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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shaul Mofaz’

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.

51% Want Lapid, Bennett, Livni, Mofaz in Government, No Haredim

Monday, February 25th, 2013

A full 51 percent of the public want a coalition government composed of Likud-Beitenu (31 MKs), Yesh Atid (19), Habayit Hayehudi (12), Tzipi Livni’s The Movement (6) and Kadima (2), according to a new Ma’agar Hamochot survey presented on Monday on a Channel 10 program.

According to the survey, only 35% of the public support letting the Haredi parties join the new government in place of Yair Lapid’s party.

A full 76% do not want new elections and prefer the new government be established based on the current Knesset’s makeup.

44% of respondents said they would rather the party they voted for compromise on principles, in order to join the coalition. Only 33% prefer that their party stick to its principles, even at the cost of sitting in the opposition.

And then there are 23% who want their party to maintain its principles, and also join the government. Talk about eating your cake and staying trim, too.

MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), appearing on the same Channel 10 show, revealed that “more serious talks” are being conducted between Likud-Beitenu and her party. “If Netanyahu wants he can form a stable government with a Jewish home,” she said, but cautioned that “the Kendall outline is not a real solution” to the “equal burden” issue.

According to Haredi and Likud-Beitenu sources, Professor Eugene Kendall has proposed a solution to Haredi conscription which would make it easier for Haredi youths to enter IDF service. The proposal has not been published anywhere, but there is reported to be a wide gap between it and the Lapid proposal.

“We are working with Yesh Atid on an agreed equal burden solution,” Shaked told Channel 10.

“If Netanyahu wants to make a change, can lead the way together with Jewish home, Yesh Atid and The Movement,” Shaked concluded, emphatically ignoring the Haredi parties. “We and Yesh Atid agree on almost 100% of the socioeconomic issues, and disagree on the political issue.”

By “the political issue,” Shaked referred to the peace process, conveniently ignoring the fact that both Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid advocate the transfer of some 100,000 Jews living on the wrong side of the security fence in Judea and Samaria.

Bennett: Likud Wants Us Out, We’re Sticking with Lapid

Monday, February 25th, 2013

“Why was the coordination with Yair Lapid created?” Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett asked on Sunday on his Facebook page, and answered his own question: “Because of the Likud’s decision to leave the Jewish Home outside government.”

Bennett continued: “Without this coordination, the next government would have included Livni, Kadima, Shas, Yesh Atid, Likud, without Religious Zionism, without the Jewish Home. Such a government would have been speeding along Livni’s political line (giving up Jerusalem, giving up the city of Ariel, obsession with the PLO, etc.). This is a fact.”

Regardless of whether one can legitimately suggest that their speculation “is a fact,” sources in the Likud said in response that “the Jewish Home party was offered to be the first one to join the government. Even now, the only thing preventing the establishment of a government with a majority for the national camp is Bennett’s refusal to join the national camp government headed by Netanyahu.”

Last Friday, Jewish Home and Likud-Beitenu negotiation teams met in the Kfar Maccabiah resort, after more than a week of separation. MK Uri Ariel told IDF Radio after meeting that “we talked mainly about the subject of the ‘equal burden’ and the coalition guidelines, and will continue the meetings next week.”

Netanyahu’s goal in that meeting, too, was to separate the alliance between Bennett and Lapid, but Likud officials said that Netanyahu intends to be prime minister, and so he wouldn’t mind eventually to give in to those two, if he realizes that this is his only remaining option.

On his Facebook page, Bennett argued that it was his coordination with Lapid that “changed the map, forcing the Likud let the Jewish Home in.”

“Because of that coordination, the government will now focus on socioeconomic, internal issues, and not just on political issues (Meaning the peace process – JP)” such as lowering the cost of living, lowering housing prices, improving education to include values and promoting Jewish identity, and bolstering the Jewish presence in the Negev and Galilee),” Bennett added, as opposed to “only the obsessive engagement in talks with Abu Ala.”

Bennett went on to say that “between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home there are points of mutual agreement and points of disagreement. We will focus on implementing the things we agree on, which is quite a lot. We will continue to argue about the rest.”

During the Friday meeting between Jewish Home and Likud Beiteinu, Bennett’s team took up a key issue which previously had been advocated almost exclusively by Lapid’s party, demanding to force Haredi yeshivas to teach core curriculum subjects (Math, English, Science, Literature). A day earlier, according to Army Radio, Naftali Bennett met with Yair Lapid and with Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz, to form a three-way alliance in the coalition negotiations with Likud-Beitenu.

Bennett concluded his Facebook entry with a vow not to “deviate from our principles,” which is a bit baffling, considering his newfound commitment to the core curriculum issue, which is, essentially, someone else’s principle. But all of us can agree with his end statement, that “the public will judge us over the next four years.”

Or a lot sooner.

Israeli Political Constellation Realigns As Kadima Quits Government

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

For the second time in just two months, the Israeli political universe was upended when Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima Party voted to quit Israel’s governing coalition.

Kadima’s departure, the result of a breakdown in negotiations over reforming Israel’s military draft law to include haredi Jews, shatters the 94-seat super-majority that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controlled in the 120-seat Knesset.

It also raises questions about the future of Kadima, Israel’s draft, and the timing of new elections.

While the loss of Kadima’s 28 seats still leaves Netanyahu’s coalition with the majority it needs to govern, Netanyahu is seen as more likely to move up Israel’s next elections, which now are scheduled for the fall of 2013.

Netanyahu had been set to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections nine weeks ago when Mofaz stunned the Israeli political establishment by bringing Kadima, Israel’s main opposition party, into the governing coalition. The move was seen as a gambit by Mofaz, who had won Kadima’s leadership several weeks earlier, to stave off elections in which Kadima was set to lose significant ground.

For Netanyahu, the coalition deal was a way both to hobble the opposition and give him more leeway in formulating a new military draft law. In February, Israel’s Supreme Court struck down the current draft regulation, called the Tal Law, which excuses haredim from universal mandatory military service for Israeli Jews. The court ordered that a new law be enacted by Aug. 1 or else all Israeli Jews would be subject to the draft. Netanyahu’s other coalition partners include haredi parties that oppose drafting large numbers of haredi men or subjecting them to national service.

The debate over the new draft law has roiled Israel in recent weeks. Many Israelis long have resented what they see as the free ride given to haredi Israelis, who are not required to serve in the army but are still eligible for state welfare benefits.

In the end it was Kadima that quit the government in protest over proposed reforms that it said did not go far enough.

At a news conference Tuesday announcing Kadima’s decision to leave the government, Mofaz said he had rejected Netanyahu’s proposal of deferring national service until age 26; Kadima wanted the draft deferral to end at age 22.

“It is with deep regret that I say there is no choice but to decide to leave the government,” Mofaz told a closed-door meeting of Kadima. Only three of the party’s 28 Knesset members voted in favor of staying in the coalition.

“Netanyahu has chosen to side with the draft dodgers,” Mofaz told reporters after the meeting. “I have reached an understanding that the prime minister has not left us a choice and so we have responded.”

In a letter to Mofaz from Netanyahu’s office, the prime minister responded, “I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the state of Israel is facing many significant challenges. I will continue to work toward the responsible solution that Israeli society expects.”

With just two weeks to go before the Tal Law expires, it’s not clear where Kadima’s departure leaves the future of Israel’s military draft.

What seems certain is that Kadima has been weakened by the episode. Two months ago, polls showed Kadima stood to lose two-thirds of its Knesset seats in new elections. Government opponents harshly criticized Mofaz when he then decided to hitch his centrist party to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party.

“Unfortunately, everything I warned about two months ago and everything I expected to happen, happened,” said Chaim Ramon, a Knesset member who quit Kadima when Mofaz joined the government.

“Netanyahu’s allies are the haredim and the settlers. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself and the public. This move has brought on Kadima’s demise and Shaul Mofaz is the one accountable,” Ramon said.

If new elections were held today, Kadima likely would implode, with the biggest chunk of its seats going to Likud (Kadima originally was created as an offshoot of Likud) and others to a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, or to left-wing parties.

Excerpt of Letter From Prime Minister Netanyahu to Shaul Mofaz

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Following is an excerpt from the letter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent to Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday:

“I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change. After 64 years, we were very close to a substantial change in the division of the burden. I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges. I will continue to work toward the responsible solution that Israeli society expects.”

70 days Later – Mofaz, Kadima, Quit Netanyahu’s Government over Haredi Draft

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Following the collapse of negotiations over a new conscription law, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz decided to quit Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving the premier once again with only 66 MKs. Mofaz told a Kadima faction emergency session: “It is with great sorrow that I say that there is no escape from taking a decision on quitting the government.”

Mofaz explained: “I went in on a principle, and when that failed, we must quit.”

25 Kadima MKs supported the Mofaz proposal to quit at once, with only three opposing – MKs Yulia Shamalov, Othniel Schneller and former Mossad chief Avi Dichter.

By the end of last week it was becoming clear that negotiations between Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner—who headed a Knesset committee that presented a comprehensive plan to encourage Haredi compulsory recruitment that would nevertheless ease the path of Haredi recruits into service—and Netanyahu’s deputy prime minister, former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon, were not going anywhere.

The key point of disagreement between the two sides was enforcement, with the Kadima side favoring criminal prosecution of Haredi draft dodgers, while Netanyahu famously declared that in Israel no Jew would go to jail for learning Torah.

Each side blamed the other for not negotiating in good faith, until in the end the talks broke down before Shabbat, with both sides being convinced that the entire affair had been little more than political posturing.

At a meeting this morning between Mofaz’s representative, Attorney Alon Englard, and the representative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attorney David Shimron, the later introduced Netanyahu’s solution: the PM was prepared to accept the Mofaz proposal Haredi enlistment would run from ages 18 to 23, and the younger one enlists, the better his benefits would be after his discharge.

Mofaz decided to reject the proposal. “The Prime Minister’s proposal is contrary to the High Court ruling,” he declared, referring to the court’s decision to scrap the original “Tal Law” because it was offering unequal terms to the Haredi recruits.

Mofas said that Netanyahu’s offer did not “meet the principle of equality, it is disproportionate, and does not pass the effectiveness tests as laid down by the court ruling and the principles of the [Plesner] committee on equal share of the burden.”

In the end, if one were to referee this bout, it appears that while both sides were, indeed, posturing, it was Netanyahu who actually made an effort to salvage the proposed law and his coalition, while Mofaz has been thinking mostly about the next big fight – at the ballot box.

As things stand now, the Netanyahu coalition government is facing yet another big test on Wednesday, with the Avigdor Liberman faction bringing to a first vote their own version of a conscription law.

The Draft Controversy In Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

A comment by Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz the other day set us thinking about an element in the draft debate that could only manifest itself in an Israeli context.

Mr. Mofaz spoke at length on the issue to Israel TV’s Channel 2 , saying he believed the government could successfully put together a bill to replace the Tal Law, which largely exempts most full-time adult yeshiva students from army service but which the Israeli Supreme Court recently struck down. Then, in a follow-up interview with Channel 10, he added that service “is part of our DNA as Jews.”

Surely he was referring to the obligations citizens in a democracy have to their government and its institutions, particularly its military component. But non-Jews also bear that trait as well. Could it be that the devoutly secular Mr. Mofaz thinks the Jewish version is special?

Many are aware of the Jewish concept of areivus, which is loosely translated as the visceral tendency of Jews to take care of one another. In fact, it is more than that.

The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah says a person who keeps all the mitzvos but doesn’t share in the travails of Klal Yisrael “will have no portion in the World to Come.”

The famed Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, alluded to that in a discussion of why someone who had already made Kiddush on Shabbos was still able to make it for someone else who had not yet heard it. It is not, he said, a berachah levatalah – a superfluous berachah – because all Jews are interconnected parts of a whole, so that the failure of someone to hear Kiddush constitutes an original obligation on the part of the person making Kiddush for him.

To those of us who believe that “Jewish DNA” is reflective of the Torah in every respect, we must accept that all Jews are entitled to each other’s protection. To be sure, part of the continuing draft conflict in Israel is the lack of universal acceptance of the notion that learning Torah provides protection for Jews even as does serving in the IDF. But both sides of the divide accept the obligation of areivus. And that is certainly notable.

It is interesting, and perhaps not coincidental, that the outlines of the agreement being seriously considered calls for a five-year draft deferment for all haredi young men learning in yeshivas with an additional delay or even a lifetime exemption available for exceptional students. One cannot fail to note how closely this formula tracks the typical conversation that prospective mechutanim have about how long their son or son-in-law will be supported in kollel.

This is an important development in terms of addressing the conundrum of dealing with the prospect that a Jewish state would institutionally limit the time a Jew can spend learning Torah. Relatedly, we hope it also reflects a willingness to provide full accommodation of the religious needs of haredim and others who are observant.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-draft-controversy-in-israel/2012/07/11/

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