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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘netanyahus’

Netanyahu’s Can Do Minister Plans Gaza’s Offshore Island Harbor

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Yisrael Katz (Likud), who currently wears two ministerial hats: Transportation and Road Safety and Intelligence and Atomic Energy, has probably the most productive minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s three consecutive cabinets, being responsible for an unprecedented network of new, modern highways crisscrossing Israel and an ever-improving train service — all of which means that if he has made up his mind to carry out a project, it’s probably going to happen, and sooner than you may think. The project in question is the Gaza harbor island, which Katz has recently begun to promote.

Speaking at the 2016 Herzliya Conference last week, Minister Katz described his plan for an island with a port off the Gaza Strip, connected to the mainland with a three-mile bridge, with no residential buildings, and, most important—no place for Hamas to dig terror tunnels. According to Katz, an artificial island to be built on the high seas would also be a spot which was “not promised by God to anyone,” with no ideological ties to any of the warring parties in the region. This island would be built strictly for humane and financial purposes: permit the monitored, daily flow of traffic in and out of Gaza, provide construction jobs for the people of Gaza, and, eventually, who knows, there’s room for many imaginative ventures once you’ve gotten yourself an island.

“We can practically change the current reality,” Katz promised last week. And on Monday he told reporters: “I do not think it is right to lock up two million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest in making life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza [proper].”

This week, Minister Katz raised the heat under his proposal, announcing that Israel is actively seeking foreign investors to construct a $5 billion artificial island with a seaport, hotels and an airport just off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The island, comprising an area of three square miles (although once you start making islands in the sea, what’s to stop you from making them even bigger), would “ease the blockade it imposed on the Palestinian enclave a decade ago.”

Up until last week’s announcement, there were several alternative harbor proposals being discussed by the Israeli leadership, to help ease the pressure on Gaza’s civilian population without harming Israeli security. One was what seemed like an exotic idea a few months ago, of building an artificial island that would face the Gaza shore, where ships would unload their goods under strict Israeli control. One called for the harbor to be built in El Arish, a sleepy Egyptian town in the north-eastern Sinai, which is under Egyptian rule. There was also an idea to build a Gaza harbor in Cyprus. And, of course, there was the more intuitive idea of building the Gaza harbor in Gaza, but conditioning its operation on long-term ceasefire deals. Naturally, as soon as Hamas starts shooting rockets at Israel, Israel could wipe out their nice harbor.

Katz insists his man-made island proposal is under review by Netanyahu’s security cabinet, and showing “a lot of potential.” The experts are drafting plans on ways to maintaining security on the offshore island and inside the off-shore harbor. One tactic being proposed is closing down the bridge when hostilities flare up on the mainland. But with Hamas investing in training its Navy SEAL commandos, closing down the bridge may not necessarily secure the island.

Minister Katz wants the island to be built with foreign investments, and he would like to see the Saudis and the Chinese, as well as private Israeli investors picking up the tab for his project. Katz said Israel would allow foreign construction workers into its territorial waters for the project.

According to the Washington Post, citing a high level Israeli official, Prime Minister Netanyahu is “exploring the option but has not yet made a determination.”

The Palestinian Authority folks hate the plan, which they called “dubious.” The PLO fears that the man-made island would bring about “the final severing of Gaza” from the PA.

JNi.Media

Report: Habayit Hayehudi to Leave Netanyahu’s Government in Six Months

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

As the Israeli media continue to generate reports about the behind the scenes hectic negotiations between Likud and the Zionist Camp (Labor) over the latter’s joining Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government, Habayit Hayehudi—which stands to lose some of its key portfolios in the shuffle—is threatening to leave the coalition in six months should the threatened move take place.

But Labor is not moving in so fast, for a number of reasons: first, about a third to a half of their MKs, as well as many activists, object to joining with the very political enemy they have sworn to topple; second, Labor is leery of coming in as little more than a rubber stamp for the Netanyahu policies they oppose, without the ability to change said policies. Which is why on Friday Labor chairman Itzhak Herzog posted an ad on his Facebook page listing his conditions for joining:

Lowering the cost of living; involvement in the offshore natural gas outline; authority to act to block international boycotts (presumably by pushing the Jewish settlements under the bus); guarding the Supreme Court’s integrity (from the assaults of Habayit Hayehudi Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who is pushing to tame the hyper-activist court; eliminating “racist legislation”; starting negotiations with the countries of the region (is Syria available?); and implementing the plan to disengage from the “Palestinians.”

The ad was deleted shortly after it had been posted, probably because it was an open admission that Labor is indeed in negotiations with Netanyahu. But the content signaled a strong break to the left as the price for their joining, essentially wiping off most of Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman Naftali Bennett’s achievements so far.

According to NRG, Bennett plans to crash the Netanyahu coalition in six months, with or without Labor taking up residence in the cabinet. This is because Bennett must differentiate his party from the Likud. Last elections, Netanyahu’s message to the rightwing voter, which Bennett tacitly supported, was that it made no difference which of the two equally pro-settlements party you voted for, in the end both parties would be in government.

That generous gesture cost Habayit Hayehudi a whopping four seats, and pushed Likud up to 30 seats. This time around Bennett is determined to get those seats back, and he’d like to be able to tell his voters, simply: a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for Labor.

On Saturday night, dozens of Labor activists demonstrated outside Herzog’s home, demanding that he abandon his cabinet aspirations. The Labor youth is not enamored with the chairman, although he has brought in the highest number of Labor seats in recent memory. Herzog cannot risk a rift with the very people on whom he would later have to count to canvas voters and man local election offices for him. Or as young activist Ne’ama lazimi told NRG Saturday night, “You don’t serve Bibi, you replace him.”

JNi.Media

Netanyahu’s Choice for Ambassador to Italy Withdraws

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Israeli-Italian journalist and former Member of Parliament Fiamma Nirenstein, now living in Jerusalem, who was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu as ambassador to Italy, has withdrawn her candidacy. Nirenstein issued a statement this week saying she had informed Netanyahu she no longer sought the position. “I thank the prime minister for the trust he put in me. I would like to express my readiness to continue to contribute to the State of Israel as best I can,” she wrote.

Israeli media suggested Nirenstein gave up on her prestigious appointment in response to negative views by the Jewish community of Rome, who feared that Nirenstein, who only two years ago had served as an Italian MP, would cause charges of dual loyalty. Rome Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni said there may be problems, “Just read what’s already on the social networks about her dual citizenship.”

David Israel

UN Mid-East Envoy Not Thrilled with Netanyahu’s Free History Lesson Offer

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday angrily refused an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his lecture to the world organization on Jewish history. The PM’s offer came in response to a UNESCO resolution that ignored completely the Jewish history of key spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, most notably the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. According to UNESCO, both sites have always been Arab, and only Arab.

“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, “It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”

As a measure of correcting “this historical ignorance,” the prime minister, whose late father was a prominent professor of history, offered to host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.

Mladenov appeared deeply offended by the PM’s suggestion that his staff were uneducated. “If someone wants to issue invitations they should be sent to Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement. “UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”

It should be noted that after Israeli officials had hit the ceiling in reaction to the insulting UNESCO resolution, the organization’s chief Irina Bokova issued a statement acknowledging that “Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.”

Perhaps Netanyahu could ask Bokova to give that free lecture.

JNi.Media

The Right Moment for Israel’s Danny Danon?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

Lunacy.” That’s how Danny Danon describes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to hand over 104 killers to the Palestinian Authority as a “goodwill gesture.”

He’s hardly alone, as many observers (including myself) are outraged by this move. But Danon, 42, has a unique place in this debate because he (1) sits in Israel’s parliament as a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, he (2) is chairman of Likud’s powerful Central Committee, and he (3) serves as Israel’s deputy minister of Defense. In American terms, his criticism resembles Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 interview mocking Vice President Joe Biden. But McChrystal was gone within days whereas Danon continues to gain influence and stature.

Danon’s ability to denounce his own prime minister’s actions points to his not being a routine politician. Three qualities stand out: a devotion to principle, a mastery of tactics, and the ability to articulate a vision.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset's Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Daniel Pipes testifying before the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, chaired by Danny Danon, in March 2012.

Danon has remained true to the core principles of his party and his country. His righteous opposition when his party makes mistakes – such as the 2009 freeze on building residences for Jews on the West Bank or accepting the two-state solution – shows a strength of character. As he points out, “It’s not easy being in a room of thirty people, alone saying no.”

His rise through Israel’s national camp institutions reveals tactical skill: serving as assistant to Uzi Landau, as head of the World Betar Organization, then head of the World Likud Organization, as organizer of street protests and challenger to the prime minister for the party’s leadership. These efforts culminated in his strong showing in his party’s electoral list (coming in No. 5) and the jaw-dropping 85 percent of the vote he won in elections to lead Likud’s Central Committee. With reason, the Forward newspaper calls him “a master of social and conventional media” and the Times of Israel deems him “a major stumbling block toward Palestinian statehood.”

Finally, the vision: Its fullest articulation is found in his 2012 book, Israel: The Will to Prevail (Palgrave), where he sketches an ambitious and contrarian view of his country’s foreign policy. Arguing that “history shows us Israel is often better off when she acts on her own behalf … even if that means contravening the wishes of U.S. administrations,” he concludes that the Jewish state “fares best when she makes decisions based on her own best interests.” Jerusalem, he holds, should pursue its goals “with or without backing from her allies.” This argument, commonplace enough for most states, is audacious in the case of small, beleaguered Israel.

Danon’s moment may have arrived. As Netanyahu appears to be making excessive and immoral concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Danon has emerged as a leading dissident ready to challenge his prime minister (remember “lunacy”). Should Netanyahu feel no longer welcome in his own party and leave it to found a new one (following exactly in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 footsteps), Danon will be a potential candidate to lead Likud and win a subsequent election.

One sign of his rise is the invective used against him. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni coined the term “Danonism” and demanded that Netanyahu reject it. Gideon Levy, an extreme left columnist for Ha’aretz newspaper, disdainfully but fearfully writes that “little Danny Danon will be big, the sugar of the Israeli right. … [he] will go far.”

Looked at in historical perspective, since the taciturn but principled Yitzhak Shamir left the prime ministry in 1992, his six successors variously engaged in political betrayal, ethical corruption, and delusional egotism. Sharon (2001-06) abandoned his electoral mandate to the point that he had to flee his own party, even as his financial shenanigans had him in constant trouble with the law. Ehud Olmert (2006-09) had to resign due to a cloud of corruption charges. Focused on the Iranian threat, Netanyahu did well since 2009 but his recent offer of 104 murderers disturbingly contradicts the electoral platform of a half year ago.

Daniel Pipes

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/the-right-moment-for-israels-danny-danon/2013/08/06/

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