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



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



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



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 February 11, 2013: Defense Minister Ehud Barak Travels to Washington for consultations



Ehud Barak coming to Washington for consultations

Source: JTA, 2-11-13

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is traveling to Washington to meet with top defense officials.

Barak, who announced in November that he was retiring from politics and did not run in the January elections, “will meet with senior administration officials and the heads of the intelligence and defense establishments,” according to an announcement Monday by Israel’s government press office….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 26, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Responds to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Decision to Retire



PM Netanyahu Responds to DM Barak’s Decision to Retire

Source: PMO, 11-26-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu respects Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s decision, thanks him for his cooperation in the Government and very much appreciates his contribution – over many years – to the security of the state….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief November 26, 2012: Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he’s quitting politics



Ehud Barak says he’s quitting politics

Source: JTA, 11-26-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he is leaving politics after more than half a century and will not run in the upcoming elections….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief November 21, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement at Press Conference with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense – Operation Pillar of Defense – Cease-Fire



PM Netanyahu’s Statement at November 21 Press Conference with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense  – Operation Pillar of Defense – Cease-Fire

Source: PMO, 11-21-12

Photo by GPO

“Citizens of Israel,

Eight days ago, Israel embarked on operation Pillar of Defense. The Government decided to launch the operation after the frequency of the terror attacks originating from Gaza increased over the last few months. I announced that we would respond forcibly to these attacks when we see fit. I said that we would exact a heavy price from the terror organizations.

The terror organizations assumed that we would avoid offensive action against them; they were wrong. We hit their senior commanders, we destroyed thousands of rockets which were aimed towards the South and most of those aimed towards central Israel, and we crushed Hamas’ control facilities. I must say that we did this with the strong support of the leading authorities of the international community.

In particular, I wish to thank President Obama for his resolute support for Israel’s actions, for this operation and for Israel’s right to defend itself. I also thank him for supporting the Iron Dome systems. I thank Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and express my gratitude to the Egyptians for their efforts in achieving this cease-fire.

In a phone call I had this evening with President Obama, I agreed with him that we should give the cease-fire a chance in order to enable a lull in the situation and allow for the citizens of Israel to return to routine. However, Israel obviously cannot sit idly while our enemy reinforces itself with weapons of terror. Therefore we decided, President Obama and myself, that the United States and Israel would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.

From the day the State of Israel was established, it has had to deal with complex challenges in the Middle East, and we can all see that these challenges have become even more complex in the last few years. Under these conditions we are required to navigate this ship, the State of Israel, wisely and responsibly while taking into account all considerations – military and political alike. This is what a responsible government does, and it is what we did here: we made use of our military might while applying political considerations.

Now, I realize that there are citizens who expect a harsher military action and we may very well need to do that. But at present, the right thing for the State of Israel is to exhaust this possibility of reaching a long-term cease-fire. As Prime Minister, I have the responsibility, and it is the highest responsibility, to make the right steps to ensure our security. That is what I have done and it is what I will continue to do.

During the last week, Israel has lost several victims. On behalf of the entire population, I send condolences to the families, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.

I would like to thank my colleagues, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. We worked together as a team, in full agreement. I also thank the Nine-Member Ministerial Forum, the Cabinet and the Government, for working – each in its field of responsibility – for the citizens of Israel. I also appreciate the factions of the Opposition and the factions in Knesset for standing with us and proclaiming their support.

I thank the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, the Chief of Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen, the Director of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, and all of their people for their exceptional efforts in reaching our accomplishments in Pillar of Defense. On behalf of the people of Israel, I thank the IDF commanders and soldiers, the pilots, the Iron Dome operators and developers, the members of the intelligence services, all the members of the security services and to the reservists, who left their families and immediately signed up for duty.

I appreciate the mayors and heads of regional councils for displaying leadership and level-headedness at the Home Front, and above all – I salute you, the citizens of Israel. We have a strong army; we have a strong people. I am proud to by your Prime Minister

Israel Political Brief November 15, 2012: Israel moves troops toward Gaza



Israel moves troops toward Gaza

Source: AP, 11-15-12

Palestinian militants barraged Israel with more than 200 rockets on Thursday, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area, setting off air raid sirens in brazen attacks that threatened to trigger an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Late in the day, Israel signaled a ground operation may be imminent as forces moved toward the border area with Gaza. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had authorized the army to call-up additional reservists for possible action. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops.

‘‘I ordered the military today to widen the draft of reserve soldiers in order to be able to be ready for any development,’’ Barak said….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 7, 2012: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak after clear-the-air meeting with PM Benjamin Netanyahu: We ‘see eye-to-eye’



Barak after clear-the-air meeting with Bibi: We ‘see eye-to-eye’

Source: JTA, 10-7-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “see eye-to-eye” on the Iran threat and U.S.-Israel ties….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 6, 2012: Ehud Barak Calls Sinai Attack, Border Inflitration a ‘Wake-up call’ for Egypt



Barak calls Sinai attack, border inflitration a ‘wake-up call’ for Egypt

Source: JTA, 8-6-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called a terrorist attack in the Sinai that killed at least 15 Egyptian soldiers a “wake-up call” for Egypt….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief August 1, 2012: Ehud Barak Orders Israeli Defense Forces to Draft Haredi Orthodox Men



Barak orders haredi Orthodox conscription

Source: JTA, 8-1-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to draft haredi Orthodox men as it does other Jewish Israelis….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 26, 2012: Ehud Barak: Preemptive Strike Would be Less Costly Than Nuclear Iran



Barak: Strike would be less costly than nuclear Iran

Source: JTA, 7-26-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a preemptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be less costly for Israel than Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief July 26, 2012: Defense Minister Ehud Barak: We’ll Have to Make Decisions on Nuclear Iran



Barak: We’ll Have to Make Decisions on Iran

Defense Minister Ehud Barak: Nuclear Iran would lead to a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East.

Source: Israel National News, 7-26-12

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel will soon need to reach decisions regarding Iran.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony at the National Security College, Barak said, “The State of Israel is facing some of the most complex challenges which its security and political leadership has ever had to face.

“We may be required to make difficult decisions concerning the national security of Israel and ensuring its future,” he said. “The whole region around us has been turbulent and noisy for almost two years, instability is increasing and security challenges grew each day. The events of the Arab Spring which gradually became an Islamic Summer teach us that in the ultimate test we can rely only on ourselves.

“I am well aware of and know the difficulties and complexities involved in thwarting Iran’s achievement of nuclear weapons,” said Barak. “However, I know beyond a doubt that dealing with the challenge itself would be infinitely more complex, infinitely more dangerous and far more expensive in terms of both human lives as well as resources.”

Barak stressed that “A nuclear Iran is a threat to international order. It will lead to an arms race throughout the Middle East.”

Regarding Syria, the defense minister said, “We are closely following the developments in Syria. We said and we mean it that the State of Israel cannot accept the transfer of advanced weapons systems from Syria to Hizbullah. A massacre and murder of citizens by government forces is going on Syria as the entire world watches.

“Bashar Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule. It seems that every day that passes brings the end of the current regime closer. The difficulty of the international community in formulating a response to present bloodshed and death of innocents can be a lesson for us and illustrate the limitations of the ability of the international community to mobilize political will, unity of purpose and ability to function even when the situation requires it.”…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement After Meeting with President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin



PM Netanyahu’s Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 6-25-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin
The meeting continued for over an hour; Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and National Security Advisor Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror (ret.) also attended.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin will soon deliver statements to the media and, afterwards, will sit down for lunch. They will be joined by Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin.

Russian President Putin was welcomed to the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem Residence by the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.
The Russian President signed the guestbook: “With blessings and appreciation for the attention.”

PM Netanyahu’s Statement After Meeting with President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin

Source: PMO, 6-25-12

President Putin, Vladimir, I want to welcome you and your delegation to Jerusalem.
Mr. President, this is your second visit to Israel as President.  Following your first visit to Israel seven years ago, Israel and Russia significantly upgraded their relations.  You mentioned the considerable expansion in trade, the economy, culture, science, technology and tourism. The foundation for the relations between our two countries is not only common interests, but the more than one million Russian-speaking Israelis.  They constitute a vast human bridge, and, in just a few short years, the Russia-speaking immigrants from Russia and the former Soviet Union have become an integral part of Israeli society.

They are partners in the army, in hi-tech, in science and medicine, in art and culture.  Mr. President, they are also partners in the government.  You know Foreign Minister Leiberman well, but there are many others including:

Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein; Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov; Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; the chair of our coalition, Zev Elkin; Natan Sharansky, who heads the Jewish Agency; Eugene Kandel, my national economic advisor; and many others.

I must say that, rumors to the contrary, I do sometimes work with people who are not Russian speakers, but there is no doubt that the public of Russian-speakers in Israel truly serves as a living bridge between Israel and Russia.  A lot of people are crossing that bridge.  In the past year alone, over half a million Russian tourists came to Israel.  That’s an enormous number for a country the size of Israel.  It has multiplied by a factor of seven in the three years since we eliminated the need for visas from Russia.

Tourists from Russia come to Israel because they like this country; they like the sun; they like the sea; they like the history, the holy sites, and we look after these as if they were the apple of our eye.  In the Middle East, Israel safeguards freedom of religion.  All this means that Israel is a country in which Russian tourists can feel at home.

Despite all this, I have no doubt that we have barely scratched the surface of what we can accomplish together, and therefore I am certain that your current visit will lead to a further upgrade in agriculture, science, hi-tech, space and in many other areas
Mr. President, you are coming at a time of tremendous changes in our region.  Yesterday, Egypt elected a new President.  Israel appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of its elections.  We look forward to working with the new government on the basis of our peace treaty.  I believe that peace is important to Israel; I believe that peace is important to the Egyptians; I believe that peace is a vital interest for both countries; and I believe that peace is the foundation for stability in our region.

We just had the chance to discuss the current negotiations between the international community and Iran.  We agree that Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat first and foremost to Israel, but also to the region and to the world.

Israel believes that the international community should have three clear demands of Iran: Stop enriching uranium inside Iran; remove all the enriched uranium from Iran; and dismantle the underground nuclear facility near Qom.  That is why Israel believes the international community must now do two things:  ratchet up the sanctions against Iran; and also ratchet up the demands that are being made of Iran.

Mr. President, we all aspire to peace.  I look forward to discussing with you ways in which Russia can help Israel and the Palestinians advance peace, even during these challenging times, maybe especially during these challenging times.

There is a slight difference between us that we discussed prior to beginning the press conference.  Mr. President, when you want to visit a neighboring country, you usually fly from Moscow for several hours.  Our neighborhood is much smaller.  Tomorrow, you will meet with President Abbas in Bethlehem, which is a four to five minute drive from here.  Ramallah is only ten minute’s drive from here.  The key to peace is complex, but in the end it is very simple: either President Abbas must come here or I must go to him, and I am willing for either of these possibilities to occur, however we must begin to talk.  I hope you convey this simple message tomorrow during your meeting in Bethlehem.

Regarding our neighbor to the north, a way to end the killing and the terrible suffering of the citizens of Syria must be found, and peace, security and regional stability must be pursued as far as is possible during these turbulent times.

Mr. President, two years ago during my visit to Moscow, I promised on behalf of the State of Israel that we would memorialize the historic role played by the Red Army in defeating the Nazis.  Today, I am pleased to say, we kept that promise.  You just came from Netanya, from the moving ceremony inaugurating that same memorial that recognizes the tremendous contribution of the Red Army in the victory over the Nazis.  For us, memory is a part of our existence.  We fight against Holocaust denial and we join in the fight against the attempt to deny the important role played by the Red Army in defeating the Nazi monster.

This is a fundamental and important part of our heritage.  Approximately half a million Jews fought in the ranks of the Red Army, including thousands of veterans who currently live in the State of Israel.  Each year I meet them on Victory Day.  They proudly wear their medals and I ask them, “For which battle did you receive this?”  One tells me, “In the battle defending Moscow”.  Another answers, “In Stalingrad”.  A third says, “In Kursk”, and there are those who say, “Many places”.  We salute them today.  We salute all those who fought and sacrificed their lives for humankind.
Mr. President, over the past twenty years, a special relationship between our peoples was built, and I am certain that your visit in Israel will greatly contribute to the strengthening and deepening of these ties in the years to come.

Welcome to Israel.  Welcome to Jerusalem.

Israel Political Brief May 23, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Orders Two-Week Delay on ‘Ulpana Law’ to Postpone Expulsion Plans to Beit El’s Ulpana Neighborhood



Netanyahu Orders Two-Week Delay on ‘Ulpana Law’

Netanyahu orders the coalition to shelve Ketzaleh’s bill to legalize the Ulpana neighborhood and tells Barak to postpone expulsion plans.
A boy walks near Israeli flags in Ulpana

A boy walks near Israeli flags in Ulpana

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered the coalition to block National Union Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz’s bill to compensate potential expulsion victims at Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood and also told Defense Minister Ehud Barak to postpone demolition plans. The Prime Minister wants two weeks to solve the dilemma.

A court order for expulsions and demolitions of the five Ulpana apartment buildings is hanging over the heads of approximately two dozen families, some of whom have been living in the neighborhood for 10 years. There was no question of their legal presence until the High Court agreed with a left-wing organization petition that the land is owned by a Palestinian Authority Arab different from his cousin of the same name who sold the property – claiming ownership – to Beit El.

The government authorized the residents to move into their homes, which they argue were legally bought in good faith, but the High Court rejected their claim.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told coalition leader Ze’ev Elkin to work against advancing the bill proposed by MK Katz – whose party does not sit in the coalition – so that the government can find an alternative solution in two weeks.

Barak has said he opposes the proposed law because it would scuttle a standing court order and would give ammunition to the international anti-Israel movement. “In an advanced democratic country, there is no possibility of passing legislation that cancels a standing court order. Beit El is a large and important community that in the future will remain a part of the State of Israel in any future arrangement [with the Palestinian Authority). We must find a solution to carry out the court order while strengthening Beit El,” he said.

The implication is that Barak would agree to additional housing units in Beit El in exchange for carrying out the demolitions and expulsions. He has blocked thousands of homes from being built for Jews in Judea and Samaria by not signing authorization forms. As Defense Minister, he must sign each building permit for the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as they are subject to the  IDF civil administration.

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



Amid new Iran nuke rumors, Barak and Panetta to meet

Source: JTA, 5-16-12

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

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

The defense chiefs are scheduled to meet Thursday.

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

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

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

Israel Political Brief April 4, 2012: Jewish settlers evicted from Hebron home



Jewish settlers evicted from Hebron home

Source: JTA, 4-4-12

Jewish settlers were evicted from a home near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron without incident.

Israeli security forces on Wednesday evacuated the Jewish families from the home they had entered a week ago. The evacuation reportedly took only a few moments.

The evacuation was carried out on the orders of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

“I will continue to act in order to maintain the rule of law and democracy while guaranteeing the authority of the State over its citizens,” Barak said in a statement following the evacuation.

“Any request to acquire the relevant buying permit or any other transactions will be dealt with professionally and impartially, as is the practice. However, we cannot allow a situation where unlawful actions are taken to determine or dictate ad-hoc facts to the authorities.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top government ministers including Barak and Benny Begin had decided that the settlers would be removed from the home by April 26 if they could not prove that they had legally purchased and moved into the house. The Israeli officials’ meeting occurred hours after a mid-afternoon deadline for the settlers to leave the home passed with no consequences.

The eviction order issued Monday afternoon by the Israeli military’s Civil Administration said the settlers’ presence in the home violates public order. The residents of the home also did not request nor receive a required purchase permit from the Civil Administration.

That evening, Netanyahu asked Barak for a delay of the eviction until the settlers had an opportunity to prove in court their ownership of the house. Armed with documents that say they purchased the home from its Arab owner, the Jewish families entered the home in the middle of the night on March 28.

Hebron Mayor Khaled Osaily told Army Radio on Tuesday that the sale papers are forged and that the person who sold the house to the Jewish settlers is not the owner.

Israel Political Brief April 4, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak under fire over Machpelah house eviction



Netanyahu, Barak under fire over Machpelah house eviction

‘This policy undermines the coalition’s stability,’ FM Lieberman says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are the focus of fierce criticism following the eviction of the Machpelah house in Hebron on Wednesday….READ MORE

Ministers slam PM, defense minister for misguided handling of Hebron house affair, suggest decision motivated by personal, political considerations. ‘This policy undermines the coalition’s stability,’ FM Lieberman says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are the focus of fierce criticism following the eviction of the Machpelah house in Hebron on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “The handing of the issue from start to finish was bad. One cannot use the right of property claim to evict en entire community established 13 years ago and at the same time not honor the right of property when it comes to the purchase of a Hebron house by Jews.”

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He accused the Defense Ministry of trying to stir up a controversy and failing to provide security to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. “This policy undermines the coalition’s stability. The only solution which will restore stability will be to transfer all authorities on Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria to a special ministerial committee that will aptly reflect the opinion of the majority of the public and government.”

Sources close to Netanyahu said in response: “The coalition is stable, the eviction was coordinated.” Netanyahu himself reportedly expressed his commitment to the continuation of the settlement in Judea and Samaria, specifically in Hebron.

פינוי בית המכפלה בחברון, בצהריים (צילום: גיל יוחנן)

Machpelah house eviction (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Ministers from the Right reproached Defense Minister Barak, who authorized the eviction. Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Minister Daniel Hershkowitz compared the move to “poking fingers in the eyes of the people.

“This is not a battle between law-abiders and lawbreakers, but rather between those who cherish the settlement project and those who seek to destroy it,” Hershkowitz noted.

Israel Political Brief April 3, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu seeks delay in Hebron home eviction



Netanyahu seeks delay in Hebron home eviction

Source: JTA, 4-3-12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested a delay in the eviction of Jewish settlers who moved into an Arab-owned home near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Netanyahu on Monday evening asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the delay until the several dozen settlers have an opportunity to prove in court their ownership of the house, the Defense Ministry said. Under an eviction order issued earlier in the day by the Israel Defense Forces, the settlers must leave by 3 p.m. Tuesday or they will be evacuated by the army.

The settlers say they bought the house and have the papers to prove it. Hebron Mayor Khaled Osaily told Army Radio on Tuesday that the sale papers are forged and that the person who sold the house to the Jewish settlers is not the owner….READ MORE

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