April 11, 2024
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Netanyahu and Lieberman Sign Deal to Expand Israeli Governing Coalition

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A deal to bring Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition was signed Wednesday. Lieberman and fellow Yisrael Beiteinu Member of Knesset Sofa Landver are set to be sworn in as government ministers May 30—Lieberman as defense minister and Landver as immigrant absorption minister.

The deal expands the Likud party-led coalition in the Israeli Knesset from 61 to 66 MKs out of the legislative body’s 120 members. Netanyahu and Lieberman held a joint press conference Wednesday morning after signing the coalition deal. Netanyahu said he and Lieberman were joining forces to “move Israel forward,” vowing that he and Lieberman would “protect Israel’s security with determination and responsibility.”

“Israel needs governmental stability to deal with the challenges we face and take advantage of the opportunities we are being presented with,” Netanyahu said.

Regarding his relationship with Lieberman—Israel’s former foreign minister—Netanyahu said, “I appreciate his skills and experience. We’ve worked together in the past for the good of Israel’s citizens. It’s no secret that we’ve had some disagreements. This is part of political life, and at stormy moments things were said that should not have been said.”

Lieberman said, “Ultimately, the most important issue is the security of the citizens of Israel. This is why we left everything else aside and made the effort to come together… I’m committed to level-headed policies that will ensure stability for our country. The coalition will now be stronger and more stable.”

The talks to bring Yisrael Beiteinu into the coalition had stalled in recent days due to a disagreement between Lieberman and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over Lieberman’s proposed pension reform.


Sanders Taps Israel Critics, Including BDS Supporter, for Party Platform Committee

(JNS.org) Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) on Monday picked two critics of Israel to be members of the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee, amid reports that Sanders wants the platform to focus on Palestinian rights.

Cornel West, a philosopher and social activist, supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. West has called the Gaza Strip “the hood on steroids” and wrote that the crimes of the Palestinian terror group Hamas “pale in the face of the U.S.-supported Israeli slaughter of innocent civilians.”

Sanders’ other appointment, James Zogby, is president of the Arab American Institute non-profit, an organization known to be critical of Israel and mainstream pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In March, Zogby wrote for the Huffington Post that AIPAC-supported anti-BDS bills on the federal and state levels “have the effect of making the U.S. a collaborator in Israel’s violations of international law by protecting Israeli settlements that have been illegally placed in occupied Palestinian lands.”

Sanders also chose U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, for the platform drafting committee. His Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, named six committee members and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, named four.


Israel Freezes Returning Terrorists’ Bodies to Families After Funeral Incitement

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Some 1,000 people attended the eastern Jerusalem funeral of Palestinian terrorist Ala Abu Jamal on Monday, where anti-Israel slogans were chanted, in violation of the terms under which Israel agreed to return his body to his family. The incident prompted Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to freeze the return of terrorists’ bodies to the Palestinian Authority.

Abu Jamal killed 60-year-old Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky and wounded eight others last October when he rammed his vehicle into a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem, and then got out of the vehicle and attacked his victims with a cleaver. He was shot dead by a security guard who rushed to the scene.

Police agreed to return Abu Jamal’s body provided that only his immediate family attend his funeral. Instead, the funeral was attended by a huge crowd that called out inciting slogans, including “slaughter the Jews.”

The crowd participated in the funeral procession, but Israeli Border Police officers allowed only several dozen family members to enter the cemetery.

“I was just shown the infuriating photos from the funeral,” Erdan wrote in a Facebook post. “The funeral, which was attended by many and included calls of incitement and support for terrorism, violated the terms set by the police as well as the family’s pledge. The families of the terrorists lied to the High Court of Justice when they promised to adhere to the police’s demands, and it is a shame that the court believed them and pressured the police to hand over the bodies before Ramadan… There is no doubt that the crowd that attended the funeral was invited or knew about it from the family and the funeral’s organizers. This is a violation.”

One of Abu Jamal’s relatives told Israel Hayom that “only family members were permitted to enter the cemetery. Everyone else waited outside. We couldn’t stop them from attending the funeral procession and we certainly could not shut their mouths. The Jews call this incitement, but we see it as a great honor that Abu Jamal is a martyr.”


Obama Administration Skeptical About Netanyahu’s Call for Direct Peace Talks

(JNS.org) The Obama administration has expressed skepticism over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We of course support meaningful negotiations and we continue to believe that this conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties… We do not believe in negotiations just for the sake of negotiations,” a senior U.S. State Department official told the Jerusalem Post.

“As we’ve said many times, it is up to the parties to decide if they are ready to make the tough decisions necessary for successful negotiations,” the official added. “For our part, we continue to call on both sides to demonstrate with policies and actions a genuine commitment to a two-state solution.”

The Obama administration’s statement comes as France is organizing a meeting of world leaders in early June to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu has opposed the French approach, telling French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that he prefers direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

France plans to use the meeting to help plan a larger summit next fall on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue.

Egypt Reportedly Moving Forward With Plans for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

(JNS.org) Egypt is reportedly moving forward with plans to hold a trilateral summit in an effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Sunday on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to arrange a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

The delegation is reportedly led by Aviva Raz Shechter, the director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Division, as well as other high-ranking officials.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the last few days have seen “significant diplomatic efforts” that have been led by Egypt to organize a summit between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Last week, El-Sisi said he saw a “real opportunity” for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and that such a deal would “give safety and stability to both sides. If this is achieved, we will enter a new phase that perhaps no one can imagine now.”

As opposed to a separate French initiative that seeks to involve the international community and exclude Israeli or Palestinian representatives, Netanyahu has said that he welcomes El-Sisi’s plan for direct talks and his “willingness to invest every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians.”


Israeli Foreign Ministry Falls Short of Goals in BDS Fight, Government Report Says

(JNS.org) A new report issued by the Israeli state comptroller says that the country’s Foreign Ministry is failing to achieve its “designated goals” in the fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“Foreign Ministry projects meant to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world are lacking in their planning, management and implementation, and are failing to achieve their designated goals,” said the report, issued by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira.

While there have been some efforts to combat the BDS movement, overall the Foreign Ministry “has a hard time presenting achievements relating to efforts to delegitimize Israel around the world: in academic circles, culture, trade unions and the general public in the target countries,” the report said.

The report specified a number of failed strategies, including those of Israel’s relatively new Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Relations, which was tasked in 2013 with countering the BDS movement and has had problems cooperating with the Foreign Ministry.

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