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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Sara Netanyahu’

Israel Has New Government

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Reshet Bet announced early Friday morning that the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi have resumed their talks, after a 12-hour disconnect, and reached a final agreement on a new government, which will be introduced later today, Friday.

The agreement was reached after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and asked him personally to overlook the slight of not receiving the title of Deputy Prime Minister. He told him that in the new government there will be no Deputy Prime Ministers at all.

Both Bennett and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid responded curtly to a news item they heard over the radio on Thursday, that the Deputy positions, about which they had reached a verbal agreement with the Likud-Beiteinu negotiating team, were taken away.

Likud circles not particularly enamoured with the PM spread the rumor that it was Sara Netanyahu, Benjamin’s wife, who insisted, at the last minute, on sticking it to her husband’s new coalition partners.

The PM’s circles denied the rumors, saying it was just another vicious attack on Sara Netanyahu, and her personal arch-enemy, Naftali Bennett.

Habayit Hayehudi circles said in response that it was not a reassuring way of ushering in a new coalition—killing unilaterally an item everybody had shaken hands on.

The Bennett people refused to attend the meeting Thursday evening in which the government deal was supposed to be finalized, and the first coalition crisis appeared to have erupted even before there was a coalition in place.

Netanyahu had to swallow a frog in apologizing to Bennett personally, and Bennett and Lapid in return swallowed the frogs of not becoming acting PMs when Bibi is away touring the world.

Now the fact that Sara’s contribution effectively killed the position of Deputy PM, Netanyahu will not be able to dole out bites at this honor to senior Likudniks, such as MK Silvan Shalom, who won’t receive a real portfolio. Thank you, Sara.

The Shas and United Torah Judaism factions are livid, obviously, arguing that if they’re out of office, their constituency is going to be ignored. Well, not exactly ignored, more like enlisted and made to study Math and English in yeshiva.

MK Aryeh Deri, who was reinstated in the Shas Knesset list with the hope of increasing its size (they ended up with 11 – just like the Knesset before), was making the rounds all day Thursday, promising to be part of a fighting opposition, whose utmost goal would be to topple this government. A renowned Haredi leftists, who pushed his party into signing on to the Oslo Accords, Deri said he had no problem cooperating with Labor, Meretz, and the Arab lists, to bring down Netanyahu.

Unless he get a government seat sometime down the road.

Habayit Hayehudi will possess five portfolios in the new government, although those will be divided among only three ministers. So Naftali Bennett is now also Minister of Religious Services.

The 20 Likud MKs are competing over a mere 15 positions of power: seven ministerial roles, four deputy ministers, four heads of Knesset committees and the role of Speaker of the House. The portfolios of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Tourism and Absorption has been given to members of the Israel Beiteinu, while members of the Likud will take Interior, Transportation, Communications, Homeland Defense, and the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

A big improvement would be the appointment of former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon as Defense Minister. Yaalon, whose boss at the time, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, opted not to renew his contract in 2005, because he did not trust the former to pursue zealously the evacuation of thousands of Gush Katif Jews. Mofaz appointed Dan Halutz to the job, and Halutz promptly bungled an invasion of Gaza and a war in Lebanon.

Beginning next week, probably on Monday, Israel’s 33rd government—Netanyahu’s third—will be sworn in, featuring 22 ministers, including the Prime Minister, and eight deputy ministers. The Speaker is expected to be the current Minister of Information and Diaspora, MK Yuli Edelstein.

In the almost-final compromise agreement reached Thursday, Netanyahu agreed to give up the education portfolio, which will go to Yesh Atid’s MK Rabbi Shai Piron, Likud-Beiteinu will get Interior, and Habayit Hayehudi will head the Knesset Finance Committee.

Yori Yanover

Sara’s Latest: Lapid, Bennett’s Posts Torpedoed

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The negotiating teams of both Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi did not arrive at what could be the final round of negotiations with the Likud-Beitenu team. It turns out the two parties received notices that, contrary to what had been agreed, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett will not serve as deputy prime ministers.

According to Likud-Beitenu officials, the decision was made for reasons not directly related to the issues at hand, but, instead, to the prime minister’s wife’s refusal to allow the two coalition members to serve as her husband’s deputies.

The Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi negotiating team told Ma’ariv that “something here doesn’t smell right. We are not looking to blow up the negotiations, we just want to return to what had been agreed with us.”

The position of Deputy Prime Minister is more than mere honor, as the Prime Minister is absent from the country an average of 50 days a year.

No one knows yet if this is a deal breaker.

Yori Yanover

Following Lapid-Bennett Deal, Likud Facing Civil War

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At 12:55 PM Wednesday, the prime minister’s office leaked a message so subversive and so clever, it insisted the editor of the 1 PM news edition at Kol Israel attribute it to anonymous “Likud circles.” That’s one notch below “senior Likud officials” and well below “circles close to the prime minister,” which is, basically, the prime minister. I heard it in my car, driving up to Jerusalem, but didn’t pay attention to the special wording. Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi paid attention, and realized the PM people were using the Atomic option.

The Likud circles, according to the leak, threatened that if there won’t be a breakthrough in the coalition negotiations within hours, the Likud would initiate an accelerated negotiations with the Haredi parties for a right-leaning new government without Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

In addition, a higher level source inside the PM’s circles, told Haaretz that Netanyahu believes the reason Lapid has upped the ante of his demands was his buyer’s remorse. Somehow he ended up agreeing to the Finance portfolio, and now, seeing the mess he would have to deal with, he wants to back out, so he’s making it impossible to come to an agreement.

That’s not such an outlandish surmise. Lapid, ever the glitzy charmer, had had his heart set on the Foreign Minister’s job. And he would have made a great FM, kissing hands and raising champagne glasses and all the other fun stuff FMs get to do in Paris, London, Rome, DC, and, of course, Moscow.

Except Avigdor Liberman, Netanyahu’s faction partner, already had dibs on the Foreign Ministry. Liberman couldn’t serve in the government for now, not until the silly corruption suit against him is resolved in court. But Bibi had promised Ivet to hold on to the seat for him, and breaking that promise would have been a deal killer all around.

So Lapid backed off and agreed to take another of the top three portfolios—Finance.

Customarily, the Foreign, Defense and Finance ministries belong to the party of the Prime Minister. It is a rare occurrence, usually driven by a national crisis (such as when Moshe Dayan was invited, from the opposition benches, to become Defense Minister in 1967). So, giving Lapid this high honor was a big thing.

But the job of Finance Minister is not going to make Lapid many friends this time around. No hand kissing and champagne here for the teen idol. The Netanyahu government has accrued a 40 billion shekel (just under $11 billion) deficit which has to be cut from the next budget. Unlike the U.S. government, which can run deficits in the trillion, Israeli governments are prohibited by law from running a deficit that’s higher than 3 percent of the budget. The new deficit constitutes 5.10 percent, and so some cutting has to take place.

And lover boy Yair Lapid will have the dubious honor of deciding what gets cut:

Should it be the new raises to hospital nurses? Low-cost education? Environmental improvements? Social Security benefit increases for the elderly? Highway construction? Train service?

There’s no two ways about it – in the end, someone is going to hate Yair Lapid for whatever cut he’ll make. And since he’s an avowed free market and anti-tax type, he won’t be able to fix things by taking more money from business (although Teva, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical conglomerate, received close to a billion dollars in tax break from the outgoing Finance Minister – that should pay for a few hot lunches).

The leak was a lie, of course, Lapid seems just as eager as before to embrace the, arguably, second most important job in government. But the first anonymous threat, about a coalition with Shas, UTJ and Bennett – especially when, reportedly, backed by Bennett himself, who assured Lapid he intended to stay in government, with or without him – that convinced Lapid it was time to call the game and put the cards on the table.

There’s an old Jewish joke about a shadchan who tries to convince a yeshiva bocher to marry Princess Margaret. He answers every one of the poor man’s questions – she would make a great wife, she has money, she will convert for the right man – until the yeshiva bocher breaks down and agrees to the deal. At which point the shadchan sighs deeply and says: Now starts the hard part.

Yori Yanover

New Government in Place, Lapid Gave Up Foreign Office

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid has agreed to drop his demand for the Foreign Office portfolio, and will decide this weekend whether he wants the Finance or the Interior ministries – and it is estimated that he is going for Finance, Reshet Bet reported Saturday evening. On Friday, Lapid met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem residence.

With Lapid’s demand out of the way, the PM will be holding the Foreign Office portfolio for his election partner Avigdor Liberman, until the latter concludes his business with the legal authorities. The case against him opens in mid-April. It has been noted that knowing that Liberman is coming back could intimidate Foreign Office employees and might change their minds about testifying against their boss—but that belongs in a different article.

Lapid also consulted with Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. Should Lapid opt for Finance, Bennett would be appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, with extensive powers.

Political circles are estimating that the next government will include only 24 ministers, in addition to the prime minister, which is more than the figure Lapid was pushing for, but a lot less than the previous government headed by Netanyahu, which at one point featured 30 ministers and 9 deputy ministers.

One of the key areas of conflict between Lapid and Netanyahu has been the number of government portfolios. Lapid was arguing that Israel cannot afford the expense of so many needless positions, each of which comes with office suites, staff, cars and security details.

The portfolios are expected to be divided as follows: 8 Likud ministers, 6 Yesh Atid, 4 Jewish Home, 3 Yisrael Beiteinu, 2 Tzipi’s Movement and 1 to Kadima.

Outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed in an interview on Israel’s Channel 1 News that Lapid is his likely successor. Steinitz, who holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University, said: “I remember that when I was chosen there were doubts initially – a philosopher as finance minister? But, in the end, Israel’s economic results are the best in the West over the past 34 years.” He added: “I am convinced Lapid will position.”

Lapid, it should be noted, has not graduated high school.

The number two in the Jewish Home party, Uri Ariel, will get the post of Minister of Housing and Construction, according to the Army Radio, a post Netanyahu previously promised would remain in Likud hands. Yael German from Yesh Atid will serve as Minister of the Interior and Rabbi Shai Piron will be Minister of Social Welfare, although Shaul Mofaz from Kadima is also being mentioned as a candidate for that job.

Likud’s ministries will include Transport to Israel Katz, and Education to Gideon Sa’ar, both of whom held those same portfolios in the outgoing government.

Sa’ar said last week that he wanted to stay in the same office.

It is estimated that coalition talks will be completed by Sunday, and the next government will be presented by mid-week.

Yori Yanover

Sara Netanyahu to Hold Foreign Office Post during Liberman Trial

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, will serve as a temporary Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the duration of Israel Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman, who is unable to hold a cabinet post while he is on trial. The appointment was announced late Friday afternoon by Natan Eshel, who will replace Danny Ayalon as the foreign ministry’s chief of staff.

“The Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu reached this decision together,” Eshel told reporters outside the Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem.

Although it is common for cabinet ministers to be Knesset members, the law allows the prime minister to appoint anyone he wishes to any cabinet post, provided they receive the Knesset’s approval.

The unexpected appointment should satisfy the embattled Liberman, who made it clear he wants to resume command of the foreign ministry, which he headed throughout the previous government, as soon as the court clears him of charges of corruption. Liberman’s trial is scheduled for late April.

According to Eshel, Foreign Minister Sara Netanyahu is planning to begin her stint in office with a grand tour of Western Europe, introducing herself to heads of state from Berlin to Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London, and then to visit major cities on the United States, including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Mrs. Netanyahu was not available to comment.

This has been a Purim prank…

Yori Yanover

After an Apology, Bennett to Meet Bibi in Tel Aviv

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett will meet on Monday—at last—with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The meeting is expected to take place at the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv, and to be the official inauguration of direct coalition talks between Bennett and Bibi, coinciding with the negotiations run by MK Uri Ariel’s Jewish Home team.

A source inside the Likud party told the website Kipa that the meeting between the two leaders had been set in principle last week but was only inserted into the schedule on Sunday afternoon.

In preparation for the talks Monday, Bennett used an Army Radio morning interview to apologize for his earlier, somewhat flippant remarks about the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, remarks that had to do with her and himself enduring a “terrorism course” together—remarks which at least one news source, Iran’s Press TV, took at face value.

On Monday morning, however, Bennett was reverent and contrite when he said: “Sara Netanyahu is a good woman. I’m sorry about the joke regarding the terrorism course we supposedly took together.”

This obligatory humbling should clear the way for Bennett’s being the first leader of a mid-size party to accept a government partnership. Netanyahu has been adamant about looking to establish a broad, 80 member or so coalition government, but with Yair Lapid insisting on keeping his promises to his voters regarding Haredi military service, it would be difficult to have him and the Haredi party be on the same side.

Bennett and Lapid are still, apparently, united in their pact to either joining the government together or not at all. That, too, should make Bibi’s coalition cobbling task more challenging than usual.

Yori Yanover

Will Sara Forgive Bennett? Will Yair Adopt Mofaz?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

The weeks between the time the elections committee closes shop and the results are final, and when the president calls in the man or woman who would be the next prime minister are as heady as draft week and as silly as spring break, but without the booze. For the next couple or three weeks, expect to hear—including from yours truly—the wildest speculations and combinations of who’s in and who’s out. Take all of it with a chunk of salt, but don’t ignore the rumors and speculations altogether, because somewhere in there hides the one true prediction.

The problem is, at this relatively early stage of the game, that even the people at the top who are expected to create the perfect coalition don’t yet know where they’re headed. As Ha’aretz revealed this morning, the country’s semi-official king and queen, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, are doing their darndest to make sure Jewish Home is not in the coalition, because of their “murky personal relationship with the head of the party, Naftali Bennett.”

This is such a classic tale of no good deed going unpunished. Back in 2006, when Bibi Netanyahu was on the matte, beaten and defeated, probably crying in his sleep and wondering if that furniture chain store would take him back – it was Naftali Bennett and Ayala Shaked who showed up and—as volunteers—picked up the fallen politician and infused his dreadful campaign (he had just led the Likud to a 12-seat presence in the Knesset). But Bibi’s third wife, Sara, was interjecting herself into every aspect of the work, until on one harrowing day that forever changed the future of the Jewish nation, Naftali Bennett asked her politely to get out of his way and let him work. Or unfortunate words to that effect.

You don’t say things like that to your boss’s wife, and you certainly don’t say it to Sara Netanyahu. It was epic, it was Shakespearean – and not the comedies. And the bad blood from that encounter is still alive and piping hot.

According to Ha’aretz, quoting a senior Netanyahu aide, Sara has vetoed Bennett, and “if possible in terms of the government, Netanyahu certainly prefer not to include Bennett in his government.”

Incidentally, Bibi’s other ousted chief of staff, Natan Eshel, is considered Sara’s true and trusted friend, and so speculations abound that he’ll be back at the helm in the new government. He’s the guy who was sexually harassing the office help. But he gets along with Sara, which is the most crucial qualification over there.

The other reason Bibi doesn’t want Bennett in is that Bibi is planning to give back something substantial in order to revive the peace process, not just words and pretense, but an actual piece of land, which may or may not involve removing Jewish residents – and he expects that Bennett would walk out at that point. So why empower him further by giving him a stage off of which he can do a dramatic exit?

What is it with Bennett and exits, anyway?

So, if Jewish Home is out, who’s in? Top choice, of course, is Yair Lapid, the most important man in Israel today, the man who could literally decide the country’s future—even more emphatically than Sara Netanyahu, and that’s saying something.

We’ve been assuming all along that the first partner Bibi picks up would be Lapid: combine Likud-Beitenu’s 31 seats with Lapid’s 19, and you got yourself a solid foundation for a government. All you need afterwards are the Haredim—notoriously easy to buy off—and if you don’t want Bennett, then maybe Tzipi Livni, and Kadima which made it in with Shaul Mofaz and another guy. At that point you can even invite Bennett in graciously, but only give him something like Tourism, or the Ecology.

Except that Yair Lapid, who originally was talking about letting the Haredim off for five years before implementing the crucial “equal burden” principle in army service, has had a change of mind. Realizing his own voters won’t forgive that kind of largess—Five years? Might as well go for Eternity—and now he’s been saying he wants everybody in uniform at age 18, except maybe a 400 Torah geniuses (Do we actually have that many? I’m just wondering – how do you farher—test a genius?).

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/will-sara-forgive-bennett-will-yair-adopt-mofaz/2013/01/27/

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