Israel Musings August 1, 2013: Israeli Knesset passes first reading of controversial governance bill



Israeli Knesset passes first reading of controversial governance bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

During a busy last day before their summer recess on July 31, 2013, Israel’s Knesset passed the first reading of the controversial Governance Bill, which most notably will raise the electoral threshold from two percent to four percent…READ MORE

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



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

Israel Political Brief March 18, 2013: Avigdor Lieberman: Likud-Beiteinu Unity to Remain



Likud-Beyteinu Unity to Remain

Source: Arutz Sheva, 3-18-13

Yisrael Beyteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman made it clear Monday afternoon that the agreement between his party and the Likud would continue….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: UN chief to visit Israel as part of truce efforts



UN chief to visit Israel as part of truce efforts

Source: YNet News, 11-15-12 

Ban to meet Netanyahu, Barak and Abbas in hopes of restoring ceasefire between Israel, Hamas. France says President Hollande in talks with Israeli PM, other world leaders to avert escalation of violence. Lieberman to counterparts: We won’t agree to fragile truce.

Efforts to end Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza are underway: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit the region on Tuesday in order to advance a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Ban is expected to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, but he will apparently not visit Gaza. The UN chief is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The visit was coordinated following a closed-door meeting of the Security Council following the escalation in Gaza. …READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 26, 2012: Yisrael Beiteinu: Merger with Likud will not make Avigdor Lieberman Prime Minister



Yisrael Beiteinu: Merger with Likud won’t make Lieberman PM

Source: JTA, 10-26-12

Yisrael Beiteinu has denied reports that party leader Avigdor Lieberman would become prime minister under a secret pact with Likud….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman to merge Likud & Yisrael Beiteinu party lists for election



Netanyahu, Lieberman to merge party lists for election

Source: JTA, 10-25-12

The Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties will run in the upcoming Israeli elections on one list, ensuring that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms the next government….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief October 21, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman defend new Gilo housing



Netanyahu, Lieberman defend new Gilo housing

Source: JTA, 10-21-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the finalizing of a plan to build nearly 800 apartments in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 24, 2012: Avigdor Lieberman Tells Turkish Journalists: ‘No Reason’ to Apologize for Mavi Marmara Incident



‘No reason’ to apologize for Mavi Marmara incident, Lieberman tells Turkish journalists

Source: JTA, 7-24-12

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Avigdor Lieberman told Turkish journalists that Israel has “no reason to apologize” for the Mavi Marmara incident….READ MORE

Isael Political Brief November 30, 2011: Israel releases Palestinian Authority funds



Israel releases PA funds

Source: JTA, 11-30-11

Israel released $100 million in tax funds it had withheld from the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday the handover of the money, the transfer of which had been frozen on Nov. 1 in response to the Palestinians’ recognition as a state by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and scientific agency.

Israel, which collects tax and customs on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under interim peace accords from the 1990s, has been troubled by the PA’s lobbying for full U.N. membership as bilateral negotiations remain stalled.

Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the decision to free the cash, a month’s worth of levies that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority depends on to pay its civil servants, “followed the cessation of unilateral steps on the part of the Palestinian Authority.”

“In the event of the Palestinian Authority resuming unilateral steps, the money transfer will again be reviewed,” the statement said.

Among those opposed to relinquishing the cash was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who noted that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has feted terrorists freed by Israel as part of last month’s prisoner swap with Hamas.

But Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party is a junior party to Netanyahu’s Likud in the conservative coalition, said Monday that he would not quit the government in protest at a restoration of the PA funds.

Israel Political Brief November 21, 2011: Avigdor Lieberman threatens to bring down government over West Bank outposts



Lieberman threatens to bring down government over outposts

Source: JTA, 11-21-11

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to bring down the Netanyahu government if it orders the demolition of two West Bank outposts.

Lieberman said Monday at a meeting of his Yisrael Beiteinu party that he would pull his party out of the government coalition, causing it to collapse, if the government goes ahead with the planned demolition of the Givat Assaf and Migron outposts. Both demolitions have been ordered by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Lieberman also threatened to bring down the government if the Cabinet decides to transfer withheld Palestinian tax money to the Palestinian Authority. The Security Cabinet on Sunday decided to continue to withhold about $100 million in tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf.

The money was withheld originally after the Palestinians were accepted as full members of UNESCO, the United Nations scientific and cultural agency, and is continuing to be withheld over Fatah-Hamas unity talks.

Israel Political Brief September 26, 2011: PA President Mahmoud Abbas Launches “Palestinian Spring”



Abbas Launches “Palestinian Spring”

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-26-11

“This is the popular Palestinian Spring,” he declared, calling for the official start of a non-violent intifada against Israel.ramallah abbas speech “Raise your heads with pride; you are Palestinians!” he told the crowd that greeted him in Ramallah. The speech followed his application to the U.N. Security Council on Friday for recognition of the PA as a sovereign state, and its “full membership” in the international body.

“The entire free world has accepted your history, your aspirations and your hopes with the utmost respect,” he told the gathering. “We told the world that today there is an Arab Spring – but also a Palestinian Spring. A non-violent Fighting Spring that will reach its goal.”

“Facing this determination – which I conveyed from you to the world – everyone stood up and appreciated your expectations and aspirations,” he told the cheering crowd. “Our diplomatic move, which has already begun, still has a long way to go,” he warned. “We must know that there will be those who will place obstacles in our path. They will block us and our existence here.”

But, he added, “We have emphasized that we wish to obtain our rights via negotiations. The entire world was witness to the civility of this nation, which only demands its rights. We will remain on this land.”

The U.N. speech, carefully geared to excite the PA street without inflaming it, was nevertheless seen by many in Israel as an exercise in official, institutional incitement “from the top.” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said over the weekend that the PA leader’s speech from the podium at the U.N. General Assembly was the “worst example of anti-israel incitement and vitriol” he had ever heard.

Throughout his address, Abbas referred to Israel as a “colonial occupying power” and accused the Jewish State of deliberately targeting civilians, arbitrarily destroying crops, and demolishing schools, mosques and hospitals. He demanded that the U.N. recognize Judea, Samaria and major portions of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, as the PA’s hoped-for state and that Israel end all construction in Jewish communities in those areas as a precondition for any talks.

Abbas also accused Israel of destroying Islamic holy sites and claimed the IDF sent “attack dogs” against Palestinian Authority Arabs. In addition, he also called for the release of all jailed PA terrorists, including murderers with blood on their hands, whom he referred to as “political prisoners.”

During his trip back to Ramallah, Abbas told the London-based Arab daily newspaper a-Sharq al-Awsat that Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was the “last” leader with whom he could reach a final status agreement, “since he holds tough and almost ideological positions.”


Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Pro-Israel Support at UN Delights Israeli Government



Obama Backing Delights Israeli Government

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-22-11

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman praises US President Barack Obama, it is no wonder that the Palestinians and their supporters are upset. In yesterday’s speech to the UN General Assembly, Obama was actually directing his remarks at one of his most important domestic audiences – Jewish voters in the US, whose traditional support for the Democrats has been wavering in the run up for next year’s US elections.

Obama spoke at length on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but his message to the Palestinians could be summed up in one phrase: there are no shortcuts to peace.

Barack said, “One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, obama at the unand I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.”

Obama added, “Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal.”

Obama’s message to US Jews was, “But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.”

The Palestinians did not have high hopes, as the US has been lobbying heavily on UN Security Council members to vote against giving Palestine UN membership. But they had hoped that Obama would reiterate his May structure for ending the conflict, specifically that the 1967 border would be the basis for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The Palestinians also hoped to hear criticism of Israel’s settlements, which every US government since the Johnson administration has considered illegal.

Instead, Obama’s remarks were fully pro-Israel, as if written by parameters set by the Netanyahu government. The remark “there is no short cut to the end of a conflict” -i.e. forget about a UN vote – grabbed the listeners attention.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is celebrating. So is AIPAC. The Palestinians are furious. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) put his hands to his head in a gesture of despair.

For the full text of the speech, click here.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news –

Avigdor Lieberman: Israel’s Security first, then borders

In Paris, FM says Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks, urges European leaders to reject unilateral statehood bid.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 5-26-11

Israel must reach an agreement on its security before it can address the issue of permanent borders in negotiations for a twostate solution, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday.

Lieberman spoke during a meeting with his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, in Paris, where he is attending the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development….

Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel unless it halts all Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel has rejected this demand.

In response, Palestinians have threatened to seek recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that if the peace process remains deadlocked, his country would consider supporting the unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September….

“We will only examine other options likely to restore political momentum to the peace process if the deadlock situation continues until September 2011,” the representative said.

With respect to the borders of a two-state solution, the representative said that “the 1967 lines must constitute the framework for the negotiations – but this must not exclude the possibility of land swaps agreed by the parties.”
“Regarding the issue of security, the terms of the agreement must not call into question Israel’s security, which is not negotiable. It’s important to put an end to settlement activity and to ensure the sovereignty of the future viable democratic Palestinian state, living in peace alongside Israel,” the French representative said.

But Israel has said that it cannot defend itself within the pre-1967 lines, and has rejected any call to return to them.

The final borders, Lieberman also said, must reflect demographic realities, and the pre-1967 lines were not compatible with Israel’s demographic reality.

He added that in a final-status agreement, the Palestinians must declare an end to the conflict, and an absence of any claims on Israel.

Israel Rules Out Palestinian State by 2012

Source: NYT, 6-29-10

In remarks that could further strain peace efforts, Israel’s foreign minister said on Tuesday there was no chance a Palestinian state would be established in the next two years.

“I’m an optimistic person, but there is absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state by 2012,” the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said. “One can dream and imagine, but we are far from reaching understandings and an agreement.”

Mr. Lieberman, known for his hawkish views, spoke at a joint news conference in Jerusalem with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.

Russia is part of the so-called Middle East quartet, which also includes the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, and which has called for a peace accord by 2012. George J. Mitchell, President Obama’s special representative to the region, was to arrive in Israel later on Tuesday….READ MORE

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