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Tag: Binyamin Netanyahu (page 2 of 5)

Russia Steps In

President MedvedevPresident of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has urged the United States to actively work to achieve peace in the Middle East – citing the “human tragedy in Gaza”.
The comment apparently indicates Moscow’s willingness to become an active Middle East mediator. Are they wanted? Last week, during a visit to Syria, Medvedev said that the Israeli-Arab tension threatens to draw the Middle East into a “new catastrophe”.

Bibi, despite insider allegations of the contrary, claims that he does not “intend to halt construction of Jewish housing in east Jerusalem”. The Palestinians, of course, accuse the Jewish Country of undermining trust and urge Obama, who supports establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, to intervene.

Medvedev claims that no one should be excluded from the peace process, clearly referencing Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of Hamas – shunned as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union nations – and rightly so. Medvedev did urge Mashaal to free Gilad Shalit, according to Kremlin spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

At the meeting in Damascus with Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, the two presidents agreed on the affirmation of Iran’s right to develop a nuclear energy program.

Not So Fast Bibi

The polls were opened on Thursday for a Likud party vote. Party leader, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to change the Likud constitution so that internal party elections might be delayed up to the three years following general elections.

Bibi said:

“We are a national movement started by Menachem Begin; we are for the state and for the IDF and for true peace, and that is what we have to focus on…If the vote does not go as I want it to, we will have to dedicate months to an internal process in the Likud, and now is not the time to do that…I think most Likud members know that this isn’t the time.”

Isn’t it undemocratic, though, to change a party’s constitution in the middle of a term and in the midst of controversial issues crucial to the future of the state – giving up east Jerusalem?

Netanyahu said in his defense:

“In a democracy, there are legal and agreed-upon ways to make changes. We are one of the most organized and unified movements in the country; our way to do it is with a majority of two-thirds. Believe me – it is very, very difficult.”

Moshe Feiglin, the leader of Manhigut Yudit, a religious political faction accused Bibi during a radio interview of planning to sell-out Jerusalem:

“It seems that Netanyahu thinks that a true Likudnik would split up Jerusalem…This vote is about Jerusalem; not Feiglin, not Netanyahu…If, G-d forbid, his proposal will pass…there is nothing to stop Netanyahu from doing what Sharon did, only not in Gush Katif, but in Jerusalem.”

In addition Feiglin accused Bibi of cheating during the general elections:

“have you ever heard of elections without observers? With traveling voting booths?”

Survivors to See Their Bills Subsidized

In time for the recent Yom HaShoah, the national remembrance day, a series of measures being approved by the cabinet will reduce the cost of monthly electricity bills for survivors of the Holocaust living in Israel.

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reached an agreement in which survivors living below the poverty line will see a subsidization of electricity bills, up to 50%.
Netanyahu already gave a preliminary approval for the action which should be implemented within the next 45 days with the assistance of Isaac Herzog of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, and the agreement of the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu said:

“We are talking about an important humanitarian step…The government has a responsibility to assist Holocaust survivors and make all efforts to prevent to take care of them properly. Their advanced ages means that we need to act on this as quickly as possible.”

In addition to this, last week the Welfare Ministry announced subsidies of up to 90% on essential health and medical supplies for Holocaust survivors – that includes reduced costs for dental treatments, cheaper eye glasses, hearing aid implements and personal psychological counseling.

Altogether there are roughly 80,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, and an estimated 7,000 of them live below the poverty line.

We Can’t Go On Together, With Suspicious Minds

Israeli sources have stated repeatedly that the Jewish Country would reject any move by the Barack Obama administration to set benchmarks and a timeline for peace talks with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu & Obama

International forces such as Jordan’s King Abdullah, who met with Obama in Washington recently, said the US must put pressure on both parties by setting a timeline for the peace process.

US National Security Advisor, James Jones said that the administration was mulling over ways to renew the peace talks, but no final decision has been reached.

He also made comments on recent reports in the US media, according to which Obama was “seriously considering” declaring an American peace plan for the Middle East, this autumn, to be based on the outlines presented by former President Bill Clinton at Camp David a decade ago.

Jones confirmed that Obama recently met with former administration officials to discuss formulating a new strategy for the situation. According to him, there are ongoing talks, but no surprises are being planned.

Another senior US official had this to say:

“The principal difference between now and previous administrations is the Iran problem… From our perspective, it increases the urgency of Israel keeping the international community focused on that problem and not on other problems. And the Israelis need all of us to be working together on the common goal of keeping the pressure on the Iranians to back off.”

Israel and the Jews of America

American JewsAccording to a poll by the Left wing J-Street lobby, which generally competes with the Right-leaning AIPAC, US President Barack Obama is 15% more popular among American Jews than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama apparently managed to maintain his popularity among 59% of American Jews, even after the harsh US criticism which followed Israel’s declaring the construction of 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.

Only 44% of American Jews continued to show support for Netanyahu. The prime minister had a warm reception at the AIPAC convention last week, but was later subject to a major embarrassment when he was stood up by President Obama for lunch.

The same poll revealed that 82% of Jews support the US administration’s effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 71% of respondents agreed that the US should maintain an active role, even if it means putting pressure on both sides at the price of a public disagreement.

On the level of importance regarding the given issue, Israel appeared in seventh place while Iran ranked at no.14, and only 2% of respondents claimed it was a topic of high importance. The issues ranked as top priority were the US economy 55%, health insurance 41%, deficit and overspending 17%, social security and Medicare 16%, terror and national security 13% and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan 10%.

Whether or not these polls mark an overall trend among the sentiments of America’s Jews, or whether or not it is relevant that 78% of American Jews do not give their children a proper Jewish education is for you to decide.

Netanyahu Does Washington

Bibi Netanyahu and Barack ObamaBibi and Obama met in the White House’s Oval Office on Tuesday for about an hour and a half. Slightly before the meeting took off, reports surfaced of another controversial construction project approved in east Jerusalem, this time in Sheikh Jarrah. Netanyahu entered the meeting without being aware of the new building permit – or so he said.

U.S. State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, told The Associated Press that the two countries were engaged in “give and take.” He said, “We are not going to talk about the precise steps both sides have to take. We will continue to discuss those steps privately.”

Meanwhile, Haaretz in English published a poll which showed that Israelis support US President Barack Obama. Well, such results contradict all other polls. At about the same time, the Jerusalem Post published the results of two other polls, which showed that roughly 75% of Israelis feel that Obama’s reaction to the building in Jerusalem was disproportionate and over 60% felt that it harmed the peace process.

The cause of the poll discrepancy is explained in a Jerusalem Post article by Gill Hoffman. The poll was conducted by Israeli pollster Camie Fuchs. A response choice in one survey question was to describe Obama as “inyani.” A word that can be interpreted in different ways. It however does not mean “fair” as Haaretz translated it. Its literal translation is ‘focused on the issues’, ‘professional’, ‘matter of fact’ or ‘business-like’.

Furthermore, the English version of the article in Haaretz offered no detailed tabulation of numbers. The print and online versions of the Hebrew edition of the newspaper showed a graph screening that just 18% of respondents considered Obama “friendly” toward Israel, 3 percentage points fewer than the 21% who said that the president was “hostile” to the Jewish state. 10% of the respondents didn’t know, and 51% called Obama’s approach to the Jewish Country “inyani”. Haaretz incorrectly translated that 69% consider Obama “fair and friendly”.

The Test

construction of new apartments in the West BankPalestinian construction workers should be finding new work soon, as Bibi has authorized the construction of new apartments in the West Bank.

Is it:

a) To put Palestinian construction workers back to work

b) To house more Jews in Samaria…resuscitating the injured Zionist dream

c) To tell the Obama administration that Israel is NOT a territory of a Middle-Eastern American empire, and therefore under Uncle Sam’s jurisdiction, despite any amount of welcome donations, as Vice President Joe Biden arrives in the Holy Land for a piece of the Peace Talks with our Bibi and Mahmoud Abbas.

d) To deny Palestinians of their human rights

Only G-D knows!

There will be 112 new apartments in the Beitar Illit ultra-Orthodox settlement, known as the “The Torah city of the Judean Hills.”

In this action, the Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of trying to undermine the peace talks even before they began:

“If the Israeli government wants to sabotage Mitchell’s efforts by taking such steps, let’s talk to Mitchell about maybe not doing this (indirect talks) if the price is so high… put a big question mark on what it is that we came to do.”

The Palestinians presented the U.S. envoy with a document outlining their desired agreement: a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, with minor border adjustments.
This is what Bibi said after speaking to Biden:

“I believe we will succeed in advancing the diplomatic process…But the diplomatic process is not a game, it is real, and rooted first and foremost in (Israel’s) security.”

Peace Now settlement expert, Hagit Ofran said:

“The Israeli government is welcoming the vice president by demonstrating, to our regret, that it has no genuine intention to advance the peace process.”

Hamas and other known trouble-makers, have condemned Abbas’ decision to renew talks, accusing moderate Palestinians of caving in to U.S. pressure.

On Monday Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad unveiled a $3.13 billion budget for 2010, about $80 million more than last year, funded by the international community. He said that after years of a conflict-driven downturn, Palestinian government revenues are up, partly due to economic growth projected at 7% this year. Fayyad also said he will more than triple spending on development projects to $667 million, in accordance with donor countries desiring to see more money earmarked for infrastructure, health and education.

Abraham’s House Hold Breaks Out in Riot — again

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in one of his most Jewish moments, decided to include the Cave of Machpelah in his national heritage plan.

For those not in the know…the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron was the first piece of land purchased by a Jew – Abraham from the Hittite inhabitants. And this is where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah are all buried.

During his reign, King Herod of Judea built a splendid yet humble fort around it. The architecture might seem eerily familiar to tourists traveling to Hebron from the Kotel in Jerusalem.

But on Monday about 100 Palestinians marched toward the Cave, hurling stones at security forces. One soldier was injured and received medical treatment there at the scene of the ugly riot.
Hebron Palestinians declared a general strike. Businesses and Palestinian Authority’s offices were closed, and protest rallies were held in the local schools.

The comprehensive plan to preserve heritage sites across the country entails an investment of some NIS 400 million (about $106 million). At the last minute, following pressing by right-wing lobbyists and ministers, Bibi added Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave in Hebron. The plan was unanimously approved.

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.

How the Settlement Freeze Managed to Undermine Palestinian Interests

When Binyamin Netanyahu declared the 10-month freeze on building settlements in the West Bank, he was following Barack Obama‘s direction aiming at benefiting the Palestinian cause. However, at the Jalazon Refugee Camp, no one is thanking the Israeli Prime Minister or the American President. They just want their work back.

Before the freeze, roughly half of Jalazon’s able-bodied men were employed in construction in nearby Jewish settlements. Along with the freeze, so went the work.

The long-term result wished for the freeze was the hurrying along of the peace process; but the short-term is costing thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank their livelihood. Their voice ironically is being drowned out by what they see as a pointless exercise.

Father of seven, lucky to find work one day a month, Walid Mustafa said:

“Work in the settlements has decreased dramatically in the last few months – it’s nothing like it was before. But our lives haven’t changed for the better and the leaders aren’t any closer to peace, so what’s the point?”

He continued:

“The settlement freeze is temporary anyway. The Israeli government is made up of settlers, and they will build again soon enough.”

Mustafa estimated that about 80% of camp residents who work in construction are now unemployed, and those still working are taking jobs for NIS 50 a day ($13) rather than the NIS 150 ($40) they made before Israel put a freeze on construction.

Hardly anybody recognizes the fact that Palestinians who are skilled in masonry, construction, and other relevant trades have built the vast majority of homes in Israel’s controversial settlements.

Fawzi Aqrana, a Palestinian from Nablus said:

“While the politicians dawdle away the months, we have families to feed…Everyone at home in my village knows what I do, and I don’t think anyone judges it. We have to survive.”

Mahmoud Abbas originally rejected Netanyahu’s offer of a 10-month settlement freeze late last year, maintaining his position that the stop-work order should mean that ALL building comes to a halt, and that it must include east Jerusalem. Bibi exempted approximately 3,000 buildings – projects that had already begun.

The Wicked Witch of Caesaria

A former housekeeper has filed a lawsuit accusing the Israeli prime minister’s wife of abusing her.
Lillian Peretz, who worked as the Netanyahu’s housekeeper at their beachside home in the town of Caesaria for six years, claims that Sara Netanyahu verbally abused her and forced her to change clothes and shower several times a day to maintain a “sterile” environment. It also alleges that she was paid less than minimum wage and forced to work on the Jewish Sabbath despite the fact that she is an observant Jew.
The prime minister’s office claimed that the lawsuit is “false and full of lies and defamation” and that the housekeeper is part of a media-orchestrated political conspiracy.
Peretz is asking for about $80,000 in the lawsuit filed last week and publicized on Friday in the Yediot Ahronot daily.
Sara Netanyahu, a former flight attendant who is now a practicing psychologist, also got attention during her husband’s first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. She came under fire for squabbling with her staff, flaunting her young children in public and meddling in state affairs. Among these scandals, she was accused of firing a nanny for burning a pot of soup and of throwing a pair of shoes at an assistant.
According to the lawsuit, Sara Netanyahu

“like in the story of Cinderella, burdened her (Peretz) with impossible chores, tyrannized her and screamed to the point of terror.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Peretz was not allowed to drink the family’s bottled water, only tap water.
The Netanyahu’s dismissed the allegations, saying that Peretz had warm and loving treatment in the home. They produced pictures of the two women embracing, a copy of Peretz’s letter of resignation, signed

“with lots of love and appreciation,”

and a newspaper clipping of Peretz expressing her love for Sara Netanyahu.

Religious Women and The Draft

On Wednesday, the Knesset rejected a bill which would have reduced the number of girls who dodge military service, by falsely declaring that they are religious. The bill brought by Kadima’s Yisrael Hasson, was quashed 63 to 29.

The meat of the proposed law, would have girls, asking to be exempt from the military on religious grounds, to provide proof that they had attended a religious school, for a period no less than three years.

If religious dodging is not curbed now, said an IDF representative, “In five years it will span 60% of all eligible youth.” Asking girls to provide this kind of documentation, would only match the existing stipulation for religious men.

Kadima criticized Netanyahu for his rejection of the bill saying that the Prime Minister “chose to cower before coalitional considerations and legitimize draft dodging… This is shameful surrender to such elements and spitting in the face of the public shouldering the burden.”

“This is sanctioning mass draft dodging courtesy of the defense minister, Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu. Netanyahu chose to serve his ultra-Orthodox partners and ensure his political survival at the expense of national interests.”

Given the recent settlement freeze which is a strong characteristic of the current administration, it would be hard to consider Netanyahu’s decision against this bill as an attempt to appease the religious masses, with whom he is quickly losing favor; unless it is meant as an attempt to “make it up to them” – after showing “weakness” on the West Bank settlements issue.

“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.

Fear and Loathing in Yasuf

Before sunrise on Friday, on the heels of a Shabbat and Hanukkah sandwich, vandals snuck into a Palestinian village in the West Bank and vandalized a mosque. Holy books and furniture were burnt, and graffiti writing sent messages of intimidation.

yasufThe recent attacks on West Bank Palestinians and their property is a response to Israel’s recent halt on settlement construction; the civilian attacks have been dubbed the “price tag” policy.

Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu
has vowed to catch the “criminals” behind the attack. Israeli President Shimon Peres said:

“The government, the security forces and the law enforcement institutions must take every measure, with the utmost urgency, to find the perpetrators and put them on trial in accordance with the gravity of the acts…It can’t be that an extremist group endangers the status of Israel as a state that abides laws and respects religions.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said:

“This is an extremist act geared toward harming the government’s efforts to advance the political process for the sake of Israel’s future…”

Calling the act a violation of religious freedom, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed:

“The torching of the mosque in Yasuf is a despicable crime, and the settlers are behaving with brutality…”

In addition, the U.S. State Department released a statement saying that:

“We condemn this attack in the strongest terms and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

Whether or not the settlement freeze is justified, or a cowardly crumbling under pressure from the west, is a good question.

The Middle East According to Netanyahu

Our fearless Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu is pushing for talks with Syria, ones in which there would be a mediator, and he would prefer to hold the talks in Paris than in Ankara. He said:

“I spoke with Sarkozy, who told me that the Syrian stance is a retreat to the 1967 lines…Sarkozy also mentioned the Turkish mediation that the Syrians propose, I responded to him saying we are interested in direct negotiations, and if we are talking about a mediator – I prefer you.”

Israeli CabinetApparently Trade and Labor minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was able to strengthen ties between Israel and Turkey during his recent visit to Ankara – ties which have become loosened over the course of the year, really since Operation Caste Lead.

Ankara expressed hopes of a talk between Bibi and the Turkish Prime Minister – though on topics which regard to a Palestinian state it is clear that Bibi would prefer to speak under the auspices of Sarkozy and it is clear why.

During a foreign affairs and defense meeting on Monday, on the subject of the threat from the North, Netanyahu told the committee that

“If in the past we considered Hezbollah as a sideline militia, today Hezbollah is the real Lebanese army…it has replaced the Lebanese army as a significant force; it is arming and organizing as a real army. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah are becoming interwoven in each other – and they will suffer the consequences of any violation against Israel.”

On the topic of the recent settlement freeze on construction in the West Bank, Bibi said that it was

“an attempt to advance negotiations and clarify who is really interested in talks…there must be coordination between the cabinet’s decision and the injunction…we are the ones who renewed it.”

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