (Regulation of Intended Use of Ritual Bath amendment) 5776-2016, which directly touches on these two movements, their rabbis and members. As yours truly received the floor from Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem, MKS Moshe Gafni, Israel Eichler, akov Asher and Uri Maklev left the room in a demonstrative manner.”

Kariv argued that the departure was particularly egregious since these four MKs were among the endorsers of the bill, and their refusal to attend a hearing with citizens about the new legislation is an affront to the parliamentary process and to democracy. After all, Kariv argued, “this is why the legislator has decided on committee hearings airing a variety of opinions, including those which contradict the position of the one who proposes the bill.”

Kariv called the MKs’ behavior vulgar and said it undermines the principles of the legislative process, as well as the public and ethical obligations of MKs.

The website Bhol.co.il which reported the complaint noted that Haredi MKs have been for many years in the habit of leaving the room whenever a Reform speaker gets the floor.

David Israel

Likely Compromise Found in Coalition Rift over Reform, Conservative Mikvahs

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) on Monday morning presented a compromise solution for the problem caused by last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling siding with the demands of Reform and Conservative petitioners for equal access to state-run mikvahs-ritual baths. Last February, the Supreme Court ruled that local religious councils must make state-run mikvahs available for conversion ceremonies run by Israeli Reform and Conservative clergy.

Last week, the Knesset Interior Committee debated a bill proposed by Shas and UTJ, the two ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, determining that the use of public mikvahs in Israel will be conducted strictly according to halakha and under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) for his part on Friday announced that he plans to submit the bill in order to prevent the implementation of the court’s ruling. This would be in keeping with the coalition agreement between UTJ and Likud, which says that each time the Supreme Court issues a ruling that jeopardizes issues close to the heart of the Orthodox-Jewish party, the government must submit a bill to bypass the court.

Gafni, who argued that the court’s new ruling violates the national status quo on issues of religion and state, also cited the coalition’s obligation to maintain the same status quo.

Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, an Orthodox Jew who was part of the unanimous decision in favor of the Reform and Conservative petitioners, suggested in his ruling that the religious council in question, in Be’er Sheva, illegally segregated against Israeli citizens. “From the moment the state has constructed public mikvahs and made them available to the public — including for use in conversions — it cannot practice inequality in their usage,” Elyakim wrote. Rubinstein added that “the state’s decision not to supervise dipping in the mikvah that is conducted as part of a private conversion does not justify preventing it.”

One of the other two judges on the panel was Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab. Chief Justice Miriam Naor was the third judge. It should be noted that while last week Ha’aretz complained about a decision by Judge Rubinstein favoring the Chief Rabbinate, implying he should have recused himself from deciding Orthodox Jewish issues because he wears a yarmulke (sic), the same paper did not make a similar complaint in this case.

The MK Bitan compromise will suspend the application of the Mikvah law for nine months, during which time two to four mikvahs would be built for the Reform and Conservative public. The Jewish Agency is expected to bear the costs of construction. Meanwhile, the coalition would work on a softer version of the Shas-UTJ bill, which would skirt the Supreme Court ruling but not actually bypass it. The first draft was scheduled to be presented to the Interior committee Monday morning.

According to MK Bitan, “We are not planning to pass a Supreme Court bypassing law, but instead to find solutions to the problems raised by the court’s ruling. According to the understanding, we will build between two to four mikvahs in various locations in the country for the Reform and Conservative public so they can dip there according to their method.” Bitan stressed that “we must maintain equality for everyone in spending resources.”

A Haredi party source that spoke to JNi.media on the condition of anonymity said the Bitan compromise will most likely be accepted since it does not actually compel religious councils to share existing mikvahs with the Reform and Conservative, but allocates to them new mikvahs. Nevertheless, the Haredi coalition parties are likely going to be subjected to attacks from the Haredi media, which see the very idea of allowing the two non-Orthodox movement a foot in the door as ushering disaster. Some in the Haredi media, such as Ha’peles, would like to see the Haredi parties using their critical role in Netanyahu’s small coalition to extract deeper concessions regarding the non-Orthodox mikvahs.

JNi.Media

Haredi Party Spearheading Effort to Protect Israeli Religious Charities from US Tax Authorities

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.

It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.

According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”

MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”

MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”

The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.

Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.

According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.

JNi.Media

Shas MK Deri Calls Hareidi Assault on IDF Officer ‘Terror’

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and several Knesset Members expressed outrage on Friday after Hareidim attacked an IDF officer’s car when he ventured into the Jerusalem neighborhood to visit two of his soldiers.

One of them is a lone soldier, without family in Israel, and the other recently lost his grandfather.

The officer, who is from Kiryat Arba, escaped with bruises after the Hareidi attackers smashed the back window of his private vehicle, whose windows were reinforced against Arab rock-throwers on the highway between Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem.

“They had murder in their eyes,” the soldier told his mother, according to Yediot Acharonot. “They were just like terrorists in encountered in Gaza,” he added. The 21-year-old officer saw action in Gaza in the Protective Edge counter-terrorist operation against Hamas last summer.

A rising number of Hareidim who enlist in the IDF has made a minority of extremists even more violent in their opposite to anything that hints of Zionism.

They are subservient to their rabbis, who so far have not taught that there is no mitzvah in physically attacking a fellow Jew.

Aryeh Deri, chairman of the Hareidi Shas Sephardi party, called the attack “terror.” Yehadut HaTorah (UTJ) MK Yaakov Litzman said, “Attacking a soldier by extremists is a red line that must be condemned. Use of violence of any kind is sacrilegious.

UTJ Knesset Member Uri Maklev called the incident “terror” and charged that the extremist gang is headquartered in Beit Shemesh. He also accused the police of negligence by ignoring the gang.

He told Kikar Shabbat:

This is a gang of extremists who are more violent to other Hareidim than they are to the general public. It is the same group that once attacked [Hareidi] MK Moshe Gafni and the late Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. The police know the identity of some of their leaders but surrender and do nothing about it.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the attack, “This is an outrageous incident, and the lawbreakers who raised a hand against an IDF officer should be prosecuted. Military service is a source of pride. The IDF is the people’s army that protects us all. Population groups from all of Israeli society serve in it – that’s how it was and how it will continue to be.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Likud Begins Coalition Building

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Likud has begun the process of building a coalition.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that reality isn’t taking a break, and the citizens of Israel expect to quickly have a government.

Netanyahu’s goal is to have a government formed within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Netanyahu has already spoken with all the party leaders he plans to invite to join in his coalition, including: Naftali Bennett (Bayyit Yehudi), Moshe Kachlon (Kulanu), Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni (UTJ).

Earlier today, Labor chief Yitzchak Herzog called up Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Gafni Says UTJ Will Only Go with Right

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Moshe Gafni, the co-chairman of the Chareidi UTJ party said, “Rav Shach would never let us go with the Left, Degel HaTorah [Gafni’s faction in UTJ] has never gone with a leftwing government.”

The statements were made at a Degel HaTorah party meeting to party leaders and activists, according to a Bechadarei Chareidim video and report.

Actually, in July 1999, UTJ (and Moshe Gafni) sat in Ehud Barak’s leftwing government, side by side with Meretz (along with Shas, Liberman’s Yisrael B’Aliyah and the Mafdal).

To their credit, UTJ left the coalition in September of 1999, due to an open breach of Shabbat by the government when it ordered the transport of a large turbine generator for the electric company on Shabbat.

Gafni said that Degel HaTorah would have no problem going with the Left, in fact the Left would make sure the Chareidim receive even more money from the government.

But, Gafni said, Rav Shach [Degel HaTorah’s late spiritual founder] said the party needed to worry about the children of the non-religious who are learning in the public schools, over a million of them, who don’t know what is “Shema Yisrael,” implying that a Rightwing government helps in that area.

After the UTJ party became excluded from the current coalition, Gafni became an extremely vocal and enraged voice against the “Dati-Leumi” sector, even going as far as threatening to destroy Hesder Yeshivas and dry out the settlements in revenge when he gets back in power particularly in response to the Shaked Enlistment Law.

It appears Gafni’s pronouncement regarding the Left was made in reaction to Aryeh Deri’s recent statement that the Shas party would not join a leftwing government, which then put pressure on UTJ to also declare their allegiances for their rightfully concerned voters.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gafni-says-utj-will-only-go-with-right/2015/02/08/

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