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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yair Lapid’

Lapid Calls for Unilateral Disengagement 

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid slammed Economy Minister Naftali Bennett Sunday, and threatened to bring down the government if Bennett’s plan to annex Judea and Samaria is adopted. Lapid also called for a building freeze.

In addition, Lapid called for an Ariel Sharon-style flight from Judea and Samaria “in order to preserve Israel’s Jewish character.”

Lapid warned that “if a Palestinian state is not established alongside Israel, the Palestinians will come to us sooner or later, with full backing of the world’s nations, and tell us: ‘Since you don’t intend to give us our own state, at least allow us to become citizens.’”

But he did not reference demographic evidence that the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria continued to decline in 2013, and refused to address the fact that neither the Arabs or the United Nations accept Israel’s unilaterally-drawn Gaza border. Despite Israel’s withdrawal, Palestinians and their supporters continue to describe the Gaza Strip as “occupied.”

In addition, Lapid failed to explain whether or not he had learned any lessons from the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005, or how he would prevent the security nightmare that plagues southern Israel – Israeli Civilians in Sderot and other Gaza border region communities have withstood nearly 10,000 rocket attacks from Gaza since the Gush Katif manoeuvre – from reaching other parts of the country, particularly Ben Gurion Airport, well within rocket distance of the Binyamin region of Samaria.

Budget Cuts Leave Israeli Air Force Training Flights Up in the Air

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The IDF is grounding training flights in the Israeli air force, effective immediately, according to a report late Tuesday night by Walla!

Starting next Sunday, pilots will fly only during actual operations and in flight school, IAF fighter jet commanders were told Tuesday night. The IDF decision to ground the planes includes reserve pilots as well, and was made jointly by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

The decision to clip the wings of Israel’s air force came after the Finance Ministry refused to send the Defense Ministry a payment of NIS 750 million ($215 million) for basic maintenance, training and drills.

Last October the Defense Ministry had asked for an increase in its budget after it had taken steps to streamline operations. The Cabinet approved a decision to transfer NIS 2.75 billion to the defense establishment from the budget surplus that existed at the time.

Nevertheless, Finance Minister Yair Lapid has continued to advocate for a cut in the budget instead, hoping to use those funds for social services.

In the long run, it may be that the equipment will come out the biggest loser of all, however. Brig.-Gen. (res) Assaf Agmon, head of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, was quoted as saying, “a plane that doesn’t fly suffers in terms of its condition; rubber dries out, the body is damaged. It’s for good reason pilots often air out their plane for 15 minutes before a mission, so as to preserve the plaine’s flight condition.”

A source in the Defense Ministry told Walla!, the Finance Ministry “refused to hold logical negotiations while at least making good on its earlier commitments, and therefore we had no choice but to make decisions like these.”

“The IDF planned in a responsible manner the work plans for 2014 according to the missions and the size of the army, as approved in October by the Cabinet, and in January by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committe,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement. “Throughout that time the meaning of the approval of a work plan with an inadequate budget was presented to all the relevant parties. It was made clear that in May, the IDF would reach an extreme point at which hard decisions would be required.”

Finance Ministry Leaves IDF Empty-Handed

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Finance Minister Yair Lapid was apparently not satisfied with the IDF decision to cancel military reservist training for the entire year.

A bare few hours after IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz made the announcement, the Finance Ministry also rejected a separate funding request for a cash infusion to the defense establishment.

Moreover, according to a source who spoke with Ynet, the ministry plans to slash more of the military budget for fiscal 2015.

Right down to the bone.

The ministry claims the cuts come in response to a Bank of Israel estimate released Monday urging the government to balance the books by raising taxes to the tune of some NIS 18 billion and trimming the budget in each ministry for fiscal 2015.

Critics say the IDF is using the elimination of reservist training as a weapon against the budget cuts.

Traditionally, the defense establishment has been the one area in which cuts kept to a minimum, if any are made at all. But there are those who believe the IDF should trim the number of career soldiers it maintains and take a second look at restructuring pensions and other benefits.

The chief of staff expressed his concern Tuesday in a statement warning, “This is no trick, and no shtick. I am very concerned. The IDF is in the service of the people, not the other way around. We will make every effort to secure the safety of Israeli citizens no matter the circumstances.”

But the question is how that can be carried out if reservists are untrained – and called upon to suddenly use — any new equipment that arrives on Israeli shores.

Moreover, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon pointed out Tuesday, the financial stress on the IDF is “not new – the figures were presented to the Cabinet at the beginning of the year.” The defense budget, he noted, “is not the biggest one” and he too warned that “it is growing smaller.”

Ya’alon said that due to Lapid’s budget cuts, “We will not call up reserves even for operational activity.”

Translation: All military activities will have to be carried out by active forces only – and most are young and relatively inexperienced. A high percentage have never been through a war.

At present, the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s paramilitary force has announced he believes it is time to end the security cooperation agreement with Israel. That Fatah-led force is on the verge of merging with Gaza’s Hamas terror organization.

If Lapid succeeds in slashing the IDF budget, what will happen should the new PA unity government decide to challenge Israel’s existence altogether in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, with aid from Arab nations?

MK Ze’ev Elkin to Chair Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Monday, May 12th, 2014

At last, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has a new chairperson: Likud Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.  It’s taken six months to get there.

Elkin will chair in rotation with senior Likud lawmaker and coalition chairperson Yariv Levin. Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi is expected to replace Elkin as deputy foreign minister.

To soothe the ruffled feathers of Yesh Atid chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, his choice for the post – Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah – will instead be made a senior deputy minister.

Lapid has been negotiating with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the issue, forever and a day. The position remained vacant since Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was forced to leave while facing corruption charges in a trial that acquitted him of the allegations last November.

The appointment now goes to the Knesset House Committee for ratification. If approved, Elkin will take the first rotation, until January 1, 2015. Levin will then serve 17 months, until June 1, 2016. Elkin returns at that point, and remains until 2017. Levin will also continue to serve as coalition chairperson until November 2014, and simultaneously chair the Knesset House Committee.

Who is to Blame for the Divisiveness?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

The Charedim are at fault. That statement coming from me should not be too surprising to those who constantly accuse me of Charedi bashing. They will cite it as further proof of that. But as I always say, I do not bash Charedim. I simply observe – and comment.  So how do I reconcile that with my opening statement? It’s quite simple, unfortunately. Anyone who read the latest edition of Mishpacha Magazine would come to the same conclusion.

In its cover story it reports on the survey that Mishpacha commissioned (originally reported in their Hebrew edition). They wanted to know what secular Jews in Israel really think of Charedim.  – the conclusion was quite revealing to its editor, Rabbi Moshe Grylak. The fact is that most secular Jews do not hate Charedim.

Additionally many other negative assumptions about secular Jews in Israel are also untrue… as I wrote about in an earlier post. His conclusion was that we should throw away all that misinformation and try to reach out more in the spirit of harmony and Achdus.  To paraphrase the immortal words of Rodney King, why indeed can we not all get along? We should.

Unfortunately Rabbi Grylak is part of the moderate Charedi world that does not reflect the current views of the rabbinic leadership there. Instead we keep hearing the same thing we have always heard. The narrative is the same. It’s almost as if these are pre-selected talking points. Old notions about secular hatred of Charedim still prevail. And that of course generates Charedi hatred of secular Jews in return.

In Mishpacha’s section on responses to the survey of both Charedim and secular Jews, we find stark differences.

In the very first interview we find a clean shaven young man, Dr. Chaim Zicherman who says that the solution to the problem is better Hasbarah (PR). He says that Charedim need to do a better job of showing the secular public what Charedim are all about… and not allow the negative images of them spun by the secular media to be their only source of information about them.

I agree. Charedim do need to reach out and make a better presentation of themselves. But then he falls into the same pattern of blame that many – even moderate Charedim fall into. He casts Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party as anti Charedi – equating it to his father Tommy Lapid’s Shinui party and all previous anti Charedi political parties.

Why can’t he realize that Lapid is not anti Charedi? There is no possible way that MK R’ Dov Lipman would belong to a party that is anti Charedi! Lapid’s political and media critics do not have the same access to Lapid that R’ Lipman does. He knows him and says unequivocally says that Laipd is not anti Charedi.

But they don’t care. They accuse R’ Lipman of selling out. But -as R’ Lipman has shown – there is ample evidence of Lapid’s desire to help Charedi get out of their poverty. Charedim counter that Lapid is anti Charedi because of some angry rhetoric they’ve heard or seen on his Facebook page. Or more recently the fact that he insisted on a criminal penalty for Charedi draft dodgers.

They always frame the issue this way: Lapid wants to throw Yeshiva students in jail because they want to learn Torah. That is patently false. Why can’ they frame it the way it really  is? …that Lapid simply wants to equalize the penalty for all draft dodgers?! Not that he wants to penalize Limud HaTorah! The oppsosite is true. He wants to install some Limud HaTorah into the secular schools!

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/coalition-crisis-looming-over-israel-pa-talks/2014/04/07/

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