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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘National Union’

Naftali Bennett: Stop US Aid, Slash Israel’s Military Budget

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Naftali Bennett’s parents, Jim and Myrna, made Aliyah from America in 1967, and settled in the port city of Haifa. Naftali, one of three brothers, was born on March 25, 1972. He served in the elite IDF units of Sayeret Matkal and Maglan as a company commander and still serves in the reserves, at the rank of Major.

I asked Bennett if he would have to give up his American citizenship, should he become Israel’s prime minister.

“I’m not becoming prime minister quite yet,” Bennett said, laughing out loud, “but, obviously, I’ll follow the law, if I’ll need to forfeit it, like Netanyahu has done. I’m not even sure who needs to do it – a minister, a prime minister – I’ll do whatever is needed.”

(For the record, current US policy requires that a dual citizen renounce their American citizenship if they are serving in a “policy level position” in a foreign government. The same holds true on the Israeli side. Law professor Daphne Barak Erez, born to Israeli parents in the U.S., was named Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel in 2012, which required that she give up her foreign citizenship.)

In 1999, Bennett co-founded and was the CEO of “Cyota,” a hi-tech company making anti-fraud software which he sold in 2005 to RSA Security for $145 million. He is likely the richest politician in Israel – well ahead of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, who is worth about $40 million.

Perhaps because of his own experience with vigorous American Capitalism, Naftali Benett is in favor of cutting the 40-year-old umbilical cord that still connects Israel to the American Treasury.

“Today, U.S. military aid is roughly 1 percent of Israel’s economy,” Bennett says. “I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”

When I asked him for his opinion about the nominations of Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State and former Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense, his response was consistent with the former statement:

“I think it’s none of our business in Israel to intervene in American domestic decisions. President Obama gave us his word most vehemently that he would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon – he said it several times over the past year. He said he has Israel’s back. So I hope and trust that President Obama will follow through on these very powerful commitments.”

In 2006, a wealthy man, Naftali Bennett decided to start giving back. He began serving as Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, when the Likud was still in the opposition. He ran Netanyahu’s primary campaign in 2007 and continued to serve him through 2008.

Rumor has it that Bennett and Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, are not on good terms, to the point where Mrs. Netanyahu—who is as influential in her husband’s decision making as a political wife can be—will put her foot down when it comes to taking the former chief of staff on as coalition partner.

Gilat Bennett, Naftali’s wife, told Channel 2 News earlier this year that she could understand Sara Netanyahu, and empathized with her need to have a voice in the prime minister’s career, and with her desire to show that he “belonged to [her], too.”

In 2010, Bennett, in his role as Director General of the Yesha Council (the coalition of all the Jewish settlements east of the “green line”), was in an all out war against Netanyahu over the government imposed settlement construction freeze. The two are not on friendly terms, although Bennett insists on being cordial and even compliments his old boss now and then. Bibi’s comments about Bennett are outright icy.

I cited TV host Nissim Mishal, on whose show Bennett was ambushed quite crudely into stating that he would refuse an order to evict a Jew from his home—which turned into the media brouhaha of the week, earning Bennett ample condemnations from his enemies, and a 2-3 seat bump in the polls. On the same show, Mishal also suggested (“barked” would better describe his tone of questioning) that Netanyahu hated Bennett so much, there was no chance he would include him in is government.

National Union Chooses MKs; Uri Ariel Replaces Katz as Party Chair

Monday, November 19th, 2012
תקומה

Logo of the Tekuma Party, the last remaining faction of the National Union.

MK Uri Ariel was selected for the lead spot in the Tekuma party, making him the new chairman of the National Union, replacing MK Ya’akov Katz.

The Tekuma party was the last remaining party of the National Union, after MK Aryeh Eldad and firebrand MK Michael Ben Ari deserted the party due to its merger agreement with the Jewish Home party.

Eldad and Ben Ari complained that they were being forced out by being placed at unrealistic spots on the list in a deal that Katz had brokered.

The two left and formed a new party “Otzma L’Yisrael” (Strength to Israel).

Ariel has repeatedly said that he wants the two to return to the National Union.

Following Ariel, Tekuma/National Union’s list is as follows: former Rabbinical court judge Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Zevulon Kalpa, Orit Strook, Hillel Horowitz, and General-Director of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal.

The highest number of seats polls show the joint Jewish Home-National Union list is 13, making any further spots on the Tekuma list unrealistic, especially if Eldad and Ben Ari were to return and push other candidates further down.

 

And Now for Something Completely Different: Accountability and Unity in Israeli Politics

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The National Union will choose its list for the fifth time. I’ve been around for all five cycles and unity in our nationalist camp is more important now than ever.

I have been doing my best over the past couple of months to use my “neutral” position as the Manager of the National Union Knesset Faction, as well as the position of the next MK in line on the National Union list, to unify the ideological, nationalist parties for a joint run in the 2013 general elections.

Years ago, in 1999, I had the privilege of standing alongside Rechavam Ze’evy, Rav Chanan Porat and Benny Begin when they joined together to form the original National Union (HaIchud HaLeumi). Subsequently, as the Chair of the Moledet Party’s Executive Board, I constantly fought for running for Knesset on united lists, against those who, in each election cycle anew, demanded that we break away and run on our own as a soloist party, even at the expense of my own seat. As such, I feel that it is of the utmost importance that we all work together to make sure that the National Union, in its entirety, runs together with the Bayit Yehudi-Mafdal HaChadasha in the upcoming elections.

In 2006, I supported the joint list with the National Religious Party even though that meant my slot as 3rd in Moledet meant 16 on the joint list. I supported running with them in 2009 and I support running with them now in 2013. Once again, I have turned down opportunities to run on a breakaway list because I believe it is crucial to maintain unity in the national and national-religious camp, this time it was the option of running with MK’s Eldad and Ben-Ari. I remind our friends in the nationalist camp that it was these very political splits that enabled the advancement of the Oslo Accords.

Today, the Tekuma party will choose the National Union’s list for the 2013 election. I have decided to run because I feel that I bring three things to the table that no other candidate does – Unity, Experience and Anglos.

With Eldad and Ben Ari choosing to run on their own, it is of the utmost importance that Moledet, the only other constant in the National Union, choose the side of unity versus divisiveness. Only political alliances and running on joint lists will give us the power we need to have a real influence on the decision making process in Israel. This is the very clear lessons of the 1992 and 2009 elections. Together, we are strong. Divided, totally impotent.

I am among a handful of veteran political Knesset parliamentary experts. I started working in the Knesset in 1996 and have held just about every appointed job in Knesset or government, including top level parliamentary and senior ministry positions. There are few people like myself who can step into the position of Knesset member without the need for any on-the-job training or grace period.

I have been the National Union’s official English-speaking candidate for the last three general election campaigns. I was number 10 in the Liberman led list of 2003, number 16 in 2006 and number 5 during this term, in which the National Union won 4 seats. I have been one of the most recognized English-speaking candidates for over a decade.

My friend and neighbor, Jeremy Gimpel, dedicated his high-profile Bayit Yehudi campaign towards connecting with the large voting block of English-speakers in this country. Gimpel’s attempt at bringing accountability to the Knesset echoes my same attempts of the past and is not lost. Although he did not win a realistic slot in Habayit Hayehudi, I hope the National Union chooses me in a high spot to be the strong Anglo candidate that the nationalistic camp knows and deserves. There is no doubt that an Anglo at a high spot will translate into more votes for the party.

If I am selected to a high enough spot in the joint National Union-Bayit Yehudi list, I will be in a position to continue to work towards unifying the joint list with MK’s Eldad and Ben Ari. I will also work towards being your “Congressman” in the Knesset, with the level of connection and accountability that Anglos are accustomed to. Who knows? Maybe some of that will finally even rub off on my Israeli colleagues…

MKs Eldad, Ben-Ari Launch ‘Power to Israel’ Party, MK Ariel Warns of Damage to the Right

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari are leaving the National Union party to set up “Power to Israel,” with a slogan that translates, roughly, “No Duties – No Rights.”

In third place in the list is right-wing activist Baruch Marzel, and in fourth place right-wing activist Aryeh King, known for his efforts to enhance Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. In fifth place you’ll find Itamar Ben-Gvir, MK Ben-Ari’s media consultant.

Eldad and Ben-Ari announced their new party at a press conference in Jerusalem Tuesday morning.

MK Eldad, a renowned plastic surgeon who decided to devote his life to preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state, said at the conference: “We announce the establishment of a new Knesset faction, but you can’t talk politics without talking about southern Israel. At this hour, a million civilians are in shelters under the threat of missiles, while a government I can only describe as crazy continues to provide water and electricity to the Gaza Strip. This is one of the things we want to change as we stand as a new faction in the political arena. The lack of security in the south also reflects a picture of insecurity in central Israel. Terrorism threatens us from the outside, and the terror of illegal infiltrators threatens us from inside, and we will deal with both.”

Eldad described a vacuum on the right: “Liberman has joined Netanyahu and is now sitting in one list with Dan Meridor. Deri is dragging Shas to the left, to the Oslo days, and therefore there is a need for an ideological right-wing that will say things that have been forgotten: Without duties you cannot have Rights. The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. The National Union is collapsing, this is no way to run a political system. We bless our colleagues, Ketzele and Uri Ariel, who are returning home to the NRP. We have no doubt that they will take care of the national-religious sector, but we have a different agenda.”

Eldad was referring to MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel, his partners in the now abandoned National Union faction, who will be running to the 19th Knesset on the Jewish Home list.

MK Uri Ariel attacked Eldad and Ben Ari’s decision in an interview on Arutz-7 (owned by his partner, Katz). “I’m very upset about this move,” he said. “We approached them and offered in writing to go together and lead the National Union to winning a lot of seats and to serve as an anchor for the Netanyahu government, but, unfortunately, they chose to split.”

MK Ariel warned that Eldad and Ben-Ari will not pass the threshold vote (about 2%) and end up causing great damage to the right and to Israel.

Michael Ben-Ari explained that his new party “means what it says, it’s not just talking, it’s doing. We will join the coalition not for positions or budgets, but only for the implementation of the principles that will add power to the State of Israel. We represent loyalty to the people of Israel.”

As an example of wrongdoing, Ben-Ari added: “MK Benny Begin just boasted of transferring funds to the Arab municipal authorities. Are they paying municipal taxes over there? Are they paying income taxes? First do your duty, then receive your Rights, this is our message.”

Incidentally, a recent poll predicted that a new party headed by Eldad and Ben-Ari should pas the vote threshold and receive two Knesset seats.

National Union: Obama Vote Boosting Israeli Left

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The National Union (HaIchud HaLeumi) released the following short statement following President Barack Obama’s reelection: “Obama’s re-election gives a tailwind boost to the Israeli left-wing. The upcoming Israeli elections will be about building a national coalition that will help Netanyahu withstand the pressures put upon him. A Jewish coalition that is strengthened by the new knitted-kipa merger of the National Union and the Bayit HaYehudi parties, versus a weak, left-wing coalition with Lapid and Deri.”

Right-Wing National Union Facing Disintegration While NRP Is Thriving in Polls

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Two out of the four MKs of the right-wing, pro-settlement National Union, Michael Ben Ari and Aryeh Eldad may resign from their lame-duck seats and run on an independent list which would constitute the most right-wing party in the Knesset.

In an interview on Radio Kol Chai, MK Ben Ari explained: “I do not see myself as belonging to the National Religious bloc. I am National Religious, but I think the time has passed for Religious Zionism as a political sector.”

Ben Ari says he is “in full coordination with MK Aryeh Eldad. There is a plan to run together and unite with those who aligns with the ideological line” of maintaining Jewish ownership of the entire Land of Israel (Shleimut ha’aretz).

Ben Ari attacked his own current party and noted that in today’s reality “they know that the brand ‘Ben Ari’ is worth more than the two or three votes that each one of them would bring. Wherever I go, I take with me my 40-50 thousand votes. This is why they have to have me inside, but they want me at the tail end, so they throw me down to the 8th ot 9th spot? Why, am I their tail to wag with? My ideology is not good enough to be uttered on the leadership level of such a united list? Then my answer is an unequivocal no.”

“We will announce our independent run, and will provide the public with the details,” MK Ben Ari proclaimed, adding: “It Should be noted that my running separately will add to our power among audiences they have never reached.”

Ben Ari and right-wing activist Baruch Marzel are hoping to attract MK Aryeh Eldad to join them in their new, independent party. The National Union, with 4 MKs, is comprised of three separate parties, one of which does not have an MK.

Meanwhile, National Union chairman Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz has been trying to persuade—by some accounts, or strong arm—by others, his potential partners and their voters at the Jewish Home party, heir of the historic National Religious Party (NRP), to stay away in their primary vote from one of the candidates for party chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev.

In an interview Ketzale gave the magazine BeSheva (which is owned by his political base in the town of Beit El), the National Union chair said “Zevulun Orlev did not allow the uniting of our two parties for three years now, despite dozens of conversations we conducted with him. He prevented the move, and even when MK Orbach (current chair of Jewish Home) signed a partnership with us, he did so over Orlev’s objection. Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz was ready for signing, as was Naftali Bennett, who has actually signed a joint document.”

MK Katz pointed out that virtually every National Religious voter favors a united list for the coming elections, but because of MK Orlev their wishes have been quashed.

“If we had been united since three years ago, today we could have been in the midst of a great movement forward, which would have been joined by a large group of voters.”

MK Orlev’s circle accused Katz of trying to influence the democratic process in Jewish Home, which is holding its primaries in November. Chairman of the census committee of Religious Zionist voters, Rabbi Danny Trooper, was also critical of MK Katz.

Rabbi Tropper told the website Srugim that “Ketzale is committing gross and improper interference in the affairs of another party, which is conducting a democratic process” that is already showing results in a bump to 5 projected seats in the polls published today and yesterday, “while the National Union, which refused to participate in the primaries for the leadership of Religious Zionism, has been weakened to the brink of barely getting past the two-seat threshold.”

Bayit Yehudi Membership Drive Results Surprises

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Following a short but intense membership drive, the Bayit Yehudi party announced that over 53,000 members have signed up. This number is expected to drop to around 48,000 once duplicates and disqualified applications are filtered out. More than half signed up via the Internet.

While this number still falls short of the 70,000 that the Bayit Yehudi candidates claimed to have brought in all together, it is above the 40,000 count that was unofficially released almost 2 weeks ago. More importantly, the number is reminiscent of the membership numbers the Mafdal party (as it was formerly called, as well as NRP – National Religious Party) used to have in it’s heyday, perhaps indicating that this National-Religious Party is making a comeback from irrelevancy.

In the last election, Bayit Yehudi had only 3 Knesset seats, while at it’s peak it had 12 seats.

One factor that will help Bayit Yehudi in the upcoming elections is if it decides to run together with the religious, right-wing National Union party (Ichud Haleumi). Polls have indicated the 2 parties will do better if they run together on a joint list, rather than if they run separately.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bayit-yehudi-membership-drive-results-surprises/2012/09/19/

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