Newsletter : 14fx1209.txt
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Knesset Officially Dissolves in Unanimous Vote
The Knesset on Monday evening officially voted unanimously 93:0 to dissolve itself,
disbanding the 19th Knesset and preparing the way for elections on the 20th Knesset to be
held on March 17. The vote was approved by the Knesset's House Committee earlier in the
day, and comes after the bill to disband was unanimously approved in a preliminary vote
last week. Now that the end of the Knesset is official, election campaigning is set to be
kicked off in full swing.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) remarked during the vote "in a reality in which
legitimate differences of opinion turn into abysmal arguments; when differences in
viewpoints turn into personal loathing and lead to score-settling which locks up all
initiatives and all possibility of cooperation within the coalition - the government turns
into an empty body, lacking effectiveness in which all sides are busy with the weakness of
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed key coalition members and ministers Tzipi
Livni (Hatnua) and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) last Tuesday, accusing the two of a "putsch"
attempt in trying to replace him with an alternate government from within the
Ahead of the vote, Lapid said in the Knesset that Netanyahu made two mistakes: "he took
Israel to elections which will not serve the public, and the second mistake: that he will
lose." Far-left Meretz party chairperson MK Zehava Galon said "how much bad this
government did, and how good it is to see it going home." Last minute shuffling to reach
an alternate coalition with the hareidi parties so as to avoid elections fell through,
leading to the Monday vote and the official collapse of the government.
In the same Monday session before dissolving itself the Knesset also ruled to pass a
watered down Infiltrator Law, which makes the third iteration of the law after the High
Court struck down two previous constructions of it. The law passed second and third
readings, sealing it into Israeli law with 47 MKs for and 23 MKs against. Far-left
activists present at the vote vowed to petition the new law in the High Court.
The bill passed an initial vote last Sunday. According to it, illegal infiltrators can
be held for three months in the Saharonim closed facility, then transferred to the open
Holot facility to be held for up to 20 further months.
Connecting the two votes on Monday, Yonatan Yakubovich, head of the NGO Israeli
Immigration Policy Center's publicity department, explained previously to Arutz Sheva that
upcoming elections may harm the law and mean the release of illegal infiltrators, in that
the government may not be able to oppose High Court complications to it.
While leftist organizations have claimed the infiltrators are refugees, figures
presented by the state have shown the overwhelming majority of them are not refugees, but
rather work migrants breaking the law in a search of greater job opportunities. That
assessment was confirmed last month in a report by the Danish Immigration Service (UDL),
which found Eritrean migrants are not refugees. Tel Aviv police last Friday held a major
sting operation closing 30 illegal bars that served as crime dens to infiltrators in
southern Tel Aviv, near the Old Central Bus Station.
The issue of the tens of thousands of illegal infiltrators is a serious one,
particularly in southern Tel Aviv where residents are exposed to endless crime, with many
Jewish residents saying they are terrified of leaving their homes and begging the
government to take action. Crime rates dropped dramatically in the area after the Holot
detention facility was implemented.
Kerry: Israeli, Palestinian Status Quo Unsustainable
By VOA News
As Israeli politicians campaign to lead a new government, Secretary of State John Kerry
says current hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians cannot hold.
The violence that has followed the breakdown of U.S.-led peace talks shows there is no
way forward without changing course, Kerry told foreign policy leaders in Washington. "The
status quo between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not sustainable, and the
alternatives to peace are neither acceptable nor viable," he said.
With Israel's parliament dissolved ahead of fresh elections, Kerry says the Obama
administration stands ready to be engaged "once the parties themselves make the tough
decisions required to get back to the talks. There is an election in the next few months
now in Israel, and the Israeli people will have important choices to make for their
future," he said. "And we look forward to working closely with the new government,
whatever its composition, whenever it is formed. And we will absolutely not involve
ourselves in any way in the middle of the choice of the people of Israel."
Campaigning for re-election, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the talks
failed because Palestinians in the West Bank chose Hamas over peace with Israel. "The
coming election is about one question - who will lead the country through the tremendous
challenges facing Israel - security, economic, regional," he said. "We need a large,
experienced ruling party."
Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog believes there can be a two-state solution. "I
think it's a mistake that we already assumed that it's over. It is part of that tragedy
that unfolds in front of our eyes," he said. "It is not true. I am telling you absolutely.
It is possible, absolutely possible still to make peace with the Palestinians."
With security high among Israeli electoral concerns, Kerry says regional unity in the
fight against Islamic State terrorists - who are also known as Daesh - could help ease the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "We continue to explore how the new regional dynamic
regarding Daesh and the Arab world will enhance the security of Israel and its neighbors,"
he said. "Yes, we know that Israel has to be strong to make peace, but we also know that
real peace will make Israel stronger."
But Iran's involvement in that fight in Syria and Iraq continues to concern Israeli
leaders, especially as Tehran backs Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon, says regional
security analyst Nora Bensahel. "For Iran, Lebanon and Syria are not that separate a
thing. And of course that has effects on Israel," she said. "So I don't think that the
Iranians necessarily see what has been going on in terms of Hizbullah action in Syria as a
diversion. I think they see that as one big interconnected set of issues."
For now, Kerry says it is important to keep alive hopes for a lasting peace, to work to
build the Palestinian economy and create the conditions for successful negotiations.
Syria, Iran Condemn Airstrikes Near Damascus
By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com
The foreign ministers of Syria and Iran are condemning Israel for airstrikes Sunday
near Damascus. At a news conference in Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif drew parallels between the Israeli
government and what they call "terrorists" in Syria - the rebel groups fighting President
Syrian state television said the "Israeli enemy committed aggression" by targeting the
two areas, but said there were no casualties. Israel has carried out several airstrikes in
Syria since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar el-Assad began nearly four years
ago. Israel has not confirmed any of the strikes. Iran and Syria are allies of the
Lebanon-based terrorist group Hizbullah, a long-time foe of Israel.
In a radio interview Monday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz did not
comment directly on the strikes, but said the country maintains a policy of "preventing
the upgrading of weaponry" for what he called "terrorist organizations." The British-based
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), with activists monitoring multiple
battlegrounds inside Syria, said 10 explosions were heard outside a military area near
SOHR Director Rami Abdurrahman said the strike near the Damascus International Airport
targeted a depot for newly arrived weapons at a military facility that is part of the
airport. He said the strikes near Dimas were aimed at weapons depots in hangars in and
around a small air base. It was not clear whether those weapons were for the Syrian
government or for Hizbullah. He had no word on casualties. According to other accounts,
however, the targets included the Syrian army's 14th Special Forces Division and a
The Syrian Foreign Ministry also sent a letter of protest to U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon and to the head of the U.N. Security Council. Other reports from the Arab press
said Syrian and Iranian officials would deliberate over possible retaliation for the
airstrikes. A senior Syrian official told the Lebanese-based Al-Mayadeen network that his
country would respond at a time and in a manner it saw fit.
800 Leftist Israelis Call on European Lawmakers to Recognize 'Palestine'
By Israel Hayom
Authors Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua signed a petition along with more
than 800 other Israelis, many of them prominent public figures, calling on European
parliaments to recognize a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The petition was sent on
Sunday to members of the Belgian parliament, who are set to discuss recognition of a
Palestinian state in the coming days.
Habayit Hayehudi MK Yoni Chetboun criticized the petition, saying, "This is an
embarrassment. It is a shame that after the war on terror in Operation Protective Edge
subsided; we see the real threat is coming from within. This is an elitist minority that
is disconnected from Israeli society and has no influence on it, but it still damages our
image in the world."
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also had strong words against the
petition. "If the Left has reached a point that its leading thinkers have lost faith in
Israeli democracy and in the Knesset then [the Left] is really in a bad place," she said.
"The thinkers of the Left, such as Oz and A.B. Yehoshua are causing damage to Israel's
image in the world and proving that the sane Left is a disappearing species."
Michael Oren: The Israeli Left 'Has Crashed'
Israel's former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren addressed the Saban Forum
Saturday on the topic of the political process between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority - and had some damning words for the Israeli Left.
"The Left in Israel has crashed, because it has not yet internalized that the
Palestinians are not part of the negotiations, and aren't interested in being so," said
Oren. "The Palestinians have chosen a different path, the destructive path of
delegitimization of Israel.
"On the other hand, the Right doesn't yet have the courage to admit that Israel isn't
able to protect its identity and its alliance with the US, while ruling 2.5 million
Palestinians," Oren continued. "Inaction isn't an option. Israel needs to take its fate
into its own hands, and to come out with a political initiative that will serve its
interests," he insisted.
Also speaking at the forum on Saturday was former US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, who commented on the tensions between Jerusalem and the current White House
administration."The relationship between the US and Israel is stable and will continue to
be so," she said. "It is silly to think that there won't be disagreements between leaders,
but what is important is the institutional support of the US for Israel, without any
connection to the leadership." Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Clinton said she agreed
with Israel's position that no deal was better than a bad one.
What Happens When a PLO Flag is Flown in Meah Shearim?
The radical anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect is well-known for its provocations,
including public Israeli flag burning ceremonies on Israeli Independence Day and
high-profile meetings with Iranian officials and other Islamist committed to the Jewish
But when one prominent Neturei Karta family chose to hang a PLO flag outside its home
in the middle of the Meah Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem, one local hareidi man had
clearly seen enough.
Exhibiting some impressive acrobatic skills the man scaled two stories to reach the
flag, which he tears down and flings to the ground before climbing back down to the
amusement of passersby - one of whom calls for a round of applause.
The undated video, posted Monday on Facebook, is said to have occurred outside the home
of the Hirsch family, whose members figure prominently in the extremist movement that
exists at the fringe of the hareidi community and believes Jewish independence in Israel
is forbidden until the coming of the Messiah.
Moshe Hirsch was the leader of one of the most radical factions within Neturei Karta
before he died in 2010, and even served as a symbolic "Jewish affairs adviser" for PLO
chief Yasser Arafat.
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