The Knesset elected Reuven Rivlin as the State of Israel's 10th president on Tuesday. The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu MK received 63 of 116 valid votes in a runoff election against MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatenua), who won 53 votes.

Rivlin and Sheetrit went to a second round runoff after none of the candidates succeeded in obtaining a majority 61 votes in the first round of voting at the plenum.

Of the 119 ballots cast in the first round (MK Meir Porush was overseas), Rivlin received the most votes, 44, followed by Sheetrit with 31. Former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik received 28 votes, followed by former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, 13, and Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman, who received only one vote. Two votes were disqualified.

Rivlin, who will serve a single, seven-year term, will be ceremoniously sworn in as first citizen of Israel on July 24, 2014, replacing outgoing President Shimon Peres.

Rivlin, who served two terms as speaker of the Knesset, was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is married and has four children. A lawyer by training, Rivlin served as director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association, as a member of the Jerusalem city council for a decade and as chairman of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene. He also served as Minister of Communications in the Sharon government at the start of the previous decade.

For Reuven Rivlin's personal Knesset webpage: http://goo.gl/2m5ZEH

https://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=114

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFA-Archive/2003/Pages/Reuven%20Rivlin.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

Head of Israel's Top Political Parties outlined their visions for the Mideast peace process at the annual Herzliya Conference which runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

The leaders of Israel's top political parties outlined their visions for the peace process and regional security in keynote addresses at the Herzliya Conference tonight.

MK Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Religious Services, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs; Head, Habayit Hayehudi Party claimed that the era of the Oslo Accords is over and called on the government to implement a sovereignty plan starting with the Gush Etzion block.

"With the establishment of the Palestinian unity government - the era of Oslo has ended. Now the time has come to admit that it simply didn't work. We need to think in a different way to create a better reality, and I hereby outline The Sovereignty Plan. The State of Israel would have gradual sovereignty over half of Judea and Samaria where there is a tremendous majority of Jews, while creating an upgraded situation with freedom and mobility for Arabs without roadblocks between villages. The first implementation of this plan would take place across the Gush Etzion block".
"Over time, in areas A and B there would be an upgraded autonomy. Israel would also upgrade the infrastructure in those areas and the Arab civilians would enjoy a better life with free mobility".
"Together we will develop a startup region so for burgeoning, prosperous growth, including improvements in import-export situation. However the prerequisite for this is peace in the field, calm in the field itself".
"21 years we gave the left every opportunity, now it's our turn".

MK Yair Lapid, Minister of Finance; Chairman, Yesh Atid Party spoke about the risk of ending negotiations and claimed that Israel cannot and does not want to rule over four million Palestinians.

"The risks of ending the negotiations include terrorism, international isolation and our own economic challenges. We must stop asking what do the Palestinians want and begin asking 'what do the Israeli people want'. The answer is security and to be separate.
"Israel has to decide what its borders are. We must come with detailed maps express a national consensus through a three-phase solution:
Preparation phase including withdrawal from those areas that do not protect Israel's security. During this time there is no additional construction of settlements
A trust building phase during which Israel will withdraw from isolated settlements while establishing security in the settlement blocs.
Adjustments, including land swaps and permanent talks.
"Ever since we joined the government we have struggled against the isolated settlements. The damage is great in the international arena and there is a financial price that we feel in our pockets. We have lost billions in economic activity that could go towards reducing taxes, improving healthcare and education, reinforcing the IDF, etc. We need a concrete, predictive map that will determine where construction can increase and where it should cease. Israel should initiate rather than react and in order to do that we must draw our own borders = first on paper, and then on the ground".

MK Tzipi Livni, Minister of Justice; Chairperson, Hatenouah Party promoted a two-state solution as a way to present the values of a Jewish, democratic state.
"The most important decision we need to make stems from the question: what do we want from ourselves? A Jewish democratic state living in harmony with our neighbors or a binational state with ongoing bloodshed. This is a decision that must be made now".
"I am sick of being politically correct, and I want to say some truths. The settlements are a financial burden. They were designed to prevent us from reaching an agreement ever and they are taking up huge budgets at the expense of health, welfare, education and more, and I blame the leadership of the settlement movement".
"Hamas has not changed and we must continue with their de-legitimization in the world, but we must continue negotiations with Abu Mazen's government in order to promote our own interests".
"Hatenua and Yesh Atid believe in two states. Our cooperation is more important than ever".

MK Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Opposition; Chairman, Labor Party called on MK Yair Lapid to leave the government and join him and others in stopping the funding to the settlements. Herzog called for "a cohesive leadership that can bring together all the different hues of Israeli society".

MK Gideon Saar, Minister of the Interior; Likud Party questioned if alternatives to the status quo are practical, and if they are better than the current state of affairs. Saar claimed that over the past two decades Israel has taken dramatic steps to change the status quo including the Oslo Accords and the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip – and that bottom line, these steps did not improve Israel's security situation or bring Israel any nearer to peace.

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto:
www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

The war in Syria is pushing out secular Syrians in favor of Islamic fighters and Global Jihadists, according to Brig. General Itai Brun, head of the research division of IDF intelligence.

"About 80 percent of the rebels have an Islamic agenda," Brun said Monday at the Herzliya Conference.

The turmoil in Syria is part of the changing landscape of Israel's security, he said. There are positive elements - the threat from Syria has dropped significantly and "most of its chemical weapons have either been removed or destroyed." The camp of moderate Arabs has also been strengthened.

But there are also negative developments. Hezbollah now holds an enormous number of rockets and has the ability to strike any part of Israel. "It has 170,000 rockets," he said. "This is a huge amount and it's an established fact, not an estimate."

The goal of Hezbollah – and those arming it – is to neutralize Israel's naval and air superiority. They also hope to use the rockets as a deterrent by aiming them at Israel's home front, he said.

If major fighting broke out, they would look "for a massive attack to cause us considerable pain and damage and make us not want to continue fighting," Brun said.

Israel's deterrent, however, remains strong. "None of Israel's enemies are interested in a long war. The exception could be World Jihad, with whom deterrence works differently," he said.

"The Middle East is still in a transitional period," he said, "An old period has collapsed and a new one that has not yet formed. The hostility towards Israel is the one common denominator among those who want to bring about a new order and even those who want to restore the old order. "

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

To access a free database of high resolution still pictures from the conference (mandatory credit) please log onto : www.herzliyaconference.com

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

 

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf - #HC14

 

 

 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HerzliyaConference

 

 

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

 

“Why is Iran seeking nuclear capabilities?” questioned Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) during his address during the panel on Iran’s Domestic Power Struggle and the Regional Balance of Power: Implications for the Iran-P5+1 Negotiations on the second day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference.

 

Cordesman explained that more than being a country with nuclear ambitions, Iran is a country that sees itself under siege with very little really modern military equipment, serious performance limitations in the area of its aircrafts, and a major surface navy that has not improved much since 1987 and 1988. It sees the US expanding and improving its capabilities, a heavily armed Israel and a buildup of military strength in the Gulf, while also being caught up in a struggle between the Sunnis and Shiites.

 

“This is a country that is a very real threat… its asymmetric capabilities are very real and it is building up its missile capabilities…” but he said that when looking at the balance of power, one could see why they are building up their capabilities.

 

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli author, commentator and lecturer at IDC Herzliya explained that 2014 was an important year of decisions for Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei and told his audience that he believed the chance of success for the current nuclear talks was currently 60:40, contrary to US President Barack Obama’s 50:50 prediction.

 

He explained that his optimism came from Khamenei having made three mistakes. Firstly, he got the 2009 elections wrong, turned against the instigators of the revolution and lost legitimacy among his people. Secondly, he has turned down Obama’s overtures and proven that Iran’s leadership is more scared of peace than war. Lastly, he thought that Iran could make it through the debilitating sanctions and that people would continue to rally behind the flag. Instead, the latter has not occurred and $200 billion is missing from the $650 billion earned during former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reign. “It’s a critical stage for the Iranian economy.”

Prof. Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation, expounded on his views as to positive changes with regard to Iran’s current attitude toward negotiations.

 

He explained that current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had been allowed to run for election by the regime in order to fix the disaster that followed the 2009 elections and the leadership of Ahmadinejad, “who was a disaster for the Islamic republic as a whole.”

 

The current consensus within the establishment, Nader said, was that Iran was facing a bigger internal and external crisis than in many years. He said that Rouhani is seen as a fixer and good manager and was seen by the people of Iran as the least disastrous of the eight candidates on offer.

 

Dr. Gary Samore, Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) said that “he was deeply skeptical that any nuclear deal acceptable to Iran will exist.” He said that he believed that Iran would have acquired these capabilities years ago had it not been for US efforts.

 

He said that people close to the Iranian leadership have noted that owing to Iran being surrounded by nuclear armed powers that were potential threats, Iran needed some kind of “virtual nuclear weapons capacity”. But, he said, whatever the nature of deterrence that they would demand – real or virtual – there was no indication that Iran would be willing to concede to any of the conditions being put forward by the P5+1.

 

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

 

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf - #HC14

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HerzliyaConference

 

 

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.   

 

 

 

 

 

The Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, visited Japan on 11 – 14 May 2014 and held a summit meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe. Both sides confirmed their intention to build a new comprehensive partnership in order to further enhance the bilateral relations as well as to strengthen cooperation on promoting international peace and stability. The following joint statement was issued:

1 Bilateral issues
Both sides confirmed to increase exchanges between the two countries at the levels of Prime Ministers, Ministers and high ranking officials. Having held their first summit dialogue meeting on national security, both sides expressed their expectation to hold the second round on the occasion of Prime Minister Abe's early visit to Israel.
Both sides welcomed the launch of an exchange of views between Japan's National Security Secretariat and Israel's National Security Council and confirmed to hold the next meeting in Israel.
Both sides confirmed the necessity of cooperation in the field of cyber security and expressed their expectation to hold talks between the relevant agencies of the two countries.
Both sides affirmed the importance of bilateral defense cooperation and concurred on increasing the exchanges between the defense authorities of the two countries including exchanges at ministerial level. They concurred with the visit of officers of the Japan Self-Defense Forces to Israel.
Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral working group on economy. They welcomed the recent visits between the two countries' business circles and the expanded investment, and confirmed to start working on the launch of negotiations on an investment agreement in order to further encourage this trend. Both sides affirmed to make further efforts for exploring a possible cooperation to promote joint industrial research and development.
Both sides expect to increase mutual visits through tourism promotion. Both sides also shared the intention to work on realizing
the already agreed service of direct flights.
Both sides confirmed the importance of cooperation on agriculture and fishery, including trade promotion and exchanges among the two countries' agricultural research institutes. Prime Minister Abe welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to lift import restrictions applied by Israel following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Both sides confirmed their commitment to promote cooperation in
the fields of advanced science and technology and innovation. They
highly appreciated the work of Japan-Israel Science and Technology Joint Committee as well as active exchanges between relevant organizations. For the purpose of expanding further exchanges, they shared the intention
of promoting dialogue through various measures.
Both sides shared the intention to promote exchanges among the two countries' space related agencies.
Both sides acknowledged that empowering women is vital to realize sustainable and healthy economic and social development, and stressed the importance to promote cooperation in this field.
Both sides confirmed the launch of consultations to introduce the Working Holiday Visa program to promote youth exchanges. They affirmed cooperation on increasing exchanges between members of the Diet and Knesset, and enlarging educational exchanges including increasing the number of students studying in each other's country.
Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the program of "Sport for Tomorrow" launched by Japan toward the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games.
Both sides emphasized the importance of the extensive and active cultural cooperation and confirmed to seek new exchange opportunities based on the rich cultural heritage of both nations.
Both sides shared the view to encourage exchanges of food culture through both embassies in Japan and Israel.

2 Cooperation for regional stability
Both sides affirmed the importance of universal values such as freedom, democracy, human-rights, and rule of law, and confirmed to strengthen their dialogue and cooperation toward peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions. Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan's determination to contribute even more actively in securing peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the international community, through the policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" based on the principle of international cooperation, while Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed such a policy.
Both sides emphasized the necessity for achieving peace through a "two-state solution" toward stability and prosperity of the Middle Eastern region. Prime Minister Abe called upon all concerned parties to further endeavor to advance the direct negotiations and expressed his intention to make best efforts for achieving peace.

Prime Minister Abe also presented the development of Japan's initiatives for "the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity", including Jericho Agricultural Industrial park (JAIP), and requested Israel to offer further assistance on the issue of possible access routes from the site to Jordan in order to promote JAIP's activities. Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed further active roles of Japan in the Middle East peace process and expressed his intention to cooperate on the development of Japan's initiatives for "the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity".
Both sides emphasized the significance of Japan's confidence-
building measures such as invitation programs for the Israeli and Palestinian youth, sports exchanges, trilateral cooperation among Japan and Israel for regional economic development and so forth.
Both sides concurred as to the necessity to achieve a real solution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Both sides expressed their grave concern on the current situation in Syria and stressed the importance of improving the humanitarian situation as well as achieving political solution.
Prime Minister Abe expressed his determination to strengthen support for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) deployed in the Sinai Peninsula so as to further contribute to regional stability. Prime Minister Netanyahu appreciated this effort.
Both sides stressed their opposition to terrorism.
Both sides exchanged views on the security environment in East Asia, which is becoming more challenging, and confirmed the importance to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Particularly, they expressed their strong hope for the early resolution of various issues of concerns regarding North Korea, including its nuclear development, missile development and the abductions issue.

Tokyo, 12 May 2014

Shinzo Abe                                                                           Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Japan                                          Prime Minister of the State of Israel

 

Photo  : Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of their meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo May 12, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai 

 Photo courtesy of Japan Embassy