Posts Tagged ‘party’
The Social Democrats (SPD) have won roughly 33 of the 149 seats in Berlin’s state assembly, and will continue to lead a coalition government, although it appears that their former partner, the local chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), may no longer be useful, having finished with 17.5% of the vote, its worst showing since 1990. Going into the election, incumbent mayor Michael Müller led a grand coalition of his SPD and the CDU. Meanwhile, Berlin voters have welcomed the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD), giving them 12.9% of the vote and representation in the tenth regional assembly out of Germany’s 16.
The AfD, founded in 2013 as a middle class, conservative party, has adopted last spring a platform based on opposition to Islam, including a call for banning Islamic symbols such as burkhas, minarets and the call to prayer, under the slogan, “Islam is not a part of Germany.” The party is also opposed to gay marriages and denies the role of industry and technology in causing global warming. And it supports reinstating the draft in Germany.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung wrote on Sunday that the AfD gains in a major city like Berlin prove that the party “doesn’t just benefit from discontent in rural areas but can establish itself … in a city of millions that is known for its open lifestyle.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the AfD, who score as high as 15% in national polls, took 20.8% of the vote and finished ahead of the Christian Democrats in the state election in the northeast region of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania two weeks ago.
Incidentally, according to an ARD exit poll, only 32% of Berlin voters said they were afraid of refugees, while 55% said they saw refugees as enriching life in Germany.
The SPD is expected to form a new regional coalition government with the Left and the Greens, who suffered a 2.5% drop to 15.1%.
Mayor Müller warned on Saturday night that a strong AfD showing would be “seen throughout the world as a sign of the resurgence of the right and of Nazis in Germany.” Well, what do you know…
And so, as Germany is stepping once again into a period of economic and political uncertainty and the EU is still licking its wounds following the UK’s departure, the reader is encouraged to avoid reading history books, because they’ll only upset you.JNi.Media
The Labor Party Conference opened Sunday in Tel Aviv with boos and catcalls directed at party chairman Isaac Herzog, as the delegates were preparing to vote on a date for re-electing Herzog or picking the next chairman. Several delegates called on Herzog to “go home,” and some waved in front of him pictures of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
After the catcalls, Herzog decided to abandon his earlier plan to speak to the party conference, and the delegates entered the secret ballots phase right away. Party Secretary General MK Yehiel (Hilik) Bar yelled at the booing members that “anyone comparing the chairman to Putin better leave the party.” It was a reference to a photoshopped image of Herzog standing next to Edrogan and Putin that had been handed out by the chairman’s opponents earlier.
Meanwhile, herzog told reporters, “We expected an attempt to blow up the conference. I decided with Hilik that he lead a move to remove from the party anyone who resorts to violence at the conference. Trying to blow up the conference is an act of violence.”
Herzog was critical of MK Shelly Yachimovich, his predecessor at the party helm, who objected to pushing off the election. He blamed her and MK Erel Margalit of encouraging inappropriate behavior by delegates “with their violent and excitable style.” He noted a comparison Yachimovich had made last May between Herzog and a lapdog, as the chairman was being seduced by PM Netanyahu only to discover that he had been used all along as leverage to bring MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition government.
Yachimovich said Herzog should man up and that he’d been using that dog reference more than 200 times since May, and should pick a new bone.
The delegates voted in a secret ballot on having the chairmanship election either in December 2016—as Yachimovich and Margalit want it, or in Juy 2017—Herzog’s preference.
In the end, the chairman’s position was accepted by a hefty majority of 750 to 402 votes, and the primaries in the Labor Party are officially postponed until July 2017.David Israel
In a move that seemingly contradicts the conventional media views of his self-interested party boss manner, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday appointed two talented men to head two of Israel’s top military industrial institutions, despite the fact that both men have walked out on his party a year ago.
Liberman appointed Yair Shamir as chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Yitzhak Aharonovich as chairman of Israel Military Industries (IMI). The appointments were made in coordination with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu). The announcement of the two appointments said that “these are the most appropriate people for these roles and they will advance the companies they will head.”
The son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Yair Shamir served as MK for Yisrael Beiteinu between 2013 and 2015, and held the post of Minister of Agriculture. Shamir has already served as chairman of IAI, between 2005 and 2011, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak removed him from office. He was credited with the company’s stunning recovery, most importantly because in his first year as chairman he replaced 13 of the company’s 19 top managers. Under his leadership the company’s net profit grew from $2 million in 2005 to $130 million in 2006, with revenues growing from $2.341 billion to $3.148 billion by 2010. Shamir issued Israel Aerospace Industries tradable bonds worth $363,360. He also took IAI to the Russian market, established a leading position in the drone industry and launched four space satellites.
In January 2015 Shamir, whom Liberman had appointed party leader in 2012, announced he was leaving the party and would not run in the 2015 elections because of disagreements with Liberman over foreign policy.
Incidentally, in an interview with The Jewish Press in 2004, Shamir said that he did not believe in surrendering Israeli-controlled land to the Arabs, and criticized Benjamin Netanyahu for caving in to pressure too easily. Shamir stressed that Israel should do what it thinks is right without regard to what the world thinks.
Yitzhak Aharonovich in January 2015 announced that he was retiring from politics, and would not run in the 2015 elections, but did not spell out his reasons. His tenure as Minister of Public Security was marred with the escalation of terrorism in Jerusalem, including attacks on the light rail, a gas station, and the Temple Mount police post, several ramming attacks, the Har Nof synagogue massacre, the assassination attempt on Yehuda Glick, and countless riots on the Temple Mounts. Several high-ranking police officers were forced to retire over sex abuse violations. Aharonovich was criticized by many for his failure to instill law and order, most notably by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and by political rival Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi).
A former commander of the Border Police, Aharonovich’s only experience in corporate management was his one year (2004 to 2005) as director-general of the Dan Bus Company.
In 2009, Aharonovich was widely criticized and forced to apologize for telling an undercover police detective in Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station that he looked as dirty as an “Araboosh,” the Hebrew equivalent for the N word for Arabs.JNi.Media
The heads of charity organizations in the ultra-Orthodox society, commonly known as Gemachim, received at least a temporary measure of relief from the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), ahead of a new amendment of the Income Tax Act that takes effect in September and compels Israeli financial institutions to report through the local tax authorities on the Israeli financial affairs of US citizens. The amendment is the result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA) agreement between Israel and the US, which was a prerequisite for continued cooperation between Israeli and American financial institutions.
It’s not much, but MK Gafni demanded that the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel order the banks to give the Gemachim time until the end of June to resolve their status as public institutions, which he hopes would allow them to exclude themselves from the FATCA rules. Gafni envisions a tweaking of the amendment to exclude groups with deposits of less than $50 thousand, or holdings worth less than $50 million.
According to Chairman Gafni, the new regulations could bring the collapse of the Gemachim. “The Israeli government signed an agreement with the US government without considering the disastrous consequences for one of the most important enterprises of the Jewish people that has existed for millennia — the charity and mutual aid societies,” Gafni said, explaining that the Gemachim are “the only means at the disposal of a person under financial duress to receive an interest-free loan to get back on his feet.”
MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), Chairman of the Public Petitions, summoned Dr. Ilan Steiner, Director of the Bank of Israel Currency Department, to his committee hearing, to warn him against another aspect of the US attack on these charity institutions. According to Eichler, banks are being forced under pressure from foreign governments to close the accounts of Gemachim accounts, “in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ and stopping money laundering, the IRS and the American government have become supervisors of all bank accounts around the world including in Israel. Everyone has to go through their inspection, so the Gemachim have received a letter that they will not be able to keep their bank accounts anymore.”
MK Eichler told Dr. Steiner: “I hope that the Bank of Israel find a way to abide by the agreements with the US while not mixing up the Gemachim with the war on terror. The banks must not become a burden and a restriction on associations and charity organizations who want to help people and do not engage in terrorism. There are limits to the madness of the banking system. We must not allow the charity organizations and Gemachim to be paralyzed by American pressures.”
The issues of compliance regarding money laundering and the war on terror stem from the side benefits of an IRS act that was intended to make sure US citizens who make money abroad share some of it with Uncle Sam. According to the IRS, FATCA targets tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts, focusing on individuals’ reporting about foreign financial accounts and offshore assets, as well as by foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.
Using the US’ enormous economic clout, FATCA bullies the world’s financial institutions into reporting on their American clients to Uncle Sam. Under FATCA, to avoid being withheld upon, foreign financial institutions must register with the IRS and agree to report to the IRS about their US accounts, including accounts of foreign entities with a substantial US ownership. Foreign institutions that enter into an agreement with the IRS to report on their account holders may be required to withhold 30% on certain payments to foreign payees if such payees do not comply with FATCA.
Talk about working for the Yankee dollar.
According to The Marker, Gemachim stand to suffer three different ways from the new law: instead of permitting a Gemach to transfer money into their accounts, they could now be questioned regarding the source of the funds and whether or not tax was paid on them in the US; each deposit could be subject to harassment by the bank, in order to verify that it is not part of a money laundering scheme; and the Gemach could be saddled with a new definition as a financial institution, and as such would be compelled to report on its fund sources to the IRS or face criminal sanctions.JNi.Media
An Israel Radio/Rafi Smith survey on Friday revealed that a new center-right party led by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), former Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar (Likud), and still serving Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) would have won as many as 25 seats in the next Knesset, if the vote were conducted today.
The new, imaginary party, which for the time being is only based on the fantasies of the folks who conducted the survey and the 500 folks, Jews and Arabs, who answered, will apparently be the big winner of the next elections. Likud would be demoted to 21 seats (from 30); Lapid’s Yesh Atid’s rise would be tamed, only 2 new seats, from 11 to 13; the Zionist Camp (they really should go back to calling themselves simply Labor) would be crushed, from 24 down to 11; the Joint Arab List would retain its 13 seats; Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi would grow from 8 to 10; Yisrael Beiteinu up from 6 to 8; United Torah Judaism up nicley from 6 to 8; Shas would remain stuck with its 6 seats; and Meretz likewise with its 5.
The question is, even considering the above fantasy scenario, whether the Ya’alon-Kahlon-Sa’ar triumvirate, assuming they would be able to overcome their egos to allow one of them to lead, would be able to form a coalition and with whom.
If they go left, they could add Lapid, Labor and Meretz for a 54-seat coalition, which could rule with the tacit, conditional support of the Arabs.
If they go right, they would have to add Netanyahu and Lapid, for a 59-seat coalition, and then, possibly, Labor, giving them a hefty, 70-seat coalition.
But should the imaginary party not be able to forge a coalition, the president would then turn to Netanyahu, yet again, who would combine Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu, UTJ and Shas to get 53 seats, and then bring in an additional partner, possibly even the very triumvirate that couldn’t.
The fact is that even in their fantasy, the center parties find it difficult to make do without Bibi.
The same survey also polled the 500 likely voters as to their choice today without a dream team running: Likud goes down to 28 (from 30), making it still the unavoidable leader; Labor is cut down from 24 to 15; Yesh Atid goes up to 19; Kahlon’s Kulanu virtually disappears, down to 6; UTJ 8; Shas 7; Lieberman 8; Meretz 5, Arabs 13.
Which would mean the exact same players in Netanyahu’s current coalition could stay on, but they would have more votes to offer the slightly reduced Likud and without Kahlon. Netanyahu’s next government would then have a 61-seat majority, with Habayit Hayehudi as the second-largest partner. Kahlon could then be invited to come back, but on radically less favorable terms.David Israel
By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader and Zionist Union faction Chairman Isaac Herzog met on Sunday night to discuss the prospects of establishing a national unity government, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.
The meeting took place despite fierce backlash from members of Herzog’s Labor party and his political allies, who consider joining Netanyahu a betrayal, and recent polls showing Herzog’s support plummeting.
“I am not deterred by polls like these, which are about momentary fads,” said Herzog in comments to a closed conference aired on Tuesday by Israel Army Radio. “When checking them thoroughly, we can see that most of the public does not know what they mean, and still gives 30% support to the move, most of whom are from the bloc that I lead rather than the bloc on the right.”
Herzog explained last week that he will join Netanyahu’s coalition if he is given the “mandate” to deal with serious issues facing the country, including “to separate from the Palestinians” and “to make the United States and Europe our allies again.”
MK Shelly Yachimovich, a former Labor party head, is one of several of party members to strenuously object to a national unity government.
“This was an offer that should have been rejected with contempt long ago,” Yachimovich wrote last week in her weekly newsletter.
“It wouldn’t be a unity government,” she added. “It would be a right-wing government in every way, with Labor creeping in without conditions to get portfolios and positions.”
Opposition to a national unity government has also been pushed by members of the Coalition, including Likud MK Yoav Kisch.
“A narrow government that is faithful to settlements is better than a broad government lacking in values,” said Kisch last Thursday, implicitly claiming that a unity government with the Zionist Union would undermine the government’s ability to continue construction in Judea and Samaria.
“The very act of negotiating with Netanyahu is political profiteering and job trading. It’s disgraceful and constitutes a betrayal of the public trust,” Labor party MK Stav Shafir commented on Sunday.
Herzog dismissed such objections during a private meeting with Labor party activists in a recording aired Sunday on Israel’s Channel 10 news.
“If we can speak with Mahmoud Abbas, we can speak with Netanyahu,” Herzog said, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority.TPS / Tazpit News Agency