Archive for the ‘Israeli’ Category

Right Wing Hard Liner May Become Isreal’s Foreign Minister; Stalling Peace Efforts

March 6, 2009

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is considering the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister, news sources say.

Lieberman ran for Prime Minister against Netanyahu and several others and is considered an essential part of the new coalition government in Isreal.

Lieberman’s party, Beiteinu, will be the second largest faction in the new coalition government behind Likud, which is headed by Netanyahu.

Lieberman keeps a hard line attitude that is strictly pro-Israel.

His appointment may be a setback for peace talks with Hamas, Hezbollah and others in the region, most Middle East analysts believe.

But Lieberman would be expected to improve ties with Russia; which may directly assist American President Barack Obama’s efforts to gain Russian cooperation in ending Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu has come to believe that Iran poses the biggest threat to israel, with its nuclear program and its funding and supply train to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Lieberman’s ties to Russia could help Israel and the U.S. and open a door toward new relations.

According to Lieberman, “The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions; that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict.”

Lieberman was born in Moldova, then a part of the Soviet Union.  His rough and tumble political style and attitudes reflects his previous work as a bouncer in a bar.

He would be a highly unusual pick for Israel’s top diplomat, but would reflect the sharp turn to the right in Israeli politics where Iran and its nuclear potential are feared.  Many Israeli’s also now have the belief that they are under seige on all sides by their neighbors.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/03/06/israel.fm/index.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli
te?cid=1236269358120&pagename=
JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Avigdor Lieberman is loathed by ultra-orthodox parties because of his support for a Palestinian state.

Israel Lurches Right; Prospects For Peace Gone

February 11, 2009

Israel headed for political gridlock on Wednesday after its election produced rival winners.

Analysts said the country was as split as the Palestinians and the prospects of the two making peace were dimmer than ever.

Reuters

Centrist Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party won the most votes but had little chance of building enough support for a coalition. Right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu can get the support, but analysts said the likely coalition would prove dysfunctional.

“I won,” read the headline of the country’s biggest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, over photos of both leaders. But to some commentators, the rival claims showed Israel had lost. “One thing is clear to all Israeli voters,” said the paper’s Eitan Haber. “The political system is shattered.”

President Shimon Peres must now decide whether to call on Livni or Netanyahu, who then has 42 days to form a government.

Israeli media said it seemed he would have no choice but to tap Netanyahu if the majority rightist parties all back him.

But it would be the first time in Israel’s 60-year history that the winner of an election would be passed over.

The results, not yet official, gave Netanyahu 27 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, while Livni’s Kadima won 28.

She said she would be prime minister and invited Netanyahu to join a “unity government”. But Netanyahu said he would lead the “nationalist camp” in parliament, and control 64 seats.

“With God’s help I will lead the next government,” Netanyahu, 59, told supporters of his Likud party.

“Tzipi Livni has only the slightest chance, or none at all, of forming a government under her leadership,” said Abraham Diskin, a political scientist at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

HARD RIGHT IN PIVOTAL POSITION

Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right, anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu party, now third largest, emerged as a potential kingmaker.

“We want a nationalist government. We want a rightist government,” he said. A deal was needed as fast as possible because the state “has been paralysed for half a year”.

Read the rest:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/middleea
stCrisis/idUKLB505486?sp=true

Israel: Inconclusive Election May Make Middle East Peace Illusive

February 11, 2009

“I voted to improve security,” one man told CBS News.

The election is over in Israel and now a government has to be formed.

But the election showed how muchmany Israelis now worry about Iran, Hezbollad and Hamas around them.  This will make for a very difficult tals for thise seeking a lasting Middle east Paece.

********

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM – Inconclusive election results sent Israel into political limbo Wednesday with both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu claiming victory and leaving the kingmaker role to a rising political hawk with an anti-Arab platform.

Livni’s Kadima Party won 28 seats, just one more than Netanyahu’s Likud, in Tuesday’s election for the 120-member parliament, according to nearly complete results. With neither party winning a clear majority, neither can govern alone. Gains by right-wing parties give Netanyahu a better chance of forming a coalition with his natural allies.

The results set the stage for what could be weeks of coalition negotiations. Israeli media reported the first meetings were scheduled for Wednesday.

Such paralysis could dampen prospects for Egyptian-led attempts to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers after Israel’s devastating offensive in Gaza last month. Hamas might be reluctant to sign a deal at the risk of having it overturned by the incoming coalition.

Whatever government is forged, it is unlikely to move quickly toward peace talks with the Palestinians and instead could find itself on a collision course with President Barack Obama, who has said he’s making a Mideast peace deal a priority.

It’s up to Israeli President Shimon Peres to decide whether Livni or Netanyahu should have the first shot at forming a government. Peres will meet with party leaders to hear their recommendations, and then has a week to make up his mind.

However, the final word may be up to ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, a former Netanyahu protege and perhaps Israel’s most divisive politician, whose rightist Yisrael Beiteinu gained four seats in the election to hold 15.

Lieberman kept his options open, saying he spoke both to Livni and Netanyahu after the polls closed. “We want a right-wing government,” Lieberman told party activists, but added that “we do not rule out anyone.”

Several hours after polls closed, Livni and Netanyahu staged rival victory rallies.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090211/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/ml_israel_politics_2

Israel Votes; Big Turnout

February 10, 2009

Despite talk about apathy in Israel, voters are turing out in droves for today’s election.

As of 14:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, some 34 percent of the 5.2 million people eligible to vote had cast their ballots at the 9,263 polling places, the Jerusalem Post said.

The elction is really between the centrist Tzipi Zivni and the far right Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is favored to win by a slim majority.

Echoing Barack Obama, Netanyahu said, “The people want change, and today they will choose change.” 

“Those who want a new way will focus around the Likud and around me,” he said.

Related:
CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meas
t/02/10/israel.elections.polls/index.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?ci
d=1233304735433&pagename=JPost%2F
JPArticle%2FShowFull

Israel’s Netanyahu Warns Obama on Talks

February 9, 2009

Even before Benjamin Netanyahu finds out whether he will be Israel’s next prime minister, he is sending a message to President Barack Obama that he won’t be pushed around.

By Jonathan Ferziger and Hans Nichols
Bloomberg

Netanyahu, the Likud party candidate who narrowly leads Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of elections tomorrow, last week took reporters to Arab parts of Jerusalem, where he helped establish Jewish footholds when he was previously prime minister. No pressure, he said, would make him cede those neighborhoods “to our enemies.”

Just as he confounded former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Netanyahu probably will resist if Obama pushes too hard to extract Israeli concessions for peace in the Middle East.

“He’s extremely effective politically, unbelievably smart and relentlessly suspicious when it comes to the Arabs and the Americans,” says former U.S. negotiator Aaron David Miller, author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.”
Livni, leading the ruling Kadima party, has campaigned on the need to continue peace talks and compromise with the Palestinians. She would likely have a more harmonious relationship with Obama — if she were able to cobble together enough support to form a governing coalition consistent with her views. That isn’t certain, given the decline in polls of the Labor Party, Kadima’s coalition partner, which advocates Palestinian statehood.

“A Livni coalition would be so fragile that it wouldn’t be able to take any decisive steps with the Palestinians and stay in power,” says Roni Bart, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi
d=washingtonstory&sid=aeKTFmR61kD0

Israel May Elect Netanyahu; Disappointing Outsiders

February 8, 2009

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, last night launched a concerted final effort to become her nation’s first woman leader since Golda Meir, despite the rightwards shift in public opinion that has threatened to propel Benjamin Netanyahu back into the premiership.

The leader of the centrist Kadima party, who began the closing stages of her campaign with a rally for Druze Arab voters in Galilee last night, issued a direct personal challenge to Mr Netanyahu to agree to the television debate which he has consistently refused.

As polls showing the lead of Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party has narrowed to only two seats ahead of Kadima, Ms Livni’s campaign team believes she can overtake her rival by the time Israel goes to the polls on Tuesday.

Mr Netanyahu has emphasised the threats from Hamas and a nuclear Iran in his campaign.

By Donald Macintyre
The Independent (UK)

Israel's Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu smiles during ... 
Israel’s Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu smiles during a meeting with supporters in the northern city of Tiberias February 8, 2009. Surveys predict a narrow win in Tuesday’s vote for hawkish ex-premier Netanyahu, his comeback fuelled by the inconclusive wars in southern Lebanon and Gaza, formerly areas under Israel’s control and now bastions of hostile Islamists.REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL)

Ms Livni, who strongly supported the recent invasion of Gaza, but has pledged to continue talks on a two-state solution with the moderate West Bank Palestinian leadership, said there was a public demand from potential leaders “to specify with which policies they plan to cope with the threats, and lead [Israel] to a better future of peace and quiet”. Meanwhile the outgoing Kadima premier, Ehud Olmert, was making what the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said were “supreme efforts” to leave a positive legacy by securing the release of Gilad Shalit, the army corporal seized by Gaza militants in 2006, before polling day.

Turkish TV reported on Friday that Turkish officials were holding talks in Damascus with exiled leaders of Hamas, which has been seeking a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners in return.

At the same time Mr Barak, Labour’s prime ministerial candidate, told Channel 1 TV that Cpl Shalit was known to be “well, alive, breathing and OK”.

He added: “You know that I am a fierce critic of the Prime Minister, but in these matters, in these days, he is making a great effort, as am I … in order to expedite the process.” Whether the formidable obstacles to securing the release can be overcome remains to be seen, however.

A Hamas official, Osama al-Muzaini, said talks on the issue had so far made little progress because Israel “remained unwilling to pay the price”.

While Mr Barak warned the release of Cpl Shalit would require “painful decisions” – presumably on a prisoner exchange – the electoral effect, if it happened, would probably be to help Labour and Kadima at the expense of Likud and the increasingly popular Yisrael Beiteinu, led by the hard-right Avigdor Lieberman.

According to the polls, the main features of a relatively lacklustre election so far have been the Likud comeback under Mr Netanyahu from its three-decade low of just 12 Knesset seats in the 2006 election, and the seemingly relentless rise of Mr Lieberman, who could yet prove the kingmaker in forming a coalition after Tuesday.

Polls published on Friday – the last allowed before election day – showed Likud with 25 to 27 seats, just ahead of Kadima, with 23 to 25. Mr Lieberman’s party with 18 or 19, which, if fulfilled in actual voting, would push the once-dominant Labour Party into fourth place.

Most analysts think the rightward shift has resulted from a combination of two factors. One is Hamas’s continued control of Gaza. The other is the stillbirth of the centrist programme under Mr Olmert of withdrawing from settlements and negotiating a peace deal with the moderate Palestinian leadership. This was envisaged at the international Annapolis summit sponsored by President George Bush at the end of 2007.

Read the rest:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/isr
aeli-elections-be-afraid-be-very-afraid-160405
2.html

Iran, Middle East Waiting More Than Good Words From Obama Camp

February 7, 2009

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said today at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, “The Iranian people are a great people. The Persian civilization is a great civilization. But Iran has acted in ways that are not conducive to peace in the region or to the prosperity of its people; its illicit nuclear program is but one of those manifestations. Our administration is reviewing policy toward Iran, but this much is clear: We will be willing to talk.”

“We will be willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives.”

But on the same day at the same conference, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator defended the Holocaust denial statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Pierre Lellouche, a French politician attending the conference, said it is unlawful in France to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.

“In Iran, we don’t have the same sensitivities,” countered Ali Larijani, a member of Iran’s Security Council.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes hit targets in the Gaza again today as Hamas continued smiggling across the border from Egypt.

And the United nations stiopped humanitarian re-supply of Gaza, accusing Hamas of looting the supplies for its own uses.

Related:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233
304708304&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2F
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CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/mea
st/02/07/israel.airstrike/index.html

UN halts aid to Gaza, accuses Hamas of stealing

February 6, 2009

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees suspended aid to the Gaza Strip on Friday, accusing the territory’s Hamas rulers of stealing a delivery of humanitarian supplies for the second time this week.

The announcement by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency deepened tensions between the international body that assists the majority of Gaza’s 1.4 million people and the Islamic group that controls the coastal strip.

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer

The crisis comes at a sensitive time. U.N. officials say Gaza’s needs are especially dire in the wake of Israel‘s military offensive against Hamas, which killed nearly 1,300 people, displaced thousands and caused widespread destruction.

Israel holds parliamentary elections Tuesday. New opinion polls published Friday showed a close race, but predicted the nationalist Likud Party, which advocates an even tougher line against Hamas, would head the next coalition government.

In a statement, UNRWA said it had suspended aid deliveries to Gaza after the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs stole 10 truckloads of flour and rice delivered to Gaza on Thursday. Earlier this week, Hamas police took thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for needy residents.

“Hamas has got to hand back all the aid that they have taken and they have to give credible assurances that this will not happen again. Until this happens, our imports into Gaza will be suspended,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

He said the agency, which maintains “working level contacts” with Hamas, had filed a protest with the government. Gunness said UNRWA would continue to distribute aid from its existing supplies in Gaza, but that stocks were running thin.

“There is enough aid for days, not weeks,” he said.

Some 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.4 million people rely on the U.N. agency for food or other support.

In Gaza, Hamas Social Affairs Minister Ahmed al-Kurd dismissed Thursday’s incident as a “misunderstanding” and expressed hope the dispute would soon be resolved.

“We welcome all aid, whether from UNRWA or international organizations,” he said. “Any international organization that wants to help or build in Gaza, we have no conditions, come to Gaza, and we will provide security, safety and calm,” he said.

The spat with Hamas created a challenge for UNRWA, which already has been pressuring Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza’s borders to allow more aid into the area.

Most cargo into Gaza comes through Israeli-controlled crossings. Israel has largely closed the crossings since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007. Israel fears supplies will reach Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090206/ap_o
n_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Netanyahu says Iran will not get hands on nukes

February 1, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s leading candidate for prime minister, said Saturday that Iran “will not be armed with a nuclear weapon.”

Aron Heller
Associated Press

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Netanyahu said if elected prime minister his first mission will be to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat. Netanyahu, the current opposition leader and head of the hardline Likud party, called Iran the greatest danger to Israel and to all humanity.

When asked if stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions included a military strike, he replied: “It includes everything that is necessary to make this statement come true.”

Iran has denied it is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful uses. It also denies it is engaged in terrorism, instead accusing Israel of terrorist policies against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, which were occupied by Israel after the 1967 Mideast War.

The Channel 2 TV broadcast interviewed all three candidates for prime minister ahead of the Feb. 10 election. The three did not debate each other and appeared one after the other to answer questions posted by Israelis in YouTube videos.

Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labor were both asked about how they intended to deal with the continuing rocket threat from Hamas militants in Gaza. Both took a hard line.

“Hamas was hit like it was never hit before,” Barak, the defense minister, said. “If they try us again, they will be hit again.”

Read the rest:
http://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/ap/200
90201/twl-ml-israel-politics-38359fb.html

Leader of the Likud Party in Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, gestures ... 
Leader of the Likud Party in Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, gestures as he speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday Jan. 29, 2009.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

More Rockets Hit Israel, “Disproportionate” Response Threatened

February 1, 2009

Militants in Gaza apparently fired four more rockets into Israel Sunday, shaking the already unsteady cease fire.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “The cabinet’s position from the outset was that if there is rocket fire at southerners, there will be a response that will essentially be disproportionate.”

“Two weeks have passed since Israel’s decision to cease its fire in the Gaza Strip, and [the truce] was declared on two basic conditions: A complete halt in rocket fire and a stop to the smuggling of weapons to terror group through the Philadelphi Corridor,” he continued. “Those were the two conditions for the cease-fire and we knew that there was a considerable chance Hamas would continue with the rocket fire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's response will be "disproportionate" if rocket attacks continue.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel’s response will be “disproportionate” if rocket attacks continue.

“We won’t return to the rules of the game that terror groups have tried to dictate and we won’t be dragged into a never-ending shooting war,” said the prime minister, stressing that Israel would not allow the rocket attacks to continue.

Israel attacked Hamas in Gaza on December 27 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks on southern Israel.

More than 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,400 others were wounded. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were also killed in the fighting.

Related:
Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233
304649047&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2F
ShowFull

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/02/01/israel.rockets/index.html

AFP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090
201/wl_afp/mideastconflictgazaolmer
t_20090201084525

Sderot police station
The remnants of hundreds of rockets are held at Sderot police station, Israel