Tag Archives: Binyamin Netanyahu

On Ulpana story, more questions than answers

When it comes to Wednesday’s drama surrounding the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, there are more questions than answers:

In his opposition to the Outpost Arrangements Bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was against the retroactive legalization of the outpost because, amongst other reasons, it would hurt Israel’s image internationally as a law-abiding democratic state which has a strong, independent judiciary. So why then would the prime minister authorize 850 new homes in the settlements just hours after defeating the vote? Does this do anything for Israel’s image? Continue reading

Mutiny and machinations in Israel’s fourth largest party

This is how Labor dies. Not with a whimper. Not with a bang. More like assisted suicide.

Mark this day, Tuesday 24 March 2009. It is on this day that Israel’s founding party ‘finishes its historical role’. Regardless of which way the vote in the convention goes today, Labor is finished. If Barak wins, Labor will serve as the fig leaf for Netanyahu’s ‘orange and black’ administration, gradually withering away under international diplomatic isolation and economic stress. If Barak loses, he could jump ship and join Bibi, alone or with a few others, while leaving the rest of Labor [what will they call themselves, the Real Labor, True Labor, Provisional Labor, Continuity Labor?] to rot under the long shadow cast by the much bigger Kadima. Seven constantly-bickering opposition MKs won’t take Labor over the next electoral threshold. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the situation

One week after the elections and what we have right now is a political stalemate without a clear outcome.

Right now we don’t have a government – neither Bibi nor Livni have enough MKs to form a government, since Avigdor Lieberman has not recommended either and who knows what he’ll do come Wednesday at Beit Hanassi. Both Bibi and Livni are trying to entice Lieberman into their camps with promises of ministries and freedom to vote on pertinent issues such as conversions and civil unions. Both Bibi and Livni have promised to topple Hamas once they’re in power – like Lieberman wants. Lieberman would prefer a Likud-led government, but he has problems with the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which will fight him on state-religion issues and changing the electoral system. Shas’ leader has also called Liberman the Devil. Lieberman didn’t like that at all. The Likud is trying to square that circle now: how to give Lieberman what he wants on civil-religious issues while not radically changing the nature of the country’s religious establishment. Everyone in the big parties wants a Likud-Kadima-Israel Beitenu coalition government of 70 MKs . The fight now is over who heads that government, Bibi or Livni. Even after the elections it’s still Bibi or Livni. Continue reading

Livni wins, but Kadima may yet lose election

The outer wall at Kadima HQ on Gissin Street in Petah Tikva’s industrial neighborhood is still adorned with a very large poster of the party’s founder Ariel Sharon, but that could change soon. Inside the bustling building on Tuesday, a large Sharon poster hung across the main office room where dozens of party activists were working the phones on Election Day, checking in with their counterparts in the field at polling booths countrywide. Across the wall is an election poster showing Sharon on the one side, and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on the other. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been wiped out of Kadima’s literature and PR material. The party that started with Sharon’s ‘big bang’ and struggled ever since through a barrage of sex scandals, corruption investigations, failed and unfinished wars, has come out the other side stronger that it was when Olmert took charge of the party in 2006. Continue reading

What next for Israel against Hamas?

Day Four of the Gaza War, and we’re heading into Day 5 with some mixed feelings and a lot of questions.

The shine of the first two days’ heavy aerial bombardment of Gaza is rapidly wearing off with targets running out and Hamas resurgent. The IAF is still attacking rocket crews and tunnels, but increasingly it is bombing buildings it has already bombed previously, what is called “Real Estate Targets” here. For days we’ve been led to believe that IDF ground forces are poised to enter the fray.

But instead:

I’m seeing the IDF start a YouTube channel.

I hear the IDF is starting vlogs and blogs.

I’m seeing pictures of IDF tanks and soldiers massed all around the Gaza Strip – posing for pictures and looking as if they’re preparing for battle.

I’m seeing Israeli diplomats on twitter, SKY and FOX.

I’m seeing local and foreign correspondents broadcasting live pictures of Israeli battle formations from the Gaza border, an area that was on Monday decreed by the IDF as a closed military zone.

I see rockets as far as Beersheba and Kiryat Malachi, and Yavne. Yavne is not “in the south” of the country, it is very firmly in the center.

I see Israel sending in hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza – aid likely also going to Hamas fighters.

I hear talk of a 48 hour ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, which will likely lead to a negotiated ceasefire binding both Hamas and Israel, but at the same time Hamas has rebounded from the initial IAF shock and awe operation and firing rockets into central Israel.

What I don’t see is the IDF fighting. In fact I’m seeing the IDF do everything but fight. The IAF is doing the best it can, but as we learned in Lebanon, it cannot finish the job.

What I don’t see is Hamas fighters in their foxholes, or in camouflage waiting in ambush, or positioning snipers and mortar crews. Why? Because they’re doing it far away from the eyes of the media, quietly, secretly, the way it’s supposed to be done. Continue reading

Olmert asks Netanyahu to help explain Israel’s Gaza war

UPDATE: Netanyahu joins Israel’s PR war effort, appearing on FOX News.

Just heard that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met today with opposition leader Likud MK Binyamin Netanyahu and updated him on the security situation, as is required by law. The Prime Minister’s Office also reports that Olmert asked Netanyahu to step up and help in Israel’s public diplomacy efforts during this round of fighting with Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu, a fluent English-speaker with a Harvard degree, is considered the top public speaker in Israel, especially on foreign networks. While Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and President Shimon Peres are no slouches, nobody comes close to Bibi’s clarity and force of argument, regardless of whether one agrees with him or not. Continue reading

Getting to know Benny Begin

The political scene is buzzing today as the Likud announced that former Science Minister Benny Begin, the son of the late Likud leader Menahem Begin, would be making his comeback to politics and rejoining the Likud.

Shunning preferential treatment, Begin apparently did not ask for a slot on the Likud list to be reserved for him, preferring instead to campaign in the upcoming primaries. This decision fits in neatly with Begin’s image as an old-school, clean-cut incorruptible politician, the man who took the bus to work at the Knesset, and not a government Volvo. Continue reading

The Chatter-Patter-O-Meter

Just sat in on the final panel of President Shimon Peres’ ‘Facing Tomorrow’ Conference, where Mr. Television Haim Yavin hosted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

All four politicians were asked by the moderator to give a speech, lasting ten minutes, about what Israel means to them. Needless to say, each one used the opportunity to present what amounted to his/ her own electoral platform. Perhaps they are smelling elections in the air.

The speeches were void of any real headlines or news; just the fact that all four of them were on the stage together was interesting in itself. What I found more interesting however was the crowd’s reactions to each of the speakers. There were at least several thousand conference -goers in attendance, and I think many of them were tired and restless at the end of a very busy three-day conference.

Instead of dissecting what the speakers said, I thought I’d give you an observation of the level of chatter and patter by the audience members during the speeches as an indication of who was charismatic and who was not, who held the audience’s attention and who meandered and lost the crowd, which messages were welcomed and which missed the mark. I call the it chatter-and-patter-o-meter, from 1 [audience chatted amongst themselves very little and were absorbed by what the speaker was saying] to 5 [audience basically ignored the speaker and chatted and pattered away freely]. Continue reading