Israel Political Brief June 20, 2012: State Comptroller’s Report Blames PM Benjamin Netanyahu & Government Officials for Deadly Carmel Forest Fire



Report blames Israel’s Netanyahu for deadly fire

Source: AP, 6-20-12

A new report by Israel’s government watchdog blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials for mismanaging the worst fire in the country’s history, a devastating blaze that took 44 lives in 2010.

Report on Carmel Forest fire blames government officials

Source: JTA, 6-20-12

A special report by Israel’s state comptroller on the 2010 Carmel Forest fire blamed several government officials for the four-day blaze.

The report presented Wednesday by outgoing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz bear “special responsibility” for the response, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch bear “complete responsibility.”

It did not suggest any consequences for the public officials. “That is a clear political question best left to the Knesset and the public,” Lindenstrauss wrote.

The December 2010 fire killed 44 people, destroyed 18 houses and damaged 173. Some 17,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, more than 12,000 acres were burned and an estimated 5 million trees were lost. Some 38 planes and helicopters from 12 countries helped extinguish the blaze.

Documents cited by the report show that Yishai was aware that the Fire and Rescue Services suffered from a severe shortage of equipment, personnel, and command and control methods, but did not act on that knowledge. Yishai has denied the accusations and blamed others for the failures.

The report blamed Steinitz for making the requested budget allocations conditional on sweeping reforms.

Netanyahu was assigned complete responsibility based on his position, and for not attempting to mediate between Yishai and Steinitz.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that some of the deficiencies enumerated in the report were corrected immediately after the Carmel disaster.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 7, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Issue of the National Emergency Plan to Deport Illegal South Sudanese Migrant Infiltrators



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on the Issue of the National Emergency Plan to Remove Infiltrators

Source: PMO, 6-7-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks today following a discussion that was held on the issue of illegal infiltrators. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, as well as IDF, Israel Police and Prison Service representatives, attended the discussion.

“I held an additional discussion – along with the Interior Minister, the Public Security Minister and the Justice Minister, as well as with professional elements – in the framework of the national emergency plan to remove infiltrators. This is a serious problem and we are dealing with it.

First, we will complete the fence as quickly as possible and deal with infiltrations until the fence is completed. Second, we will build detention facilities including thousands of units. Third, we will move infiltrators directly from the border to the facilities. We needed to make several changes and we made them. Fourth, we will punish those who illegally employ infiltrators. Next week will be the second and third Knesset readings of a law that will deal severely with such employers, and allow their businesses to be closed.

At the same time, the Interior Minister is preparing to issues orders that will allow for the detention of the infiltrators. This is still partial but it is a start. The Public Security Minister will detain infiltrator criminals in the Tel Aviv area and put them in prison, and this will be done in addition to the continued deployment of a Border Police unit in southern Tel Aviv.

I believe that these and other measures, which I will not detail here, will begin to reverse the trend and we will solve it.”

Israeli Ministers Inaugurate New East Jerusalem Settlement Ma’aleh Zeitim

Day after Netanyahu addresses Congress, his ministers inaugurate East Jerusalem settlement

Knesset speaker at ceremony comments on Obama’s recent Mideast policy speech, asking what will happen if ‘one day there is a president that thinks Israel’s existence contradicts America’s interest?’

Source: Haaretz, 5-25-11

One day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Jerusalem will not be divided, the speaker of the Knesset and several other government ministers attended a dedication ceremony for the new Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Zeitim, in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and Information Minister Daniel Hershkovitz all participated in the ceremony – this despite the fact that the Jewish neighborhood has already been inhabited for several years.

Maaleh Zeitim, May 25 2011, Olivier Pitosi Activists at Ma’aleh Zeitim in Jerusalem, May 25 2011.
Photo by: Olivier Pitosi

Rivlin delivered a speech at the ceremony, where he made a warning based on the recent Mideast policy speech laid out by United States President Barack Obama.

“Until today, despite a difference of opinions, there were relations between Israel and the U.S. based on mutual interests, shared democratic values, and recognition of the right of the Jewish people in their country,” Rivlin said.

“But this time, I hear another note from the U.S. president…. That Israel doesn’t need to be strict on the conditions that will protect her existence, that the U.S. will be responsible for [Israel’s] security and existence. And what happens if one day there is a president that thinks that Israel’s existence contradicts Americans’ interests?”

Rivlin condemned those that seek to “cut up” Jerusalem, as bringing “disaster” onto the city and its residents.

The comments come shortly after a weekend where U.S. President Barack Obama called for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians based on borders from 1967, which Netanyahu calls “indefensible”….READ MORE

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