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July 23, 2016 / 17 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Naftali Bennett’

FM Kahlon Tussles With Netanyahu Over Casinos in Eilat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon apparently is teaming up with Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a minor political brawl against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The argument is over funding, as usual – this time, a plan to open a casino in Eilat.

In the past Kahlon has sidestepped the issue altogether by saying, “Everyone knows there will not be a casino here.”

The Finance Ministry has taken steps to block gambling activities that target Israelis and others who have low incomes and difficulty walking away from their hopes for easy money.

“Last week we decided to put an end to slot machines and horse races – gambling activities that ruin families. These machines are placed in poor neighborhoods to sell them illusions and hopes while taking money out of their pockets,” Kahlon said, according to the Globes business news site.

“Sadly, this has been going on since 2003 – it has been talked about for years and we decided to take action; soon we’ll remove them, and Mifal HaPayis can scrap them as far as I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head a commission to look into the possibility of developing a gambling spot in the southern resort city.

But Kahlon told journalists at the start of the Kulanu faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday: “The State of Israel does not need casinos. It needs to provide education, values, and jobs – not a casino.”

Hana Levi Julian

Bennett: ‘You Can’t Be in Favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while Establishing the State of Palestine in English.’

Monday, June 6th, 2016

On Sunday night, during the celebrations of Jerusalem Liberation Day at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, the academic crown jewel of the rightwing Greater Israel movement, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett flatly accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of lying about his true intentions regarding a Palestinian State. “You can’t be in favor of Eretz Israel in Hebrew while establishing the State of Palestine in English,” he said, obviously pointing to the PM, who was present at the same ceremony, and accusing him of telling his voters (in Hebrew) during the last campaign that he was opposed to dividing the land, while scheming with foreign dignitaries and a number of Israeli politicians to bring on some form of the two-state solution.

The relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) is about as bad as can be, feeding on 20 years of bad blood, resentments, betrayals and condescension. Ten years ago, after fighting in the 2006 Lebanon War, Bennett served as chief of staff for Netanyahu, who was then the opposition leader. He helped Netanyahu dig his way up from a deep electoral hole, but couldn’t get along with Mrs. Netanyahu (few could). Eventually, in 2008, Bennett and his political partner, Ayelet Shaked, set out to carve their own path among Israel’s rightwing voters.

When they returned victorious in 2013, with 12 seats, as leaders of a National Religious Party that everyone had been certain was going to leave the political stage — they were considered Netanyahu’s natural coalition partners — but Sara Netanyahu put down her foot. Instead of a negotiation between friends, Bennett et al were put through the wringer. It took the intervention of a third party leader, MK Yair Lapid, who forged an ad hoc, mutual-benefit alliance with Bennett, to finally open the door. Then, after the 2015 elections, when Bennett generously endorsed Netanyahu’s message that it made no difference if the settler community voted for Likud or for his own party, because he had been promised they’d all be part of the same winning coalition in the end — Bennett ended up as the last man the PM had turned to for a government post. Promises of the Defense Ministry were reneged on, and Bennett, a party chairman, ended up with a second-tier portfolio. Mind you, Bennett believes a full five of Likud’s 30 Knesset seats should have gone to him. That’s ten years’ worth of resentment.

And now, as Netanyahu continues his pursuit of a broader coalition with MK Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp (Labor), voices in Labor are starting to say that they’d consider the offer only if the PM is sincere in his desire for a two-state solution, and the profound way in which he could signal that commitment would be by sacrificing the only dedicated enemy of the very idea of a Palestinian State, Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi. If Netanyahu were to go ahead and fire, or demote Bennett and the other two Habayit Hayehudi ministers, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel, it would mean that five seats worth of voters who believed Netanyahu was just as anti-two-state as Bennett, actually cast their vote to get themselves and their families evicted from their homes and lands. There’s plenty to resent there.

“There are some, in Israel and the world, who join various Arab initiatives according to which we would divide the land, divide–God forbid–Jerusalem, and return to the 1967 lines,” Bennett said, “because the world is pressuring, and we must appease them. I tell these individuals tonight: never.”

As to the dual-language policy, Bennett told Netanyahu: “It’s time to say in a clear voice: the Land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel. In Hebrew, English, Russian and French, in summer, in winter, during elections and when there are no elections. Why? Because the world is listening to us. To every word we say. The world recognizes weakness, just as it recognizes strength. The world sniffs whenever we are not certain of our right to the land, and attacks us with the fury of boycotts.”

It was a painful, raging attack, that marked the worst day in the complex relationship of these two politicians. But it would be a mistake to suggest that Bennett was acting emotionally. In fact, this had to be a well planned assault, ahead of a foreseeable dismissal of Habayit Hayehudi from the coalition. Even before Sunday’s de facto declaration of war, Bennett’s party was up at least three seats in the polls, while Likud was down by those same three seats — that was the Judea and Samaria vote. And should Netanyahu actually pursue peace negotiations at this juncture, those three seats could grow to become five, putting in risk Likud’s numeric supremacy in the next Knesset.

It was such an aggressive attack on Bennett’s part, that the pushback had to come from Likud’s own rightwing, pro-settlements wing: an anonymous Likud senior official was cited by the press, but everyone knew it was Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, who accused Bennett of hypocrisy—since he had lived comfortably in the previous coalition government with Minister Tzipi LIvni, while the latter was in charge of the two-state negotiations. Elkin, speaking as senior anonymous Likud man, also said it was Bennett who was threatening the stability of the most rightwing government in Israel’s history.

In the end, the cooling down of the internal fighting came from the new defense minister, Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), also a former Netanyahu lieutenant in Likud who broke up with the boss and has maintained a terrible personal relationship with him, complete with bad blood and burgeoning resentments. Liberman said Monday morning: “I call on Naftali Bennett to calm down. Right now we need fewer declarations and more coordinated, quiet work.”

“If he can’t hold back, I suggest he undergo surgery to remove his short fuse,” Liberman said about Bennett, in a bearish kind of humor.

Incidentally, you may recall that Liberman has endured his share of ridicule upon taking on his important new position, because in an interview Liberman had given only last April, he promised that should he become defense minister, he would demand that Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniya return the bodies of Israeli soldiers in his possessions or face death. There’s even a website counting the days since Liberman’s appointment and noting that the Hamas leader is still alive.

“I suggest to anyone who is asking me regarding taking care of Haniya to wait until the end of my term, and not [harass me] in my first week in office,” the new defense minsiter said.

Except that in that interview Liberman actually said Haniya should be counting his days on this earth from Liberman’s first day in office. So the inquiries are certainly legitimate.

JNi.Media

Jewish-Muslim Medical Center to Rise at Ariel University

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Members of the board of governors of Ariel University visited President Reuven Rivlin Tuesday to announce the establishment of a new joint Jewish-Muslim regional medical center.

The initiative is being launched with the support of the Helmsley Trust, within the framework of the university’s School of Health Sciences.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Ariel University Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad and Helmsley Trust representative Sandor Frankel were also at the meeting.

“It is clear to all that Ariel will be an integral part of Israel in any future agreement,” said President Rivlin, and congratulated those present on their work in developing the university and establishing the new medical center. The President stressed that the establishment of the ‘Judea and Samaria Academic College’ in Ariel 33 years ago, had been the result of a tremendous effort by many people, and said that he was therefore today especially pleased to welcome them as representatives of the ‘Ariel University’.

The President added that Ariel University, as its fellow universities, provided a first opportunity for significant interaction between the different communities in Israel – interaction and meetings that did not distinguish between religion, nationality, or sex, and were for the benefit of Israeli society as a whole.

With reference to the establishment of the regional medical center, the President stressed that this represented an opportunity to create genuine shared coexistence. He noted that while many had objected to the establishment of Ariel University, the new center was testament to the work of the university in serving to support coexistence, and build bridges of trust.

Hana Levi Julian

Pres. Rivlin Understands Arab Students’ Dilemma on National Symbols, Anthem: ‘Must Be Addressed’

Monday, May 30th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin is seeking a way to find the “shvil hazahav” – the golden mean – wherein everyone can find something to agree upon in Israel’s national symbols and anthem.

On Sunday, Rivlin acknowledged that the national anthem, ‘HaTikva,” stirs the hearts of the nations Jews but as such does not do the same for those in the country who were not born Jewish — and this issue must be addressed.

The president acknowledged while speaking with Jewish and Arab students at Jerusalem’s Himmelfarb High School that one “can’t expect loyal Israeli citizens who are not Jewish to say that they have ‘a Jewish spirit yearning deep in the heart’ (quoting from the lyrics on the anthem) because they are not Jews. Maybe their spirit is yearning for their country, but not as part of the Jewish People because they are not part of the Jewish People,” he acknowledged. But the dilemma is not one that is easily remedied, Rivlin said.

Rivlin made the remark in response to a question by an Arab student who asked if it was possible to change or add anything to the symbols of the state, so that Arab citizens can identify with it, and feel a part of the country.

The president deferred to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who had accompanied him to the school along with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “This dilemma must be solved by Israeli leaders, one of whom is sitting right next to me,” he said. “The question you are asking needs to be on the national agenda in the next generation or two. This is a dilemma we cannot ignore. It needs to be addressed by leaders, by members of Knesset who were chosen by the people,” Rivlin said.

“At this point, where we have to base the existence of the State of Israel on a Jewish State, and a democratic one, we have to hold on to and strengthen the Zionist dream which comes with and often causes friction with those citizens who are not Zionist,” he went on.

“I await the day that every Israeli citizen can identify with the State of Israel and not just the deep, important idea of the 2,000-year-old quest of the Jewish people to return to their homeland.”

Hana Levi Julian

Liberman Appointed Defense Minister After Government Compromise

Monday, May 30th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

The government cabinet unanimously approved the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman as Israel’s new defense minister on Monday afternoon. The last remaining hurdle preventing Liberman’s party from joining the government was overcome through a compromise deal that ended the two-week-long political crisis between the coalition parties.

The deal was reached during late-night meetings between Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The talks were brokered by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a hareidi-religious man, who proposed the compromise plan and managed to solve the dispute over the ways the security cabinet operates.

Naftali Bennett had threatened to topple the government and force new elections if a military attaché were not appointed to the security cabinet to provide its members with crucial intelligence such as that which was allegedly kept even from senior cabinet members during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

According to Litzman’s proposal, which was approved by both Netanyahu and Bennett, a temporary “security cabinet secretary” will be responsible for updating the ministers on security and diplomatic information until a new committee appointed by Netanyahu submits its plans to reform the security cabinet in several weeks.

“Starting tomorrow morning, Israel’s security cabinet will no longer be without a secretary to brief the ministers,” commented Bennett on the deal. “This agreement could have been reached a week ago, but it is good that it happened now.”

“It was not easy,” said Yaakov Isaac, a spokesman for Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) after the deal was reached. “But Minister Litzman managed to mediate an understanding between Ministers Netanyahu and Bennett.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Shaked Drops Bomb: Habayit Hayehudi Ready for New Elections

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who is also a member of the Netanyahu security cabinet, on Sunday morning delivered a punch to complement her party’s chairman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s confrontational stance regarding the need to revamp the communications between the security ministers and the IDF. Shaked told Army radio that Habayit Hayehudi is prepared to vote against the appointment of MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) as defense minister, thus blocking the entrance of his faction to the coalition, as long as Netanyahu refuses to appoint a military attaché to every security cabinet minister.

Shaked said this demand is not new, but has in fact been posed to Netanyahu by Bennett several times this year, and received no response from the PM. “Sooner or later, as cabinet members, we are given the responsibility in times of war, which is why we need to receive all the relevant information and be able to see the entire picture.”

Shaked revealed that Bennett had raised the issue at the coalition negotiations a year ago, and Netanyahu said this was not a matter for the coalition agreement, promising he would take it up with Bennett later. But, as is often the case with Netanyahu’s promises, later never came.

“This is not a party issue or a portfolio issue,” Shaked insisted, making clear that “we will vote against Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu entering should this issue not be resolved.” She explained that the issue is not very complicated: decision makers in war-time should be updated on the facts on the ground in order to make good decisions. “We just want to make sure the issue has been resolved,” she reiterated.

Naftali Bennett on Sunday morning has issued his most combative press release to date, stating, “I left hi-tech and entered politics after seeing, as a commander during the second Lebanon war (2006), what happens when the state leaders send soldiers into battle without knowing what they’re doing.”

I didn’t need a job or the money,” Bennett noted, “I swore to myself that I would not allow what I had seen to happen again. Our demand is as simple as it is dramatic: we want that the commander of the chief of staff and of the IDF, meaning the security cabinet, the body that makes life and death decisions, will stop being blind.”

Bennett insisted that “Right now it is blind by choice.”

Citing his fight with the IDF chief of staff and the defense minister during the 2014 Gaza War over the threat of Hamas terror tunnels that led into Israeli territory, Bennett accused the security apparatus and the prime minister of intentionally keeping the security cabinet in the dark, and, in fact, discouraging IDF commanders from sharing relevant information that might contradict the official military line. He blamed the fact that the war began too late and without consideration of the tunnels’ threat for the fact that the war lasted way too long — 51 days — and cost so many lives (63 IDF soldiers).

“I am not able to give in any longer,” Bennett declared.

Shaked rejected the announcement by Netanyahu’s office that yet another committee would be appointed to examine the Habayit Hayehudi demands. “There have been many committees,” she noted, pointing out that their recommendations have never been applied.

Finally, a coalition member party who votes against the PM’s legislation, in this case the expansion of his coalition, is subject to a swift dismissal of its ministers from the cabinet. When asked, Shaked said she was not worried. “We don’t believe this should lead to new elections,” she told Army Radio, “but if it does, we’re ready to run.”

JNi.Media

Kahlon Says Netanyahu’s Coalition Safe – for Now

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Kulanu party, says he will not be the one to bring down the government of Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kahlon told Israel Radio in an interview on Sunday, “The government will last. We have large, important challenges, and you can’t bring down a government every month, you can’t go to elections every year. The government needs to function,” he said.

The finance minister’s party holds the lion’s share in the coalition next to the Likud.

The reassurance followed a threat Saturday night by Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett who told members of his Knesset faction that he is ready to vote against the appointment of new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also a member of Bayit Yehudi, stands to lose her job if the party leaves the coalition, as does Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

New elections might still be an option, Shaked told Galei Tzahal Army Radio on Sunday.

In a Facebook post late Saturday night, Bennet said the security cabinet “commands the [IDF] chief of staff and the IDF, which makes fateful life-and-death decisions, must stop being blind. Today it is blind.” The cabinet ministers, he contended, “consistently have critical information withheld from them.”

Bennett contends “Saving lives I s more important than cabinet portfolios.” He has demanded real-time security updates, fact-finding visits to IDF bases and military zones, and easier access to classified information.

The 61-seat coalition is to be expanded by five more mandates when Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party’s membership is completed with his appointment as defense minister. But it may not survive the loss of Bayit Yehudi.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kahlon-says-netanyahus-coalition-safe-for-now/2016/05/29/

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