Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A7news: HaNegbi Quits Likud, Moves to Kadima

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Temp.Likud Head Resigns Knesset, Moves to Sharon´s Kadima Party
Tzachi HaNegbi, who became the Likud's temporary chairman following Sharon's resignation, is himself moving to Kadima. Just two weeks ago, he said, "There are [party] roots that can't be uprooted."
Full Story Below

 1. Temp.Likud Head Resigns Knesset, Moves to Sharon´s Kadima Party
 2. Knesset Passes "Terminally-Ill" Law
 3. NRP-NU Merger - Down But Not Out
 4. Shteinitz Condemns Egypt; Demands Border Fence to Fight Terror
 5. New Law: Foods Must be Marked Milk, Meat or Pareve
 6. Gavison’s Nomination for Supreme Court All But Doomed
 7. Recognition Granted to "Smiling Judge"

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1. Temp.Likud Head Resigns Knesset, Moves to Sharon´s Kadima Party
By Hillel Fendel

Tzachi HaNegbi, who became the Likud's temporary chairman following Sharon's resignation, is himself moving to Kadima. Just two weeks ago, he said, "There are [party] roots that can't be uprooted."

HaNegbi reportedly told his aides that he does not see himself anywhere other than at Sharon's side over the next few years. He also said, Israel Radio reported, that Sharon himself has expressed a desire to have HaNegbi in his party.

He announced his move at a press conference in Tel Aviv this afternoon, saying that he could not see himself supporting any of the candidates currently running for Likud leader and Prime Ministerial candidate. He also announced his resignation from the Knesset. "My mandate belongs to the Likud, and so I am returning it," HaNegbi said. Pnina Rosenblum is slated to take his place - but said today she is not sure if she will remain in the Likud or jump to Kadima.

HaNegbi's move drew a host of derisive comments. Likud MK Gilad Erdan said, "It is sad to see how a person who began his career as an uncompromising ideologue, is ending it as an opportunist."

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer said, "HaNegbi's move to Kadima shows that the common denominator [in Kadima] is lust for power."

HaNegbi is the son of the right-wing Geulah Cohen, a member of the 1940's Lechi movement who left Menachem Begin's Likud in 1979 in protest of the transfer of the Sinai to Egypt. HaNegbi first became famous as a student leader when he led a protest atop a tall monument in the Sinai city of Yamit.

Aides to HaNegbi said he had been promised one of the top ten spots on Kadima's list of Knesset candidates.

Just last night, it was learned that the police plan to recommend that HaNegbi be indicted on charges of having made illegal government appointments when he was Minister of the Environment, in 2003-4. HaNegbi was forced to resign the post after the publication of the State Comptroller's report on those appointments.

HaNegbi said in response that he had done nothing illegal, and nothing that many other ministers had not done before him.

Shinui MK Roni Brizon said that at this rate, with the Sharon father-and-son MKs, MK Eli Aflalo and the Agrexco mini-scandal, and now HaNegbi, "the party faction can hold its meetings in the Maasiyahu Prison." Shinui MK Reshef Chen said, "It will be interesting to see which of the corrupt Kadima politicians will take upon himself the job of explaining the party's position on 'clean government.'"

The Land of Israel Task Force said, playing on a political cliche that has been used in various formats over the past ten years, "The deeper the criminal investigations, the deeper the defections [to Kadima]."

HaNegbi and Sharon's son Omri are widely perceived to be the most corrupt politicians in Israel. At the Sderot Conference this past Nov. 23, the results of a survey on this topic were publicized, indicating that HaNegbi was perceived as the most corrupt government minister. Sharon the son, Omri, received the title "most corrupt Knesset Member" in the survey.

Who will run the Likud now that it does not even have a temporary chairman? Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, who is running for Likud Chairman and Prime Ministerial candidate, said that the party secretariat he heads will run the party's affairs until a chairman is chosen later this month.

Katz said that Sharon has been trying to destroy the Likud for over a year. "The Likud will recover," he said, "as it did after many people quit it over the years." He named Sharon's own defection to the short-lived Shlomtzion Party with extreme left-wing MK Yossi Sarid over 20 years ago; Menachem Begin's aide Shmuel Tamir; Yitzchak Mordechai and others who "left to form the Centrist Party in 1999 and then disappeared from the political scene," and others.

Other reactions:

Binyamin Netanyahu: "This move has no political significance, and is just an expression of [HaNegbi's] personal problems."

Labor MK Matan Vilnai: "How symbolic it is that on the day the police recommend HaNegbi's indictment, he joins Kadima. It appears that Kadima is turning into a 'city of refuge,' exuding a message of total disregard for public clean-handedness and values. To save money, the police can establish a special department for the Kadima party and those who join it."

Likud MK Ayoub Kara: "Criminal indictments have become the entry pass to Kadima."

Former Jerusalem Police Chief Aryeh Amit, who recently joined Labor: "It's frightening to see how HaNegbi was accepted into Kadima on the day the police recommends his indictment."

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2. Knesset Passes "Terminally-Ill" Law
By Hillel Fendel

The Knesset passed the "Terminally Ill Law" last night by a 22-3 vote. The law requires doctors to honor a patient's desire not to receive life-extending treatment.

The law, six years in preparation, was formulated largely by a public commission comprising rabbis and other top professionals in all relevant fields.

The law regulates, for the first time in Israel, the issue of terminally-ill and end-of-life patients. It only pertains to a person whom doctors give six months or less to live, and deals only with one who expressed his clear desire not to have his life artificially extended; if he can no longer express himself, a close relative must attest that this was his desire.

The law states that a terminally-ill patient's wishes must be respected, but that the caregivers must make a reasonable effort to persuade him to receive oxygen, food, liquids and routine treatments.

MK Sha'ul Yahalom (National Religious Party), who headed the joint Knesset Committee that dealt with the bill - made up of the Law and Welfare Committees - praised the public commission for its work. "The law meets the requirements of Jewish Law," he said, "and allows patients to live and die with honor."

The law does not apply to one who is not suffering in a "vegetative" state or a coma, because, as Yahalom explained, "Who knows if medicine won't find a cure for the condition in the future?"

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) voted against the law, saying that though it was a supremely important bill, not all Halakhic [Jewish-legal] authorities supported it. He was nonetheless happy with the fact that it prevented courts from intervening in such life-and-death issues.

Prof. Avraham Steinberg of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, the head of the public commission and a respected Torah scholar in matters of medicine, has written the following:

"A large portion of rabbinic authorities holds that the value of life is a sacred and most exalted value, but not an absolute value. Proofs for this are the fact that there are values that take precedence, such as the three sins which one must not violate even at the pain of death; going to war; and dying for the Sanctification of G-d's Name. In addition, there are situations in which life is 'set aside,' such as when one is trying to kill someone else [and a bystander may kill the pursuer]; court-imposed deaths for grave crimes; and especially end-of-life situations that involve great suffering, when according to Halakhic principles, it is permissible to refrain from extending the life under clearly defined conditions... The main Halakhic foundation of this approach is the principle of 'removing the impediment...'"

In fact, one of the Halakhic solutions found for the problem of non-renewal of life-saving activity is a Shabbat-clock device that prevents such activities from being renewed.

A Halakhic review on the topic (in Hebrew) can be viewed here.

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3. NRP-NU Merger - Down But Not Out
By Hillel Fendel

Talks between the National Union and the National Religious Party on a merger between the two have not yet been renewed. NRP leader Orlev plans to submit a new proposal this afternoon.

The NRP announced this afternoon that at 3:30 PM, Orlev would appear before the National Union faction in the Knesset and present his proposal for a united party list for the coming election.

MK Gila Finkelstein (NRP) told Arutz-7 today, "We very much want a union between ourselves and the National Union, and there is a great need amidst our public for it. I know that the public wants it; I was at a wedding the other day, and when I came back to my place after the dancing, I saw a large note on my plate saying, We Want Unity... I very much hope that even today, we will hear of a renewal of the talks."

A major point of contention, Finkelstein said, is the topic of how many members of each party will man the joint list of Knesset candidates. The National Union currently has 6 MKs, and the NRP has 4, justifying a 60-40 proportion in the NU's favor. The NRP claims, however, that two of the NU's 6 were originally of the NRP, and that therefore the correct distribution should be 60-40 in the NRP's favor. A basic agreement of 50-50 has apparently been reached.

More problematic is the issue of the leader of the new list. Both sides accuse the other of reneging on an agreement on the matter. NRP sources say there was a previous agreement to decide the matter based on a third-party survey as to who - NU leader Benny Elon or NRP leader Orlev - is more popular, but that the NU has now changed its mind. The NU says there was no such agreement, and that on the contrary, Orlev agreed that the issue of the top spot would not be that which would cause the unification to fail.

Asi Talmon, a top aide to MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union) told Arutz-7, "There was never an agreement to have a survey; it was merely a proposal. What was agreed was that a National Union person would be first on the list... A Haaretz poll of a few days ago shows that the National Union would receive seven seats, while the NRP would receive three."

Rabbi Shabtai Sabato, head of the Netivot Yosef yeshiva in Mitzpeh Yericho, was influential in formulating a call by leading rabbis in the religious-Zionist camp for unity between the two parties. Asked today if the rabbis are actively involved in the unity efforts, he said,
"There are two planes. One is for a unity between these two parties, for which first a group of 15 rabbis called, and then a larger group of 50 confirmed it. In addition, former Chief Rabbis Ovadiah Yosef, Mordechai Eliyahu and Avraham Shapira are attempting to see if all the religious parties can join up together in one bloc... I can tell you that if the National Union-NRP merger doesn't work, some real efforts are underway to join Shas and the NRP..."

Asked if the rabbis could not take a more active stance, such as pressuring certain MKs, Rabbi Sabato said,
"The rabbis need not be associated with politicking, political pressures, and the like.
Their job is to inspire the right atmosphere. They made their position known, and that should be enough. The more public calls they make, the cheaper the calls become."

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4. Shteinitz Condemns Egypt; Demands Border Fence to Fight Terror
By Scott Shiloh

Using harsh language, Shteinitz accused Egypt of supporting terror against Israel, with the Israel-Egypt border becoming a paradise for terrorists and criminals alike.

MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) supports the establishment of a security barrier along the 200-kilometer Israel-Egypt border, from the Gaza district southeastward to Eilat.

Shteinitz, who heads the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, severely criticized Egypt on Tuesday for letting the security situation on the border deteriorate.

“Over the past few years, we have witnessed a deliberate effort on the part of the Egyptians to turn the Sinai Peninsula into a paradise for smuggling weapons into Israel and the Gaza Strip,” said Shteinitz.

Egyptians, often working alongside Bedouin Arabs from the Negev, have been smuggling drugs, terrorists, prostitutes, and weapons for terrorists and criminals into Israel at an alarming rate.

Using language generally reserved for Israel’s most implacable enemies, Shteinitz said that Egypt was “aiding and abetting” terror against Israel “in exactly the same way as Syria and Iran.”

Unlike Syria and Iran, Israel and Egypt have full diplomatic relations, established after the signing of a peace treaty in 1979.

Shteinitz’s support for a security barrier coincides with ideas put forward by the IDF and the security apparatus to deal with the smuggling problem.

“The time has come to invest in a border fence with Egypt and for condemning its behavior in the international arena,” he said.

A cabinet decision on Tuesday, allocating NIS 150 million for border security, fell short of approving the construction of a security barrier or border fence.

The money will be spent as a first step in combating the smuggling problem. The plan is expect to cost as much as NIS 1.5 billion over three years.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the cabinet meeting that “there should be no distinction made between crime-related smuggling and other types of smuggling. The fight against smuggling will reduce the crime rate as well as the intensity of terror activity.”

The prime minister, however, recommended that there be “more cooperation [among law enforcement authorities] and less money” spent on the problem.

Israel conquered the Sinai from Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War. Under the terms of the peace treaty, Israel completed a withdrawal from the Sinai Desert in 1982.
The last phase of that withdrawal was accompanied by the destruction of Jewish communities in the Yamit region. Five thousand Jews were expelled from their homes in an operation carried out by Ariel Sharon, who then served as Defense Minister.

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5. New Law: Foods Must be Marked Milk, Meat or Pareve
By Hillel Fendel

As of today, food may not be sold in Israel without being marked as either meat, dairy or pareve (neither milk nor meat).

A new law to this effect passed its third and final reading in the Knesset today. It was originally proposed by MK Uri Ariel (National Union) as an amendment to the Kashrut law. The original law provided only that a food billed as Kosher carry the name of the authorizing rabbi, rabbinate or Kashrut agency.

"The Ministry of Trade could have merely issued a directive requiring the new markings," MK Ariel said, "but it did not do so. The Merchants Union complains that many Kashrut-conscious consumers refrain from buying certain foods because they are not marked as dairy or pareve. The new law will help consumers avoid the problem of whether to buy a food because of the fear that it may contain milk or meat ingredients."

Jewish law forbids the eating of milk products and meat products together, as well as the consumption of milk products within six hours (or three, according to some customs) of eating meat.

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6. Gavison’s Nomination for Supreme Court All But Doomed
By Scott Shiloh

The chances for Ruth Gavison to be selected as a Supreme Court justice dwindled dramatically on Tuesday, when a lawyer opposing her nomination was elected to sit on the selections committee.

Professor Gavison’s nomination is favored heavily by those who advocate a more restrained legal approach to court intervention on issues of security and the legislative process.

Israel’s Supreme Court justices are selected by a committee of judges, lawyers and politicians. The lawyers on the committee are selected by the Israel Bar Association. On Tuesday, the National Council of the Bar Association chose two lawyers, one of whom, Yuri Guy-Ron, opposes Gavison’s nomination. The other is reportedly undecided.

One member of the selections committee vehemently opposed to Gavison’s nomination is Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak. Barak claims that Gavison’s legal approach constitutes an “agenda” that he has vowed to keep off the court.

With all the other judges on the committee following Barak’s opposition to Gavison, her nomination appears to be all but doomed.

As of Tuesday, the line-up on the selections committee is as follows:

Opposed to Gavison -

Judges: Aharon Barak, Dorit Beinish, and Eliezer Rivlin
Attorneys: Yuri Guy-Ron
Politicians: MK Avraham Shochat (Labor)

In favor

Judges: None
Attorneys: None
Politicians: Justice Minister Tzippy Livny (Kadima), Health Minister Danny Naveh (Likud), MK Sha'ul Yahalom (National Religious Party)


Attorney Pinhas Marinsky

As that line-up indicates, Gavison’s opponents have a majority on the committee, even if Marinsky votes in favor. Most of Gavison’s opponents are on the left of Israel’s political spectrum. MK Shochat of Labor delayed his planned resignation from the Knesset simply in order to vote against Gavison and ensure her defeat.

If Gavison loses, the leading nominee for a seat on the High Court is Mordechai Kremnitzer, who, like Gavison, is a Hebrew University professor of law.

Kremnitzer’s legal approach, while more amenable to Barak, places him at the far left of the country’s political spectrum. Kremnitzer has been an outspoken legal critic of Israel’s presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and generally views Israeli communities in those regions as illegal.

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7. Recognition Granted to "Smiling Judge"
By Hillel Fendel

The Deputy Chief Justice of the Tel Aviv District Court, Yehoshua Gross, has been awarded a certificate for "promoting smiles and pleasantness in the halls of justice."

Justice Gross, born in Israel in 1937, was appointed to the bench in 1975 in the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court. Five years later, he moved to the District Court, where he assumed the position of Deputy Chief Justice in 2000. Judge Gross is known for his calmness, humor and familiar smile.

The Shaarei Mishpat (Gates of Law) College in Hod HaSharon awarded him the happy certificate on the occasion of his giving a lecture at the school on the topic of "Lawyers in Literature." His talk was laced with several puns, drawing laughter from the audience.

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