Monday, October 31, 2011

Netanyahu: "I'm tough when it comes to Israel's security".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Knesset plenum at the opening ceremony of the winter session:
"Our security strategy cannot only rely on defense, but must have an offensive element maintains Israel's deterrence." 
"Since taking office I have instructed the IDF to systematically act against terror leaders… Heaven help anyone who harms us." 
"Two principles must guide us, One, 'If someone comes to kill, you rise up and kill him first.' And, 'He who harms us, his blood is on his own head.'"
"For 2,000 years our people could not sustain these two principles in order to defend themselves, but that reality changed with the reemergence of Israel and the founding of the IDF."
Netanyahu also addressed moribund talks with Palestinian Authority officials:
"In the Middle East peace is made with strong, not the weak. The stronger Israel is, the closer peace will be. We are prepared to compromise, but we are not prepared to compromise our security."
As for the criticism aimed at Netanyahu over his "tough stand" in the negotiations, the prime minister said:
"I'm not tough when it comes to peace – I'm tough when it comes to Israel's security and I'll continue to be so…".

"The United States stands with us in the struggle against the Palestinians," Netanyahu said, referring to US President Barack Obama's promised veto for the PA statehood bid at the United Nations.
"This is seen in our experience in the UN, and we appreciate it very much. I know there were those who doubted strength of our alliance based on shared values ​​and common goals. The United States sees great importance in helping maintain our agreements with Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."
On Iran, Netanayhu said, "Iran Continues to pursue nuclear capabilities which constitutes a threat to Israel and the whole world."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The other side will pay a higher price, until they stop firing."

Speaking at the start of a special cabinet meeting being held in Safed, the prime minister warned: "The other side will pay a higher price then they have already paid, until they stop firing."
"Israel's defense policy based on two principles: 'Kill or be killed' and 'He who harms you should bear the blood on his head', I suggest Hamas, Jihad and the other organizations not test our determination to actualize the two principles I have described here."
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio Sunday night that continued terror from Gaza will eventually require weighing a fundamental response from the IDF.

"Responding to activity is not enough," Steinitz said, specifying that in the long run, a "root canal" to change the strategic situation might be necessary.

"We will weigh an intensive treatment for the arms problem, which will apparently be toppling Hamas from power and reestablishing control over the southern Strip in the area of the Philadelphi route."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also warned Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders "not to test our abilities," following a meeting with security and intelligence chiefs on Sunday.

During the meeting, Barak examined plans for continued IDF operations in Gaza to stop the rocket attacks on Israel. The defense minister added, "We will do everything to protect the citizens of Israel."

Netanyahu: "Kill or be killed" and "hurt us – on your own head be it."

In first response to the Rocket attacks on Israel,Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel's policy in the Gaza Strip included two main principles: "Kill or be killed" and "Hurt us – on your own head be it".

Netanyahu stressed that while Israel does not seek to deteriorate the security situation, "we will defend ourselves according to these principles."
"Anyone who prepares to fire at Israel and we have information about it, we will target him in order to foil the shooting. It is a standard directive that is used whenever there is information." 
"The IAF strike was a precision operation that only targeted Islamic Jihad operatives. In return, the group began randomly shooting at population centers in Israel." 
"Hamas controls Gaza. It is responsible for preventing rocket fire from Gaza and for maintaining order in Gaza, even if the perpetrators were Jihad members. I recommend to all factions not to test our resolve to implement the two principles I mentioned earlier."
President Shimon Peres, who also attended the ceremony in Safed, blamed Hamas for the rocket fire from Gaza and said that the group "bears full responsibility for everything happening in the south."

According to Peres, the firing of rockets from Gaza was a "declaration of war."


(by MEclarity and Ynet). About 1 million Israelis (that's 40 million Americans, in terms of population) are being held hostage today - unable to go to school, work or to go outside - all due to "Grad" missiles fired by the Gaza terrorist organization, Islamic Jihad.

The Missile range has now been stretched to Beersheva, Ashkleon, Ashdod, and even to Nes Ziona, Rechovoth and Rishon Letzion (Israel's 4th largest city), which are firmly considered part of the "center" of the country and essentially suburbs of Tel Aviv.

Yesterday 30 missiles were fired on Israel - one person was killed in Ashdod, there were other injuries and extensive damage, including a school that was hit directly but was fortunately not occupied because it was Shabbat (Saturday): normally a synagogue prayer service would be held at the school at this time, but was fortuitously cancelled due to an illness. Otherwise, the fatalities could have reached in the dozens no doubt precipitating an enormous Israeli response.

At least 11 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel overnight and early Sunday morning as reports emerged of imminent cease-fire. Most of the projectiles landed in open territory while the Iron Dome system intercepted two Grad rockets fired at Ashdod.

On Saturday, at least 27 rockets were fired at the south. Moshe Ami, 56, a father of four from Ashkelon was killed by a rocket that hit the southern city.

Beersheba residents woke up at 3:30 am Sunday as an alarm sounded throughout the city followed by sounds of explosions. Two rockets landed in open territory outside the city. Around 4:30 am, a rocket exploded in an open field north of Ashkelon.

Around 6 am, two more rockets were fired at Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council while another landed in the region of Lehavim and Rahat.

Two operatives belonging to the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, were killed overnight in IDF strikes on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources reported that Hamas training camps and facilities were bombed as well. Nine Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed by the IDF since Saturday.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nachum Barnea: Netanyahu and Barak appear to be pushing for military action on Iran

Excerpt from column [first section], Nahum Barnea, Yediot Friday Political Supplement October 28 2011 (via DidiRemez).

Have the prime minister and the defense minister made between themselves, in private, a decision on a military strike on the nuclear reactors in Iran? This question preoccupies many today in the security establishment and in the government. It also troubles foreign governments, which have a hard time understanding what goes on here: on the one hand, rumors are increasing about an Israeli offensive that would change the face of the Middle East and perhaps seal the fate of the Jewish state for the coming generations. On the other hand, there is a complete absence of public discourse. A strike on Iran is the subject that is farthest from the Israeli agenda.

It’s true that the agenda is loaded with weighty subjects: the social protest movement is trying to resurface; the price of electricity is rising; the hospital residents are fighting for their right to resign; Gilad Shalit leaves his house; Ilan Grapel returns — Ouda Tarabin stays; a Grad rocket is fired at Rishon Lezion: Ahmed Jaabari and his colleagues, our new Palestinian buddies, want to prove to the world, and mainly to themselves, that glory hasn’t emasculated them: in Gaza too there are the holidays, and there are the post-holidays.

All these matters are important, and moving: none of them are fateful. Perhaps that is why everyone finds it convenient to address them and not the question of what to do about the Iranian nuclear program.

It’s easy to understand the difficulties. First of all, the data: anyone who wishes to delve into the problem, drowns in a sea of technical data whose meaning is only clear to a few in the know. Behind every report about a centrifuge hides a viewer who has switched to another channel or a reader who has moved on to the Sudoku puzzle.

Second, because of the secrecy: the available information is partial, and is subject to the interest of those providing it. Third, because of habit: the public was not a partner to Menahem Begin’s decision to strike the nuclear reactor in Iraq and did not share in Ehud Olmert’s decision (according to foreign reports) to attack the nuclear reactor in Syria. Since both of these went well, nobody protested.

The decisions on these two strikes entailed considerable risks: the pilots were liable to fail in their mission, to fall into captivity, to cause mass killing; Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Bashar Assad’s Syria could have responded militarily, in terror attacks or missile fire; foreign countries, first the United States, could have created a crisis. Happily, the opponents’ prophecies of doom did not come true. The success was complete, without casualties, without any damage to our forces.

Will what worked twice work the third a time? Yes, say the proponents of a military action; absolutely not, say the opponents. Iran is a completely different story — a state in another league, another regime, another culture, a different nuclear program, a different level of risk.

The top members of the political and security establishments are divided into a number of camps. One camp says, the benefit of a military action is limited; the risk is insane. The Iranians will respond by firing missiles from Iran, from Lebanon by means of Hizbullah, and from Gaza by means of Hamas. A regional war will break out that will destroy the State of Israel. Better for Israel to rely on the sanctions of the international community and hope for the best. If Iran does obtain nuclear weapons, that won’t be the end of the world. Israel can handle that.

The second camp says, what’s the rush. The Iranians need at least two or two and a half more years until the project is ready. Delays are taking place and will yet take place along the way. In the meantime, there will be presidential elections in the US. Obama in a second term or a Republican in a first term are liable to take a strike on Iran on themselves. The Iranian regime could change. A lot of things could happen in two years.

This week I met, in Europe, a senior American diplomat from previous administrations. Iran, he said, is proposing that negotiations be held with it for imposing international inspection on its nuclear facilities. If I were Israel, I would respond positively.

But the Iranians are being deceptive, I said. All they want is to gain time.

Obviously, he said. But it will be more convenient for the US and for Israel to take action after the entire international community openly admits that the Iranians are being deceitful.

Some of the high-ranking ministers in the government share this view. They support a military action as a last resort. They suspect that pressure to expedite an action is tainted by irrelevant, personal and political motives.

Among the third camp number the leaders of the security branches — the chief of staff, the Mossad director, the director of IDF Intelligence and the GSS director. When the question came up of a military action in the previous round, the people who served in these positions were, in order, Gabi Ashkenazi, Meir Dagan, Amos Yadlin and Yuval Diskin. The four of them adamantly ruled out a military action. They were succeeded, in order, by Benny Gantz, Tamir Pardo, Aviv Kochavi and Yoram Cohen. A personnel change can have far-reaching significance. The Shalit deal is a perfect illustration: Diskin and Dagan were opposed to a deal; their opposition caused the government position to be inflexible; Cohen and Pardo were in favor; their support sanctioned the agreement.

But as far as is known, on the Iranian issue, their view matches that of their predecessors: all four, it seems, rule out a military strike at this time. The difference is in their willingness to fight [for their viewpoint]: the previous directors arrived at meetings after years of success, each in their organization, enjoying strong public standing. Toward the politicians they projected determination and self-confidence. The new ones are less well known, less emphatic, less consolidated.

In Israel, the division of labor in decisions on security matters is clear: the political echelon decides, the operational level implements. There is no such thing as disobeying orders. There are no juntas. But the process is more complex that what we are taught in civics lessons: the professional level is an equal partner in the discussions. It expresses its view not only on subjects that are within its realm of responsibility, but in every subject that comes up. The lines of separation are blurred. In actual practice, the prime minister cannot make a decision that entails risks if the defense minister, the chief of staff, the Mossad director and the GSS director, all of them or most of them, are opposed. Even if he enjoys the support of the majority of the security cabinet members, he would not dare. He will take into account that if the action fails, he is liable to arrive at the commission of inquiry naked and bare, without documents that prove that he had the support of the professional level.

There is therefore great importance to the question of how the professional level expresses its view. Does it pound on the table, as Meir Dagan would do, or does it delicately and calmly express reservation; is it an active player in the decision-making process or is it a minor player doing the bidding of its superiors.

Which brings us to the fourth camp — to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the two Siamese twins of the Iranian issue. A rare phenomenon is taking place here in terms of Israeli politics: a prime minister and defense minister who act as one body, with one goal, with mutual backing and repeated heaping of praise on each other. Such harmony was achieved only when one person held both positions. If we insist on rummaging through history, we are reminded of the fertile cooperation between prime minister Shamir and defense minister Rabin. What united them was the scorn they both felt for Peres.

Netanyahu and Barak appear to be pushing for action. Netanyahu phrased the equation at the beginning of his term: Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he is not stopped in time, there will be a Holocaust. There are some who describe Netanyahu’s fervor on this subject as an obsession: he has dreamed of being Churchill his entire life. Iran provides him with the opportunity. The popularity that he gained as a result of the Shalit deal hasn’t calmed him: just the opposite, it gave him a sense of power.

Barak does not use the same superlatives but is pushing for a military action: he is certain that just as Israel prevented nuclear projects in the past, it must prevent this one as well. This is strategy; this is legacy.

He believed that Dagan’s opposition stemmed from psychological motives: as Mossad director, wondrous achievements in delaying the project were attributed to Dagan. A military action a short time after the end of his term would dwarf the importance of those achievements.

Among the ministers there are those who suspect Barak of having personal motives: he has no party; he has no voters. A strike on Iran would be the big bang that would make it possible for Netanyahu to bring him into the top ten of the Likud in the next elections. This way he could continue to be defense minister. On the face of it, this suspicion appears exaggerated: Barak does not need Ayatollah Khamenei in order to join the Likud. Shalom Simhon can arrange this by peaceful means.

Precisely now, when the sense in the world is that the Iranian progress has been slowed, the rumors speak of pressure being brought to bear to take action. One of the issues is the weather: winter is approaching; and winter imposes limitations. Others look ahead: they say that after the winter will come spring, and after that, summer.

Republican presidential hopefulls united in support of Israel

In an exclusive project, Israel Hayom talks to the leading candidates for the GOP nomination • Policies and promises in support of Israel, The only issue they're staunchly united.

Read all of the interviews at Israel Hayom newsletter website

On Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

Rick Perry:
"If you want to work for the United States State Department under my administration, you’ll be living in Jerusalem. That’s as clear that I can make it. You’re the only country that I know of that has our embassy not in the capital city. I don’t get it."
Herman Cain:
"I would."
Mitt Romney:
"The actions that I will take will be actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders. I don’t seek to take actions independent of what our allies think is best, and if Israel’s leaders thought that a move of that nature would be helpful to their efforts, then that’s something I’ll be inclined to inclination is to follow the guidance of our ally Israel, as to where our facilities and embassies would exist."
Newt Gingrich:
"Every sovereign country has the authority to choose its own capital city...we need to respond to the Israeli request". And if the State Department objects? "If we need to replace everyone – we'll replace them..."
Michele Bachmann:
"The first thing that I would do is to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem."
On US-Israel relationship:

Rick Perry:
"When I’m the president of the United States, no one in Israel will be wondering “if we’re invaded, if we’re threatened, where’s America going to be?” With me, they will know...when the prime minister of Israel comes to the White House, he will be treated with respect as the world leader that this individual is. They will not be brought in through the back door, or sit and wait as just another visitor to the White House. They will clearly be treated with the respect that the longest serving democracy, and our greatest friend in the Middle East deserves."
Mitt Romney:
"I believe that the role of an ally is to stand behind your friends and let them speak for themselves, rather than be spoken for by the United States of America. I believe our relationship with Israel, a nation which shares our values and is our best friend in the Middle East, should be of support and confidence rather than criticism and blame."
Herman Cain:
"In a Cain administration there would be no question in the minds of the world and the American people that we would stand with Israel. No question."
Newt Gingrich:
"I think that the Israeli nation's passion is very close to American values...We need to re-organize the discourse in the region, to change the language."
Michele Bachmann:
"I think that America has an interest of the highest order in everything related to its relationship with Israel, and that we are allies and partners in various ways. Israel is the Middle East's first and only democracy. Our religious backgrounds also unite us. I am a Christian, but I relate to my religious heritage as a Jew."

Read my full analysis on the Candidates stances,the promising and governing discourse Here:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ari Shavit/ Social protest hurting opposition, not Netanyahu

(Ari Shavit-Haaretz).Daphni Leef has destroyed MK Tzipi Livni. That was not the intention; that was not the goal. When a dozen young men and women put up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in mid-July, they did not think at all about the chairwoman of Kadima. When hundreds of thousands of young people marched in the streets on Saturday nightsn in summer, they were not waving signs that said "down with Kadima." But life is amusing. It has its own mean sense of humor.

The social protest boosted MK Shelly Yachimovich. Shelly Yachimovich crushed Tzipi Livni. And the Yachimovich-Livni dynamic made Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even more powerful: It left him without a real rival who can undermine him and present an alternative. Thus, the cigar-smoker, who had everyone furious at him, ended up benefiting from that fury.

Instead of destroying Netanyahu, Daphni Leef built him up. Instead of bringing down industrial giants Nochi Dankner, Yitzhak Tshuva and Shari Arison, she brought down Tzipi Livni. The ironic political outcome of the summer revolution is a mortal blow to the head of the opposition and the transformation of the prime minister into a strong national leader.

Livni helped Leef destroy Livni. Over the past hundred days she made three major mistakes. The first was to do nothing while the Rothschild revolution was underway; she was detached from it. She recalled that the person who brought her into politics was Avigdor Lieberman, who had instructed her to privatize as much as she could as head of the Government Companies Authority. She remembered that she had indeed privatized and privatized and privatized. And so, when the public rose up against the ethos of privatization, she remained chilly. As an honest person, Livni stayed faithful to the religion of privatization and concentrated capitalism of Kadima. But in so doing, she proved that she does not listen to the voice of the people and the spirit of the times. She said nothing worthwhile in the face of the most important social action that has ever happened here. With her own two hands, Livni made herself irrelevant.

Her second mistake was to call on Netanyahu to attack Hamas in August 2011 after the bloody terror attack near Eilat. If her call had been heeded, Israel would have embarked on Operation Cast Lead 2. Soldiers would have killed and been killed in Gaza while missiles fell on Holon. The fragile alliance with Egypt would have been broken and the complex relations with Turkey would have become even more entangled. This time the peace camp understood the seriousness of the issue. It did not accept the positions of the person it had preferred over Meretz in the elections of 2009. It had had enough. Even leftists do not like to come out looking like chumps. And so, very quietly, the left lifted the mantle of protection that it knows how to lay on the shoulders of its darlings. Kadima's leader is still being coddled, but it is not like it used to be. The teflon is scratched. The great white hope is no longer white and not as great as it was.

The third mistake was Gilad Shalit. Livni's position on Shalit was reasoned and courageous. If she had stood up and publicly spoken her mind, many would have appreciated and respected her for it. But Livni remained silent before the swap and attacked it afterward. She lost out twice. On the one hand she is perceived as heartless and on the other hand as weak-hearted. There is no more affection, no more esteem, no more sympathy. The polls are in a nose-dive. Tzipora is destroyed.

Israel is the land of the comebacks and Livni might very well stage one. But in Kadima they are not waiting; they are sharpening their knives. When the party chairwoman no longer enjoys the charms of pollster Mina Tzemach, she also loses the charm she once had among members of her party. That is why the demand has now been heard to move up Kadima's internal election, and the increased chances of Shaul Mofaz to win it.

Everything is still open but the situation is not simple. Livni can still shuffle the deck by joining Netanyahu at a late date and establishing a Zionist centrist government. 

Globes poll: Netanyahu boosted Likud's standing with Shalit release

(Globes). There is no doubt that the results of the latest poll by the Smith Institute for "Globes" indicate a honeymoon for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The month, which began with his speech to the UN to frustrate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's attempt to gain UN recognition for a Palestinian state, peaked with the return of Gilad Shalit. Netanyahu is seeing his broadest public support since the elections: were elections held today, the Likud would win 33 seats.

Likud voters are even more pleased with Netanyahu: nearly 80% of them who voted Likud in 2009 would do so again. The right wing-haredi (ultra-orthodox) bloc has reached a peak of 70 Knesset seats.

The Shalit effect widened the gap between the coalition and leader of the opposition, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni. Kadima's loss of support, which began with the start of the summer's social protest, is continuing, and the party is down to 17 Knesset seats, were elections held today.

After Livni failed to exploit the protest's momentum to win support, her remarks about the Shalit prisoner exchange worsened her standing in the polls. Her infuriating remarks about the media coverage of Shalit's return as a reality show apparently hit Israelis in a sensitive spot. 

In contrast, Labor's new chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich, who supported the Shalit deal from the opposition benches, saw an immediate gain. Labor would win 20 Knesset were elections held today, becoming the second largest party in the house.
Which party would you vote for were elections held today?
Figures in brackets are numbers of seats won at the last election.
Kadima: 17 Knesset seats, down from 25 in August. (28)
Likud: 33 seats, up from 26 in August. (27)
Israel Beitenu: 14 seats, down from 15 in August. (15)
Labor: 20 seats, up from 11 in August. (13)
Shas: 10 seats, down from 12 in August. (11)
United Torah Judaism: 6 seats, unchanged. (5)
National Union: 4 seats, down from 5 in August. (4)
Habayit Hayehudi: 3 seats, unchanged. (3)
Meretz: 3 seats, down from 4 in August. (3)
Arab parties: 10 seats, down from 11 in August.(11)
Green Party 0, down from 2 in August. (-)
In addition:  A Panels poll for the Knesset Channel also gave Likud 33 Knesset seats, with Labor in the number two spot garnering 25. Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu both received 14 seats and Shas got 7.

Massive bounce in support for Likud and Netanyahu, following UN speech and Shalit deal

(Jpost). The Likud would win 37 seats in the next Knesset, and Labor would pass Kadima by five seats if elections were held today, according a poll by Channel 2 and the Sarid Institute for Research Services that was published on Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's party would gain ten seats in the next election, despite recent social protests. The pollsters explained that the bump was most likely due to the prisoner exchange in which Gilad Schalit was released from Hamas captivity.

The poll also showed that Kadima would shrink from 28 to 17 MKs, possibly because of party leader Tzipi Livni's criticism of the Schalit deal.

Labor, under the new leader Shelly Yacimovich, would become the second-biggest faction in the Knesset, with 22 mandates as opposed to the current eight. The party won 13 seats in the previous election, but five MKs separated to form the Independence party, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu would remain with the 15 Knesset seats it currently has.

Netanyahu also led in responses to the question "Who is most suited to be Prime Minister?" with 41 percent. Yacimovich received 15%, while Kadima leader Tzipi Livni tied with Lieberman for nine percent

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

IDF reservists sign: Don’t Free Terrorists on our Behalf

Note: Aharon S. HaCohen a former IDF commander, serving in combat during the 2nd intifada (2000-2003) and current reservist told me on the Bibi Report radio show that hH is one of the reservists signing this following letter.

Listen to the entire informative interview (the start of the 2nd hour): The Bibi Report 10/25

(YWN).The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal has prompted dozens of IDF soldiers to sign a statement instructing the state not to release any terrorists on their behalf in the event they are taken captive chas v’sholom.

The reserve duty personnel remain committed to their principles, and call on the state to never release terrorists ‘with blood on their hands’ towards obtaining their release from captivity, even if this means they will never return.

Spearheading the initiative is the ‘My Israel’ organization, and those soldiers who signed the document stress it is not to be viewed as a political move since they do not make reference to the recent Shalit deal, but the document is intended to be taken at face value as well as carrying the hope that it will renew the spirit upon which the state was founded over 60 years ago.

“We believe that the more reservists and compulsory duty soldiers who sign, the easier the situation will become for the decision makers in the future when they must enter into negotiations with terror organization”.
They are simply sending a message that “it does not pay to abduct soldiers”, trying to turn around the current reality as announced by Hamas.

Report: Obama suggests 'silent', Netanyahu considers 'partial' - settlement Freeze

(INN, AFP).The Obama administration reportedly wants Israel to implement a "silent freeze" of Jewish homebuilding in eastern Jerusalem and the mountains of Samaria and Judea to coax the Palestinian Authority (PA) into agreeing to negotiate with Israel.

According to Israeli daily Maariv, the United States wants the freeze to be undeclared and partial. The idea is that Israel will not build new neighborhoods but will be allowed to build within existing ones. Any transgression of these terms will result in "harsh steps" against Israel by the U.S.

Haaretz reported on friday, thatPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to partially freeze West Bank settlement building if it will bring the Palestinians back to direct talks, Netanyahu's offer was made on Wednesday in talks with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin.

During the meeting, which came a day after she held talks with president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah, Holguin told Netanyahu that the Palestinian leader desperately needed a symbolic gesture on settlements if he was to return to negotiations, a senior Israeli official told the paper.

In response, Netanyahu said he would be "ready to make such a gesture if it would return Abbas to the negotiating table" and agreed to freeze all government-sponsored construction and all building on state land, But he said he would not agree to freeze settlement activity by private developers on privately owned land -- which, according to a recent Palestinian study, constitutes around 80 percent of settlement activity.

"Netanyahu said he was ready to test Abbas by making the gesture regarding settlements. "If Abbas is serious about negotiations, he will renew direct talks."

Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev refused to comment directly on the Haaretz report, saying only: "The prime minister's position has not changed -- he is ready for direct peace talks with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) was quick to chop down the idea. "After ten months of a loud and unprecedented freeze, it is outrageous to see that the Obama administration still believes that construction in the settlements is indeed an obstacle on the road to negotiations," she said.

"There is no difference between a silent and loud freeze," she added. "The public's clear choice of the right wing will not allow a second freeze of construction in Judea and Samaria, no matter what statement comes out of the Prime Minister's office."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Partisan debate over Israel's Bipartisan support in a divided electorate

(JTA) -- The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee are co-sponsoring a pledge for unity on Israel.

The groups' National Pledge for Unity on Israel initiative aims to rally bipartisan support for Israel while preventing Israel from becoming a wedge issue during the next election season.

The pledge is aimed at other national organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, community groups and individuals.

"America’s friendship with Israel is an emotional, moral and strategic bond that has always transcended politics, Support for Israel has never been merely a plank in a Republican or Democratic Party or candidate’s platform. It is a core American policy that serves our nation’s most fundamental national interests.

Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director, said:
“We want the discourse on U.S. support for Israel to avoid the sometimes polarizing debates and political attacks that have emerged in recent weeks, as candidates have challenged their opponents’ pro-Israel bone fides or questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel. The last thing America and Israel need right now is the distractions of having Israel bandied about as a tool for waging political attacks.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) fired back in response, rejecting to sign the pledge, in a press release by RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks stated:
"An open and vigorous debate on the questions confronting our country is the cornerstone of the American electoral process. Allowing the American people to see where candidates stand, pro and con on critical issues, is the hallmark of our free and democratic political system. For this reason, the RJC will not be a signer to this pledge. 
"This effort to stifle debate on U.S. policy toward Israel runs counter to this American tradition. Accordingly, the RJC will not be silenced on this or any issue.
Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary magazine questions the timing of the pledge and the actual pledge seen as a partisan effort to avoid a democratic debate in a divided electorate, saying:
"The effort to impose a ban on discussions of whether certain candidates or even the current administration has done right by Israel is itself something of a partisan argument. Since the overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats, it is in that party’s interest to stifle debate on Israel, as that removes the GOP’s best argument for attracting Jewish votes.
 "To demand, as the pledge does of those who support it that “U.S.-Israel friendship should never be used as a political wedge issue” is to effectively remove the question of whether policies enacted by a particular administration or individual politicians are helping or hurting Israel from the public square.
"Obama supporters can and should make their arguments that shows his record is not as bad as some would say, but given the growing disgruntlement with the president’s handling of Israel, those who point out his determination to distance the United States from Israel and to undermine the Jewish state’s hold on Jerusalem must also be given a fair hearing. It is up to the voters and not the ADL or the AJC or anyone else to judge who is in the right."

Prosor: With their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel for all their problems

(via Jpost). Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council Monday that direct negotiations and hard work will be essential to creating harmony in the Middle East. In a frank address, Prosor noted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is but one element of the political dynamic operating in the Middle East.
"Overall, for generations, the Arab world has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people.” 
“Young people struggle without access to jobs and education. Women are denied basic rights. Free expression is repressed. Minorities are persecuted. Elections are a sham, And with their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it’s the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people.”
Prosor cited the Arab Spring as an indication that the Arab people want “real answers” to their problems rather than simple scapegoating.

Prosor referenced the return of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, and said that even the Arab world noticed the way Israel treated its citizens in comparison to the way the Arab world treats theirs.

“On Twitter, one Syrian blogger, Soori Madsoos, wrote “Their government is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen, while our government kills us like we are animals and our Arab neighbors say that it's an internal matter,” Prosor said.

The Carrot and the Stick - Prosor to UNSC: Direct talks essential; Lieberman: Abbas is hurdle to peace

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council Monday that direct negotiations and hard work will be essential to creating harmony in the Middle East. In a frank address, Prosor said that Arab countries are more prone to making excuses than peace.
“The choice before us is clear – and it has never been more critical to make the right choice for the future of the Middle East and all its inhabitants, It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future.” 
“Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu stood in this hall last month and issued a clear call to President Abbas, Let me reiterate that call today to the Palestinians. Sit down with Israel. Leave your preconditions behind. Start negotiations now.”

Foreign Minister Lieberman took a harder stance, labeling Abbas as “the biggest obstacle to an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and us.”

Speaking to the media prior to a discussion on Wednesday with the Quartet – the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – the plain-speaking and often outspoken Foreign Minister declared, “The moment that they [the Palestinian Authority] receive an independent country, there will be Kassam rockets on Kfar Saba and Herzliya [parts of metropolitan Tel Aviv] within a year.
"The question is if we will see them over Gush Dan, and the answer is, yes – not 100 percent, but 200 percent. 
“If we reach a stable agreement with the Palestinian Authority, I am prepared to go with it, but right now all that I see is the opposite. The moment that they receive an independent country, there will be Kassam rockets.”
Lieberman charged that Abbas is threatened by what he “sees happening to all of his colleagues – Qaddafi, Mubarak and others… This is not just a threat – it also is a blessing [because] anyone who follows him would be better."

Peres visits Gilad Shalit - "Your return is an extraordinary personal and national event."

President Shimon Peres visited the home of the Shalit family on Monday morning in the first official visit since the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Gilad and his parents waited for the president at the entrance to their home and shook his hand warmly. The president hugged Gilad and told him: "You have no idea how excited I am to meet you here, in your home, alive and well."
"The entire nation has followed your progress with concern, we were all thinking of what you were going through alone, in the dark and how you were managing to deal with the disconnection, loneliness and uncertainty. Where did your incredible internal strength come from." 
"As a man, as a human, you have passed the test of harsh captivity that not many people could endure. Gilad, know that the entire nation, from infants to senior citizens enlisted to bring you home. 
"It came from a depth of love and devotion and your return is an extraordinary personal and national event. When you stepped off the helicopter, we were all relieved." 
"Be strong and have courage, your whole life is ahead of you and you can, now and in the future achieve anything you like."

Gilad told the president:
"Thank you for all the support and help that you gave to my family."
Noam added: "We appreciate and thank you for all that you have done throughout the years. We know that you were involved behind the scenes and we needed any help we could get."

Aviva Shalit reinforced the president's statements and said: "Gilad is a true hero". She then added: "I want to thank you for coming to our home and for your warm words to Gilad.

"I would once again like to thank the prime minister for making a brave decision in bringing Gilad home alive and proving that mutual obligation is not just an empty phrase but a value, and I believe that the entire Israeli nation agrees," she noted.

After Peres left, Noam Shalit said Gilad was aware of the public's support and the many visitors who have arrived at the family home in recent days, bringing flowers, candy and personal souvenirs.

"He has seen the people and appreciates it. He knows about the widespread public support during the years of the struggle. He is aware of it and is grateful for it," Noam Shalit said.

Regarding Gilad's reaction to the president's visit, the former captive soldier's father said, "He doesn’t talk much but feels the appreciation, as was also demonstrated by the fact that the president personally came here. He could have also invited him to his residence in Jerusalem."

Commenting on his condition, Noam Shalit noted that Gilad was feeling good and mainly wishes to return to normal. "The main thing that we ask for at this time, and so does Gilad, is to quickly return to old habits – playing basketball and ping-pong, watching television. That's the only thing we are seeking and we hope the public will understand this."

Harav Ovadia to Netanyahu: "You did well, you did a good deed."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef late Sunday and discussed with him at length the efforts to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard and Ilan Grapel.

During the meeting, Netanyahu thanked the rabbi for his support and assistance in approving the Shalit deal. Rabbi Yosef had told Shas ministers to vote in favor of the deal and asked Interior Minister Eli Yishai to persuade other Cabinet ministers to vote in favor of it.

Harav Ovadia praised the Prime Minister for the release of Gilad Schalit.
“G-d is with you, in everything you do, Just as you did with Gilad Shalit. You did well, you did a good deed. There are those who oppose, I know, but if something has no opposition at all – that’s a sign that it’s wrong.

Opposition MK's praise PM Netanyahu's "courage and leadership"

(LAHAV HARKOV reporting from the Knesset on Jpost). In a special plenum meeting during the last week of the Knesset’s summer recess, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) faced off against Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni in the Knesset on Monday by praising Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for negotiating Gilad Schalit’s release from captivity, one day after Livni publicly slammed the deal.
“The Schalit deal sets a dangerous precedent for the number of murderers freed, Despite this, I supported an exchange in the last government and the current government. It is our responsibility to bring our soldiers home.” 
“I think the right thing was done, considering the circumstances."
In an unusual move, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On defended Netanyahu, congratulating him “on the brave steps he took in freeing Gilad Schalit.”
“Kadima MKs, you stand here on the stage and you can’t give [Netanyahu] even a little bit of credit? That is very unfortunate." 
“Don’t get excited. I’m not a fan of the prime minister, But we must know how to give credit for courage and leadership.”

Bloomberg to Netanyahu: You Shouldered the Burden of Leadership

(via INN and NYDN).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted on Sunday New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is visiting Israel to inaugurate the new Magen David Adom station he has helped donate to Jerusalem.

Bloomberg said it was an honor to be Netanyahu’s guest and to be visiting Israel.
“New Yorkers' admiration and support for Israel are strong and unshakable, We appreciate the powerful stresses that Gilad Shalit’s long captivity placed on the Israeli people. It was my privilege to march with his parents in our city’s Salute to Israel parade two years ago.” 
"Israelis’ outpouring of feelings about Shalit’s release last week shows the toughness and the resiliency of Israel’s national character.” 
“The easiest response in a crisis is to do nothing, But that’s not what governing is about, and so you certainly have our admiration for shouldering the burdens of leadership and doing what you thought was necessary.”
Bloomberg presented Netanyahu with an American flag that flew above the US capital for the Shalit family, as a symbol of the American people's solidarity with Israel.

Netanyahu thanked Bloomberg for his committment to Israel, expressed by the mayor's remarks and the flag, which he called “the flag of freedom. It flew over 9/11 and the place of that tragedy. It's the same thing. It’s our passion for life. It’s our dedication to freedom. It’s what binds our societies.”

Speaking to a group of reporters in Jerusalem, Mayor Bloomberg also defended the controversial prisoner swap that brought Israeli solider Gilad Shalit home.
"I just know that the government of Israel had to make a decision and they didn't walk away from the decision, they made one, and that's what governing is all about." 
"There's no simple solutions to complex problems,If they were they would have been solved a long time ago." 
"Israel has a strong tradition of always bringing people back, And I'm sure that is something that all Israelis feel. And I'm not in a position to make a decision for the Israeli government of what they should do in any one situation."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leading Republican contenders say they intend to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

(Boaz Bismuth).In exclusive interviews with Israel Hayom, the five leading Republican presidential candidates, who criticize President Obama's policy toward Israel, express strong support for its "greatest ally" and say they intend to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The only subject that the candidates seemed to wholeheartedly agree on is their enthusiastic support for Israel.

During the course of Israel Hayom's interviews with the five leading Republican presidential candidates, it was remarkable to witness their disappointment in President Obama's policy toward Israel, and also in Iran, as well as their willingness to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a move that multiple U.S. administrations have postponed.

"I intend to see our diplomats stationed in Israel working in Jerusalem," Texas Governor Rick Perry told me.

Representative Michele Bachmann (R.-Mn.) also commented on the embassy issue, saying, "I don't understand how this has not yet happened. This is the first thing I plan to do when I enter the White House."

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, also told Israel Hayom that Washington is disrespecting Israel's sovereignty by not relocating the embassy to Jerusalem.

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain also expressed his support for Israel, recently saying, "My message for the U.N., Iran, Palestinians and anyone else is this: 'If you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the U.S.A.'”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican frontrunner in the polls (with 30%), has criticized Obama's policies toward Israel and vowed to work with the Israeli government to discuss its interests and act accordingly. "I will begin discussions with Israel to increase the level of our military assistance and coordination," Romney said. "I will again reiterate that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."

The full interviews with the five leading Republican contenders will appear in next week's Israel Hayom weekend supplement.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Netanyahu gets birthday boost from Gilad Shalit's release

(via Thenewage). Benjamin Netanyahu turned 62 on Friday, basking in the glow of Gilad Shalit's return home from five years in Palestinian captivity.

"Netanyahu... gave himself the most memorable birthday present he’s ever had the release and homecoming of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit," the conservative Jerusalem Post said this week.

"It doesn’t matter whether one agrees or disagrees with Netanyahu’s policy or general performance as prime minister,."

"On the (Shalit) issue, no one can take away his moment of glory or the imprint his decision has made on the country’s history."

Israel Hayom,  published a poll this week saying that despite many people's reservations about the two-stage exchange deal, 75.7 percent of respondents gave it their approval and 61.5 percent thought Netanyahu's government acted correctly.

Efraim Inbar, professor of political studies at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, told AFP: "Netanyahu has been strong, his government is stable, The release of Shalit only strengthened his leadership and the stability of his coalition."

Hanoch Daum/ Netanyahu is a level-headed, pragmatic leader. And yes, he is also fatherly.

(Hanoch Daum-Yediot).Tell me, is it ok to say that the prime minister behaved like a father? Because more than anything else, the moment where Benjamin Netanyahu embraced Gilad Shalit and looked into his eyes reminded me of the moment where the PM hugged his own son, Avner, after the latter won third place in the Bible Quiz.

As opposed to Ehud Barak, who made do with an overly official handshake with Gilad and a few minutes later chose to open his remarks to the media by taking a needless (and undeserved) jab at the media, and as opposed to kind Army Chief Benny Gantz, who fired three short sentences at Gilad like a robot (including the meaningless promise that “everything will be alright,”) Netanyahu was truly there.

The prime minister did not hide behind robotic tendencies or behind a wall of irony. He did not salute Gilad back when the returning soldier saluted. He simply looked at him with deep meaning, like a father proud of his son, and then embraced him.

We must keep the following in mind: The prime minister took a tough decision, which contradicted the views of many members of Netanyahu’s natural camp. Moreover, the PM made the decision during a period where the public pressure to bring Gilad back was at its lowest level since the abduction.

Netanyahu did it because he believed it was the right moment, and there shall be no other. He did it because Hamas compromised. And he did it because in his new version, in his second tenure in office, Netanyahu is a level-headed, pragmatic leader. And yes, he is also fatherly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poll: Values of mutual responsibility and Israeli social cohesion outweighes in Shalit deal

(Israelhayom).An Israel Hayom's survey, conducted by Hagal Hachadash (New Wave) research center, carried out on the evening prior to Gilad's return from captivity showed the Israeli public clearly, across all sectors of society, expressed sweeping support for the deal to release Shalit and for the Netanyahu government's conduct during negotiations.

At the moment of truth, when Israelis were asked the decisive question - whether they support or oppose the deal - 75.7 percent, more than three-quarters of the population, responded in favor of it.

Among women, 84.5% backed the deal, while 66.7% of men supported it. In the ultra-Orthodox sector, 71.7% supported it, while 55.1% of national religious respondents favored the swap. Secular respondents expressed the greatest support for the deal, with 81.4% weighing their favor. Geographically, residents in the north overwhelmingly favored the deal, with 85.4% championing the swap, while residents of Judea and Samaria least favored the deal, with only 50.9% backing the deal --a slim majority but nevertheless a majority.

50.8%, agree the deal is likely to increase Hamas' willingness to carrying out acts of terror against Israel.

50.7%, are not more concerned about terror, 3% of whom worried even less about increased terror in the wake of the exchange.

59.2% of those who supported the deal say they are worried about an increase in terror.

Following the agreement, support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also increased. Nearly 30% (29.1%) said their opinion of Netanyahu is more positive following the deal. Only 8.7% felt more negatively about the prime minister. A majority, 58.6%, said their opinion of him remained unchanged. Netanyahu enjoyed an impressive increase among those with a high school education or less (61.5%) as well as among people aged 18 to 24 and those from traditional homes.

61.5% approve the Netanyahu-led government's conduct in negotiations with Hamas, The highest levels of support were registered among women (66%), men and women ages 45 to 54 (69.3%) and traditional people with a high school education or less who earn average incomes (64.5%). Residents in the north consistently expressed greater support for the deal for Gilad's release, and their support was expressed in answers to all of the questions.

Among the supporters of the deal, a huge majority of 92% believe that Hamas' readiness to carry out terror attacks will not be affected by this deal.

One interesting finding was among residents of Judea and Samaria: While their support for the deal was far lower, their support for the government was high, with 62.6% saying that the government properly handled the negotiations for Gilad's release. Only 10.2% of Judea and Samaria residents who were polled said they thought that the government acted incorrectly.

Netanyahu has shown leadership, he took a stand and did the deed: he brought Gilad Shalit home

(Yossi Verter-Haaretz).The prime minister, the defense minister, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, the mediator and the heads of intelligence - all supported the deal. They all pledged to cope with the risks and implications.

Ultimately, the decision was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's. Thus his appearance on Tuesday on the runway at the Tel Nof air force base, together with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief Benny Gantz, was understandable, natural and within the limits of good taste. Netanyahu didn't harass Shalit, and took no more than a minute of his time before the soldier met his family. He knew his place.

Netanyahu is a political figure. It's perfectly legitimate that he should hope for political gains. He knows that these are his best days. 

For one rare moment Netanyahu entered what was for him an entirely unknown niche in public consciousness: the father figure. As he hugged the gaunt, pale and frail soldier that descended from the helicopter, Netanyahu became everyone's dad.

There were prime ministers before him who could assume that role with ease: Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon. This role was never natural to Netanyahu. He was always seen as a cynical, cold technocrat.

Until Tuesday, Netanyahu was reserved. Since the deal was approved by the government eight days ago, he didn't appear in public, and gave no interviews or speeches. On Tuesday, after meeting Shalit at Tel Nof, he gave a short speech, warning the released prisoners that whoever "returns to terrorism - his blood is upon his head."

Netanyahu demonstrated leadership, despite the fact that some may accuse him of cowardice and capitulation to terror. In the chaotic Israeli reality, suffering from a leadership void, he took a stand and did the deed: he brought Gilad Shalit home. He redeemed Shalit, his family and all Israelis from an ongoing nightmare.

At the end of a summer that threatened to erode his popularity, Netanyahu will arrive at the opening day of the Knesset winter session riding high. And yes, one can assume that Gilad Shalit will be mentioned, in his first, festive speech.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit - intelligent, and strong character

(Amir Mizroch ( analyzes Gilad Shalit's character as seen for first time on tortured Egyptian TV interview:
"Shalit looks like he was dragged to this interview, and the question must be asked: was he even given the choice to agree to the interview? His breathing was labored, said he wasn’t feeling well, and clearly wanted to leave. The interviewer, Shahira Amin of Nile TV, asked the most ridiculous questions, and even got into a verbal fight with the translator, who was saying that the interviewee was tired. Shalit stuck in there and tried to answer as best he could, but was clearly suffering. Despite all of this, he kept his composure and answered some pretty tough questions, while Amin devolved further and further into the journalistic abyss. For many Israelis, this was obscene. Like another form of torture. 
Israel Radio reported that the interview was organized by Egyptian intelligence. Some of Shalit’s quotes were mistranslated by the translator; and someone off camera was telling the interviewer to hurry up and finish the interview. 
Shalit said “I don’t feel very well, am not used to seeing so many people,” but the translator said: “He feels well, thanks the people who freed him.” 
The ‘best’ question from Amin: “During all your years of captivity you released only one video. Why just once?” 
“What has the experience taught you, has it made you stronger?” 
Shalit actually did well here. He’s clearly dazed, but answers: I think that I’ve learned that its possible to swap prisoners in a shorter time period. And then runs out of steam..
I don’t know where Gilad found the strength to deal with this. 
And when the interviewer asks: There are 4,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails, will you campaign to free them? 
He replies, with intelligence and dignity: I will be glad if they are released, and if they do not continue fighting against Israel. I hope this deal furthers peace between Israel and Palestinians and that there will be no more wars between them. 
What can we learn from what Shalit said? 
He said he “tried to break the routine and not do the same things every day.” This takes awareness and intelligence. And it also points to what must have been a very difficult incarceration for such a young man. 
“I hoped that I would get out, but also realized that I could find myself in this situation for very many years.” Could be a sign that he was beginning to steel himself for a longer incarceration. Another sign of intelligence and character.
“I received the information [about the impending release] a week ago, but I felt it was coming about a month ago.” He is perceptive, looking for and picking up signals and subtext.

Netanyahu: Mission accomplished -'I have brought your son back home.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Shalit as he stepped down from the Helicopter. He told him: "Welcome back to the State of Israel. It's so good to have you home."

Zvi Shalit, Gilad's grandfather, said his grandson was in "better condition that we feared." Describing the family reunion at the Tel Nof base, he said: "Gilad spoke very quietly and said he was tired and wanted to go to sleep."

Shalit underwent extensive medical examinations after he felt ill on his way to Tel Nof. IDF medical teams decided that despite the temporary setback, Shalit will fly home to Mitzpe Hila later Tuesday afternoon.

Netanyahu, in a short address to journalists at the entrance to the base, said that the country today was “united in joy and pain.”
“Two and a half years ago I returned to the Prime Minister's Office. One of the central and complicated goals that I found on my desk was to bring back our kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit safe and sound. Today that mission was accomplished.”
Netanyahu, describing the considerations he weighed in making the decision to agree to the 1,027 for 1 swap, said that as a soldier and commander he was often sent on dangerous missions, but always knew that if captured, the government would do everything in its power to bring him and his comrades home.

Full Remarks:

"Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain. 
Two-and-a-half years ago, I returned to the Prime Minister's Office. One of  
the principal and most complicated missions that I found on my desk, and  
which I set my heart to, was to bring our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit back  
home, alive and well. Today, that mission has been completed.

As a leader who daily sends out soldiers to defend  Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is no mere slogan –  it is a cornerstone of our existence here.
 But I also see an additional need, that of minimizing the danger to the  security of Israel's citizens. To this end, I enunciated two clear demands.  First, that senior Hamas leaders, including arch-murderers, remain in  prison. Second, that the overwhelming majority of those designated for release either be expelled or remain outside Judea and Samaria, in order to  impede their ability to attack our citizens. 

For years, Hamas strongly opposed these demands. But several months ago, we  received clear signs that it was prepared to back down from this opposition.  Tough negotiations were carried out, night and day, in Cairo, with the  mediation of the Egyptian government. We stood our ground, and when our  main demands were met – I had to make a decision. 

I know very well that the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism  is too heavy to bear. It is difficult to see the miscreants who murdered  their loved ones being released before serving out their full sentences.  But I also knew that in the current diplomatic circumstances, this was the  best agreement we could achieve, and there was no guarantee that the  conditions which enabled it to be achieved would hold in the future. It  could be that Gilad would disappear; to my regret, such things have already  happened. 

At such moments, a leader finds himself alone and must make a decision. I  considered – and I decided. Government ministers supported me by a large  majority. 

And today, now Gilad has returned home, to his family, his people and his  country. This is a very moving moment. A short time ago, I embraced him as  he came off the helicopter and escorted him to his parents, Aviva and Noam,  and I said, 'I have brought your son back home.' 

But this is also a hard  day; even if the price had been smaller, it would still have been heavy. 
I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism. Any  released terrorist who returns to terrorism – his blood is upon his head.  
The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate  
the release of murderers. Here, we do not applaud those who took life. On  
the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life. We sanctify life. This  
is the ancient tradition of the Jewish People.

Citizens of Israel, in recent days, we have all seen national unity such as  we have not seen in a long time. Unity is the source of Israel's strength,  now and in the future. Today, we all rejoice in Gilad Shalit's return home  to our free country, the State of Israel.

Tomorrow evening, we will  celebrate Simchat Torah. This coming Sabbath, we will read in synagogues,  as the weekly portion from the prophets, the words of the prophet Isaiah  (42:7): 'To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in  darkness out of the prison-house.' Today, I can say, on behalf of all  Israelis, in the spirit of the eternal values of the Jewish People: 'Your  children shall return to their own border [Jeremiah 31:17].' Am Yisrael  Chai! [The People of Israel live!]."

"Shalom Gilad, welcome back to Israel, good to have you back".

Gilad Shalit reunited with his parents, siblings and grandfather in a private room at the Tel Nof base. He was first welcomed at the base by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief Benny Gantz.

Greeting Shalit, Netanyahu said: "Shalom, Gilad. Welcome back to Israel. It's so good to have you home."

Gilad Shalit's medical condition 'good and stable'

After his release, Shalit underwent a physical examination. IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said his medical condition was "good and stable".

Shalit also spoke with his parents who are waiting for him at the Tel Nof air force base in central Israel.

The freed Israeli soldier entered the Kerem Shalom crossing just before noon on Tuesday and was greeted by Israeli army officers, including OC Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Tal Rousso.

Gilad Shalit: I hope this deal promotes peace

In an interview to an Egyptian television network Gilad Shalit expressed his feelings on being released from Hamas captivity. "I hope this deal will promote peace," Shalit said

“It has been a very long five years. I always knew I would go home".

Gilad told the Egyptian media that he was informed a week ago he would be freed. “I was happy to hear it, but I was suspicious, I waited years, but I believed I would find myself free.”

He said the first thing he wants to do when he gets home is to “be with my family and meet my friends and speak with them. I want to tell people about my experience.”

Despite his having been in captivity without communication with the outside world for more than five years, Egyptian media asked him difficult and loaded questions.

Asked if the captivity and release gave him a stronger will, Shalit answered, “A deal could have been arranged sooner.”

Questioned whether he will help campaign for the release of “4,000 more Palestinian prisoners ‘languishing’ in Israeli jails,” Shalit reפlied: “I will be happy if they will be freed and return to their homes.”

Netanyahu To Shalit Family: I am delighted we’ve reached this day

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met the Shalit family at the Tel Nof Air Base this morning and expressed his joy that their son and brother is returning home after five years of captivity in Gaza.

“I am delighted we’ve reached this day. In a short time Gilad will return to you,” Netanyahu told the Shalit family.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder praised Netanyahu todayfor his “brave decision” to sign the deal with Hamas, and complimented Egyptian and German mediation that led to the deal eventually being sealed.
“Despite the enormously painful price that only Israel would consider paying, Jewish communities across the globe stand side by side with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet’s decision, and they salute Noam and Aviva Shalit for their courage,Their relentless struggle has finally paid off.” 
“Prime Minister Netanyahu deserves much credit for taking a brave decision. Despite the heavy price that Israel will pay to Hamas, it was right to conclude the deal, Hamas fights for the well-being of terrorists much more that it fights for the wellbeing of ordinary citizens.”


4:15 AM EST: After 1,941 days in Hamas captivity, Gilad Shalit has been released:

An Israel Defense Forces official confirmed Tuesday that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was identified at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and is "alive and well."

First images of Gilad Shalit were broadcast on Egyptian television on Tuesday as he was escorted by Egyptian security personnel at a terminal in Egypt.


(ynet). Hamas has freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from more than five years in captivity, handing him over on Tuesday to Egyptian officials who will shortly pass him on to the Israeli authorities, a Hamas military source told Reuters.

Palestinian officials in Gaza said an SUV whisked Schalit across the border and quickly returned to Gaza early Tuesday. They say buses of Palestinian prisoners are now moving from Israel into Egypt en route to Gaza.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Netanyahu: The Jewish people won't celebrate the freeing of murderers

The Jewish people will not celebrate the freeing of murderers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to say in a short speech following the planned release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit on Tuesday.
"Our people are distinguished by the fact that we don't celebrate the freeing of murderers."
Netanyahu is expected to arrive at the Tel Nof Israel Air Force base in the morning hours on Tuesday, from where he will supervise the process of Shalit's passage from the Gaza Strip, Egypt, and finally back to Israel.

Along with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz are also expected to greet the abducted IDF soldier at the IAF base upon his arrival by helicopter from Egypt.

The three top officials will then escort Shalit to a nearby facility, where he will meet his family.

The IDF soldier's arrival and reunion with his family will be closed to the media, but are expected to be documented by the IDF Spokesman's Office, as well as the Government Press Office. Images and video recordings of the meeting will then be released to news outlets.

From the Tel Nof base the Shalit family will be airlifted to their home in Mitzpe Hila, in northern Israel.

Before leaving the IAF base, Netanyahu is expected to give a short statement to reporters, in which he is to say that, for him, Shalit's release is both "a moving moment and a difficult day." He will then congratulate the IDF soldier for returning to Israel and reuniting with his family.

Peres:"The safety of each soldier is no less important than the safety of the nation as a whole."

(Jpost).President Shimon Peres on Monday morning said that everything related to the pardons of prisoners in the exchange deal for Gilad Schalit would be completed on time.

"Today is a very special day," Peres told reporters congregated in his sukkah in the presidential residence.
"These are not only long days, but very sensitive days,We're all very excited, this is a one time event with a lot of hope, but a lot of trepidation."

"Israel has confronted many problems, but also has enjoyed many successes."

"I'm always surprised that we have committees of inquiry regarding our problems, but no one has ever commissioned a committee of inquiry to investigate our successes. It's time that we did, so that we can achieve a greater perspective balance when looking at our history."
In his address to the hundreds of people who visited his sukkah , Peres paid tribute to Netanyahu for making the decision to release Schalit and to the government for accepting the collective responsibility to bring the captive soldier home in the prisoner exchange deal reached with Hamas.
"The safety of each soldier is no less important than the safety of the nation as a whole, and the anguish of a family who lost loved ones to terrorism is also the anguish of the nation."

Happy, Excited and Proud - Poll: 79% in favor of Shalit deal

Yedioth Ahronoth-Dahaf Institute survey shows Israelis are in favor of the deal securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit despite heavy price, are happy and excited ahead of its implementation but fear its consequences. Women more supportive of deal than men

Asked whether they were in favor of Shalit's release in exchange for 1,027 terrorists, 79% of the respondents said yes and only 14% said no.

Among male respondents, 74% support the deal and 19% oppose it, while 86% of the women support it and only 5% are against it.

As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conduct, 49% said he gave into public pressure while 43% believe he acted like a leader.

Asked about the deal's price, 53% said the Israeli government dropped some of its principles and 20% said Hamas conceded its principles more than Israel. Twenty percent said both sides gave up on some of their principles to a similar extent.

Respondents were then asked whether they fear for the security of Israel's citizens following the prisoner release. Fifty percent admitted that they were afraid, while 48% said they trusted Israel's security forces.

Finally, respondents were asked to describe their feelings towards the implementation of the Shalit deal. 44% said they were happy, 17% said they were excited, 15% said they felt proud, 14% were concerned, 5% felt humiliated and 3% were angry.

Netanyahu to bereaved families: The State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens

A day before the implementation of the prisoner exchange deal securing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a letter to bereaved parents whose loved ones' murderers are about to be freed from Israeli prisons.
"I write to you with a heavy heart, I belong to the bereaved family of terror victims. My brother was killed in the operation for the release of hostages in Entebbe. I know that you are experiencing negative feelings, that the wound of bereavement has been reopened these days and that you can't stop thinking about it.

"In my many deliberations throughout the negotiations, you were always on my mind, The decision to release Gilad Shalit was one of the most difficult ones I have ever made. It's difficult for me for the same reason it's difficult for you, dear family members.

"My decision to bring Gilad home was affected by the commitment of an Israeli prime minister to return a soldier sent on the State's behalf to defend its citizens. When I went to battle on behalf of the State of Israel, I always knew that the State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens.

"My strong desire to return a captive soldier home was faced by the need to reduce the heavy price the State of Israel was required to pay upon Gilad Shalit's abduction more than five years ago.

"I know that this price is especially heavy for you, I understand the difficulty to perceive that the vile people who carried out the cruel crime against your loved ones will not pay the full price they deserve.

"In these moments I hope you find comfort in the fact that I and all the people of Israel embrace you and share in your pain."

Amos Regev/ An Executive decision - Netanyahu kept his promise

(Amos regev-Israelhayom)."A manager does things right; a leader does the right things," goes a popular saying about leadership. A leader's primary attribute, the thing that sets him apart and determines how good he is, is his ability to do "the right thing." That is also the main quality expected of a military leader: the ability to make "executive decisions" amid the fog of battle, conflicting reports, contradictory intelligence assessments, and the cacophony of conflicting advice and experts pulling in opposite directions. These are the decisions that decide battles, set precedents, shape history.

In the context of the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict, the Shalit deal was an executive decision of this kind. There is no need to repeat all of the good reasons for and against the deal, which are well-known. The fact is that Prime Minister Netanyahu inherited this problem from the previous government, including earlier commitments as well as other Hamas demands which were left unresolved. The fact is that after two and a half years of negotiations, the other side had to relinquish its central demand that Israel release all "hardened" terrorists, in particular those who had become symbols. For this concession, the leaders of Hamas are absorbing unusual criticism from their side. Israel, for its part, had to agree to release murderers, people it had previously refused to release, as well as Arab-Israeli terrorists. And for this, Netanyahu is taking criticism from our side.

The bottom line, however, is most important here: Benjamin Netanyahu committed himself to work toward the release of Gilad Shalit, and he kept his promise. Plenty of ups and downs led to this bottom line, plenty of fog, and a lot of noise. Much advice, good and bad, plenty of advisors who sit on the fence and say "this way" as well as "that way." Who say, "on the one hand," and then "on the other hand." And the family, of course, and the demonstrations.

And in the midst of all this, when all is said and done, the decision belonged to one man. By himself, on his conscience, his responsibility. One can only guess what he went through, when the protests and insults were hurled at him from the outside - while he knew, without being able to so much as hint, that all the while he was working in secret to achieve the very same goal.

The media loves to criticize Netanyahu for everything, claiming, as do some of his opponents, that he is incapable of making decisions - and when he does, that they were made under pressure. The decision on the Shalit deal disproves this claim. The prime minister made an executive decision on the most sensitive issue of all - and precisely at a time when there was no immediate pressure to do so. The last big demonstrations took place over a year ago; the only ongoing protest activity came from the Shalit family's protest tent in Jerusalem. In any case, Netanyahu assessed the situation and reached the conclusion that this was the best deal that it was possible to attain, and that this was the last chance to seal the deal before the "Arab winter" hits the Middle East with all its force.

Netanyahu, as prime minister, has sometimes erred on minor, day-to-day, short-term issues. However, when it comes to identifying long-term, historic processes and trends taking shape just below the surface, on this he has often been right.

This is the one attribute that separates a leader from the mob of advisors, commentators and self-proclaimed know-it-alls, the one that makes the small difference between failure and success, between life and death. A leader can also make mistakes. But most important is his ability to do "the right thing" on the important issues. The decision on the Shalit deal saved the life of a single Israeli soldier, but it also proved that, on those issues which touch the core of our existence here as a society, a nation and a state, we have someone who is capable of making decisions. As another quote on leadership states: "There comes a time when you need to stop standing in neutral and put the car into gear."

The car carrying Gilad Shalit is on its way home.