1,500 Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ live in Israel. They are appallingly mistreated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

1,500 Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ live in Israel. They are appallingly mistreated

A 2001 law promised housing, medical care to this group of heroes, but scandalously has never been implemented. Maybe interest sparked by the remarkable TV series will change that

Ksenia Svetlova
Chernobyl liquidators visiting the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

Chernobyl liquidators visiting the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

The much-discussed new TV series, “Chernobyl,” which focuses on the worst nuclear disaster of the twentieth century, has reminded the world about what happened at the plant’s No. 4 nuclear reactor 33 years ago.

Despite the very real health dangers, many curious tourists have been making their way to the remote Ukrainian city where time stopped in April 1986. And journalists have been seeking out the people who fought the devastating fire and built the Chernobyl sarcophagus, the massive steel and concrete structure that was constructed on top of the destroyed reactor to isolate it and limit radioactive contamination of the surrounding area.

The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of Chernobyl “liquidators”— those who were called in to deal with the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic nuclear leak — who are still alive today reside in the former Soviet Union. But about 5,000 of them immigrated to Israel at the start of the 90s, and 1,500 of them still live here. Unfortunately, the liquidators are elderly and suffer from ill health. Unsurprisingly, those facts are less interesting than the painful memories from those terrible days: the friends who died, the hair that fell out, the diseases that spread.

I came into contact with this unique group of people four years ago in the course of the election campaign for the twentieth Knesset. The head of the association of Chernobyl liquidators here, Alexander Kalantirsky, got in touch with me before I was elected, and asked for my help. When we started talking, it emerged that he had studied construction engineering together with my mother at the same university in Moscow.

Alex Kalantirsky (R) during a demonstration of Chernobyl liquidators at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (Ksenia Svetlova)

Kalantirsky was in his 40s, married and with children, when he was sent to Chernobyl to work on the construction of the sarcophagus.

Did he know what was waiting for him there, and that his health would be irreparably harmed? Absolutely. But at no point did he contemplate evading this mission.

“We knew that if the radiation continued to spread, not only would Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia be hit, but all of Europe, including the Mediterranean basin. That was all we were thinking about. We hoped we would be able to neutralize that immense danger,” he told me in our first discussion.

A concrete and steel sarcophagus that seals the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s No. 4 reactor is seen in this picture from December 8, 1999, in Ukraine’s Chernobyl. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The rights of the Chernobyl disaster liquidators are anchored in several international treaties to which Israel is not a signatory. Nonetheless, when the liquidators immigrated to Israel, they asked for the assistance that would enable them to deal with their illnesses and other needs.

And indeed in 2001, the late Knesset member Yuri Stern initiated legislation that recognized the liquidators’ work and gave them a unique status. The law specifies their right to public housing, to a one-time grant and to treatment in a special medical facility to be set up for this purpose.

An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, is seen in April 1986, two to three days after the explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine. In front of the chimney is the destroyed 4th reactor. (AP Photo)

Since the passage of the law 18 years ago, however, the state has not implemented it and has not allocated the funding to implement it. In the four years that I served as a Knesset member, I sought answers from the government ministries responsible for this failure. Some of their responses were quite fascinating.

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and the Construction and Housing Ministry, for example, completely ignored the liquidators. The insurance companies refuse to insure the liquidators, because of the high level of illness to which they were exposed, but an effort to involve the Treasury in this issue was thwarted, with the explanation that the Treasury has no right to require private companies to insure or not insure an individual.

Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But the most outrageous response of all was from Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who told me that “research does not prove that the Chernobyl disaster liquidators suffer from illnesses as a consequence of their work at the reactor. Most of them are smokers and it is possible that cancer in their cases is a consequence of that smoking.”

Once that contemptuous and offensive response was received, the path to a petition to the High Court of Justice was plainly open, since the 2001 legislation had instructed the government ministries to set up a medical facility to treat the Chernobyl liquidators. A petition was submitted by attorney Gilad Sher, who has been working for years on their behalf.

A doctor examines a boy who was evacuated from near the Chernobyl disaster area to Artek, June 14, 1986. (AP Photo)

At a hearing on December 17, 2018, the High Court accepted most of the liquidators’ key demands. The court made clear that the state had no right not to provide the liquidators with all their rights via a pretext that their medical situation was unclear.

The state was given 120 days to rectify the situation. But then the election campaign, and now the second election campaign, have frozen the work of the government and the Knesset, and nothing has moved.

Children from Chernobyl come to Israel for medical treatment in 1990 (Natan Alpert / GPO)

Very few reporters have taken an interest in this saga and the dire situation of the liquidators here. Among those who have focused on the story at all, most have concentrated on the awful details of what happened 33 years ago and interviewed these elderly, ailing people about that. For most of the liquidators, this is a profoundly traumatic experience.

And now came the remarkable “Chernobyl” historical drama.

Poster for Chernobyl, the 2019 miniseries

Says Kalantirsky: “This series returned me to the nightmare. The more I talk about my experiences there, the sicker I get.”

He and his friends, he says, do not understand why interviewers ignore their tales from the last three decades in Israel — the relentless battle they have been waging against government ministries who try to fob off responsibility from one ministry to another, and their dire financial situation.

“It’s been 18 years since Yuri Stern’s law passed. How many more years will it be before they start taking care of our issue?” asks Kalantirsky, a wise, intelligent, clearheaded man.

He has been amazed by the number of requests he has received for comments from the media, and disappointed by the superficiality of the questions.

“I have no problem talking about what happened at Chernobyl, even though it’s not easy for me,” he told me recently. “I watched the series. It was staggeringly accurate, apart for a few minor details. But it’s vital for me that it is not only the story of what happened then that is heard, but also our cry today.”

Workers who constructed the cement sarcophagus covering Chernobyl’s reactor four, pose with a poster reading: “We will fulfill the government’s order!” in summer of 1986 next to the uncompleted construction.(AP Photo/ Volodymyr Repik)

In contrast to the characters in the TV series, the Chernobyl disaster liquidators are real people, flesh and blood.

I can only hope that the renewed interest in the greatest ecological disaster of the twentieth century will eventually lead the media to focus not only on the horror stories of the two-headed chickens and the prematurely lost teeth, but also on the actual lives of 1,500 Israelis who live here.

Chernobyl ‘liquidators’ testify at a Knesset committee meeting (Ksenia Svetlova)

As their right, and not as an act of pity of charity, they require and deserve our practical help with homes and medical treatment. This is the least we should be doing for them, and it is scandalously long overdue.

The writer was a Zionist Union member of Knesset in 2015-19.

This article originally appeared in Hebrew on Zman Yisrael, ToI’s Hebrew site

Israeli Parliament Schedules Unprecedented Early Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Israeli Parliament Schedules Unprecedented Early Elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Voters in Israel will go the polls for the second time this year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline to form a coalition government.

The Israeli parliament, prompted by Netanyahu, has voted to hold new elections Sept. 17. The move comes after elections were just held in April and appeared to give Netanyahu a fourth consecutive term in office.

The Knesset voted 74-45, on a bill sponsored by Netanyahu’s Likud party, to dissolve itself and call for new elections.

Had Netanyahu not prompted the call for new elections, Israel’s ceremonial president could have chosen someone else to try to form a government.

The call for new elections is a surprising turn of events for Netanyahu who is widely considered Israel’s most powerful politician.

As NPR’s Daniel Estrin reported on All Things Considered, it is unprecedented to have new balloting scheduled just a month after the previous elections.

Estrin said there were two sticking points keeping Netanyahu from forming a majority government:

“The official reason given was that former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had very high conditions. He demanded a mandatory military draft for Orthodox Jews and ultra-orthodox parties refused that.

“But the bigger picture here is that Netanyahu is facing legal troubles. That is his chief concern. And by the end of this year he is going to be facing likely corruption charges. So he had been trying to build a coalition that would grant him immunity from prosecution while he’s in office. So things got complicated because he was trying to weave in his immunity into the deals he was trying to make with these parties.”

Estrin also reported that the new elections could delay the political components of a peace plan, such as borders and the issue of a Palestinian state, that is being fashioned in the White House by President Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu is months away from being Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, having held the job for one term in the 1990s and for the last decade.

Israel: 21st Knesset Set To Be Sworn In With Largest Freshman Crop

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

21st Knesset set to be sworn in with largest freshmen crop

120 lawmakers will pledge allegiance to the State of Israel and promise to fulfill their obligations as MKs

Idit Silman of Union of Right-Wing Parties holds a certificate congratulating her on her election to the 21st Knesset, April 30, 2019 (Courtesy of the Knesset)

Idit Silman of Union of Right-Wing Parties holds a certificate congratulating her on her election to the 21st Knesset, April 30, 2019 (Courtesy of the Knesset)

Israel’s parliament opened its doors Tuesday morning to the 120 Knesset members elected in this month’s elections who were set to be sworn into office later in the day in the new legislature’s official opening.

The crop of a record 49 new MKs includes a number of former IDF major generals and two former army chiefs of staff, a smattering of local politicians and activists, a former director of the Israel Diamond Exchange, and a vegan environmental activists who has vowed not to sit on her Knesset seat until the leather upholstery is replaced.

Upon entering the Knesset on Tuesday, the MKs new and old were each presented with a certificate congratulating them on their election to parliament and a blue and white rosette in the state’s colors (not related to a particular party named for these colors) to be worn on their lapels throughout the ceremony.

The official ceremonies will begin Tuesday at 3 p.m. when President Reuven Rivlin makes his entrance to the Knesset grounds, accompanied by an honor guard on horseback and the IDF military band. The president will place a wreath on the Knesset’s monument for fallen soldiers before meeting privately with the incumbent and likely-to-be-reelected Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. The two will then lead the 120 MKs to the Knesset plenum for their first official session.

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman receives certificate congratulating him on his election to the 21st Knesset, April 30, 2019 (Courtesy of the Knesset)

After an address by Rivlin and Edelstein, the MKs will each swear allegiance to the State of Israel, and to honorably carry out their duties as member of the Knesset. The parliamentarians, including the 49 rookies, will rise one after the other and declare, “I so commit!”

Nearly half of the freshman class hail from Benny Gantz’s greenhorn Blue and White party, only 11 of whose 35 incoming MKs served in the previous Knesset (all as Yesh Atid MKs). The situation is almost exactly reversed for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which sees 12 new lawmakers out of 36.

Amid the high turnover, 13 new female MKs are entering the Knesset, contributing to a matched-record high of 2015’s 29 total women, a noteworthy number considering the fact that the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are ideologically opposed to women serving as lawmakers and therefore have none in their combined tally of 16 seats. The number however, falls short of the 36 women in the outgoing Knesset. (Seven female lawmakers entered as replacements during the four-year life of the 20th Knesset.)

Knesset workers prepare the plenary for the opening of the 21st Knesset, April 29, 2019. (Noam Moscowitz/Knesset)

More than 1,000 people are set to attend the ceremony, most in the glass-enclosed public gallery. Among the invited guests are Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the two chief rabbis, the heads of the Shin Bet and the Mossad, and foreign diplomats.

On the plenary floor, the MKs will be sitting according to their parties’ post-election blocs and relative strength. The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism are now both sitting on the main coalition benches to the right of the hall, having each won eight seats and, subsequently, an upgrade from the seating at the back shared by coalition and opposition MKs. Their old seats will now be filled by the depleted Labor delegation — down from 24 seats to its worst-ever election result of just six, and thus demoted from the frontline opposition benches.

As well as the new and reelected MKs, all members of the current transitional government, made up of the same ministers as the 34th government, are invited and expected to sit in the plenary, even if they are no longer Knesset members. The ceremony may well therefore be the last high-profile public event for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the failed New Right party, at least for the foreseeable future.

While the seats may be coveted, one incoming MK may refuse to so much as take hers.

In a letter to Edelstein on Tuesday, Blue and White’s Miki Haimovich, an environmental activist and a vegan, articulated her moral objections to the meat industry and requested that the leather chair she is set to occupy be switched.

New Knesset members from the Blue and White pose in their newly-allocated Knesset plenary seats, April 29, 2019. At right is Miki Haimovich. (Noam Moscowitz/Knesset)

“The thought of sitting all the hours I would be in the Knesset plenum on such a chair is insufferable,” Haimovich wrote. “In the future it might be worthy in principle to consider switching all the seats in the Knesset plenum to those that are not made from the skin of animals.”

A Knesset source, noting similar past requests, said it was unlikely that the chair would be reupholstered.

In any case, Haimovitch will likely stand during the Hatikva national anthem — often boycotted by the Arab Israeli MKs — which will close the proceedings.

Following the ceremony, the party heads will meet to toast the new Knesset and have their pictures taken. At the same time, in the plenary, the rest of the MKs, who are set to officially elect Edelstein to his third term as Knesset speaker and begin the process of officially opening the parliament’s committees, will get to work.

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Israel: The People Have Spoken. They Want To Live In Netanyahu’s Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The people have spoken. They want to live in Netanyahu’s Israel

Israelis were not under-informed or unfairly swayed. They knew what they’d get with a 5th term of Netanyahu. The result was the highest vote ever for right & ultra-Orthodox parties

David Horovitz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at a victory event after polls for general elections closed in Tel Aviv,, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at a victory event after polls for general elections closed in Tel Aviv,, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The people have spoken. And a week after the elections, with the president now in the midst of consultations with our newly elected politicians ahead of the formation of our next government, it’s worth taking a closer look at what the people actually said.

They knew that Benjamin Netanyahu was facing criminal charges in three cases, unless he could persuade the attorney general of his innocence. They knew that he had castigated the opposition, the media, the cops and the state prosecutors for purportedly seeking to frame him as part of a political vendetta to oust him. They knew that, if re elected, he might try to use existing or new legislation to avoid being prosecuted, and would likely seek to stay on as prime minister even if he were to be prosecuted. And that, if reelected, he would make the case that the public had given him a mandate to offset the state prosecutors’ recommendations that he be put on trial.

They knew. And 26.45% of the voting Israeli public chose Likud — a vast number, by Israeli standards, 1,139,079 out of the 4,306,520 legitimate ballots cast nationwide.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

They knew that they had a clear alternative to four more years of a Netanyahu-led Israel, embodied in a party led by three former IDF chiefs of staff — an unprecedented assemblage of security expertise, in a country where security concerns always figure at the very top of voting considerations. They saw Netanyahu portray that party, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, as a group of weak leftists. Even though it included Netanyahu’s own former Likud defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, whose public positions are more hawkish than those of Netanyahu, and even though Netanyahu in 2013 extended Gantz’s term as IDF chief by an additional year in the most overt illustration possible of the confidence he then had in Gantz’s security leadership capabilities.

Members of the Blue White political party Benny Gantz (second left), Moshe Yaalon (right), Gabi Ashkenazi (left) and Yair Lapid hold a press conference at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 10, 2019, a day after the elections. (Flash90)

They watched Netanyahu’s Likud depict Gantz as mentally unstable. They watched Netanyahu attempt to make political capital out of a bizarre saga involving the reported Iranian hacking of Gantz’s phone — a saga in which Gantz and his colleagues did not provide a clear-cut explanation of what had gone on. They watched Gantz veer between an attempted statesmanlike, high-ground approach to beating Netanyahu and a lower-ground trading of insults and accusations.

They watched Netanyahu broker a deal that legitimized the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party as part of a new Union of Right-Wing Parties that would partner Netanyahu in any new Likud-led coalition. They watched URWP’s Bezalel Smotrich declare he’d set his heart on becoming minister of education. They watched the New Right’s Ayelet Shaked vow to curb the power of the Supreme Court if she continued as justice minister.

They watched. And they made their choice. Very few voters from the right of the political spectrum threw their support behind Gantz and the other generals. While Blue and White also topped the million-vote count — 1,124,805 — much of its support came from the center and the now decimated Labor, and that wasn’t enough to thwart Netanyahu’s fifth election victory.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

They recognized other likely and possible implications of another Netanyahu victory. He’d vowed in the final days of the campaign to extend Israeli sovereignty to all West Bank settlements — a move that, if realized, would have major consequences for what was once called the peace process. It was clear his most reliable coalition partners would be the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism — on whose behalf he reluctantly froze the Western Wall compromise deal, and whose key agenda items include making Israel more Shabbat-observant and minimizing the number of young ultra-Orthodox males required to share the rights and responsibilities of military and national service.

Self-evidently, enough Israeli voters either share this agenda or are not deterred by it. Enough to hand Netanyahu another term.

The people have spoken.

Residents of the Gaza envelope communities of southern Israel have for years complained about Netanyahu’s policies in dealing with Hamas. They have protested that the government has turned them into rocket fodder. Sderot, the most rocket-battered city of all, voted 43.52% for Netanyahu’s Likud. (The next most popular party was Yisrael Beytenu at 10.14%.) To the east of Gaza, Netivot voted 32.46% Likud (second only to 33.35% Shas.) Ashkelon, to the north, voted 42.61% Likud (followed by Blue and White at 15.62%). By contrast, kibbutzim and moshavim in the Gaza periphery area generally voted overwhelmingly for Blue and White.

The people have spoken.

Early on election day, reports started circulating about Likud-paid activists bringing hidden cameras into polling stations in Arab areas. Some of those involved have since acknowledged that they were indeed acting on behalf of Likud; a PR agency has claimed responsibility, saying it was hired by Likud; the Likud party’s lawyer, on the day, claimed the operation was open and legal, and necessary to ensure the “integrity” of the vote in districts ostensibly prone to voter fraud; Netanyahu himself championed the use of public cameras for the same purpose. (Needless to say, the Central Elections Committee has its own, nonpartisan procedures for preventing election fraud.) In fact, ruled the judge overseeing the elections, the deployment of the cameras was illicit; the equipment was ordered removed.

Israel’s voters watched and read about all these developments in real time.

Some analysts have suggested that the camera gambit depressed Arab turnout — it’s not comfortable showing up to do your democratic duty, as members of a minority that was traduced by the prime minister on the previous election day, when you hear on the news that you’re going to be filmed in the process by his supporters. Arab turnout does appear to have been down last week (an estimated 52%) as compared to 2015 (an estimated 63.7%). And while the Joint (Arab) List won 13 seats in the last Knesset, its constituent parties, now running in two separate lists, managed only 10 this time.

But if the camera ploy worked to Netanyahu’s advantage, possibly costing his political rivals a seat or three, and maybe boosting support for a Likud seen to be taking on the Arabs, there was a more dramatic arithmetical factor on the right-hand side of the spectrum that worked against him. Between Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right (138,491 votes, or 3.22% of the national total) and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut (117,670 votes; 2.73% of the national total), a staggering 6% of right-wing votes went down the drain — a potential six or seven more Knesset seats for a Netanyahu-led coalition. And yet Netanyahu still has a clear, if complex, path (involving reconciling the ultra-Orthodox parties with the fiercely secular Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu) to a 65-strong coalition.

Over 57% of counted votes went to right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties (Likud; Shas; UTJ; Yisrael Beytenu; United Right-Wing Parties; Kulanu; The New Right; Zehut, and Gesher). This is the highest proportion in Israeli history. Only 34% went to centrist and left of center Zionist parties (Blue and White, Labor and Meretz).

The two ultra-Orthodox parties, it is worth noting, had repeatedly stressed in the run-up to polling day that they would only consider joining a Netanyahu-led coalition. Even when the polls closed and for a brief moment Gantz was claiming victory on the basis of a predictably inaccurate exit poll, UTJ rushed to say that it would go into the opposition with Netanyahu rather than partner with Gantz.

Menachem Begin, center, speaks to supporters at his party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on May 18, 1977, as they celebrate the Likud Bloc’s election to government after 29 years of Israeli Labor Party rule. (AP Photo)

By way of comparison, the 2015 elections saw over 56% voting for right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties (Likud, Kulanu, Jewish Home, Shas, Yisrael Beytenu and Yachad). In 2013, the comparable figure was 48% (Likud, Jewish Home, Shas, UTJ, Otzma LeYisrael). In 2009, it was 54% (Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, UTJ, National Union and Jewish Home).

Going way back to 1977, when Menachem Begin’s Likud first won power, the comparable proportion was about 53% — and that’s including the then-relatively centrist National Religious Party, which had partnered with Labor-led governments for the past three decades.

The people have spoken.

Were some worried by Gantz’s warnings that Netanyahu is turning Israel into Turkey — becoming our un-oustable leader, gradually marginalizing opposition, taking control of ever more of the media, bending the cops and the prosecutors and the courts to his will? Doubtless, many were. But not enough to unseat him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a voting slip for his Likud party in a video filmed at a beach in Netanya on election day, April 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The people saw Gantz caught by a camera in his car, toward the end of election day, looking exhausted. They saw Netanyahu, sweating in his suit on the beach at Netanya, imploring potential supporters to get out of the sea and vote Likud.

The people saw everything, internalized what they chose to internalize, and made their decision. No nefarious forces, as far as we know, skewed these elections. The public was not under-informed; nor was it disaffected. The turnout was a healthy 67.9% (compared to 61.4% in the 2016 US presidential elections, or 66.1% in 2015’s British parliamentary elections).

The people want to live in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel.

The people have spoken. Not all the people. But more than enough of them.

Israelis’ choice. Israelis’ consequences.

Note: Figures cited in this piece for the 2019 elections are from the completed-count totals announced by the Central Elections Committee at midnight on April 11; the totals have fluctuated slightly since then, and are to be made official on April 16.

Updated exit polls show Netanyahu headed for election victory

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Updated exit polls show Netanyahu headed for election victory

Channel 12 and Channel 13 update their exit polls as the official ballots are counted.

Both networks’ revised samples now indicate Netanyahu’s Likud will win 35 seats, compared to Blue and White’s 34, and can muster a coalition majority with ultra-Orthodox and right-wing parties.

The Channel 12 survey previously predicted 37 seats for Blue and White and 33 for Likud; Channel 13 had the two parties tied at 36.

Both exit polls now indicate that Shas would be the third-largest party with eight seats, followed by United Torah Judaism with 7. According to the TV stations, the New Right, Zehut and Gesher will fall under the electoral threshold.

In its breakdown of the political blocs, Channel 12 gives 63 of the 120 Knesset seats to the right, compared to 57 for the center-left, giving Netanyahu a clear path to forming a government. According to Channel 13, the right-wing bloc would receive 65 seats, compared to 55 for the center-left.

Israel’s Government Collapses Amid Corruption Charges and Trump’s Mideast Chaos

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE BEAST’ NEWS)

 

Israel’s Government Collapses Amid Corruption Charges and Trump’s Mideast Chaos

The specific issue that brought down Bibi’s government was subsidies for ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers. Still, he thinks he’ll win at the polls again in April.

Amir Cohen/Reuters

JERUSALEM — In the most expected surprise declaration of 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the dissolution of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and elections to be held in early April.

The move comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump roiled the region with the startling announcement he was immediately withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, and as his long-anticipated plan to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians appears to be have shriveled.

A 2019 electoral campaign was inevitable, in fact. Netanyahu’s four-year mandate runs out in November 2019, but Monday’s unforeseen move became inescapable when Netanyahu was unable to muster the necessary votes to pass a popular law levying heavier fines against orthodox Jewish seminary students who dodge Israel’s otherwise universal draft of 18-years-olds on religious grounds.

Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition members opposed the law, and two opposition parties that had initially hinted at support withdrew it due to fears Netanyahu and his religious political partners had cut a secret deal providing financial compensation to counterbalance fines imposed on draft dodgers.

Elections have been in the air since Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation last month, which left the survival of Netanyahu’s coalition hanging by a single Knesset vote.

Lieberman has since taunted Netanyahu for his “government for survival,” but the prime minister remains the most popular leader in Israel’s rambunctious multi-part political process.

The next three months will see Bibi, as Netanyahu is widely known, confront unprecedented tests, none more challenging than his own precarious legal predicament.

Following police and state attorney recommendations that he be indicted on several corruption charges, senior Israeli jurists say his prosecution appears inevitable.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, an essential partner in any future Netanyahu government, restated on Monday that no minister, and no prime minister, can continue to serve if indicted.

Israel’s Justice Ministry issued a rare statement reassuring the public that its work in sifting through the legal recommendations will continue “as usual” despite the announcement of elections.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a Netanyahu appointee who will make the final determination, said at a conference last week that Israeli law has not yet had to decide whether a sitting prime minister may remain in office if facing legal prosecution.

In recent years, both a president and a prime minister resigned when facing almost certain indictment,. Both eventually served time in prison.

Speaking to a quickly assembled meeting of his parliamentary faction, and ignoring the legal drama, Netanyahu forecast victory in the April vote and said the coalition he currently leads—the most right-wing in Israeli history and one of the most volatile— is “the seed” for his future government.

Listing his administration’s achievements, Netanyahu ignored instability in the financial markets that saw the Tel Aviv stock exchange lose more than 5 percent of its value since U.S. President Donald Trump’s startling decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, where they have provided crucial support for Israeli efforts to contain and halt Iranian entrenchment.

Lauding his government’s “four full years of achievements,” Netanyahu praised Israel as “a growing power, with flourishing diplomatic ties” with continental powerhouse nations such as India, Brazil and Australia, far from Israel’s historic allies.

After extolling ties with “west and east Europe, and central Europe, and Latin America,” Netanyahu extolled Israel’s alliance “with the United States that has never been stronger, with the historic decision made by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy to Jerusalem.”

“Israel has the eighth most powerful military on earth,” he boasted to his followers. “It is hard to believe, Israel is not a large country, but serious institutions rank us that high.”

Outcry as top minister calls largest-ever daily Hamas rocket onslaught ‘minor’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Outcry as top minister calls largest-ever daily Hamas rocket onslaught ‘minor’

Netanyahu condemns remarks by Tzachi Hanegbi, who said it would have been ‘a different story’ had Gaza terrorist groups fired rockets at Tel Aviv, not just at southern towns

Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi at a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Knesset. November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi at a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Knesset. November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Senior Likud cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi on Thursday drew widespread condemnation, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for calling the barrage of rockets fired at Israel earlier this week “minor” and “measured” because the Gaza terrorist groups did not target Tel Aviv.

The Hamas rocket fire was minor, and mostly concentrated around the southern Israeli Gaza-adjacent area, Hanegbi told Army Radio in an interview Thursday morning. While the suffering of Israelis in the areas close to Gaza was “a nightmare” and “not negligible,” he said, had Hamas fired at Tel Aviv or Ben Gurion Airport, it would have been a different story.

According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel on Monday and Tuesday — more than twice the rate at which they were launched during the 2014 war. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside southern Israeli cities and towns, killing a Palestinian man in Ashkelon, injuring dozens, and causing significant property damage.

The flare up was triggered by an Israeli raid into Gaza that went awry on Sunday, and set off clashes resulting in the deaths of seven Palestinian fighters, including a local Hamas commander, and a senior Israeli military officer.

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

Israel and Hamas have since reached an informal ceasefire agreement to end the fighting. The truce prompted Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to resign on Wednesday and has drawn criticism from some residents of southern Israel who accuse the government of being soft on Hamas.

Netanyahu swiftly condemned Hanegbi’s characterization on Thursday, saying: “Hamas’s aggression is not ‘minor’ and there is no distinction between Hamas fire against the residents of the south and fire against any other area of the State of Israel.”

In the Tuesday security cabinet meeting that led to the informal ceasefire, Hanegbi said in the interview, “we all thought it was right to put an end to the violence from Gaza.” Liberman advocated “a harsh blow” and the other option was “to see if a [ceasefire] arrangement was possible. We’re testing that second option now.”

Liberman’s suggested harsh blow, Hanegbi said, “would mean entering a lengthy operation during which Tel Aviv would be paralyzed by hundreds of rockets daily, for days or weeks, if not longer.” Israel, he said, would have no way to stop that “except by sending our soldiers to every hole in Gaza.” The airport, he added, would also be “paralyzed for weeks, with all the implications for the economy and tourism.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee alongside the committee’s then chairman, MK Tzach Hanegbi, on October 26, 2015 (Knesset spokesman)

But there are no wars without a price, challenged his interviewer. Hanegbi responded: “That’s the issue. At the end of that operation [proposed by Liberman], with hundreds of funerals of young Israeli soldiers, we’d be back in the same place where we are now.”

He said most ministers shared the view of the entire security establishment, and of the prime minister, that now was not the appropriate moment for a major operation, when the same result could be achieved at a low price.

He derided those who, he said, had been talking of this week’s flareup “as though it was almost the Yom Kippur War,” and then detailed his view of how the escalation unfolded:

“We initiated a [special forces] operation deep inside [Gaza on Sunday evening]. This was apparently in contravention of the agreed truce [hitherto in force with Hamas]. We believed it was a vital operation. It went awry. To extricate our forces [one of whom was killed], we killed seven terrorists.”

Explaining the Hamas rocket response, he continued: “It wasn’t that Hamas acted without a pretext. It had a pretext — to try to exact revenge. Its revenge was minor. In all, it managed, with 400 rockets, to kill one Palestinian.”

Those rockets, he acknowledged, “are a nightmare for the residents of the south.” But practically, he went on, “270 of them fell in the Gaza area.”

When it was put to him that one rocket fell on an empty kindergarten, Hanegbi replied: “The empty kindergarten — that’s always talked about. But those 500 coffins — of the Israeli youths that would come back if we sent them into [Gaza’s] Jabalaya [refugee camp] — would not be empty.”

Urged Hanegbi: “Let’s keep a sense of proportion… We had no interest in now being drawn into a wider operation… The Gaza [border] area [in southern Israel] is not negligible, but there’s a difference between that and Tel Aviv and the airport.”

Hanegbi also said he was “amazed,” in a good way, by a Hadashot TV news survey on Wednesday night that showed 74% of respondents were not satisfied with Netanyahu’s handling of the escalation and that the Likud would win 29 seats (from its current 30) if elections were held today. “In light of the anger” so widespread in the country after Israel and Hamas agreed to halt their fire, seeing the Likud down by merely one seat,  he said, was “as surprise… for the better.”

An Israeli woman inspects the damage in an apartment that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon on November 12, 2018. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Hanegbi’s remarks, seen as an effort to shelter Netanyahu from growing criticism over his handling of the two days of heavy fighting in Gaza, were quickly condemned by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Fellow Likud Minister Miri Regev tweeted that Hanegbi’s remarks were “inappropriate,” although she also indicated that she opposed Netanyahu’s decision to accept a ceasefire.

“Tzachi, my friend, you are wrong and your statement is inappropriate. Gaza-adjacent areas and Tel Aviv are the same,” she said. “Rocket fire endangering the safety and security of Israeli citizens must be met with an equally harsh response.”

Opposition leaders also slammed Hanegbi, with Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay accusing the Netanyahu government of discriminating against its own citizens.

Missiles from the Iron Dome air defense system in the south of Israel destroy incoming missiles above Ashkelon fired from the Gaza Strip on November 13, 2018. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP)

“According to Hanegbi, residents of Tel Aviv are off-limits, but the southern residents are fair game,” Gabbay said in a statement. “A government with no values that distinguishes between its citizens needs to go home.”

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid called Hanegbi’s distinction a “moral outrage.”

“It’s a moral outrage and a disgrace to security,” Lapid tweeted. “Gaza-area residents may be boring to Netanyahu, bu they are citizens and they deserve to be protected from rockets.”

In the radio interview, Hanegbi also weighed in on Liberman’s abrupt resignation in protest of Netanyahu’s decision to accept an Egypt-brokered ceasefire that brought an end to the violence.

He slammed fellow minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett for threatening to withdraw from the coalition unless he was given the defense portfolio in the wake of Liberman’s departure.

“Being appointed a senior position by issuing a violent dictate to the prime minister goes against the concept of a coalition partnership,” he said.

A house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on November 13, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Hangebi said that while he believed himself to be “more suitable for the job than others,” Netanyahu would most likely keep the defense portfolio for himself.

“From what I know about the prime minister, he does not like to give up [control],” he told the radio station.

Earlier on Thursday, Liberman officially tendered his resignation, and was holding his final meetings at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv. Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is also quitting Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving the premier with only a two-seat advantage over the opposition in parliament and throwing his government into turmoil.

A Likud official said Wednesday Netanyahu would take charge of Liberman’s portfolio at least temporarily, and said the prime minister had begun consultations with heads of parties in order to stabilize his coalition.

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So: There Is A $3 Million Bounty Put On Your Child’s Head, Now What?

(I GOT THE IDEA FOR THIS ARTICLE FROM A ‘TIMES OF ISRAEL’ ARTICLE THAT WAS WRITTEN/PUBLISHED ON JULY 3rd, 2018. YET THE COMMENTARY ON THEIR ARTICLE IS FROM MY OWN THOUGHTS, OLDPOET56)

In Israel on July 2nd of 2018 the Knesset voted a new law into place that the Palestinian Government does not like. This law was voted into effect by a vote of 87 to 15. This law says that If the PA does not quit paying their people to kill Israeli citizens as well as others in Israel like tourists that the Israeli government will withhold the amount the PA pays to these murderers and their families from the yearly tax revenue Israel pays to the PA. The spokesman for the PA Mr. Nabil Rudeineh stated yesterday (July 3rd, 2018) that this new law crosses a “Red Line” and that it amounted to a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”

 

In 2017 the PA paid $198 Million to so called ‘Martyrs’ families and $160 Million to the ‘Palestinian Prisoner’s Club.’ This $358 Million is equal to about %7 of the PA’s total budget of $5.1 Billion. I would like for you to think about these numbers for a moment as quite honestly, they shocked me that they were so high. The following is a small breakdown of these larger numbers. A Palestinian prisoner who is serving a 20-30 year sentence for a terrorist crime receives $2,772 per month, for life, this breaks down to over $600.00 per week. Those serving a 3-5 year sentence receive $554.00 per month for life, this would equal a little over $125.00 per week. This moral sickness gets even worse, if the prisoner is married, has children, lives in Jerusalem, or holds an Israeli citizenship, they receive even more payments. Reality is that some Palestinian prisoners who have killed Israeli citizens will be paid about $2.8 Million in their lifetime. The PA government is a physical and moral disaster yet they are not quite has inept and as evil as Hamas who rules the Gaza Strip, that shows people just how horrible Hamas is at taking care of their own citizens. Think about it, last year the government of the PA paid out $358 Million to people who murdered Israeli citizens and visitors to Israel. What good could the PA government have done with that $358 Million? Could that money have built maybe 3 or 4 hospitals or maybe 20 medical clinics. How about if they had put that money into their electrical grid, paved more roads, improved sanitation or used to improve their food supply?

 

Think about this reality for a moment, if you were to decide to visit Israel on a business trip or as a tourist, you have a $2-3 Million dollar price on your head. If you visit Israel with your family and a Palestinian murderers your wife/husband, your 5 year old daughter or your 1 month old son they will receive more income from the PA government for those murders than they could ever make working in the West Bank or Gaza Strip in their whole lifetime. These payment numbers go even higher if a Palestinian is able to kill an Israeli soldier. Think what the payment would be if they were able to kill a member of the Knesset, or a member of the PM Cabinet? Better yet, I wonder what the price is that the PA government has put on the head of Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu or for the head of President Trump or one of his family members?

 

My response to the PA government is that they have already declared war on Israel and it is because it is they who crossed the Red Line of moral decency when they put a bounty on the head of every man, woman and child in Israel. Reality also is that the PA has declared war on every visitor of every country in the world. The PA is just like Hamas in the reality that as working governments they are totally worthless and that they both are more interested in murdering civilians than they are in building an infrastructure for their own people within their own borders. In Palestine there could have been a peaceful two State solution many years ago if the PA and Hamas had wanted it to be so. Instead they have chosen to commit, to train and to bankroll murderers. Now I ask you, just how in the hell do you have peace talks with people whose first goal in life is to murder you and your family or to pay someone to do it for them?

 

My Views On How ‘To Fix’ Israel’s ‘Broken’ Political System

 

For those of you who do not know me, I am a 60-year-old white American man who is a fundamentalist Christian who is also a huge fan of the Nation of Israel. I am a person who is not an anti-Muslim or anti-Persian. Even though I do believe that the Jewish people are missing the reality that Yeshua (Jesus The Christ) and Yahweh (Jehovah The Father) I have no doubts about Israel and the Hebrew bloodline being very special to God The Father and The Son. The Christian faith is born out of the Jewish faith and the Arab people are descendants of the Father of Israel, Abraham through his son Ishmael. Whether it is a Nation, a people, or a singular person, it is a great sin to fight against the Nation of Israel. It is an old saying and a truthful one that I have heard several times throughout the years that the Palestinian people would have peace any time they decide they actually want it by simply laying down their arms and quit fighting against Israel. It is also a true saying that if Israel was to lay down their arms, there would be no Israel. The majority of Israel’s politics is based around the security issues of its people and of the State from attacks by people who believe that Allah is God. Think about it, who else is attacking Israel?

 

This article tonight is one I thought of as I was reading the Times of Israel News Paper online. The names and the math figures are ones that I gleaned off of those articles so hopefully they were correct. As I said earlier, the single biggest issue in Israeli politics seems to always be about security issues. Within any government there is always many other issues that the leadership is responsible to make sure are addressed and taken care of for their people. There is always the issues of jobs, housing, power grids, transportation, garbage pickup and disposal and the list goes on and on. If the Leaders of a Nation or of a group of people are channeling their time into one issue like lets say President Putin is doing with Russia’s military, the people of your own Country suffers. For any Nation, any People to flourish the Leaders need to address the issues that affect the daily lives of their population. Just look at the situation in the Gaza Strip with Hamas as their ‘Governors’! The people of the Strip could have their own Country and be living in peace but Hamas will not allow it. They spend the majority of their income on military issues in their ‘struggle’ with Israel yet it is a ‘struggle’ that they themselves create.

 

In Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, you have some members who would build a very high wall to block off all of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and I am sure that there are some who would take all of this land they were given in the Land for Peace deal of  2005 if they were allowed to by Israeli law. The only way for that to happen is if these ‘hard lines’ can gain political control of Israel’s Government and elections are the only way to do this. There are other issues that would have to get involved in their Democracy like Israel’s Court system as well as considerations of U.N. sanctions and the such. In the Knesset Isaac Herzog who is the leader of the ‘Zionist Union Party’ (which is the second largest party as far as members of the Knesset) spoke yesterday of his opposition to Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu perceived plan to partition off the West Bank or at least big sections of it as being a mistake because of the issue that in doing so would bring in millions of Arab voters thus giving them more control of Israel’s political system. You need to remember that there are Arab Islamic believing members of the Knesset, if Israel partitions off the West Bank, there will become many more Islamic believing members of the Knesset.

 

The Chairman of the Likud Party, which is the Party of the Prime Minister, Mr. David Bitan said that he would like it if Israel’s Arab population were not allowed to vote. This brought many critical comments toward him because he said this but his response, in my opinion, was appropriate. Think about this for a moment before you judge him. He said that any political party would like it if their competition were not allowed to vote. Don’t you think that Hillary Clinton would have liked it if no Republicans had been allowed to vote last month in the U.S. elections? Was what Mr. Bitan said actually racist? I don’t know, I don’t know this man’s heart, do you? If you do, you may have a more informed opinion.

 

Before I make a book out of this article via giving too much time to the ‘set up’ material I am now going to address the political operation of the Knesset and the election of their Prime Minister’s position. Yesterday the Leader of the Yair Lapid Party Mr. Yesh Atid was calling for early Elections in an attempt to over through the current Government led by the Prime Minister’s Likud Party. Mr. Atid was using a recent poll showing that He and his Party were even with the Prime Minister’s Party in the poll. The next National election is scheduled for November 5th of 2019. In the Knesset for a Bill to pass it must get a majority of the votes which is a minimum of 61. Israel’s Governments require a Ruling Coalition to have at least 61 Seats. This gives very small political parties a large amount of power if they are part of the Ruling Party Coalition. As an example, the ruling Likud Party  currently has 67 Seats through their Coalition. In this coalition you have the Jewish Home Party with 8 Seats and the Kulana Party with 10 Seats. Under the current political setup if either one of these Parties decided to leave the Coalition, the Government of Prime Minister Netanyahu would fall and a new election would have to quickly be set up, the November 5th of 2019 date would mean nothing.

 

Here is my suggestion that I wish Israel would consider because the people of any Nation need to know that their Government is secure so that the people themselves can make long-term decisions in their own lives. Here in the U.S. we the people know that our next Presidential election will be in November of 2020, it is set every 4 years, no matter what. I believe that for the Nation of Israel the people would be better served if the next elections aren’t held until the scheduled date in 2019. From that election forward I believe a better system would be that they keep the 61 votes for the purpose of passing any Bill’s yet drop the 61 Seat requirement for the Ruling Party. Hold your election in November of 2019 and if no Party gets above the 50% level (61 Seats) then have another election about 3 days later where only the top 2 vote getter are on the ballot. This election must be by the people, not the Politicians doing backroom deals. Then the Party who gets the most votes of the 2, wins. But, before the elections each Party must put forth who their Leader is so that the people decide whom they want to be their next Prime Minister. Even if the Ruling Party only has lets say 30 Seats like what Likud has now this leading vote getter will be the Ruling Party. Instead of the Prime Minister having to have 61 Seats they would only have to work with all the Members of the Knesset to get the other votes to help pass the Bill. I believe that this system would give the Government of Israel and the People of Israel more stability. Any economy, any people, need stability to be able to live in physiological peace and any Country that has ‘snap elections’ reeks of weakness which is never a good thing for the people the Government is supposed to be representing.

The Temple Mount Is On Israeli Land So Jews, Christians And Muslims Should Be Allowed To Pray There If They Want Too!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF HAARETZ NEWS)

Israeli Ministers Join Call to Permit Jewish Prayer at Temple Mount: ‘Status Quo Discriminates Against Jews’
Ministers and Knesset speaker attend conference on changing status quo at Jerusalem’s most politically sensitive site against backdrop of right-wing pressure on Netanyahu to reverse ban on their visits.

Nir Hasson Nov 07, 2016 5:36 PM

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An ultra-Orthodox man looks at the Western Wall and the wooden ramp leading up to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, December 12, 2011. Ronen Zvulun, Reuters
Israel Police to Netanyahu: Let lawmakers visit Temple Mount again
Record number of Jews visit Temple Mount for holidays
Palestinian envoy: UNESCO vote was about ‘occupation,’ not Temple Mount
Israeli parliament speaker Yuli Edelstein joined three cabinet ministers and three lawmakers for the launch of a new Knesset “Temple Mount Lobby” on Monday during a conference on the prospect of altering the status quo at the Jerusalem holy site.
The session was held against the backdrop of increasing demands by right-wing lawmakers and cabinet ministers for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end his yearlong ban on their visits to the Temple Mount, who said last month that he would revisit the issue with security officials.
Netanyahu had banned these visits as part of an agreement with Jordan’s King Abdullah in response to the outbreak of a wave of Palestinian attacks a year ago.
The prime minister had also ordered lawmakers to avoid discussing the Temple Mount in an attempt to calm the violence attributed to Palestinian claims that Israel intended to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayer at the site.
Most had kept quiet on the subject for months, until Monday’s event.
“In my opinion, our right to the Temple Mount is unshakable,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. “The Temple Mount is the Jewish people’s holiest site. I have said many times, the current status quo at the Temple Mount discriminates against the Jewish people.”
The Temple Mount, holy to Judaism as the site of two ancient temples, is a flash-point of conflict with the Muslim world, which reveres the plaza as the Noble Sanctuary and site of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine. The area is a frequent source of Israeli, Palestinian tensions and violence.
Since the Six-Day War, Israeli policy has barred Jewish prayer at the site while permitting worship at the Western Wall below.

Palestinian protesters react during clashes on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City September 6, 2013. Ammar Awad, Reuters
Monday’s Conference of Zion Seekers was the 10th annual such meeting but the first to be held at the Knesset. The event fell on the anniversary of the Jewish sage Rambam’s visit and prayer at the Temple Mount 850 years ago. It was organized by Yehudah Glick, a veteran activist for greater Jewish access and prayer rights at the site.
Glick was shot and seriously wounded by a Palestinian assailant as he exited the same conference two years ago in Jerusalem.
Temple Mount activists said on Sunday that the past year has seen a rise in the numbers of Jews ascending to the Mount – over 14,000, compared to 11,000 the previous year.
Environmental Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin applauded the Temple Mount advocacy groups, adding that “often you are doing the work that the government doesn’t do.”
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called on Netanyahu renew permits for Knesset members and cabinet ministers to visit the Temple Mount. He said Israeli security officials supported this demand, “but unfortunately the prime minister’s advisers and he himself unjustifiably prevent this from happening.”
Ariel said that the Mount must be opened to the Jewish people, adding, “enough of the shame.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan demanded the publication of rules he conceived when he was Deputy Religious Services Minister to arrange for Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount.
“The Temple Mount is a place where members of other faiths may visit, but only those of the Jewish faith are denied prayer at the Temple Mount,” he said. “We must not agree to this shame. We have to call upon the government and Knesset to permit Jewish prayer, to make Jewish prayer something normal and permitted.”
The founder of the Return to the Mount movement, Rafael Morris, stated: “When we can say the Temple Mount is ours and only ours and there isn’t room there for anyone else, then we can be victorious in Amona, then we can conquer not only the Temple Mount but Jordan, and Syria, too, and establish a real Jewish state over all the land of Israel.”
Erdan’s appointment as Public Security Minister marked a turning point in police handling of Jews seeking to visit the Temple Mount.
Activists said that conditions for these visits have grown more flexible in recent months and restrictions against prayer are enforced less strictly than in the past.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.751583