You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The make-up of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government coalition
Meeting a May 7 deadline, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to form a new coalition government following the March 17 Israeli elections. Their are 120 members in the Israeli Knesset. A majority of at least 61 is needed to form a government. The political parties, Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon and the Ashkenaz ultra-orthodox party, United Torah Judaism, were the first parties to join Netanyahu’s coalition.
During the elections, Kulanu ran on the political platform to improve the Israeli economy and in particular bring down the cost of housing. In order to accomplish this objective, Kahlon said that the lengthy coalition negotiation process had focused on securing the proper tools to help implement reforms that would not aim to help one sector of Israeli society but, rather, the whole society. He said the new government would pursue reforms in housing and the banking sector and would act to close economic gaps. “The Israeli economy is in need of reforms, and we in Kulanu, together with the Likud, the prime minister and other ministers, understand how to lead these reforms,” Kahlon said.
The agreements with Kulanu include the three portfolios given to the party: the Finance Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry, and the Construction Ministry. Kahlon will be Finance Minister. In doing so, Kulanu managed to get the Interior Ministry’s planning authority, which has power over the housing market, moved to the Finance Ministry. “We got everything we asked for,” a spokesman for the party said, saying that the party will control the governmental organs most relevant to the housing and banking reforms Kahlon promised during the campaign.
Furthermore, the coalition agreement states that a special committee will be formed to advance legislation on housing, which would be headed by a member of Kulanu. Kulanu also received a pledge that the government will work to provide an addition of 700 housing units per year to the number of apartments for which people are eligible through the Construction Ministry and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
It was further stated that the Finance Minister will have the authority to expropriate lands for use in large-scale housing projects, in an attempt to encourage construction. Particular emphasis will be given to rehabilitation of neighborhoods in the periphery. Housing tenders will be offered as part of a prior plan to subsidize apartments in periphery areas for young people, and up to 80 percent of them will be allocated to young couples or single people under age 35. The document also said that the number of apartments for public housing and rentals will be expanded.
The agreement also stated that once the new government is formed, Kulanu will support a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referred to as “the Norwegian bill”, that would allow an MK from a party that has less than 12 MKs to resign from the Knesset and serve solely as a minister.
Netanyahu praised Kahlon, saying, “We promised during the election campaign to lower the cost of housing and the cost of living, to implement a number of reforms and to continue to improve Israel’s economy.” Netanyahu said Israel’s economy already stands out from those of its allies in the West that are moving downward, while it continues on a path of financial growth. The prime minister said that both he and Kahlon, as well as everyone else who will sit in the emerging government, have the best interest of the public at heart and hope to better the citizens’ situation by continuing to grow the economy and letting everyone enjoy the fruits of this growth.
The agreement with United Torah Judaism established that the party will be given the roles of deputy minister in the Health Ministry, deputy minister in the Education Ministry, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, and deputy chairman of the Knesset. UTJ head Ya’acov Litzman thanked Netanyahu and the Likud’s negotiating committee for coming to an agreement, saying that it covered “a lot of social items, such as issues relating to childcare and dental care.” Litzman added: “There are many more things, which included fixing issues that were distorted,” he said, referring to the Ultra-Orthodox Draft Law which required ultra-orthodox yeshiva students to serve in the Israeli military.
Besides the known amendments to the Equal Share of the Burden Law, the removal of criminal sanctions for yeshiva students who don’t serve in the military, and returning child benefits to their original levels, the agreement also said the new government will protect the ultra-Orthodox public’s way of life and will bolster the position of the ultra-Orthodox educational institutions.
The agreement also said the government will pass an amendment involving the Committee for the Appointment of Rabbinic Judges, in which three government ministers, three MKs – two from the coalition and one from the opposition – and a United Torah Judaism member will sit.
According to the agreement, the change to Israel’s conversion laws by the previous government, which gave local municipal rabbis power at the expense of the central rabbinate, will be reversed. The position of rabbinical courts will also be protected, and marriage registration will be possible only at religious councils or the local rabbinate. Additionally, the status quo regarding kosher laws will be maintained, and the government will work to include workers from the ultra-Orthodox community in public service.
Upon signing the deal with UTJ, Netanyahu said: “We worked together in the last government for the greater good of the State of Israel. We did big things. We have an opportunity to return to that now. There is a strong will to make things happen.” Finally, the agreement between Netanyahu and the political parties, Kulanu and UTJ, it includes a clause that could facilitate a national unity government with the opposition party, Zionist Union, at a later date.
Next, while there was only about 48 hours remaining until the deadline to present a new government, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic political party, Shas, signed an agreement to join Netanyahu’s new government coalition. From the agreement, Shas will be in charge of the Ministry of Religious Services. Shas will also control the Ministry of Galilee & Negev Development and the Ministry of the Economy. Shas will also receive another ministry which will be headed by Yitzchak Cohen as well as two deputy ministerial slots and head of the Knesset Education Committee. One of the deputy ministers will oversee the District Planning Committee that moved from the Interior Ministry to the treasury. Shas will also have the power to appoint judges to rabbinical courts.
After signing the agreement, Shas leader Aryeh Deri said that he made good on his promises to voters during elections including the zero value added tax on basic necessities, public housing reform, and increasing minimum wage.
The last party to join Netanyahu’s government was Jewish Home. The agreement include promises to increase funding for soldiers, schools and settlements, as well as an agreement to push through a bill that would limit foreign funding for nonprofit organizations deemed hostile to Israel. Furthermore, Jewish Home will receive the education, justice and agriculture portfolios, the right to name a deputy defense minister from its own ranks, the leadership of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and control over the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division.The agreement also includes an increase of NIS 630 million ($163.4 million) for the education budget, an allocation of NIS 1 billion ($259 million) to raise soldiers’ pay during their third year of service, a budget increase for Ariel University, which is in the West Bank, and support for the so-called NGO bill. It also includes protection for transportation over the Green Line, increased accessibility for special-needs pupils in schools, and more funding for community groups who move to disadvantaged areas.The head of the Jewish Home political party, Naftali Bennett will be education minister. MK Ayelet Shaked will be justice minister and MK Uri Ariel will be agriculture minister.
According to the coalition agreement, Jewish Home Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit will head a special team that will draft a plan to legalize buildings and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria that were established with government involvement and under the agreement of the state. The team, which will be established within a month of the new government being sworn in, is to submit its outline within 60 days of being formed. The government will be obligated to act to implement the findings of the team. The talk of legalizing the buildings and communities comes after the NGO Regavim presented MKs with aerial maps showing 2,026 homes in Judea and Samaria are in danger of demolition due to anticipated petitions by radical leftist groups. While Jewish Home’s coalition deal with Likud includes establishing the team to legalize homes, it appears to have made no mention of the Jewish construction freeze, in an apparent abandonment of an earlier demand to lift the freeze. The covert freeze on building has reportedly been in place since late 2013, and has continued since then in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, aside from a handful of building announcements in the capital, even as Jewish Home was in the last coalition government and Ariel served as housing minister.
In making the coalition agreement, Netanyahu thanked the Jewish Home party leader for his “efforts during the negotiations and throughout these last weeks.” He also asserted that Israel would have a “strong, stable government.”
Netanyahu’s government now has the minimum 61 Knesset members. After the elections, it was believed that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beitenu, would be a member of Netanyahu’s government. If so, the government coalition would be 67 members. However, Lieberman chose to not join the government and resign from his position as foreign minister. Lieberman said that he was opposed to the policies of the new government. He said: “The coalition does not reflect the position of the national camp. This government has no intention of overthrowing the Palestinian Hamas regime who rules in the Gaza Strip.” he said. Furthermore, he said: “I am happy we chose principles and not portfolios. What’s being built is not a national camp, but a government that smacks of opportunism”.
Lieberman lashed out at the disappearance of the nationality bill which sought to legally define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and determine that the right to national self determination in Israel belongs solely to the Jewish people. Lieberman said: “Someone vetoed the issue and suddenly it’s off the agenda. Furthermore, “The ink on the governance law has yet to dry and they’re already increasing the numbers of government ministers and deputy ministers to unlimited amounts. This is unacceptable,” Lieberman added. The Israeli government will be expanding the cabinet and increase the number of government ministers from 18 to 22.
Lieberman also criticized the coalition deal signed between Likud and United Torah Judaism which will cancel many of the reforms agreed upon in the last Knesset. Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman and coalition negotiator Robert Ilatov stated that if Netanyahu did not go back on the agreements he had made with the religious parties, then Yisrael Beytenu would be in the opposition.
The significance of Lieberman’s decision is that he and Netanyahu have had a long-standing political partnership, which began to fray last year. In October 2012, the two party leaders announced that they would run on a joint ticket in the January 2013 elections, as Likud Beytenu. The election victory saw Netanyahu return as prime minister and gave Lieberman the Foreign Ministry. But Lieberman pulled his party out of the partnership in July last year, and each ran on a separate ticket in the elections earlier this year. In the March 17 elections, Yisrael Beytenu won just six seats, down from 13 in the previous government.
According to political analysts, Netanyahu’s best bet to ensure his new coalition’s survival will be if he can persuade the opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join his government further down the line, perhaps in the role of foreign minister. After announcing his new government, Netanyahu hinted heavily at this prospect. “I said that 61 is a good number and 61 plus is even better,” he said, “Time is short because we have to form a strong and stable government by next week.” According to Israel Channel 2, Netanyahu desires to expand the government after it is formed, although not at the expense of parties already in the coalition.
After signing his coalition agreement with Likud, ultra-Orthodox Sephardic leader from the Shas political party, Shas Chairman Arye Dery called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to join a unity government. In addition, in commenting on the newly formed narrow 61 member government coalition, a senior Likud official said “a coalition of 61 MKs is an impossible coalition. Our mission in seeking to form the government was to first of all close deals with Shas and Jewish Home, stabilize a 61-MK coalition, and only then close with [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman. The assessment was that the odds of Liberman preferring the opposition were slim and that he will enter [a Likud coalition] anyway for the prestigious Foreign Affairs Portfolio,” the Likud official said. Likud’s Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, conceded that a 61-strong coalition would present “a string of problems,” but acknowledged there may be no choice, and said Netanyahu could make “every effort” later on to sign on more partners. As a result, Netanyahu plans to pursue negotiations with Zionist Union leader, Isaac Herzog, in the coming weeks to join his government.
Another Likud official confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding the Foreign Ministry portfolio for himself in the hope of later handing the top government position to Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog should he manage to convince the party to join Netanyahu’s government. “I understand that [keeping the Foreign Ministry] is [the prime minister’s] inclination, because he really wants to leave room for the government to expand in the future,” the official said. When asked whether Netanyahu was holding the government portfolio in hopes of wooing Herzog, he responded “yes.”
Netanyahu’s concern in that in the coming months, Israel will face enormous political pressures from both the European Union and the Obama administration. Once Obama is no longer directing all his efforts towards consummating an agreement with Iran by the June 30 deadline, effectively transforming it into a threshold nuclear power, he is likely to focus his efforts more strongly on the Israeli / Palestinian peace process. All indicators suggest that he intends to implement his threat that if Israel fails to toe his line, the US would no longer employ its veto at the United Nations.
His clearly stated policy is that Israel’s borders should be based on the (indefensible) 1949 armistice lines with mutual swaps (which could never be achieved with the intransigent Palestinians), division of Jerusalem, and an indefinite freeze of all settlement construction which, in this context, includes settlement blocs and Jewish east Jerusalem.
However, opposition and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog reacted to the news of Netanyahu’s new government coalition by insisting that will not be joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition saying, “I am not joining this government. It is bad and dangerous for Israel,” Herzog said, “I suggest that Netanyahu and his partners fill all the ministerial portfolios that, according to rumors, are waiting for me. We don’t have to say it every minute on every street corner. I don’t have an intention nor did I have to be a fifth wheel of Netanyahu. I intend to replace Netanyahu,” he said. Herzog added that Netanyahu’s 61-seat government coalition “lacks responsibility, stability and governance.” He also called it a “national disaster of a government. A weak and narrow government, susceptible to blackmail, that will advance nothing and will quickly be replaced by a responsible and hopeful alternative. I think that the best thing Netanyahu can do after he held a clearance sale to assemble his national government of failure is to return the mandate to the president so that he can task someone else with the formation of a government,” he said.
According to Herzog, the new government’s agenda will result in damage to quality of life and the fabric of Israeli society; damage to woman’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights and the media; incessant threats to the courts and rule of law; continuation of the political deadlock; and further transfer of billions to settlements.
“A government has been formed that has no responsibility, no stability, and no chance whatsoever to govern,” said Herzog. “If this is how he handles negotiations with his natural partners, how will he negotiate with the Palestinians? With world powers? Finally, Herzog said “the countdown to form a government ended. Now, the countdown to its replacement begins.”
Co-leader of the Zionist Union party with Herzog, former chief negotiator in the peace proces, Tzipi Livni also had harsh words for the new government. “I disagree with the worldview, the path, and the objectives [of the new government], so I cannot wish it luck on the issues where there is such a disagreement, but in general, I hope for the best for the nation of Israel,” she said. Livni insists that her party would sit in the opposition “and that’s a commitment. Netanyahu just recently managed to form a new government of 61 MKs and this morning his advisors began to publicly court the Zionist Union,” she said. Livni stressed that she and Herzog have clear agreements and that decisions will be made in tandem. “Herzog agrees with me. This fight must take place in the opposition. I am not in politics for portfolios and honorary roles. I am here to continue our path and fight for it,” she said.
Based upon their comments, it would seem logical to conclude that the only way that Zionist Union would consider joining Netanyahu’s government is if Netanyahu would be willing to agree to Obama’s parameters for the peace process to establish a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as it capital.
Finally, Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat said that the new Israeli government “will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region. This government will set its sights on killing and reinforcing settlement activities in the West Bank,” he said.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Netanyahu signs coalition deals with Kulanu, UTJ; Kahlon promises reforms
2) Contents of coalition agreements with UTJ, Kulanu revealed
3) Shas signs coalition deal with Likud, urges Herzog to join unity government
4) What Does Shas’ Coalition Agreement Include?
5) Jewish Home makes it official with Likud deal
6) Lieberman: Yisrael Beytenu won’t join new Netanyahu government
7) Coalition deal signed, swearing in expected Wednesday
8) ‘A 61-MK coalition is impossible,’ says Likud official
9) Likud Official: Bennett Will Pay for His Extortion
10) New Government to Legalize Jewish Buildings in Judea-Samaria
11) Shaky Israel coalition spells trouble for Netanyahu and peace process
12) Report: Netanyahu Plans to Expand Government After Formed
13) Candidly Speaking: To survive, Netanyahu must broaden his new government
14) Hoping to woo Herzog, Netanyahu to keep Foreign Ministry in back pocket
15) Herzog: New Netanyahu coalition is prone to extortion, bound to fail
16) Herzog: Bibi Should Give the Mandate Back to the President
17) Herzog: We won’t save Netanyahu from himself
18) PA Upset over Shape of New Israeli Government
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l