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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’

Netanyahu Representative in DC to Negotiate $38 Billion Aid Deal

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Brigadier General Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting National Security Council, arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to meet with President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in preparations for signing a new US military aid package. The new US aid deal, which the two governments have been negotiating since November 2015, awards Israel $38 billion over 10 years.

Nagel met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to work out the final details before leaving for Washington — including the text of the official announcements. The new aid package is expected to average $3.8 billion a year, a considerable cut from Netanyahu’s initial request for $4.5 billion. The deal is also contingent on Israel agreeing not to approach Congress for additional funds, as in the case of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which Congress has been paying for outside the annual aid package. Now an estimated $5 billion out of the package will be spent over 10 years on missile defense development.

In other words, the new aid package is only adding $300 million to the previous amount. To remind you, the sum of $3 billion annually was set during the Camp David peace negotiations with Egypt, as compensation to Israel for giving up the Sinai peninsula as a military asset. That amount has never been raised in close to 40 years, even though the current value of that annual package would have been $10.48 billion.

The critical disagreement between the two sides over the current deal has been whether or not Israel could continue to invest a percentage of the aid package in Israeli made military products. The Obama Administration wanted the entire amount to stay in US corporations, which would have been devastating to Israeli manufacturers and to the IDF. A short episode during the 2014 Gaza War, in which the Obama Administration stopped shipping to Israel all defense items, including Hellfire missiles, served as a memorable lesson to the Israeli security apparatus about the need to increase its self-reliance.

The new deal ended up adding six years in which Israel can continue to spend as much as 26% of the US aid money on Israeli made products, as well as another 13% for fuel purchases. By the seventh year, or halfway into Clinton’s or Trump’s second term, the Israeli military industrial complex would have to quit US aid cold turkey — Unless Netanyahu or his successor is able to renegotiate that part — depending on who is in the White House and who controls Congress at the time.

David Israel

Netanyahu, Luxembourg PM Bettel Meet In Jerusalem

Monday, September 12th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel toasted strong diplomatic ties between the two countries Monday and pledged to build on an already strong economic relationship.

“We are friends, Luxembourg and Israel, and our bilateral relations are excellent on the political level but also on the business level,” said Bettel. “We have a big economic delegation that is currently in discussions with its counterparts here in Israel.”

Bettel’s visit follows a 2015 trade mission from Luxembourg to Israel focusing on the finance, logistics, automotive components and clean technology sectors. This summer, a delegation of Israeli financial technology (fintech) companies reciprocated with a week-long visit to the European country.

“Trade between Luxembourg and Israel nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015. There is still a large potential but I’m also happy that we opened a Trade and Investment Office here in Israel in 2010,” Bettel added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bilateral relationship between Israel and Luxembourg demonstrates a unique ability for small countries to assume leadership roles in the field of innovation.

“Israel and Luxembourg are two small countries but we’ve shown that two small countries shouldn’t be judged by our size,” said Netanyahu. “Innovation is the key to economic growth, to turn the promise of tomorrow’s technologies to better the lives of our peoples and I think for the peoples around the world,” the Israeli prime minister added.

Prime Minister Bettel said an additional focus of his visit to Israel is the field of education. He will visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to sign an agreement between universities to strengthen cooperation on the academic and student levels.

Jerusalem’s ties with Luxembourg have not always run smoothly. A significant portion of the European country’s population collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II, and did not offer an official apology until June 2015.

“I’m very happy that my Government, 70 years later, apologized to the Jewish community by saying that we were not all heroes in my country,” said Luxembourg’s Prime Minister. “It’s never too late to recognize mistakes, but the biggest mistake is not to recognize mistakes.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged the apology, saying, “I expressed my appreciation for the forthright position that you took in Luxembourg regarding the events there during the Second World War. Your apology to the Jewish community was [also] deeply appreciated,” Netanyahu told Bettel.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

State Dept. Not Huge Fans of Netanyahu Video on Peace and ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ [video]

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

One of the disturbing points few in the media discussed back in 2005, when the Israeli government was strong-arming its 8,000 or so citizens off their lands in the Gaza Strip, was the fact that no one was entertaining the possibility of letting the Jews of Gaza become citizens of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, one of the things government agents took care of early on in the process was to disarm the residents of Jewish Gush Katif, so that they, too, wouldn’t dream of staying and defending themselves on their own.

Now one of the Israeli politicians who voted 4 out of 5 times for the program to exile the Jews of Gaza, including the dead and buried, then Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), has begun to ask that very question, this time regarding the Jews of Judea and Samaria: how come no one is talking about transferring the Jewish communities, along with their people, over to Palestinian Authority rule, as a legitimate Jewish minority with equal rights? Why is everyone insisting the area must remain free from Jews?

In a video he posted this weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking why everyone around the world is convinced Jewish settlements are such a threat to peace. Because while no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel are an obstacle to peace, having close to half a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria makes peace impossible.

“It’s called ethnic cleansing,” Netanyahu says on the video, noting that while Israel’s diversity “shows its openness and readiness for peace, the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.”

On Friday, State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau used her daily press briefing to rebut Netanyahu’s accusation, although a careful reading of her attack on the PM reveals she didn’t really answer his main argument.

The reporter who cited the Netanyahu video did a good job of digging up the key points, saying the PM is “talking about settlements and talking about the Palestinians wanting to have a state that has no Jews in it at all and saying that this is ethnic cleansing. And he also says that that demand is outrageous, that it’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find it outrageous. And then he says some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”

Trudeau responded: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.”

She explained that “settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties,” and the next line out of her mouth was: “We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace.”

So, to reiterate, 1. Shame on you, Mr. Netanyahu for using bad words; 2. We will deal with the status of those Jews in Judea and Samaria when everything else has been resolved; 3. Jews living in Judea and Samaria are a menace to peace.

Why? What if the PA and the Israelis decide that they want Jews living in a free Palestinian State, carrying Palestinian passports and enjoying equal rights? How then would today’s settlements have been a threat to peace?

Trudeau continued with the familiar, regurgitated statements about the thousands of new settlement units being built (we wish) and the vicious demolitions of illegal Arab structures in accordance with Israeli law, which the US should respect but doesn’t. She then announced that the US is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli Government on this. … We’ll have our conversation with our Israeli allies and friends and we’ll see where that goes.”

Not everyone in Israel is happy with the Netanyahu video. MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint Arab List, accused the PM of revising history. And MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said that with one video Netanyahu managed to wipe out her accomplishments in the Sharon government, guaranteeing that the clusters of settlements would remain part of Israel as part of a two-state solution.

Israeli rightwingers will probably start drilling the PM on Sunday, after they emerge from their Shabbat rest. They won’t be happy with the fact that the PM has so openly entertained the possibility of a Palestinian State as a given fact. But the points Netanyahu made were sound and they could go a long way in stirring the presidential campaign’s foreign policy debate.

JNi.Media

Leftwing J Street Going After Pro-Israel Regavim’s US Tax-Exempt Status

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of leftwing, anti-Netanyahu group J Street, sent an email to his group’s supporters announcing that he is pressuring the Obama Administration to revoke the US tax-exempt status of the Israeli (and pro-Israel) NGO Regavim in response to their supposed activity against the two-state solution.

The urgent need to harm Regavim’s US donations resulted from the effective work the group has done in forcing the Israeli authorities to apply Supreme Court rulings on demolishing illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria. One of the recent focal points of the Regavim efforts has been the squatter camp outside the Jewish community of Susiya, which the US and the EU insist must stay put despite the fact that its existence violates every signed agreement between Israel and the PA.

Ben-Ami wrote his followers that he was shocked to discover that the “settler movements” aiming to destroy Susiya are partially funded by donations from the US — including Regavim which has systematically mapped out the Susiya shacks and lean-tos, pointing Israeli police at the precise location of structures that violate the law. Ben-Ami sees this well-organized campaign to enforce the law as a threat to a future Palestinian State, which, he believes, must some day be handed the entire area.

Ben-Ami attributes to his organization’s work behind the scenes with the US State Dept. the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Liberman have responded to international pressure and postponed the evacuation of the illegal Arab squatters until November 15.

The president of J Street shared in his email how enraged he is by the fact that groups that work against “the future of the State of Israel” and in direct defiance of US foreign policy and “perhaps” even US law, enjoy a tax-exempt status in the US, which is why J Street will continue to pressure the US government to revoke Regavim’s special status.

Should Ben-Ami be interested in learning what happened the last time the IRS has taken on a pro-Israel group, he should Google “Z Street,” a feisty organization headed by Jewish Press Online reporter Lori Lowenthal Marcus. As Lowenthal Marcus and others have reported over the past seven or so years, the IRS was “slow-rolling” discovery in lawsuits about how it slow-rolled applications by conservative non-profits in general and Z Street in particular.

In 2009, Z Street filed for 501(c)(3) status and was caught in the net of IRS targeting for groups that opposed Administration policy.

An IRS agent confirmed on the phone that Z Street’s application had been sent for special screening for groups connected with Israel. Z Street sued the IRS in 2010 for political discrimination that violated the First Amendment, and IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations Group manager Jon Waddell actually said in a December 2010 sworn declaration in federal court that the IRS flagged Z Street because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”

“That’s hilarious,” wrote the Wall Street Journal last August, “since Z Street supports a country targeted by terrorism. But it also is untrue, which the Administration apparently knew before Mr. Waddell gave his statement to the court. In an October 25, 2010 internal IRS memo on the Z Street case produced in discovery, the IRS acknowledged that when Z Street’s application was being scrutinized Israel wasn’t on the list of terrorist countries, and that an agent may have been using an outdated list.”

If Jeremy Ben-Ami believes the Obama Administration is prepared to go after the tax-exempt status of yet another Zionist group — he should probably check with someone in the State Dept. Perhaps President Hillary Clinton would be inclined to alienate her Jewish voters and Israel by using the IRS for political purposes. It’s quite clear President Donald Trump won’t.

As to the self-congratulations of Ben-Ami on how he and J Street got the US and the EU to condemn Israel’s legal activities in Susiya — it stands to reason they knew all about it on their own. Why, the EU has been building illegal structures in Area C (which Regavim has successfully gotten demolished) without any help from J Street.

JNi.Media

More Israeli Jews See Trump as Better for Bibi While Arabs Choose Clinton

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

A full 62% of both the Jewish and the Arab public expect Hillary Clinton to win the November elections, while fewer than 25% think the winner will be Donald Trump; the rest do not know, according to the August Peace Index, a monthly survey of 400 Jews and 100 Arabs in Israel, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, which is an independent, leftwing think tank located in Jerusalem.

On the question of which of the two candidates will be better for the current Israeli government, 38.5% of the Jews in Israel pick Trump, compared with only 33% who think Clinton and Netanyahu are a good match. However, on the question of “whom would you want to win the US presidential elections?” 43% prefer Clinton, 34% pick Trump.

On the Jewish left, 86% prefer Clinton over Trump (9%); in the center 57% want Clinton over Trump (23%); the right prefers Trump (49%) over Clinton (23%), but more than 25% of rightwing Israelis said they did not know who was better.

In the Arab public, 40% think Clinton will be better for the Israeli government’s policy, while 31% think both candidates will be good for Israel and only 14% expect Trump to be better. On the question of “Whom would you want to win the elections?” 58% of the Arab public want Clinton over Trump (11%), with a whopping 31% saying they don’t know which candidate to support.

The August survey also inquired about the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is accused of killing an Arab terrorist who had already been neutralized in Hebron last March. 65% of the Jewish public justify Azaria’s action and uphold his claim that he shot the terrorist in self-defense out of fear that the latter was wearing an explosive belt. Only 25% support the military establishment’s position that Azaria violated the rules of engagement and shot the terrorist for vengeance. The rest, 10%, preferred not to answer.

Rightwing Jews support Azaria at an overwhelming rate of 83%. 51% of centrist Jews, and even 20% of leftwing Jews also support Azaria. Support for Azaria is at 84% among army-age (18-24) Jews, and even more, 95%, among Haredim, and 79% among national religious Jews. A majority of traditional and secular Jews also support Azaria.

51.5% of the Jews support a group of reserve soldiers who recently announced that they will not report to duty when called as long as Azaria has not been completely exonerated. 43.5% oppose the group. On this question, 71% of rightwing Jews support the protest; but only 31.5% of centrist Jews and 14% of leftwing Jews do.

The survey notes that these political camps are not equal in size, and the rightwing now constitutes more than half of the Israeli Jewish public.

JNi.Media

Roll Over John Kerry, Russia Eager to Host Abbas-Netanyahu Moscow Summit

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The Russian state news agency Interfax on Thursday afternoon released two short statements, one saying, “Russian Foreign Ministry confirms willingness to host Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in Moscow, preparations continue,” followed by, “Israeli, Palestinian leaders agree in principle to meet in Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry.”

Russian Foreign Ministry official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Tass on Thursday: “Responding to the appeals of the Palestinians and Israelis, we confirmed our readiness to arrange a meeting in Moscow between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

The Russian diplomat said she was concerned over the “deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement,” stressing that this could leads to the deterioration of the situation on the ground.

Zakharova said that after US mediation efforts in 2013 and 2014 had failed, direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict had come to a grinding halt. “We are convinced that there is a need to resume the negotiations, which would be a factor in normalizing the situation,” Zakharova said.

Zakharova confirmed that the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed in principle to meet in Russia. “It is most important to choose an appropriate moment for it, the intense contacts continue, including on this issue,” she said. “We are satisfied by how Russia’s role is in demand in the Middle East peace process.”

JNi.Media

Russia, Abbas, Pushing for Moscow Summit with Netanyahu

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday pointed out the importance of Russia’s role in organizing the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting of President Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, with high-ranking PA and PLO officials.

“During a confidential exchange of opinions on the entire set of Palestinian problems, special attention was paid to the development of the situation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip in light of Palestinian municipal elections set for early October,” the ministry’s statement said.

“The task to restore as soon as possible Palestinian national unity based on the PLO political platform aimed at the establishment of a Palestinian independent state coexisting in peace and security with Israel was also considered,” the statement continued. “The Palestinian leadership representatives underscored Russia’s prominence in organizing a reliable Palestinian-Israeli negotiating process, including the possible organizing of a meeting in Moscow between the leaders of Palestine and Israel,” the statement said.

After the Ramallah meeting, Bogdanov spoke on the phone with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is visiting Poland. “Abbas confirmed his unchanged readiness for continuation of active Russian-Palestinian political contacts in the interests of a solid and just peace in the Middle East,” the Russian statement said.

However, according to Abbas, who spoke to reporters following a Tuesday meeting with Polish leader Andrzej Duda, the Israelis have suggested postponing the initial talks in Moscow which had been scheduled, he claimed, for September 9.

“President Putin offered to meet in Moscow on September 9,” Abbas said. “I agreed. I was to fly to Moscow from here (Warsaw) to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Unfortunately, in talks held in Jerusalem yesterday between representatives of President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli representative proposed to postpone this meeting.”

“So, the meeting will not take place,” Abbas complained, telling reporters, “I am prepared to travel to Moscow or any other country for the next meeting, since dialogue is the only way to peace for the Palestinian people and the only opportunity for our independent country to live side by side with Israel.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I am prepared to meet with Abbas at any time for direct talks without preconditions. I have said this hundreds of times and I am reiterating it now. I do not care about the place, be it in Holland, Moscow or anywhere else – this is not a problem, and it certainly could be in Moscow. I have said this to President Putin. I said this on Sunday to his envoy Bogdanov.”

“The main question is, of course,” Netanyahu said, “whether Abbas is prepared to meet without preconditions. We hear contradictory reports about this. Just yesterday, Palestinian spokespersons made it clear that they are ready to meet but they have conditions – releasing prisoners, they want to know if the talks will have results, etc. If Abbas is ready to meet for direct talks without preconditions, I am ready at any time. I have been calling on him to do this for almost seven years already and if he agrees to do this – there will be a meeting.”

For the record, though, Putin’s spokesperson said that while Moscow supports the Israeli-PA peace process, so far there have been no specific agreements between the two leaders on meeting in Moscow.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/russia-abbas-pushing-for-moscow-summit-with-netanyahu/2016/09/07/

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