Israel Political Brief August 4, 2011: Reports say Israel taking steps to restart peace negotiations


Source: JWeekly, 8-4-11

Israel has been working with the United States to develop a new framework to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians, according to reports.

News agencies this week cited an unnamed Israeli government official as saying that there have been recent efforts to formulate the new framework, which will hew closely to the call in May by President Barack Obama for an agreement using the 1967 lines as a basis for negotiations, with land swaps.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right)  listens to military adviser Maj. Gen. Yohanan  Locker at an Aug. 1 meeting in the Knesset.   photo/ap/sebastian scheinerThe push for renewed talks is an attempt to dissuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from bringing the issue of Palestinian statehood recognition to a vote at the United Nations in September.

On Aug. 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that his government had been working with the Obama administration and other members of the Mideast Quartet — the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union — on a draft document calling for renewed peace talks, and that the coordination with Washington was better than expected, the Jerusalem Post reported.

An Israeli official, who agreed to speak to AP on the condition that his name not be used, said that although Netanyahu has repeatedly stated he will not return to the 1967 lines, Israel is “willing to show some flexibility” on the matter if the Palestinians show flexibility with Israeli concerns. One of the main concerns is for Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state.

But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told AP, “There is no offer. We have only heard things in the media. If Netanyahu would like to talk about accepting the 1967 borders, he can just show up and talk. But he is not serious.” …READ MORE

Israel Economic Protests: Parents and children protest in ‘stroller marches’ across Israel


Demonstrators march in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Kiryat Motzkin to protest high cost of raising children; ‘stroller march’ organizer rejects Treasury’s claim that free education for children aged 10 and over is unreasonable.

Source: Haaretz, 8-4-11

More than 1,000 parents participated Thursday in stroller marches across Israel, with about 500 in Tel Aviv, 400 in Hertzliya, 200 in Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, and about 50 in Sderot, all protesting against the high cost of raising children in Israel.

Meanwhile, a protest took place outside the Histadrut headquarters in Tel Aviv, where Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Ofer Eini and the head of the workers’ committee  presented speeches to demonstrators. Youth groups, together with representatives of the National Union of Israeli Students, also participated in the rally.

protest Tel Aviv - 4.8.11 Protesters outside the Histadrut headquaters in Tel Aviv on August 4, 2011.
Photo by: Tal Cohen

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv, about 1,500 university lecturers, students, teachers and youth group leaders marched on Rothschild Boulevard. They made their way to the house of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, calling out, “Free education for all.”

The Tel Aviv stroller march headed to Gan Meir, where marchers were set to hold a rally. Despite the turnout of about 500 parents and children, this number did not meet the expectations of the protest’s organizers, who predicted thousands would attend.

Yael Barda, one of the stroller march’s organizers rejected claims by Eini and members of the Treasury, in which they said the demand for free education for children aged 10 and over is unreasonable. “We suggest the Treasury sits back down in front of their laptops and recalculates, because we aren’t going anywhere,” she said.

Barda called upon the protesters to continue taking to the streets and demonstrating against the cost of living in Israel. “We’ve held back for a long time with all the cynicism we have for Treasury clerks and the Israeli government. They have buried all the social laws over the last 20 years. We are not cynical. We have dreams and we are going to change this country,” she said.

Tel Aviv Gan Meir stroller march Parents and children demonstrating in stroller marchers in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir.
Photo by: Nir Keidar

At the stroller marches, parents called out “The people demand social justice,” “Let’s show the government just who’s dragging the trolley,” and “We won’t give up, reduce the prices.”

Hundreds of parents and children also began marching from Hatotach Square in Kiryat Motszkin, near Haifa, and blocked the road, with police permission.

Israel Economic Protests: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Slams Tent Protesters


Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 8-4-11

In a speech to the Knesset today following approval of his National Housing Committees Law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu castigated the tent protesters. “There is distress in Israel, but it should be solved in a responsible way. A wave of populism is sweeping the country. Our ability to meet social needs greatly depends on continued growth,” he said.

Netanyahu was frequently heckled during his speech, including by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), who shouted, “Where have you been until now?tel aviv  housing crisis tent cities

“63 years ago, our GDP was the same as Egypt’s, Syria’s, and our neighbors whose populations were much larger,” Netanyahu continued. Had we not increased our GDP per capita, we could not have met our economic burden, and therefore our economic vehicle is vital, and heaven forbid if, when seeking solutions and correcting the distortions that need correcting, we must not disable this vehicle. Then we’ll be in far greater distress.”

Netanyahu warned against deterioration in Israel’s economy, which would result in conditions similar to those in debt-burdened European countries. “If what has happened in Europe happens to us, the damage we will suffer will be far greater than what has happened to them.”

He also mentioned Israel’s low unemployment rate compared with Western countries, saying, “At a time when unemployment is rising in Western economies, it is falling in Israel.”

Netanyahu spoke proudly of the measures his government has instituted as part of the biennial 2011-12 budget. “We’ve invested NIS 7 billion in a multiyear plan that is bringing back people from the best universities in the world. We’ve invested almost NIS 30 billion in roads and railways – we’re doing this. We’ve moved the IDF south to the Negev, we’ve invested NIS 17 billion in this. Officers, senior NCOs, families, 10,000 IDF personnel will hold up the Negev.”

As for the issue of Israel’s indirect taxes, against which the middle class is protesting, Netanyahu said, “There are Israeli citizens who are saying, ‘OK, our salaries are rising and income per capita is rising, and yet, if I’m a working young couple with two children, it’s hard for me to make ends meet.’ The question is why?

“The answer is that we’re not at Europe’s price levels. There, most prices and many services cost less, even when taxes are lowered. The price Israeli citizens pay for basic goods in higher than in Western countries.”

Netanyahu said that a lack of competition was the main reason for the high cost of living.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news –

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