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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Moshe Yaalon’

Netanyahu: US Never Offered Us More than $38 Billion

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning opened his weekly Cabinet meeting telling his cabinet ministers that despite reports to the contrary, the $38 billion military aid package Israel received from the Obama Administration for the next 10 years was the highest amount that had ever been suggested by the Americans.

“I hear all kinds of background noise and disinformation about the agreement,” Netanyahu said, noting, “I would like to make it clear: We were never offered more. We were not offered more money, not even one dollar, and we were never offered special technologies. These are distortions and fabrications by interested parties; either they do not have the facts or they are distorting the facts, and they are, of course, showing ingratitude, and in my view this is the saddest thing of all, ingratitude to our greatest and best friend, the United States.”

The reports that suggested Israel stood to receive as much as $45 billion over ten years came from opponents of Netanyahu, most notably prime minister wannabe Moshe Ya’alon, whom Netanyahu had removed from the defense ministry, and former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who served as Netanyahu’s defense minister before Ya’alon. The reports also suggested that Netanyahu’s refusal to accept the Iran nuclear deal, and the fact that he dared go behind President Obama’s back to speak directly to Congress against the deal, is what cost Israel the additional funds.

But Netanyahu denied all that, insisting “the support for Israel in the United States is stronger than ever. It crosses political parties and embraces the length and breadth of the United States and it finds expression in this agreement. This is the largest assistance agreement that the United States has ever provided to any country in its history, and this agreement proves the depth of the relationship, and the strength of relations, between Israel and the United States.”

In an earlier statement, last week, Netanyahu also stressed Israel’s strong ties with the US, saying the “agreement illustrates a simple truth: relations between Israel and the United States are strong and steadfast. This does not mean that we do not have disagreements from time to time, but these are disagreements within the family. They have no effect on the great friendship between Israel and the United States, a friendship that is expressed in this agreement, which will greatly assist us in continuing to build up Israel’s strength in the coming decade.”

JNi.Media

Analysis: Obama $38 Billion MOU Designed to Shackle Congress, Fight Not Over

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Late Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement regarding the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US, saying: “In a short while, in Washington DC, a historic agreement will be signed between the United States and Israel. This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of security assistance to Israel over the coming decade. This is the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.”

A few lines down, Netanyahu wrote: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” and, “I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support, which crosses party lines and embraces the length and breadth of the United States.”

There, in the cross-section between the President and Congress, is where the drama over the US aid package to Israel will be taking place in the coming months. It also explains why the PM has embraced a deal that is, clearly, a step back in terms of Israel’s ambitions for US military aid.

According to Ha’aretz, citing senior defense ministry officials, as recently as last July US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and then Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon have reached an agreement in principle on a $45 billion aid package over ten years. Why is Israel now willing to settle for $7 billion less? Ha’aretz, typically, blames the cut on Netanyahu’s refusal to toe the line on the Iran nuclear deal, and his insolent battle against the President in Congress over it. But that doesn’t explain why Sec. Carter was offering the larger amount months after Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech in Congress.

Like all deals, the $38 billion MOU must still be confirmed in the Senate, first by the Appropriations Committee and then by the full Senate. One key member of the committee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who earlier this week told the Washington Post: “The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion. I said, ‘Tell the administration to go [expletive] themselves.’”

The 10-year aid package reaching its conclusion in 2017 was set at “only” $31 billion, but, in addition, Congress has been awarding Israel additional funds: $729 million in 2014 to help with the acquisition gaps caused by the Gaza War, as well as to help the development of the Iron Dome system. In 2015 Congress gave Israel $620 million in addition to the aid package, and this year the estimates are around $600 million. So that the aid Israel currently receives from the US is pretty close to the MOU’s $38 Billion. Israel will only benefit from an additional $100 million annually. For a country boasting a $300 billion annual GDP, this is the definition of chump change.

Why, then, did Netanyahu agree to an MOU that compels Israel to pay back whatever amount Congress adds in military aid, which would include an attempt by, say, Senator Lindsey Graham, to tack on an extra $7 billion to the proposed package?

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

The MOU awards the Israeli missile defense development effort $500 million per year, more than the $487 million Congress gave it in 2016, but less than the Senate appropriations bill for 2017, which gives Israel $600 million. By the way, Obama asked for only $145.8 million in the budget. So, should the MOU go through the Senate, Israel would lose $600 million right off the bat. And Israel signed a letter, as part of the MOU, that any amount tacked on to the aid package in later years, Israel would be obligated to give back.

A White House official said this is better for Israel, since “the fact that under our offer Israel can count on the administration’s commitment to provide a substantial level of missiledefense assistance for a 10-year period is substantively different from the missile- defense support it has received in previous years.” There’s some truth to it — rather than go lobbying every year for that money, Israel is guaranteed a moderately lower sum, it’s already in the bank.

“You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham is irate because the MOU was a White House attempt to neutralize the Republican Congress’s ability to forge an independent relationship with the Jewish State. They can continue to invite Bibi to talk to them against the next president, if they so wish, but they can’t give him a penny. Vindictive? Probably. But also understandable. This President spent much of his two terms in office fighting Congress over foreign policy. He’d like to leave his successor a cleaner slate, at least when it comes to dealing with Israel.

The MOU is also better for the Pentagon, which, together with the White House, can keep all the money going to Israel inside one, manageable package. Should the need arise for additional funds, Israel would have to go to the President, not Congress, and when Israel asks for something, Israel also has to give something. Also, in six years, according to the MOU, Israel will lose the right to spend any of the aid package on its own military industrial complex — all the money must stay in the US. Of course, by then Israeli manufacturers would follow Elbit and Rafael and forge partnerships with US corporations, but the jobs in Israel would be lost.

“I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers,” Senator Graham wrote on his website. “Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.” He added, “Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform. I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”

So, it’s obvious why the MOU represents a good deal for the Administration. But why was Netanyahu “duped” into signing the MOU? There are two possible explanations, and they both have to do with the coming lame duck session of Congress. Since last summer, there have been persistent rumors in Jerusalem and Washington that, once the November 8 election is over, the Obama Administration would spend its last breath on squeezing a 2-state deal out of Israel. To do that, the rumors went, Obama would join the majority in the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that push Israel against the wall. It would be ugly, it would be painful, there would be no support for the move from either the Democrats nor the Republicans, but it won’t matter. It would be a move that can’t be stopped by Congress, and Israel would, at last, bow to the pressure.

Did Netanyahu sign the MOU in return for an Obama promise to leave him alone between Nov. 9 and January 17? Perhaps. Of course, the above nightmare scenario is not something we would expect from any US president, except for the fact that President Obama has been so capricious and unpredictable about his bizarre “Arab Spring” campaign, that if anyone would dream up something like that it would be him.

The other point has to do with the conversation Netanyahu had with Senator Graham earlier this week, in which, we understand, Graham did most of the talking, and only part of it was taken up by expletives. The Senator from South Carolina, with Bibi’s blessing, can bury the MOU. He has at his disposal several parliamentary means of delaying it until after the start of the new year. It won’t be simple, and there are members on the Democratic side of the Appropriations Committee who are decidedly not friendly to Israel (Senator Patrick Leahy, Dem – Vt comes to mind) who would attack Graham viciously. But if Graham can drag this deal long enough, he could get it tossed and rewritten by the next Administration.

JNi.Media

New Management: Liberman Says Soldiers Shouldn’t Have to Consult a Lawyer on the Battlefield

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Israel’s still relatively new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday distinguished himself from his predecessor in the most decisive way, when he stressed that both the medic Elor Azaria who is on trial this week for shooting dead a terrorist who had already been neutralized; and the soldier from the Netzah Yehuda battalion who may go up on charges for shooting a psychologically impaired Arab who stormed–albeit unarmed–an IDF post outside Ofra, are innocent until proven guilty.

The statement, which contradicted former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s all out attack on Azaria only a few hours after anti-Zionist NGO B’Tselem released a video showing the shooting, before an investigation into the matter had been launched, was a more decisive note of change at the Defense helm than even the 50 sorties Liberman had sent into the Gaza Strip the other day, only 15 minutes after a single Hamas rocket had fallen in the town of Sderot.

The loud and clear statement from the Defense Minister that he will back his soldiers rather than sic lawyers at them will likely go a long way to improve IDF morale, because, as Liberman reminded reporters on Monday, “In the State of Israel, in a Democratic country, only the court has the right to convict, not the media. And as long as a man was not convicted he is innocent.”

Liberman also told the reporters that “soldiers cannot go out on a mission with an attorney attached to them. Which is why sometimes they make the right decision, sometimes they don’t. But we can’t have a situation whereby every soldier would be asking for legal advice before they go out on a mission.”

Liberman’s comments were made on a day when the Elor Azaria defense was doing exceptionally well, calling to the stand a witness that had been on the prosecution’s list but was not called up. Soon enough it became clear why the prosecutors chose to skip him — a platoon commander in Azaria’s company, he fully supported the medic’s version that the terrorist on the ground was suspected of carrying a suicide belt under his coat. In fact, the witness told the court he had advised Azaria’s platoon commander to open fire on the terrorist on the ground should he appear to be trying to detonate a bomb.

A sapper who testified earlier for the defense was critical of the manner in which the terrorists were being handled, as the order to move their bodies was given before the sappers had a chance to examine them for hidden explosives.

Since much of the trial hinges on Sgt. Azaria’s state of mind, and whether or not he really believed the terrorist on the ground posed a danger after being neutralized, both testimonies have boosted the defense’s case.

David Israel

Report: Government Supports Electric Company Blackouts over PA Debt

Monday, August 8th, 2016

According to an Army Radio report, the Israeli government has altered its position on permitting the Israel Electric Company to halt service to various Arab cities in Judea and Samaria for lack of payment of an accrued debt reaching $450 million. The money is owed by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) and the Palestinian Authority. A few months ago, the IEC began a selective disconnection for a few days at a time of individual Arab cities, the PA appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court and the court placed an injunction on the practice pending a hearing.

The state has now responded to the PA cities’ petition,with a supporting statement by deputy head of the Israeli National Security Council Jacob Nagel, saying that while the government has the authority to order the IEC to continue providing electricity regardless of the Arabs’ huge debt, it also has the authority to approve of the blackouts as a means of encouraging payment, and as of now the concerned entities, including the political echelon, have decided to let the IEC do as it pleases to recoup the debt.

This marks a 180 degree change in Israel’s traditional policy which preferred to spend Israeli taxpayers’ money to pay for the PA deadbeats, to prevent a global protest of how the Israelis are depriving the Palestinians of electricity. In fact, it was the current head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, who, back when he was head of the NSC, joined with then Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to compel the IEC to bite the bullet and continue to provide free electricity to the PA.

This, according to the Army Radio report Monday, is no longer the government’s position. The Supreme Court injunction will remain in place for the time being, but once there is a hearing, the court would have to abide by the opinion of the sovereign government and permit the IEC to do what it takes to collect from its PA customers.

It could mean those PA folks would be stuck without their Internet connection and the world would be spared many gigabytes of incitement.

David Israel

Police Continue Nightly Harassment of Minor Targeted by Outgoing Defense Minister

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

“The minor from Yitzhar” has become its own paradigm in rightwing Israeli media (leftwing outlets are yet to report this outrage).

A 15-year-old boy who, by decree of the former defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, was ordered out of Judea and Samaria, where his parents live, in the settlement of Yitzhar. It was an administrative decree, issued at the whim of the permanent martial law authorities that have governed the Jewish communities in the “territories” for fifty years.

Said decree was not required to specify what the minor from Yitzhar had done to bring on himself the wrath of the minister, it was simply issued, and turned into a living hell the life of the boy, his parents and his family and family friends inside the “green line” where he was forced to seek shelter.

The latter part, about the living hell, has to do with the requirement of Israel police to check on civilians who are removed from Judea and Samaria by administrative decree. Police show up around three in the morning, the preferred time for action by police everywhere, ring bells, bang on doors, wake up entire neighborhoods, because it’s what police do. And so, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that the minor from Yitzhar faced a hard time convincing his parents’ family and acquaintances — including his grandparents who live in Petach Tikvah — to give him shelter for too many nights in a row, because they need their sleep.

Take for instance last Monday morning, that’s very early Monday morning, when policemen and detectives arrived at a home in Karmiel, in northern Israel, where the minor from Yitzhar was staying, and picked him up for interrogation at the local police station. The reason was that the fax (what decade is this?) he was supposed to send police, telling them his address that night, had been sent just after the required time.

Ah, police harassment, that unique combination of abuse of power and contempt for civilians, it’s why Israeli police patrol cars don’t say silly stuff like the LAPD’s “To protect and to serve,” or the NYPD’s CPR: “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect.” It just says “Police,” and if you’re a minor from Yitzhar tormented by the remnant ire of an already deposed defense czar, you know that patrol cars only spell harassment.

At noon on Monday, the legal aid society Honenu represented the minor from Yitzhar against the police’s attempt to keep him in jail until they’re done prosecuting him for that late fax.

Petach Tikvah Peace Court Judge Hannah Schnitzer-Zaga refused to proceed with the silly hearing and compelled the prosecution to reach a livable compromise with the defense. So they did, and the minor from Yitzhar was released on the same terms as before, including having to send those faxes on time. Also, police were warned not to carry out those late night surprise visits they enjoy so much.

Honenu attorney Chai Haber who represents the minor from Yitzhar noted that “it looks like all of the country’s security issues have been resolved, because otherwise it’s hard to understand why law enforcement is investing so many resources in harassing a 15-year-old boy with no priors.”

No one doubts that police harassment of the boy will continue. Attorney Haber related an incident when one night, when the minor from Yitzhar found himself without a place to sleep, he walked into a police station asking for help finding shelter for the night — so they opened a new case against him for breaking the terms of his release.

MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Yehuda Glick (Likud) have requested an urgent Knesset discussion of the case of the minor from Yitzhar, whose life has been interrupted and uprooted for several months now by what appears to be Moshe Yaalon’s sheer vindictiveness. One man has the power to put an end to this cruelty is Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud). His email is gerdan@knesset.gov.il.

David Israel

Liberman Reads Riot Act to Army Radio Chief Despite AG’s Objections

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

New Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has spent his first month in office directing the military apparatus in substantially different directions, most notably his order for the generals to come up with a concrete plan to remove the Hamas government in Gaza — it turned out they hadn’t thought it would be useful to have one. And as the defense ministry and the army are starting to sound and act in a different manner than they did under Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), the new defense boss is mending the more ideological aspects of the military system. He has added his support to the chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s call to shut down the left-leaning Army Radio station, and on Thursday he became directly involved in the same station’s programming.

To be precise, earlier this week the Army Radio station devoted a program to the poetic works of Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008), a member of the Israeli Communist party who is widely perceived as a “Palestinian symbol” and served as an artistic spokesman for Arab opposition to Israel. In 1988, one of his poems, “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” was cited in the Knesset by Yitzhak Shamir (Likud) for demanding that the Jews leave Israel:

“O those who pass between fleeting words / As bitter dust, go where you wish, but / Do not pass between us like flying insects / For we have work to do in our land,” Darwish called on Israel’s Jews, and concluded: “So leave our country / Our land, our sea / Our wheat, our salt, our wounds / Everything, and leave / The memories of memory / O those who pass between fleeting words!”

Following the broadcast on Army Radio, which included Darwish’s texts in its “Broadcast University” series on “Israeli founding texts,” Defense Minister Liberman summoned Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel to a disciplinary hearing Thursday at noon.

“On its face it appears to be a serious issue, whereby someone who wrote anti-Zionist texts that are still fueling acts of terrorism against the State of Israel merits to be included along with his texts by the military station in the foundation texts of Israeli society, together with Jerusalem of Gold and The Silver Tray (two popular and very beautiful song by Naomi Shemer and Natan Alterman respectively),” Liberman said. “Obviously this constitutes an [ideological] eclipse which cannot be ignored.”

On Wednesday night Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit phoned Liberman to inform him that he does not have the authority to intervene in the Army Station’s programming. Mandelblit based his warning on a 2015 opinion by Vice Counsel on Legislation Affairs Dina Zilber, that ruled against ministers intervening in the military station.

And now Liberman decided to ignore Zilber’s opinion, which is almost unheard of in Israeli governmental politics. In many ways this might prove to be Liberman’s bravest act so far, and he may live to pay for it as an irate judicial civil service could rise up against him.

Already the president of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, told Israel Radio that the intervention by the Minister of Defense in Army Radio broadcasting was dangerous, and said that it frightened her. “I cannot believe this is happening,” she told left-leaning hot Aryeh Golan Thursday morning. Yes, the red wagons are being circled.

David Israel

Israeli Leaders Slam PA’s Abbas for Blood Libels and Lies in EU Speech

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
by Michael Bachner, TPS

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, responded on Thursday evening to harsh and false attacks voiced earlier against Israel by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas during his speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.

Abbas urged the world to take action against “Israeli atrocities” and repeating debunked rumors that Israeli rabbis had “called to poison Palestinian water supplies.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the speech, saying that Abbas had “showed his true face” in Brussels. “Someone who refuses to meet the president and myself for direct negotiations and who spreads blood libels before the European Parliament, is lying when he claims that his hand is extended in peace,” said Netanyahu.

The prime minister was referring to the potential meeting between Abbas and his Israeli counterpart Rivlin proposed by EU Council President Donald Tusk that Abbas bluntly refused to attend.

“Israel is waiting for the day when Abu Mazen stops spreading lies and engaging in incitement,” Netanyahu added, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “Until then Israel will continue to defend itself against Palestinian incitement that motivates acts of terrorism.”

Abbas harshly attacked Israel during his speech, calling its policies towards Arabs from the Palestinian Authority “racist” and “fascist.” He also said the PA is prepared to make peace with Israel — even as he rejected a single meeting with Rivlin while the two were in the same building at the same time, for the very same purpose.

“Our hands are extended with a desire to peace,” he claimed, directing his remarks to Israel. “We have the political will to achieve peace and we ask, do you have the same will to achieve peace and to acknowledge the historic injustice that your state has exacted on our country?”

President Rivlin also responded to Abbas’ speech on Thursday, expressing disappointment that Abbas has refused to meet with him.

“It is strange that Abbas repeatedly refuses to meet with Israeli leaders and then repeatedly turns to the international community for support,” said Rivlin in a statement. “We cannot build on the trust we have built if we do not start talking directly without intermediaries. Direct talks are the only way to build confidence and restore the conditions for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Israeli lawmaker and former Shin Bet domestic intelligence chief Avi Dichter, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also responded to what he called the “falsehoods” propounded by Abbas during his Brussels speech.

“With a series of historical distortions and crocodile tears, Abu Mazen today described the 1948 Palestinian ‘Nakba‘ [Arabic for ‘disaster’], without mentioning the fact that the Arab leaders in 1947 were the ones who determined their fate,” said Dichter.

“The Jewish leaders accepted the partition plan, while the ‘Abu Mazens’ of that time rejected the United Nations proposal and the Arab armies invaded Israel in order to wipe out the Jews and take 100 percent of Israel.”

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded to the speech as well, referring to Abbas’ claim that Ya’alon and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, recently called Israel was a “fascist” state. While Barak did make a similar accusation, Ya’alon did not.

“Abu Mazen is not only lying as usual, continuing his malicious blood libels against the State of Israel,” wrote Ya’alon on his Facebook page, “he is also exploiting the healthy democratic discourse in Israeli society, which does not exist in his society and is putting words in my mouth I did not say.

“Abu Mazen’s conduct, speeches and evasions of direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions are further proof that he never intended to go for an agreement, including recognition of our right to exist as the only nation state of the Jewish people,” Ya’alon added.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/276345/2016/06/23/

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