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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Yuval Steinitz’

Steinitz to US: Israel’s ‘Minimum’ Is No Enrichment

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told his American counterparts in the Israel-U.S. strategic dialogue that Israel’s “minimum” in any deal with Iran was no uranium enrichment.

Steinitz described his meeting Wednesday with a U.S. team led by William Burns, the deputy secretary of state, as long and productive. Such meetings take place about twice a year.

Steinitz, speaking Thursday to Israeli journalists, said his message to the Americans was that the Iranians must be stripped of any enrichment capacity, describing that as “the minimal agreement for Israel to live with it in peace.”

Israeli officials have not said what the country would do should the United States and Iran strike a deal short of Israel’s demands, but Netanyahu has not ruled out a military strike to keep Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity.

The United States led major powers in renewing talks with Iran this month aimed at making more transparent that country’s nuclear program.

The talks were launched after the election this summer of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who campaigned on outreach to the West, partly as a means of relieving crippling sanctions.

Rouhani says he is ready to make more transparent a nuclear program he insists is for peaceful purposes, but he has ruled out any permanent end to enrichment.

The Obama administration has not publicly said whether it would accept continued enrichment, but reports have said that Western diplomats may accept uranium enrichment at 3.5-5 percent, well short of the 90 percent needed for weaponization.

Steinitz said that Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is such that even at 3.5 percent enrichment, it could break out to weaponization within months and would be able in its first year to manufacture 5-7 bombs.

Steinitz, who also met with lawmakers in Congress and Vice President Joe Biden during his stay, said he backed intensifying sanctions as a means of increasing leverage. Some leading congressional lawmakers back such an intensification; the Obama administration says that such a step now could scuttle the renewed talks.

The next round of talks between the major powers and Iran is set for next month.

Minister Steinitz: Intelligence Says Assad Army Used Chemical Weapons

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Minister of International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Kol Israel Thursday morning that Israel’s Intelligence service estimates that the Assad army indeed attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, adding that it was not the first time the Syrian army has done this.

Steinitz said the worldwide condemnation of Assad’s war crimes have been mere lip service, since no concrete steps have so far been taken to stop Assad’s ongoing massacre of his countrymen.

The minister called the UN inspection just begun in Syria “a joke.”

“The UN isn’t inspecting yesterday’s events, but events that took place half a year ago. Moreover, the designation of the investigation, to find out whether or not chemical weapons were used—without investigating who used them—is outright ridiculous,” the minister said.

Last night, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did call for an investigation of Wednesday’s gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, where as many as 1,300 people are said to have been killed. It is not clear, however, if his call is heeded by the Security Council.

Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who is considered a leading candidate to become the next president of Israel, said that what goes on in Syria is nothing less than a holocaust and a genocide, and the world—which condemns Israel for every tiny misstep—is standing by without doing anything.

Ben Eliezer emphasized that the red line drawn by President Obama has long since been crossed, and that Israel must remain on alert to prevent any of the Syrian chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah or al-Qaeda hands.

The Syrian government is denying any involvement in the attack, accusing the rebels of staging a propaganda ploy. And Assad’s traditional patron, Russia, is not flinching in its unabashed defense of its man.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition, Reuters reported.

“All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation,” Lukashevich said. “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of UN experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

Thirty-five member countries have called for the UN inspection team which has just arrived in Damascus to be allowed to investigate the newest attack.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, “This represents, no matter what the consequences are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences. We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation. Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus. We hope that they will be given access to the area by the government.”

The UN Security Council met in an emergency session over the incident, with protesters demonstrating outside its headquarters. When it ended, Argentina’s UN ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters: “There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.”

Which means the council is not explicitly calling the inspection team to investigate, it only welcomed Ban Ki-moon’s calls for one.

“The members of the Security Council also welcomed the determination of the Secretary-General to ensure a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation,” said Perceval, who is president of the council this month.

In other words, Russia said Nyet, and the new incident will remain outside the purview of the inspectors.

Bill Clinton Tried to Block Israel’s Taxing Newly-Found Gas

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Former Bill Clinton, the man who unwittingly carried out his promise for a “New Middle East,” worked as a paid lobbyist to pressure Israel against increasing taxes on natural gas from huge off-shore energy fields, former Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed.

Clinton’s wealth is estimated at well over $55 million, making him the richest living president, but no one knows better than him that “enough is never enough,” especially when it comes to “helping” Israel.

One of his most famous “accomplishments” as president was to engineer the signing of the Oslo Accords, with a grinning Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin at his side on the White House lawn. Clinton promised a “new Middle East,” and we got one when the Oslo Accords literally exploded in Israel’s face in 2002.

Clinton has not given up his version of helping Israel while making pocket money to boot.

Israel has the wonderful problem of figuring out how much to tax the gigantic natural gas pumped from discoveries off the Mediterranean Coast. The energy fields will bring billions of dollars in profits for energy companies, and the government wants a share of the natural wealth.

As Finance Minister, Steinitz proposed raising taxes on companies that developed the natural resources. The energy firms still would be left with envious profits but wanted to stop the tax hike, a reasonable objective for any company.

Clinton’s agreement to be its front-man raises serious questions about the ethics of a former president lobbying a foreign country.

“Pressure [against the tax hike] began from the White House,” Steinitz told the Hebrew language Maariv newspaper.

“The energy companies hired American lobbyists, including former President Bill Clinton, who sent letters and had discussions to dismantle the Shashinsky Commission,” which examined the natural gas issue, “and to stop the tax law.”

“Members of the U.S. Congress asked me for clarifications,” Steinitz said. “We began to feel a sense of pressure, as if we were doing something impeachable to commercial ties between the two countries. I tried to explain that we are among the countries earning the lowest rates from natural gas and petrol, that we get nothing and that the citizens of Israel have as much moral right to profit from public resources as do private companies.”

The Shashinsky recommendations for a tax increase in November 2010, and the pressure decreased, apparently under orders of President Barack Obama.

No one has accused Clinton of doing anything illegal, but the ethics of the former president’s polices and accumulation of wealth following his terms of office deserve examination.

“Between 1997 and 2003 …You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal. …Looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton,” said Charles Ferguson, whose documentary film Inside Job in 2010 won an Academy Award.

Clinton certainly did not have to lobby against Israel for lack of money.

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then,” Clinton has said in an understatement that would be laughable if not true.

“Reasonably well?” Let’s check.

As a lame duck president in December 2000, Clinton signed into law the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which ensured that derivatives could not be regulated. Two months later, shortly after leaving the White House, Clinton received $125,000 from Morgan Stanley for a speech Clinton he delivered to the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, according to the NakedCapitalism.com website.

“It’s not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects,” the site added.

If Clinton was only somewhat rich man before becoming president, he has more than made up for lost change.

In the decade after the end of his second term, he pocketed nearly $10 million for speaking fees. That comes out to a lot more than his hourly wage as president.

And who paid for the privilege of hearing his wisdom?

Citigroup: $250,000; Deutsche Bank, $150,000; Goldman Sachs, $300,000 for two speeches, and that is only three coins in the fountain.

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.

Finance Minister: Evacuating Beit El Is Morally Reprehensible

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz Sunday morning objected during the weekly cabinet meeting to the court-ordained plan to evacuate and demolish the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in Beit El.

Saying there are certain things which simply cannot be done morally, Steinitz added: “It is prohibited to evacuate Ulpana Hill on logical, Zionistic and moral grounds.”

He further noted that “even within the Green Line will not be evacuating an entire settlement or an entire neighborhood. I have suggested the principle of ‘seven square,’ meaning that any community with seven households or more, and has been on the ground for seven years or more will not be evacuated, even if someone proves ownership. Instead defendants would pay punitive damages. We would not have destroyed a neighborhood in Tel Aviv and Kfar Sava, even if after 20 years someone proves that he has title to the land.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak sharply criticized the Likud ministers who have been calling to prevent the evacuation of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood.

“There’s no no point in this rant,” Barak said at the start of the cabinet meeting, “much of this fervor is not based on a pragmatic discussion of the Ulpana neighborhood but comes out of other considerations which I do not wish to describe. The Defense and Civil Administrations are seeking, along with the Attorney General, to try and exhaust all our options.”

Israeli Labor Strike Causes Closures, Delays

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Israel’s main labor union, the Histadrut, declared a general strike on Wednesday impacting services across the country.

The Histadrut, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon were unable to come to an agreement over the conditions and contract terms for outsourced workers on Wednesday, with the failed talks leading to several closures, tie-ups, and delays.

The institutions which will be closed as a result of the strike include all government ministries, the National Insurance Institute, unemployment offices, Municipalities (meaning no parking tickets or garbage collection), religious councils, courts, the Chief Rabbinate, trains, ports, the Stock Exchange, and banks.  Ben Gurion International Airport will be on strike from 6AM to noon, and public hospitals are operating on reduced Sabbath schedules.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz chastised the Histadrut for calling a strike which is expected to cost the economy $400 million a week.

On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce against the strike, sayingit did not see a reason to intervene at this time.

An agreement between the Histadrut and the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations, which represents private employers, have reportedly come to an agreement on the same issues.  If signed, the agreement will obligate employers to hire full time outsourced workers who have been employed for at least one or two years, rather than maintaining them as outsourced workers through an employment agency.  Compensation of those workers would also be matched to that already given to workers at the hiring company.

Finance Minister Steinitz reportedly told Histadrut head Ofer Eini that a similar agreement could not be reached with the state, because hiring outsourced workers for ministries and agencies would end up costing too much.  Instead, he offered salary and benefit increases, and increased monitoring to ensure workers’ rights were upheld in government offices.

At a conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Steinitz explained that obligating the state to hire all outsourced workers would ultimately force it to hire everyone who provided a long-term service to the state.  He also noted that Israel would be the only OECD country hiring outsourced employees and requiring the same of local councils and high-tech companies.

State Comtptroller to Come Down Heavy on Steinitz, Yishai Over Carmel Fire

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Israeli State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will recommend the dismissal or transferal of of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai for their role in the Carmel fire that killed 42 people in December 2010, according to Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

His complete report will be published next week, but certain sections have been leaked.

Lindenstrauss wrote that Yishai, as minister responsible for Fire and Rescue Services, was negligent in fulfilling his duty to prepare for such a disaster. He also wrote that Steinitz is to blame for neglecting to provide the budgets required for the Fire and Rescue Services’ proper functioning.

The fire destroyed dozens of homes and over 12,000 acres of forest, in addition to the lives lost.

$225 Million Raised By Israel Bonds in One Night

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

A record $225 million was raised for the State of Israel on Sunday night at the annual Israel Bonds conference in Miami.

Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz, the guest of honor, gave a speech in which he encouraged American Jews to invest in Israel and declared that 2012 would be a year of great investment and economic growth in Israel.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Israel Bonds raised $1.1 billion in all of 2011.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/225-million-raised-by-israel-bonds-in-one-night/2012/01/23/

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