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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yair Lapid’

Lapid: Contractors Shouldn’t Be So Greedy

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Finance Minister Yair Lapid accused Israel’s building contractors of over-charging for housing and called on construction companies to forego profits for the benefit of young middle class couples. But Lapid stopped short of proposing a genuine free-market solution to Israel’s housing crisis: A massive buidling project in Judea and Samaria.

Speaking to the Globes financial daily, Lapid said he had proposed a series of steps to bring down housing prices in Israel, including exempting first-time home buyers from value added tax. But he pointed out that although land prices have fallen in Israel in recent years, housing prices have continued to rise over the same period of time. That, he said, is a clear sign of one thing: Greed.

“The real estate market enjoys a huge profit margin,” Lapid said. “Over the past four years, land prices have dropped, but housing prices have risen by 64 percent. The contractors certainly have places they can cut back.”

Lapid stressed that he does not want to put small contractors out of business by demanding they drop prices on their products, but he also warned there would be a “transition period” that could harm some builders.

While the finance minister – who in the past has referred to Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as a “double mistake – seems undeterred by the anti-capitalist notion that the state should set prices in a free market, he has also apparently refused to consider another free-market solution to Israel’s ongoing housing crisis: Massive building in Judea and Samaria.

Bringing thousands of new homes onto the market in Ariel, Gush Etzion and further afield would presumably lead to a sharp drop in housing prices in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other major Israeli cities. A building project would also ensure the livelihoods of small and large construction companies alike.

Instead, Lapid said he is concentrating on  a series of tax-related measures, and the hope that builders will forgo some of their profits.

“These steps will bring down housing prices,” Lapid said.

Coalition Crisis Looming Over Israel-PA Talks?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

There are no last-minute breakthroughs to report by either side in the Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations, and PA representatives report no progress while Israeli ministers are squabbling.

PA sources told reporters Sunday night, “The crisis continues. During the entire meeting the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found.”

But as the “framework agreement” talks continue to fall apart, Israel’s government coalition is now facing a crisis of its own.

In a Knesset plenum session on Monday, Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) called on the Hatnua party led by chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and the Yesh Atid party headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid to leave the government. “The failure echoes in all areas,” Herzog charged. “This is a government of failure that does not provide peace, only depression.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beyteynu party, seems to be heaping his own fuel to the fire. Liberman opened the door to new elections yesterday (Sunday April 6) with incendiary comments at The Jerusalem Post’s Annual Conference in New York, saying he would rather face new elections than extend the talks with the PA in another “grand deal.”

Liberman opposes the proposal advanced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that would have extended the current talks until the end of 2014. The proposal would have freed the last tranche of 30 terrorists – including 20 Israeli Arab citizens – as well as an additional 400 more PA prisoners chosen by Israel as well.

The proposal and the unilateral membership applications by the PA to 15 international United Nations agencies and organizations, have torn apart Netanyahu’s coalition.

Despite intense efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk, absolutely no progress has been made in months. Both men appear to realize that there is not much more to be done, and now appear to be backing away from the process at this point.

The Great Fix: Lapid and the Haredim Pushing Each Other’s Agenda

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Who would have believed that the political leaders of the Haredi public and Finance Minister Yair Lapid would find themselves as secret partners in the very same political fix?

The fact is that the new “equal burden” political maneuvering favor both the Haredi public as well as Yair Lapid, until the two have become Siamese twins. What a lovely pair. From now on, either side’s right to exist depends on the other. Take away the equal burden controversy and both would lose their core issue.

And so both sides are serving the ball to each other’s court and draw life from each other. The cries against the “draft decree,” the million men rally, the emergency conference of the Torah gedolim and all the rest of the fireworks coming out of the Haredi public serve Lapid well. In his next election campaign, he will present Haredi rage as confirmation of his commitment to enlist Haredim into the army. “I promised and delivered.”

Without the confrontation with the Haredim, Lapid could be erased in the next elections (as happened to his late father in the 2006 elections—from 15 seats down to 0.16% of the votes, less than a single seat). So that if there wasn’t a Haredi protest, Lapid would have had to invent it. It’s his insurance policy, and it might even increase his presence in the next Knesset. He can’t ask for anything better.

Likewise, the Haredim are coming out of the draft crisis as winners. The only true fear they had—economic retribution—was removed by Lapid Jr., to be replaced by criminal retribution against draft dodgers, which are never going to happen. And last week the Haredim won an even bigger advantage, when it was decided that Zionist yeshiva students, who always serve, will be counted as part of the Haredi quota.

And so we need to take with a grain of salt the Haredi screaming and yelling and threats of leaving the country, and even bloodshed (as was articulated by Rabbi Shmuel Deutch, a dean at Yeshiva Kol Torah). It’s a bluff, it’s one big collaboration between the two supposed enemies, it’s a fraud.

Except that the Haredim, rightfully so, prefer to hide their victory, the biggest they could hope for. If they dare express satisfaction about their enormous achievement, it could push the bill back to committee and change it for the worse. Much better to demonstrate and protest and plead with Heaven and Earth. It will also help with the fund raising abroad. What else can one ask for?

Former Shas Minister MK Ariel Atias whispered: “We never dreamed we’d get such a resolution. But we keep mum, we’re not allowed to talk.”

United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni stated in a closed meeting with Tzanz Chassidim: Our side won. We’re talking six years and a half years during which they won’t touch Torah students.”

Criminal sanctions? Gafni mused, adding: Even today, when there is a draft law for everyone, and a criminal threat hovered over yeshiva students, no one went to jail. But we mustn’t congratulate ourselves on this achievement, “if there are too many praises, they’d want to change the law even before it came to the Knesset plenum.”

At the same conference, Gafni ridiculed Committee Chair Ayelet Shaked, from the Jewish Home, despite her personal sacrifices on behalf of Haredi interests. “This klutz is sitting there, she makes me want to throw a desk on her,” he apparently said. It’s just his way of saying thank you.

Rank and file Haredim, and rabbis who receive their political information through “accepted” sources, are not aware of the grandness of the Haredi victory. They believe Yated Neeman when this publication screamed: “They’ve Raised a Hand Against the Torah of Moses” (and here we innocently thought that transgressing the mitzvah of “do not stand over your fellow’s blood” and not joining the army engaged in a holy war against our enemies – that this constitutes raising a hand against the Torah of Moses).

Haredi Rabbi Warns Lapid Is a Target for Assassination

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

A rabbi-lawyer warned  on radio that an “important’ Torah scholar told him that Yair Lapid is in line to be the first politician to be assassinated since the murder of Yitzchak Rabin 18 years ago.

The host of the radio show in the national religious Galei Israel radio station immediately half-joked that the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) was on the way to arrest the guest, Dan Halberthal.

The program, by coincidence or not, is called “Don’t Gag the Mouth.” Since the assassination of Rabin, police from time to time have arrested people for suggesting that someone should be shot, although officials have conveniently ignored outright incitement from Arab and even one or two Jewish Knesset Members.

Halberthal defended his statement and said he feels an obligation to make a public warning as a matter of prevention. For the record, The Jewish Press, like Halberthal, is reporting what was said. Nothing more and nothing less.

The background to the rage in the Haredi community is the work of the “Shaked Committee” that has drawn up legislation for a universal draft that would put draft dodgers in jail if they don’t report for military duty.

The sounds of voices of extremism and for violence are becoming more commonly heard in the Haredi community, according to Halberthal.

“A guest of mine on Shabbat, who is an important figure in the world of yeshivas, told me – and I think there is a lot of truth to it – that “there is going to be a new Rabin assassination. Lapid is going to be killed by a Haredi.”

Shrugging off warnings about the Shin Bet, Halberthal, who also lectures on Jewish judicial law, continued, “When someone tells me something that I think is true, I listen.”

In a subsequent interview with Channel 2, Halberthal said, “Since the murder of Rabin, there has not been such a situation… as with Lapid. He is a marked man in the Haredi community.

“It is not exceptional to hear comparisons between Lapid, Amalek, Haman and Auschwitz when his name is mentioned. On Purim, there definitely will be costumes of Lapid as the modern Haman.

Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that some crazy nut will get up one day and decide to carry out the act [of assassination].” The Haredi street is entirely emotional now, and I feel I must issue a warning.”

Bennett Slashes Import Duties on Dairy Products

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Custom duties on imported butter, yogurt and other dairy products will be drastically slashed in a move by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett to increase competition and lower prices.

Import taxes on some dairy prices account for as much as 100 percent of the final cost, according to Bennett, who also is chairman of the Jewish Home party. He said he expects importer to pass on the savings to customers.

Ironically, it was Bennett’s “odd couple” ally Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, who capitalized on the “cottage cheese” protests of two years ago to draw widespread support for his party in the last Knesset elections.

Haredi MK Porush: Netanyahu Is a Dishrag, We’ll Avenge the Draft Law

Friday, February 21st, 2014

The Haredi parties in the Knesset are enraged. The Knesset Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden headed by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, approved criminal sanctions for draft dodgers in the new draft law, to take effect in 2017.

Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev opposed criminal sanctions in committee, and his appeal will be discussed next week. MK Shaked abstained from the vote.

The brunt of the Haredi anger is directed at Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s media report Friday. Haredi activists feel that he just stabbed them in the back. After all, for so many years they used to be his natural coalition partners.

Criminal sanctions were approved after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu settled the dispute between Finance Minister Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett.

The angriest response came from United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush, who told Yeditoth Aharonot: “Netanyahu is a dishrag. Twice he was elected and received the leadership because of the support of the Haredi sector. But this week it turned out he is not an honest man. He’s an ingrate.

According to MK Porush, Netanyahu had declared that while he’s in charge there won’t be criminal sanctions against yeshiva students, and this week he broke his promise. Or as Porush put it, “He capitulated to Lapid.”

Porush insisted that as recently as two weeks ago Netanyahu had promised the would be no criminal retribution against yeshiva men who fail to register to serve in the army.

Porush says that Netanyahu offered to issue a press release with his commitment, and he, Porush, told him, “the press release doesn’t matter. It’s important that I know you won’t capitulate in the end.”

Now to the revenge part. The Haredim are pretty much determined to vote against any Likud candidate for president, simply because he’s from Likud. “If we’re third rate citizens, why should we support the Likud candidate?” Porush asked.

“The middle class is fed up with carrying the Haredi population on its back,” Finance Minister and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said at a Tel Aviv press conference Thursday. He said the new draft law would correct 65 years of a social and historic perversion. Starting next month, thousands of young Haredi men will be receiving their draft orders.

“In three years, 70 percent of Haredi students obligated to enlist in the military will serve in the army or national service,” Lapid said.

Criminal sanctions comprise the most controversial clause in the draft law since the previous legislation, the Tal Law, expired in 2012.

The unexpected benefactor of the new Haredi mindset will probably be former Foreign Minister David Levi. The Haredim have sworn to shoot down any presidential candidate who supports the new draft bill, and, apparently, David Levi, retired from political activity these days, is yet to come out for the new draft law.

Mostly because nobody asked…

Report: Senior Israeli Ministers Suspected of Ties with Foreign BDS

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The website KR8 reports that Israel’s foreign ministry has warned Prime Minister Netanyau regarding activity within his own government to encourage an international boycott against Israel. As a result, according to the report, Ministers Tzipi Livni, Yaakov Perry and Yair Lapid were not included in a recent special cabinet meeting with the Shabac, Israel’s internal security service.

KR8 points out that the three ministers belong to two parties that did not exist a year before the January 2013 national election, and that both have not disclosed the funding from foreign sources which allowed them to run effective campaigns to attract the “floating votes” between Likud and labor.

In Livni’s case, she had been voted out as chair of the Kadima party, disappeared from view for several months and reappeared with the financial muscle that enabled her to pick up 7 Knesset seats. Lapid’s rise to political success was even more resounding, going from no political experience whatsoever to 19 Knesset seats. The Israeli press has not questioned these two stunning feats of political prowess, even after both Livni’s and Lapid’s parties ended up as the only left-leaning coalition partners.

The angry report from the foreign ministry charged that Livni, Lapid and Perry have been so vociferous and adamant about the impending doom of European and American economic sanctions against Israel’s economy, should the Jewish State fail to sign a peace treaty with the Palestinians, that their message is now threatening to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Recognizing that some inside Israel’s leadership would actually welcome a boycott, European corporations are softening their resistance to BDS pressures.

When weighing capitulation to the BDS against potential Israeli retaliation, especially in the area of technology and hi tech, those European concerns would have likely chosen not to join the boycott. But when the media is flooded by Israeli voices that give legitimacy to the boycotts, it would make sense for the Europeans to associate themselves with the likes of the Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest, which has a long antisemitic record and strong ties with Iran.

Incidentally, speaking of Danske Bank, which has decided to boycott Israel’s Bank Hapoalim for “legal and ethical” reasons related to its operating in the settlements – is now facing allegations from state prosecutors of price manipulation “of a particularly serious nature” in connection with mortgage bond trading in 2009. Six employees have been suspended, and that only the start.

Instant Karma is such a pleasure to watch…

So far, there have been no confirmation to the KR8 story, which does not quote sources. The likelihood at this point that Netanyahu would fire the three erring ministers is low—while the right wing KR8 reporter’s view is that it is practically inevitable. But who know, Purim is just around the corner, and it’s a holiday renowned for a lot of Karma and of turning bad things around in the nick of time.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/senior-israeli-gov-ministers-suspected-of-ties-with-foreign-bds/2014/02/11/

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