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IsraCast Archive | January-February 2013



Israel's coalition crisis drags on with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu still unable to cobble together a new government that can command a solid majority in the 120 member Knesset. In fact, King Bibi is now facing a determined bid by two apparent heirs to his throne: Yair Lapid of 'There's A Future' and Naftali Bennett of 'Jewish Home' parties.



 Has the mystery swirling around Mossad agent Ben Zygier now been solved? It apparently has, and by Trevor Bormann, the Australian reporter who first uncovered it. Bormann has quoted sources from ASIO, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization:

"Zygier told ASIO about every aspect of his work with the Israelis… Zygier met with ASIO officers in Australia and gave comprehensive details about a number of Mossad operations, including plans for a top-secret mission in Italy that had been years in the making".


Did Australian Secret Service Deliberately 'Burn' Ben Zygier?

Leading Israeli Expert Charges: 'Australia's Internal Security Service Decided To Deliberately Sic Australian Reporters On Ben Zygier'

Security Analyst Ron Ben Yishai: 'Israeli Handlers Also guilty of Over-zealousness & Carelessness'

 In Israel, the Mossad secret service has acquired an almost mythological image and with good reason. Even the hostile Egyptian newspaper once credited former Mossad chief Meir Dagan with 'single-handedly setting back Iran's nuclear weapons project by years!' But when something goes wrong there is an eruption of criticism bordering on self-flagellation: 'How could they not have spotted that Ben Zygier was unstable, why did they impose a gag order that only hyped international coverage of the sorry affair and are we a police state where citizens can be spirited away to solitary confinement?' It's as if the public is outraged at being again let down after believing the Mossad is well nigh infallible. The media led the charge with a firestorm of rhetoric such as 'fiasco, police state, freedom of the press!' However, precious little has been revealed so far about the facts of the affair.


Bio-Retina to enter clinical trials in 2013

Israeli company Nano Retina, Inc. is developing an ultra-small, easy to implant, artificial retina designed to restore sight.

Restoring eyesight to the blind has, until now, mainly been the province of science fiction, exemplified by futuristic devices featured in popular movies and TV shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek.

Nano Retina is aiming to make sight restoration a reality.


Israel's Mysterious Prisoner 'X'

Former Shabak Official Rami Igra: "We don't know what we don't know about Australian prisoner Ben Zygier prisoner X who was found hanging in Israel's Ayalon prison"

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr seeks Israeli Explanation of the Affair that Israel tried to hush up

Case sparks firestorm in Israel over government's gag order on publishing details of case

What can be said about Ben Zygier, the young Australian Jew who arrived in Israel in 2000 to serve in the Israel Defense Forces and was purportedly recruited by the Mossad Intelligence Service? According Australia's ABC News, Zygier was placed in solitary confinement in 2009 and in 2010 he was found hanging.  After informing Australia of his death, the Israeli authorities hushed up the affair and quietly sent his body back to Melbourne for burial. At the time of his death Zygier was thirty-four years old and married to an Israeli with two children. After news of the affair threatened to surface, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu summoned an urgent session of the top Israeli news editors requesting them to suppress the story that he described as: 'very embarrassing for a certain government agency'.



The timing is critical - smack in the middle of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's complex coalition consultations U.S. President Barack Obama announces a long overdue visit to Israel. Both the White House in Washington and Bibi's backers in Jerusalem are playing down any notion of a new U.S. peace initiative for Israel and the Palestinians. Perish the thought! But in international relations, actions speak louder than words.



The Assad regime crossed Israel's red line on transferring sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel has responded immediately with air strikes.

Actually the policy is not new - whenever Israel's vital interests are at stake, Israel will pre-empt and not wait until it is too late. This is the key to understanding the strategy behind the air raids that knocked out the truck convoy transporting sophisticated Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah and destroyed a chemical weapons facility not far from Damascus. The Syrian army is known already to be equipped with mustard, VX (nerve), and Sarin gas weaponry, as well as SCUD missiles that can deliver them to Israeli population centers.


Israeli Elections - Nevertheless Bibi?

 It's a long way from over but there has already been a major shift in Israel's general election. Prime Minister Binyamin has suffered a major setback with his Likud-Beiteinu party dropping by 25% in its Knesset seats taking only thirty one seats. Newcomer Yair Lapid is the big winner; his 'Future' party', although expected to do well, is expected to win at least 19 seats. Lapid has now become kingmaker, unless Netanyahu wants to commit political suicide by sticking to his former ultra-orthodox parties and including the far Right Naftali Bennett. Analyst David Essing says the question is whether Netanyahu can now make an offer that Lapid will find hard to refuse and join a new Netanyahu government.


Israel at the Ballot Box

The Israeli Elections 2013: A Primer

 With Israeli society more polarized than ever, a staunchly right-wing government is only more likely to exacerbate these divisions. Gilead Sher and Olivia Holt-Ivry discuss the elections in Israel.

 Projecting elections is a risky task, even more so in Israel. At the end of the dramatic 1996 Election Day, the public went to bed with expectations of Shimon Peres as the next prime minister, only to awaken the following morning to Binyamin Netanyahu having won by a slim 30,000 votes. Beating all political commentators, politicians and analysts, the outcome of those elections — held after the traumatic assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — should be a lesson in humility when predicting developments in the Israeli political arena. Consequently, the following is a guide for perplexed observers, rather than a projection of the general elections’ results.


Israel's Perplexed Voters

 The Israeli election campaign has entered the home stretch with all the polls indicating that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu party will win more seats than other. As things stand, Netanyahu could form a new coalition government with Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party and the ultra-orthodox parties that could command a 63 seat majority in the 120 member Knesset. However analyst David Essing reports that the Left and Centrist parties contend there are as twenty seats that could be decided by floating voters; this means there is still a chance of closing the gap and forging a blocking majority. In any case, state President Shimon Peres will consult with all the parties that win seats and ask them whom they support for prime minister. Peres will then decide which leader has the best chance of forming a new coalition and authorize him or her to commence negotiations on building a coalition that will command a 61 seat majority in the Knesset.


The Anti-Semitism of the United Nations

In his speech at the "Durban Watch" Conference, Prof. Dershowitz asks how the U.N. can dare to say that it has any moral authority...


Chuck Hagel & Shimon Peres

 In the midst of Israel's current election campaign, two developments have caught the headlines in Israel. First, U.S. President Barack Obama's selecting of Chuck Hagel as the new U.S. Secretary of Defense and the New York Times interview with Israel's President Shimon Peres have caught the headlines in Israel. 


Israeli Election Dramatic Developments

Labor Party Leader Shelli Yechimovich: " We Will Not Join Netanyahu Coalition – Either I'll Be Next Prime Minister Or Lead Opposition"

Latest Poll Shows Far Right Party Lead By Naftali Bennett Would Win 18 Knesset Seats – Likud Slips To Thirty-Five

IsraCast Assessment: Labor Leader Tries To Gain Left Wing Momentum By Declaring She Will Not Join Netanyahu Coalition But Lead The Opposition If Labor Does Not Win Upcoming Election. Far Right Jewish Home Snatches More Seats From Likud

Age of Extremes- A spectacular victory for the far Right Jewish Home party appears to be in the offing. The latest poll indicates that party leader Naftali Bennet continues to soar in the current election campaign winning 18 Knesset seats in the 120 member parliament. And there is no doubt that Bennett, a young and charismatic newcomer on the political scene, deserves all the credit. Just two weeks ago, who served in the vaunted Sayyeret Matkal special forces unit, shocked the nation by saying that if he were ordered to evict Israeli settlers from their homes he would not do it and prefer to be sentenced to prison. Bennett swiftly apologized saying he did not mean to incite IDF soldiers to disobey orders. However Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pounced on Bennett's blunder by declaring: "Anyone who incites soldiers to disobey orders cannot serve in my government!" Netanyahu, like just about everyone else including yours truly, reckoned that Bennett would pay dearly in the polls. But think again! Lo and behold, Bennet rose to 18 seats tied with Labor's Shelli Yechimovich. And where has Bennett gained more prospective voters? From none other than the ranks of Likud – Beiteinu.


Israel's Ambassadors Criticize Governments Settlement Building

Israel's Ambassadors Fault Government's Recent Decision To Build New Housing Units Adjacent To Jerusalem In West Bank

 Israeli ambassadors have dropped a bombshell on Israel's current election campaign. At a Foreign Ministry gathering of Israeli diplomats serving abroad, Israel's UN representative Ron Prosor appeared to take issue with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent decision to announce the building of 1300 new housing units in the area of E-1 near East Jerusalem on the West Bank. The Palestinians claim this construction would drive a wedge between a Palestinian state on the West Bank. Netanyahu said the announcement was in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's violation of the Oslo Accord in pushing for a Palestinian non-member observer state by the UN General Assembly on Nov.29th.


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IsraCast Archive | January-February 2013

IsraCast Archive