Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vice Premier Ya'alon: Iran laughing all the way to the bomb

"Iran is laughing all the way to the bomb," Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday, while noting that a new report showed that the Islamic Republic has had produced almost 6.2 tons of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5% since it began the work in 2007. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Netanyahu: World Powers Too Soft Over Iran's Nuclear Program

Israel's prime minister thinks that world powers are being too soft over Iran's nuclear program, AP reports. Netanyahu spoke Tuesday at a security conference at Tel Aviv University.

"After several rounds of talks, the Iranians were only asked to stop low level enrichment of uranium," Netanyahu said. "They are proceeding all the time with their plans to develop nuclear bombs."

A Global “No” To a Nuclear-Armed Iran

A 21-nation Pew Global Attitudes survey finds widespread opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And in most countries, there is majority support among opponents of a nuclear-armed Iran for international economic sanctions to try to stop Tehran’s weapons program. The poll also found majorities in Western Europe and the United States disposed to taking military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. 

Iran Talks, It Just Ain't Working, Israel says.

There is no evidence Tehran's serious about curbing nuclear program, senior Israeli official says, Herb Keinon reports. 

The current round of negotiations between the world powers and Iran is “not working,” a senior Israeli official said Monday, adding that after two meetings there is “not an iota of evidence indicating the Iranians are in any way serious about curbing their nuclear program.” What the international community put on the table “is less than what is needed, and even those minimal demands were rejected by the Iranians.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bibi, King of Israel and the Jewish People - Netanyahu tops Jpost most influential Jews list

Netanyahu tops JPost's list of 50 most influential Jews. In the introduction , Herb Keinon writes that "there is no Jew alive who has greater influence on current international events than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu." 
"No Jew really holds a candle to the influence that the 62-year-old Netanyahu – by virtue of his position as the leader of the sovereign Jewish state, a position he solidified recently by significantly expanding his government – wields over world affairs."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart."

Speaking at the State's official Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill, Netanyahu said that "Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart." 
 "The people who say that we should split Jerusalem believe that this would bring peace," he said. "They believe it, but they are wrong... Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people and it will not be divided." 

Netanyahu Draws Sketch of The Old City of Jerusalem

PM Benjamin Netanyahu tweets this morning, a personal arts work by the PM during his flight to Prague, drawing a sketch of the old city of Jerusalem, the Tower of David and an Israeli flag flying on top, with the caption: Jerusalem Forever.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Obama at G8: Resolve Iranian issue in a peaceful fashion that respects Iran's sovereignty

US President Barack Obama stressed at start of the G8 meeting at Camp David, that the situation in Iran is 'very worrying': 
"I think all of us agree that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power, but that its continuing violations of international rules and norms and its inability thus far to convince the world community that it is not pursuing the weaponization of nuclear power is something of grave concern to all of us." 

"We are hopeful about the discussions that will be taking [place] in Baghdad, but all of us are firmly committed to continuing with the approach of sanctions and pressure, in combination with diplomatic discussions. And our hope is, is that we can resolve this issue in a peaceful fashion that respects Iran's sovereignty and its rights in the international community, but also recognizes its responsibilities."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Netanyahu on the Baghdad Talks: 'Count Me Among The Skeptics'

Just days ahead of the final and crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran, in Baghdad, Prime minister Netanyahu told Reporters in Prague, that a diplomatic solution would be the best option to stop Iran, yet he expressed skepticism about the ongoing negotiations, since “I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program.” 

King Bibi's Hasbara Efforts - Quality Time with TIME

Haaretz' diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid questions PM Netanyahu's motive of spending quality time with U.S. and foreign journalists, rather than being more accessible to the Israeli media. 

The TIME magazine's cover story is the real answer
"An article such as this would never be published by the Israeli media. Not because Netanyahu is not a talented and powerful politician, and not because of the hostility that Netanyahu has for the Israeli press. The main reason is far more trivial – for the past three years, no Israeli journalist has been granted the kind of access to Netanyahu that the editor of TIME was granted – it is mainly only American journalists who get this level of quality time with the prime minister. 

Behind the Scenes of TIME's Cover Photo

Prime Minister Netanyahu uploads a 55 second recap video - behind the scenes of TIME magazine's cover photo of the Prime Minister with the caption: King Bibi.

Title: Three Hours and One Picture

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reuters Report: Israeli Leaders Nearing a Decision on Iran

Reuters knows some hidden secret, and according to their sources, a decision on Iran is nearing, by the Israeli leadership.
"A private door opens from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in central Jerusalem directly into a long, modestly furnished, half-paneled room decorated with modern paintings by Israeli artists and a copy of Israel's 1948 declaration of independence. It contains little more than a long wooden table, brown leather chairs and a single old-fashioned white projector screen. This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program."

ARCHIVE: TIME magazine profile of Bibi Netanyahu in 1996

I obtained from TIME magazine's archives, the first profile on Benjamin Netanyahu, from June10, 1996, when he first became Israel's youngest Prime Minister, at the age of 45.
When Benjamin Netanyahu's grandfather immigrated to Palestine from Lithuania in 1920, he changed his family name to one that means "God's gift." The grandson often seems to take that literally. Israel's new Prime Minister is self-assured; but more than that, he has the air of someone who is pleased with himself, someone who thinks he knows more than those around him--and deserves more. It is visible in his swagger, his smirk, his well-practiced gestures. Only a man with supreme confidence and a generous sense of entitlement could have wrested control of the Likud Party as a relative newcomer. And only a man with such qualities would, at 46, have sought to become Israel's Prime Minister, a post to which no one under 60 had ever been elected.

TIME Magazine cover: KING BIBI

TIME’s cover story this week, written by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel, profiles Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
TIME’s managing editor Rick Stengel:
"Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant."

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Don't be sad [Bibi], your father wants you to be happy"

An Eight-year-old Israeli girl stirs Prime minister Netanyahu's emotions with a heartfelt condolence letter, Israel Hayom reports.
"Don't be sad," Gaia Talmon of Raanana, wrote to the prime minister. "Your father wants you to be happy." 

"I saw you on TV when your father died," she wrote. "I wanted to tell you not to be sad because he was 102 years old and did a lot in his life. Think about him wanting you to be happy always and manage our country in a good way." 

Talmon didn't forget to add: "What you still have left to do is bring peace, because our country is perfect (almost perfect, because we still don't have a water park in Raanana)." 

Netanyahu read the letter and couldn't ignore it, responding to the girl on Tuesday with his own personal letter. 

"I received many letters since my father passed away, but yours moved me in a special way,” he wrote. “I see that you care about me and that you were sad because of my sadness. Thank you, dear Gaia."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shaul Mofaz sworn in as Netanyahu's Vice Premier

The Knesset voted 71-23 on Wednesday afternoon to add Kadima leader, Shaul Mofaz to the government as a cabinet minister and vice prime minister. Mofaz will fulfill Netanyahu’s place and duties when the Prime Minister is abroad. 

Mofaz was immediately sworn into office.

Polls: Israelis Embrace Unity Deal; Israel Wants Bibi

Channel 10 poll conducted by the Sample Project company, found that 44 percent of the Israeli public supports Kadima’s joining Netanyahu's coalition:
44 percent of the Israeli public supports Kadima’s joining Netanyahu's coalition. In contrast, 37 percent said they opposed the move, while 18 percent of respondents claimed that they had no opinion on the subject.
The poll also found that Netanyahu continues to be the leading candidate were elections to be held in the near future. The poll found that 43 percent of the Israeli public believes Netanyahu is best suited to serve as Prime Minister.
The poll also found that Netanyahu’s popularity index has risen by five percent. Tuesday’s poll found that after he postponed the elections in favor of a broad unity government, Netanyahu’s popularity index stood at 46 percent, whereas in a previous poll conducted before the announcement, his popularity was 41 percent.
Israel Hayom poll conducted by the New Wave Research company shows 39.6% of Israeli public approve of unity government. 39.8% of public favors Netanyahu as next PM: 
When asked if they supported postponing elections and the formation of the unity government, 39.6% answered positively and 31.9% answered negatively. Twenty-eight percent said they were undecided. When asked who they felt is most suitable to serve as the next prime minister of Israel, 39.8% of respondents said Netanyahu, a significant uptick compared to an Israel Hayom poll conducted two weeks ago in which 29% said they would vote for Netanyahu. 

The biggest leap in support for Netanyahu came from the religious sector — more than 60% said Netanyahu is most suitable to be the next prime minister — followed by around 51% of 35-44 year-olds who felt the same way. More than 50% of people with average incomes also favored Netanyahu as the next prime minister. 
Maariv poll shows Israelis are divided on unity deal:
In a survey published in the Maariv newspaper on Wednesday, 30.7 percent of respondents expressed support for the formation of the surprise coalition, with 29.9 percent saying they were opposed and 31 percent expressing indifference. But over half of respondents -- 50.9 percent -- said the move was "justified as far as the interests of the country are concerned." 

The Maariv poll also showed that a solid majority, 57.4%, believe the new government will stay in power until the next elections, scheduled for fall 2013. 

On the plus side, the Maariv poll revealed that a slim majority, 44.9%, versus 39.5%, believes that the unity coalition advances Israel’s position vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear threat.  
Haaretz/Dialog poll shows most Israelis believe the Likud-Kadima unity deal was driven by personal and political considerations rather than the national good: 
63 percent of respondents said the coalition was created for narrow political reasons, and only 23% said it was for the sake of the country’s future. Netanyahu and Mofaz stressed repeatedly at their joint press conference Tuesday that they had joined forces “in the national interest.”
Channel 2 poll:

Monday, May 7, 2012

UPDATED: The Deal: Unity Government Untill November 2013 - Mofaz Vice Premier

The details By Ilan Ben Zion-Times of Israel:
Shortly after 2:30 AM Netanyahu and Mofaz arrived at the Knesset to brief their parties of the details of their agreement. Kadima joined the government in exchange for Mofaz’s appointment as a deputy prime minister, a minister without portfolio, and a cabinet member. 

Additionally, the government will propose a replacement for the Tal Law, which is set to expire in August. Mofaz said that in the coming year Kadima will receive additional ministerial positions. Both parties have agreed that the 18th Knesset will complete its term and elections will be held on schedule in November 2013. 

“Moments before the dissolution of the Knesset, a hasty meeting to establish a national unity government,” Likud MK Carmel Shama Cohen wrote on his Facebook wall. Initial reports indicated that Netanyahu and Mofaz identified a common interest in staving off early elections and forging a new unity partnership: It would reduce the prime minister’s dependence on the smaller factions that have been pressuring him, and it would give Mofaz a chance to try to build up Kadima’s public standing. 

Jacob Kornbluh explaining the political developments, for those not familiar with Israeli politics:
"This was the shortest election season in the history of Israel. Last week Monday, amid facing problematic difficulties in operating as a stable government, and the failure to come to an agreement with the Ultra-Orthodox parties and coalition partners on a national service bill, replacing the Tal-Law, PM Netanyahu called for early Knesset elections, in order to restore government stability, and the prevent any of the smaller parties to threaten to leave and break the coalition. 

Riding high in the poll, the motive to call for early elections was viewed as an attempt of Netanyahu to take advantage of his popularity and get a renewed mandate, if according to some polls Obama is elected to a second term. In a dramatic shift that took the Israeli political establishment yet again by surprise, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz signed late Monday night an agreement to form a nation unity government that will serve until October 2013. 

To Run the Government: In order to serve as Prime Minister, you need to have a majority - sixty one of the 120 seats in the Parliament (aka Knesset). Obviously, over the past decades, no party won enough seats, so the government operates as a coalition of various parties. 

The Government Until Now Comprised of 67 Seats: Bibi’s Likud 17; Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu 15; Shas 11, Barak 5, United Torah Judaism 5, Jewish Home 4. 

What Could Have Been: Because the Ultra religious parties such as Shas and UTJ are not happy with Bibi’s approach to the alternative Tal Law, they could threaten to leave the coalition. So in order to prevent or preempt such a move, he called for early elections, and with polls showing him gaining more seats on the backs of others, he had the upper hand. 

What Happened Now: Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Kadima, fearing of losing many seats and lose the chance of even become relevant in a future government, offered to join Bibi’s coalition and negotiated a deal to form a unity government. Thus, giving Netanyahu a strong NINTY FIVE seat majority - the largest coalition in Israel’s history. Now even if Shas, UTJ decide to leave the coalition, Bibi will still remain in power with a stronger and larger government, since Kadima is now on board. 

What it means for Iran (and Obama): Well… Bibi is now stronger than ever.
UPDATE: Likud MK, Danny Dannon opposes unity deal:


Dramatic late night development in the Knesset. after voting on the first reading of the proposed Knesset dissolution bill, PM Netanyahu and Kadima Chairman, Shaul Mofaz agreed to form a unity government in an attempt to prevent Knesset elections in September, a move that would only benefit the Likud. 

Likud and Kadima are meeting now to sign on coalition agreement, and a government reshuffle is due to be brought to approval in the Knesset. 

details to follow as this breaking news unfolds.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Call to Action: Ariel, Do What is Right - Stand United behind Netanyahu for a Strong and a Powerful Likud

(by Jacob Kornbluh). Israeli Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, riding high in the polls, and who is consistently considered among the Israeli public as the only alternative to Bibi, as the next Prime minister of Israel, took the initiative and the political risk this week, to announce early Knesset elections set for September 4th 2012. 

While Netanyahu is credited for bringing the world's awareness to the Iranian threat, taking affirmative actions against Hamas and Jihad Islamic terror organizations, placing the ball in the Palestinians court in testing their seriousness on resuming peace negotiations with Israel, and once and for all leading Israel with a stabilized government. Yet, for some in the Likud this is not enough. 

Anglo Likud Central Committee member Gidon Ariel has taken it upon himself to defend democracy within his party, running against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the position of Likud Convention President on Sunday evening. The Likud Convention will determine how Likud MKs will be re-elected as well as make various changes in the Likud constitution. 

Ariel, a major figure in the Likud's Maale Adumim chapter, and a frequent guest on the Bibi Report Radio show, decided to challenge Netanyahu after a Likud spokeswoman announced that, in order to show a united front before the general election in September, presidency contenders Government Services Minister Michael Eitan and MK Danny Danon dropped out of the race. 

 Ariel’s candidacy can be seen as the Likud Central Committee members attempt to keep the power with the Likud and challenge some of the Prime Minister’s policies with which they might not agree. 

However, while the motive might be very genuine and presented as protecting the Likud's constitution or platform, the move to challenge the prime minister as he struggles to move forward for another year in operating the government with great stability, should be viewed as undermining the Prime minister's effort to present a strong united Likud party. Since the Prime minister's daily survival in handling the government is dependent on the coalition partners, any move that can be seen as weakening Netanyahu's leadership role in the Likud, is a move that will ultimately weaken the Likud party' dominating lead in the polls and effect the Prime minister's effort to strengthen the Likud as tan enforced ruling party in the next Knesset. 

 Netanyahu's high approval ratings and popularity should not blindly lead hardline, right-wing likud activists to take credit for the Likud's current position. Rush to lick the bones dry by scoring political points and national attention, winning over the Chairman that has brought the Likud back to power and has successfully led Israel towards political, economical and security stability. 

And don't forget Gidon, which Prime Minister stood head to head against Obama's unprecedented policies, handled victoriously Israel's diplomacy to its present stance and managed to halt the Palestinians effort to be granted statehood at the UN, and stood strong against any effort to delegitimize Israel or force upon Israel a peace proposal that would harm Israel's security.

I call upon you, Mr. Gideon Ariel: drop your candidacy immediately and stand behind the leadership of Mr. Netanyahu - for a strong and powerful Likud, and a promising brighter future for Israel.

Netanyahu in hand-written letter: “You touched my heart in my time of grief."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a hand-written letter to the people of the State of Israel, thanking them for coming to console him after the death of his father. 

The letter, written by the Prime Minister and posted on his personal Facebook page, expressed gratitude to the thousands of Israelis who paid respect and wished condolneces at the shiva house of his father, Dr. Benzion Netanyahu, who passed away on April 30 at the age of 102.
“I’d like to thank from the depths of my heart the many thousands of you who came to my father’s house to give your condolences to my family and me, and to the tens of thousands who sent messages of comfort and support." 

“You touched my heart in my time of grief, From Jerusalem, I send my thanks to all of you.”

Netanyahu Announces Speedy Elections - Lays Out Theme: Powerful Likud, Experienced Leadership and Stable Government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early Knesset elections, and urged for a short four month election campaign, in order to restore the government's stability. In a speech at the Likud convention in Tel Aviv, Prime minister Netanyahu blamed the coalition partners for forcing him to announce elections ahead of next year's Knesset elections.

"For dozens of years the government was not very stable," Netanyahu said."With the start of the fourth year of this government,Coalition stability has begun to crumble, opening the door to blackmail and populism," he said. "I will not lend a hand to an elections campaign of a year and a half that would destabilize the government. I prefer short elections of four months that could quickly bring back the stability to the political system." 

"We will form a broad government and continue to powerfully lead the state of Israel – in order to ensure the future of the Israeli nation in the state of Israel forever," he said 

In first election speech, Netanyahu touted his government's economic and security achievements, including investment of billions of shekels in higher education and in instituting free education from age 3. Netanyahu said housing prices are going down due to large scale construction and taxation of working parents with small children has been cut. 

Netanyahu made the case for his reelection - calling for a strong and powerful Likud party, government stability and experienced leadership to lead Israel in the coming years. 

On the security front, Netanyahu took credit for calm situation. "We have systematically struck those who planned to strike us," Netanyahu said. "We took the initiative and we responded resolutely to every attack on us. We proved that we take care of security with force and with good judgment." 

"We did not forget," he added, to loud applause. "We brought home our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit." 

Hinting at Labor head Shelly Yechimovich, his strongest challenger at present, Netanyahu said: "The state of Israel cannot afford a prime minister without experience in diplomacy, security and economics." 

 Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said: "Until three years ago, Iran went forward with its nuclear program almost unmolested, and today, largely because of our activity, the world is taking action against the Iranian nuclear program. Of course, Iran is trying to fool the world but we will not reduce the pressure until the threat is truly removed."

Netanyahu to officially announce early elections at Likud convention

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to formally announce early election for the Knesset and premiership, set for September 4 elections.