Avigdor Lieberman

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Posted by r2d2 02/27/2009 @ 11:41

Tags : avigdor lieberman, yisrael beiteinu, knesset, israel, middle east, world

News headlines
Lieberman's party proposes ban on Arab Nakba - Ha'aretz
By Reuters Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of what they term "the Catastrophe" or Nakba, when in 1948 some 700000 Arabs lost their homes in the war that led to the establishment of the...
Lieberman heads to London - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Avigdor Lieberman was scheduled to leave Tuesday for London, according to a statement from his office. He is scheduled to meet with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague. Lieberman also is scheduled to meet...
Syria: Israeli government not a good peace partner - The Associated Press
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also opposes ceding all of the Golan Heights, has said he would be willing to resume indirect peace talks with Syrian only if there were no preconditions. Israel has held several rounds of talks with the...
Protesters greet Lieberman in Paris - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
PARIS (JTA) -- Protesters outside called Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman "a fascist" while he met with his French counterpart. Lieberman met Tuesday evening in Paris with Bernard Kouchner as part of his first official trip abroad since...
Lieberman: Budget will bring stability to market - Ynetnews
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently in London, welcomed the government's approval of the State budge. "The best result of the budget is the deal reached between the government and employers and the Histadrut. This also has a price,...
Barak, Lieberman strike different notes on Syria - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman are publicly sounding different notes on Israeli peace negotiations with Syria. Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, said Sunday on Israel Radio that he would be willing to negotiate with Syria as...
Lieberman quizzed for fourth time on fraud suspicions - Ha'aretz
By Uri Blau Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was questioned by the police for the fourth time yesterday on suspicions of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money-laundering. During his previous interrogations, he answered all the questions posed to...
'Egyptians waiting for public apology from Lieberman' - Ynetnews
Egypt is in no hurry to forgive Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for his past remarks, a Palestinian source involved in the intra-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo told Ynet on Friday. According to the source, "What we've heard from our brothers in Egypt...
Israelis shown a glimpse of the Nakba - The National
But if Yisrael Beiteinu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right Israeli foreign minister, gets its way, it is an education that will never reach the masses. On Friday, the day of the Nakba commemorations, a spokesman said the party was seeking...
Lieberman: State Budget will allow gov't to last whole term - Ynetnews
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said following a meeting with his British counterpart, David Miliband, that the meeting had been successful. Regarding the State Budget he told reporters that it would allow the government to remain in office for an...

Avigdor Lieberman

Image:Avigdor_Lieberman.jpg

Avigdor Lieberman (Hebrew: אביגדור ליברמן‎ (audio) (help·info), born Evet Lvovich Lieberman (Russian: Эве́т Льво́вич Ли́берман) on 5 June 1958) is an Israeli politician and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman has called for Israel to redraw its borders to hand over Arab areas to the Palestinians while retaining major settlement blocs, and require all Israelis, including the often anti-Zionist Haredim and Arabs remaining in Israel, to sign loyalty oaths or lose their right to vote. Lieberman's party emerged the third largest party in Israel after February 2009 general elections, and he is widely viewed as a kingmaker holding the key to the next government lead by either Kadima or Likud parties.

Born in Kishinev, Soviet Union (now Moldova). As a teenager, Lieberman worked as a nightclub bouncer and as a broadcaster in Baku before emigrating to Israel in 1978 at the age of 20. In Israel he served in the Israel Defense Forces, and received a BA in International Relations and Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

From 1983 to 1988 Lieberman helped found the Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry and was a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Economic Corporation and the Secretary of the Jerusalem branch of the Histadrut Ovdim Le'umit ("National Workers' Union"). From 1993 to 1996 he served as Director-General of the Likud party, a "direct ideological descendant of the right-wing Revisionist Party", and from 1996 to 1997 was Director-General of the Prime Minister's office serving Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1999 he founded the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which describes itself as "a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the brave path" of right-wing Revisionist Zionist Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and was the editor of the newspaper Yoman Yisraeli (Israeli Diary). Lieberman supports Israeli membership in the European Union and NATO.

Lieberman was elected to the Knesset in 1999, and served as Chairman of the Israel-Moldova Parliamentary Friendship League. In March 2001 Lieberman was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure, but resigned the post in March 2002. He was re-elected in January 2003 as part of a joint National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu list, and in February was appointed Minister of Transportation. However, he was sacked from the cabinet by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in May 2004 due to his opposition to the disengagement plan.

Lieberman is married, with three children, and resides in Nokdim in the West Bank.

In late May 2004, Lieberman proposed a plan in which the populations and territories of Israeli Jews and Arabs, including some Israeli Arabs, would be "separated". According to the plan, also known as the "Populated-Area Exchange Plan", Israeli Arab towns adjacent to Palestinian Authority areas would be transferred to Palestinian Authority, and only those Arabs who felt a connection with the State of Israel and were loyal to it would be allowed to remain. On 30 May Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned Lieberman's statements, stating "We regard Israeli Arabs as part of the State of Israel." On 4 June 2004, as the disputes over the up-coming disengagement plan grew more intense, Sharon dismissed Lieberman from the cabinet.

Though Lieberman's plan would not uproot Arab residents from their homes, it would revoke their Israeli citizenship and transfer their sovereignty to the Palestinian Authority. The plan has drawn sharp criticism from both Left and Right of Israeli politics; by the former for its discriminatory overtones, and by the latter for the idea of ceding parts of the Land of Israel.

In a poll published by Yedioth Ahronoth on 21 September 2006, Lieberman had more support than any politician except for Netanyahu to be the next Prime Minister of Israel (Olmert came fifth, with 7%). Some Druze support Lieberman, and one third of the Druze of the Golan Heights who hold Israeli citizenship (a group which counts less than 10% of the Golan Druze) voted for him in the 2006 elections. In 2009, his party received 50%, 48%, and 38% of votes from the Golan Druze towns of Majdal Shams, Mas'ade, and Buqata, respectively, a vote described as a "protest". The majority of his constituency are secular Russian-speaking Israelis as well as former Likud supporters, who feel that party has drifted from its founding Jabotinskian principles.

Lieberman advocates land and population exchanges, seeking to reduce the number of Arabs who are Israeli citizens and dividing Jews and Arabs into two culturally homogeneous states. The suggested plan is to award the Palestinian Authority governorship over Arab towns near the West Bank in exchange for Israeli annexation of large settlements in the West Bank. Lieberman also advocates that all Israeli citizens, including anti-Zionist haredim and Israeli Arabs, take loyalty tests and recognise Israel as a Jewish state. Those who refuse would be stripped of their citizenship, but could remain in Israel as permanent residents.

In response, Ahmad Tibi, leader of the Arab nationalist party Ta'al demanded that "a criminal investigation be initiated against Lieberman for violating the law against incitement and racism". Lieberman was cleared of racism charges by the Israeli Deputy State prosecutor, while admitting that the office objected to the content of his statement. Tibi strongly objected to Lieberman's ministerial appointment, describing him as "a racist and a fascist". Labour minister Ophir Pines-Paz, who resigned over Lieberman's appointment, echoed Tibi's remarks, saying that Lieberman was tainted "by racist declarations and declarations that harm the democratic character of Israel".

In February 2009 The Times reported: "His fan base sees him as a forceful leader with clear vision who can sweep away almost two decades of compromise with the Palestinians, which they say has only led to more terrorism, and impose tough conditions that will ensure Israel's security. At recent rallies, youthful right-wing supporters have chanted “Death to the Arabs” as they awaited their hero.

Following nine Palestinian attacks on Israelis during a two day period in March 2002, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Lieberman's proposal for an ultimatum to the Palestinians to halt all terror activity or face wide-ranging attacks on commercial centers: "if it were up to me I would notify the Palestinian Authority that tomorrow at ten in the morning we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for example." This led Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to respond that excessive military measures could lead to accusations of war crimes.

In July 2003, reacting to a commitment made by Ariel Sharon to the US, where amnesty could be given to approximately 350 Palestinian prisoners including members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lieberman rejected a chance to participate in the related committee and said "It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that's the lowest point in the world," Lieberman continued, according to Galei Tzahal ('Israel Army Radio'), stating his willingness, as Minister of Transport, to supply buses to take the prisoners there. Lieberman's suggestion also led to confrontation between Lieberman and Arab-Israeli MKs Ahmed Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al), Jamal Zahalka (Balad), Taleb el-Sana, Abdelmalek Dahamsha (United Arab List) as well as opposition leader Shimon Peres.

A large number of mainstream media sources within and outside of Israel label Yisrael Beiteinu and its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, as far right or ultra nationalist whereas others consider him right wing. At the same time Lieberman recognizes two-state solution and is considered secularist, often to the extreme, both contradictory to the tradition of right wing politics in Israel. In addition, the party and its leader are often called populist.

In January 2008 Yisrael Beiteinu left the government and Lieberman left his position as Minister of Strategic Affairs, and almost immediately afterwards, Arutz Sheva reported that an investigation against Lieberman and his daughter that had been "ongoing for years, suddenly became active again once he left the government last week." An investigative exposé in Haaretz "targeting Lieberman...unearthed connections between the financier of the corruption-laden Oasis Casino in Jericho and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his predecessor Ariel Sharon." Police concluded decisively that Sharon had received a $3 million bribe, and Lieberman is still under investigation for receiving a bribe from Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.

However, the party left the coalition on 16 January 2008 in protest at peace talks with the Palestinian National Authority.

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Yisrael Beiteinu

YB party ballot 2009

Yisrael Beiteinu (Hebrew: ישראל ביתנו‎, lit. Israel is Our Home) is a right-wing political party in Israel. The party describes itself as "a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the brave path of Zev Jabotinsky", the founder of Revisionist Zionism. It takes a hard line towards Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians. Its main platform involves reducing the number of Arab citizens by redrawing the borders with a future Palestinian state, in conjunction with efforts to increase Jewish immigration. Yisrael Beiteinu took 11 seats in the Knesset in the 2006 elections. In October 2006 the party became part of the Kadima-led coalition government, but pulled out in January 2008. In the 2009 elections, the party picked up four more seats, making it the third largest party behind Kadima and Likud.

Yisrael Beiteinu was formed by Avigdor Lieberman to create a platform for Russian immigrants who support a hard line in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman, a former Likud member, is known for his hardline attitude towards Palestinian statehood and his plan to redraw the Green Line with the West Bank in such a way that areas with high Arab populations, such as the Triangle area and the Wadi Ara, both gained by Israel from Jordan as part of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, would be transferred to Arab sovereignty. Such an arrangement would mean that a third of the Arab citizens of Israel would lose Israeli citizenship.

Lieberman argues that the Arab residents see themselves not as Israelis but as Palestinians, and should therefore be encouraged to join the Palestinian Authority. He has been involved in widely-publicized offers of financial compensation in exchange for renouncing their citizenship and land. Lieberman has presented this proposal as part of a potential peace deal aimed at establishing two separate national entities, one for Israelis and the other for Palestinians. However, he is known to have an affinity for the Druze population (the only Arab population to be fully drafted into the IDF), and has attracted a number of Druze voters. In 2009, the party appointed a Druze, Hamad Amar, to the twelfth spot on its candidate list for the 2009 election. Across the board, the Arab citizens of Israel have not received his proposals positively.

Lieberman's actions were motivated by the concessions granted by his former boss, Benjamin Netanyahu (when he was director-general of the Likud) to the Palestinian Authority in the 1997 Wye River Memorandum, featuring the division of the West Bank city of Hebron. One of the partners in Netanyahu's coalition was Yisrael BaAliyah, a new immigrants' list led by Natan Sharansky that also had right-of-center leanings. Lieberman himself had resigned from the Likud as a result of the Wye Accords, and he registered great disappointment when Sharansky did not pull out of the coalition, as did two of Sharansky's colleagues in Yisrael BaAliyah, Michael Nudelman and Yuri Stern, both of whom broke away to form Aliyah.

For the 1999 elections, Lieberman and Aliyah formed Yisrael Beiteinu, and the list won four seats, two short of Yisrael BaAliyah, although later two more members of Israel BaAliya later defected to left-wing parties.

For the 2003 elections the party joined the National Union, an alliance of right-wing parties led by Binyamin Elon, although the two groups parted ways shortly after joining Ariel Sharon's coalition.

In the 2006 elections, Yisrael Beiteinu ran alone. It was joined by former Shin Bet Deputy Director, Israel Hasson (who won the third place on the list). The party was successful and won 11 seats. However, it did not join the center-left government and initially opted to operate in opposition instead, but joined the government coalition in October 2006.

The party was involved in a controversy in January 2007 after Labour leader Amir Peretz nominated Raleb Majadele for the position of Minister of Science and Technology, thereby making him Israel's first Muslim Arab minister. Lieberman condemned the nomination and called for Peretz's resignation, accusing him of harming Israel's security by ceding to "internal rivalries" within the Labour party, whilst Peretz accused Yisrael Beiteinu of being a racist party. Yisrael Beiteinu's member of Knesset (MK) Esterina Tartman referred to Peretz's decision as a "lethal blow to Zionism," adding that Majadale's presence in the cabinet would damage "Israel's character as a Jewish state" and that "We need to destroy this affliction from within ourselves. God willing, God will come to our help." Tartman's comments were immediately condemned as racist by other MKs.

On 22 December 2008, Lieberman approved the party's list for the 2009 Knesset elections. New names in the top ten include Orly Levi (daughter of former Likud MK David Levi) and Anastasia Michaeli, two former models and current television hosts. Yosef Shagal and Esterina Tartman didn't make the list.

Essentially, the two key principles held by the movement are the creation of an encouraging socio-economic environment for new immigrants to Israel, while at the same time taking a hard line on all negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states. A part of the academic argument in the movement's platform is based on the numerous studies published by faculties in Israel that warn of a danger posed to the Jewish character of Israel by the rising percentage of Arabs in the population of the state. The only solution, as argued by many of the supporters of the party, is an increased effort to bring more Jews to Israel by immigration and/or to convince as many Arab citizens of Israel as possible to leave. Lieberman argued that by giving in to Yasser Arafat's demands the government would aggravate the threat by strengthening the Palestinians' resolve to demand the Right of Return of Palestinians to Israeli territory.

Yisrael Beiteinu supports a two-state solution to the conflict. According to the party motto, "Israel is Our Home, Palestine is Theirs." In 2005, the party proposed the so-called Lieberman Plan as an alternative to Sharon's Disengagement plan, which would see the large blocs of Israeli land largely populated by Arabs and bordering the West Bank transferred to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the larger settlements including the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip, which was destroyed before the withdrawal.

The plan broke with a long tradition in the right-wing Israeli nationalist camp that saw transfer of minority populations between states as the only solution to deal with a perceived threat of disloyalty by Arab citizens of Israel to the idea of a Jewish state in the Middle East. It was the first proposal for the transfer of lands in Israel-proper to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for peace. Yisrael Beiteinu promotes the idea that all Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs (Muslim, Christian, or Druze) should swear loyalty to the country (officially a Jewish state) and to its symbols (all of which are Jewish). The party emphasizes and contends that the majority of the Arab citizens of Israel do not serve in the Israeli army (compulsory only for Jewish Israelis and, as per their request, Israelis of Druze faith).

Fighting crime is also a major part of the platform of Yisrael Beiteinu, which was particularly dominant in the party's campaign in 2006. The party advocates increasing punishments for all forms of crimes as well as improving the status of police officers. The party's head, Avigdor Lieberman, asked to join Ehud Olmert's 31st government as the Internal Security Minister, but was prevented from taking the post due to an ongoing police investigation of him.

Yisrael Beiteinu proposes to solve the economic crisis by carrying out massive infrastructure projects in order to ease unemployment, giving aid to small businesses, and building new factories in the Negev and Galilee, for instance. MK Lia Shemtov is especially known for advocating the rights of the working class, lower middle class, and the poor. Shemtov claims to have played a central role in canceling the Israeli welfare-to-work plan ("Wisconsin Plan"), along with the rest of the party.

A large number of mainstream media sources within and outside of Israel label Yisrael Beiteinu and its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, as right wing and even far right, as well as ultra nationalist. At the same time the party recognizes two-state solution and is considered secularist, often to the extreme, both contradictory to the tradition of right wing politics in Israel. In addition, the party and its leader are often called populist.

In a February 2009 address considered to be directed at the Obama administration, Avigdor Lieberman stated that Yisrael Beiteinu was neither far-right, nor ultra-nationalist.

Yisrael Beitenu runs for local elections under the name of the city that they run in, e.g. Petah Tikva Beiteinu ("Petah Tikva Our Home"). While the party as a whole does not advocate the separation of religion and state, the local chapters generally push for measures that the religious public opposes, such as public transportation on Saturdays and the ability to sell pork (which is treif and haraam) in general stores.

Yisrael Beiteinu and its plan have many vehement critics from the left and the right in Israel.

The Lieberman Plan caused a stir among Arab citizens of Israel, which explicitly treats them as a 'fifth column' and as an enemy within. On the one hand, with very few exceptions, Arabs in Israel argue that they are native to the region and should not have to renounce the villages and cities in which they, their parents, and their grandparents were born. Others insist that as Israeli citizens, they deserve equal rights within the State, and should not be singled out according to their ethnic or religious background. Various polls show that Arabs in Israel in general do not wish to move to the West Bank or Gaza if a Palestinian state were created there.

The party has 15 MKs in the current Knesset.

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National Union (Israel)

NU party ballot 2009

The National Union (Hebrew: האיחוד הלאומי‎, HaIhud HaLeumi) is a Nationalist political party in Israel. In the 2006 elections the party ran on a joint list with the National Religious Party (NRP) and Ahi, winning nine seats. In the 2009 elections to the 18th Knesset, the Union was an alliance of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and some of Tkuma (which had split). The Union won four seats.

The National Union was formed in 1999 to contest the elections of that year as an alliance between Moledet, Tkuma and Herut – The National Movement, winning four seats. In 2001 the party's support was almost doubled by the addition of the predominantly Russian-immigrant party, Yisrael Beiteinu.

After Ariel Sharon won the 2001 Prime Ministerial elections, the party were brought into the National Unity Government and party leader Rehavam Zeevi was appointed Minister of Tourism, with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman made Minister of National Infrastructure. When Zeevi was assassinated on 17 October 2001, Binyamin Elon of Moledet took his ministerial position, and Lieberman became head of the Union.

Herut decided to fight the 2003 elections alone and left the Union. The National Union party won seven seats and was included in Ariel Sharon's coalition alongside Likud, Shinui, the National Religious Party and Yisrael BaAliyah. Elon and Lieberman were appointed Minister of Tourism and Minister of Transportation respectively.

However, the National Union was then bolstered by the addition of Ahi (then known as the Renewed Religious National Zionist Party). Ahi was formed by NRP dissidents opposed to Gaza withdrawal, when NRP decided to remain in the coalition. After the Gaza withdrawal, the Union adopted orange as its symbol. Orange was said to represent the spirit of Torah Zionism; Torah Zionists rallied under the color to protest against the withdrawal.

In 2005 Yisrael Beiteinu left the Union to fight the 2006 elections on its own. At the last minute the National Religious Party decided to form a joint list with National Union called National Union - NRP. The Union adopted more social policies and won the support of the chief rabbis of the Torah Zionist Movement (such as Rabbi Abraham Shapira), and the Union of Handicapped (thanks to the NRP's pro-handicapped legistlation). The joint list used the slogan New right rising (Hebrew: ימין חדש עולה, Yamin Hadash Oleh) and won nine seats, of which the National Union took six.

In 2008, in anticipation of the 2009 election, the Union and NRP formally unified into a single party, called the Jewish Home (הבית היהודי). This was intended to unify their political sector and present the public with a new face for the religious Zionist movement. The Jewish Home was to be a single party, rather than a list of separate parties, each with its own agenda and independent leadership. Professor Daniel Hershkovitz was picked to head the newly formed party. But Hershkovitz refused to take a stand on national-security issues, which offended many of the former National Union members.

MK Aryeh Eldad (formerly Moledet) left to form his own list, Hatikva. while MKs Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy (formerly Ahi) re-established Ahi; in January 2009 Ahi allied with Likud.

The remaining ex-Moledet members broke off, re-established their party, and allied with MK Eldad's Hatikva, reviving the National Union name. MK Elon stated that he would not seek reelection and American immigrant Uri Bank took his place on the Jewish Home list.

The split from Jewish Home grew, and polls indicated Hatikva could win three seats. The Eretz Yisrael Shelanu party (EYS) also joined the Union to present a stronger unified right-wing bloc. EYS leader Michael Ben-Ari was moved above the Union's founders on the candidate list. While these issues were being negotiated, Tkuma MK Ariel also left Jewish Home and joined the Union list, leaving Jewish Home as little more than a renamed NRP. Uri Bank also left Jewish Home for the Union..

Pratical Support emanates from Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben Gvir, Nadia Matar, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Abba Mori Yaakov Yosef, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, Professor Hillel Weiss, Rabbi Yudel Krinsky, Rabbis Menachem Elon and Benny Elon, as well as Colonel Moshe Yogev, emminent scientist Herman Branover and noted scholar, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

The main spritual leaders of the party of whom provide the party with their own Da'as Torah are Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo, HaMaran HaRav Rishon L'Tzion and Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Judea and Samaria HaRav Maran Dov Lior and Soviet Refusenik Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch.

The party has a joint platform, and in particular it supports the settlement of all the Land of Israel, advocates the use of more military power in the war on terror and harsher measures against Palestinian terrorism. It rejects all current Oslo-based peace efforts — which it sees as dangerous to Israel and rejects the notion of a Palestinian state. The party instead advocates cantons of self rule for the Arabs in the West Bank whose leadership would be local and not imported. They also wish to create the means to aid Arabs who wish to leave said situation to do so. It is heavily molded by the doctrine of Katzlism.

The State of Israel’s security requirements cannot be met simply through a political solution – we must prevail militarily through achieving an immediate and decisive victory. Allowing the Arab war of attrition to drag on, threatens to weaken Israel in the consciousness of its citizens, ruin its economy and encourage its Arab citizens towards hostility against us....The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is inseparably intertwined with their right to peace and security, including the constant and consistent Arab violations of the Oslo, Wye and Hevron agreements, after the failure of the Camp David Accord, after the Oslo and Second Lebanon wars that claimed so many victims, and after the rise of Hamas to power in the Palestinian Authority - it is necessary to view all the agreements and commitments to the PA signed by the State of Israel as null and void, as well as peace agreements with all of its neighbors, but not at the price of security for its citizens. The party will act to solidify the national camp around a realistic regional peace plan. The party deplores and condemns the uprooting and forced transfer of thousands of Jews from their homes in Gaza region and northern Samaria, the destruction of their vibrant communities and the burning of their Synagogues. There will (futhermore) be no uprooting of Jewish communities and no surrender of parts of the Land of Israel in any subsequent Israeli government led by the party.

Settling the land is an expression of the fulfillment of Zionism. It ensures our hold on the land, contributes to the distribution of the population and accomplishes the social revolution of the Jewish people that ties it to its homeland and makes it productive. The Ichud Leumi sees settling the land as important for reasons of security, economics and social wellbeing, and will demand the formation of a parliamentary settlement committee to further the establishment expansion of settlements in sparsely settled regions of the country.....We will demand that Israeli law and justice be administered equitably in the administration of Israeli settlements in this region, and that responsibility for them be transferred from the Defense Ministry to the local council....The List maintains that Jewish workers (Hebrew labor) should be returned to the agricultural sector, and insists on the right of Jews to settle in all parts of the Land of Israel. Available resources, long-term goals, water allotment and production quotas must all be considered when agricultural ventures are planned; there should be equity in the division of resources....Strengthening development towns is a national mission. Therefore, their residents will be accorded preferences so that their educational systems and their economic enterprises can be enhanced. This will improve the standard of living in these towns, making them more attractive to potential new residents, to the younger generation and to those who grew up there.

The goals of our foreign policy should focus on safeguarding the State of Israel’s sovereignty while seeking peace with Arab countries based on the principle of “peace for peace”. The State of Israel will act to intensify its connection and reciprocal ties with the Jewish communities of the Diaspora. It is necessary to build and nurture positive relationships with the peoples and governments of other countries without relinquishing Israel’s security interests, freedom of action and complete national independence. While a strong alliance with the United States is desirable, it is crucial that the State of Israel act to decrease its dependence on American financial aid until its complete cancellation can be achieved. It is necessary to strengthen the State of Israel’s ties with African, Asian and European nations and to further its political and economic interests in both the East and West. The State of Israel will act to widen the circle of countries that support her, that stand beside her and cooperate with her, first and foremost Russia, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. We will struggle to condemn the Arab boycott and we will demand its denunciation in the international arena, including the imposing of sanctions against countries and corporations that observe it or surrender to it.

As long as the existing violations of the balance between the judicial, executive and legislative branches are not corrected by legislation, the party will object to a constitution that gives the Supreme Court the authority to nullify laws. The party supports legislation aimed at preventing the erosion of the Knesset’s authority by the Supreme Courts’ incursion into its domain. The party will support changes in the method of selecting Supreme Court judges so that Israel’s Judicial system will have a more democratic character. The party will call upon the Judicial system to absorb into its ranks judges with varying worldviews that will represent the diversity of Israeli society. The party will introduce legislation according to the Hebrew Judicial spirit and will work towards infusing such values into the various branches of the Israeli Judicial system.

The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people.A party will not be allowed to stand for election to the Knesset if its platform does not affirm that the State of Israel is the state of the Jewishpeople.It is necessary to ensure that the Jewish character of the State, which is rooted in the values of Jewish heritage, will be safeguarded by intensifying the study of the heritage of the Jewish people and its history.At the same time the list/slate demands that religion be separated from party politics. No party shall have political patronage regarding religious values and its laws and any legislation in the field of religion will be determined without coercion of one sector by another, but rather by as wide a consensus as possible.The List/Slate views service in the Israel Defence Forces or National Service a crucial need of the State and believes that the study of Torah isnecessary to preserve the heritage of the Jewish people. At the same time an unequal division of the obligation to serve in Israel's defense forces or in National Service is unacceptable.The National Union will encourage the establishment of frameworks that combine security/military service and Torah study such as the Hesder Yeshivas and the Nachal HaHaredi Units.

United Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people in the State of Israel. This is not a policy statement but a statement of fact. We demand (robustly): A. Uninterrupted Jewish building in all parts of Jerusalem to ensure the unity of the Israeli capital. B. The transfer to Jerusalem of all Israeli Government offices, institutions and public organizations and allowing the establishment of foreign consular offices only in Jerusalem. C. The guaranteeing of open access to the Holy Places to all, and in particular the guaranteeing of every Jew’s right to pray on the Temple mount. D. The prevention of illegal building by the Arabs in eastern Jerusalem and in the areas of Judea and Samaria surrounding Jerusalem.

The status of the legislative branch of government will be enhanced and the erosion of the Knesset by the Supreme Courts’ incursion into its domain will be stopped. The party sees fairness and credibility as essential elements of a clean administration and will aspire to be an example of truth, humility and personal and public integrity. In order to prevent moral corruption in Israeli public life, the party will ensure that transparency is improved and will work to prevent conflicts of interest among elected officials.

The party supports the fair and inclusive representation of all cultural views and ideologies on the state-run television and radio outlets. The party will work toward giving a voice to the many diverse opinions and streams in Israeli society while preserving a general feeling of fairness, mutual respect, freedom of expression and balance. The party will strive to insert fair competition in the media sector and prevent the establishment of journalistic monopolies and conflicts of interest.

On-going aliyah (immigration of Jews to Israel), which is critical for sustaining and strengthening the State, is at the core of the Zionist venture. It is therefore essential to encourage aliyah and to facilitate the absorption of olim (immigrants). The State of Israel is the heart of the Jewish people. And so the State and the Jews of the Diaspora share a common destiny and reciprocal responsibility. The State of Israel must help preserve the bond that connects Jews everywhere by supporting Jewish education and strengthening the relationship with Jewish communities in the Diaspora, while Jewish communities in the Diaspora must be active partners in encouraging aliyah. Aliyah enables the State to develop and enrich itself culturally; diversify economically; deepen its understanding of democratic process and sharpen its sensitivity to issues of human rights; and expand its horizons in science, technology, education and sports. Therefore, the government must take full advantage of the potential in aliyah from around the world and specifically the aliyah from Western nations and the former Soviet Union. Continuation of existing government and Jewish Agency special programs for encouraging aliyah from France, Argentina and S. Africa must be assured, as must be long-term programs for the advancement in Israel of olim from the Ethiopian community. Olim from each of these communities should be given active and central roles in the implementation of their respective programs. In order to preserve the Jewish nature of the State more effort must be invested in the Jewish education of candidates for aliyah, as well as in the establishment of new programs and expansion of already existing programs for conversion in the Diaspora for non-Jews who are entitled to make aliyah under the Law of Return.

All citizens of the State of Israel are entitled to the highest standard of public health care. The party supports ensuring that the medical needs of all Israeli citizens are afforded the best attention at the lowest possible cost. The party will work toward regulating the installation of cellular antennas throughout the country by prioritizing the health interest of the Israeli people ahead of the interests of the cellular phone companies. Among other steps, the party will work to tighten acceptable antenna radiation standards and increase required minimum distance between antenna stations and residential population centers. The party will call for the establishment of an independent regulatory body, empowered to levy heavy fines and penalties for every offense and deal firmly with cellular phone companies regarding the placement of their existing and future antennas. The party will work towards preserving all that lives and grows in the Land of Israel, including a forestation of desolate regions of Israel, preservation of water bodies and a zero tolerance policy against the illegal and hazardous dumping of industrial materials, toxic chemicals and sewage. The ever present shortage of water is one of the most strategic threats to the State of Israel today. The party attaches great importance to securing Israel’s sources of water and preventing other nations from diverting water sources flowing into Israel. The party will work towards insuring the State of Israel’s effective preservation of rainfall and the establishment of desalinization facilities. The party will propose creative solutions to inter-city transportation problems that are crucial to solving lingering problems of pollution and air quality. The party will work toward strengthening enforcement and standards against polluters, while raising the quality of Israel’s air. The party will introduce new building and zoning standards in densely populated areas in order to maximize space, protect the environment, increase efficiency and allow for state-of-the-art transit applications. The party will establish rail-based transportation solutions in order to reduce non-commercial vehicular traffic into the large cities.

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Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu with Yasser Arafat and Nabil Shaath at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 1997

Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין "ביבי" נְתַנְיָהוּ (help·info), born 21 October 1949) is the new Prime Minister-Designate of Israel. He is Chairman of the conservative Likud Party and was previously the 9th Prime Minister of Israel from June 1996 to July 1999. Netanyahu is the first (and to date only) Prime Minister of Israel to be born after the State of Israel's foundation. He was Finance Minister of Israel until 9 August 2005, having resigned in protest at the Gaza Disengagement Plan advocated by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu retook the Likud leadership on 20 December 2005. As of December 2006, he became the official leader of the Opposition in the Knesset and Chairman of the Likud Party. In August 2007 he retained the Likud leadership by beating Moshe Feiglin in party elections. On 20 February 2009, Netanyahu was designated by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the country's next government, following the results of Israel's February 10 parliamentary elections.

Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, to Cela (Tsilah) (née Segal) and Benzion Netanyahu (original name Mileikowsky). His mother was born in 1912 in Petah Tikva, part of the future British Mandate of Palestine that would eventually become Israel. Though all his grandparents were born in Lithuania, his mother's parents emigrated to Minneapolis in the United States. Netanyahu's father is a former professor of Jewish history at Cornell University (although the elder Netanyahu has remained active into his 90s in research and writing), a former editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia, and a former senior aide to Zeev Jabotinsky. When he was 14 years old, Benjamin's family moved to the United States and settled in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he graduated from Cheltenham High School.

Netanyahu's older brother, Yonatan, was killed in Uganda during Operation Entebbe in 1976. His younger brother, Iddo, is a radiologist and writer. All three brothers served in the Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit of the Israeli Defense Force - Benjamin from 1967 to 1972 as a captain. He earned a B.S. degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975, an M.S. degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1977, and studied political science at Harvard and MIT. After graduate school, Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in Boston, Massachusetts and eventually returned to Israel.

Following a brief career as a furniture company's chief marketing officer, Netanyahu was appointed by Moshe Arens as his Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Subsequently, he became Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, serving from 1984 to 1988. He was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and served in the governments led by Yitzhak Shamir from 1988 to 1992. Shamir retired from politics shortly after Likud's defeat in the 1992 elections. In 1993, for the first time, the party held a primary election to select its leader, and Netanyahu was victorious, defeating Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and veteran politician David Levy (Ariel Sharon initially sought Likud party leadership as well, but quickly withdrew when it was evident that he was attracting minimal support).

Netanyahu has authored several books including two on fighting terrorism. He has a daughter, Noa, from his first marriage to Micki Weizman. His second marriage was to Fleur Cates, who converted to Judaism though her father was a Jew. He is now married to his third wife, Sarah, with whom he has two sons: Yair and Avner.

In 1996 Israelis elected their Prime Minister directly for the first time. Netanyahu hired American Republican political operative Arthur Finkelstein to run his campaign, and although the American style of sound bites and sharp attacks elicited harsh criticism from inside Israel, it proved effective. (Ironically, the method was later copied by Ehud Barak during the 1999 election campaign in which he beat Netanyahu.) Netanyahu won the election, surprising many by beating the pre-election favorite Shimon Peres. The main catalyst in the downfall of the latter was a wave of suicide bombings shortly before the elections; on 3 March and 4, 1996, Palestinians carried out two suicide bombings, killing 32 Israelis, with Peres seemingly unable to stop the attacks. Unlike Peres, Netanyahu did not trust Yasser Arafat and conditioned any progress at the peace process on the Palestinian Authority fulfilling its obligations - mainly fighting terrorism, and ran with the campaign slogan "Netanyahu - making a safe peace". However, although Netanyahu won the election for Prime Minister, Labor won the Knesset elections, beating the Likud-Gesher-Tzomet alliance, meaning Netanyahu had to rely on a coalition with the Ultra-orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ (whose social welfare policies flew in the face of his capitalistic outlook) in order to govern.

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu negotiated with Yasser Arafat in the form of the 1998 Wye River Accords. No progress was made regarding negotiations with the Palestinians, and although they failed to implement agreed-upon steps of the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu turned over most of Hebron to Palestinian jurisdiction. In 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert decided to open an exit for the Western Wall Tunnel. This sparked three days of rioting by Palestinians, resulting in both Israelis and Palestinians being killed.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized a policy of "three no(s)": no withdrawal from Golan Heights, no discussion of the case of Jerusalem, no negotiations under any preconditions.

Netanyahu was opposed by the political left wing in Israel and also lost support from the right because of his concessions to the Palestinians in Hebron and elsewhere, and due to his negotiations with Arafat generally. After a long chain of scandals (including gossip regarding his marriage) and an investigation opened against him on charges of corruption (later acquitted), Netanyahu lost favor with the Israeli public.

After being defeated by Ehud Barak in the 1999 election for Prime Minister, Netanyahu temporarily retired from politics.

In 2001, Netanyahu missed the opportunity to return to power since he refused to run unless there were general elections, a move that facilitated Sharon's entry into the race for Prime Minister.

In 2002, after the Labor Party left the coalition and vacated the position of foreign minister, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Netanyahu as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu challenged Sharon for the leadership of the Likud party, but failed to oust Sharon.

After the 2003 elections, Netanyahu accepted the post of Finance Minister in a newly formed Sharon coalition. Netanyahu did not support the concept of a future Palestinian state, though on two occasions in 2001, he indicated willingness to consider the idea.

As Finance Minister, Netanyahu undertook an economic plan in order to restore Israel's economy from its low point during the al-Aqsa Intifada. The plan involved a move toward more liberalized markets, although it was not without its critics. Netanyahu succeeded in passing several long-in-the-queue reforms, including an important reform in the banking system that followed with a significant increase in the GDP growth rate. However, opponents in the Labor party (and a few even with his own Likud) viewed Netanyahu's policies as "Thatcherite" attacks on the venerated Israeli social safety net. Likud's defeat in the 2006 elections is seen by many observers as a collective Israeli rejection of these policies.

Netanyahu threatened to resign in 2004 unless the Gaza pullout plan was put to a referendum, but later lifted the ultimatum. He submitted his resignation letter on 7 August 2005, shortly before the Israeli cabinet voted 17 to 5 to approve the initial phase of withdrawals of the Gaza Disengagement Plan. Netanyahu's resignation went into effect 9 August 2005, two days after he submitted his letter. Shortly thereafter he revealed he had rejected an invitation to serve as Italy's finance minister, allegedly extended to him by Italian billionaire businessman Carlo De Benedetti, who later said it was a joke.

Following the withdrawal of Ariel Sharon from the Likud, Netanyahu was one of several candidates who vied for the Likud leadership. His most recent attempt prior to this was in September 2005 when he tried to hold early primaries for the position of the head of the Likud party, while the party held the office of Prime Minister - thus effectively pushing Ariel Sharon out of office. The party rejected this initiative. Netanyahu retook the leadership on 20 December 2005, with 47% of the primary vote. In the March 2006 Knesset elections, Likud took the third place behind Kadima and Labor. Netanyahu is currently Leader of the Opposition.

On 14 August 2007, Netanyahu was reelected as chairman of the Likud and its candidate to the post of Prime Minister with 73% of the vote against far-right candidate Moshe Feiglin and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon.

On 31 July 2008, Netanyahu, as Likud party leader, called for snap polls, since Ehud Olmert's successor as Kadima leader would not automatically be the prime minister: "This government has reached an end ... it doesn't matter who heads Kadima. They are all partners in this government's total failure. National responsibility requires a return to the people and new elections." Israeli law requires dissolution of the current government and formation of a coalition by the new leader before taking over. Olmert plans to be a caretaker until formation of new government.

Netanyahu was the Likud's candidate for Prime Minister in the Israeli elections that took place on February 10, 2009, as Tzipi Livni, the current Designated Acting Prime Minister under the outgoing Olmert government, had been unable to form a viable governing coalition. During the race, Netanyahu's campaign website was noted for its strong resemblance to the one used the previous year by United States President Barack Obama to reach his supporters during his campaign, including colors, fonts, icons, the use of embedded video, and social networking options such as Twitter. Opinion polls showed Likud in the lead, but with as many as a third of Israeli voters undecided. In the election itself, Likud won the second highest number of seats, largely due to many of Likud's supporters defecting to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu however claimed victory on the basis that right wing parties won the majority of the vote, and on 20 February 2009, Netanyahu was designated by Israeli President Shimon Peres to succeed Ehud Olmert as the next Prime Minister, should Netanyahu be able to form a coalition government.

Netanyahu has repeatedly made public statements which advocated an "economic peace" approach, meaning an approach to peace based on economic cooperation and joint effort rather than continuous contention over political and diplomatic issues. This is in line with many significant ideas from the Peace Valley plan. He raised these ideas during discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Netanyahu continued to advocate these ideas as the Israeli elections got nearer.

Strongly against Iran's pursuit of uranium enrichment, Netanyahu said "It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs”. In an 8 March 2007 interview with CNN, he asserted that there is only one difference between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran, namely that the first entered a worldwide conflict and then sought atomic weapons, while the latter is first seeking atomic weapons and, once it has them, will then start a world war.

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Source : Wikipedia