Israel Political Brief May 28, 2013: Knesset Finance Committee approves VAT increase

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Knesset Finance Committee approves VAT increase

Source: Jerusalem Post, 5-28-13

The Knesset Finance Committee on Monday approved Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s plan to increase the value added tax to 18%, as committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) announced plans to seek a differentiated VAT in order to make the tax….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 23, 2013: Israeli lawmakers slam US Secretary of State John Kerry for Boston Marathon-Mavi Marmara comparison

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Israeli pols slam Kerry for marathon-Mavi Marmara comparison

Source: JTA, 4-23-13

Israeli lawmakers are condemning U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s comparison of the Boston Marathon bombing victims to the 2010 deaths of Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara ship….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 24, 2013: MKs call for leaving Seder seat open for Jonathan Pollard

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MKs call for leaving Seder seat open for Pollard

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-24-13‎

MKs hold mock seder ending with a toast to Pollard and a reading of a prayer for the Israel agent’s welfare….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 17, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu names Moshe Ya’alon as defense minister, Gideon Sa’ar as interior minister

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Netanyahu names Ya’alon as defense minister, Sa’ar as interior minister

Source: Haaretz, 3-17-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held meetings on Sunday with Likud Knesset members and leading coalition partners to complete a last-minute cabinet shuffle, in advance of the swearing-in ceremony for Israel’s 33rd government on Monday….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 6, 2013: Israeli Knesset discusses jailed spy Jonathan Pollard

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Israeli Knesset discusses jailed spy Jonathan Pollard

Source: Haaretz, 3-6-13

Israeli Knesset discusses jailed spy Jonathan Pollard. Israel made mistakes in handling of the case, says public diplomacy minister; Lapid signs petition calling for Pollard’s release….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 14, 2013: IDF censor backs MKs who exposed ‘Prisoner X’ affair

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IDF censor backs MKs who exposed ‘Prisoner X’ affair

Source: Ynetnews, 2-14-13

Chief military censor tells Army Radio lawmakers who questioned justice minister over death of Australia-born dual Israeli citizen in prison despite gag order merely ‘exercised their right….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 12, 2013: Israeli lawmakers press for answers on dead ‘Prisoner X’

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Israeli lawmakers press for answers on dead ‘Prisoner X’

Source: JTA, 2-12-13

Knesset members pressed Israel’s justice minister for answers on “Prisoner X,” who was identified in an Australian TV report as an Australian-born Israeli who worked for the Mossad and died in an Israeli prison…..READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 11, 2013: In first Knesset speech, Yair Lapid highlights Israel’s ‘crisis of governance’

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In first Knesset speech, Yair Lapid highlights Israel’s ‘crisis of governance’

Source: Haaretz, 2-11-13

Yesh Atid Chairman says public ‘has lost faith in the ability of the state to make decisions;’ urges new government to restart peace negotiations….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 8, 2013: Knesset goes back to work in earnest on Monday

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The Knesset goes back to work in earnest

Source: JPost, 2-8-13

Plenum meetings set to begin on Monday; Meretz MK Horowitz forms first new caucus to boost ties with neighboring states.

Heads of party lists for 19th Knesset February 5, 2013
Heads of party lists for 19th Knesset February 5, 2013 Photo: Knesset spokesperson

The Knesset will begin work again next week after a temporary Knesset House Committee was formed to allow lawmakers to get back to business.

Acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) called Knesset meetings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, in which new MKs will give their first speeches and ministers in the outgoing government will give an overview of their activities….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief February 5, 2013: President Shimon Peres’ speech at the 19th Knesset opening

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Peres’ speech at the 19th Knesset opening

In welcoming new Knesset, president calls on lawmakers to work for economic stability, fight racism and preserve democracy.

Presiddnt Peres at 19th Knesset opening ceremony

Presiddnt Peres at 19th Knesset opening ceremony Photo: LAHAV HARKOV
On its 64th birthday the Knesset of Israel has renewed confidence and renewed legitimacy. The eyes of the public are fixed on you, the members of Knesset, in expectation that you will be their loyal representatives for the creation of a better future. In this Knesset are a record number of new Knesset members, 48 in total, and an increasing number of female Knesset members, 27. This is an achievement but still far less than the equality we seek. During the last elections the cynicism waned and the scornfulness reduced. Young people were elected, free from the bonds of the past and with wings to fly anew. Veterans were elected and those with experience who will create a constructive balance between new and experienced. The Knesset is not above the nation, it represents the nation. It should serve the nation more than rule over it.

We are faced with serious challenges, which may turn out to be existential threats or new opportunities. We must see inwardly and look outwardly, with an investigative eye. Israel is an island in a stormy ocean. We must protect the island and work to calm the angry ocean. Domestic issues dominated the election and a new budget is the most pressing matter. Israel’s economy has avoided the surging global deficit and managed to maintain its unique position. As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance I learnt to be wary of two evils: Deficit and inflation. A rising deficit creates high interest levels and nothing is produced. Inflation gnaws away at trust in the currency and discourages investors; the success of the economy is dependent more on joining hands than twisting arms.

Cutting the deficit demands widespread political agreement and cooperation between the three parts of the market – the government, workers and employers. It is difficult to reach a deal of this sort, but it is dangerous to remain without it. I urge members of the house to join in a collective effort to curb the deficit and return to growth, the greatest challenge facing you is the expectation of the people for social reform.

On the eve of the elections you made promises, almost unanimously, that this Knesset will be the most socially-minded Knesset of all time. That you will bridge the gap between those with influence and those being worst affected by the difficulties, equal sharing of the national burden. We cannot accept a reality whereby 900,000 children lack food, and are disadvantaged when it comes to education. The State of Israel is a democracy based on individual freedom and the rule of law. Those who determine the conduct of society, the character and destiny of our democracy are the institutions of the elected representatives.

Democracy is not only the right to be equal but the equal right to be different. There is no place for discrimination. Not religious discrimination, not ethnic, not national and not gender-based discrimination. Our nation suffered from racism. We will not allow for racism in our country.

Israel is small in size but can be large in social justice. The issue is critical for young people, it is good to be young but these days it is also expensive. We demand from our young people to attain higher education, to be competitive internationally, to manage high food prices and improved medical care which has also become more expensive. The price of land has gone up because the population has increased and the size of the land remains the same, likewise the cost of accommodation. I remember the first days of Israel, there was equality but there was nothing to share. We had to create something from nothing. There is nowhere like Israel, a country that has created so much from so little. What we have has been created from almost nothing. Now we have – we must share equally. We must be caring, brothers and sisters to one another.

Members of Knesset, around us there is a storm. In the Arab world a young generation has risen who has had enough of being subjugated and they have rebelled. They have yet to achieve their aims. This is a new development.

And we wish them success. Conversely, from Iran the threat is growing. It threatens our existence and the independence of Arab states. At its head stand a group of Ayatollahs. They have become a brutal dictatorship which casts a stain on Persian history and is a nightmare for its people. That group seeks Iranian hegemony over the entire Middle East. They have terror agencies such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran smuggles weapons into Arab countries to undermine their stability. Iran exports wild incitement against Israel. Their leaders are both Holocaust-deniers and threaten a Holocaust.

They are building a nuclear weapon and claim it is against their religion.

They do not tell the truth and they denigrate the individual. They are the deniers of enlightenment in our time. President Obama has built a wide coalition to prevent a nuclear Iran. The coalition began with diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions and has made clear that it will take no options off the table. The United States can put an end to the Iranian threat and I believe that the President of the United States is determined to do it. Iran is a threat and Syria is a tragedy. The president of Syria is butchering his own people. The United Nations must, in my opinion, give the Arab League the mandate to immediately form a transition government in Syria and to save Syria from self-destruction. Assad who has murdered so many, has also murdered Syria’s future.

Members of Knesset, protecting the security of Israel are our security forces. The IDF is rich with historic achievements and the security forces excel in their personal abilities and professional skills. The current generation of IDF commanders, and at their head the Chief of Staff, have proven once again their incredible ability and won the trust and love of the people. The IDF must constantly train its soldiers. And renew its technological advantage time and again.

Israel can develop unique technology on a global scale. The security services are focused today on building the army of tomorrow, which will be quicker and stronger. I recommend to our enemies not to be mistaken about our abilities both overt and covert. Strategy is based upon military strength and diplomatic wisdom – a strategic victory is not just defeating our enemies but securing peace. We must eradicate hostility, not only our enemies.

There is no security without an army and no peace with diplomacy. Peace requires security mechanisms and security requires diplomatic mechanisms. We made peace with Egypt and Jordan. And we started negotiations with the Palestinians. If we complete the negotiations, we will create a strategic depth which each of the components alone is missing. In Jewish tradition, peace is a traditional obligation. David Ben Gurion summed it up in one sentence: “Israel’s fate is determined by its strength and is righteousness.” Israel’s scientific ability strengthens its political ability and increases economic output. Our high-tech transformed a recalcitrant soil into a producer of abundant crops. From one dunam of land we produce crops as if from five dunams. From one drop of water we recycle three drops. Israel has proven that even from the desert hope can spring, that makes us an example to the world. Our agriculture not only increased yield, it is also able to raise their nutritional value.

In our history we had help and in our future we will be able to help others.

Already today, Israel is able to provide unique support across the world in the fight against hunger, poverty and natural disasters. In the field of terrorism we have gathered experience which we put at the disposal of other countries.

I am incredibly proud of the scientific advances in medicine in Israel both in terms of innovative equipment and unique treatment. 15% of the world’s modern medical devices are made in Israel. Medicine is the diplomacy of friends. Israel continues to march forwards in medicine. Israel is able to create a key to crack the genetic code of each individual and to reduce reliance on hospitals and medication, something that will lead to the democratization of medicine. Equality for all. Israel is also advancing when it comes to space. Israeli satellites are some of the most advanced in the world, they are smaller and cheaper, they enable smaller countries which aren’t as rich to enjoy their capabilities.

A decade ago we put Nano-technology at the center of Israel’s scientific endeavors. We were right. Today we need to put brain research at the center of our research efforts. When a person knows his own brain, he knows how to control himself, to choose wisdom over folly. Peace over violence. The European Union decided to allocate one and a quarter billion euros for brain research. The first to benefit from this program are Israeli researchers and institutions. These are the first fruits of our efforts. I am so proud. It is no coincidence.

Members of Knesset, the smallness of our territory requires a greatness of minds. An Israel that will be built on values. That will be just for all citizens. A state that will be daunting to our enemies. A country that contributes. Our foundation is the Ten Commandments. Our vision is the edge of science. Members of Knesset, you are privileged to be representatives of the people. There is no greater right than to serve your nation. One who serves many. Better to serve the nation than rule over it. Please, carry with you a vision of a better world, for each of us individually and collectively. For our nation and other nations. The vision of the prophets is a journey from slavery to freedom, the promised land. I wish you all success.             

Israel Political Brief February 5, 2013: President Shimon Peres puts faith in 19th Knesset as MKs sworn in

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As MKs sworn in, Peres puts faith in 19th Knesset

President says Knesset has “renewed legitimacy”; Netanyahu: “MKs serve the state and the public, not the other way round.”

Heads of party lists for 19th Knesset February 5, 2013

Heads of party lists for 19th Knesset February 5, 2013 Photo: Knesset spokesperson

President Shimon Peres welcomed 120 new and returning members of the 19th Knesset on Tuesday at a special swearing in ceremony. Many old faces returned to parliament, but a record 48 new lawmakers also took their seats for the first time.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Peres stated that “on its 64th birthday the Knesset has renewed confidence and renewed legitimacy.”

“The eyes of the public are fixed on you, the MK’s,” Peres said to the 120 MKs assembled for the swearing in.

The president mentioned that there was a record 48 new MKs in the 19th Knesset, and “an increasing number of female Knesset members, 27.”…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 5, 2013: 19th Knesset sworn in; Peres: People want social reform

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19th Knesset sworn in; Peres: People want social reform

Source: Ynetnews, 2-5-13

The House is in session: The 19th Knesset convened for its inaugural session Tuesday, a traditional plenum session during which all Knesset members pledged their allegiance to the State and its laws….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 14, 2012: Avi Dichter quits Knesset to take home front defense ministerial position

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Dichter quits Knesset to take home front defense ministerial position

Source: JTA, 8-14-12

Israeli lawmaker Avi Dichter resigned from the Kadima Party and the Knesset in order to join the government as minister of home front defense….READ MORE

 

Israel Political Brief March 4, 2012: Reactions in Israel to President Obama’s Speech — Likud politicians mock Obama AIPAC speech

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Likud politicians mock Obama AIPAC speech

Labor’s Yacimovich calls the speech “unquestionably pro-Israel”; Livni blames Netanyahu for tensions.

Source: JPost, 3-4-12

Livni, Netanyahu and Yacimovich.
By Marc Israel Sellem

Israeli reactions to US President Barack Obama’s speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Sunday were divided along party lines.

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) criticized Obama for saying that too much bluster played into Iranian hands and suggesting that it led to higher gas prices.

“There is a saying that it’s easier to watch a fire from far away,” Kara said. “We are facing an existential threat, not the US. If Israel doesn’t bluster, the US will also be in danger, because Iran’s missiles will reach them too. Israel is doing everything possible to keep the world safe, and it’s unfortunate that the White House doesn’t see things the way we see them here.”.

Likud MK Danny Danon mocked Obama’s promises to protect Israel’s security. He said history had proven that Israel can rely only on itself.

“Looking back at the way the United States criticized Israel for destroying the nuclear reactor in Iraq, Israel must make its decisions based on its own good judgment,” Danon said

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich called Obama’s speech unquestionably pro-Israel. In a speech in Herzliya, she wished Netanyahu well in his meeting with the president.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni blamed tension between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama on Netanyahu. She predicted that there would be a large gap between Obama’s praise for Israel in his speech and what he would say to Netanyahu behind closed doors.

“Relations between Israel and the US have become political during Netanyahu’s term,” she said. “Netanyahu made Israel an issue in the American election and it’s a mistake. Netanyahu must understand that relations with with the US are an essential need. Our deterrence depends on it. He will be tested on whether he is able to draft the US into our interests or whether he will continue just manipulating internal American politics.”

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