EIPA’s meeting with MK Hilik Bar

 

EIPA Director Alex Benjamin and MK Hilik Bar

EIPA Director Alex Benjamin and MK Hilik Bar

On 11th of November 2015, EIPA’s team had the privilege to meet MK Hilik Bar, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and Secretary General of the Israel Labour Party (Avoda).

MK Bar displayed his Peace Plan to Members of the Parliament, and to our team.

MK Bar’s Diplomatic Outline was quoted several times in resolutions coming from the socialist group in the EP. However, they never accepted to write “Two states for two people”, recognising a sovereign Jewish State and a sovereign Palestinian State. MK Bar repeadly said yesterday that the only solution was two states for two people, and that History taught us the Jews need a state.

Second from the left: MEP Victor Bostinaru, MK Hilik Bar and MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu

Second from the left: MEP Victor Bostinaru, MK Hilik Bar and MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu

We presented to MK Bar to MK Bar our ongoing campaign on the conditionality of EU Aid toward the PA. EIPA is asking the EU to pressure the PA to stop incitement to violence.

The Congress already cut US Aid taking Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to task for “incitement” of violence against Jewish Israelis.

As a cross party organisation, it is important to meet representatives of Israel’s second largest party, as we work with MEPS from across the political board.


Letter to HR Federica Mogherini and to EP President Martin Schulz

Today a group of 13 MEPs, who support Israel and are friends of EIPA or sit on our Advisory committee, sent a letter to High Representative Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz calling on them to issue a clear and unambiguous statement to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, that inflammatory language and his silence in refusing to condemn the recent murders and stabbings against Israeli citizens will not be tolerated by the EU.

A highly appreciated action in these difficult times.

Brussels, 7 October 2015

Dear High Representative Mogherini, Dear President Schulz,

We, as Members of the European Parliament, Members of EIPA’s Advisory Committee and friends of EIPA, are deeply concerned at the recent increase in inflammatory language coming from the Palestinian Authority leadership, and Mahmoud Abbas in particular.
We are equally concerned at the silence and lack of condemnatory statements from Mr Abbas with regards to the murders of two parents in front of their children in the West Bank on Thursday, and the resounding silence following the stabbing murders and injuries inflicted against Israeli citizens this weekend in Jerusalem.
UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon had already condemned Mr Abbas, fearing that his recent inflammatory statements on events at the Temple Mount would increase tensions in Jerusalem. His fears were well founded.

Following Mr Abbas’ speech at the UN General Assembly last week – in which he stated that the Palestinian Authority no longer felt bound by the Oslo Accord Framework – The military wing of Fatah claimed responsibility for the murders of the young Israeli parents Eitam and Na’ama Henkin.

A Hamas spokesman praised the attack by the “brave resistance,” calling the murderous act “heroic,” and called for its members to carry out more attacks against Israel. The Popular Resistance Committees also “blessed” the attack, saying it was a natural reaction to “Israeli crimes.”

Israel has, in stark contrast, immediately condemned and brought the full weight of justice to bear on Israeli citizens who attack and murder Palestinian citizens.

We take note and welcome the EEAS statements in light of the murders and events in Jerusalem. You will also be aware of the Israeli Prime Minister’s desire to begin peace process negotiations immediately and without pre-conditions. This offer, which must be grasped, is still on the table.
High Representative, President, events in Israel and the West Bank are taking a worrying turn. Many are claiming that a third intifada has already begun.
We press upon you the need for an unambiguous and clear European repudiation of the language used by Mr. Abbas to date, his silence in the face of brutal and unwarranted murders of Israeli citizens, and his failure to properly respond and engage with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of peace negotiations.
We urge you to issue this clear and unambiguous statement as soon as possible, so that the Palestinian leadership understands that incitement to hatred, and silence in the face of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel’s population have consequences and will not be tolerated by the European Union.
Yours Faithfully,

MEP Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy)
MEP Frédérique Ries (ALDE, Belgium)
MEP Boris Zala (S&D, Slovakia)
MEP Ramon Tremosa Balcells (ALDE, Spain)
MEP Lars Adaktusson (EPP, Sweden)
MEP Petro Auštrevičiaus biuras (ALDE, Lithuania)
MEP Milan Zver EPP, Slovenia)
MEP Marijana Petir (EPP, Croatia)
MEP Bas Belder (ECR, the Netherlands)
MEP Hannu Takkula (ALDE, Finland)
MEP Arne Gericke (ECR, Germany)
MEP Cristian Preda (EPP, Romania)
MEP Branislav Škripek (ECR, Slovakia)


Israel to EU: Halt funding of NGOs working against us

Italian PM Matteo Renzi and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely

Italian PM Matteo Renzi and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely

Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely meets European officials to demand governments stop providing cash to allegedly anti-Israel organizations.
Israel is demanding that European Union member states halt funding to non-governmental organizations allegedly working to delegitimize the Jewish state. The Foreign Ministry claims that European governments provide 100-200 million euros annually to said groups.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has begun a series of consultations with European foreign ministers, their deputies, and ambassadors of several European countries, in which she is presenting evidence that their governments provide financial assistance to organizations that support boycotts against Israel, “blacken its face around the world, accuse it of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes; deprive the Jewish people of their right to self-determination, call to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and support the right of return”.

Hotovely claimed that some of these organizations are associated with and actively support terror groups.

Hotovely has met withthe Dutch foreign minister, the Spanish deputy foreign minister, and the ambassadors of Sweden, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Switzerland.

According to Hotovely, the diplomats were presented with detailed documents collected by the Foreign Ministry and the NGO Monitor organization that prove the “problematic” funding. She emphasized that Israel sees support for organizations opposing its right to exist as crossing a red line.

Hotovely has instructed Israeli ambassadors in Europe to demand that ministries increase thier overview of funds given to such groups, warning that if her premptive diplomatic move fails, Israel will be forced to adopt legislation forbidding foreign countries from backing organizations with a clear anti-Israel bent.

According to Deputy Minister Hotovely, these are some of the European investments in such organizations in recent years:

The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University in the West Bank, which received $10.5 million from the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The funds were to go to 24 political organizations over three years.

In 2014, the governments of Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the EU provided NIS 415,741 to the Coalition of Women for Peace, an organization that supports aspects of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

The Netherlands provided NIS 13 million in the last three years to numerous NGOs, including Who Profits, Al-Haq, the Coalition of Women for Peace, and Al-Mezan.

Denmark provided NIS 23 million in the last three years to several NGOs, including Breaking the Silence, BADIL, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and other Palestinian organizations.

Switzerland provided NIS 5 million over the last three years to organizations like the Alternative Information Center, Zochrot, the Applied Research Institute, and Terrestrial Jerusalem.

Spain gave NIS 3.8 million in the last three years to groups including Breaking the Silence, the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Alternative Information Center, and NOVA, a Spanish BDS organization.

The United Kingdom provided NIS 12 million in 2008-2011 to Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, Gisha, Bimkom, Terrestrial Jerusalem, and No Legal Frontiers.

 By Itamar Eichner, Ynetnews.com

 


EIPA Special Update: The Iran Deal

 High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gesture during a press conference in the course of the talks between the E3+3 (France, Germany, UK, China, Russia, US) and Iran in Vienna, Austria, 14 July 2015.   EPA/HERBERT NEUBAUER

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, 14 July 2015. EPA/HERBERT NEUBAUER

Dear friends,

As you will know, some of the world powers signed an accord with Iran after a fraught and long period of negotiations that ran long past the deadline of June 30th.

 The spin-doctors have been out in force, seeking to drive the media consensus that this is historic, unparalleled and will usher in a new period of West-Iran relations.

We ask you not to believe the hype. This is not a good deal. Putting aside the clear implications for the State of Israel that are obvious, the deal falters on a number of fronts.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has made the following points that we at EIPA feel are a rational and responsible take on the deal.

It short, the deal is bad because:

  • It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. It leaves Iran’s current capabilities almost entirely intact and allows Iran to improve those capabilities by conducting research and development on advanced centrifuges and building intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.
  • It allows Iran to continue its significant enrichment of uranium far beyond any practical civilian needs. These capabilities have been acquired by deception, concealment, and above all recurring violations of UN Security Council and IAEA resolutions.
  • The Iranian nuclear crisis began and intensified after two massive intelligence failures: Natanz and Arak,  and Fordow.  The international community learned of these major nuclear facilities only after after they were operational. There is no reason to believe that Iran will start cooperating tomorrow, but the deal all but guarantees that it will nonetheless have the nuclear infrastructure it would need to produce a nuclear arsenal.
  • The restrictions being placed on Iran’s nuclear program are only temporary, with the most important restrictions expiring in 10 years, and they are not contingent on Iran’s behavior. In 10 years, Iran could be even more aggressive toward its neighbors, sponsor even more terrorism around the globe and work even harder to destroy Israel, and the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would still be automatically removed.
  • It sparks a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Because states throughout the region know that the deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb, a number of them will race to get nuclear weapons of their own. The most dangerous region on earth would get infinitely more dangerous.
  • The deal transfers to the Iranian regime’s coffers $150 billion that is now frozen in foreign bank accounts. Tens of billions are likely to flow to the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and other Iranian terror proxies in the region. 

For all these reasons (and indeed more such as the security of the State of Israel) EIPA believes a historic and monumental miscalculation has been made that benefits Iran and nobody else.


EIPA Advisory Board Delegation to Israel, 30th of June – 3rd of July 2015

Last week, Europe Israel Public Affairs hosted 7 Members of the European Parliament for a three day delegation to the State of Israel.

 

Many were members of the EIPA Advisory Board, made up of Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum. We held a series of meetings with Israeli ministers, government officials and Members of the Israeli Parliament. The agenda also included a briefing by IDF Lt. Yitzak Malca on Mount Bental, on the challenges and dangers IDF medical units face while trying to save Syrian refugees that cross over the Syrian border in order to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Minister Gilad Erdan, recently appointed to head Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information, emphasised the strategic interests that the EU and Israel share while pointing out the tension arising when the EU puts pressure on only one partner in the peace process. Setting in place and carrying out economic sanctions against Israel not only alienates Israel, but also sends the message to the Palestinians that the EU rewards unilateral action without asking them to address the existing Palestinian terror infrastructure.

The delegation was also briefed by the Head of the National Security Council, Yossi Cohen on the wider Middle East and on the various Islamic terrorist branches competing for territory and ideological supremacy all around Israel’s borders. Mr. Cohen also updated the MEPs on Israel’s position regarding the current E3+ 3 nuclear negotiations with Iran, underlining that regardless of the nuclear deal, Iran remains the main sponsor of global terrorism.

The Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel, MEP Fulvio Martusciello, together with the rest of the delegation, met with MK Yaakov Peri, his newly appointed Israeli counterpart. The two chairs agreed to hold a joint Knesset-EP meeting in the next couple of months.

Because Israel is a pluralist democratic state, it was important that the Delegation also had the opportunity to hear the voice of the opposition party, Zionist Union, MK Nachman Shai, who shared his party position on the many social issues that Israel needs to address as a country.


Debate on the role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process

The debate on the role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process was postponed at the last minute!

The Socialists group decided to postpone in order to have it in the presence of Mrs Frederica Mogherini, VP and High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

The EP will vote on a text on this issue in September. It gives YOU the whole summer to talk to your MEP about it!

Stay tuned on the 22 July, for some announcement on the Middle East by the Foreign Affairs Council.


Meeting of the Delegation for relations with Israel in EP

Today, the delegation will host the following speakers:

– Mr Jafar Farah, Director, Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel

-Mr Leonello Gabrici, Head of Division, Middle East II, Israel, occupied territories and Middle East Peace Process, European External Action Service

-Mr Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit, Governance, Democracy, Gender, Human Rights, DG DEVCO, European Commission

Check this space for news about this meeting!

View the agenda here!


“If in doubts, don’t shoot”

Hearing at the European Parliament Human Rights Committee with Stand with Us and Breaking the Silence

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple”, said Oscar Wilde.

 At the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human Rights meeting today in Brussels, this adage was put to the test.

On the one side, was Breaking the Silence, presenting their testimonies gathered from 70 soldiers who served during Operation Protective Edge alleging that Israel acted illegally in that war, on the other Matan Katzman, a former soldier, trainee lawyer and Regional Executive of Stand With Us, and Ohad Zemet, from the office of the legal adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.

There is no doubt that last summer’s war was bloody, awful and should not be repeated.

But what became abundantly clear as the meeting progressed was the stark contrast between Hamas and the IDF when it came to respect for fundamental human rights. Whilst Hamas eagerly uses the Palestinian population as collateral damage in their PR war, Israel respects International Humanitarian Law and laws of armed conflicts, as repeatedly stated by high ranking generals and majors from the US and other countries who have observed and seek to emulate IDF best practice in cases of armed conflict. 

In a moving and deeply personal testimony, Mr Katzman outlined a number of situations he found himself in during the army’s incursion into Gaza.

As far from the IDF blood lust as propagated by Hamas and some such as Breaking the Silence as it is possible to get, Mr Katzman outlined a restrained and moral approach by the IDF, guided by his training and the maxim “if in doubt, don’t shoot”.

Not only is this a moral imperative, but a legal one too. Mr Zemet outlined the strict guidelines in place that ensure Israel meets, and often exceeds international legal norms.

 This approach entails extensive early warning systems, limitations on timings and locations of counter strikes. “Hamas is probably the only enemy in the world that receives advance warnings of places and timings of counter strikes” said Mr Zemet.

“Of course”, surmised Mr Katzman, “there are bad eggs in every batch, but Israeli society rejects them. They don’t represent the army as a whole and are judged, trialled and sentenced to the full extent of the law.”

Not something that can be said for Hamas terrorists who use human shields and whose actions are glorified and celebrated with impunity.

 This is one truth that even the contrarian Mr Wilde couldn’t dispute

Click here to read about how Israel’s army meets international legal norms


EIPA Update from the 29th of May

FIFA President Sepp Blatter at a press conference in Jerusalem, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. (photo credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter at a press conference in Jerusalem, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. (photo credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

For the full Newsletter, follow this link!

“For he’s football crazy, He’s football mad, The football it has taken away
the little bit o’ sense he had…”

Some of you might remember these words from a popular song a couple of decades ago. The chorus soon became part of everyday language and it was sung by disgruntled wives, mothers and girlfriends.

But this week, it took on a whole new meaning, as we watched one of the largest edifices of world football – FIFA – crumble at its very foundations as a corruption scandal involving cash for favours, bribery and the footballing equivalent of nepotism gnawed away at its reputation.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president is feeling the heat. Already many members are calling for his head on a plate, desperate to salvage a modicum of decorum and respect for the organisation.

What has any of this to do with Israel you might ask?

Well, followers of football may be aware about the ridiculous Palestinian bid to have Israel kicked out of FIFA.

And today is D-DAY.

A couple of days ago, the vote was, well, a non-vote. It didn’t have the requisite support and was essentially just about a PR and media blitz by Palestinians, in short politics by press release.

But there are now genuine fears in Jerusalem’s corridors of power that the current corruption scandal and a Presidential vote later might, in the end, lead to a vote on ousting Israel from the organization.

Why? Because in his bid for re-election, Blatter may require a substantial number of votes from the World’s Arab nations due to possible opposition from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Blatter could call the Palestinian proposal to a vote in order to appease the Arab states.

It is said some people will do anything to cling onto power. Could Israel be the victim of such machinations and an internal FIFA power play? We will have to wait and see…

In other news this week, in a worrying sign of increasing tensions and hostility along its borders, Israel prepares to undertake a massive security drill.

We also bring you news about a baby induced by a rocket attack (a perfect riposte don’t you think? Those who want death, got a new Israeli life instead).

Lastly, are you one of those people that take pictures of your food in restaurants? Here at EIPA we are not sure we approve of this trend, but nonetheless if the answer is yes then there’s a new restaurant in Tel Aviv that is taking it to a whole new level. Read on

Thanks as always for your support. Until next week.


Mogherini ‘glad to hear’ Netanyhu’s commitment to two states

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speak to the media on May 20, 2015. (AFP/POOL/DAN BALILTY)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speak to the media on May 20, 2015.
(AFP/POOL/DAN BALILTY)

“I am glad to hear his commitment to two states. EU ready to help,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini tweeted Wednesday night after a meeting with Israeli  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu publicly pledged his support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in his first clear policy statement on the issue since his new government was formed last week.

“I don’t support a one state solution – I don’t believe that’s a solution at all,” Netanyahu said as he met with Mogherini who is on a two-day visit.

“I support the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and I look forward to discussing with you how we can advance that vision forth in a practical, secure and responsible way,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu assured Mogherini that he was committed to resolving the conflict.

“Israel wants peace. I want peace. We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all. My position has not changed,” Netanyahu said. He added that Israel has taken tangible steps to make life easier for the Palestinians.

“We’ve taken economic steps, added measures for reconstruction and development and ensuring ongoing humanitarian support. We’ll continue with those practical steps,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister added that “if I look around at our region and the world, the most dangerous enemy of peace is Iran.” ” Iran is arming and training Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Iran is opening a third terror front against Israel in the Golan and it is pursuing its nuclear program, which I believe poses the greatest threat to the region and to the world.”

He stressed that the Lausanne program ”will not block Iran’s path to the bomb.” “Iran’s emerging deal with the world powers facilitates and legitimizes Iran’s continued development of the capabilities of forming nuclear weapons. And by prematurely easing sanctions, the deal will give Iran many billions of dollars with which to fund its aggression and its worldwide terror campaign.”

Prior to her arrival in the region, Mogherini said that the EU wanted to play a major role in relaunching the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians “on the basis of the two-state solution.”

“The EU is interested in peace and security for Israel and for the region because this is also our European peace and security.”

Earlier in Ramallah, where she met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Mogherini spoke against the status quo and said that it was a European, Palestinian and Israeli interest “to move forward, because there is no status quo.”

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzi Hotovely, who also met with Mogherini in Jerusalem, told the EU top diplomat that for the peace process to resume, the Palestinians need to return to the negotiating table and must halt their unilateral steps against Israel in the international arena.

Referring to the Jerusalem terror attack earlier in the day in which two Border Police Officers were hurt by a Palestinian terrorists who tried to run them down, Hotovely said that Europe should strongly condemn terrorism, as well as back Israel’s demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.

Hotovely welcomed Mogherini comment that she was interested in coming now after the establishment of the new Israeli government to listen to both sides, saying that her visit at the time had a “great deal of importance.”

Mogherini is scheduled to meet the leader of the Opposition Zionist Union Isaac Herzog and President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday, before she returns to Brussels.

 

By Yossi Lempkowicz, Senior Media Advisor at Europe Israel Press Association.


On the EU agenda

Middle East peace process 170315_fac

Brussels 18 May: The European Foreign Affairs Council – made up of foreign Affairs Ministers from across the EU and High Representive Mogherini will convene to discuss the situation in the Middle East. 

Usually these meetings don’t cause too much in the way of ripples, but this one carries with it some extra spice:

 Mrs Mogherini will meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel almost immediately afterwards.

The message that she will bring with her from her EU agency and the member states will more than likely shape the short-to mid term future of EU-Israel relations. In other words, a big deal then.

In a background note prepared by the European External Action Service (EEAS) ahead of both meetings Mogherini’s agency laid out some of its thinking in broad brush terms.

Mogherini congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new government on their appointment. The European Union will continue to work with Israel on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on issues of joint interest, she said.

The note went on to state:

“The EU re-iterated its support for a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that should lead to an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

A comprehensive peace should fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties, including those of Israelis for security and those of Palestinians for statehood.

The EU has a strategic interest in ensuring an end to the conflict and is willing to actively contribute to a negotiated solution of all final status issues. The EU High Representative has declared her readiness to personally engage in order to facilitate further progress. In addition, the Council appointed Fernando Gentilini as EU Special Representative for the Middle East peace process on 15 April 2015.

The EU recognises Israel in its 1967 borders and has not ceased to repeat that settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law. The EU’s concern about the fact that settlement activity increasingly threatens the very possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict has grown in the last years. At the same time, the Council has underlined the EU’s commitment to ensure full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements.

The EU is the largest aid contributor to the Palestinians, with substantial support for the benefit of the Gaza population: in the last ten years the EU has spent more than €1.3 billion in the Gaza Strip. At the donors’ conference for Gaza in October 2014, the EU and its member states pledged more than €450 million for its reconstruction.”

So far, so standard. But as we all know, the devil is in the details. We need to read between the lines.

We don’t know the shape of the political leverage that the EU is willing to bring on Israel as a price for continued settlement construction, much less what it intends to do to secure it’s “strategic interest” in the region.

 These two fundamental questions, potentially backed up by anticipated European Parliamentary resolutions on the subject, will frame the conversations and debate between the EU and Israel in the short months ahead.3


Netanyahu presents his 4th government to the Knesset

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth government was sworn in Thursday night at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, after he appointed the final cabinet positions.

1024px-PikiWiki_Israel_7260_Knesset-RoomFollowing introductory remarks by Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, Netanyahu addressed the assembly saying that his government would pursue peace. He went on to say that he was leaving open the option for expanding the government. He also said that his new government must change the electoral system in Israel.

Five parties are in the coalition government : Likud, Kulanu, Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism with a 61-seat majority out of 120.

Netanyahu listed his cabinet members in his Knesset speech.

  • The Prime Minister himself will hold the foreign, health, communications and regional cooperation portfolios.
  • David Azoulay (Shas) – minister of religious services
  • Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) – minister of immigration and absorption, and strategic affairs
  • Ofir Akunis (Likud) – minister (no specific office)
  • Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) – minister of agriculture and rural development
  • Benny Begin (Likud) – minister (no specific office)
  • Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) – minister of education, Jerusalem and diaspora affairs. (Netanyahu notes that any issues related to Jerusalem will be transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office)
  • Avi Gabbay (Kulanu) – minister of environmental protection
  • Yoav Galant (Kulanu) – ministry of housing and construction
  • Gila Gamliel (Likud) – minister of senior citizens and minister of gender equality
  • Danny Danon (Likud) – minister of science, technology and space
  • Aryeh Deri (Shas) – minister of economy
  • Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) – defence minister
  • Yisrael Katz (Likud) – minister of transportation and road safety, and minister of intelligence
  • Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) – minister of finance
  • Haim Katz (Likud) – minister of welfare and social services
  • Yariv Levin (Likud) – minister of tourism and minister of public security
  • Miri regev (Likud) – minister of culture and sports
  • Yuval Steinitz (Likud) – minister of national infrastructure, energy and water
  • Silvan Shalom (Likud) – deputy prime minister and interior minister
  • Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) – ministry of justice

Press reports said that Netanyahu was holding on to the foreign affairs portfolio in hopes of possibly enticing the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog into the coalition in a later stage but Herzog makes clear in his Knesset speech that he will under no circumstances join Netanyahu’s “circus.”

“I advise you Mr. Prime Minister not to hold onto the Foreign Ministry, give it tonight to a member of your party,” he says.

“No fair leader would join the Netanyahu circus you have formed at the last moment, at any price, just to stay in power,” he adds.

He told Netanyahu that his coalition partners “pick pocketed” him, extracting wide-spread concessions from the prime minister.

“You did not form a government, you formed a circus,” Herzog says.

In its guidelines presented earlier this week, Netanyahu’s new coalition government stressed its desire to achieve peace with the Palestinians and Arab states.

“The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests,” read the coalition guidelines presented to parliament.

“The Jewish people have the indisputable right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, its national and historic homeland,” they said.

“Any such agreement would be submitted to the Knesset for approval and if necessary by law, to a referendum.”

The rest of the government policy outline deals with issues such as reducing the cost of living, improving competition in the Israeli economy, boosting education and protecting the environment.

The guidelines are not inherently different to those published by Netanyahu for his two previous governments, formed in 2009 and 2013.

What are the guidelines of the 34th government ?

  • The Jewish people have an undeniable right to a sovereign state in the land of Israel — their national and historic homeland.
  • Advance the peace process and work toward achieving peace agreements with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests. Should such an agreement be reached, it will be brought before the government and the Knesset for approval, and possibly submitted to a referendum vote, if legally required.
  • Protect the Jewish character and heritage of the State of Israel while honoring all religions and religious traditions in the state in accordance with the values outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Act to ensure national security and a sense of personal security for all citizens, while decisively combating violence and terrorism.
  • Take action to lower the cost of living, with an emphasis on the housing, food and energy markets.
  • Combat the centralization of power in the banking, insurance and investment industries, among others.
  • Promote professional training and education in the technology fields in order to satisfy the current needs of the industry.
  • Take action to minimize the wealth gap in Israeli society by way of equal opportunities in education, a stronger health system, advancement of women and minorities, treatment of the elderly, a war on poverty and an increase in assistance for the poor.
  • Make the advancement of the geographical and social periphery in Israel a national priority.
  • Advance the development of the Galilee and the Negev.
  • Place education at the top of the national priority list.
  • Advance university students, soldiers and teens.
  • Integrate people with disabilities of all kinds into the fabric of society.
  • Take action to increase assistance to families with very young children.
  • Make the issue of immigration and immigrant absorption a priority and work to encourage immigration to Israel.
  • Modify the system of government to increase governance and government stability and advance reforms in the area of governance to improve government stability.
  • Solidify the rule of law in the State of Israel.
  • Protect the environment and take part in global efforts on climate and environmental issues.

The author is Yossi Lempkowicz, Senior Advisor at Europe Israel Press Association.

This article was published on the website of Europe Israel Press Association  (http://eipa.eu.com/) on May 14th 2015


The Middle East: re-adjusting EU’s great expectations

Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA), in cooperation with MEP Bas Belder (ECR, the Netherlands) and MEP Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy) organised a public hearing on “the Middle East: the EU’s re-adjusting its great expectations”.

At the lead of the P5+1 talks, the EU should re-adjust its expectations of being able to separate Iran nuclear’s file, where an agreement is expected to be reached before June, from its hegemonic expansion in already three major capitals of the Middle East, respectively Damascus, Sanaa and Bagdad. Amid rising tensions of the sectarian conflict between the Shiia Iran and Sunni Gulf monarchies and an unpredictable Iran, it would be a mistake both for the regional security and for EU’s interests to separate the nuclear file from Iran’s expansion of its ‘regional empire’.

Prof. Dan Schueftan, a renowned senior Israeli scholar and director of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University, offered a thought provoking analysis about the current state of affairs in the Middle East, the Israeli perception of EU’s policies regarding the region as well as recommendations for EU adjustments to its ENP South policies.


EIPA delegation of policy advisors and parliamentary assistants