Israel Political Brief June 7, 2013: Embarrassing media leak forces Avigdor Lieberman to declassify Knesset defense committee discussions

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Embarrassing media leak forces Lieberman to declassify Knesset defense committee discussions

Source: Haaretz, 6-7-13

Furious chairman makes decision after highly sensitive comments made by Shin Bet security service chief about PA President Mahmoud Abbas were leaked to the press….READ MORE

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Full Text Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: Deputy FM Zeev Elkin’s Speech Addressing Opening of Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism Conference

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DepFM Elkin addresses opening GFCA Conference

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

Source: MFA, 5-28-13

I believe that the fact that we are all here today – not only representatives of Israeli society, but also representatives from all over the world, to fight antisemitism – can make a difference.

 

Dear Global Forum Guests, Vice Minister Germanans, Deputy Minister Karagounis, Secretary of State Retvari, International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Chair Dr. Silva, Ambassadors and  diplomats (Members and leaders and members of Jewish organizations, Members of Parliaments, Members of Knesset, representatives of government , universities and think-tanks, fellow Muslim, Christian and Druze, Ahmadis and Baha’i leaders, concerned members of the Israeli society –
Dear participants of the 4th International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism,

As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, I thank you for gathering here tonight in Jerusalem from more than 40 countries, to send a strong message against antisemitism.

I am encouraged by the holding of the Global Forum. I believe that the fact that we are all here today – not only representatives of Israeli society, but also representatives from all over the world, to fight antisemitism – can make a difference.

Israel, as the homeland of the Jewish people, has of course a special connection to the issue of antisemitism. But antisemitism is not only an Israeli problem or just a Jewish problem. It is foremost the problem of every society in which it is allowed to manifest itself.  History has taught us that for evil to prevail over good, it is enough that decent people stay silent and complacent while the immoral and hateful few gain power.

That is why it is so important that governments, parliaments, international organizations and civil society around the world adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards antisemitism.

Israel is of course part of this battle, but the international community needs to work together in order to change the current reality.

In recent years we see the rise of political parties who no longer shy from promoting racist and extremist policies. Neo-Nazis are again marching the streets of European capitals; synagogues and other communal Jewish buildings need to add more and more security measures, and in certain neighborhoods it is not safe to walk around wearing a yarmulke. 2012 saw the culmination of this with the terrible massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse. This can no longer be characterized as sporadic or rare events. It is time we look this problem in the eye and call by its name – rise in blatant antisemitism.

The classic old malady of antisemitism has metamorphosed into “modern antisemitsm” and has spread to new audiences. Some leaders of Muslim countries, Iran in the lead, and some heads of Muslim communities in Europe, are now exploiting this twisted old hate to deflect criticism from internal problems to “blaming the collective Jew for all that is wrong”. New media is used to spread ancient venom. This is especially tragic when occurring in Muslim society, where Jews and Muslims used to live for centuries in relative harmony.

Anti-Israeli rhetoric and propaganda in the Arab world is all too often nothing but age old antisemitism without even a new veneer. And in our immediate environment the thinking of more than a generation of Palestinian schoolchildren is being poisoned by the hateful and malicious educational and media brainwashing against Israel and Jews.

In addition we see growing sophistication of some antisemites, who hide their hatred behind extreme anti-Israeli rhetoric. They hide behind proclamations of anti-Zionism, opposition to Israeli policies and so called “legitimate criticism” and claim vocally that they are not antisemitic.

We should perhaps fear the “closet racists” more than the skinheads marching with their swastika flags.
Of course Israel is willing to accept criticism of its acts, decisions and policies, but criticism is only legitimate as long it does not single out Israel for different treatment and does not delegitimize our existence and right to exist.

This is what is happening, for example, today in Tunisia where the draft constitution includes a clause equating Zionism with racism and in effect criminalizing any contacts or cooperation with Israel. Of course there is no such clause relating to any other country.

And in Iran the situation is of course much worse. Its leaders openly deny the Holocaust, brainwash their youth with hatred. They do not only call for the destruction of the Jewish state but they go to great lengths to develop a military nuclear apparatus which would be a danger to the region and to the world but clearly would be specifically dangerous for Israel.

Such a situation is clearly unacceptable and intolerable, yet despite various rounds of sanctions and pressures, the international community has not risen to the challenge of an Iran with a nuclear vision and a program of implementation. And all too often we see an uninterested or even a forgiving attitude towards Iranian Holocaust denial and antisemitic statements by its leaders, including its president who feels at home in too many countries around the world.

But it is not just in the Arab and Moslem world where Israel suffers from official and institutionalized discrimination. We face such singling out also in the Human Rights Council in Geneva where, despite the lofty notions of universality and equitable treatment, Israel is not a member of any regional grouping and it is the only country which has an agenda item, the infamous item 7, specifically to condemn its so called violations of human rights.

While all along countries such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and others, not known for their protection of minorities, freedom of the press and other political and civil rights, are never or are only rarely condemned. But numbers speak louder than words – 46 of 103 country related resolutions and 6 of the 19 Special Sessions, since the establishment of the Human Rights Council, were against Israel. Can such a miserable record be defined as anything other than antisemitism in the guise of anti-Israelism?

Exactly because of this built in discrimination, Israel decided last year to freeze its contacts and cooperation with the Human Rights Council. Since then many countries have asked us to change our policy. And I ask myself: Is Israel expected to agree to being discriminated against or should a change in our policy come about only through the ending of discrimination? The answer is clear and after much deliberation I have recently agreed to diplomatic engagement with the Council and major actors in the international community to see if we can arrive at understandings and guarantees that will enable our return to the Council while ensuring that fair play and international standards are applied towards Israel.

I have outlined some, but not all, of the problems Israel faces. Yet we must not despair. Not all is bleak. The Jewish people have today many courageous friends of all religions. Religious and political leaders have come out with strong condemnations to antisemitic incidents and more societies are admitting publicly the existence of antisemitism with this being the first crucial step in countering it.

And Israel also needs the assistance of all who stand up against antisemitism in combating the new antisemitism – the pathological hatred and opposition towards the very existence and legitimacy of Israel,  which is becoming the most dangerous form of antisemitism.

So I thank you again for gathering for this Global Forum in hope of making a difference. antisemites throughout history tried to isolate the Jews, to make them feel alone. Your coming here this evening sends them a strong message: Jews, Jewish communities and Israel, the one and only homeland of the Jewish people, are not alone and shall never be alone again.

Thank you.

Israel Political Brief March 6, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu can hold Foreign Ministry for Avigdor Liberman, Attorney General says

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Netanyahu can hold Foreign Ministry for Liberman, AG says

Source: The Times of Israel , 3-6-13

Netanyahu’s agreement with Liberman has been put to the test in coalition talks with Yesh Atid, whose leader Yair Lapid has his eyes set on the foreign minister position….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2013: Chuck Hagel to Ehud Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon

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Hagel to Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-5-13

Hagel is working to ensure there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome, Arrow, David’s Sling rocket, says US official. Defense Minister Barak embraces US counterpart Hagel….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 3, 2013: Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2013

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Full text of Ehud Barak’s 2013 AIPAC speech

Source: Times of Israel, 3-3-13

‘We live in a tough neighborhood, where there is no mercy for the weak. And no second chance for those who cannot defend themselves’

Full text of Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s speech to AIPAC, March 3.

Thank you for such a warm welcome. What an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by so many true friends in the capital of the world’s greatest democracy. Members of the Administration, Members of Congress, distinguished ambassadors, especially our ambassador Michael Oren…. Michael, Rosey, Bob, David, Howard and Richard, AIPAC members… older and young…

Good evening to you all.

It is your toil and your graft – your unwavering support – that keep us safe. I have six humble words for all of you: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I would like to express my personal appreciation to President Obama and Secretary Panetta for their resolute backing of Israel. History will surely record your immeasurable contribution to the strength of Israel, and the maintenance of the truly special relationship between our peoples. On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish Secretary Hagel all the best in his new role. As Secretary of Defense he will, no doubt, serve his country with the same pride and honor with which he served, both on the battlefield and in Congress. It is great to see so many young activists here. Thank you for your energetic commitment to Israel! A commitment which is so lucidly dictated by the head… yet so deeply underpinned by the heart… Keep it up – you are the future!

It is thanks to the rock solid US-Israel relationship, alongside the devotion of the young men and women of the IDF, that our capacity to defend ourselves, has been guaranteed for years to come! With US support, combined with the ingenuity of our scientists; Israel finds itself at the cutting edge of missile defense technology. The ‘Iron Dome’ recently intercepted over 400 incoming terrorist rockets. Practically – this is like hitting a bullet… with a bullet! Just last week, we – the US and Israel – conducted a successful exo-atmospheric test of the Arrow 3 interceptor. The State of Israel simply would not be the strong island of stability it is, without one crucial constant. You! The United States of America. Its people. Its leadership. Its Congress. Its Jewish community.

It is no secret, and I’ll repeat it again, that we live in a tough neighborhood, where there is no mercy for the weak. And no second chance for those who cannot defend themselves. Israel is the strongest country in the region and the only genuinely open democracy. An unprecedented geopolitical earthquake in the last three years has shattered the generations’ old regional order. There are two clear lessons and one insight which I have drawn from this period: # 1: Be modest with predictions……. especially about the future! Take Egypt as an example; Mubarak was unable to predict it… who did? Who thinks he could? #2: When friends tell me: Don’t worry… If worse comes to worst … the world will step forward and act! My answer is: Do not take this for granted.

Look at Syria – you don’t need classified intelligence; it’s on your screens. Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery are slaughtering his own citizens. Over 70,000 Syrians killed. Yet still… there is no sense of direction and no political will to act. There is an extremely relevant lesson here… especially for all of us in Israel. And an insight…

Many believe that the root cause for all the problems in the Middle East… is our inability to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Well, I say… That’s not true! Recent developments in the Middle East have been far beyond our control… and independent of our deeds. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago: The Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt. Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war. And Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and a hegemonic role in the Gulf.

And ladies and gentlemen, it is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities which is the greatest challenge facing Israel, the region and the world today… A nuclear Iran spells the end of any conceivable non-proliferation regime. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later Egypt will follow suit. In the future, even terrorist groups may try. Diplomatic efforts continue. Sanctions are unprecedented and hurting, but frankly – while exhausting all diplomatic means is understandable – I do not believe it will lead to a “moment of truth”, where the Ayatollahs will give up their nuclear aspirations. Therefore, all options must remain on the table.

We have stated this time and again. And we expect all those who say it… to mean it… Ladies and gentlemen… We mean it. And let me repeat it: we… mean it.

A nuclear Iran is the most imminent and acute danger to the stability of the entire region. But it is not the only one: Radical Islamist terror is spreading rapidly. And the accumulation of missiles and rockets will necessitate regional missile defense. So what is to be done? It is an interregnum right now in Israel, and the new Netanyahu government will have to shape its approach.

But allow me, just before I leave my post, to share with you my positions: The Middle East is a Gestalt – everything depends on everything else. Facing this array of threats, we have to: Firstly, start building a ‘Regional Security Framework’… This should be built around the common challenges of radical Islamist terror, border security, missile defense… and of course, Iran. And being led by the United States, it could provide a variety of synergies for all its regional participants.

Secondly, we need a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians. A two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution. It is a compelling imperative for us, in order to secure our identity and our future as a Jewish and democratic state; it’s not a favor for the Palestinians… Believe me, I tried hard as Prime Minister, together with President Clinton. So I know, from personal experience, that the Palestinians are not easy partners for peace. Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken courageous steps, to renew the process including an unprecedented settlement freeze. But still – from the Palestinian side… no proper response. They clearly bear most of the responsibility for past failures. And I know, a fully fledged agreement is probably not feasible today, But if this is the case – and only a sincere effort can determine this – we have to try and achieve a reasonable, fair, interim agreement. I strongly believe this is possible, while guaranteeing all our security and vital interests.

But if even an interim agreement is unobtainable, then we should consider unilateral steps, in order to place a wedge on this extremely dangerous slippery slope towards a binational state. It involves demarcating a line within the land of Israel… Within which we will have the settlement blocs and a solid Jewish majority for generations to come. As well as setting security arrangements, and a solid Israeli, long-term military presence along the River Jordan. Rest assured… our security should not – and will not – be compromised under any of these alternatives. Tough decisions must be taken; but it is possible. And as our sages teach us: “If not now… when?”

I strongly believe that this intertwined strategic triangle: First, The Regional Security Framework. Second, a reinvigorated political process with the Palestinians… And third: tackling Iran. This triangle, is the most effective approach to deal with the challenges on our horizon.

Israel, has also been experiencing its own tremors of change. In the summer of 2011, the people of Israel took to the streets… demanding a more equal allocation of the burden. Just last month, 53 new, fresh members of the Knesset were sworn in, about half the serving members of Knesset … (Present company included!)… were out. That is what I call democracy in action. A democracy I am proud of. A democracy you can be proud of. I am confident that Prime Minister Netanyahu will lead his new government with the same dedication and responsibility which he led the last.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was born 71 years ago, at the height of World War II; the Nazi crematoria in Europe were working day and night. And now… in 2013, I am ending my tenure as the Minister of Defense of a strong, independent Jewish state. Look at what we – as a nation – have achieved… Who would have believed it then? Today we have an agile and adaptive high-tech and export oriented economy. A start-up culture flourishes on an eruption of talent and an underlying entrepreneurial spirit.

I am optimistic, and my vision for Israel is clear: A strong, self-confident, thriving Jewish, democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. An exemplary state and world leader in science, technology, education and culture. A country in which our children will want to live, and your children will be proud of.

Ladies and gentlemen, We are at a decisive juncture in our history… As President Kennedy noted during the Cuban Missile Crisis: “The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. But it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation…” I believe we possess the character and courage as a nation to make those tough decisions for the future, peace and security of the State of Israel. Please allow me to end with the millennia old blessing: May the Lord bestow his people with courage; may the Lord bless his people with peace. Thank you…

Israel Political Brief January 29, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu offers Yair Lapid Foreign Minister post or Treasury portfolio

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PM offers Lapid FM post or Treasury portfolio

Source:  YNet, 1-29-13

Netanyahu offers Yesh Atid chairman one of two top cabinet posts, sources say. Analysts believe Lapid in fact keener on housing, internal affairs portfolios

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid a choice between the foreign affairs or finance portfolios, sources close to the two said.

The two met at the prime minister’s residence on Thursday away from the public eye in a meeting that kicked off the coalition negotiations….READ MORE 

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