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November 15. 2011: Voicing Our Protest

May 10, 2011

It’s time, my friends, to let those who would vote for the new proposed freeze hear from us.  Every effort at every level has to be made to stop this.
Under no circumstances communicate in hostile or argumentative terms.  Be polite and make your case succinctly and clearly. 
Where it is possible, faxes are more effective than e-mails.
From N. America, for faxes, dial 011-972, drop the zero of the area code 02, and continue as given.
There is no time to waste: Act on this, please! without delay.
The proposal — once it is finalized — will be brought to the 15-person Security Cabinet for a vote, which is expected to be very close.
Some on the Security Council are “lost causes”: they will never vote against the freeze. There are four people who are key — people who might, or should have the inclination to vote against it, people who are not inherently left-wing by any means, but who will cooperate with the prime minister for political expediency or narrow interests of one sort or another.  
The first two people are the Shas representatives in the Cabinet. Faction head Eli Yishai has already said that he will abstain from voting (which shifts the count automatically, as he would vote against if he voted) if there were massive building in Jerusalem and a promise from Obama that certain specific communities in Judea and Samaria would be permitted to build after the freeze.
Eli Yishai (Minister of Internal Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister)
Phone: 02-640-8408 or 02-640-8407
Fax: 02-666-2909
E-mail: eyishay@knesset.gov.il
Ariel Atias (Minister of Housing)
Phone: 02-640-8338
Fax: 02-649i-6713
E-mail: aatias@knesset.gov.il
Remind them that they are religious members of the government and have a responsibility to protect the land.  Let them know that you are counting on them to vote with their conscience to protect Eretz Yisrael.  Implore them not to abstain, but to cast votes against the new freeze in Judea and Samaria.
Then two members of Likud must be contacted.
Yuval Steinitz (Minister of Finance)
Phone: 02-649-6115
Fax: 02-649-6579
E-mail: ysteinitz@knesset.gov.il
Gideon Sa’ar (Minister of Education)
Phone: 02-640-8319
Fax: 02-649-6578
E-mail: gsaar@knesset.gov.il
Let them know how saddened and deeply disappointed you are by reports that they will support the freeze. Implore them to put political considerations aside and to vote their conscience, opposing a new freeze on building in Judea and Samaria.
As I have indicated, the proposal has not been finalized: details are still being ironed out.  Thus it is theoretically possible (I know, it’s a bit of a stretch) that in the end Netanyahu will not be satisfied with that final agreement.  It is worth the effort, I think, to let the prime minister know how alarmed you are with what is being proposed, and to implore that — in order to protect Israel’s genuine best interests — he not bring it to the Security Cabinet.  Remind him what horrendous pressure he will be under to resolve borders with the Palestinian Arabs within 90 days.  And let him know that his coalition will be at risk.
Prime Minister Netanyahu
Fax: 02-670-5369
E-mail: Memshala@pmo.gov.il and also pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore after pm) use both addresses


Numbers matter.  Pass this message to others, please.  Particularly in Israel this is important — send out e-mails and post this on blogs read in Israel.  Where it is possible, share this with religious Sephardi voters in Israel, as this is the constituency that Shas represents.  Such persons, writing to the Shas members of the Cabinet, should let them know who they are, and that they vote and would be most distressed if Shas did not actively oppose the freeze.

The real secret, of course, is to get to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, the presumptive spiritual head of Shas.

There is a great deal of activity being promoted by those in the Knesset, the government, and organizations representing the Judea and Samaria communities, to stop the second freeze from happening.


Because the proposal is not finalized in writing, different versions have been reported in different places.  I want to correct one matter that I apparently got wrong yesterday.  As to a second set of 20 fighter jets, presumably they would be given to Israel, not sold.

There is a proviso, however. Uzi Landau, in an interview with Army Radio today, makes the very important point that just because the US promises doesn’t mean the American government will deliver on the promise.  He referred in particular to a US promise to then-PM Barak in 2000 to provide Israel with $800 million in cash if we pulled out of Lebanon.  Where is that money? asked Landau.

I noticed, as well, that some of what the news is referring to is uncomfortably vague, with wording such as “the US will take into consideration,” which, in the end is no assurance at all.  All the talk about allowing Israel a presence in the Jordan Valley and promoting Israel’s security interests is uncomfortably amorphous and means nothing.


Yoram Ettinger has written an important piece examining just this problem:

“President Obama stridently disavows President Bush’s understandings – with Israel – concerning sustained natural growth construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as – supposedly – future Israeli sovereignty over “settlement blocs” in Judea and Samaria. What does such a disavowal bode for the credibility and durability of President Obama’s promises to – and understandings with – Israel?!

“The discussion, in Jerusalem, of Obama’s proposed commitments in return for the continued freeze of Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem (while Arab construction is at an all time high!) reflects miscomprehension of the US political system, ignores lessons from past US commitments and guarantees…

“…An examination of past US commitments, guarantees and treaties highlights three critical attributes: 1. Non-Specificity, vagueness and ambiguity, intended to facilitate non- implementation. 2. Non-Automaticity which is a platform for delay, suspension and non-implementation. 3. Non-Implementation if implementation harms US interests. For instance, the NATO treaty as ratified by the Senate commits the US only to consider steps on behalf of an attacked NATO member, “as it deems necessary,” “including the use of armed forces.” Also, in 1954, President Eisenhower signed a defense treaty with Taiwan; but in 1979, President Carter annulled the treaty unilaterally with the support of the US Supreme Court and Congress.”


You might want to allude to Israel’s inability to trust American promises in the communications to the five people above.


There is, as well, the unease caused by the Obama administration promise, for the next year, to veto efforts by the Palestinian Arabs to unilaterally establish a state via the Security Council.  For one year only?  Limiting this commitment to one year actually overturns a prior US policy, which was to consistently oppose such measures. And so this is not a “gain” at all. What it does is have the effect of further pressuring Israel to come to a deal within the year.

Something else that might be mentioned in the communications to the five.


As your time allows and as you are inclined, it is also very good to let those in the Security Cabinet who are opposed to the freeze know how grateful you are for their strength and their decisions on behalf of Israel.  Urge them to use all the influence they have to convince others in the Cabinet to oppose the freeze.  Just a couple of lines to each.

Moshe Ya’alon (Likud — Strategic Affairs Minister)

Benny Begin (Likud — Minister without Portfolio)

Silvan Shalom (Likud — Deputy Prime Minister)

Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu, Minister of Foreign Affairs)


Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beitenu, Minister of Public Security)


Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu, National Infrastructure Minister)



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.




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