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Enemy of peace and Palestine tipped to be Israel’s defence minister

For a recent report by Jpost on Moshe Ya’alon’s opposition to a Palestinian state see: Ya’alon speaks against founding of Palestinian state

Here, Richard Silverstein 1) and Jonathan Lis 2) worry and speculate about who will get what post when Netanyahu forms a government.

Bogie Yaalon with arch-Islamophobe Pam Geller. She is executive director of The American Freedom Defense Initiative and, with Robert Spencer, founded Stop Islamization of America. She is the subject of several postings including:
Violent attacks increase as fear and loathing of Muslims cross USA, American Christian Right: West and Islam at war until death, The funds, links and groups that spread Islamophobia


Can Next Israeli Government Be Even More Extremist Than Previous One?

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
March 09, 2013

The answer is, to paraphrase the old Obama slogan: “yes, it can.” For starters, instead of appointing Yair Lapid to be foreign minister, which would project a message of calm and reassurance to the international community, Bibi appears to intend to save that portfolio for his old partner in crime (and current indictee) Avigdor Lieberman. That will leave Lapid with the finance ministry, in which he will have little sway or input since Bibi is a former finance minister and takes a strong interest in economic policy.

But the appointment that really caught my eye is the defense portfolio. That’s rumored to be headed to Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon. He has the distinction of the being IDF chief of staff fired by Sharon when he refused to allow military forces to evacuate Gaza settlers. Yaalon is not just right-wing. He’s among the most ardent of the settler supporters. In 2009, I wrote of a political evening at which he spoke after being introduced by Moshe Feiglin. The RSVPs were collected by Meir Kahane’s daughter in law. When a friend called to RSVP, the phone was answered by Meir Kahane’s grandson, also called Meir. This is the same charming fellow arrested by the police under suspicion of perpetrating price tag attacks, including the burning of West Bank mosques. Yaalon has clearly thrown his political lot with the worst of the settler thugs.


Moshe Feiglin with Bogie Yaalon [From Wikipedia: Feiglin won a seat in the Knesset in the January 2013 election. He advocates revoking the citizenship of Israeli Arabs (except for those who have proven their loyalty to Israel), and encouraging non-Jews to emigrate. He opposes a two-state solution and advocates that Israel annex the West Bank and Gaza.]

But don’t just believe this anecdote. Read this account of a press briefing on Iran Yaalon gave earlier this year:

Bogie Yaalon isn’t delusional in the way that the Hilltop Youth are. He’s not even delusional in the way that Avigdor Lieberman or Newt Gingrich is. He’s delusional in a stone-cold sober, cold-blooded way that could lead to tens of thousands of dead, blood running down the streets of Israel, Iran and numerous other Arab cities, and missiles bristling from bunkers and launch sites throughout the region.

…If Yaalon’s strategic vision carries the day in Israeli policymaking circles, we could see a virtual repeat of the Crusades, in which competing religious forces battle for control of the region for decades, if not longer. The major difference being that Israel and the frontline states have massive amounts of firepower at their disposal.

The former Israeli general has a strategic vision that places Israel on a permanent war footing. It turns Israel not just into Sparta, but into Sparta in constant war with multiple neighboring states. Frankly, this is not a state of affairs that Israel can sustain over an extended period. There is no possible way Israel could fight an all-out war for eight years, suffering 1-million dead as Iran did against Iraq. That makes Yaalon’s vision deeply damaging, even pathological in terms of what Israel could actually sustain.

…The money quote of the entire briefing was this: “Iran should be given the choice to have a bomb or survive.” The west must present this in the most aggressive and intrusive way possible as a dilemma the Iranians must answer, a stark choice, basically of life without a bomb or death. It wasn’t clear whether Yaalon was speaking of the death of the Iranian regime or the death of the country itself. Even if he only meant the former, it was truly a spine-shivering articulation of the goal of Israeli policy.

…[He said Iran’s goal is to] “achieve hegemony in the region, to impose revolution, their vision of Islam, political Islam, in the region and beyond. Further, they seek to bring the End of Days by imposing Islam wherever they can.”

Yaalon opposed an attack by Israel on Iran during the last government. But that was at least in part out of resentment of Bibi’s alliance with Ehud Barak in favor of war. The prime minister had originally promised Bogie the defense ministry in the last government. But when Barak brought Labor into the coalition, the price was defense for Barak. Ever since Yaalon has had it in for Barak. So in the next government, with Barak out of the way, Yaalon may sing a different tune, especially if he knows his boss, the PM wants war.

The operative phrase for me in looking at the future is that old movie line: “be afraid, be very afraid.”


Netanyahu assigning senior portfolios in bid to complete coalition deal

Likud sources: Moshe Ya’alon tapped as defense minister, Naftali Bennett in line for finance, while deal with Tzipi Livni for justice ministry may be reassessed; Foreign Ministry still main stumbling block.

By Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz
March 07, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began assigning cabinet portfolios on Wednesday in a bid to complete a coalition deal by early next week. Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a former military chief of staff, is expected to take the defense ministry, while Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett is expected to get finance.

The agreement signed with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party is likely to be reopened, senior officials from Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu said Wednesday, because demands by other potential Likud partners leave it no choice.

The Foreign Ministry Wednesday became the main stumbling block to an agreement between Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu and Yesh Atid. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid insists on having this portfolio, while Netanyahu has repeatedly refused, promising to hold it in reserve for Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman, who held the post in the last government, resigned upon being indicted for breach of trust, but intends to return if acquitted.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided it was legal for Netanyahu to hold the Foreign Ministry for Lieberman, despite the chance that this will intimidate witnesses − the Foreign Ministry staffers who will be testifying at his trial.

Yesh Atid sources said the party may consider giving up the Foreign Ministry in exchange for something else of value, such an extra ministry, a prestigious committee chairmanship, or extra funding for socioeconomic goals that the party wants to promote.

But Yesh Atid sources said the party also hasn’t yet received satisfactory answers on other important issues, such as the wording of a new law to draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, a formula for changing the system of government, and a deal to institute public transportation on Shabbat.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu will likely strip Hatnuah of the Environmental Protection portfolio, which had been granted it along with the Justice Ministry, because both Bennett and Lapid want to limit the number of cabinet ministers, the officials said. Lapid and Bennett also object to the agreement giving Livni control over negotiations with the Palestinians.

“Netanyahu will tell her that if she doesn’t agree to change the agreement we’ll have to call [new] elections. That will be a death sentence to Livni’s party so she’ll have to agree, ultimately,” the source said.

Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Ariel is expected to be the next housing minister, while Uri Orbach and Eli Ben Dahan of Habayit Hayehudi and Likud’s Zeev Elkin are candidates for the religious affairs portfolio. Orbach may alternatively receive the culture and sports portfolio.

Lieberman said he assigned MK Faina Kirshenbaum to the post of agriculture minister while Sofa Landver will keep the Immigration Ministry.

Among Likud members, Danny Danon is expected to receive a minor ministry such as tourism, Tzachi Hanegbi is likely to serve as home front defense minister, and Limor Livnat and Haim Katz are strong candidates for the health ministry.

Yesh Atid Wednesday canceled a meeting with Likud’s coalition negotiating team after members of Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu said the next government would have 28 ministers, and not the 18 Lapid had demanded.

“The Likud’s negotiating team told us they couldn’t send incumbent Likud ministers home, so they would have to form a government with 28 ministers,” a Yesh Atid official said. “There’s no chance we’ll be partners in such a swollen government, whose purpose is only to find jobs for the Likud MKs.”

Observers said this could be a joint spin on Netanyahu and Lapid’s part, intended to prepare the ground for slashing the number of ministers.

Several Likud ministers, notably Yuli Edelstein, Yuval Steinitz and Livnat, fear they will lose their cabinet posts. Right now it looks like Likud will receive only eight ministerial portfolios in the next government, in accordance with Lapid’s demand for a significant slimming down of the cabinet.

Another possible appointment is Yesh Atid’s Rabbi Shay Piron as education minister, while Likud’s Silvan Shalom, Gideon Sa’ar and Gilad Erdan see themselves as candidates for the leading economic portfolios − treasury, industry and energy.

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