a different side of Israel

Tag: Tzipi Livni (page 3 of 3)

Who will blink first?

Livni had about a month to form a coalition ever since she was elected Kadima’s. But in the past 28 days she seemed to hurry nowhere, conducting the negotiations quite sluggishly.

Today her 90 minutes are up, and she only has a single round of overtime. (if you’d excuse my soccer metaphors). This morning, Mrs. Livni met with the president Shimon Peres and was granted 2 more weeks to try and form a government. If she fails, then the country is automatically thrown into an election period.

Until this moment the gap between her Kadima party and Shas is so wide, that it seems she has much work to do if she wants to bridge the differences. But I also think that Shas is just as eager to remain in the coalition, and as time progress, they will become more and more flexible in their demands.

And Tzipi Livni knows that. So perhaps that’s the game she’s playing. Is she a poker-face player (as evident by her past in the Mossad) or a weak politician (as her opponents claim)?

Economy’s Bloody Sunday

Wall Street recently faced yet another historical Black Monday, and yesterday the crisis has finally traversed both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, when the Israeli Stock Exchange, located at E’chad Ha’ham Street, encountered its very own Black Sunday.

Israeli Stock Exchange at 54 Ehad Aham St.
Image via

Interestingly enough, although E’chad Ha’ham refers to a specific person in Jewish history, it can also be translated to “the man on the street”. So while America has its Wall Street, we have our Man on the Street Street.

So stocks are tumbling. What’s next? Presumptive Prime Minister Tzipi Livni and Labour chairman Ehud Barak met yesterday together with top economists to discuss the unavoidable crisis. Livni and Barak are currently negotiating the state’s budgetary constraints, since the Labour party (Ha’Avoda) has many demands it wishes to see fulfilled before it agrees to join Livni’s coalition. But when the economy is shaking and tumbling, can Livni afford Barak’s price tag?

We already know that some the of the major banks in Israel, Leumi for example, were highly exposed to Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. How will this affect our saving accounts and pension plans? Leumi executives say it’s too early to tell.

Can the Israeli man on the street handle the crisis at the Man on the Street Street?

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova

It’s dimming earlier these days; wind is getting stronger. Yes, it’s autumn again, and the air conditioner is no longer a man’s best friend.

In short, a new year is upon us, and I want to wish you all a Shana Tova (Happy new year) and Gmar Chatima Tova (May you be inscribed in the book of life)!

What have we seen this past year?
  • A raging march of corruption allegations sprouting from within government corridors. Yes, former Minister of Finance stole millions of Shekels from Holocaust survivors. Yes, yet another Prime Minister is knotted up to his head with police investigations. Yes, Minister of Justice (a dear friend of these aforementioned politicians) is crusading in an attempt to crush the legislative authority’s independance.
  • Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, American Mutual – big names that have become empty vessels. The beginning of the end of the Capitalistic age? It’s too soon to tell. However, one thing has become clear, as newsman Yaron London said yesterday: “People start to realize that Economy is not a distinct science; Economy is the very heart of politics.”
  • Three children, in three separate families, were murdered by their parents this past summer in our tiny piece of land. In a country that doesn’t seem to give a damn about its social infrastructure, this — sadly — doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Shahar Tzuberi made us all proud this September when he won the only Israeli medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics. With his modest look and his unrelenting motivation, he proves yet again that Water Sports are gathering momentum in Israel… Splash!

Gmar Chatima Tova

And what may lay down the road?
  • Tzipi Livni may become Israel’s second female Prime Minister, just in time to (presumably) greet America’s first black president.
  • The tumbling economy is raising Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States, reminiscent of 1929.
  • Municipal elections in November are raising much public attention, with both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv displaying an intriguing line of candidates. Will Dov Khenin live up to his hype? Will Arieh Deri somehow storm his way back into the center of the political stage, after spending several years in the confiding comfort of a jail cell? Will the Ussishkin Arena ever get rebuilt?
  • Abu Mazen is ending his four years in office this coming January, opening the door for a Hamas-controlled West Bank.
Bottom Line

We have much to lose and much to gain. Emotions are running high, and I think that’s a good thing — We are finally stepping out of our long-embedded apathy. The world is changing before our eyes, and in this Internet-entwined culture of ours, the man in the street has never been so influential before.

Take care and enjoy this holiday season!

Sexist Politics

Ehud Barak is playing hard to get with Tzipi Livni, being the last politician to avoid her so far. But we’ve seen how hard to get he had been with Olmert, despite all his promises to resign the government. (hard as a *****)

Barak at the Pentagon in 1999
Image via Wikipedia

What has suddenly changed? Tzipi will proceed exactly where Olmert left off, and that’s exactly what Barak himself demanded a few months back.

Obviously this is a tactic move, part of the negotiation process — but would we see him similarly avoiding Shaul Mofaz, had the former Chief of Staff were elected Kadima chairman? Probably not. I believe Barak is only doing this because Livni’s a woman, and he thinks it’d be easy to throw her off balance.

Yes, he fits the sexist type.

BTW (Off topic),
Don’t have a ticket to go see Paul McCartney at the park on Thursday? No worries! Channel 10 will broadcast the whole event live!

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Who are you Tzipi Livni?

The primary of the Kadima party is about to take place this Wednesday. The two front-runners are the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Tzipi Livni, and the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Shaul Mofaz. The person who will be elected by the Kadima party members is very likely to replace Ehud Olmert as Israel’s next Prime Minister.

Shaul Mofaz boasts his experience as the IDF’s General Chief of Staff, but not many people know that Tzipi Livni has had her own share of “rough” experience. It’s been revealed in the news in the past few weeks that Livni served in the Mossad while in her 20’s, and that she was stationed in Paris for a period of time. Obviously there’s no mention of what she was doing there, and she cannot brag about that chapter in her life, but it leaves one wondering how much we don’t actually know of this woman. As an avid news reader, I still have no clue where she stands on many of the issues, and what she plans to do in case she enters the PM office.

This is Tzipi Livni 12 years ago:

Mofaz refuses debating

The Kadima primary is just a few weeks away, and there are currently 4 candidates. Avi Dichter, one of the candidates, suggested having a televised debate, where the candidates can voice their opinions on the urging matters of the Israeli society. However, Minister of Transportation, Shaul Mofaz refuses to participate in such a debate, making the suggestion virtually pointless. Mr. Dichter is very unpleased with Mofaz’ refusal, and he may even push to have a 3-way debate instead.

As I’ve previously mentioned here on the blog, political debates do only good, no matter the political context.

The Square Centimeter Dream

In a way, one might feel sorry for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as his weekend Arab Summit in Damascus was rampant with “no-shows”, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki of Iraq all boycotting it, to name a few. Some leaders, who did show up, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi seemed more interested in getting photographed, rather than making any outstanding contributions to improving things in the region.

Dumb DumbFor his part, Bashar al-Assad used the meeting to express his willingness to enter into talks with Israel, as long as Israel is willing to return to the June 4, 1967 borders, which includes the entire Golan Heights “down to the eastern shore of the Kinneret”. Assad emphasized this point that saying he is not willing to compromise “on even one square centimeter of the Golan Heights” which as far as most Israelis are concerned, puts the situation of a possible peace deal with Israel’s eastern enemy back to shit’s creek.

Despite Assad’s hard stance, it was revealed that Syrian officials are saying that a “line of communication” has been opened between Damascus and Jerusalem, and that they, the Syrians, now say that the ball is in Israel’s court in regard to actual negotiations between the two countries. The two day Summit ended with a call for Israel to accept an Arab sponsored peace initiative, most of which is completely unacceptable by Israel.

No high ranking American officials were present at the Summit. Meanwhile, Israeli government officials, meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have agreed to make life a bit easier for West Back Palestinians by proposing to remove as many as 50 roadblocks to make traveling by Palestinians within the West Bank as well as to Israel itself more easier. It has also been disclosed that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and other Israeli officials have been meeting with Palestinian officials like Abu Allah in secret locations in and around Jerusalem; the purpose of which is to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.. These meetings, however, have not included any Hamas leaders, who are still confined to Gaza by both Israel and West Bank Palestinians.

Assad obviously has more than just national pride in mind in wanting to regain his lost territory. Like most other countries this region, Syria has a chronic water shortage that makes one of Israel’s main sources of fresh water look exceedingly attractive. The streams on the Golan, many fed by melting snow from Mt. Hermon, are one of the Kinneret’s important water suppliers. Syria would like to have the lake’s eastern shore back in it’s possession so it can simply pump water out of the lake like it did prior of June 4, 1967. With the present lake level already reaching the critical “redline,” even Israel may soon not be able have this important water supply available, let alone Syria.

So in the end, any proposed peace talks are not likely to have much chance of succeeding, unless Syria and Israel are willing to compromise.

Condi Tries to Put Humpty Together Again

While U.S. Senator Hillary was reveling in her March 4th Democratic Party primary victories, another American public servant, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was back in the Middle East trying to mend fences between Israel and the Palestinians following the recent escalation of violence that has left 4 Israelis (including 3 soldiers) and at least 90 Palestinians killed in missile attacks and military actions during the past few weeks.

Rice in IsraelRice met with both Palestinian Authorities in Ramallah and Israeli leaders in Jerusalem to try to deal with a situation that is beginning to look more like the character in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, rather than an optimistic solution to an ongoing problem in which there just doesn’t seem to be a solution – at least as long as both Israel and the USA refuse to deal with the Hamas organization in Gaza.

The problem concerning Hamas, and it’s leaders Khaled Mashal ( who sits is Damascus) and former P.A. prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, has gone from bad to worse ever since Hamas won out over Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization in a bloody civil uprising in early 2006. Hamas has been held responsible for firing most of the Qassam and other rockets at Israeli towns and villages; and now more recently at the 120,000 population city of Ashkelon., only 10 kilometers from Gaza’s northern border with Israel.

During Rice’s meeting with Israeli officials, even Rice had to admit that the prospects for peace do not look very good; and despite her boss’s (President George Bush) good intentions, it appears doubtful that a satisfactory solution will be reached before Bush leaves office in January, 2009. During Rice’s meeting with both Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Olmert told Rice that Israeli reprisals against the Palestinians, as well as harsh economic sanctions will cease immediately is the Palestinians cease their rocket and other types of attacks against Israel. It was also said that although agreements were made to resume talks between the factions, no peace agreement can be reached “even in 100 years” unless the Palestinians renounce their aims for “armed struggle” which can only interpreted as the eventual destruction of Israel.

Whatever agreements can be made will not hold water without Hamas’s involvement, and this doesn’t look at all likely – at least in our lifetimes that is. Gaza is in such a sorry state that it is now being said by foreign aid officials who have been working there that the situation of the people is “worse than it was at the time of Israel’s occupation of it in 1967”. More than 80% of the population are not able to survive without aid assistance of food and other basic necessities; and there is a complete breakdown of sewage disposal and fresh water infrastructures.

Condi appears to have left again with nothing more than a hollow promise for continuation of talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It looks like this mess is just one of the problems that will be awaiting the new U.S. president when he or she takes office next January 20th.

Hamas Never Recognize Israel

Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared on Sunday that “whoever declares that he will never recognize Israel earns the Palestinians’ love”. Speaking before an estimated Gaza City crowd of more than 200,000 who had gathered there to commemorate the 20th anniversary since the founding of the organization known as Hamas, Haniyeh noted a number of “achievements” that his organization was either fully or partially responsible for including the 2005 Israeli pull out from Gaza, the Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip from rivals Fatah, the 2006 war, and the continued captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. He also said that Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “is weak and unable to negotiate Shalit’s release”.

Though Haniyeh said that his organization is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with Fatah, they will never do so with Israel. “Hamas has already begun to dig graves for the Jews” a Hamas parliament member Nushir al-Masri said during the same rally.
“The Israeli soldier Schalit will never see the light of day as long as Palestinians remain in Israeli jails”, Osama al-Muzaini, the Hamas official responsible for the soldier’s well being was quoted as saying.

And from exile in Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal congratulated Haniyeh and added that “our people are able to launch a third and even fourth Intifada until the day of victory arrives”.

Regarding any possible Israeli military invasion into Gaza, Haniyeh said that a lot of unpleasant “surprises” awaited any planned IDF operation into “the Palestinian Motherland” and that Israel forces would pay dearly.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian man who lives in the area where the June 2006 cross border raid that resulted in IDF corporal Gilad Schalit being captured and two IDF soldiers killed took place revealed that he had seen Schalit on the day of his capture. He said that after hearing gunshots and explosions he saw several Palestinian militants leading an IDF soldier who appeared wounded and had blood stains and burns on his face, upper body and arms.

All of this appears to be a marked contrast to the recent summit in Annapolis Maryland in which both Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Machmoud Abbas agreed to work together towards the creation of a Palestinian State by the end of 2008. The belligerency of Hamas also seems contrary to a pledge to give the Palestinians a sum of over $5.6 billion to assist towards the development of a Palestinian infrastructure. The pledge, given at a special donor’s conference which took place in Paris over the weekend was attended by Abbas as well as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Only one thing was missing and that was representatives of the more than 1.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza and ruled over by Mr. Haniyeh and his exiled colleague Khaled Meshaal.. And judging from the noise being made by the over 200,000 Hamas supporters who had gathered Sunday to cheer their leaders, trying to avoid Hamas is like trying to avoid Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon – with the same explosive implications.

Shunned at Annapolis

Tzipi at AnnapolisForeign Minister Tzipi Livni didn’t have a good time at the just concluded Middle East Summit in Annapolis. In fact, she felt almost like the new kid in school who winds up eating lunch alone in the school cafeteria. Although she did get warm greetings from the Americans and most Western delegations, including American Secretary Condi Rice, she was either avoided or outright ignored by most of the Arab and Muslim delegates, especially those from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Algeria, and other Arab and Muslim countries.

I guess it’s understandable that the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Said al-Faisal, wouldn’t extend her the courtesy. After all, women are not exactly given equal treatment there, especially in light of the recent rape case where the female victim was herself sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in the can. And as for Syria, even though they did send their deputy F.M. there, his government must also not be ready to be “poochy moochy” with Israel’s F.M, female or otherwise.

Condi did try to make her Israeli guest feel better by comparing Tzipi’s experience with that of her own as a black child growing up in Selma Alabama, scene of some very nasty civil rights activities during the 1960’s. But Condi’s experiences, bad as they were, are not in the same light as the Israeli F.M, who found out to her chagrin that the A-rabs are not quite ready to be seen in friendly conversation with any senior Israeli official – let alone a woman.

When she asked, “why is everyone treating me like a pariah?” she should realize that it’s really nothing personal, especially in regards to whom she was referring to. In a way, it’s probably better that delegations from Iran and Lebanon didn’t show up, as they wouldn’t have greeted her either – especially Mahmud Ahmadinejad who’s still fretting over remarks made to him at the U.N. recently by Carnit Goldwasswer, wife of captured Israeli soldier Udi Goldwasser.

In all seriousness, Tzipi’s uncomfortable experience only reconfirms the reality of Israel’s position in the Middle East, especially in light of increased Muslim radicalism towards the West in general and Israel in particular. Had the Israeli F.M. been a man, he probably wouldn’t have fared much better; perhaps even worse. And with only half of the Palestinians represented at the conference, the other half being under the dominance of the ultra radical Hamas organization, the entire event appears to have ended with a hollow ring.

Even her boss, Prime Minister Olmert, didn’t win many friends there among the countries unfriendly to Israel. Be all this as it may, we can now get back to business as usual in this part of the world. And Tzipi might well do better at a UJA or similar gathering. At least they’ll shake her hand..

Rice in Jerusalem: No To a Temporary Solution

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to Israel yesterday, to open what is called in the media as the “Political stage” of the war. She had a meeting with the foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister and Defense Minister on Tuesday. Then Rice will move on to Ramallah where she’ll be meeting Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen), the president of the Palestinian authority. Rice said, “I am deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring. I am obviously concerned about the humanitarian situation.” She added, “We all want to urgently end the fighting. We have absolutely the same goal”. But Rice also repeated our stand as she stated it also in pass references to the war, that the solution to the situation has to be a long-term one, and not just a return to the status quo that was before this conflict. “If we’ll do that then we’ll find ourselves in the same situation in three months or six months or a year, when Hizballa will decide that it wants to disturb the peace” said Rice in a press conference prior to her departure.

During their meeting, both Rice and Livni stressed the importance of the UN resolution 1559 and the G-8 resolutions: The captive soldiers must be set free and Hizballa must be disarmed to allow the Lebanonian government implement it’s authority throughout the entire of Lebanon.

“I want to make it clear that we do not have a conflict between Israel and the citizens of Lebanon” said Livnie, “But Israel has no greater responsibility then that towards its own citizens. This is a moment of truth to the Lebanonian government, and the International Community should work together to help it to implement the resolutions that were decided upon.”

The Outcome of Violence

By Raz Koller

The Kasam rocket attacks and kidnappings have finely lead to the avoidable violence in the Gaza strip. The IDF has been operating in the Gaza strip since late last night. The military is bombing from the air Palestinian terror nests and infrastructure, intend to sabotage terror activities. Thus a small transformer was bombed last night (along with several bridges) and half of Gaza was blacked-out.

The operation was nicknamed “Summer Rain”, and according to military factors it is a “rolling operation with no established time frame”. But government sources within the Israeli government reassured that Israel has no intention of going back into the Gaza strip permanently. “Israel did not leave Gaza just to return to it” said Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livnie. Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert also clarified today that Israel has no intention to occupy Gaza again, but “the operations will continue. There will be no terrorist immunity. We have a primary goal – bring Gilad home“.

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped during a terrorist attack on one of the IDF’s posts within Israel’s borders during the last weekend. The past days raised concerns about his health in captivity. The Hamas terrorists who have him demanded Israel stop the operation in the Gaza strip or they will execute him. Israel on its side refuses to negotiate with terrorists but said that the release of the soldier and the settler that was kidnapped on Sunday might bring the operation to an end.

HamasIn the meantime Israel accuses not only the Palestinian, but also the Hamas leaders who sit in Syria, and the country that shelters them. “The USA and the international community can not stay indifferent to the fact that Syria is giving custody to the Arch-terrorists who had lad to these acts.” said Minister Haim Ramon.

And in the soldier Gilad Shalit’s home, many people have come to show support to the devastated family. One of the guests yesterday was Azam Azam, the Israeli citizen who was jailed in Egypt for the false charge of spying for Israel, and was released after seven years due to Israel’s massive diplomatic efforts. “Captivity is not simple, only inner-strength can help Gilad survive” said Azam yesterday.

Election day views from Tel Aviv

Rabin Square Tel Aviv - Elections 2006Elections are in full swing here and regardless of your political inclination you can’t ignore the fact that the process itself works. Voting rates as of 7:00 PM are still low, actually very low, only around 47%. The various experts predict a “low” 60% rate by tonight. Really it’s all relative though and at the end of the day Israel is a political country. The morning shows today interviewed kids “play voting” and when I think about the fact that in most western countries kids still need to be taught who the country leaders are, I feel proud.

Great walking around Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the center of the happening today and into tonight. A nice day for a political celebration and for those that still feel like democracy does not work, you’re invited to take a look and learn. Every political party (no matter how ridiculous) is there trying last minute recruitment efforts, a huge line up for kids who also have special play voting booths, families, music and activists “flying” their political colors. The whole area is heavily guarded of course, there are currently over 60 security warnings, 14 of them targeted to election events, and both police and army are at the highest state of alert. Israeli democracy in its purest form !!

Channel 10 Elections BroadcastChannel 10 News did a very smart thing and took over the entire event placing a clear studio in the center of the square with entertainment stages, Mini Israel display for kids and snack bars all around the square. Felt a little like an amusement park. Keep an eye on this news network, they’re making the right moves, have a real fresh way of presenting the news and are innovative.

So what’s the scoop and what are people talking about. Well the old news on the street is that Kadima will take it. They are sort of the default option and represent the “CENTER”.

Kadima poster Elections 2006 Ehud Olmert is okay, he had a little bit of a rough time getting into the shoes of Sharon and there was talk of his political track record and capabilities, there was also a scent of some dubious business dealings. He managed to get passed that for the most part. Olmert’s family stayed out of these elections and he ran on his own in the campaign.
The one rising star and a woman I fully expect to be Israel’s next Prime Minister is Tzipi Livni. The woman is giving off some great vibes, is getting noticed and as far as the Kadima lineup is concerned, is definitely a top tier asset. As Foreign Minister she is taking her first steps and besides, taking that position from Shimon Peres was really sweet. He was PISSED.

The obvious weak links in Kadima are Shimon Peres who now seems to be suffering from credibility issues and who is a long standing symbol of what being a loser is all about. The man has even lost the title of biggest political loser to Menachem Begin, if you can imagine that. Peres was a misunderstood academic who was respected for years but who has over time proved to be in love with being in the limelight at all costs.

Anti Corruption Campaign Israel Elections 2006The other weak link is the number 9 candidate, Tzachi Hanegbi, a corrupt slime that manages to keep slithering away from one scandal to the next. This man while in the Likud single handedly appointed over 80 Likud Center Party members into various positions in government. He is now being charged with election corruption, breach of trust and deception. This is a man who is making some voters a little uncomfortable with Kadima.

EMET or Labour party. Well there are some great people there. I even like Shelly Yechimovitz and really like Amir Peretz. Unfortunately, the discussions always come back to two main issues. Fear of business and economical growth slowdown that will be brought on by a strong socialist agenda. We all know how well that worked out for the communists…
The other issue, and I feel bad saying this, is Peretz and his English. I think he is great but in today’s world if you can’t speak English you have nothing to do in politics and especially if you are going to lead a country. PERIOD. I come from a long line of Labour supporters and still I can’t handle the English or lack there of. I keep imagining Peretz speaking in the United Nations or visiting the US and giving another one of those speechs and I start sweating.

Elections in Tel AvivFinally, Likud. Likud has really one very big weakness that’s preventing people from voting for it and people I talk to seem to agree on this. Benjamin Netanyahu.
I have some good friends who although I believe they are politically confused (and I forgive them), are true Likud supporters and even activists. A good friend who has voted Likud for years met me right after voting and admitted he couldn’t do it. “Just can’t vote for Bibi again”. Bibi is not believable, not credible and some say not human. He is a political opportunist and someone who is desperate to get into power at all cost. The biggest running joke is his panic and sweating attacks. The Hamas fear campaign in this election was just another nail in his political coffin in the eyes of many voters.

Every major network is broadcasting from Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and this will go on into the night. Keep an eye and wish us luck…

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