‘We made a deal to make Liberman the PM’
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Parties reached secret pact to make Liberman PM, MK reveals

Yisrael Beytenu's Kirshenbaum says Yesh Atid and Kulanu had signed on to plan; Netanyahu thanks IDF's Gantz for leadership of military 'during trying times'

  • Snow falls in Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)
    Snow falls in Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)
  • Jewish Home party leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, poses with students at the Blich high school in Ramat Gan, Feb 12 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
    Jewish Home party leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, poses with students at the Blich high school in Ramat Gan, Feb 12 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
  • Supreme Court justice Salim Joubran, head of the Central election Committee, reacts at a committee discussion on disqualifying MK Hanin Zoabi, on February 12, 2015 (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)
    Supreme Court justice Salim Joubran, head of the Central election Committee, reacts at a committee discussion on disqualifying MK Hanin Zoabi, on February 12, 2015 (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)
  • Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a September 11, 2013, Navy ceremony (photo credit: AP Photo: Dan Balilty)
    Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a September 11, 2013, Navy ceremony (photo credit: AP Photo: Dan Balilty)
  • Then deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in the West Bank settlement of Ariel on December 30, 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
    Then deputy interior minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in the West Bank settlement of Ariel on December 30, 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with outgoing IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, at the military base, HaKirya, in Tel Aviv, February 12, 2015. (photo credit: Haim Zach / GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with outgoing IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, at the military base, HaKirya, in Tel Aviv, February 12, 2015. (photo credit: Haim Zach / GPO)

The Central Elections Committee on Thursday disqualified Arab Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi and right wing Jewish candidate Baruch Marzel from participating in the coming general elections for Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz and thanked him for his leadership of the military during the past four years.

A clandestine recording of Yisrael Beytenu’s Faina Kirshenbaum reveals that Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon agreed to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin to appoint Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman to put together the next coalition. This would make Liberman prime minister, without being head of the largest party.

The Times of Israel followed events as they unfolded

Zoabi ‘not surprised, sure court will reverse decision’

MK Hanin Zoabi says following her disqualification from running in the elections: “I am not surprised, and I am certain the High Court of Justice will overturn this decision. I represent the entire democratic population in Israel.”

During the hearing, Zoabi told the Central Election Committee that she doesn’t “understand why I’m here. I was adamantly against the killing of civilians wherever they may be, against racist laws. Why are the people who encouraged the killing, the destruction, the land theft, the people who sought to burn the civilians of Gaza – why are they not here?

“These racists must be stopped, we are not conducting ceremonies of incitement and calling for vendettas like you do, day in and day out, against Arab MKs.”

FM says Zoabi ‘shouldn’t even be in PA’

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) says Zoabi does not belong in the Knesset “or even the Palestinian Authority.”

Reacting to her disqualification from running for the next Knesset, the foreign minister says, “I hope this time around the High Court of Justice does not repeat the mistake made with [fugitive lawmaker and suspected Hezbollah spy] Azmi Bishara and will not allow the supporter of terrorists and helper of ‘Marmara’ attackers to run as a candidate for the parliament of the Jewish state.”

“Zoabi belongs with the terrorists from Hamas,” Liberman adds.

Bennett ‘awaits PM’s call like awaiting a date‘

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to draw right-wing voters by promising more construction in the settlements and then after the election will renege on his promises.

“Before the election everyone is right-wing, they travel to Judea and Samaria; after the election they freeze [construction] or make speeches calling to establish a Palestinian state,” Bennett says in a tour of the Blich high school in Ramat Gan.

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, seen with students at the Blich high school in Ramat Gan on February 12, 2015. (photo credit" Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, seen with students at the Blich high school in Ramat Gan on February 12, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

“The only Knesset party objecting to establishing Palestine in the Land of Israel” is Jewish Home, Bennett says, adding that a strong Jewish Home is necessary so that Netanyahu will not first turn to another party to build a coalition.

“I’m afraid this time, also, I’ll wait for Netanyahu’s call like one awaits a date. I’m afraid it’s going to be like last time, when he gave Tzipi Livni, with all of her six seats, the authority of handling negotiations. This is why these elections are either Tzipi or Bennett.”

Pollution from sandstorm subsides by 95%

Pollution measured in Environment Ministry stations across the county is 95% lower than the record levels measured at the height of the sandstorm yesterday.

The sandstorm that began late Tuesday evening has been the worst measured in the past five years.

Lucy Aharish says Je ne suis pas Hanin Zoabi

Arab-Israeli TV presenter Lucy Aharish supports the disqualification of Hanin Zoabi from running to the Knesset.

On her Channel 2 TV show Aharish says “I think what Hanin Zoabi is doing… I don’t think this woman should represent me or be my face.”

“We do not live in an Arab country. We are lucky we can be proud of the democracy in which we live. These two people [Zoabi and Baruch Marzel] are two extremists harming the society in which they live. They are two people who add little respect, not Hanin Zoabi on the Arab side and not Baruch Marzel on the Jewish side.”

2 headless bodies found in Egypt’s Sinai

Two headless bodies were found in a village in Egypt’s restive North Sinai region on Saturday, police says, the latest in a series of beheadings allegedly carried out by jihadists.

The bodies of two men, believed to be civilians in their 30s, were found near the town of Sheikh Zuweid.

It was not immediately clear who had killed them.

Egypt’s deadliest jihadist organization, Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis, has previously claimed several beheadings of men it said were working for the Egyptian army or Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

— AFP

Elections committee disqualifies Marzel

The Central Elections Committee disqualifies far-right candidate Baruch Marzel from running in the coming elections.

17 voted to disqualify Marzel, 16 against

Baruch Marzel was voted out of the coming election by a very narrow margin, Ynet reports. Seventeen members of the committee supported disqualifying him, while 16 opposed.

After the vote Marzel said, “I will continue to speak my mind.”

Top court rejects Corrie family appeal

Rachel Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. photo credit: Avishag Shaar Yashuv/Flash90)

Rachel Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. photo credit: Avishag Shaar Yashuv/Flash90)

The Supreme Court rejects an appeal by the Corrie family of the Haifa District Court’s ruling that said the State of Israel is exempt from paying damages to the family of Rachel Corrie, a US citizen and left-wing activist who was run over by a bulldozer, since Corrie died during actions that happened in a war zone.

The justices did however accept the family’s demand to reject a Nazareth District Court ruling that the family filed duplicate claims regarding the circumstances of Corrie’s autopsy. The court ruled that the family’s lawsuit regarding the autopsy would be returned to the Magistrate’s Court, Ynet reports.

Marzel laments left’s ‘silencing’ of his views

Baruch Marzel laments “the left wing’s silencing” of people holding his views.

“It has been proven that my position is not racist. We are not afraid and we will continue acting for the Land of Israel, the Torah and the people of Israel.”

‘Largest fire in years’ in paper factory

The commander of the Southern District Fire Fighters, Moshe Suissa, says a fire in the Shaniv paper factory near Ofakim is the largest in the past few years.

“Our estimate is that the fire will continue for several more hours and we will need to replace firefighters on the scene and let the ones who are there now rest,” NRG reports Suissa saying.

“I think this is the largest fire in the south in the past several years. There are huge forces here: 25 firefighting teams, including assistance from the air force and water tanks brought from the IDF base in Nevatim. All in all, there are some 80 firefighters working here.”

Yishai laments ban of ‘Israel lover’ Marzel

Eli Yishai takes to Facebook to lament the disqualification of Baruch Marzel from running in the coming election.
“Baruch Marzel, a lover of Israel and a man of the Land of Israel, was disqualified because of unrelated interested parties which are afraid to see the Yachad party fighting homegrown terrorists,” Yishai writes.

“It is hypocrisy of the highest order and a bad outcome of the cooperation between Meretz, the Arabs, Hatnua, Yesh Atid and Tzipi-Buji [a nickname for Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog], and I believe the High Court of Justice will reverse this decision.”

Freundel may be charged with 88 voyeurism counts

During a meeting between the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia and victims of Rabbi Barry Freundel, the government informed victims that it may proceed with at least another 82 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism, representing a total of 88 identified women, the Washington Jewish Week reports.

Read the full story here.

IS magazine publishes Boumedienne interview

A magazine identified with Islamic State and published in French has published an “exclusive interview” with Hayat Boumedienne, wife of the terrorist Amedy Coulibaly who killed four Jews in the Hyper Cacher market in Paris last month.

Boumedienne traveled to Turkey several days before the terror attack and presumably continued on to IS-held territory in Syria.

Screen capture from a video released by French-speaking Islamic State members that may show fugitive terror suspect Hayat Boumeddiene (front row Right) who is wanted in France. (screen capture: YouTube/24/7 News online)

Screen capture from a video released by French-speaking Islamic State members that may show fugitive terror suspect Hayat Boumeddiene (front row Right) who is wanted in France. (screen capture: YouTube/24/7 News online)

In the magazine, which shows on its cover a French soldier guarding the Eiffel tower and has the text “Qu’Allah maudisse la France” (May Allah curse France), there are few pictures to support the claim that Boumedienne is indeed in Syria, but the magazine does feature what it claims is a two-page interview with the female terrorist.

In it, Boumedienne says she felt relief when she arrived in a country where the rules are the rules of Allah. She also speaks of Coulibaly’s desires to join his “brothers” fighting the enemies of the “Islamic caliphate.”

“His eyes would shine every time he saw IS videos,” Boumedienne said. She said that “everyone” should study the life of the prophet Muhmmad and praise Allah, and called on more women to follow in her example and join IS.

Golan Heights roads reopen after storm

All roads in the Golan Heights blocked due to the stormy weather over the past few days have been reopened.

Snow falls in Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)

Snow falls in Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)

Egypt to buy 24 French-made fighter jets

Egypt signs a massive arms deal with France, including the purchase of 24 Rafale type fighter jets, a multi-use frigate and short- and medium-range missiles, Le Monde reports.

The contract is worth between 4 and 5 billion euros. It was only two days ago the AFP said the negotiations to close a deal to sell the jets were “many days away” from coming to a close.

Egypt signed last week a deal with Russia, according to which Moscow will build a nuclear energy facility for the African Arab state.

A French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jet. (photo credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0 Tim Felce)

A French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jet. (photo credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0 Tim Felce)

PM to Gantz: You led Israel in trying times

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz at the Prime Minister’s Kirya Office. Gantz is officially stepping down on Monday next week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, right, and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visit the Hatzor air force base on August 27, 2014. (Photo credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, right, and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visit the Hatzor air force base on August 27, 2014. (Photo credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

“I would like to thank you for long years of service for the security of the country, especially during the past four years when you lead the IDF as chief of staff, four unusually challenging years, during a period of unprecedented regional unrest, when countries are collapsing and terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum, and Iran is trying to suffocate us with a multi-pronged vise grip,” Netanyahu tells Gantz.

“At this time, you led IDF actions, both publicly and clandestinely, professionally, determinedly and responsibly. We worked together in two operations in the Gaza front and other fronts, and on many endeavors of which the public is unaware. I would like to thank you for this excellent service.

“I know you leave behind a military capable of facing all these challenges. One of them is shaping up before our very eyes, when tho[usands of Hezbollah fighters are in Syria, entering also the south of Syria, near our border, on orders from Iran. We are aware of these challenges and the army you leave behind can withstand them.  I would like to thank you for this service and also give you a book that you already know, ‘Memoir of a fighter to his commander’,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu gave Gantz the book “Letters of Yoni,” and inscribed it with the dedication ‘To Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, upon your leaving the IDF, memoirs of one fighter to another. With much appreciation of your contribution to the security of Israel and your leadership during a time of trials, Benjamin Netanyahu’,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

UN targets IS financing from oil, antiquities

The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution aimed at choking off millions of dollars in earnings from oil smuggling, antiquities trafficking and ransom payments to the Islamic State group.

The resolution is co-sponsored by more than 35 countries in a show of international resolve to confront the threat posed by the jihadists who overran parts of Syria and Iraq nearly a year ago.

The measure calls for sanctions against individuals and entities that trade in oil with IS and Al-Qaeda affiliates such as the Al-Nusra Front in Syria.

It urges all 193 countries of the United Nations to take “appropriate steps” to prevent the trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria.

It also reminds governments worldwide that they must “prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or political concessions” to secure the release of hostages.

— AFP

Erdogan proposes building mosque in Cuba

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed building a mosque in Cuba during a visit to the country.

Erdogan said he had suggested building a mosque similar to a 19th-century waterside mosque in Istanbul’s Ortakoy district, during talks with officials in the communist nation.

His comments were published on the presidential palace’s official web site on Thursday. Erdogan visited Cuba as part of a Latin American tour.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the Cuban response to the proposal was.

In November, Erdogan sparked controversy by claiming that Muslim sailors reached the Americas more than 300 years before explorer Christopher Columbus. Erdogan suggested that in his memoirs, Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba.

— AFP

Ban says ‘Yemen collapsing before our eyes’

Yemen is “collapsing before our eyes,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tells the Security Council on Thursday as he appealed for action to stop the country’s slide toward anarchy.

“We cannot stand by and watch,” Ban told the 15-member council.

— AFP

UN threatens more sanctions in Sudan

The UN Security Council is threatening new sanctions against Sudanese government officials and armed groups that attack civilians in Darfur, target peacekeepers and impede efforts to end the 12-year conflict in Sudan’s vast western region.

The council makes the threats in a resolution adopted unanimously that extends the mandate of a panel of experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions in Darfur until March 12, 2016. Members say they intend to review the panel’s mandate and take action on further extensions by Feb. 12, 2016.

Darfur has been torn by conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.

— AP

Yishai says party ‘definitely‘ in next Knesset

Yachad chairman Eli Yishai plays it cool after the Central Election Committee disqualified Baruch Marzel from running on his slate.

Yachad chairman Eli Yishai and extreme Right politician Baruch Marzel, seen during a discussion in the Central Elections Committee in the next Knesset, on February 12, 2015. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Yachad chairman Eli Yishai and extreme Right politician Baruch Marzel, seen during a discussion in the Central Elections Committee in the next Knesset, on February 12, 2015. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

“We will be this election’s surprise, the question is only but how big we will be,” Yishai says during an early evening Channel 10 show. Yishai believes there is no doubt his party will make it to the Knesset, even though it is polling at four Knesset seats, the minimum number of MKs after the electoral threshold has been raised.

Yachad was polling below the electoral threshold until a mere two weeks ago, but has remained above the threshold since it passed it. Yishai tells Channel 10 that teaming up with Marzel and with Yoni Chetboune, who until recently was an MK for Jewish Home, is not against the positions of the rabbi Yishai sees as her mentor, the late Ovadia Yosef.

US: Ukraine deal could be major step toward peace

The White House says a new peace deal between Russia and Ukraine could be a significant step toward peacefully resolving the conflict.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest is calling on all sides to follow through with immediate and concrete steps.

Earnest says the cease-fire must be honored and heavy weapons withdrawn. He’s also calling on Russia to stop supporting the separatists and withdraw its troops and equipment from eastern Ukraine.

The White House says Ukraine’s border with Russia must be restored and that the US is especially concerned about fighting that escalated Thursday despite the agreement.

The deal was hammered out in all-night negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. Under the deal, Ukraine would trade broad autonomy for eastern Ukraine to reclaim control of its border.

— AP

Nahariya flooded after Ga’aton River overflows

The rains of the past few days caused the Ga’aton River to overflow, flooding the main street and several other streets in Nahariya.

Houses on ground floors in the Herzl and Steinmetz streets were flooded and one car was stuck, as the water reached a height of nearly 50 cm.

The floods started after hours of rainfall on the Western Galilee which filled the river’s source.

Rain and snow is expected to continue falling in the northern Golan and Galilee mountains. Jerusalem residents waited for snow on Wednesday and Thursday, predicted by forecasts, but the capital remained dry, with only occasional drizzles on Wednesday evening.

‘We made a deal to make Liberman the PM’

Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon agreed to recommend to the president to let Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman put together the next coalition, says Yisrael Beytenu MK Faina Kirshenbaum, who has recently been at the epicenter of a corruption probe involving dozens of officials from the party are affiliated with it.

“For the first time, there was a situation where our chairman could be the prime minister,” Kirshenbaum says.

Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in Ariel, on December 30, 2014. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in Ariel, on December 30, 2014. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

According to Israeli law, the prime minister is not necessarily the head of the party which wins the most seats in the Knesset, but the head of the party which receives the most recommendations from heads of other parties and who is seen by the president to have a reasonable chance to put together a majority of more than 60 MKs.

“There was a deal that we would team up with Kahlon and Lapid and build a centrist bloc,” Kirshenbaum is heard saying during a Yisrael Beytenu campaign conference that was secretly recorded by a Channel 2 employee. “If Netanyahu would step down from Likud, we could ask Likud to join and then it would be a large national bloc.”

Kirshenbaum says there is “no chance” that a left wing government can govern in the near future. “I believe there should be a government of the national camp and I don’t think Buji [Isaac Herzog] and Tzipi [Livni] should be in this government.

Kirshenbaum says there is “no doubt” that the recent corruption probe damaged Yisrael Beytenu but lamented what she called the labeling of the entire party because of allegations made against individual members.
“When they did an investigation of Fuad [former Labor MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer] it was a probe of Fuad, not of all of Labor. In our case it’s treated as an investigation of the entire party,” says Kirshenbaum.

Said Musallam’s dad denies son’s Mossad links

The father of Muhammad Said Ismail Musallam denies that his son has any ties with Mossad.

“We knew he had been captured” in Syria, says the father in an interview with Channel 2, but not that he had any ties with the Israeli spy agency.

In an interview which appeared in an Islamic State magazine, Musallam is presented as an Arab spy for Israel and even details his training.

Image of flooded Nahariya tweeted by police

Israel Police tweeted a photo of Nahariya after it was flooded by the Ga’aton River:

Israel Prize affair deepens with Zionist Union appeal

The Zionist Union decides to appeal to the High Court of Justice regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intervention in the makeup of the jury of the Israel Prize, Ynet reports.

The party says Netanyahu “bluntly interfered” in the committee’s deliberations, and added that it sent Netanyahu’s office a notice stating it would file an appeal in the coming days.

85-year-old J’lem resident dies in house fire

An 85-year-old man was killed in a fire in Jerusalem. The fire broke out on the third floor of a residential building in the Mishkan Shilo Street in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Fire fighters and Magen David Adom were first called about the fire shortly after 8 pm but by the time they arrived on the scene, the man was already dead.

The man apparently died from smoke inhalation. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the man but pronounced him dead on the scene.

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‘We made a deal to make Liberman the PM’

Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon agreed to recommend to the president to let Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman put together the next coalition, says Yisrael Beytenu MK Faina Kirshenbaum, who has recently been at the epicenter of a corruption probe involving dozens of officials from the party are affiliated with it.

“For the first time, there was a situation where our chairman could be the prime minister,” Kirshenbaum says.

Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in Ariel, on December 30, 2014. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/FLASH90)
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum attends a conference of Yisrael Beytenu activists in Ariel, on December 30, 2014. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

According to Israeli law, the prime minister is not necessarily the head of the party which wins the most seats in the Knesset, but the head of the party which receives the most recommendations from heads of other parties and who is seen by the president to have a reasonable chance to put together a majority of more than 60 MKs.

“There was a deal that we would team up with Kahlon and Lapid and build a centrist bloc,” Kirshenbaum is heard saying during a Yisrael Beytenu campaign conference that was secretly recorded by a Channel 2 employee. “If Netanyahu would step down from Likud, we could ask Likud to join and then it would be a large national bloc.”

Kirshenbaum says there is “no chance” that a left wing government can govern in the near future. “I believe there should be a government of the national camp and I don’t think Buji [Isaac Herzog] and Tzipi [Livni] should be in this government.

Kirshenbaum says there is “no doubt” that the recent corruption probe damaged Yisrael Beytenu but lamented what she called the labeling of the entire party because of allegations made against individual members.
“When they did an investigation of Fuad [former Labor MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer] it was a probe of Fuad, not of all of Labor. In our case it’s treated as an investigation of the entire party,” says Kirshenbaum.