Shimon Peres: Gabi Ashkenazi One Of The Best Chiefs Of Staff Ever

Gabi Ashkenazi

 

Feb 7 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Israeli President Shimon Peres hosted at his Jerusalem residence Monday morning the IDF’s senior command.

At the meeting he told outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, “I was privileged to meet all 18 Chiefs of Staff before you. It took me a long time, but now, unlike you youngsters, I can do a real comparison between them. Your contribution to Israel’s security is unique and superb. You were one of the best Chiefs of Staff Israel ever had.”  (*)

Source : Israel National News

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Israeli President Shimon Peres Bids Farewell To Outgoing IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi

FILE : Israel's President Shimon Peres, right, and military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, center, watch a soldier light the menorah on the fourth eve of Hanukkah, in an army base near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Monday Dec. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

Feb 7 (KATAKAMI.COM / YNET) — President Shimon Peres, who is hosting the IDF General Staff in his home, complimented the outgoing IDF chief, Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, saying that “I had no doubt that I would get to see him as the chief of staff, as I have seen in him a daring but reasonable man… all the magic of Golani is on his shoulders.

“The chief of staff is morally obligated to the mothers of the sons which he commands, and is under the authority of the elected officials. The IDF chief of staff is under the civil authority, but he is also its chief advisor,” the president said.  (*)

 

PM Netanyahu: I understand Galant's disappointment

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem February 6, 2011. Israel named a new head, Benny Ganz, for its armed forces on Saturday following a shakeup in the top ranks that a deputy to Netanyahu said had undermined national security at a time of regional turmoil. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Feb 6 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — At the start of the government meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he “understands the magnitude of General Yoav Galant’s disappointment” following the cancellation of his appointment to chief of staff. Netanyahu noted that Galant is “a talented and experienced commander and fighter who contributed a great deal to the country”.

Netanyahu also addressed the appointment of Benny Gantz to the position of chief of staff and explained that “there are major shocks in our region. IDF stability is paramount at this time which is why I made the chief of staff decision over the weekend.” (*)

Transcript of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting about the next IDF Chief-of-Staff

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem February 6, 2011. Israel named a new head, Benny Ganz, for its armed forces on Saturday following a shakeup in the top ranks that a deputy to Netanyahu said had undermined national security at a time of regional turmoil. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Feb 6 (KATAKAMI) — Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“The stability of the IDF is always important, but it is much more important now given the deep shocks in our region.  The IDF needs stability; therefore, over the weekend, I determined, along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to decide regarding the appointment of the next IDF Chief-of-Staff.

I would like to express appreciation for Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, a seasoned fighter with experience, who contributed greatly to the security of the state.

I know that he has undergone not simple experiences in recent months and I also understand the depth of his disappointment.  This is natural; this is human.  But in the circumstances that have been created, my duty as Prime Minister is to make clear decisions in order to lift the cloud of uncertainty from the IDF senior command.

Therefore, today, Defense Minister Barak will recommend, to the cabinet, our joint intention to appoint Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the 20th IDF Chief-of-Staff.

Maj.-Gen. Gantz has done the entire track which qualifies him to be the next commander of the IDF, including his recent tenure as Deputy Chief-of-Staff.  He is an experienced commander and an excellent officer.  He has all the qualities and all the necessary experience to be an excellent IDF Chief-of-Staff.

I would like to take this opportunity to also express my deep appreciation for Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh and Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizencot, who were also considered for the post.

I must note that both of them expressed their full willingness to serve under designated IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz.  I believe that this shows that the Chief-of-Staff and the General Staff will cooperate and work together as a united team.  This is important both for the IDF and the State of Israel.

On Friday, 4.2.11, an explosion occurred in an Egyptian gas pipeline leading to a halt in the supply of natural gas to the State of Israel.  Israel is prepared for such situations and has the possibility of immediately switching to alternative energy sources.  It is important to note that we are prepared for any scenario and I ask that National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau to detail these preparations and the possibilities at our disposal.  In any case, due to these advance preparations, no problems are expected in the supply of gas to the State of Israel.

I believe that the shocks in our region underscore and reiterate that Israel is an island of stability in turbulent area and we will continue to do everything to ensure the security and vital interests of the State of Israel, in the face of the major challenges yet before us as well.”  (*)

Source ; PM’s office

Shimon Peres : ‘Mubarak’s contribution to peace won’t be forgotten’


 

Israeli President Shimon Peres warns against the possibility that Muslim Brotherhood would take power in Egypt without addressing the countrys problems (Photo : The Telegraph)

Feb 6 (KATAKAMI.COM / JPOST) — Israels President Shimon Peres said Saturday that Egypts embattled leader, Hosni Mubarak, will always be remembered forpreserving three decades of peace between the two nations.

Israel is deeply worried about the prospect that Mubarak could be forced tostep down by the unprecedented street protests in Egypt and that a lessfriendly government will emerge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warnedthat any new government must maintain their 1979 peace deal — Israels firstwith an Arab nation.

On Saturday, President Shimon Peres delivered an impassioned defense ofMubarak, crediting him with saving both Arab and Israeli lives by preventingwar in the Middle East.

“His contribution to peace, as far as Im concerned, will never beforgotten,” Peres said in an address to hundreds of visiting members ofthe European Parliament.

During the three decades Mubarak has been in power, he has consistentlyenforced the peace treaty signed by his predecessor, and he has mediatedbetween Israel and the Palestinians.

Peres warned against the possibilitythat Mubaraks ouster would bring the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypts bestorganized opposition movement, to power, saying the fundamentalist group won bring peace.

“Wee very worried about having a change in government or a change in thesystem of elections without introducing a change in the reasons that broughtthis explosion, this bitterness,” Peres said.

He appealed for foreign investment to bring technology, development andopenness to Egypt.  (*)

 

 

 

PM Netanyahu pledges steps to boost Palestinian Authority economy

In this handout image supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East Tony Blair on February 4, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. The former British Prime Minister met with Netanyahu ahead of a meeting between Middle East Quartet mediators in Munich. (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)

Quartet Envoy Tony Blair, Prime Minister Netanyahu agree on economic incentives including alleviation of construction regulations in east Jerusalem, expanding presence of PA security forces in Area B

Feb 5 (KATAKAMI.COM / YNET) — Amid unrest in the Middle East and attempts to renew negotiations with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday informed Quartet Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair that he will take steps to support economic growth in the Palestinian territories.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke at the Knesset plenum, pledging to introduce economic measures to help boost the Palestinians’ economy.

During his meeting with Blair on Friday, the two agreed on economic gestures that include improvements to infrastru Despite the concessions, Netanyahu emphasized that peace will not be attained by only promoting “economic peace,” but rather by “engaging in negotiations for political peace, and I hope (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas answers my calls

“I insist on elements of peace and security because any agreement we reach needs to take into account not only the situation today, but also the situation that may come into being tomorrow,” he said.

The measures are meant to draw the Palestinians back to the negotiations table in order to resume direct talks.

After the meeting was concluded, Blair noted that the two agreed to extend the presence of Palestinian security forces throughout Area B in the West Bank, and advance the construction and restoration of schools and clinics in Area C based on plans that will be transferred to The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

The Quartet envoy added that Israel has agreed to support all projects in east Jerusalem that comply with municipal regulations, and that are aimed at improving the Palestinian infrastructure including in the field of housing.  (*)

Full Text of Quartet Representative Tony Blair and PM Benjamin Netanyahu's Press Conference

In this handout image supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East Tony Blair as they meet on February 4, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. The former British Prime Minister met with Netanyahu ahead of a meeting between Middle East Quartet mediators in Munich. (Photo : PMO )

Agreed to a package of economic steps designed to assist the Palestinian Authority

Feb 4 (KATAKAMI.COM ) — Statement by PM Netanyahu: Tony, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to advance our common goals.  We’ve had a series of meetings and we’re concluding with the announcement of several steps that we take to, first of all to enhance stability.   I think people understand that stability is important at all times, but it’s especially important now and the first set of steps that we’re taking are to continue the policy we’ve advanced to enable economic growth in the Palestinian areas.

I think this has contributed to stability; it’s contributed to a better life for the Palestinians and I think it’s contributing to peace and security in the long term.  So we are announcing a series of steps for the Palestinian areas that I think will make that economic prosperity and living standards rise and I think that’s important.

Well, the second set of steps are intended to make Gaza independent of Israeli infrastructure by helping to develop their electricity plants; water, sewerage treatment. I think this is important.  There are significant international projects that we want to advance.  We talked about the ways to do it in specific concrete terms.

In this handout image supplied by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks as he meets with Envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East Tony Blair on February 4, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. The former British Prime Minister met with Netanyahu ahead of a meeting between Middle East Quartet mediators in Munich. (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)

 

Statement by Quartet Representative Blair:

Even against the background of events in the region and the absence of direct political negotiations, it isimportant we continue to do all we can to improve the conditions and living standards of the Palestinian people. Indeed it is now especially important.

I am pleased at the package of measures agreed today with the Government of Israel.

I thank the Prime Minister for his personal involvement in and support for these measures. The discussions we have been having go back several months. This is my seventh visit to the region in as many weeks. On each occasion the Prime Minister has been generous with his time and determined to move this agenda forward.

The package breaks into three parts:

First, a comprehensive set of changes in Gaza, building on those approved in June 2010. The most important is a long-standing request of the Palestinian Authority and President Abu Mazen for an agreement to revive discussions on the vital project of ‘Gaza Marine’ gas field, with approval in principle of the supply of Palestinian offshore gas to Gaza power plants and specific project approval to a new power station there. Clearly there are many items to be worked out but this is an important breakthrough for the Palestinian Authority, people in Gaza and the broader region.

In addition, there is agreement to mobile desalination plants to meet Gaza’s needs for clean water; and approval in principle for a larger permanent desalination plant.

There is also full approval for all the sanitation and water treatment plants necessary for Gaza, with the Government of Israel agreeing to facilitate and support the entry of construction materials to enable projects to be completed on schedule. There are further measures to promote Gaza exports, especially in furniture and textiles as well as agriculture.

A further 20 named construction projects will be approved. We aim to begin a pilot project for private sector construction materials by 1 April; and in February the Government of Israel will transfer around 40,000 tons of aggregates from Sufa/Karni into Gaza.

The combination of these measures should result, over time, in a radical overhaul of Gaza’s infrastructure.

In this regard, I would urge an end to all attacks coming out of Gaza. Such attacks inhibit our ability to help the people of Gaza and the absence of such attacks allows us to get on with the job of helping them.

On the West Bank, there will be an extension of Palestinian Authority security presence in Area B – with 7 towns approved in principle; an agreement to fast-track the construction or reconstruction of schools and health clinics in Area C on the basis of plans submitted by the Palestinian Authorityand my office to COGAT. 5000 Gaza-registered residents of the West Bank will be given WB ID cards. Outstanding issues to do with revenue collection are agreed to be resolved quickly between the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority Finance Ministries.

Thirdly, in respect of East Jerusalem, the Government of Israel has agreed to encourage the implementation of all projects that abide by municipal regulations that will improve infrastructure there for Palestinians, including in particular housing, starting with two projects in East Jerusalem.

Obviously, agreement to all this is not the same as implementation. There is always a continual interaction on this between the Office of the Quartet Representative and the Government of Israel. But over these past two years there has been significant change on the West Bank, as can be seen from the strong economic growth there. This has been due, of course, to the Palestinian Authority’s actions; but also actions of the Government of Israel to facilitate them.

In respect of Gaza, though the challenge remains enormous, there has been a significant increase in goods entering Gaza and in construction work. The measures today will boost all of this significantly and personally I believe the green light to improving living standards and conditions of people in East Jerusalem is of enormous importance to the future.

None of this is a substitute for a credible political process. I hope one gets underway as soon as possible. But I have always maintained that it is a combination of measures that improve life on the ground and a strong political negotiation that will produce peace.

Today, with all the uncertainty in the region, I believe that more than ever.  (*)

Source : PM’s Office

Quartet to meet in shadow of Cairo crisis

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu's cabinet, attend a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 2, 2011. Netanyahu voiced support for pro-democracy protesters in Egypt for the first time on Tuesday but urged the international community to ensure any new regime sticks by Israel's peace treaty. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Feb 4 (KATAKAMI / JPOST) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Tony Blair ahead of upcoming meeting in Munich; tells Knesset of efforts to boost Palestinian economy.

Netanyahu met late Thursday evening with Quartet envoy Tony Blair in advance of the Quartet’s high-level meeting in Munich Saturday, to discuss a package of Israeli steps aimed at encouraging the Palestinian economy.

This was Netanyahu’s third meeting with Blair in as many weeks, and was expected to deal with various economic projects.

Netanyahu, during a speech in the Knesset on Wednesday, said that “in the next few days, I plan to take additional steps to further encourage development and prosperity among the Palestinians.”

He did not elaborate.
Government officials have said in recent days that the package being developed is not an effort to deflect expected criticism from the Quartet over the stymied diplomatic process, but an extension of Netanyahu’s policy of enhancing Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation.

In his Knesset speech, Netanyahu said, “We have gone to great lengths to help the Palestinian economy, not as an alternative to the political peace that we want to negotiate with them, but as a contribution to stability and to help the Palestinian population understand that there is a lot to be gained from peace.”

In that speech, Netanyahu also had another message that was clearly intended for the Quartet and the international community, this one regarding the turmoil in Egypt.

“We expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace,” he said.

“Moreover, we expect the international community to expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace. This must be clear, along with the discussions about reform and democracy.”

The Quartet meeting will be held Saturday on the sidelines of the threeday Munich Conference on Security Policy, a high-level conference that brings together senior officials from around the world to discuss security challenges. The current volatility in Egypt and the Middle East will certainly be a main topic of discussion.

This will be the highestlevel Quartet meeting since September, on the eve of the expiration of the 10-month settlement freeze. In the statement issued after that meeting, the Quartet called on Israel to renew the freeze.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon are expected to attend Saturday’s meeting, along with Blair.

In a related matter, Reuters reported Thursday that the EU had agreed to waive a visa ban on new Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to attend the Munich security parley.

Salehi, an MIT-trained nuclear physicist who has been intimately involved with Iran’s nuclear program for years and is a close confidant of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is considered a hawk on the nuclear issue. It is not clear, however, if he will actually attend the meeting.

Salehi is on a list of Iranians barred from entering the EU.
Sources in Jerusalem expressed regret at the move, saying this was an opportunity for the EU to send a strong message that it stood by the integrity of its own sanctions regime.

 

(*)

Excerpt of PM Netanyahu's Speech in Knesset

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 2, 2011. Netanyahu voiced support for pro-democracy protesters in Egypt for the first time on Tuesday but urged the international community to ensure any new regime sticks by Israel's peace treaty. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

 

Feb 2 (KATAKAMI) — TRANSLATION :

Yesterday was a dramatic day in our region.  Millions of people poured into the streets of Egypt.  President Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, announced that he will not run in the next Presidential elections, and will work to introduce governmental reforms in Egypt.In Washington, London, Paris, and throughout the democratic world, leaders, analysts and researchers spoke about the opportunities that change in Egypt could bring.  They spoke about the promise of a new day.

These hopes are understandable.  All those who cherish human liberty, including the people of Israel, are inspired by genuine calls for reform and by the possibility that it will take place.

It is obvious that an Egypt that fully embraces the 21st century and that adopts these reforms would be a source of great hope for the entire world, the region and for us.

In Israel, we know the value of democratic institutions and the significance of liberty.  We know the value of independent courts that protect the rights of individuals and the rule of law; we appreciate of the value of a free press, and of a parliamentary system with a coalition and an opposition.

It is clear that an Egypt that rests on these institutions, an Egypt that is anchored in democratic values, would never be a threat to peace.  On the contrary, if we have learned anything from modern history, it is that the stronger the foundations of democracy, the stronger the foundations of peace.  Peace among democracies is strong, and democracy strengthens the peace.

One possible scenario, which undoubtedly unites us all, is that these hopes for democracy and a gradual, stable reform process are realized in Egypt.

However, this is not the only possible scenario.  Because far away from Washington, Paris, London – and not so far from Jerusalem – is another capital in which there are hopes.

In this capital, there are leaders who can also see the opportunities that change in Egypt could bring.  They also support the millions who took to the streets.  They too speak about the promise of a new day.  But for the people in this capital, the promise of a new day is not in its dawn but in the darkness it can bring.

That capital is Tehran, and I assure you, that the leaders in Iran are not interested in the genuine desires of Egyptians for freedom, liberalization or reform, any more than they were interested in answering similar calls for freedom by the Iranian people, their own people, only 18 months ago.

I’ll jog your memory.  They too had demonstrations; multitudes filled the town squares.  But, of course it progressed in a different way.  I was going to say that it finished differently but I’m not sure it’s over.

The Iranian regime is not interested in seeing an Egypt that protects the rights of individuals, women, and minorities.  They are not interested in an enlightened Egypt that embraces the 21st century.  They want an Egypt that returns to the Middle Ages.

They want Egypt to become another Gaza, run by radical forces that oppose everything that the democratic world stands for.

We have two separate worlds here, two opposites, two world views: that of the free, democratic world and that of the radical world. Which one of them will prevail in Egypt?

The answer to this question is crucial to the future of Egypt, of the region and to our own future here in Israel.

Our stand is clear.  We support the forces that promote freedom, progress and peace. We oppose the forces that seek to enforce a dark despotism, terrorism and war.

Should the forces that wish to carefully reform and democratize Egypt prevail, I am convinced that such positive change would also buttress a wider Arab-Israeli peace.  But we are not there yet.

First of all, this battle has yet to be decided.  Second, it is possible that it will be a long while before one of the forces achieves victory, and we may have many years of instability.  Third, recent history shows us many cases in the Middle-East when extreme Islamist elements abused the rules of the democratic game to gain power and impose anti-democratic regimes.

It happened in Iran; it happened in Lebanon; and it happened when the Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.  Does Iran enjoy freedom?  Is there a real democracy in Gaza?  Does Hezbollah promote human rights?

We must ensure that this does not happen again.  We must do everything in our power to ensure that peace triumphs.

I want to pass on something to you, Members of Knesset, something I spoke about yesterday.  I want to clarify a point that maybe young Israelis don’t understand, but most of us, probably all of us, understand very well.

For over 30 years we have enjoyed peace on two fronts.  One is a peaceful border with Egypt, and the second – the peaceful border with Jordan.

In effect, our peaceful border with Jordan ceased to be a border of war about 40 years ago.  First we had calm, and then we had peace.  With Egypt it happened the other way around.  But on both fronts we have enjoyed peace along the borders and not merely lack of war.  We have not had to defend these borders.  And there are people here who remember what that means for us.

I see Avi Dichter here, and Shaul Mofaz, Matan Vilnai and many others.  We remember what it was like when there was no peace.  How we fought in the Suez Canal, on the banks of the Canal, inside it, and in Jordan.  We fought, all of us.  That’s over now.  It has changed the world and it has changed the State of Israel.  It changed our strategic situation.  That is why preserving the existing peace is vital for us.

We expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace.  Moreover, we expect the international community to expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace.  This must be clear, along with the discussions about reform and democracy.

We must also humbly recognize the truth – that these immense revolutions, these dramatic changes, this earthquake – none of this is about us.  It is about central questions which we will discuss some other time.

I don’t think we need to discuss all the details of this turmoil now.  But I will say one thing: we are in a turbulent situation.  In such situations we must look around with our eyes wide open.  We must identify things as they are, not as we’d like them to be.  We must not try to force reality into a preconceived pattern.  We must accept that a huge change is taking place, and while it is happening – keep a watchful eye.

The basis for our stability and our future, for preserving or extending the peace, especially during unsteady times, is by reinforcing the might of the State of Israel.  That requires security and also for us to be honest with ourselves.

To be honest with ourselves and refrain from self-flagellation on account of the problems we are surrounded with and the changes that are taking place.  It is easy to blame ourselves for these and also for the Palestinian issue, which I will discuss shortly.

Because when we blame ourselves, we feel that we are in control, that developments depend on us.  Otherwise, there are those who feel helpless when faced with these changes.

If there is no peace, or peace shatters, because of us, we can do something about it to change the way things are. If it is up to the other party or parties we have less influence over the situation.

I don’t mean that we blame ourselves.  It’s more about blaming our leadership.  As it happens, I am the leader now, but we’ve had seven prime ministers.  We have replaced seven Prime Ministers since Oslo, Camp David and Annapolis, and we continue to blame ourselves.  So is there any wonder that the world blames us too?

I said that we are willing and we want to promote the peace process with the Palestinians.  I have said that the first two components of this peace process are mutual recognition and security.  If I may quote myself from upon this platform, I have said numerous times that we need real security arrangements.  Not only because they sustain peace, but also because they ensure our security in the event that peace unravels — and in the Middle-East no one can guarantee the survival of any regime.

If I’m not mistaken, I said that only last week or two weeks ago.  I said it because a peace agreement, a piece of paper, does not guarantee that the peace will be upheld, not does it guarantee that a partner for peace will survive.  Therefore, to protect the agreement and to protect ourselves if the peace were to disappear or be breached, or if one of the sides has a change in government, we need strong, solid security arrangements.

That was and is the central issue that I discussed with President Abbas in our short conversation. Short, not because we didn’t want to talk – everybody knows that we did, the world knows that we wanted to – but because he did not want to.

We have taken great lengths to help the Palestinian economy, not as an alternative to the political peace that we want to negotiate with them, but as a contribution to stability and to help the Palestinian population understand that there is a lot to be gained from peace.

In the next few days, I plan to take additional steps to further encourage development and prosperity among the Palestinians.

I hope that President Abbas will regard the changes taking place in the region as an opportunity to sit down with us and discuss peace without preconditions, negotiations that take into account changes that will affect Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  We want to have genuine, comprehensive discussions about the right way to establish a stable and durable peace in an unstable region, peace that can weather the storms of this turbulent region.

Israelis and Palestinians have many differences between them.  But there is only one way to resolve those differences – a negotiated settlement, not through unilateral steps.

There are many skeptics out there. They say Israeli governments and their maximalist positions on concessions do not coincide with the minimalist positions of the Palestinians.  It is possible, they say, that the gap between Israel and the Palestinians may be too wide to bridge.  They might be right.

But if we do not try, we will surely not succeed.  And we cannot try until we sit down, and we cannot sit down if they do not want to.

I hope President Abbas will join me in a sincere effort to explore the possibility of a practical peace with practical security arrangements in the reality in which we find ourselves — for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians and our common future.

In this reality, Israel must fortify its might. We must maintain our security.  We must strive for a stable peace with determination, caution, responsibility, and above all, with watchful eyes that recognize reality.

(*)

Source : PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh to be Appointed Acting IDF Chief of Staff

Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh

Feb 2 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense spoke with Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant on Tuesday night (Feb. 1) about their appreciation for him as a commander and IDF combatant based on whose strong capabilities and accomplishments was chosen to be the IDF Chief of Staff. In light of a recent decision made by the government’s legal advisor, however, as well its repercussions, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense reached the conclusion that there was no option left but to cancel Maj. Gen. Galant’s appointment and begin the process of finding the next Chief of Staff again.

Minister of Defense Barak stated the decision to appoint the Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh as acting Chief of Staff will be made on Thursday, Maj. Gen. Naveh serving for a period of up to sixty days. Within this time the process of choosing a new Chief of Staff will be completed and he will begin his role.

Appointing Maj. Gen. Naveh to acting Chief of Staff was decided upon at the suggestion of the government’s legal advisor.

Source : IDF Website

Mike Huckabee : Netanyahu 'one of the world's great leaders'

In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets wih US unofficial Republican Party presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (C) and actor Jon Voight on January 31, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. During his 15th visit to Israel, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, is due to visit the Knesset and Jewish communities Judea and Samaria. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

Feb 2 (KATAKAMI.COM / THE HILL / BIBI REPORT) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) offered high praise this week for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has often been at odds with the Obama administration.

Huckabee, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, after meeting privately with Netanyahu called him “one of the world’s great leaders.”

“I think in fact he is one of the world’s great leaders,” Huckabee said during an interview with Israeli television network Channel 10. “Not just an Israeli great leader. One of the world’s great leaders. One of the most articulate and clearest minds we have in the world today.”

Huckabee has demonstrated his close ties to the right-wing Likud Party leader during his 13th visit to the Jewish state this week as he considers another run for the White House.

Netanyahu affirmed his tight bond with Huckabee, telling Channel 10, “He’s a great friend, a great friend.”

When asked how great of a friend, Netanyahu replied, “None greater, none greater.”

But the relationship between President Obama and Netanyahu has not been as sunny since both became the heads of their governments. Netanyahu was reportedly snubbed for dinner at the White House in March and the U.S. has made little progress in resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Obama, however, has played down any notion of a rift.

“If you look at every public statement that I’ve made over the last year and a half, it has been a constant reaffirmation of the special relationship between the United States and Israel, that our commitment to Israel’s security has been unwavering. And, in fact, there aren’t any concrete policies that you could point to that would contradict that,” he said in July during the duo’s last face-to-face meeting.

Huckabee said that he believes he would be an “honest broker” in the Middle East if he were president, and blamed the lack of progress in the region on the “duplicity” of the parties engaged in diplomacy.

“I would like to think so. I think that the key there is honesty. One reason that we don’t have a lot of the solutions we would like diplomatically is because of the duplicity of the people who are engaged,” he said. “I think that a lot of people, even who disagree with me, would rather deal with me knowing where I came from rather than that I am going to tell people what they want to hear just because I happen to be with them at the time.”  (*)

Israel urges West: Make sure new Egypt regime honors peace deal

 

FILE : (L-R) President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, US President Barack Obama, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and King Abdullah II of Jordan walk to the East Room to make statements on the peace process on September 1, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants international community to make clear that new leadership must meet a series of conditions similar to those posed by Hamas in order to gain recognition of legitimacy.

Feb 02, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked U.S. President Barack Obama and a number of other Western leaders in recent days to make it clear to any new Egyptian regime that it must abide fully by the peace agreement with Israel.

Senior Israeli officials said that Netanyahu would like the international community to make it clear to any new Egyptian leadership that will emerge that it must meet a series of conditions in return for receiving legitimacy in the eyes of the West – similar to those posed to Hamas following the Islamist movement’s victory in Palestinian elections. The Mideast Quartet had demanded, and still requires, that in return for recognition, Hamas relinquish terrorism, recognize Israel and accept as binding previous negotiated agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

Although Netanyahu is not drawing a comparison between Hamas rule and a new Egyptian government, he would like to see, along with demands for democracy and respect for human rights, that the international community set as a condition that any new government in Cairo abide by the international agreements to which the Mubarak regime had signed, according to officials.

“The matter was made clear to the Americans and many other countries,” a senior official in Jerusalem said. “We are not opposed to democracy in Egypt but it is important for us to preserve the peace agreement.”

The Prime Minister’s Bureau issued a special statement yesterday to clarify the Israeli position on the situation in Egypt.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s interest is to preserve the peace with Egypt,” the message read. “Israel believes that the international community must require any Egyptian government to preserve the peace agreement with Israel.”

(*)

PM Netanyahu to World: Make Sure Egypt Doesn't Abandon Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Feb 02, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — In talks with diplomatic officials Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted that Israel’s interest is maintaining the peace with Egypt, a Government Press Office statement said. Israel believes that the international community must insist that any Egyptian government maintain the peace treaty with Israel, the government statement added.
“Israel is a democracy and supports the advance of liberal and democratic values in the Middle East. The advancement of those values is good for peace.

“But if extremist forces are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals – as has happened in Iran and elsewhere – the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy.”

Netanyahu has been careful not to make statements about the Egypt situation until now and sternly instructed his ministers to refrain from commenting when the demonstrations and rioting there broke out. The statement to diplomats reflects Israel’s concern that the apparent overthrow of the regime of Hosni Mubarak could lead to the installation of a more Islamist government. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has vowed to annul the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt if elected.

Egyptian President Mubarak announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking another term as president. He said, however, that he does not intend on stepping down before the scheduled presidential elections in September.   (*)

(Source : IsraelNationalNews.com)

Israel signals new fears about Egypt's future

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

JERUSALEM, Feb 01 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced understanding for pro-democracy protests in Egypt for the first time on Tuesday, but reiterated Israel’s fear they could put a radical Islamist regime in power.

Netanyahu “encourages the advancement of free and democratic values in the Middle East,” a statement said, adding that as in a 1979 Islamist revolt in Iran, toppling pro-Western President Hosni Mubarak may also prove “a blow to peace and democracy.”

The statement was issued as Israeli experts increasingly saw Mubarak’s regime, a longtime ally of Israel, as threatened by the weeklong wave of protests sweeping Egypt, and the anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood as a possible ruling alternative.

Netanyahu said in consultations held on Monday it was “in Israel’s interests to preserve the peace with Egypt,” the statement issued later by his office said, referring to a treaty signed in 1979, Israel’s first with an Arab state.

“Israel believes that the global community must demand that any Egyptian government preserve the peace treaty with Israel,” the statement added.

Some Israeli analysts envisaged a possibility of Mubarak surviving in power at least through an election held later this year, unless the Egyptian military brass still seen as faithful changed its allegiance as a result of the continuing unrest.

“He is fighting for his political survival and the chances don’t look good,” said Moshe Maoz, a veteran expert on Middle Eastern affairs and of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Maoz saw top military officers possibly sticking by Mubarak or a handpicked successor, at least through an election later this year, to avoid a rise to power by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which many Israelis see as Egypt’s best organized opposition force.  (*)

Shimon Peres on Egypt: Learn from Gaza

Israeli President Shimon Peres and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint press conference in his resdency on February 01, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Merkel has travelled to Israel with members of her cabinet in order to conduct joint government cabinet meetings with their Israeli counterparts. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

President reminds German chancellor that Hamas rose to power following democratic elections in Gaza, says ‘we must ensure that human rights are guaranteed in a real democracy’

Feb 01 (KATAKAMI.COM / YNET) — President Shimon Peres met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his official residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The main issue on the agenda was the situation in Egypt following theviolent uprising.

The president warned the chancellor that “the world must learn from what happened in Gaza. Democracy begins with elections – but does not end with elections. Democracy is a civilization, and if you choose the wrong side you bring about the end of democracy. We must ensure that human rights are guaranteed in a real democracy.”

Peres reminded Merkel that Hamastook over Gaza following democratic elections. “The world saw what happened in Gaza when they pushed for democratic elections and a radical and dangerous movement, which won’t give the Gazans one day of democracy, rose to power.

Addressing the Iranian nuclear program, he said that “all options are on the table.”

The president thanked the German chancellor for “your clear stand on Iran and for trying to prevent any danger which is unnecessary to peace and the free world. Your voice is loud and clear and all options are open.”

He explained in the closed meeting that “Iran is trying to force an extreme religious hegemony on the Middle East and Islamic countries.”

Merkel said she agreed with Peres’ remarks on the Iranian threat, saying that this was a problem which threatened the entire world and not just Israel.

“Israel’s security is a global matter, not a bilateral matter,” she said, adding that “in light of the recent events, it’s time to speed up the peace process.”

She clarified that the Palestinian Authority’s leadership was strong. “I believe I have arrived in Israel at a very important time. Time is essential to guarantee that Israel remains an independent state within its borders. The concept of two states for two people cannot remain a statement – it must be seen on the ground.”

(*)

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