Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: TIME Magazine devotes its cover story this week to PM Binyamin Netanyahu, named “King Bibi”

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TIME Devotes Cover Story to ‘King Bibi’

TIME Magazine devotes its cover story this week to PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who is named “King Bibi”.

TIME Magazine devoted its cover story this week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was named “King Bibi”, in a play on the name of famous blues artist B.B. King.

The article was written by TIME’s managing editor Richard Stengel and it profiles Israel’s Prime Minister, explaining why he is “the King of Israel”.

“Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel,” writes Stengel. “He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant.”

Stengel adds that Netanyahu is standing on history’s cusp and adds, “The question is whether he is a prisoner of that history or he can write a new narrative.”

“Like his father,” writes Stengel, “he sees Jewish history as a succession of holocausts. Like his father, he has an almost mystical belief in the abiding power of anti-Semitism, as though it were more biological than cultural.”

Stengel wonders whether Netanyahu will choose to make historical decisions, on both Iran and the peace process, now that he has a surer command over the Knesset with the unity deal that brought Kadima into the government.

He notes that Netanyahu has “…a governing coalition that will not leak or collapse if he opens negotiations [with the Palestinian Authority]. He will no longer have to look over his shoulder. He will not have to call elections at the drop of a hat. He has not had that before, and it gives him room to maneuver and room to compromise. ‘Now he is the emperor … he can do anything,’ [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] said last week. ‘If I were him, I would do it now, now, now.’”

Netanyahu himself, who is currently on a visit to the Czech Republic, addressed the TIME cover in a press conference on Thursday and said, “Israel is a democracy and not a monarchy, and I do not forget that for even a moment.”

In April, TIME named Netanyahu one of the 100 most influential people in the world….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: More than 60,000 Call for Jonathan Pollard’s Freedom

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More than 60,000 Call for Pollard’s Freedom

More than 60,000 call on Peres to help free Pollard before it is too late.

Western Wall rally for Pollard's release

Western Wall rally for Pollard’s release
Israel news photo: Flash 90

More than 60,000 people have signed a letter calling on President Shimon Peres to do whatever he can to free Jonathan Pollard. The campaign for Pollard’s freedom has taken on new energy as the date on which Peres will be given the Medal of Freedom approaches.

Members of Knesset, Canadian rabbis and Gilad Shalit are among those who have called on Peres to turn down the prestigious prize if Pollard is not released.

On Thursday, Israel Prize winner, Rabbi Chaim Druckman joined the call. In a speech given at the Rabbis’ Conference in Jerusalem, Rabbi Druckman appealed to his colleagues, “Please, do what you can so that Jonathan will leave jail alive.”

Activists say the campaign is just getting started. Over the next few days, volunteers will take to the streets to distribute pamphlets explaining Pollard’s plight and calling to sign the letter.

“As we get more signatures, we know that we are reaching wider circles, circles of people who may not have been sufficiently aware of the matter, who now understand that this isn’t just a matter of justice but of life and death,” campaign director Effie Yahav said.

Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for giving classified information to Israel, has become seriously ill and was recently hospitalized. He has since been released, but his condition remains poor.

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: Ronald S. Lauder: Canada Should Play Larger Role in Mideast Negotiations

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Jewish Leader: Canada Should Play Larger Role in Mideast

The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said that Canada should play a larger role in Middle East negotiations.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper

Canadian PM Stephen Harper
Reuters

The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said that Canada should play a larger role in Middle East negotiations.

Lauder met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Minister John Baird in Ottawa on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the Middle East, as well as the increasing threat of worldwide anti-Semitism.

The Jewish leader asserted that with the new coalition government in Israel, it may be possible to restart negotiations “I believe that in the coming months, Canada can play a role and I think will be invited to play a role,” Lauder said in an interview with the Canadian Press.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres visited Canada this spring to express support for the strong pro-Israel policies of the Harper government. “Canada’s long-standing position on a negotiated, two-state solution has not changed,” a spokesman for Baird said.

“Our government always stands ready to work in a constructive way to help solve international disputes,” the spokesman added.

In a recent interview Baird asserted that, “Canada is not going to be an honest broker between an international terrorist organization and a liberal democracy, when the great struggle of our generation is the struggle between liberal democracies and international terrorist organizations.”

“Today it is a very dangerous world out there, there are very few true leaders out there,” Lauder told the Canadian Press.

Lauder continued to state that Prime Minister Harper is “a true leader” who speaks his mind.

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: US Senate Republicans Stall Iran Sanctions for being Too Soft

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Republicans Stall Iran Sanctions for being Too Soft

Senate Republicans: bill needs to say United States will use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.
Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan

Obama with USAF Col. Michael Minihan
Reuters

Senate Republicans blocked package of sanctions against Iran on Thursday because the bill’s wording was not tough enough in their opinion. The GOP senators said that besides listing economic sanctions, the bill needs to say that the United States is prepared to use force to stop any nuclear weapons program.

“I just want to add one simple line that says we recognize what the president was saying that military force is also an option,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on the floor during the debate over the bill.

Republicans agreed that the bill as it is worded at present would signal a step back from Obama’s stated policy that he would do “anything necessary” to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

According to The Hill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who has sponsored a separate use of force resolution with Graham and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), said the senators should be able to reach agreement sometime Thursday on necessary changes to the bill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Republicans to pass the bill in its present form but agreed that the Senate should be on record as determining that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

If it passes Thursday, the bill’s timing will send a message to Iran just days before next week’s talks in Baghdad between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: New Poll: Kadima Crashing from 28 to 3 Knesset Seats

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Poll: Kadima Crashing to 3 Knesset Seats

Kadima would crash from 28 Knesset seats to 3 if elections were held today, Knesset Channel poll says.
MK Shaul Mofaz

MK Shaul Mofaz
Flash 90

Kadima, the largest faction in the present Knesset, would crash from 28 seats to just 3 if elections were held today, according to a new poll conducted by the Panels Institute for the Knesset Channel.

The party was expected to lose much of its power in the next elections but the extremely unfavorable poll appears to be a direct result of the deal that party leader Shaul Mofaz recently made with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which Kadima entered the coalition.

Polls held shortly after that deal showed Mofaz losing popularity.

Many of the seats lost by Kadima would go to the newly formed Yesh Atid party headed by journalist Yair Lapid. The poll gives Lapid 17 MKs.

Likud is at 30 Knesset seats, more or less as it has been in other recent polls. Labor reaches 20 seats and becomes the second-largest party.

Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu receives 12 seats, Shas – which currently has 11 – gets only 6, United Torah Judaism stays with the current 5, the National Union climbs to 9 and the Jewish Home receives 3.

Meretz doubles its power to receive 6 seats.

The projection gives the so-called right-religious bloc 62 seats and makes a Likud-coalition with more Lapid likely.

Israel Political Brief May 17, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Featured on Time Magazine’s Cover as “King Bibi” Why Bibi Netanyahu Is King of Israel — Richard Stengel’s Unflattering Cover Story

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Time Magazine Cover Features “King Bibi”

Lead story of May 28 issue devoted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Source: Shalom Life, 5-17-12

Time Magazine’s lead story in its upcoming May 28 issue will profile Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli Prime Minister is featured on the front cover of the publication under the headline, “King Bibi.”

Written by Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel, the article, titled, “Bibi’s Choice,” explores the difficult decisions that Netanyahu will have to make in his efforts to secure the future of Israel, according to Ynet.

Underneath the front page headline, a subheading reads, “He’s conquered Israel, but will Netanyahu now make peace – or war?”

To be a historic figure, one must make history,” writes Stengel.

“Now we will find out what the king really believes. Is he a statesman or a pol, a builder or a general, the Israeli leader who can finally make peace with the Palestinians or the one who launches a potentially disastrous unilateral attack on Iran.”

Stengel states that Netanyahu “is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50 per cent, is at an all-time high.”

The eight-page, approximately 5,000-word article discusses the Iranian nuclear program and Netanyahu’s skeptical attitude toward the Palestinian leadership’s readiness to enter peace negotiations, according to The Times of Israel….READ MORE

‘King Bibi’ featured on cover of Time Magazine

Renowned publication devotes lead story to prime minister; cover subheading says ‘He’s conquered Israel, but will Netanyahu now make peace – or war?’

Source: YNet News, 5-17-12

Time Magazine devoted its lead story to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is featured on the cover of the renowned publication, under the heading “King Bibi.”

Underneath the heading, in the article, titled “Bibi’s choice,” author Richard Stengel describes Netanyahu’s unshakable political stature, writing that he “is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high.”

However, Stengel notes that the prime minister will be facing difficult decisions in his efforts to secure the future of Israel.

“To be a historic figure, one must make history. Now we will find out what the king really believes. Is he a statesman or a pol, a builder or a general, the Israeli leader who can finally make peace with the Palestinians or the one who launches a potentially disastrous unilateral attack on Iran?”

 

 

נתניהו על שער "טיים"

Netanyahu on cover of Time

In the magazine’s online blog, which describes the article at length, Netanyahu is described as a controversial prime minister, whose latest move –forming a wide parliamentary coalition with Kadima party – is testimony to his political shrewdness….READ MORE

Time Cover Story: Why Bibi Netanyahu Is King of Israel

Source: Time, 5-17-12

TIME’s cover story this week, written by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel, profiles Israel’s controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This past month has seen Netanyahu—referred to almost ubiquitously by his nickname Bibi—cannily consolidate power, brokering a coalition that pairs his Likud party and other right-wing allies with the more centrist Kadima.

The deal deflects calls for fresh elections and gives him a virtual lock on Israel’s top job going forward.

As Stengel puts it:

Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 16, 2012: Amid new Iran nuclear rumors, Ehud Barak and Leon Panetta to meet

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Amid new Iran nuke rumors, Barak and Panetta to meet

Source: JTA, 5-16-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet with his U.S. counterpart, Leon Panetta, in Washington amid reports that Iran may have achieved the capability to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel has said that such a capability is a “red line” that could trigger military action.

The defense chiefs are scheduled to meet Thursday.

The Associated Press reported this week that it had obtained a drawing of an explosives containment chamber said to exist on an Iranian military site. The chamber’s only known use would be to test nuclear weapons.

Iran has denied reports that it is seeking a nuclear weapon. Western experts have said the Islamic Republic appears to be moving closer to such a capability.

The Obama administration has endeavored to keep Israel from striking while it pursues sanctions and diplomatic pressure as a means of getting Iran to retreat from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Israel Political Brief May 14, 2012: GOP Urges Mitt Romney to ‘Shame’ President Obama by Visiting Israel

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GOP Urges Romney to ‘Shame’ Obama by Visiting Israel

Republican Congressmen urge Romney to hurry up and visit Israel to ”shame” Obama, who has not visited as president.

Source: Israel National News, 5-14-12

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
Reuters

Republican Congressmen are urging Mitt Romney to hurry up and visit Israel to ”shame” President Barack Obama, who has not visited as president, according to the Washington-based The Hill website.

“It would be a good visit for him,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

President Obama visited Israel, highlighted by praying at the Western Wall, during his 2008 campaign. He has hinted that he will come again this year before the November elections, but he may face a problem concerning the Western Wall in the wake of his acceptance of the Palestinian Authority’s demands for sovereignty over all areas, including the Western Wall, restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Romney faces no such problem because his Mormon faith casts him as a strong backer of Israel and the rights of Jews in all of the Land of Israel. The former Massachusetts governor has harshly criticized President Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus.’

Romney has had a friendly relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for years and immediately sent him condolences after his father passed away last month. President Barack Obama did not send a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu until a few hours after Arutz Sheva asked the Prime Minister’s spokesmen whether the president had done so.

A visit to Israel by Romney also would sharpen his image regarding foreign policy, while highlighting the fact that during his term in office, President Obama has visited 30 countries, but not Israel.

Romney “can go there and reiterate his record, build some confidence in the Israeli people and send a message to Americans [about] what kind of a relationship he would have and what kind of policy he would have towards Israel,”  Iowa Rep. Steve King told The Hill.READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 13, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting, 150th Meeting, 1st with Unity Government — Discussed Tal Law & Ethiopian Immigrants

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

Source: PMO, 5-13-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“Good morning.

Indeed, this is our 150th Cabinet meeting, with very many accomplishments and activity behind us.  But this is also the first meeting of the broad unity government, with many tasks yet before us.  On behalf of all ministers, I welcome Shaul Mofaz as a government minister and welcome the Kadima MKs that have joined the coalition.

In the talks between us, we set four main goals for the broad unity government: Changing the Tal Law, changing the electoral system, passing the budget and advancing the peace process.  This week, an inter-party team will be formed to present us with alternatives to the Tal Law.  By the end of July, we will pass a law that will divide the burden on a more equal, more egalitarian and more just basis for all Israelis, Jewish and Arab alike, without setting public against public.

Soon, we will also establish a team to lead the change in the electoral system and we will begin to formulate a responsible – I emphasize responsible – budget.  We have done so up until now and we will continue to do so in the future, in the manner that has well maintained the Israeli economy in the face of the unprecedented global economic crisis.

Last night, my special envoy, attorney Isaac Molho, met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.  I hope that we will be able to advance the dialogue between the sides in order to resume the diplomatic talks.

Today, we will submit to the Government a comprehensive plan to improve the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants.  I have personally met with their representatives, from the religious leaders to young people and I am deeply impressed.  I have met with them several times; the Director-General has met with them dozens of times.  I was impressed by two things: One, is that there is a new generation, younger, energetic, active, that takes the initiative, with achievements and aspirations, and especially with the willingness to be integrated into Israeli society.  I was also struck by the distress; there is considerable distress.  Now I say this despite the fact that our Government has done more than any other to ease this distress and help Ethiopian immigrants integrate into Israeli society.  First of all, we decided to stop the unacceptable practice of schools for Ethiopians only and, in a gradual process, there will not be any more schools in Israel in which most pupils are Ethiopian.  We are bringing this phenomenon to an end.  Today, we will approve increasing housing grants to Ethiopian immigrants and their children and we will improve the ability of these immigrants to be absorbed into the labor market.

I think that in all of these steps, we are delivering several messages to the Israeli public.  One, there is no place for racism in Israel, this is unacceptable, there is no place for racism and there is no place for the tolerance of racism.  And perhaps most importantly, the Ethiopian immigrants, some of whom and some of whose parents, marched through Africa and overcame deadly dangers, to our sorrow, some did not arrive, they all set out in order to reach Zion.  They are our flesh and we are bound to them in mutual responsibility.  They are part of us, they are fully equal.

Thank you.”

Israel Brief May 13, 2012: Social protest rallies held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem

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Social protest rallies held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem

Source: JTA, 5-13-12

Social protest rallies were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and three other Israeli cities.

The Saturday night rallies, held also in Haifa, Kiryat Shemona and Pardes Hana, were called the beginning of nationwide social justice protests such as those that took place across Israel last summer.

Several thousand Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, with demonstrators marching from poorer southern neighborhoods to Rabin Square. At least nine demonstrators were arrested.

Hundreds marched in Jerusalem toward the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The rallies were part of an international day of protest to mark the first anniversary of the first social justice protest that took place in Puerta del Sol, Madrid.

Rallies in Israel are expected to pick up toward the end of June following the last university final exams.

Israel Brief May 11, 2012: 5.5 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Israel

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5.5 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Israel

5.5 earthquake felt in areas from northern Israel to central Israel. Epicenter believed to be in Cyprus.

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Earthquake preparedness drill

Earthquake preparedness drill
Flash 90

An earthquake rocked Israel on Friday evening, shortly before 10:00 p.m. local time, and was felt in areas from northern Israel to central Israel.

According to a Channel 10 News report, the police in the Northern, Central and Tel Aviv Districts said they received hundreds of phone calls from citizens who felt the earthquake. Local residents reported feeling objects and buildings move for about 15 to 20 seconds. There were no reports of injuries or damages.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake measured 5.5 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was in Cyprus, Channel 10 reported.

More than a 100 calls by concerned citizens were received in the northern city of Tzfat alone, the report said. The quake was felt even in Bat Yam, Kfar Saba, Ramat Hasharon, Ra’anana and other areas in central Israel.

Magen David Adom has sent reinforcements to its stations in northern Israel and is preparing for the possibility of secondary tremors, Channel 10 reported….READ MORE

Magnitude-5.3 quake rocks Israel

Source: YNet News, 5-11-12

Shaken residents note tremors in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beersheba, among other cities; no injuries or damage were immediately reported

An earthquake was felt across Israel on Friday evening. No injuries or damage were immediately reported.

Residents said they felt tremors in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba, Haifa, Emek Yizrael, Nahariya, Rehovot and Kiryat Gat among other cities around 9:50 pm. They lasted several seconds.

The US Geological Survey initially reported the quake had a magnitude of 5.5, but according to the Geophysical Institute of Israel it measured 5.3 on the Richter scale. Quakes of such magnitude are considerate moderate.

The quake originated in the Cyprus region, at a depth of 19.8 kilometers (12.3 miles).

“I live in Kiryat Motzkin on the sixth floor. I felt the quake, which lasted a few seconds. I felt the chair I was sitting on move. It was really scary,” Amy Shakedi told Ynet.

The tremor was most widely felt in the north, where residents reported leaving their homes as a precautionary measure.

“I was sitting on the couch when I felt the movement,” a resident of Beit Shean said. “The furniture didn’t move or anything, and there were no damage, but we felt it. We immediately went out on the street, and the neighbors did too.”

A resident of the northern council of Misgav said: “I was sitting at home with my kids. Around 9:52 I felt the floor shaking under my feet. The glass displays started to clink. My six-year-old started to cry. I grabbed the kids and ran outside.”

The last earthquake to hit Israel took place in April 2011, and had a magnitude of 5.9.

Israel Political Brief May 11, 2012: Next Week: Acting Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz — PM Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Prague

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Next Week: Acting Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz

With Binyamin Netanyahu headed for Prague next week, Shaul Mofaz will be occupying the Prime Minister’s chair.
Source: Israel National News, 5-11-12
Shaul Mofaz

Shaul Mofaz
Flash 90

Newly dubbed Vice Premier and Minister Without Portfolio Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) is wasting no time in trying out Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s chair.

Mofaz will serve as acting Prime Minister when Netanyahu flies to Prague for a two-day visit next Thursday.

The coalition agreement that ushered Kadima into Netanyahu’s Likud-run government stipulated that Mofaz fill the largely symbolic role when the Prime Minister is abroad.

The title of vice premier is has no legal status, whereas the title of vice prime minister – also symbolic – allows for succession without elections should the prime minister be incapacitated.

For Mofaz the position of vice premier means a reduced protection detail, a less prestigious car and a reduction in diplomatic precedence. As opposition leader, visiting foreign leaders were required to meet with him. As vice premier, they are not.

Mofaz explained his decision to enter the coalition as “a historic opportunity to make meaningful steps for the good of the public,” and dismissed criticism saying “there are times when the leadership must make decisions even if they seem unpopular.”

Kadima’s joining the government gives Netanyahu a 94-seat super-coalition with a stated mission of replacing the Tal Law and restructuring Israel’s electoral system and government in such a way as to “provide stability.”

“In my view, it would have been irresponsible to miss this opportunity,” Mofaz said. “The responsibility is on me, and me alone. Let me be judged by my results – I will stand the test.”

Israel Political Brief May 11, 2012: US Concerned Netanyahu, Mofaz May Attack Iran

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U.S. Concerned Netanyahu, Mofaz May Attack Iran

U.S. worried that Israel’s new unity government could result in an attack on Iran at any given moment.
Netanyahu and Mofaz

Netanyahu and Mofaz
Flash 90

The United States is worried that Shaul Mofaz and his Kadima party’s joining a unity government with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could result in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities at any given moment, according to a report on Channel 10 News on Thursday.

U.S. government officials told Channel 10 News that they believe a Likud-Kadima joing government could make a decision about an Israeli attack on Iran at any moment and perhaps even before the U.S. presidential elections in November.

The report said that when the Americans believed early elections would be held in Israel on September, they thought it meant the attack in Iran would be postponed at least until after the election. Now, with the stabilization of Israeli politics and the current government likely to end its term on schedule, the situation has changed and the Americans are concerned.

According to the Channel 10 report, in order to try and prevent or at least postpone the Israeli decision on the issue, the Americans recently held marathon talks with Israeli officials at all levels….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 9, 2012: Montreal Rabbis, Academics Urge President Shimon Peres to Advocate for Jonathan Pollard

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Canadian Rabbis Urge Peres to Advocate for Pollard

Int’l Jewry continues to press Israel’s leaders to act on behalf of Johnathan Pollard.
Pollard

Pollard
Israel news photomontage

President Shimon Peres received a letter from a delegation of rabbis and professors in Montreal, Canada imploring him to seek the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

To the Honourable President Peres,
We warmly welcome you to our community in Montreal. As a distinguished representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, it is our pleasure to host you. We all share your pride at being awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As representatives of the Jewish community of Canada, we support your humanitarian appeal to President Obama for clemency for Jonathan Pollard. The Jewish community of Montreal stands behind your efforts on behalf of the release of Jonathan Pollard. We would like to encourage you and to ask that you act according to the best of your abilities so that your appeal will be answered in the affirmative.
Mr. President, we all recognize that your efforts can bring about Jonathan’s release and save his life. Please act in order to bring this terrible tragedy to an end.
Sincerely,
Rabbi Shachar Orenstein, Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue – President of Rabbinical
Council of Canada
Rabbi Benjamin Weiss, Chief Rabbi of Montreal
Rabbi David Sabbah, Chief Rabbi of Quebec
Rabbi Jacob Benaroch, Young Israel of Chomedy
Rabbi Tuvia Hoffman, Beth Zion
Rabbi Moshe Jablon, Beth Ora
Rabbi Asher Jacobson, Chevra Kadisha
Rabbi Mendel Kaufman, Young Israel of Montreal
Rabbi Ronnie Fine, Chabad of Queen Mary
Rabbi Leibel Fine, Chabad of Dollard des Ormeaux
Rabbi Mark Fishman, Assistant Rabbi Beth Tikvah
Rabbi Dov Harrouch, Jewish Experience
Rabbi Michael Harrosch, Jewish Experience
Rabbi Leibish Hundert, former rabbi of Ghetto Shul
Rabbi Nadav Levin, Kollel Torah Mitzion
Rabbi Avraham Marouani, Or Shalom
Rabbi Dovid Merling, Agudath Israel
Rabbi Moishe New, Montreal Torah Center
Rabbi Moise Ohana, Or HaHayim
Rabbi Ben Vago, Hillel House
Rabbi Yossi Shanowitz, Chabad West Mount
Rabbi Zushe Silberstein, Chabad Chabanel
Rabbi Pesach Sperlin, Chabad of Montreal West
Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Tiferet Beth David Jerusalem
Rabbi Shmuly Weiss, Chabad McGill
Rabbi Mordecai Zeitz, Beth Tikvah Ahavat Shalom Nusach Hoari
Prof. Fred Krantz, Canadian Institute of Jewish Research (CIJR)
Prof. Philip Carl Salzman, McGill University
Prof. Gil Troy, McGill University
Pollard, a Jewish-American convicted by the United States on one count of supplying classified data to a foreign nation, has been serving a sentence of life without parole since 4 March 1987.
In recent years, as Pollard’s health has deteriorated, his release has become a growing concern of the American Jewish community – and Israel’s nationalist camp.
The disproportionate length of Pollard’s sentence when compared to other’s convicted of the same crime – almost always less that 7 years – has also become a point of contention with American Jews.
Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres personally asked US President Barack Obama to grant Pollard clemency on humanitarian grounds during their respective meetings in the White House earlier this year.
Peres made a second, direct personal appeal to Obama for Pollard’s release following the latter’s sudden hospitalization on April 4.
Israel’s president is expected to ask Obama to grant Pollard clemency a third time when he recieves the Medal of Freedom in Washington DC in June.
Peres will carry with him a letter bearing the signatures of 80 Israeli lawmakers.

Israel Political Brief May 7, 2012: Last Minute Unity Government Agreement Between PM Benjamin Netanyahu & Opposition, Kadima Leader MK Shaul Mofaz Removes Need for Election

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Last Minute Unity Government Removes Need for Election

PM Netanyahu and Opposition leader Mofaz form a unity government, removing the need for elections.
Netanyahu at the Knesset, May 7, 2012

Netanyahu at the Knesset, May 7, 2012
Reuters

Just hours after the Knesset approved the first reading of a bill to dissolve itself and hold elections, it appears as though no early elections will be held.

Kol Yisrael radio reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition leader MK Shaul Mofaz have reached an agreement to form a national unity government.

According to the report, the Likud and Kadima parties converged at 2:00 a.m. (Israel time), and the members of both factions are being updated on the meetings between Netanyahu and Mofaz. It was also reported that Mofaz is expected to be appointed either a minister without portfolio or Homefront Defense Minister, a position recently vacated by MK Matan Vilnai (Independence).

It was also reported that the agreement reached between the Likud and Kadima calls for the Tal Law for the recruitment of hareidim into the army to be replaced by the end of July. Netanyahu and Mofaz will head a team which will be tasked with forming the new law.

In addition, Kadima has promised to remain in the coalition until the end of its term in November 2013. Also, it was agreed between the parties that by the end of December, a law changing the Israeli system of governemtn will be put to a vote. According to reports, the talks between Netanyahu and Mofaz went on for several days.

A unity government is likely to harm the Labor Party, which has gained strength in the polls, as well as Yair Lapid’s party, as he will now have to wait until the current Knesset completes its term in order to run.

A unity government would definitely help Kadima which, according to all polls, was set to suffer a dramatic blow in the next election….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 7, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Reaches Unity Government Agreement with Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz — Cancels Early Elections

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Israeli media: Early election canceled

Source: AP, 5-7-12

Israeli media reports early Tuesday indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached an agreement with the Kadima opposition party for a unity government, canceling an early election.

There was no immediate comment from official sources on the decision that was reported at about 02:00 A.M. local time.

The reports came as Israel’s parliament held debates long into the night over whether to disperse ahead of early elections called for the fall.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli government proposed the election be moved up to Sept. 4.

The election had originally been set for 2013.

According to the reports, Netanyahu forged an agreement with opposition leader Shaul Mofaz of Kadima a short while before parliament was set to vote to disperse.

Reports said Kadima agreed to join Netanyahu’s government on condition it supports a proposal about military deferment for Ultra-Orthodox Jews. The issue was one of the main reasons Netanyahu decided to bring forward the election date….READ MORE

 

Israel Political Brief May 7, 2012: President Shimon Peres Praises Israeli-Canadian Relations in Ottawa

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Peres Touts Israeli-Canadian Relations in Ottawa

President Shimon Peres praised Canada’s long friendship with Israel as he conducts a series of working meetings with leaders there.

Source: Israel National News, 5-7-12

Shimon Peres Reviews the Honor Guard
Shimon Peres Reviews the Honor Guard

מארק ניימן\לע”מ

Canadian Governor-General David Johnston welcomed President Shimon Peres to Canada on Monday.

The two men followed protocol by reviewing the ceremonial honor guard that greeted Peres with a 21 gun salute and issuing joint statements, before holding a working meeting.

“I thank you for your invitation to visit your special country,” Peres said, speaking in French. “I carry with me Jerusalem’s deep gratitude to Ottawa for the enduring friendship that you showed us as close kin in the family of nations.”

Later, Peres said, “I visited Canada for the first time 60 years ago in search of a means to defend our country, and for friendship, and to open the doors of peace. I found these here, in Canada.”

“Ever since, I have carried in my heart the feeling that Canada is land which is friendly, supporting, and caring towards Israel. I have never felt Canada is indifferent,” he explained.

Peres added, “A visit to Canada is an opportunity to strengthen a very special relationship. Relations between countries are important and promising, as well as our commitment to ensure we live in days of peace, prosperity and growth.”

As Governor-General in Canada, Johnston fills a role as Ottawa’s federal vice regal representative of Canada’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

His role is similar to that performed by Peres in Israel, but he also executes the constitutional duties of monarch in Canada, which remains a part of the British Commonwealth.

Johnston was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Queen Elizabeth II’s consent.

Later, Peres is expected to hold a private working meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Afterward, he will attend an official lunch in honor of his visit with government ministers at the Canadian Parliament.

He is expected to discuss political issues including recent developments in the Iranian nuclear program, changes in the Middle East, and political relations between Israel and its neighbors.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been highly supportive of Israel in the international arena.

Israel Political Brief May 7, 2012: Israel’s Cabinet dissolves Knesset — Calls new elections for September 4

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israel’s Knesset dissolved, new elections called for Sept. 4

Source: JTA, 5-7-12

Israel’s Cabinet agreed to hold early elections for the 19th Knesset on Sept. 4.

The Cabinet on Sunday authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to submit a law for Knesset approval to hold the vote on that day.

New elections did not need to occur before October 2013, the official end of the current Knesset’s term.

“I would have been very happy if we could have completed the term, which was also my goal, but it is no secret that with the start of the government’s fourth year, the coalition is fraying somewhat,” Netanyahu said at the start of the Cabinet meeting. “It therefore seems to me that the right thing to do is to go for a brief election campaign.”

“We are proposing Sept. 4, after which, God and voters willing, we will receive a mandate, create stability and successfully lead the State of Israel in dealing with the great challenges we still face.”

Netanyahu said he intends to form “as broad a government as possible” following the upcoming elections. Current polling data shows that his Likud Party could garner up to 30 seats, up from its current 27, in the next election.

Netanyahu was embarrassed Sunday night at his party’s convention, where he had hoped to be elected president of the Likud Central Committee in order to determine who will be chosen to fill the new Knesset seats.

Hundreds of Central Committee members signed a petition calling for a secret ballot for the vote; an open vote reportedly would have increased the chances of Netanyahu being elected. Lawmaker Danny Danon will challenge Netanyahu for the position.

The vote for president of the Likud Central Committee was delayed. Likud primaries are expected to be held in early June.

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 7, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting — Calling for Early Elections in September

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

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

Source: PMO, 5-7-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today :

“I have asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Israel Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino to brief the Cabinet on the recent shocking incidents that have torn at Israelis’ hearts.  We have witnessed very, very difficult scenes and we know that everything must be done in order to eradicate them.

I have full confidence in Minister Aharonovitch, Insp.-Gen. Danino and in the Israel Police, in their ability to do this.  We will be briefed on the actions that have been taken and that will be taken.  We know that there has been a 30% drop in murders as well as a decline in street brawls, but these extreme and brutal incidents underscore the recognition that must act with all strength against this wildness, this violence, these murders – and we will do so.  We will continue to do so.

I would also like to congratulate French President-elect Francois Hollande.  Relations between Israel and France have always been friendly.  They will remain such and I look forward to meeting with him in order to continue this link, which is important both bilaterally and internationally.

I would also like to tell my friends here, to tell all ministers, that our working together has led to exemplary achievements for the State of Israel.  I think that in all areas we can count very major achievements for the Government thanks to our joint work, vision, cooperation and political stability.  Political stability was a very important component in this success because for three years ministers dealt with solutions, not elections.

I think that the State of Israel has not had such a stable Government in decades.  But it is no secret that with the start of the government’s fourth year, the coalition’s stability is fraying somewhat, and that there has also been a lack of stability between and within the parties.  Instability leads to extortion and populism – and these harm the main aspects of our lives: Defense, economics, and society.  We live in a country that needs political stability.  I would have been very happy if we could have completed the term, which was also my goal.  To my regret, this instability is calling this into question; therefore, it seems to me that the right thing to do is to go for a brief election campaign.

We are proposing September 4, after which, God and voters willing, we will receive a mandate.  I intend to form as broad a government as possible in order to create stability and successfully lead the State of Israel against the great challenges we still face.

Thank you very much.”

Israel Political Brief May 6, 2012: Michael Oren: Israeli envoy calls for Israel support, respect for religious pluralism in AJC Speech

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israeli envoy Michael Oren calls for Israel support, respect for religious pluralism

Source: JTA, 5-6-12

In two speeches calling for increased Jewish unity, Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michal Oren urged stronger Diaspora support for Israel and greater Israeli respect for the diversity of Jewish life in America.

“Sometimes it seems that we, Israelis and American Jews, not only inhabit different countries but different universes, different realities,” Oren said in a May 4 speech in Washington to an American Jewish Committee gathering of about 400 young Jewish activists from around the world….

“Ironically, at a time when support for Israel in this country is at a near all-time high — indeed it’s one of the few truly bipartisan issues — we Jews seem increasingly divided,” Oren said in his Washington remarks. “Let me be clear: At stake is not merely Israel’s policies or rights of American Jews to criticize them. At stake is nothing less than the unity of a Jewish people.”…

“The pro-Israel person sees Israelis — left, right, religious, secular — not as some distant ‘other’ but as part of a whole — a dynamic, creative, rambunctious and precious whole,” Oren said in Washington. “The pro-Israel people are those who view even those who disagree with them politically as part of their people, as mishpochah,” or family….

“In Israel,” he said, “to be pro-‘the Jewish people’ is to guarantee respectful space for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel, to maintain a dialogue over the conversion issue, to enable open debate about those Israeli policies that impact all of world Jewry.”

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