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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister’

May Israel Blow Up Terror Tunnels During the Cease Fire?

Friday, August 1st, 2014

At 8:00am Friday, a humanitarian cease fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect.

IMRA’s Dr. Aaron Lerner has posed a question to both the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and the IDF.

“During the course of the humanitarian ceasefire can the IDF detonate explosives to demolish tunnels?”

The IDF referred him to the Prime Minister’s office. The Prime Minister’s office referred him to a statement by the IDF.

Prime Minister’s Office declines to answer regarding destruction of tunnels during ceasefire Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA 1 August 2014

At 08:50 Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA reached David Baker David Baker, the Senior Foreign Press Coordinator in the Office of the Prime Minister, on the telephone and asked: “during the course of the humanitarian ceasefire can the IDF detonate explosives to demolish tunnels.”

David Baker replied: Ask the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

IMRA told Baker: The IDF Spokesperson’s Office says to ask the Prime Minister’s Office.

Baker replied: We have nothing to add to the reply of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

IDF Spokespersons Office: Questions relating to ceasefire to be answered by Prime Minister’s Office Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 1 August 2014

IMRA contacted the IDF Spokesman’s Office News Desk at 08:03 this morning and asked: “during the course of the humanitarian ceasefire can the IDF detonate explosives to demolish tunnels.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office News Desk replied that “all questions relating to the ceasefire are to be answered by the Prime Minister’s Office.”

IMRA has contacted the Prime Minister’s Office but has not yet received a reply.

In a conversation with IMRA when the ceasefire was announced Saskia Ramming, Spokesperson, Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, decline to take a position as to whether Israeli forces could detonate explosives in order to destroy tunnels during the ceasefire.

News reports on Israel Radio regarding the terms of the ceasefire say that “the IDF will continue to DEAL WITH the tunnels during the ceasefire” but it should be noted that the term “DEAL WITH” includes filling up tunnel shafts with dirt.

Israel Radio Arab Affairs Correspondent Gal Berger reported this morning on Israel Radio Reshet Bet after 08:00 that it is the position of Hamas that Israeli action destroying tunnels would be considered a violation of the ceasefire.

During the course of the previous humanitarian ceasefire the IDF Spokesperson told IMRA twice that tunnels could not be exploded during the ceasefire but the next day the answer became more complicated, with the reference to the use of explosive material during the ceasefire being an airborne strike against a tunnel entrance in defense of IDF ground forces under attack from terrorists firing from a tunnel opening.

Take note: when the count of destroyed tunnels was renewed after the end of the ceasefire – a figure not provided during the ceasefire – it turned out that there was the exact same number of “destroyed tunnels” after the ceasefire as before the ceasefire.

Obama Promises Peres A-G Will ‘Check Into’ Pollard

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama assured Israel’s outgoing President Shimon Peres on Wednesday he would ask Attorney-General Eric Holder to “check into” an offer that Peres made regarding the case of former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Peres’s office submitted his request to the White House prior to arriving for what will be his last official state visit as Israel’s president.

“I made an offer but won’t go into details about it,” he told reporters on Wednesday. However, he did discuss the specifics with members of the Pollard family, he said, before presenting the plan to Obama.

“If I share too many details it will just ruin things,” he said at the briefing. “I cannot say that [the president] responded positively on the spot. I don’t want to add to what he said, which was that the U.S. Attorney-General would decide.”

Pollard is entering his 29th year of incarceration in a North Carolina prison after being convicted in 1985 on a single charge of passing classified information to an allied nation, Israel. The crime usually carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in jail. But although Pollard’s attorneys worked out a plea bargain with the prosecution, during the sentencing a note was passed to the judge. Suddenly Pollard was charged with and convicted of treason without recourse to a new trial. His attorney had no access to the evidence that had apparently led to the new charges, which was locked due to “national security” — and instead Pollard found himself sentenced to life in prison. All attempts at appeal have since failed.

Since Peres was serving as Israel’s prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest, and since it was he who submitted the documents to the U.S. with Pollard’s fingerprints that were used to incriminate him, it is Peres who is most likely to persuade Obama now to grant clemency for humanitarian reasons.

He and Obama also share a unique status as being the only two current heads of state in the world who are both Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Pollard’s health has deteriorated significantly over the past several years, and the request by Peres is reportedly to be based on the issues of Pollard’s extremely poor health, the impact on his wife, and the length of his time already served — in short, humanitarian reasons. At age 90, Peres this year retires from politics and made a promise to Pollard’s wife and the people of Israel prior to his departure that he would try to win her husband’s release during his visit to the U.S. He is scheduled to meet again with Obama Thursday.

Gov’t to Start Weekend Buses to Yeshiva, Girls’ Schools in Judea, Samaria

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered financing for public shuttles to and from yeshiva and girls’ high schools in Judea and Samaria on the weekends, it was announced Tuesday.

The prime minister told his staff to allocate NIS 4 million (approx. $1.15 million) for the shuttles, which will apparently will operate on Thursday nights, Fridays, Saturday nights and Sundays.

The decision was made in order to discourage hitchhiking, which has become a way of life in Judea and Samaria in order to deal with the infrequent and inadequate public bus service in the region. Although there are numerous political and financial reasons for the sketchy bus service, the bottom line results in Jewish residents of all ages hitchhiking on unsafe roads at all hours of the day and night.

Last Thursday evening, the price for that fact cost three families their teenage sons: a terrorist organization kidnapped two 16 year olds and a 19 year old, all of whom were students at the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion. The boys were in Gush Etzion, hitchhiking home for the Sabbath when they were abducted.

Israel Facing Its Third Intifada

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

I believe the Palestinian Authority unity government has launched a third intifada.

Perhaps a quiet one, perhaps not. But it is undeniably clear there has been a sharp escalation in Arab attacks on Jews throughout the country since the start of 2014.

Since the beginning of 2014, more than 200 rockets were aimed at Israel from the Gaza region – twice the number fired in 2013.

And once Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas signed his merger with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal –- silent partners with the Iranian proxy Islamic Jihad – the number of attacks jumped even higher.

For starters, here’s what the week looks like so far:

On Sunday night Arabs felt comfortable enough to open fire in a drive-by attack on an IDF checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem leading to Highway 60, the main road that runs through the Gush Etzion tunnel and through Judea to the south of Israel’s capital. Five bullet casings from a pistol were found. Miraculously, no one was injured.

On Monday evening, here’s what happened:

  • An Egged bus driver on Bus #51 was injured when his bus came under attack by Arab rock throwers on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The hail of rocks smashed the glass on the bus, sending the broken shards flying into the driver’s face and body.
  • A missile launched from Gaza made it through Israeli defenses and exploded on the outskirts of Ashkelon. No injuries reported.
  • Arab terrorists attacked a car traveling on the main road near Azun; one of the rocks they hurled at the vehicle broke the back window and wounded a baby in the back seat. The mother, who drove, managed to reach help in the Jewish town of Karnei Shomron.
  • Arabs attacked the Beit Orot Yeshiva in Jerusalem, also Monday night, and succeeded in hitting the guardhouse of the yeshiva. They did not succeed in injuring anyone.
  • Two Arab terrorists attempted to infiltrate the Samaria Jewish town of Kochav Yaakov in the Binyamin region on Monday night as well. They were spotted by IDF soldiers trying to cut through the town’s security fence. The soldiers opened fire at the terrorists, injuring one of them. The injured terrorist was subsequently taken to a Ramallah hospital — but the second terrorist managed to escape. This is the second attempt by terrorists to infiltrate the town in less than 72 hours.

In the past 14 days, at least a dozen missiles were fired at Israel. Seven reached Israeli territory, including a number fired at Ashkelon. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system – but the falling shrapnel caused damage to the property hit by the debris.

Last Wednesday, a European Union delegation visited Gaza to express support for the new Hamas-backed legislators joining the PA unity government. Barely 24 hours later, emboldened Hamas terrorists in Judea crossed into Israeli territory to kidnap two 16 year old yeshiva boys who learn at the renowned Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, and their 19 year old fellow student. They were grabbed while standing on the road in Gush Etzion, heading home for the Sabbath. One of the boys had the presence of mind to dial police and managed to get the words out, “We’re being kidnapped by terrorists,” before his cell phone was cut off.

That was last Thursday night.

An IDF spokesperson announced the IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of Israel and will operate decisively against any act of terrorism. Strong words – but police took hours to respond to the yeshiva boys’ desperate phone call for help. Reportedly they were too busy interrogating other teens at a community where there was a report of a ‘price tag’ attack on Arabs in days past.

King Carlos of Spain Abdicates After 40 Years

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

In a surprise announcement, King Carlos of Spain has told his prime minister he is abdicating in favor of his son, Prince Felipe.

The announcement was made Monday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “His majesty, King Juan Carlos, has just communicated to me his will to give up the throne,” he said. “I’m convinced this is the best moment for change.”

The 76-year-old Spanish monarch, whose health is failing, has led his people for 40 years from the throne. Rajoy said he is stepping down for personal reasons.

Former PM Ehud Olmert Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve six years in prison. The judge also imposed a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000.)  He ordered authorities to seize NIS 500,000 in funds the former prime minister has collected from various sources, including numerous speaking engagements in the United States.

Olmert was ordered to begin serving his prison sentence on September 1, pending appeal.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen handed down the sentence in what has become known as the famed “Holyland trial” after Olmert was convicted on two charges of bribery.

The former prime minister was convicted of taking bribes from contractors who built the Holyland residential complex near the Malha Mall in Jerusalem.

The rezoning and other “adjustments” that came in exchange for bribes continued through the 1990s and into the next decade. These were the years in which Olmert served as mayor of the capital city and minister of industry, trade and infrastructure. Both were pivotal posts from which to smooth the way for the developers of the Holyland project.

Olmert was also recently questioned on suspicion of witness tampering and obstruction of justice, according to Israel’s Channel 2 television. The allegations are based on recordings given to police by former Olmert aide Shula Zaken, his closest aide, also convicted in the wide-ranging Holyland scandal. Zaken gave police the recordings as part of her plea bargain with the prosecution.

The Holyland trial has dragged on for years, tainting Olmert’s term as prime minister and shadowing the country’s years beyond while bringing down numerous aides and colleagues.

Before pronouncing sentence, the judge pointed out that Olmert is an “intelligent, brilliant people person” and called him an “avid Zionist.” He praised him for donating to bereaved families and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.

But he then sharply reprimanded the former state leader, saying “The crime of bribery pollutes public service, destroys governments…” and called it “one of the worst crimes.”

Rosen said Olmert was guilty of moral turpitude — a term that means the ex-politican will be forced to wait at least seven years before re-entering the field. The judge added that those who take bribes are equivalent to “traitors” in their betrayal of the public trust.

To punish that betrayal, the judge revoked the 10 percent of Olmert’s mayoral pension.

Olmert has been convicted previously charges of corruption. In 2012, he was pronounced guilty of taking bribes in a Jerusalem case.

That trial earned the former mayor and subsequent minister and prime minister a light sentence of community service only. The judge in the case said in his decision that Olmert’s state leadership as prime minister had afforded him the right to leniency.

Not so today, however.  Judge Rosen said in his decision that the higher the post of the public servant, the harsher the punishment for bribery should be.

“Those who belong to the social and economic elite of the nation should not be held to the same standard as those in common society,” Rosen said. He added in explanation that his hands were tied by law in meting out the punishment, and that he was enjoined by those legal guidelines to set a minimum sentence without discretion.

Olmert issued a statement prior to sentencing saying that he was innocent and protesting an expected sentence that included prison time.

“This is a sad day on which a severe and unjust verdict is to be handed down to an innocent man,” Olmert said in his statement.

He has 45 days to appeal in Supreme Court – which he plans to do,, said Olmert spokesperson Amir Dan. He added that he hopes “the real picture will emerge and the verdict will change completely.”

To the eternal shame of the State of Israel, this is the first time in the history of the nation that a prime minister has been convicted of a felony and sent to prison. Likewise, former president Moshe Katsav is currently serving time in prison for having raped and sexually assaulted his female employees.

Olmert will appeal the conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court, spokesperson Amir Dan said. His attorney Eli Zohar is expected to file a request for a stay of sentence in the meantime.

Netanyahu’s Struggle for the Presidency

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Behind closed doors, President Shimon Peres is whispering (loudly) that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to be a dictator over Israel.

That’s because the prime minister is attempting to end the president’s authorization to assign the top political party the task of assembling a governing coalition after each election.

Netanyahu also wants to postpone the presidential elections for up to six months, according to a report broadcast last week on Voice of Israel government radio. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein would take over the reins from Peres in July if the prime minister succeeds.

But according to a report last week in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, Netanyahu’s real goal is to abolish the presidency altogether.

Peres said in conversations with confidantes that Netanyahu’s initiative is “an attempt to establish a dictatorship here,” The Jerusalem Post reported. He claimed the prime minister would not “be satisfied until there is an absolute ruler [in the prime minister’s office].”

The president, who retires next month when he turns 90 years old, has always been far more active politically and diplomatically than is generally accepted. In that he is similar to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, also elderly, who has traveled to numerous nations around the world and freely spoken his mind, regardless of the impact his actions might have on U.S. relations or foreign policy in those regions – including here in the Middle East.

In the State of Israel, the position of president is one that is supposed to be primarily ceremonial, rather than actively political, and brings with it little actual authority. This has proved to be a major frustration for Shimon Peres, who has likewise felt the need to express his opinions regardless of whether they contradict those of his own government. Both men have created awkward situations for their governments and at times have even sabotaged their governments’ efforts as a result.

However, not every president is a Shimon Peres and new presidential elections are coming up fast. Netanyahu still has to drum up support for any move either to postpone elections or to eliminate a president’s ability to assign coalition-building — or for that matter abolish the post — and that’s not easy.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, 74, has a great deal of support for his candidacy in the upcoming election, and not only from Bayit Yehudi Housing Minister, MK Uri Ariel. Although Rivlin appears to be a genial man, he is not likely to allow himself to be sidelined so quickly, nor are his colleagues likely to be willing to sit silently by and let it happen.

His biggest rival, Binyamin Ben-Eleizer, 78, is another strong contender unlikely to allow Netanyahu to give away his right to assign coalition formation. The Iraqi-born former IDF general is close with the Sephardic population and maintains excellent relations with Arab leaders.

Silvan Shalom, 55, and a former finance and former minister, also has considered running for president but now may drop the idea. His candidacy would likely not succeed due to allegations of sexual offenses against former employees. At least one involved formal charges, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. Each of the others did not materialize for various other reasons, according to a statement by the Justice Ministry last week.

There are also reports that former Soviet refusenik Natan Scharansky, 66 and currently director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been approached by various people asking him to toss his hat into the ring. Hugely popular, Scharansky has not yet discussed the matter in public.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahus-struggle-for-the-presidency/2014/05/12/

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