Israel Political Brief October 3, 2011: Israel accepts Middle East Quartet’s peace process proposal

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israel accepts Quartet’s peace process proposal

Source: JTA, 10-3-11

Israel has accepted the Mideast Quartet’s proposal to renew peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The plan accepted Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his eight senior Cabinet members would restart negotiations within a month without preconditions.

“Israel welcomes the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions, as called for by both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” read a statement issued Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“While Israel has some concerns, it will raise them at the appropriate time. Israel calls on the Palestinian Authority to do the same and to enter into direct negotiations without delay,” the short statement concluded.

The concerns included the short timetable for negotiations on border and security issues, and the issues of Palestinian refugees and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Haaretz reported.

The inner Cabinet met last week for five hours and failed to agree to support the plan at that time.

The PA has balked at the Quartet plan, saying it will not return to talks until Israel freezes settlement building. The Palestinians recently submitted a bid for statehood in the United Nations Security Council, which the council is now considering. The United States has said it will veto the bid.

A U.S. State Department statement welcomed the Cabinet’s decision, but called on both sides to fully embrace the Quartet proposal. The State Department missive alluded both to Israel’s reluctance to accept the timetable and the Palestinian refusal to talk until settlement stops.

“The U.S. once again calls on both parties to resume negotiations without preconditions, on the timetable proposed by the Quartet, as the best means to advance their interests, resolve their differences, and fulfill the President’s two-state vision,” it said.

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Israel Political Brief October 3, 2011: US House committee chair places hold on Palestinian aid

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

House committee chair places hold on Palestinian aid

Source: JTA, 10-3-11

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is holding back nearly $200 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is keeping her House of Representatives committee from considering approval of $192 million in humanitarian program assistance, two Capitol Hill sources said.

The money is separate from assistance to the Palestinian Authority, $200 million of which has already been distributed, and instead is earmarked for nongovernmental groups.

Such holds on NGO money have been held in the past pending oversight to show that the NGOs are not working with terrorist groups. Ros-Lehtinen in recent weeks has expressed concern that a tentative agreement to unite the Palestinian Authority with Hamas is already in effect. Hamas is the U.S.-designated terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The Americans for Peace Now website is reporting that other House Republicans also are holding the money, and that Republicans in the House and Senate are holding $150 million in security assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Republicans and Democrats have warned that such money may be withheld if the Palestinians do not pull back from their attempt to gain statehood recognition through the United Nations and absent peace talks with Israel.

The Arab League on Sunday called on the Arab states in the region to replace that missing aid with their own donations.

“The Arabs will assist the Palestinian Authority,” Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi said Sunday in Cairo after a meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. “This will be the strongest answer” to the U.S. cuts.

Erekat said that “The Palestinian people refuse to allow economic aid to become an instrument of blackmail regarding its rights to membership of the United Nations.”

The U.N.’s Security Council is now considering the PA’s statehood bid, which the United States has said it will veto.

Israel Brief October 3, 2011: Last Tel Aviv’s social justice protests tent cities evacuated

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Tel Aviv tent cities evacuated

Source: JTA, 10-3-11

The tent cities remaining in Tel Aviv from this summer’s social justice protests were evacuated.

Police and Tel Aviv city inspectors evacuated at least three tent city sites on Monday, as well as empty tents on the main Rothschild Boulevard site. A court injunction prevented a full evacuation of that site.

Those who were evicted from the sites are mostly homeless, according to reports. City social workers have spent several days trying to find places for the homeless tent city dwellers, according to the municipality.

The municipality said it would establish “dialogue centers” on the sites.

Full Text Israel Political Brief October 3, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Lowering Israel’s Cost of Living

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 10-3-11

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), 3.10.11:

“First, I would like to wish all ministers and deputy ministers, and all Israelis, a happy and healthy new year.  I believe that this will be a good year, a very good year.  I would like to wish you, Professor Manuel Trajtenberg and the members of your committee, a good year in the wake of the accelerated, serious and detailed work that you did in order to bring good news to Israel’s society.  I know that you invested much of yourself, under complicated conditions, in opening a dialogue with the public, in achieving breakthroughs in so many new fields, as well as old ones that had not been dealt with for many years.  I think that you did very, very important work.

We are going to devote the greater part of this meeting to discussing your committee’s important report.  I believe that there is a change of direction here.  Israelis need to know that we are changing the national order of priorities.  We are making many social corrections for the benefit of Israel’s citizens, but we are doing so responsibly.  The main mission before us is to lower the cost of living in Israel.  This is the root of the distress affecting Israelis and this is what we are going to change and correct.

We are changing the national order of priorities in a wide range of areas including childcare for toddlers, lowering a series of customs duties, enacting tax corrections and cancelling tax distortions, increasing competitiveness for products and services for the benefit of the Israeli economy, increasing negative income tax, housing easements, etc.  We will discuss these today and at future meetings until detailed proposals are submitted.

All of this will be done responsibly, without opening the country’s overdraft.  If we do not act responsibly, we could certainly lead the state of Israel into the situation of many other countries that are on the verge of economic bankruptcy, the collapse of their social welfare systems and high unemployment.  We will act differently.  We will adopt the main points of the report and afterwards we will move forward with detailed recommendations.  Our intention will be to make social corrections while maintaining economic responsibility.  I think that Israel will thereby make a new breakthrough and be a symbol for many other countries vis-à-vis the direction to take.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בפתח ישיבת הממשלה

03/10/2011 – יום שני ה’ תשרי תשע”ב

ראשית, אני רוצה לאחל לכל השרים, סגני השרים, סגניות השרים, אני רוצה לאחל לכולכם, לכל אזרחי ישראל שנה טובה וגמר חתימה טובה. אני מאמין שהולכת להיות שנה טובה, שנה טובה מאוד, ואני רוצה לאחל לך באופן אישי, מנו, לפרופ’ טרכטנברג ולחברי הוועדה, אני רוצה לאחל לכם גם כן שנה טובה אחרי העבודה המאומצת, הרצינית והמעמיקה שעשיתם כדי להביא בשורה לחברה בישראל. אני יודע שאתה השקעת בזה השקעה אישית עצומה, בתנאים לא פשוטים, תוך כדי פתיחת דיאלוג עם הציבור, בפריצת דרך בכל מיני תחומים חדשים או תחומים ישנים שלא טופלו במשך שנים רבות, ואני חושב שעשית עבודה מאוד מאוד חשובה.

אנחנו הולכים לייחד את רוב רובה של הישיבה הזאת לדיון בדוח החשוב של הוועדה בראשותך, ואני מאמין שיש פה שינוי כיוון. אזרחי ישראל צריכים לדעת שהיום אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומי. אנחנו עושים תיקונים חברתיים רבים שייטיבו עם אזרחי ישראל, אבל אנחנו עושים אותם באחריות. המשימה המרכזית שעומדת בפנינו היא הורדת יוקר המחייה בישראל. זהו שורש המצוקה שפוקדת את אזרחי ישראל וזה הדבר שאותו אנחנו באים לשנות ולתקן.

אנחנו משנים את סדר העדיפויות הלאומיות במגוון רחב של תחומים. החל בסיוע לטיפול בילדים מהגיל הרך, דרך הפחתת שורה ארוכה של מכסים, דרך תיקוני מסים וביטול עיוותי מסים, דרך הגברת התחרות במוצרים ושירותים לרווחה במשק הישראלי, דרך הגדלת מס הכנסה שלילי, דרך הקלות בדיור ועוד תחומים רבים שלא אמרתי. נדון בכך בישיבה הזאת וגם בדיוני המשך, עד להבאת הצעות מחליטים מפורטות לממשלה.

כל זה נעשה באחריות, בלי לפתוח את האוברדראפט של המדינה. אם לא ננהג באחריות, אנחנו בהחלט יכולים להביא את מדינת ישראל למצב של מדינות רבות שבעצם הגיעו לסף פשיטת רגל כלכלית, לקריסת מערכות הרווחה שלהן, וכמובן גם לאבטלה גבוהה. אנחנו ננהג אחרת, אנחנו נאמץ את עיקרי הדוח ואח”כ נלך קדימה להמלצות פרטניות, כשהכוונה שלנו היא לעשות תיקונים חברתיים תוך כדי שמירה על אחריות כלכלית. וגם בזה אני חושב שישראל תפרוץ דרך חדשה ותסמל את הכיוון למדינות רבות אחרות.

תודה רבה לכם, שנה טובה.

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