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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shimon Peres’

Knesset to Choose Next President June 10

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Knesset members will choose Israel’s next president on June 10, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Monday.

The decision to hold elections now is a political blow to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who tried to push off elections to replace retiring President Shimon Peres in order to block the election of current front runner, MK Reuven Rivlin.

“The current race has been muddied by slander and delegimitization,” Edelstein said, “which I feel has disgraced the process and caused severe damage to this important institution.”  While the Israeli president is technically the head of state, it is a position has traditionally been a ceremonial post, with little official jurisdiction. Presidents have little authority apart from granting pardons and accepting credentials from foreign diplomats to Israel.

Peres, however, has used the office as a personal soapbox. As president, he has remained outside politics, but has frequently voiced opinions on Israel’s diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority and other issues that have traditionally been considered outside the purview of the presidential office.

Seven who would be president

Currently, there are seven candidates for president. They include former Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Likud MK Silvan Shalom, former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. former finance minister MK Meir Sheetrit, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.  Candidates have until May 27 to declare their candidacy, together with signatures from 10 Knesset members.

“I want to wish each of the [seven] candidates good luck, but beyond that I beseech and even demand of them, for me, for the Knesset and for the people of Israel, to behave with dignity, respect, decency, morality and integrity,” Edelstein continued.

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.

Is Shimon Peres Preparing to Undermine Netanyahu?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Is Shimon Peres Planning to Undermine Netanyahu?

For some people, seven decades in political life would be considered a lifetime of service. At the age of 91, most people would be happy to leave the public eye and retire to a quiet life.

Not, apparently, Shimon Peres.

As Israel’s nonagenarian president enters his last month in office, Peres has begun showing signs that the end of his career as an elected official will not necessarily mean his exit from the political stage.

The Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Yom HaAtzma’ut that Peres had violated his mandate as Israeli president by “negotiating” an updated version of the Oslo Accords with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2011. Today, the paper reported that the prime minister was furious at Peres’ comments, which appeared to be an opening salvo in a post-presidency in which Peres uses his international status as a senior Israeli spokesman to pressure Netanyahu to compromise vital interests in the name of appeasing the international community.

In Israel, the president has no authority to negotiate treaties, but Peres’ international recognition as a senior Israeli spokesman could put pressure on the prime minister

On Wednesday, Peres met with visiting US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, a meeting that ended with an announcement that Peres would travel to the United States next month to meet President Barack Obama at the White House.

During a joint press conference, Peres departed again from his largely ceremonial role to argue that “There’s no alternative to the two-state solution. Israel is reaching out for peace with all of its neighbors, primarily with the Palestinians.” Peres did not mention any of the many signs that the Palestinians do not appear ready to make peace with Israel, but Palestinian Authority leader Abu Mazen capitalised immediately on Peres’ attack on Netanyahu.

“After the first four meetings, a fifth meeting was planned in Amman,” the Palestinian leader said, “but Shimon Peres made his excuses and told me: ‘I’m sorry but the government doesn’t accept what we have negotiated and there’s nothing more I can do’.”
It should be noted that while Peres and Netanyahu have treated one-another cordially during their joint tenure as president and prime minister, respectively, there is also long-standing political blood between the two. Netanyahu was a fierce critic of Peres’ Oslo process during the 1990s, and narrowly defeated the Labor Party stalwart in the 1996 election following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

PM Netanyahu Debunks Peace Deal Claim: ‘Peres Had No Deal With PA’

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The Prime Minister’s Office came out swinging in an overnight Independence Day statement Yom HaAtzma’ut, bluntly denying that President Shimon Peres ever reached a final status deal with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The statement, reported overnight by Voice of Israel government radio, denied a claim by the president reported earlier in the day that he had reached an agreement with the Ramallah-based PA chairman three years ago.

“The only one Abbas has reached an agreement with is with [the Gaza-based terrorist organization] Hamas,” commented the PMO.

President Peres had told Israel’s Channel 2 TV in an interview over the holiday that three years ago he reached a deal in principle after four meetings abroad with Mahmoud Abbas. However, he said it was scotched by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who nixed the agreement just prior to what was to be a fifth and final meeting in Amman.

The president said Mr. Netanyahu told him to wait because Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair, a former UK prime minister also involved in talks with the PA, might bring to the table a better offer. “But the days passed and that deal never materialized,” Mr. Peres lamented.

Israel’s president – whose position is primarily ceremonial and traditionally not intended to be functionary – said his own discussions had been about land swaps and total land mass rather than boundary lines. Maps had not yet been drawn, the president said, reported the Independent Media Review and Analysis, IMRA.

Cancelling the fifth meeting, he allegedly told the PA Chairman in August 2011, “I’m sorry, but the government doesn’t accept what we have negotiated and there’s nothing more I can do.”

The “secret” talks were never secret, however, and there is some question over how far the president’s diplomatic authorization supposedly reached.

President Peres, who was the architect of the failed Oslo Accords, is expected to retire next month as he reaches the age of 90 after a political career of seven decades.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is meeting today with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee as lawmakers review the current security situation.

On the agenda are all recent events, including those of the ‘price tag’ incidents, ‘David the Nahlawi’ and the attacks in Judea and Samaria that followed the cessation of final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

A Nation in Unity on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Israel’s flag is waving at half mast and the memory of 23,169 lost Israeli soldiers and victims of terror has quieted the nation on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day.

No music plays in the neighborhoods, and children are not laughing today on the streets. A somber air is felt throughout the country as Israelis remember their fallen.

Some of those are not even Jewish. They are Bedouin or Druze or Circassians who have thrown in their lot with their Jewish neighbors. They, too, have paid the price.

Few indeed are those in this country who have not lost at least one family member in military action or terror, or are not close to someone who has, in the struggle to fulfill the mitzvah to hold this Holy Land, Eretz Tzion, Israel.

By age 16, all Jewish teens in Israel receive their first IDF notice, summoning them for exams to determine a medical, educational and psychological fitness profile. The IDF recently announced it will soon begin to send voluntary draft notices to all Christian Israelis, offering them the chance to enlist in Israel’s army as well.

By 18, most boys and girls in this country are smiling and nervously getting into fitted green or camel-colored uniforms, queuing up at central bus stations before and after Shabbat and talking about what happened in their new units “at the base.”

They’re babies, really — babies learning how to face killers; other babies fed on evil hatred since birth. Last year, 40 died, though some of those were reservists, IDF soldiers who return to serve 30 days a year to help the “newbies” and the career soldiers keep Israel safe from its enemies. “Reservists” can be soldiers in their 20s — or as old as 40.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to show those that haven’t experienced it the size of the grief that befell us, the intensity of the shock that grasps us, and the sense of loss that fills us,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained at Monday’s ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery, attended also by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and a host of other officials.

Paraphrasing and slightly changing a well-known Psalm of King David, he said, “There, we sat at the graves of our loved ones, and wept, and we remembered our loved ones that fell for the sake of Zion.”

Sweeping the entire People of Israel into unity with Israel’s grief over its fallen, the prime minister said, “On this day, the entire people relates to the heroes of the nation. They come from all parts of the nation and from all parts of society. The simple truth that is the most concise is this: we would not be here if it were not for their sacrifice.

“Even if it means unparalleled pain, a great miracle happened here. Israel returned to her country, to her home, established a state and did wonders, but at this moment we should not forget that it is a privilege to be here.”

People came to their feet across the country as a siren wailed into the skies at 11 o’clock in the morning, reminding Israelis of the price paid for peace, and Israel’s defense.

A candle lighting ceremony at the Western Wall last night, announced by the nationwide siren at eight o’clock in the evening, also featured an address by President Peres.

“We, the Israelis, are not like every people,” the president pointed out. “Already for years a sad generation hasn’t relaxed, hasn’t been able to enjoy a time of happiness. Our joy is always missing. A cloud of sadness envelops us. It is deeply hidden, but one can see it in our eyes.”

The president spoke of parents who lost their children, “the image of the soldiers that fell in Israel’s wars… They did not have time to plant a tree. They didn’t taste the full flavor of love. They left behind you, the bereaved families… and us, the friends, to painfully remember.”

Jewish Ukrainian Mayor Shot, Worry Rises as Separatists Seize More Towns

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The Jewish mayor of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkov was shot in the back by unidentified masked gunmen on Monday and is now fighting for his life, even as Israel’s president warned Jews around the world on Holocaust Remembrance Day to watch for signs of rising anti-Semitism.

Pro-Russian separatists captured Kharkov, eastern Ukraine’s second-largest town, on Monday, according to a report by RIA Novosti. The news outlet quoted a friend of Mayor Gennady Kernes who said, “They shot him in the back from the forest…  His lung is pierced and his liver pierced all the way through.”

Aides said the mayor had recently received numerous threats,  RT News reported. The attack, which came less than 24 hours after a clash between anti-government protesters and nationalists in the city left 14 people injured, left Kernes critically wounded.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies Monday for Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Peres spoke of the death of his family in the little town of Vishnyeva, in Poland. Two thousand Jews all died there after being locked into the wooden synagogue building by the Nazis, and then burned alive.

“Half of the Jews of Vishnyeva made aliyah to Israel, the other half, which did not, were burned alive,” the president said. “Our body was slashed in two – but our spirit remains undivided, pulsating here in Israel as a locked memory, an independent Jewish renaissance never again to be destroyed.”

The clear warning issued by the president is one the Jews in Ukraine now must heed – if they even had a chance to hear it as the rising war begins to rage around them.

So far the Jews of Kharkov seem to be safe – but the city has a bloody past in terms of protecting its Jews. More than 15,000 Jewish residents of Kharkov were murdered between December 1941 and January 1942, herded by Germans into a ghetto area set up for them about five miles from the city and periodically hauled out and shot to death. Some were just buried alive. A mass grave was discovered not far from the site, in the Drobitzki Valley.

Many of the supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are also anti-Semitic, sources told the Arutz Sheva website in an interview in February. As a result, some of the community is considering aliyah.

In the eastern Ukraine on Monday, armed gunmen also seized town of Kostyantynivka, entering the administration building and the police headquarters. International media reported that masked gunmen were wearing camouflage outfits and were armed with assault weapons.

Both towns are located in the Donetsk region, along with Sloviansk, a third city which also has now been declared an independent entity by pro-Russian secessionists.

Protesters seized a local state TV station in the city of Donetsk. The protesters demanded the launch of a ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ TV channel, and that Russian TV channels be broadcast. The Ukrainian flag was lowered from the building and the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic was raised in its place – but later, that too was removed. Nevertheless, a source told Interfax-Ukraine that secessionist security personnel remained at the TV station to enforce the demands.

Ron Pundak, Active in Many Failed Peace Initiatives, Dead at 59

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Ron Pundak, who was the executive director of the Peres Center for Peace, an architect of the Oslo Accords, and an active participant in the Geneva Initiative, died from cancer on Friday. Pundak was 59 years old.

Pundak is being widely lauded as a great peace activist and a visionary.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres said that Pundak, was a warrior, a man of values and an intellectual.

“He [Pundak] dedicated his whole life for the achievement of peace with our neighbors. He was willing to do anything for peace, sacrifice his life and dedicated each and every moment of his life to it. Ron was a family man, a great soul and he will be missed,” Peres said.

Israeli politician Tzipi Livni said: “There are war heroes but Ron was hero of peace. He was a Zionist who believed in peace and was not deterred by extremists, cynics and the hopeless.”

However, the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Initiative have both resulted in great harm to Israel.

And at the J Street Conference in 2011, Ron Pundak told the audience something to which they responded with thunderous applause.

“Israel,” Pundak said, “can live with a nuclear Iran and it must not base its policies on a worst-case scenario.”

Funeral arrangements had not yet been made before Shabbat.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ron-pundak-active-in-many-failed-peace-initiatives-dead-at-59/2014/04/12/

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