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Tag: Tzipi Livni (page 1 of 3)

The Switcharoo – New Party in the Making Threatens Biberman Union

Photo: Eyal Yitzhar Reuters

Yep, there is no rest for the wicked in Israeli politics. A little while ago Bibi was on top of the world. He annexed Kadima into a unity government lead by Shaul Mofaz by giving him the Vice Prime Minister “position”, a step that created the largest coalition in government in Israeli politics history (April 2012).

October 12, 2012 Moshe Kahlon a widely supported member of the Likud party and rising star, (as well as Minister of Communications and Minister of Welfare & Social Services), suddenly announced his retirement from politics. He was walked out with much fanfare, hugs kisses and warm wishes from Bibi who was actually, for his own agenda, sorry to see him go. What Bibi was worried about was the ever lurking, Moshe Feiglin. The pesky Manhigut Yehudit leading hardliner, ran against Bibi for the 2012 Likud leadership election in January 31 and received 23% of the vote.

October 25, 2012 Bibi, the Wiley Coyote that he is, announced the now infamous Biberman union (Bibi+Lieberman) of the Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu – merging to a single party Halikud Beiteinu that will premier in the coming elections Jan. 22, 2013.

“A joining of forces will give us the strength to defend Israel from military threats, and the strength to spearhead social and economic changes in the country,” he said.

The polls showed that the union would form a strong base of at least 30 electoral votes with the other parties, Kadima, Labour, Shas (religious), Yesh Atid (Lapid’s new gig) holding smaller less threatening portions.

BUT THEN, the switcharoo. Moshe Kahlon who earlier announced his political hiatus for the sake of making some of the mighty green (he got a job from one of the local tycoons) had a change of heart. Why? Maybe the Biberman move was too much for him, maybe he realized that leaving the political scene would mean that when he got back he would need to contend with Lieberman. But in any case, today the news is that he is running some polls. The Polls are good. They show that if he runs with Tzipi Livni’s Kadima (what’s left of it) they would get 27 electorals opposed with the 30 electorals the Biberman union would get (Halikud Beiteinu). Or alternatively, if he ran with Shelly Yachimovich and her Labour Party the total would be the same as Bibi and that is an interesting place to be.

People are concerned with the Biberman union. It smells bad, here is a little parody just on that (Hebrew)

Kadima Calls Budget Cuts “Political Cowardice”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is introducing across-the-board budget cuts. This includes the reduction of water costs, the reduction of public transportation prices and the cancellation of the latest tax hike on gasoline. Furthermore, the minimum monthly wages will be raised by NIS 450 ($122).

As for the gas price in Israel, it will be slashed 23 Agurot per liter setting the price at 7.02 NIS per liter. The reason why the increase on January, 1st, was a good idea was that it made room in the economy for the electric car industry, which will see Israeli ingenuity celebrated worldwide in the coming months. However, Netanyahu and Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, folded under public criticism.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni of Kadima said:

“The budget cut is political cowardice and represents a lack of priorities.”

Adding that the lower classes are the ones who will be hurt by the move.

Knesset Member, Shlomo Molla, of Kadima said the Prime Minister

“has once again been exposed as a spineless man and a tireless zigzagger. There is no trust in this plundering government…Today they are lowering (taxes); tomorrow they’ll raise them. Netanyahu is entirely immersed in his political survival. This is why he must resign immediately…”

Israel Has a Friend In Italy

The Italian Prime-Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to Jerusalem on Monday to meet with our fearless Prime-Minister, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu. The visit was amiable and showed promise for Israel’s future as a welcome country in European eyes.


Bibi, in his Knesset remarks, said that

“Israel knows it has a great friend in Europe in Berlusconi.”

He also stated that

“this meeting will give momentum to relations between our two countries.”

“We appreciate you. We embrace you. We love you.”

said Netanyahu.
Silvio Berlusconi said he dreams of one day seeing Israel join the European Union as a full-fledged and influential member state.

“As long as I am one of the shapers of politics, my greatest dream is to include Israel among the European Union countries,”

said Berlusconi shortly after arriving together with top Italian ministers in a joint cabinet meeting with their Israeli counterparts.

Berlusconi informed that he only holds joint cabinet meetings with the most important European nations. He said his visit demonstrates that he views Israel as part of Europe.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the Italian delegation warmly, and announced that the Jewish country is lucky to have a friend like Berlusconi in a region traditionally unfriendly to the Jewish people and to Israel.

The visit kicked off with a gala dinner at the King David Hotel then the following morning Berlusconi held working meetings with Lieberman and Netanyahu, where Lieberman hoped to enlist Berlusconi’s help in applying stronger European pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.

He also met with opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni, before visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem; about which he said the remembrance of what had happened in his and other European countries made him feel

“like someone punched me in the gut.”

A further joint cabinet session happened at the Prime Minister’s Office, where the premiers and ministers reviewed bilateral agreements and decided on areas of cooperation in the coming year, with an aim of deepening relations between Italy and Israel. A press conference was held afterward.

On Wednesday morning Berlusconi addressed the Knesset in a special session, and then opened an exhibition of seven original sketches from Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus. The Italian premier will end his visit in the Holy Land with a lunch with President Shimon Peres at the President’s Residence. From there he will go to Bethlehem for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Berlusconi will be leaving Israel on Wednesday evening.

Silvio Berlusconi is among Italy’s richest men, estimated to be worth $6.5 billion.
He won his third term as prime minister in 2008, two years after his center-right coalition was voted out.
Mr. Berlusconi, 72, owns a business empire that spans media, advertising, insurance, food and construction.
He is also the owner of Italy’s most successful football club, AC Milan, admits he has had cosmetic surgery, has fought off repeated corruption allegations, and has been dogged by a sex scandal.

Israel is lucky to have such a good friend in him.

“Come Together, Right Now, Over The Likud”

Bibi evoked John Lennon on Thursday when he sang to Tzipi Livni and other Knesset members, “Come together, right now, over me.”

The invitation for the Kadima Chairwoman to join the Likud government was “in light of the security situation.”

A statement released from the Prime Minister’s office said:

“The prime minister met with the opposition chairwoman for about an hour and a half and briefed her on security and diplomatic issues… after presenting the issues at hand, the prime minister offered Ms. Livni to join a national unity government, in line with the model where Menachem Begin joined the government in 1967.”

The offer is completely “in view of the national and international challenges Israel faces at this time…the prime minister told the opposition chairwoman that the basis for joining a national unity government is the premise presented in his Bar Ilan speech.”

The Prime Minister insisted to skeptics, “I made a serious offer and I expect a serious answer. The outline is clear and no coalitional negotiations will be held.”

Livni’s reply was,

“if this is a genuine offer than, as I’ve said before, it is something to consider…However, this goes beyond the mutual understanding of threats. We have to explore this further and meet again… In any case, the final decision will be made by Kadima and not just by me.”

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar requested that both Livni and Kadima maintain “national responsibility” and comply to Bibi’s summons to form a unity government. According to Sa’ar, the decision must be founded on “the security, social and national challenges facing the country.”

This is a big step for the government, and it will be interesting to see what comes of it, especially given the sometimes obscure agenda of the Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown Apologizes

Apparently things aren’t as bad as we thought they were when I posted a couple of days ago about English lawyers issuing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials.

ivni brownIsrael’s President Shimon Peres said that the warrant was “one of Britain’s biggest political mistakes in recent years.” Before heading to Copenhagen for the climate conference, Peres said that London “had pledged to remedy this situation, and that it was high time it did.”

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the leader of the Kadima party on Wednesday to assure her that she is welcome in England anytime.

On Tuesday, Israel confirmed that Livni canceled her planned trips to London this month after she received word of a secretly issued arrest warrant, awaiting her British arrival.

Brown insists that he will take action to change the legal parameters that gave way to the situation, in the first place. Britain pledges to reform the strange legal auspices, which lets judges order the arrest of visiting politicians and generals. One day, under the current legal stance, arrest warrants could feasibly become issued against Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin, let alone Israelis.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued this statement:

“Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We are determined to protect and develop these ties….Israeli leaders – like leaders from other countries – must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government.”

British Lawyers: Fe Fi Fo Fum I Smell The Blood of A Palestinian

An arrest warrant has been issued in a London court against Tzipi Livni for alledged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead. Livni’s office had this to say:

livni in the UK

“The opposition chairwoman is proud of all her decisions regarding Operation Cast Lead. The operation achieved its objectives to protect the citizens of Israel and to reinstate Israel’s deterrence capability. Livni will continue to present this stance everywhere in the world…Hamas is not a dialogue partner, and we must therefore take forceful action against them, while engaging in negotiations with moderate elements. As such, no comparison between IDF soldiers and terrorists can be made. This is Livni’s position whether or not an arrest warrant was issued, which is something we are as of yet unaware of.”

A few months ago, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Britain, he was faced with accusations by local lawyers of committing war crimes; but the court rejected the accusations, and Barak was not detained.

In 2005, Major General Doron Almog arrived in London, but remained on board his plane and was forced to fly back to Israel in fear of being arrested. The warrant issued against him was eventually canceled.

Similarly, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon postponed a recent trip to Britian following legal recommendations. Pro-Palestinian British lawyers are hot on the Jewish State’s trail.

Livni has canceled her plans to speak at Jewish National Fund’s Vision 2010 conference held in Hendon, near London. She insists that it is not out of fear of being arrested, but these claims are suspect.

Navy Seals Commandeer Antiguan Ship Carrying Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah

During an overnight raid on Tuesday last week, the Israeli Navy, about 100 nautical miles off the coast west of Israel and near Cyprus, seized hundreds of tons of weaponry on a ship sailing with an Antiguan flag. The weaponry was sent by Iran and destined for Hezbollah, in Syria.

The IDF was monitoring the Francop for several days before Navy Seals boarded it in the middle of the night. When they found the dangerous cargo, they easily commandeered it and sailed it to Israel.

The government of Antigua informed Israeli Intelligence that a ship left from the Bandar-Abbas Port in Iran with cargo which was shipped through the Suez Canal, unloaded in the Mediterranean Port of Damietta in Egypt and then loaded onto the Francop. The intended destination was the Latakia Port in Syria.

The ship’s crew was unaware that there were weapons on board, as they were disguised as humanitarian aid.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem denied the entire event. He said:

“Unfortunately there are official pirates disrupting the movement of goods between Iran and Syria, I stress, the ship was not carrying Iranian arms bound for Syria, nor was it carrying material for manufacturing weapons in Syria. It was carrying [commercial] goods from Syria to Iran.”

Meanwhile both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres complimented the Navy and the IDF, for the exemplary execution of a critical operation.

Today in Knesset, Tzipi Livni said:

“We all today praise the Navy and IDF over the seizure of the ship – it’s not a controversial matter. There are issues over which there are no coalition and opposition. We are all partners in the people of Israel’s war on terror – whether it’s Hamas, Hizbullah or other supporters [of terror]. Well done.”

Now since the world is basically ignoring this OBVIOUS WAR MONGERING ACTION BY IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH LAYING THE GROUND WORK FOR THEIR NEXT WAR – WE THOUGHT WE WOULD PUT TOGETHER A LITTLE GALLERY FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE (again, these are not weapons as the Syrian Foreign Minister explained, these are commercial goods!!!!)

Trouble in Kadima

I attended a political event a few months ago where the speaker stated emphatically, and what may be construed as presumptuously, that if anybody wants to make a difference in Israel politically, there are only two parties to join. One is Likud, and the other is Labor. Anticipating the question, he immediately addressed the subject of Kadima, which, he said, would slip out of existence in the coming years.

I wasn’t sure if I believed him or not. I simply preferred to sit back and see if he was right. Well, two pieces of news came out today that are inching in that direction.

MollaFirst, is a story you’ve probably heard before. A Knesset Member pocketing campaign donations, and even charity donations, from US organizations. Well, who doesn’t these days? Or otherwise misuse earmarked funds for some such thing – apartment renovations (Dalia Itzik, former Knesset Speaker), inordinate travel expenditures, whatever. The case here is that of Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, who, sadly, is the only Ethiopian parliamentarian in the Knesset today. As such, I hate to see him get himself into this mess, because the Ethiopian community really needs strengthening, and doesn’t need its representative embroiled in scandals. But what’s done is done, allegedly of course.

Here’s the scoop. Molla was first caught lying about a BA he received from Bar Ilan University, when in fact he never finished the degree. While that’s annoying, it’s not exactly horrible scandalous. But now, he is accused of pocketing money from private organizations that supported his campaign. Instead of using the money for the campaign, he bought presents for his family. Well, you could argue that he would have used his own money, which would now have been dedicated to the campaign, but you can’t really prove that.

He also took a $17,000 donation from a Jews for Jesus group, who gave him the money on condition that $10,000 would go towards the needs of the Ethiopian community in Israel. Allegedly, the money was transferred to his personal savings account instead. A source close to Molla said that he kept saying that “…it was not important, that the money only came from Jews for Jesus and not from real Jews,” and that “He tried to make them sound ugly so that no one would care about what happened to the money.”

On a more holistic Kadima front, the editor-in-chief of the party’s website, Amir Segal, wrote an op-ed piece on the site. It was about Kadima head and opposition leader Tzipi Livni. “The de-legitimization Livni is suffering from is not just her private problem,” he wrote. “It radiates onto the entire party. More and more Knesset Members and central activists feel comfortable challenging, criticizing or showing contempt for their chairwoman.”

So we’ll see what happens there. ‘Tis hard to tell whether Kadima will survive, or split. Maybe they will, maybe not. And maybe Labor will come shooting back if Kadima trips. Or maybe the Messiah will come in the meantime or something. I give him 10 minutes.

Bibi Dancing the Tightrope – Don’t Blow on Him!

livniIn our previous two part analysis of Netanyahu’s political options, which turned out to be pretty much zero besides staying exactly where he is and not disturbing the status quo, we were obviously unaware of the magnitude of the Prime Minister’s genius when it comes to political chicanery.

We wrote that he couldn’t go left and issue a settlement freeze for wont of angering the right flank of his coalition. On the other hand, he couldn’t just let settlement building keep going, because then Labor would get really mad. True, the Labor part of the coalition only comprises 8 seats out of Netanyahu’s 69 (Labor’s other 5 seats do not consider themselves a partner in the coalition), they still have enough power to tip the scales.

But over the weekend Netanyahu did something so genius that he angered everyone – but spread out the anger in such a way that the anger won’t cause any of them to revolt against him. They’ll all just be annoyed and dissatisfied and kvetchy.

What he did, was this: “You want a freeze, Labor/America? I’ll give you a freeze. You want building, Likud/rest of my coalition? I’ll give you that, too, so let me do both. I’ll build first, and then I’ll freeze later.

Genius! The move, however, was not Right enough to quell his Right flank, so he revised it by saying that he’d build first, and then “freeze” later, “freeze” now being newly defined as “slow down.” The Arabs certainly won’t like that one.

America, of course, is “upset.” And for the Arabs, of course, this is “unacceptable.” But what are either of them going to do? Meanwhile, Bibi’s government breathes another breath. The problem is, someone breathes too hard, and he falls off the tightrope.

The only people he really angered were the people he could really afford to anger, that is, the opposition. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni aid it best when she got to the core of what Bibi is trying to do, which is not make any concrete decision in any direction. “Israel’s leaders, the elected government, in my opinion, still hasn’t made a choice between two different outlooks. One, Jewish existence in every part of Israel, and two, the existence of a Jewish democratic state,” she said in a speech at an IDF pensioners’ event.

In a way, she’s right. However, the choice between a Greater Israel and Jewish democratic state may not be so clear cut. There must be a way to have your cake and eat it too…but it’ll take someone a lot more creative than Netanyahu to figure that one out.

Madonna In Tel Aviv Video

In case you missed it (I have no idea how…) Madonna was here and left last night. She was at the city of Safed yesterday (the Kabbalah capital) and met with Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni on seperate occasions. Her concerts were a great success and the second show with tickets available was immediately sold out after the first show.

Madonna in Israel for Tel Aviv Concert

Madonna in IsraelJust when I thought I’ve seen it all, this happens. Madonna, on tour in the Holy Land for a Tel Aviv concert, went on a double date last night with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni and her husband. But that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that Madonna, a student of pop Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, is in Israel with her boyfriend whose name just happens to be Jesus. Livni’s husband’s name is the relatively more Jewish sounding Naftali Shpitzer. I’m sure Jesus and Shpitzer hit up a storm. I’ll just leave it at that and call it a strange day.

It is actually reported – I mean people know about this, which is the surprising thing – that Madonna ordered fish and Jesus ordered meat. Witness described the couple as “happy.” That’s “good.”

Before her Tuesday night concert in Tel Aviv, Madonna headed to Jerusalem’s Old City and walked through the tunnel tour under the Wailing Wall. She was brought to the tunnel by police, not talking to any reporters, and then was escorted away half an hour later.

This is Madonna’s first concert in Israel since 1993, which she was young and blustery 35-year-old. She is now 51.
The pinnacle of her trip, besides the concert of course, is her high level meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the two will probably discuss solutions to the Middle East conflict. Her ideas couldn’t be worse than anyone else’s I guess.

I’m just joking. They’ll probably talk about…I really don’t know. But I’m anxiously awaiting the report on whether Madonna orders the fish or the pasta. And what Netanyahu thinks of Jesus.

Disengagement: Success or Failure?

Moof MoofWho stands for what, exactly? PM Netanyahu, even though he voted for the disengagement back in 2005, and then resigned from the government because of it (he’s always so consistent) came out today saying that it was, in fact, a catastrophe and it won’t happen again. On the other side, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, along with her number 2 Shaul Mofaz, reiterated their support for what they both termed a “historic process.”

The good thing about this is that we can start to see clear differences between Likud and Kadima now, whereas Kadima’s ideology has always been a point of ambiguity. With Labor quickly dying out and splitting in the meantime, Kadima may be basically the new Labor. Livni even went so far as to say that Netanyahu was implying a return to Gush Katif in the strip. Realistically speaking, it is doubtful whether Netanyahu actually meant that. As a matter of fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb here (it’s a fairly sturdy limb) and say that Livni was just trying to paint her former Likud party as “Extreme Right Wing” and herself as the pragmatic centrist that, what the heck – she’ll gladly go for another round of unilateral withdrawals.

Mofaz came out indirectly in support of future disengagements as well. He called it, an “historic process that helped keep many Israeli citizens out of harm’s way and gave the army the freedom to act against the terror organizations and the Iranians’ hold on Gaza.”

Uhhh….OK then. Do you think Mofaz is going to break away and join Likud now, with the Mofaz Bill all done and passed (which would allow him to break away from Kadima with 6 other legislators)? With those kinds of positions, I doubt Likud members would vote him in at primary time next round.

So then what will the Mofaz Bill accomplish, if not bait him to join Bibi? Splitting Labor and hurting his own coalition seems like a reasonable possibility.

Lieberman “If I’m indicted, I’ll quit all my political positions”

Avigdor LiebermanIs Avigdor Lieberman the big bad wolf, or really a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Following a number of allegations being made against him by the police for crimes that include money laundering, and accepting bribery, Israel’s Foreign Minister now appears to be ready test his popularity among his own party, Yisrael Beitenu, as well as the Likud led Netanyahu government. By threatening to leave political life, including heading his own party, his cabinet post, and even his Knesset seat, Lieberman hope to get his constituents to rally around him and in the end make him even stronger politically. This supposition became apparent when he stated yesterday that he believes that he will no only win out over the legal case that is built against him, but will even garnish more Knesset mandates (as many as 20) in the next election.

“I reviewed everything I said in the questioning sessions, and I am at peace with all of my actions,” he said. “If I had the opportunity to do things over again, I would do the same.”

The question a lot people are asking, what “things” is Lieberman talking about? Obviously, the F.M. still has a number of issues to work out concerning his activities, both business and political, which seem to be mounting up against him. Since being chosen for the second highest cabinet post behind the Prime Minister’s, Lieberman has not exactly won over most of the world as well as many people here in Israel. Only perhaps in Russia has he been able to find a bit of respect, as he sees eye to eye with people such as Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin. But in the rest of Europe, as well as the USA, his manner has been not well received by virtually everyone he has come in contact with.

Political circles in Jerusalem are already speculating as to who would replace Lieberman should he step down. Most likely, Deputy F.M. Danny Ayalon (a former ambassador to the USA) would temporarily replace him, which makes a lot people happy as Ayalon was very well liked during his tenure in Washington. As to who would replace him in his own party, right winged No. 2, Uzi Landau, would be a likely candidate; although his personal political views are a bit on the extreme side.

Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni doesn’t appear willing to join a Netanyahu led government, so her likelihood of again assuming the post is not likely at present. But in the game of Israeli politics, anything is possible, however.

But the police appear to be putting a case together against Lieberman, and are being backed up by former Police Chief Inspectors, and other high police officials. But Lieberman has managed to keep himself ahead of his accusers before, and could very well be successful again. It all depends on who really is running the police.

The Coalition Cat Fight

Are you ready for a OneJerusalem quick analysis of Knesset Mayhem?

Keep that circus music in your head now as you read this. By the numbers, PM Netanyahu’s coalition is 74 seats made up of 6 parties. He now wants to pass a bill called the “Mofaz Bill” which would allow for 7 Knesset members to break away from a party and form their own faction. This bill is named after the guy on the right, number 2 on Kadima, currently in the 46-member opposition, who has been irking to join the government against the wishes of his party leader Tzipi Livni, and who has 7 MK’s from his faction that he could break off and join Likud with. Netanyahu wants to do this to break up Kadima, a 28-member faction, down to 21.

Meanwhile, another Kadima MK has thrown a monkey wrench into the shoe factory by sticking an addendum to the bill which would allow 4 MK’s to break off instead of 7. He did this because of the 4 “Labor Rebels” who are technically part of Netanyahu’s government, but sure as heck don’t want to be. They are these guys:

rebelsFrom left to right, Eitan Cabel, Amir Peretz, Yuli Tamir, and Shelly Yachimovich. If 4 can break off, then these four might break off from the 13-seat Labor faction, which Labor leader Ehud Barak, who is part of the government, sure doesn’t want, so would he support the bill? That’s the monkey wrench.

Many people don’t like these moves because they change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. Now, to get into the nitty gritty, Netanyahu also wants to pass a land reform bill which would allow private citizens to own land instead of leasing it from the Israel Lands Administration. The current set up is meant to prevent the sale of land to non Jews who may slowly buy up the state from Jews and keep it. Netanyahu, last week, failed to pass this law because various members of his coalition ran out of the plenum in the middle of the vote so it wouldn’t pass. He got angry, tabled the bill at the last second, and threatened to fire ministers who didn’t support it the next time around.

Now, the 3-member Jewish Home faction is threatening not to vote for the land reform bill round 2 if Netanyahu doesn’t support the Slomiansky Bill, another game changer meant to allow one MK from each faction to retire from the Knesset if named a minister and get his seat back if he is fired from the government. This is meant to allow Jewish Home number 4 Nissan Slomiansky into the Knesset if Jewish Home number 1 Daniel Hershkovitz, Sport Minister, retires from the Knesset.

This is a limited Norwegian Law, and the reason a full one isn’t being passed is that Netanyahu would rather be seen in his underwear than pass a full Norwegian Law that would see over 10 Likud ministers retire from the Knesset and Netanyahu’s arch enemy Moshe Feiglin get in and cause him trouble.

In return, Netanyahu is threatening not to support the Slomiansky Bill if Jewish Home doesn’t support the Land Bill (support of which is needed for it to pass), who in return is threatening not to support the Mofaz Bill if Netanyahu doesn’t support the Slomiansky bill.

SLOW DOWN!

Basically, if any of this circus makes too many people unhappy, the government falls and we go to elections again.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to build nuclear weapons. Numbers really don’t matter so much when it comes to that minor detail.

That’s it for this week’s installment of “Israeli Knesset and Me.”

Bibi gets a C on first 100 days in office

Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has just completed his first 100 days in office, and judging on who’s score card you’re looking at, Netanyahu’s second go-around as Israel’s head of government hasn’t been very exciting – so far at least. The right-of-center Likud Party chairman and “spin-master” for creating his version of shaping future events in Israel and the Middle East, has overall not been given high marks by those who have rated his performance to date – including fellow right-wingers who expected something more concrete from the man who’s election campaign rhetoric spoke of much higher ideals and agendas than what has been demonstrated so far by him. Netanyahu’s recent trip to Washington, and his meeting with US President Barack Obama, did not turn out to be what he had hoped; and Bibi’s wife Sarah Netanyahu was completely snubbed by Obama’s wife, Michelle.

Bibi meeting Obama - check out the body language..Although Bibi finally did agree to the “two states for two peoples” idea, and to follow the road map that had originally been put forward by the Americans during the Bush Administration, the idea of a Palestinian State alongside Israel did not turn out to be positive enough for the Palestinians to accept outright (the West Bank Palestinians, that is – forget about the Hamas ones in Gaza) and was too “concession minded” to be accepted by most Likud party members, as well as other right-winged Israelis.

Trying of set right the economy, with the help of Bibi’s good friend Yuval Steinitz, who the Prime Minster chose to be his finance minister, has not worked well at all; and several proposed economic reforms had to be either canceled or altered following strong protests by the general public. What finally did get drafted appears to have been less than beneficial to those sections of Israeli society who are now the worst off in the current world economic slow down. Although he did succeed in getting a 2 year budget draft passed, his ‘flip-flopping’ on a number of financial issues was in sharp contrast to promises he made during the recent campaign. A good example of economic mind changing was in regard to first imposing then canceling the VAT on fruits and vegetables. His greatest critics have been Tzipi Livni and her Kadima Party, now in opposition.

And finally, there are the two prominent issues of the Iran nuclear problem (to attack or not to attack – that is the question) and the one dealing with captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, for whose release Netanyahu had said would be the government’s top priority. This too has so far turned out to be “all show and no go” as the “separation” between Israel and Hamas is still too wide. “The Israelis dwelled too much on who would be released in the exchange and who would not; and this in the end killed the deal” said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had tried to lend a hand in broking the latest negotiations to free Schalit. This means that Schalit’s father, Noam, will most likely give bitter remarks about Netanyahu as a leader, as he did concerning the previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

So taking all of the above into account, the Prime Minister only gets a C on his First Quarter report card.

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