Israel News for May 25, 2016

Done Deal
PM Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman finalized the agreement today that will bring Yisrael Beiteynu, with its six Knesset seats into the government. The PM said, “I welcome Avigdor Lieberman and his faction members as important partners to the coalition. I value his experience, we’ve worked together before for the security and welfare of the people of Israel.”

Referring to past disagreements with Liberman, the PM said, “It’s no secret we’ve disagreed with each other, that’s part of political life. Sometimes, in the heat of the argument, things were said by both of us that should not have been said. Now, we join hands to help Israel march forward.”

He also, once again, called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to join the government, “so we can have a broader government, a true unity government that would strengthen the unity among the people.”

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Not so Fast
But wait, the drama is not over just yet. The new coalition agreement must be approved by the Knesset and by the government, and Bayit Yehudi Leader Naftali Bennett is threatening to vote against it. Bennett is demanding that a special military secretary be added to the cabinet in order to brief ministers on all breaking military issues. His demand comes in the wake of an official report that blamed the cabinet for mishandling Operation Protective Edge and The Second Lebanon War. Bennett claims that the military secretary to the cabinet will prevent those mishandling in the future.

Explaining his demand, Bennett said, “according to the law, the cabinet is the commander-in-chief of the IDF, not the prime minister or the defense minster. My concrete demand is to equip members of cabinet with intelligence and some tools so they could function better. The cabinet military secretary will meet with cabinet members on a regular basis and brief them on what’s happening on each of our borders, what is the situation of the enemy, what acquisitions the IDF is making, and more. We could delve into any important topic with him.”

Sounds like a reasonable request, but MK Yariv Levin, who heads the coalition negotiations on behalf of the Likud, has rejected Bennett’s demand out of hand. “We’re not renegotiating the coalition agreements with any of the partners, including Bayit Yehudi.”

Israel National Security Council chief Ya’akov Nagel was also critical of the demand, explaining that, “”Every minister can receive all the relevant information and receive preparation for the cabinet from members of the National Security Council. Every minister who wanted to – and there were ministers who wanted to – received all the relevant material ahead of cabinet discussions.”

The National Security Council produces a daily intelligence report on ongoing security matters and other issues, and Nagel made clear any minister who wanted to could receive this report and additional information that details the operational plans of the IDF.

Don’t worry, they’ll think of something.

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B’tselem Complaints
B’Tselem, the watchdog NGO that monitors alleged abuses of Palestinians by the IDF, has announced that it will stop filing Palestinians’ complaints against IDF soldiers with the military justice system. The group claims that its petitions have brought no justice.

In a statement, the NGO said, “The organization does not wish to assist authorities in their attempts to create a false picture of justice being served. B’Tselem has decided to no longer approach the military law enforcement system. This also applies to cases in which soldiers are suspected of violating the law, even with the understanding that Palestinian victims have no other recourse for filing a complaint against those who harm them.”

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PM is Sephardi
We all know that PM Netanyahu is a master politician, but this goes way beyond anything you could imagine. At a visit to the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, the PM announced that based on DNA testing done on his brother, he is part Sephardi.

The Netanyahu family, which is originally from Lithuania and is directly descendant from the Vilna Gaon, has Spanish roots. That’s not exactly “mizrahi”, which is what the majority of Israelis who came from Arab lands are, but it’s close enough to claim dual membership in both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic population.

So who needs a “unity government” when you have a “unity Prime Minister”?

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Gett Serious
Uber beware. The Israelis are coming after you, with a vengeance. Israeli tax-hailing company Gett (formerly Get Taxi) announced today that it has raised $300 million from German carmaker Volkswagen. This brings the amount raised by the Tel Aviv-based company to $520 million.

Gett was founded in 2010 and offers a range of transport and courier services in 60 cities worldwide including New York, London, and Moscow.

So a German company is funding an Israeli startup to compete against an American company with a German name. Next time you need a cab, consider going with the Israelis. And don’t worry, you most likely won’t get an Israeli driver – – unless you’re in Israel.

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