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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Silvan Shalom’

Kerry‘s ‘Peace Process’ Ghost to Haunt Washington on Tuesday

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The ghost of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is scheduled to pay a visit in Washington on Tuesday under a cloak of secrecy, which is bound to be violated by both sides.

False claims and trial balloons have become a trademark of the jockeying by Israeli and PA leaders as well as the State Dept. since direct talks broke off nearly three years ago.

Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, two days after categorically saying he would not attend the talks without commitments by Israel, reportedly will meet on Tuesday with his Israel counterparts, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s emissary Yitzchak Molcho and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who also won the boogey prize as Peace Process Minister by a different name.

Never allowing himself a chance to grab a headline, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters Thursday, “There is a good chance that negotiations with the Palestinians will resume next week in Washington on Tuesday, provided there are no last-minute complications.”

During a visit to Jericho where he and  Palestinian Authority minister signed a declaration to back a long-delayed industrial park, Shalom claimed Israel has not given in to the condition laid down by chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Israel freeze construction on land claimed by the PA.

The Al-Ahram Egyptian weekly reported this week that its sources said the  time frame of the talks will be 6-9 months. There will be no conditions, but Jordan will join the task when it comes to discussing the status of Jerusalem and final borders.

The Palestinian Authority claims it has not conceded anything and is waiting to see what will be discussed at the meeting planned for Tuesday.

In a counter-claim, Jewish Home Minister Naftali insists that construction is continuing as usual in Judea and Samaria and in parts of Jerusalem that were occupied by Jordan before  the Six-Day War in 1967.

Unofficially, building for Jews has come to a standstill outside major Jewish population centers.

The first item on the agenda next week, if the talks are held, is the release of 82 terrorists, most of them convicted for murdering or being involved in planning attacks that murdered Jews.

The Cabinet likely will be asked to agree to release the terrorists towards the end of the Muslim holy month  of Ramadan, which the Palestinian Authority and rest of the of Arab world has celebrated with unending anti-Semitic movies, television programs and sermons. There has not been one major release of terrorists that has not been followed with their returning to their favorite hobby of killing Jews. But every Israeli government always has been more concerned with winning a good word for a ghetto mentality than for keeping the country secure.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have said that if any final agreement is ever signed, it must be approved by a public referendum, which both the PA and Israel probably pray will never happen.

Assad: ‘Israeli Aggression’ Fuels Demand that Syria Fight Israel

Friday, May 31st, 2013

In a televised interview on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station Thursday, May 30, Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned Israel that he is feeling pressure to open a military front against Israel.

Assad said there was “popular pressure” in his country to strike at Israel because of “repeated Israeli aggression.”

Israel has struck Syria three times over the past several months in order to stop the traffic of suspected biological and other sophisticated weapons which flow from Iran through Syria.  The eager recipients-to-be of those weapons is Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim terrorist entity closely aligned with Iran, which is headquartered in Southern Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border.

In the latest of the alleged Israeli attacks against Syria on Sunday May 5, an explosion rocked a military research facility outside the Syrian capital of Damascus.  “Military research facility” is a frequently used euphemism for chemical weapons factory.

Syrian officials called the early May attack a “declaration of War against Syria by Israel,” and warned of grave retaliation, but no specifics were given.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been brutally caustic in his criticism of Syria for failing to respond to Israel’s attacks. Erdoğan ridiculed the embattled Syrian president for being a “mute devil” for carrying out attacks on his own people but failing to stand up to Israel for its “aggression” against Israel and because Israel “occupies Syrian territory.”

Erdoğan was referring to the Golan Heights, a strategic location in Israel’s far northeastern border which Arab and Muslim nations and their sympathizers routinely refer to as “occupied Syrian territory.”  The Golan Heights were acquired by Israel in a defensive war, one which Syria waged against the Jewish State in 1967. Prior to Israel’s acquisition of the Golan Heights, the Syrians high up in the hills routinely shot at Israeli civilians who were frequently forced to sleep in bomb shelters.  The topography of the land rendered Syrians shooting at Israelis the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

THE GOLAN HEIGHTS: HOW IS IT ISRAEL’S, LET US COUNT THE WAYS

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Syria again attacked Israel and briefly invaded the Golan Heights, but were turned back in less than a day.  Following this defeat, Syria signed a “Disengagement Agreement” ceding the territory to Israel.  Eight years later, Israel formally annexed the territory.

In other words, Israel acquired the Golan Heights in a defensive war in 1967, it reacquired it in another defensive war in 1973, Syria ceded control of the territory in 1973 and in 1981 Israel formally announced its sovereignty over this strategic highpoint.  And yet the anti-Israel nations and the media and other enablers still refer to this area as territory illegally occupied by Israel.  That should be a lesson to those who believe, because they keep hearing it, that Israel is an evil occupying force:  facts have nothing to do with the claim.

RUSSIAN S300S

There was extensive speculation about whether or not Syria received from Russia a delivery of long-range S300 missiles in recent days.  Although in the text of Assad’s speech, distributed prior to his televised al-Manar interview, Assad stated that Syria had received the first shipment of those weapons, during the actual interview Assad did not use those words, and instead his language was very general.

The S300 anti-aircraft missiles have been described by Israel as a “game changer.” According to Israeli officials, there has thus far been no delivery to Syria of these weapons.  There is currently an EU arms embargo on Syria.

“The S300 would be the pinnacle of Russian-supplied arms for Syria,” Colonel Zvika Haimovich, a senior Israeli air force officer, told Reuters in an interview. “Though it would impinge on our operations, we are capable of overcoming it.”

Israeli government minister Silvan Shalom told public radio: “Syria has had strategic weapons for years, but the problem arises when these arms fall into other hands and could be used against us. In that case, we would have to act.”

Israel Hits Course to Energy Independence at 4 PM Saturday

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

After about four years rife with many delays, and after great difficulties in obtaining funding for the Tamar drilling platform, at precisely 4 PM Saturday natural gas began to flow from the site, 56 miles off shore, to the Yam Tethys reservoir in Ashdod.

The first injection was supposed to be done the day before, on Friday, but was delayed due to disagreements with officials at the Ministry of Energy, who tried to add last minute additional conditions before issuing the final permit to let the gas flow to Israel.

The use of the gas will commence within 24 hours. The gas is transferred from the sea through a special pipeline installed along the bottom of the sea to the Yam Tethys reservoir. It will flow from there to a gas absorption station in Ashdod and transferred from there to company customers: Electric Company power stations, and private power plants owned by the refineries in Haifa and Ashdod and Israel’s petrochemical plants.

Tamar natural gas is being produced thanks to huge investments totaling billions of dollars from a host of companies, mainly Noble Energy which owns 36% of the gas, and which also did the actual drilling at Tamar. Its three partners are: Delek Drilling (31%), Isramco (29%) and Dor Alon (4%).

The Tamar gas reservoir contains enough natural gas to support the Israeli economy’s needs for 25-30 years. The other big drilling site, Leviathan, is expected to provide the needs of the local economy for another 50 years. Absent any export sales, these two drilling platforms will enable Israel to achieves energy independence for more than 75 years.

The two sites also promise Israeli citizens cheaper energy sources, which are also less polluting than diesel and fuel oil.

The Bank of Israel estimates that the anticipated tens of billions received as taxes from the new sites, Israel’s economy may generate an additional growth rate of as much as 2 percent per year. Israel’s remarkable 2010 growth rate of 5% has slowed to 4.6% in 2011, and 3.3% in 2012. These rates have still outpaced most of the world’s industrial economies, and a close to 50% boost in growth from the new energy source could put Israel ahead of much of the free world in terms of economic activity.

The new Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said on Saturday afternoon that this is an “historical moment,” pointing out that it was only fitting that on the holiday of freedom, Israel is achieving energy and economic freedom.

“This day raises great pride,” Shalom said, adding that “the Tamar gas production will decrease the electric company’s production costs and will lead in the future to reducing the cost of power to the Israeli consumer.”

Businessman Yitzhak Tshuva, one of the main owners of the reservoir, said: “The vision became a reality. Now we’re going once again out of bondage. From dependence on foreign energy sources, we’ve come to blue and white natural gas independence. This is a great achievement for the Israeli economy and the beginning of a new era.”

Tshuva estimates that “this project will change the face of the Israeli economy and ensure the state’s energy independence. This is a new era full of opportunities for the Israeli economy, which can use the advantages of natural gas environmentally, geo-politically, socially and economically, and turn Israel into a major international player.”

New Netanyahu Coalition Govt All Cobbled and Ready, Maybe

Monday, March 18th, 2013

On Monday evening, the Knesset will host the swearing in ceremony for Israel’s 33rd government, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s third term—second consecutive—as prime minister (his first term ran from June 1996 to July 1999).

Immediately after the ceremony, Netanyahu will convene a brief cabinet meeting, with a toast. Then the bunch (22 ministers and 8 deputies) will travel to the presidential residence, for the traditional group picture.

The Knesset session will open with the selection of the Speaker of the House. It will likely be Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, who will replace the former Speaker, Reuven Rivlin, who wanted very much to continue in his post but, unfortunately, had committed the ultimate sin of criticizing the Prime Minister’s anti-democratic tendencies, not the kind of slight which Netanyahu’s wife Sara easily forgives.

As usual, Netanyahu never shared with Rivlin his plan to depose him. In fact, as far back as a year ago, he assured the popular Speaker—who is also closely associated with the Settlement movement—that he’d have his support for the post of President when Shimon Peres completes his 7-year term, 2014.

Yuli Edelstein’s life’s story is fascinating: Born in the Soviet Union to Jewish parents who converted to Christianity (his father is a Russian Orthodox priest), Edelstein discovered his Jewish connection through his grandparents. He studied Hebrew back when that was considered a subversive act, for which, in 1984, he was sent to Siberia (the charges were drug related, but everybody knew it was the Hebrew thing). He made aliyah with his wife, Tanya, served in the army, and entered politics, ending up in the Knesset in 1996. He has switched between several parties, until finally landing in the Likud, and has held several ministerial portfolios. And if he doesn’t catch Sara’s ire, he could become as memorable a Speaker as Rubie Rivlin.

But the biggest losers, without a doubt, are the Haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. They were almost literally kicked out by Yair Lapid, who stated openly that, should he be seen in the government group picture with the Haredim, his voters would abandon him. Surprisingly, Naftali Bennett, his newly found brother from a different father (Yair’s father, the late MK Tommy Lapid, was a true hater of the religion), supported the dubious position that, in order to truly help the Haredi public, government had to first be cleared of Haredi partners.

Shas, a party that depends completely on patronage for its very existence, is seething with anger over Bennett’s “betrayal.” It’s hard, however, to take seriously the victimized self-pity of Shas, whose spiritual father Rav Ovadia Yosef dubbed the Jewish Home party a “Goy Home.” Altogether, it appears that, perhaps counter intuitively, the National Religious leaders as well as the rank and file, have been harboring heaps of resentment against the Haredim. The Haredi slights of several decades, including their occupation of the Ministry of Religious Services and the Chief rabbinate, doling out jobs to Haredi officials who reigned over a population that looks nothing like them—those slighted chickens have been coming back to roost.

Take for instance Rabbi Hayim Drukman, who responded to both the Haredi pols and to Netanyahu, who accused the Lapid-Bennett axis of “boycotting” the Haredi parties. Rabbi Drukman Argued that “the Haredi public are the biggest boycotters, boycotting for years the Torah of the national religious public.”

“Any Haredi apparatchik who gets elected to the Knesset, immediately becomes a rabbi, while the real rabbis of the national religious public are noted in the Haredi press by their first names (without the title ‘Rabbi’). Is this not boycotting?” Rabbi Druckman wrote in the Saturday shul paper “Olam Katan.”

Inside Shas, the short knives have already been drawn and they’re aimed at MK Aryeh Deri, the former convict who came back from the cold to lead Shas into a glorious stalemate (11 seats before, 11 after).

“We were very disappointed in Deri,” a senior Shas pol told Ma’ariv. “He did not bring the votes he promised Rav Ovadia, there was no significant change in seats, and, in fact, Deri is responsible for our failure.”

In United Torah Judaism they also seem to regret their alliance with Shas, it’s highly likely that, in a few months, they’ll opt to enter the government without Shas.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/following-lapid-bennett-deal-likud-facing-civil-war/2013/03/14/

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