Israel Musings January 30, 2014: Scarlett Johansson becomes Israel’s most famous advocate combating BDS with Soda

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Scarlett Johansson becomes Israel’s most famous advocate combating BDS with Soda

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Whether Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson wanted to or not she has become Israel’s most famous advocate when she signed as the spokesperson, “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream International Ltd., and their carbonated soda machines. Although…READ MORE
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Full Text Israel Political Brief January 26, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting Including about Iran

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks – Including about Iran – at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 1-26-14
יום ראשון כ”ה שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“The purpose of the visit to Davos was to detail the advantages of the Israeli hi-tech and cyber defense industries to the leading forces in the world, both countries and new non-state forces, such as international organizations that are as strong as countries, even major powers. The good news is that Israel is very much in demand.

The interest in Israel is very great. The desire to operate here is very great. I estimate that in the coming year we will see the results of both this activity and that of our other actions, i.e. the entry of new companies into Israel, especially in the cyber market, and the expansion of their business activities within Israel, which is already happening.

I met there with the largest companies, including Google ,
Yahoo: ,
Cisco, Microsoft and various cyber companies in both individual and group meetings .

It is widely understood that in the information age information must be protected, otherwise there will be chaos, the jungle.  This is becoming a positive component in all new economic developments. The assessment is that Israel, due to our special circumstances could offer various solutions in this area. It is clear that there is a great opportunity and challenge for us here, first of all to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these companies, and secondly, to ensure that our education system will be able to deliver the right tools to our boys and girls so that they will be able to continue to develop with the ability to bring results.

I held talks in Davos with representatives from all continents: With US Secretary of State John Kerry, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi , with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. All of them are important countries with markets and opportunities and important diplomatic significance.

Of course, they would all like to see progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. I made it clear that the desire is there and I think they also understand this.

I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness.’  Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech . Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

He said that he was against the killing of innocents, but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the World Economic Forum at Davos

Source: PMO, 1-23-14
יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Photos by GPO

-Transcription-

Introductory Remarks by Espen Barth Eide – Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s a particular honor for me to welcome you back to Davos and to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. The Davos community fondly remembers your visit as Prime Minister back in 1997, as well as your visit here in 2009, then as Chairman of the Likud Party.

You are joining us here in Davos at a time of deep transformations in the Middle East, as well as a time of significant shifts in the global economy. In both areas, Israel is a key stakeholder if we are to realize positive outcomes. Building on the foundations you yourself put in place already as Finance Minister, Israel has been remarkably resilient during the global economic crisis and has clearly shown the value of fiscal and monetary prudence. What is also remarkable is the resilience and ever-growing pace of Israel’s hi-tech sector, an area I know you care particularly much about, which is a key contributor to your country’s unique position in the global economy.

At the same time, your country is dealing with important issues of income disparity and other socio-economic reforms, which makes you also stand out among the OECD countries.

Mr. Prime Minister, you are also joining us a time of significant turbulence and change in the Middle East region, ranging from the humanitarian and geopolitical catastrophe of today’s Syria to the deep uncertainties surrounding North Africa and the border region. All these are events that will significantly shape our shared future. In this dynamic context, the potential for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is seen as a critical pillar of future stability.

I would like to express our support from the World Economic Forum for the leadership that you yourself, as well as your Palestinian counterparts, had provided in restarting the direct negotiations.

So Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us in Davos yet again, and it’s now my pleasure to invite you here to the lectern to develop your special address.

Address by PM Netanyahu:

Thank you very much. I’d like to acknowledge the presence of Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, who’s been one of the architects of Davos, a regular participant, and he will be given a special award tomorrow, which he much deserves. And of course, I’d like to acknowledge the presence of my wife: she’s here too, so… and my delegation. It’s good to see all of you. . Many of you have been to Israel or are already in Israel. I don’t mean as tourists, but as investors, and if you’re not, I hope that by the end of my talk, you will be.
Israel is often called the Start-Up Nation. I call it the Innovation Nation. The future belongs to those who innovate. Those who don’t innovate, whether in companies or in countries, will fall behind. Innovation is the only way to consistently add value to your products and services in an increasingly competitive global economy. And Israel is a global center for innovation, and by that I mean two things. It’s a center not only for science and technology, but for the indispensable ingredient of entrepreneurship. It’s the man or woman who has an idea – sometimes a child almost, young men and women – who have an idea. And that idea takes science and technology and turns it into a workable plan that can actually profit and grow. So Israel is the epicenter of world innovation right now.
But before I tell you about it, I have to briefly digress because you mentioned the fact that I was here in ’97. I digress on something that you cannot innovate on. You must have an economy that follows the rules of economic gravity. They are no different in Israel or in Nepal or in Columbia or anywhere else. And unless you keep to fundamental rules, the platform that you seek to have to have all these thousands of start-up companies take off. They won’t take off – they’ll crash and sink with your economy.
So to have an economy that is run soundly, you have to observe certain principles. The first one is very simple, but I say that to those of you who are in the audience who run states. The most important rule, number one is: don’t spend over time more than you bring in. You can’t afford it. And the second is, of course to maintain a sound macro-economic policy. I say that because we have done it in Israel and we are doing it now. To do that is not easy.
A short time after I was here, in 2003, I became the Finance Minister. The economy was shrinking. Inflation was growing at 7% a year. Our unemployment was at 11%. One of our major banks was in danger of collapse. It would have taken our entire banking system with it, and you know what that does. We’ve already learned what that does. So, when I took over as Finance Minister, I sought to give an explanation to the Israeli public of what it is that we have to do. And what we had to do then was what we have to do and are continuing to do now.
I described my first day in the Israeli army, in the paratroopers. The commander put us all in line and he said, “Now, you’re going to take special race,” and he pointed to me, the first man on the line. He said, “Look to the man on your right and put him on your shoulders”. I did. He was a pretty big guy, about my size. The next guy, he said, was the smallest man in the platoon. He said, “Put the guy to your right on your shoulders”. And he got the biggest guy in the platoon. And the third soldier, who was a big guy, received a small person; and so on. And then the commander blew the whistle and I could barely take a few steps. The little guy who was carrying the biggest guy in the platoon collapsed. And the third guy shot forward like a rocket and took the race.
I said in the international economy – I said then, I say now – in the global economy, all national economies are pairs of a public sector sitting on the shoulders of a private sector, who has to carry the race.
In our case, ten years ago in Israel, the guy at the top, the fat guy, the fat man became too fat and we had to put him on a diet. Hard to do; we had to cut government spending. We had to give a lot of oxygen to the thin man at the bottom, which meant cutting taxes; and we did. And then we had to remove all the barriers to the competition, ditch a fence, a wall, so that the thin man could run forward and compete. What we did then, we must do now; and we are. We just passed a bill in the government to fight cartels and monopolies, and I think that this is most interesting, the most important condition. It’s a prerequisite for innovation, requiring no innovation, but requiring a lot of political will and a lot of clarity. So conceptually, it’s very easy to do. Politically it’s very difficult, but necessary.
And since then, we’ve grown at roughly 4.6% a year with the decade that has followed. We’ve brought down our debt to GDP ratio from over 100% to about 67%, where it is now. We’ve brought down our inflation and we’ve brought down our unemployment. It’s now about 6%. So we have that macro-economic platform, and any of you thinking of coming to Israel, you’re coming to a well-managed country. We have our problems, as does everyone, but we manage it.
Now, innovation. It’s not enough to have some macro-economic policy. You know, nobody ever got rich by balancing their checkbooks. You just avoid bankruptcy. But it doesn’t make you prosperous. What I’ve just described doesn’t make you rich.
But Israel is becoming prosperous because of something else, and that is the ability to add that value through innovation. And the question is: why is it? What is it that we have, aside from good macro-economic policies, aside from market reforms, what is it that makes Israel this nexus of high technology? Because we have, as I said, thousands of start-up companies. And people have tried to crack the code of Israel. You have endless delegations coming to us from many countries and they are trying to figure out: can we do what you do? We don’t mind – we try to share with everyone, as I’m trying to do here. But I want to tell you why I think it would be very useful for you and us to make partnerships. There is something special that we have in Israel. Everybody has their own specialization. Everybody has their own advantages. Here’s our advantage: the concentration of exceptionally gifted hi-tech start-up companies in Israel, I believe is a function of five things.
First, a curse that has been turned into a blessing: our defense needs. We have had to have a very robust defense, so we take the best and the brightest of our young people in the military, and we put them in our various operations and then three years later, they come out. This is a perpetual machine that produces knowledge workers and knowledge entrepreneurs who are very, very gifted. This is reason number one, and I think that this produces a human resource that is unique.
The second is research, we have excellent research institutions and universities. You know some of them of course, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and our other exceptional universities. They produce an inordinate share of Nobel Prize winners for Israel and I think that tells you a lot of what it is. We also spend 5% of our GDP on R&D. I think it’s the – a bit less than 5%, but it’s still the highest number of any country.
Third, I think there’s a special culture. The Jewish people have always treasured education and knowledge. In ancient times we were effectively the only literate people that I know of, because every father teach his son, not his daughter but his son how to read the Bible. And that brought us through the Middle Ages and into modern time with literary capacity. That was unusual. When the walls of the ghetto broke down with the French Revolution, that discipline burst out into many, many areas: into physics and mathematics, into chemistry and so on. There was a culture there. So, from the Talmud to Einstein, the Jewish people were always asking questions, truth was never finite. It never ended. There was an iterative process from Jewish communities around the world trying to find out what is the right thing, what is the true thing? And that questioning mind, I think, is something that is in our culture and I think adds very much to our capacities. Fourth, size: we’re very small. I mean, really small, like the the size of New Jersey or Wales. And so everything is close by and everyone is close to everyone else. Everybody competes with each other and collaborates with each other. There is an ongoing vibrant cross fertilization. So technology that is used for missiles can be put in a camera in a pill that goes into a digestive system to find out how healthy you are and where you are not healthy. The technology that is used to track data flow is used to track water flows and so on.
And the fifth reason I think is because we have no choice.  I don’t think any people in the world has been given the situation of the Jewish people, and to survive, we had to innovate. We didn’t have abundant natural resources. We were outnumbered; we were facing constant threats. Our neighbors even imposed upon us an economic boycott. Some world powers imposed upon us a weapons boycott. We had to innovate to survive.
The birth of modern Israel, remember, was an innovation. The rebirth of the Hebrew language was an innovation. The rebirth of agriculture in our land, something we hadn’t done for 2,000 years, was an innovation. It changed our capacities in a very, very short time and we became a key player in the world community.
This penchant of these five factors that converged together has created a unique situation where is this innovation nation,  and we produce more conceptual products per-capita than any other country on Earth. I think most of you, possibly all of you, know this. So the question is: what can Israel give you?
I think in a nutshell, we can be your science and technology incubator. And I think for all of you, for any business and for any country, the ability to create, to have R&D centers or R&D investments or product development investments that allow you to seize the future, to be constantly on the cutting edge is a competitive requirement for all of us. I think that low tech is disappearing. Hi-tech seeps into every crack, into every corner, changing the face of our world. I’ve just come from an illuminating luncheon with some of the leading IT executives and companies in the world, and it’s very clear that there is an abundant opportunity here, tremendous opportunity – the internet of things and the internet of everything. Everything is moving very, very rapidly. Everything is becoming digital. And Israel is active in just about every field, just about every field. I can’t say every field, but in just about every field that I heard discussed in Davos and that I hear that you are discussing, Israel is there.
I recently met the head of an international company that has R&D operations around the world. His company presented a problem to all their offices. He said to me that only in Israel was he told that he wasn’t asking the right question.  And I think that he should been doing it in a different way. By the way, I get that every five minutes as Prime Minister, but these are very valuable insights. These are out of the box insights that make the difference; they give you the competitive edge.
So I think that for countries and companies alike, the ability to come and partake in this Israeli incubator in your specific field is something that will enhance your competitive advantage. I have no doubt about that, and many of you, as I said, are doing it, and as I learn from talking to you yesterday and today, you’re thinking of expanding it and competing for those minds and those talents.
But there are two areas that I want to draw your attention to in the vast scheme of things this is changing and it’s changing beyond belief everywhere – in health, in science and technology. We’re digitizing Israel – we’re doing a Digital Israel, running fast fiber throughout the country, and we can see the possibilities are endless, both in healthcare and in delivering classes and delivering quality of life that is unheard of, in closing social gaps between those who have and have not. Everybody must have. Everybody must have the ability to be there and we’re talking about, for example, the Arab youth of Israel or the Orthodox – getting them to this new world I think is important. It closes the gaps and it could happen as well in our region as a whole. But there are two areas that are specifically addressed in Israel that I draw your attention to.
The first is sustainability, sustainable development and Israel leads in questions water, food, renewable energy and many others. I’ll give you an example on water. We need water and there’s not enough water in the world, or it’s not distributed in the right way and sometimes even if it’s there, it’s not clean. Our population has increased tenfold and our rainfall is half of what it was when Israel was founded. But we don’t have a water problem. Why? Because we lead the world in re-using water. We’re the number one recycler of water, a little less than 80%. The next country is 25%. Whose cows produce the most milk? Don’t guess: it’s Israel. It’s a computerized cow. Every “moo” is computerized and we increased the productivity. And this is something that can be available to populations across the world. We do make it available. In food, in dairy products, in water, in energy – when you think about sustainability, think Israel.
And there’s another area that I specifically talked about an hour ago, which I think is important. All the limitless possibilities that you see on the internet are being challenged by one thing and that is the question of cyber security, or if you will, cyber insecurity and the question of the invasion of our privacy. Is the age of privacy over? The major engine of global economic growth is the internet. The internet has to be protected. You would not leave your bank account open or money on the table or your door open, but effectively unless we have that protection, everybody is exposed. There are no rules of the game and we enter chaos.  So Israel leads in the question cyber protection – without which the internet economy cannot move forward.
We believe that the hundreds of companies that have been established in Israel in the last few years – hundreds – in cyber security can be your partners. We know that the major cyber firms are already in Israel and they are discovering how true that is, but I think that every country and every company today has a vested interest to have the protection of privacy and cyber security. These are not always identical. There’s often conflict between the two, but it is something that we in Israel think that we can contribute to. I think that you should also know that we are making, as a government a massive investment in this area. We intend to be in the top three – I think we are in the top three in the question of cyber security and cyber protection. We believe that we should safeguard the individual. We think that individuals around the world, millions and millions of people, billions of people, should know that their accounts are inviolable, that their money is safe, that their privacy is assured. This is the world you want to see and Israel can help make that world a realization.
So I encourage you to come in and join us with this, and I think this will be good not only for you and not only for us, but also for peace. The investment in the growth of the Israeli economy is good for our society and it’s also good for our neighbors, whether they realize it or not. I believe that in the peace negotiations, advancing the economic peace alongside the political peace – one does not replace the other, but it could facilitate the other. I think this is a tremendous contribution to peace. I think it’s a way to also close gaps within Israel and between Israel and its neighbors. That may not be evident yet between us and our neighbors, but I think it will be evident in the future.
So I think this is an investment in peace, an investment in the economic peace assists the development of political peace. It could be of great benefit to all our neighbors, but especially to the Palestinians because we’ve had some beginnings of cooperation, including in the hi-tech field, between Israeli entrepreneurs and Palestinian entrepreneurs. I believe it could also be a force that would move the entire region forward, but of course the region, as you know, has other problems which we will discuss.
Israel has so much to offer the Middle East, to correct a great misperception. Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East; Israel is what’s right in the Middle East, and I think our relationship with our neighbors doesn’t have to be a zero sum game; there could be great gain for all.
So my message to you is very simple: the future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is a great seller of innovation. This is an invitation to the innovation nation. Israel is open for business; it’s open for your business. Please come and join us! Thank you.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 23, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Davos Speech

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on Iranian President Rouhani’s Davos Speech

Source: PMO, 1-23-14

יום חמישי כ”ב שבט תשע”ד

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today in Davos, made the following remarks:

“Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.

At a time when Rouhani condemns the killing of innocents, dozens of innocents were recently executed in Iran.

At a time when Rouhani talks about a positive approach to technology, he prevents Iranians from freely surfing the Internet.

At a time when Rouhani is talking about the end of outside involvement in Syria, Iran is arming the Assad regime and directing Hezbollah to slaughter innocents in Syria.

At a time when Rouhani talks about peace with the countries of the Middle East, he refuses – even today – to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, and his regime daily calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

At a time when Rouhani claims that Iran is not interested in a nuclear project for military purposes, Iran continues to strengthen its centrifuges and heavy water reactor, and to arm itself with intercontinental missiles, the sole purpose of which is for nuclear weapons.

Rouhani has admitted that a decade ago, he deceived the West in order to advance the Iranian nuclear program. He is doing this today as well.

The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs’ regime, which is hiding behind Rouhani’s smiles, is to ease sanctions without conceding on their program to produce nuclear weapons.

Therefore, the international community must not go astray after this deception, and it must prevent Iran from attaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons.”

Israel Musings January 23, 2014: Harper spends remainder of Israel trip playing tourist and being honored

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent the remaining day and a half of his four-day Israel trip on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 21 and then Wednesday, Jan. 22 playing the tourist, taking in some of Israel’s holiest sites…READ MORE

Israel Musings January 22, 2014: Harper and Netanyahu hold joint cabinet meeting and press conference

ISRAEL MUSINGS

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Israel Musings January 21, 2014: Canadian PM Harper pledges staunch support for Israel in historic Knesset speech

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Canadian PM Harper pledges staunch support for Israel in historic Knesset speech

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For the first time in history a Canadian Prime Minister has addressed the Israeli Knesset. On Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 Stephen Harper on his first trip to Israel became the first and only Canadian leader to have the honor of…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

Source: PMO, 1-20-14

יום שני י”ט שבט תשע”ד

Photo by GPO
– Translation –

Mr. Speaker,
Ministers,
Members of Knesset,
Head of the Opposition,
Supreme Court Justice, Hanan Melcer,

Distinguished visitors from Canada, ministers, senators, everyone else is distinguished, too. But above all, my dear friend, Israel’s great friend, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The warmest welcome to you, Stephen, to you dear wife, Laureen and to your entire delegation. The people of Israel deeply appreciate your steadfast support, your sincere friendship. Welcome to Israel, dear friend.

Stephen, you decided to start your visit to Israel with a lookout over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

This is the Jerusalem that has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people since the time of King David, 3,000 years ago. There are those in the international community who try to refute our connection to Jerusalem and our land, but not you. You are well familiar with the facts, past as well as present. I want to tell you, Members of Knesset, that there are others in the international community who also know the facts; but unlike the others, Stephen, you have the courage to stand up for the truth, and you have the courage to say the truth.

We live in an age of hypocrisy. In this age of hypocrisy there are those who, instead of dealing with the real problems of the Middle East – the slaughtering of thousands, the trampling on human rights, the systematic oppression of women, minorities and religions – in this age of hypocrisy, there are those who choose to denounce Israel, the only democracy in the region, where human rights are respected, where the rule of law is maintained and freedom of religion is guaranteed to members of all faiths.

In this age of hypocrisy that we live in, Canada, under your leadership, is a moral compass and a beacon of decency. You fight the attempts to deny the State of Israel’s legitimacy. You stand with us in the war against terror. Canada, and you Stephen in particular, fight anti-Semitism fearlessly. I believe that you understand and appreciate our desire for peace, true peace, peace that is based on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people – because that is the root of the conflict and always has been, and I hope it will be solved one day, perhaps soon – and peace that is based on solid security arrangements.

Stephen, you went from Jerusalem to Ramallah today. I am certain that you realized that the distance is not that great. I think that there are streets in Toronto that are longer than that. If I am not mistaken, Young Street is longer than the state of Israel. That illustrates why we yearn for peace – because we live so close to each other. But it also demonstrates why we require steadfast security arrangements – because in such short distances, we have no margin of error. We have to be very precise. We must make certain that after reaching an agreement, what happens in Ramallah is an explosion of construction, not a blast of rockets launched at us, like we have seen and still see in Gaza.

Distinguished guests, thousands of kilometers separate Canada, calm and vast, from Israel, not so big – bigger than life perhaps, but not as large as Canada – and dealing with endless existential threats. The geographic distance is immense, but our two peoples are truly close. This closeness, rooted in our hearts, narrows that distance.

Canada was one of the 33 countries which voted for the UN resolution to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. When Israel was established in the midst of war, volunteers arrived from Canada to fight in the War of Independence. One of the most prominent volunteers was Ben Dunkelman, a Toronto-born Jew who was a war hero in the Canadian army. He was in the invasion of Normandy, and wanted to come here, and use the military experience he had gained in World War II to help the embryonic Jewish state. He participated in the breaking of the siege of Jerusalem, and then commanded the Armored Brigade that freed the Upper Galilee.  This is what he wrote in his memoir: “I was simultaneously a Canadian and a Jew, and neither as a child not as an adult did I find any conflict between the two.”

This is the distinctive spirit of Canadian Jews which I encounter every time I visit: a warm, vibrant community, proud of its Jewishness and proud of Canada. Prime Minister Harper, my friend Stephen, Canada and Israel march together, shoulder to shoulder, throughout the years. Our two peoples believe in the future, a future of progress, of technology, of initiative, of freedom. These are the principles that I know guide you in Canada, and these are the principles that guide us here, in Israel.

In this visit, we are discussing ways to further enhance the ties between us, as cooperating with each other helps make both countries stronger, more prosperous, more progressive. I hope that the day comes that we will find partners here in the Middle East who share our vision, many partners. I hope that the parliaments will cooperate; I hope that there will be real parliaments. For example, let’s look at Syria. Here in the Parliament, as you have seen Stephen, anyone can speak their mind. They can stand up, talk, yell, irritate. But these are not things that can be done in Damascus. Only here in Israel do we have freedom. I must say that I have not found that our friends, Israeli Arabs, want to take leave of Israel. They all want to be here, and justly so. I understand them. I think I made my point about the robustness of Israeli democracy. That’s easy.

But looking forward, our feet must stay firmly planted in the ground. The Middle East outside of this home, outside of this country, is turbulent and unstable. But more than anything, what threatens peace, stability and security, and I add progress in the Middle East, is Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The international community’s objective must be to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. That goal is still ahead of us.

The interim agreement, which went into effect today, does not stop Iran from realizing its goal of making nuclear weapons. Producing the fissile material, the core of the atomic bomb, is like a train that stops in three stations: station 1 – enriching uranium to 3.5%, station 2 – 20%, and the final destination – 90%. The Geneva agreement cancelled the 20% station, but left the train on the tracks, enabling Iran to improve and upgrade the engine by developing new centrifuges. When the time comes, Iran will be able to leap to the last stop faster, on an express line, without stopping at the stations on the way. In a final agreement, the international community must derail the Iranian nuclear train. Iran must not be left with the ability to build nuclear weapons.

Stephen and distinguished guests, I believe that it is time that the international community, which has recently been easing sanctions and giving Iran legitimacy, also demand that Iran stop calling for Israel’s destruction and arming terror organizations: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others. There is no justification for legitimizing a regime like Iran that maintains its murderous policy, and there is every reason to demand that it dismantle its nuclear capabilities and its radical policy.

I know Stephen, that our concerns are your concerns. You fully share our desire to see a stable, safe and peaceful Middle East. Canada, under your leadership, is one of Israel’s closest allies, and you will find that we have a fascinating country, a wonderful land, and we are happy that you and your dear wife, Laureen, have the opportunity to visit parts of it. Wherever you go, you will feel the deep friendship that the citizens of Israel have for you and your country. We will always have a close friend in Canada, and in you, a friend and leader of great stature, whose name will always be remembered with pride in the history of our relations.

Welcome to Jerusalem.
Bienvenue a Jerusalem.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

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Full text of Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Knesset on Monday, January 20, 2014. Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan on this trip.

Source: Globe and Mail, 1-20-14

Shalom.

And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country, and especially for this opportunity to address the Knesset.

It is truly a great honour.

And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the entire Canadian delegation, let me begin by thanking the government and people of Israel for the warmth of your hospitality.

You have made us feel extremely welcome.

We have felt immediately at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies.

And, with your indulgence, I would like to offer a reflection upon what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special and important because the relationship between us is very strong.

The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years, an agreement that has already proved its worth.

The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries.

But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.

As well, our military establishments share information and technology.

This has also been to our mutual benefit.

For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, our use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of Canadian soldiers.

All such connections are important, and build strong bridges between us.

However, to truly understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.

Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years.

In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance, Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have prospered greatly.

Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you their heritage and their faith.

They are proud Canadians.

But having met literally thousands of members of this community, I can tell you this:

They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have accomplished here, of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the bloom that the desert has yielded, under your stewardship.

Laureen and I share that pride, the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so.

This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.

On many occasions, Canadians have even gone so far as to bleed and die to defend the freedom of others in far-off lands.

To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes as in the refusal of our government in the 1930s to ease the plight of Jewish refugees but, as a country, at the turning points of history, Canada has consistently chosen, often to our great cost, to stand with others who oppose injustice, and to confront the dark forces of the world.

It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.

But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative it is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own, long-term interests.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.

Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

These are not mere notions.

They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may flourish.

These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people.

Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow.

Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.

And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.

And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.

And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one.

It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.

Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people.

And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders… will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations — it will be the first.

Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.

But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.

Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.

No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

But our support does mean at least three things.

First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.

But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism.

It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.

Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.

But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.

It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make  the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.

But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

What else can we call it when, Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?

Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding:

In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus:

If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again.

But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all western nations.

And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them.

You just happen to be a lot closer to them.

Of course, no nation is perfect.

But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.

“One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of Syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.

So what are we to do?

Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it.

The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anaemically weak.

For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. “It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.

I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence.

Which brings me to the government of Iran.

Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy with the government in Tehran.

Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear weapon.

We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five permanent members of the security council and Germany.

Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions.

We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place.

And should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral Canada will be a strong voice for renewed sanctions.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.

I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society a vibrant democracy a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.

And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.

My friends, you have been generous with your time and attention.

Once more, Laureen and I and our entire delegation thank you for your generous hospitality, and look forward to continuing our visit to your country.

Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 19, 2014: Welcoming Remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his Arrival to Israel

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Welcoming Remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime
Minister Stephen Harper

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Prime Minister Harper, my good friend Stephen, welcome to Jerusalem. It’s a pleasure for Sara and me to welcome you and Laureen here to our country. It’s a pleasure for the ministers of the Israeli government and the people of Israel to welcome your ministers and your entire delegation to Israel. It’s been long in coming, this visit. We’ve spoken about it many times and we’re delighted to see you both here. I have to say, Stephen, that you are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I’m not just saying that – I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart and I speak for all the people of
Israel.

This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership. When it comes to fighting terrorism, you know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international action.

When it comes to anti-Semitism, you have stood up unabashedly at the side of Israel and the entire Jewish people, I think at the side of decency and fairness to everyone: Jews and non-Jews alike. And when it comes to Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s annihilation and its unrelenting development of nuclear weapons – you and Canada have stood unflinchingly on the right side of history

And finally, when it comes to peace, you recognize that a genuine peace, a lasting peace, must be based on mutual recognition and sound security arrangements on the ground. I think in all this and in so many other things, you have shown courage, clarity and conviction. And in standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one. So the people of Israel and I deeply appreciate your friendship and the friendship of the people of Canada to us. And I look forward to discussing with you the many ways, so many ways, that we can deepen this friendship to the benefit of both our people and we look also forward to showing you our country. Now, I have to confide to you that it’s somewhat smaller than Canada – a little – but it has a huge heart and this heart has endless affection and sympathy and the deepest appreciation to you and to Canada, so welcome all of you to Jerusalem. Welcome to Israel.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

“I know I’m not supposed to speak, but let me just say a couple words to thank you for that very warm welcome, Prime Minister. Benjamin, you and Sara, Laureen and I, we are delighted to be here. I just want to give one explanation: I’m here obviously with my wife Laureen and a tremendous delegation of not just Jewish Canadians, but Canadians from across the spectrum, all of whom have been looking forward to this for some time. The only people missing, and you and I talked about this before, are my children, Ben and Rachel. That’s another visit.

We had hoped they would be able to come, but unfortunately the way the dates fell, they are now in the middle of exams in high school. Nevertheless, they were so keen that they both approached me with a proposal that I should write a note to their teachers excusing them from all of this. To which I explained to them it would not be good for me to tell their teachers that they were ill for them only to turn up on national television on a vacation. So with that unfortunate – those two missing members of the party, we’re otherwise delighted to be here. You said some important things in welcoming me and I have a few things to say tomorrow in response to that, but I think I’ll save that for my speech to Parliament. In the meantime, let me just say on behalf of all of us how delighted we are to be in Israel.”

Israel Political Brief January 19, 2014: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Israel Trip Itinerary

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Harper’s Israel Trip Itinerary

Source: Canoe.ca, 1-19-14

Harpers arrive in Israel

The Itinerary

SUNDAY JAN 19  (All times ET)

  • 0800 – Harper arrives at David Ben Gurion Airport; is greeted by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman
  • 0900 – PM and Mrs. Harper visit the Mount of Olives
  • 1100 – PM and Mrs. Harper are officially welcomed at a ceremony at PM Netanyahu’s office.

MON JAN 20 (Jerusalem-Bethlehem-Ramallah)

  • 0205 – PM and Mrs. Harper visit the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
  • 0400 – PM and Mrs. Harper officially welcomed to the Presidential Compound, Ramallah
  • 0415 – PM Harper meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 
  • 0515 – Joint statements by Harper and Abbas
  • 1030 – PM arrives at the Knesset and is officially welcomed.
  • 1100 – PM delivers speech to Knesset

TUE JAN 21 (Jerusalem)

  •  0100 – PM Harper meets Israel Pres Shimon Peres
  • 0230 – PM Harper meets PM Netanyahu
  • 0500 – PM Harper and PM Netanyahu make joint statement to the press
  • 0800 – PM Harper visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
  • 0930  – PM Harper visits the Western Wall

WED JAN 22 (Jerusalem-Hula Valley-Tel Aviv-Jordan)

  • Time TBD – PM Harper will visit a bird sanctuary to be named in his honour and will also visit Galilee and Capernaum.
  • 1120 – PM Harper receives honorary degree, participates in moderated Q&A at Tel Aviv University
  • 1330 – Travels by air from Tel Aviv to Amman, Jordan

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 13, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Address at the Memorial Service for Former PM Ariel Sharon

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PM Netanyahu’s Address at the Memorial Service for Former PM Ariel Sharon

Source: PMO, 1-13-14
יום שני י”ב שבט תשע”ד

“Ariel Sharon was one of the greatest military leaders of the people of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. Arik belonged to our founding generation, the generation of our national revival. Israel’s revival depended first and foremost on a generation of Jewish leaders who reintroduced the legacy of Jewish bravery in the Land of Israel – a legacy that seemed to have vanished during our years in exile. Arik Sharon played a central role in building this legacy of bravery. He fought with the Israel Defense Forces for many years – from the War of Independence to the fateful battles of the Yom Kippur War.

He laid the foundations for the IDF war doctrine, primarily the concept of retaliation and offensive measures in the fight against terrorism. He did so when he established Unit 101, commanding heroic fighters such as Meir Har-Zion and his comrades. Arik also personified and implemented the “outflanking doctrine” in battle. He did so when he parachuted at the Mitla Pass during the Sinai Operation and in the great outflanking maneuvers of the Six Day War. However, his maneuvering and command abilities were demonstrated primarily during the Yom Kippur War when he led the IDF forces across the Suez Canal and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army. This maneuver, under his command, reversed the direction of the battle and led to the successful conclusion of the war, which began under very difficult circumstances for the State of Israel. On those occasions, Arik demonstrated courage and resourcefulness – which filtered down to his soldiers and served to significantly embolden the fighters.

As minister and Prime Minister he insisted on our right to defend ourselves in this region so that we can live here safely – a right we continue to defend today and which is a necessary precondition for our existence and for the achievement of peace.

I did not always agree with Arik and he did not always agree with me. But when we served in each other’s governments we worked in cooperation for the benefit of Israel’s security and economy. Arik was a practical and pragmatic man. His pragmatism was rooted in his deep emotional ties to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. He understood all too well the essence of anti-Semitism and the need for the Jews to be masters of their own fate in a country of their own. He attributed great importance to our relations with our greatest ally, the United States, but also stood firm in defending Israel’s vital interests in times of trial.

When the international reaction to one of the terror attacks against us seemed too conciliatory to him, he appealed to the international community and said the following: “Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when enlightened democracies in Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a convenient temporary solution. Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not tolerate it”. End quote.

Arik understood that when it came to our existence and our security, we must stand firm. These are principles that we continue to safeguard. The State of Israel will continue to fight terrorism; the State of Israel will continue to strive for peace while preserving its security; and the State of Israel will make every effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Ariel Sharon will go down in history as one of Israel’s greatest military leaders and one of the greatest fighters for the people of Israel in their land.

Arik, the people of Israel bid you farewell today. Your unique contribution to Israel’s security is etched on the pages of our nation’s history. May your memory be forever cherished in the heart of this nation.”

Israel Musings January 13, 2013: World, Israeli leaders react to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

After over a week of where his health rapidly deteriorated, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006) died at age 85 Saturday afternoon 2 p.m. Israel time on Jan. 11, 2014 eight years after entering a coma from…READ MORE

Israel Musings January 11, 2013: Polls show Israelis are skeptical of a peace deal and Kerry but trust Netanyahu

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Polls show Israelis are skeptical of a peace deal and Kerry but trust Netanyahu

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Four polls were released this past week in Israel demonstrate how unpopular the Israeli-Palestinians peace talks and United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s involvement is to the Israeli public. On Friday, Jan. 10, 2014….READ MORE

Israel Musings January 11, 2013: Netanyahu opposes any peace deal framework dividing Jerusalem

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu opposes any peace deal framework dividing Jerusalem

By Bonnie K. Goodman

According to a news report from Haaretz released early Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his senior cabinet ministers that he absolutely will not agree to dividing of Jerusalem in any framework for a peace agreement…READ MORE

Israel Musings January 11, 2013: Israeli leaders oppose Kerry’s framework proposals as he is set to return

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Israeli leaders oppose Kerry’s framework proposals as he is set to return

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Secretary of State John Kerry might have just left Israel and the Middle East region this past Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, but he is planning to return for the second time in a week on Monday, Jan. 13…READ MORE

Israel Musings January 11, 2013: Kerry’s 10th trip to Israel ends without peace framework agreement

ISRAEL MUSINGS

ISRAEL MUSINGS: OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Kerry’s 10th trip to Israel ends without peace framework agreement

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Secretary of State John Kerry returned to Israel for his 10th visit to Israel since March 2013 and the first of 2014 on Jan. 1, 2014 determined on creating a peace agreement framework between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite whirlwind…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 1, 2014: Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly near death

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Ariel Sharon reportedly near death

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 1-1-14

Jerusalem: Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel who has been comatose for nearly eight years, edged closer to death Wednesday evening, suffering from kidney failure….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 1, 2014: Doctors remove polyp from PM Netanyahu

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Doctors remove polyp from Netanyahu

Source: MiamiHerald.com, 1-1-14

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says doctors have removed a polyp from the Israeli prime minister’s large intestine….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 1, 2014: Knesset asks President Shimon Peres to intercede for Jonathan Pollard

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Knesset asks Peres to intercede for Pollard

Source: JTA, 1-1-14

A petition signed by 106 Knesset members calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, held in a U.S. prison for over 28 years for spying for Israel, was presented to Israeli President Shimon Peres….READ MORE

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