Full Text Israel Political Brief February 23, 2014: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting About German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Israel Visit



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 2-23-14
יום ראשון כ”ג אדר א תשע”ד

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

“Two years ago I said that we would submit a law that would increase equality in sharing the burden, without setting public against public. I think that this process is now being carried out, and we must see to it that it is carried out while maintaining national unity. To the same extent, I add that in the future we would like to see more parts of Israeli society bearing the burden.

Today, the Cabinet will be briefed by Israel National Cyber Bureau head Dr. Eviatar Matania. We established the INCB in order to assist turning Israel into a major cyber power. When I say a major cyber power I mean cyber defense, and indeed this capability is being built, inter alia, by the work being coordinated by the INCB. We want to facilitate better defense for all strata of the country, which are becoming increasingly digitized. The INCB will soon move to Be’er Sheva as part of the national cyber park.

I also see this as spurring strong economic development, especially since there is considerable global interest in our abilities, and this can serve not only the defense component, but that of economic growth as well.

Last Thursday I visited one of these defense components, the ISA branch that deals with foiling cyber attacks. I was impressed by the work that I saw being carried out by young people that are doing holy work on behalf of the State of Israel, and I can even say at personal sacrifice. They are ready to dedicate precious, significant years to defending the country and I commend them and the ISA for this important work. We will yet need greater investment in this area both in order to defend ourselves and in order to realize the very great economic potential in this area.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Israel tomorrow. She comes as a friend of Israel with a considerable entourage. We will talk with them in order to deepen bilateral cooperation. Of course, I will discuss with her two diplomatic issues of the highest order. Regarding our negotiations with the Palestinians, I will make it clear that the infrastructure of peace between us and the Palestinians will be based on the mutual recognition of two national states, i.e. the necessity of Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state, the national state of the Jewish People.

I will also discuss with her about the nuclear talks. Since Germany is part of the P5+1, I view with concern that fact that Iran believes that it will realize its plan to be a nuclear threshold state, with an enrichment capacity that it thinks cannot be touched, with the ability to develop both nuclear weapons and inter-continental missiles, which it is continuing to work on unhindered. This combination of enrichment, weapons and launch capabilities, says that Iran is, in effect, receiving everything and giving almost nothing. This is the current situation. The permanent agreement cannot render this situation permanent. It must dismantle the Iranian ability to either produce or launch nuclear weapons, and this has yet to be achieved, and without the insistence of the major powers it will not be achieved. I hope that Germany and the other P5+1 countries will insist on the genuine demands to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.”

Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Skeptical of Western Sanctions & Iran Talks



Netanyahu Skeptical of Iran Talks

For the third time in recent months, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he doubts Western sanctions will halt Iran’s nuclear program

Source: Israel National News, 5-18-12

Binyamin Netanyahu

Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he is skeptical that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program.

“I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program,” he said just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran.

The P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – are set for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.

Speaking in Prague, Netanyahu called it “the paramount issue of our time.”

Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action…READ MORE

Israel Brief April 18, 2012: Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel to Honor the Victims Mark Holocaust Memorial Day



Events to Honor the Victims Mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel on Thursday, Holocaust Memorial Day.
Israeli youth at Auschwitz

Israeli youth at Auschwitz
Flash 90

Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel on Thursday, Holocaust Memorial Day. After a siren sounds at 10 AM – at which time Israelis stand at attention, reflecting on the tragedy of the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust – events will be held in schools, synagogues, IDF bases, at Yad Vashem, and many other venues.

The main ceremony at Yad Vashem will take place at 1 PM, while Knesset members will take turns reading out the names of the victims. Youth groups will gather at Yad Vashem for a special ceremony later in the afternoon, and the day will be capped by memorial ceremonies at Yad Mordechai, named for the Warsaw Ghetto hero, and Kibbutz Lochamei Hageta’ot [kibbutz named for Ghetto fighters, ed.],Thursday evening.

In Europe, meanwhile, some 18,000 Jewish youths and adults will participate in the March of the Living, a trek which brings participants from the death camps of Poland and Germany, to Israel, where they will arrive in time for Independence Day next week. Leading the March, among others, are Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi, and Israel Police Commander Yochanan Danino. Among a delegation of police attending the March are a number of officers whose parents are survivors.

Among the student groups attending is one from Turkey. The delegation consists of two members 17 and 18 years old respectively. They asked that their names not be published, given the tense situation in their homeland, but they said that visiting the concentration camps was a very moving experience for them, despite the fact that their families, living in Turkey, did not experience the Holocaust firsthand as did the families of most participants in the March.

Israel Political Brief October 11, 2011: Israel and Hamas Agree to Gilad Shalit Deal



Israel and Hamas Agree to Shalit Deal

Israel and Hamas reach a tentative agreement on a proposal to exchange Gilad Shalit for 1027 prisoners.

Source: Shalom Life, 10-11-11

According to reports, a deal has been reached to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The deal to return Shalit – held by Hamas since his capture in June, 2006 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian terrorists – will see Israel release 300 Hamas prisoners within a few days from today (October 11). Then, once Shalit has been transferred from Gaza to Egypt, Israel would release another 150 terrorists, culminating with his safe return to Israel, which would see Israel release another 550 prisoners. 27 Female prisoners will also be released.

The deal reportedly includes about 300 hard-core terrorists, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat. Hamas reportedly intends to release the full list of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners tonight.

“If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Israeli television earlier today, a sign that he’s confident the deal will go through.

Israel Political Brief Full Text October 11, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Opening of Special Cabinet Meeting on Deal Reached for Gilad Shalit’s Release — Transcript





Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarks at the opening of a special cabinet meeting today

Source: PMO, 10-11-11

PM Netanyahu

Today, I bring a proposal to the Government for a deal that will bring Gilad Shalit home alive and well; bring him home to his parents Aviva and Noam, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Zvi, and the entire people of Israel. Two and a half years ago, when the government was formed, I took upon myself, as my first priority, to bring Gilad home to his people, to his family – to bring him home safe and sound.

At the time, Gilad was already held in captivity for two and a half years, with no visits from the Red Cross, with no visits at all, and we did not know what state he was in. The first step I took, and we approved it here in the Government, was to get a video recording of Gilad, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it. We saw that he was functioning, physically, mentally and cognitively. We saw that he was functioning well. We knew that he was healthy and that he was alive.  I regarded that tape as an insurance policy, because it obliged the Hamas before the international community to safeguard him, to keep him alive and maintain his health. But that was obviously only the first step.

The most important mission that we had was more challenging – to actually bring Gilad home. To that end we held long and tough negotiations through the German mediator. These negotiations were based on a framework outlined by the previous government. They were long and exhausting and despite all our efforts, a deal was not reached.

I must point out that not a day went by without us trying various ways to bring Gilad home, any way possible, and that didn’t work either. In the last few weeks, the negotiations were renewed in Cairo, this time with the Egyptian government as mediator. My instructions to the team were to adhere to the principles and framework that are important for the security of the State of Israel, which I will detail in the meeting.

There is an inbuilt tension between the desire to bring back an abducted soldier, or citizen, and the need to maintain the security of the citizens of Israel.  This is my dual responsibility as Prime Minister.

The deal I am bringing to the Government expresses the right balance between all of these considerations. I do not wish to hide the truth from you – it is a very difficult decision. I feel for the families of victims of terror, I appreciate their suffering and distress, I am one of them. But leadership must be examined at moments such as this, being able to make difficult, but right, decisions.

I believe that we have reached the best deal we could have at this time, when storms are sweeping the Middle East.  I do not know if in the near future we would have been able to reach a better deal or any deal at all. It is very possible that this window of opportunity, that opened because of the circumstances, would close indefinitely and we would never have been able to bring Gilad home at all.

Therefore, for all of these reasons, I instructed the team to put their initials on the deal last Thursday, and today it was finalized and signed by both sides. I thank my Military Secretary Maj. Gen. Yohanan Locker, the Chief of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen, my personal envoy to the negotiations, David Meidan and his predecessor Hagai Hadas. I thank the team that has accompanied them all these years.

I thank the IDF, the security forces for doing everything they could regarding Gilad Shalit. I also wish to thank the German mediator, and the Chancellor Angela Merkel who supported his mission all along. A send a special thanks to the Government of Egypt and the Egyptian Intelligence Services for providing much assistance in mediating and helping us reaching this agreement.

This morning I Invited Noam Shalit to my residence, and I spoke on the phone with the mother Aviva and the grandfather Zvi. I told them that I am keeping my promise and I’m bringing their son and grandson home. I told them, “I’m bringing your boy back.” I am happy that I succeeded in fulfilling the Jewish decree of redeeming captives, and if all goes as planned, Gilad will be back in Israel in the next few days with his family and his people.

The Nation of Israel is a unique people. We are all mutually responsible for each other, as our Sages said: “He who saves one soul, it is as though he saved an entire world.” Tonight, I bring the Government a proposal to save Gilad Shalit, to finally bring him home to Israel after five years.

Israel Political Brief October 11, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Brokers Deal for Gilad Shalit’s Release in Exchange for the Release of Over 1000 Palestinian Prisoners




Captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit appears in this undated photo. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a prisoner swap deal that will release Shalit, who has been held for five years in the Gaza Strip, in return for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. A deal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for Shalit will take place next month, Al Arabiya television channel reported on October 11, 2011. REUTERS/Handout/Files

Netanyahu: Israeli soldier held by Hamas returning home in ‘coming days’

Israel’s prime minister says prisoner exchange deal has been agreed upon. In turn, Israel will free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted in deadly attacks on Israelis. — WaPo, 10-11-11

Netanyahu Announces Deal to Free Shalit

Israel and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive for more than five years, both sides said Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet was meeting in emergency session to discuss it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who summoned all 29 Cabinet ministers to vote on the agreement concerning the fate of the captive soldier, Staff. Sgt. Gilad Shalit, went on Israeli television beforehand to announce it, a sign that he was confident of Cabinet approval.
“If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days,” Mr. Netanyahu said…. READ MORE – NYT, 10-11-11

Reports: Deal reached for Shalit release

Source: JTA, 10-11-11

Israel and Hamas reportedly have arrived at a prisoner exchange agreement that would free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli media quoted officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as confirming a report that appeared earlier Tuesday in the Arab media.

The reports said that the Israeli Cabinet was meeting late Tuesday to vote to approve the deal. Media reports did not provide specifics about the agreement.

A spokesman for the terrorist organization Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, where Shalit reportedly is being held, confirmed the deal to the Israeli daily Haaretz. He said the deal would include the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners serving life sentences. He also said the deal followed Hamas’ demands, which in the past have included the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including some with blood on their hands.

Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.

Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.

Netanyahu Confirms: Gilad Coming Home in a Few Days

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-11-11

Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed in a statement that a “difficult, but right” agreement has been signed with Hamas to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is slated to arrive home in Israel in a few days.

Netanyahu stated that a video showing Gilad Shalit alive and “functional” was given as proof of life before negotiations ensued. He referred to the tape as a “insurance policy.”

Netanyahu said that upon receiving the video, a difficult and lengthy negotiation ensued with a German negotiator. He claimed that since his kidnapping, not one day has passed in which they did not attempt to bring Gilad home.

The negotiations were renewed this week, this time under Egyptian mediation. He stated, “The point this time was to hold to our principles and ensure the factors that would guarantee Israeli security.”

Netanyahu said he had a “huge responsibility” to bring Gilad home, but also a deep responsibility to protecting the people of Israel. He stated multiple times that it was a difficult decision, and that he understands the deep pain of the people affected by the terrorists that will now be released. He said, “I understand your distress, because I am one of you.”

Netanyahu also insinuated that had they not gone forth with the current deal, due to the “uncertain future” in the region, there may have never been another chance to return Gilad home.

Video still from Hamas video released in 09

The Prime Minister revealed that both sides they signed an initial agreement last Thursday, and today (Tuesday) it was finalized.

Netanyahu let the Shalit family know about Gilad’s release at a meeting at his own home. He said, “I’m keeping my promise, I am returning your son to you.”

He added that Gilad should be home in Israel in a number of days.

Mixed reactions are flooding in from Israelis, many of whom expect terror attacks to rise due to the release of 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit, many of which are “heavy” prisoners, an Israeli term that refers to murderous terrorists, responsible for some of Israel’s worst terror attacks.


Israel And Hamas Near Deal To Exchange Prisoners For Gilad Shalit

Source: NY Jewish Week, 10-11-11

More than five ears after he was seized by Hamas militants, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may be on the verge of going home, and 1,000 Palestinian militants may be the price.

Reports from Israel on Tuesday said the Israeli cabinet was finalizing a deal to exchange the prisoners for Shalit, 25, who was captured near the Keren Shalom Gaza crossing in June, 2006. Egypt reportedly was a broker in the deal. Shalit’s release could happen as soon as the next few days, though some reports said it would be in early November.

The reports originated with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV, and an Israeli government later confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discussing the matter with his cabinet.

The Israeli site YNet cited Jerusalem sources saying it was “very likely” the deal would be approved by the Knesset and said Shalit’s father, Noam, had confirmed that he was notified of the deal. Previous efforts to free Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-associated gunmen in a 2006 cross-border raid, have been frustrated by Hamas demands that Israel release terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Israel.

Germany and Egypt have been attempting to broker a deal.


Israel, Hamas reach Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, officials say

Announcement by Netanyahu’s office comes before planned emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the details of a deal geared at securing the release of the abducted IDF soldier

Source: Haaretz, 10-11-11

Israel and Hamas have reached a prisoner exchange deal that will secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, officials at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that “a brief window of opportunity has been opened that would possibly lead to Gilad Shalit’s homecoming,” adding: “The window appeared following fears that collapsing Mideast regimes and the rise of extremist forces would make Gilad Shalit’s return impossible.”

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006 IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006.
Photo by: Archive

The officials’ comment came following a report by Al-Arabiya, according to which a deal has indeed been reached between Israel and Hamas geared at the release of the IDF soldier, in Hamas captivity in Gaza since 2006.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are meeting several ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office in order to pressure them into voting for the deal, with Netanyahu aides estimating that the deal will be approved by the cabinet,

Special attention is reportedly being given to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman no to vote against the deal along with ministers from his Yisrael Beiteinu party. Several Likud ministers who have voiced opposition to freeing terrorists in exchange for Shalit are also being pushed to approve the deal.

Netanyahu called an emergency cabinet meeting scheduled for later Tuesday in which ministers are to discuss the status of talks geared at securing Shalit’s release.

Gilad Shalit's mother, Aviva, smiles as she sits in a protest tent erected in Jerusalem by the campaign for his release, following the news that a deal has been reached, October 11, 2011.

Gilad Shalit’s mother, Aviva, smiles as she sits in a protest tent erected in Jerusalem by the campaign for his release, following the news that a deal has been reached, October 11, 2011. Channel 10 television

Speaking with Haaertz, one Egyptian official said: “After 64 months of tough negotiations we were able to complete the deal. It was a very difficult task, which included thousands of hours of negotiations.”

Also on Tuesday, top Egyptian officials confimed to Haaretz that there had been significant progress in the attempts to strike a prisoner exchange deal that would lead to Shalit’s release.

The officials confirmed that an Israeli delegation, headed by the head of Shalit negotiations David Meidan, was in Cairo to indirectly discuss the details of a possible deal with the chief of Hamas’ military wing Ahmed Al-Jabari.

Similarly to previous rounds of Shalit talks, the indirect talks are overseen by Egyptian intelligence, headed by intelligence chief General Murad Muwafi and his aides.

Egyptian officials have also said that a the deal which has been reached in recent days also includes accused Israeli spy Ilan Garpal.

Activists linked to Palestinian prisoner rights in Israel have also indicated that a recent hunger strike amid those prisoners in Israeli jails was linked to the protest move, as well as the reason Hamas prisoners did not join the strike.

Gilad Shalit release: Why Israel and Hamas agreed to a prisoner swap

Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier captured more than five years ago, is due to be released along with some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners under a deal announced today.

Source: CS Monitor, 10-11-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced tonight that Israel and Hamas have agreed to an historic prisoner swap deal that will release Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held for five years in the Gaza Strip, in return for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

After thanking the Egyptian government for mediating the deal, Mr. Netanyahu said that if everything goes according to plan, Mr. Shalit would return home in the coming days.

“Today I am bringing the cabinet a proposal that will bring Gilad home healthy and in one piece,” he said.

The diplomatic breakthrough gives a much needed boost to Hamas, Egypt, and Mr. Netanyahu, all of whom have been struggling of late amid the regional changes prompted by the so-called Arab Spring.

How the deal helps Israel, Hamas

The Israeli prime minister is likely to get a boost in popular support for releasing a soldier who has become a nationwide celebrity since being kidnapped from the Gaza border in June 2006. In addition, he was likely keen to boost ties with Cairo by collaborating on the prisoner deal, analysts say. Relations had grown chilly after a terrorist attack on the Israel-Egyptian border in August, and the storming of Israel’s embassy in Cairo by a mob of Egyptians.

Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University, says Israel wanted to shore up Egypt’s interim military rulers as a counterweight to the growing efforts of Turkey to gain regional prominence.

“The goal is to help stabilize [Cairo], so they play a constructive role” in the region, Mr. Steinberg says. “It’s to show to other countries” that Egypt is still a regional power after this year’s revolution…. READ MORE

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Hamas Rejects German Mediator’s Offer to Free Gilad Shalit

Source: JTA, 6-28-11

Hamas rejected an offer to free captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit made by the German mediator, a deal which the Israeli government had accepted.

Hamas political bureau deputy chief Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk called the offer “unjust” and said the German mediator “endorsed the unfair and unjust positions of the Zionist government,” in an interview with the Al Hayat newspaper, according to reports.

Hamas will no longer negotiate with the German mediator, he added.

“There is no chance that the German mediator will return, because he is not carrying out his duties and is failing in his mission. We all expected that he would present a fair and not extreme position. But instead of trying to reduce the demands of the Israeli government, he accepted its terms,” Marzouk said.

A German government spokesman confirmed on Monday that Israel had accepted the mediator’s proposal, the Associated Press reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had accepted a German-mediated deal for the release of Shalit and was awaiting Hamas’ response.

Netanyahu did not specify the terms of the proposal. June 25 marked the fifth anniversary of Shalit’s capture in a cross-border raid near Gaza.

“This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday in a statement released after the weekly Cabinet meeting. “However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.

The statement said that “The State of Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad’s release.”

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