Kafe Knesset for June 9

Haley’s High Heels: After a private helicopter tour of the country’s borders yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her third day in Israel at a meeting this morning with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the meeting, Liberman gave Haley a present: a special figurine of a high heel shoe embroidered with pearls and gold, with a plaque dedicated “to the USA’s New Sheriff.”  Liberman referred to Haley’s AIPAC speech last March, in which she declared that her high heels are not a fashion statement but a symbol of her intention to “kick them every single time” she sees something wrong. “You are a true friend of Israel, and we appreciate the great help and struggle you are waging against those who try to hurt us and defame us. So in gratitude I am giving you this souvenir and you are invited to use it if necessary …”

According to a Ministry of Defense statement, Liberman and Haley discussed a range of security and political issues.  The talks were headlined by Liberman exposing that Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas leader who recently fled from, or was expelled from, Qatar, together with two additional Hamas operatives, are now operating from Lebanon.  Liberman asserted that the three Hamas men are planning to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel,  “Arouri will continue to try to use terror from Lebanon against Israel, while strengthening the connection between Hamas and Hezbollah, both operating under an Iranian umbrella and with the help of the Revolutionary Guards and Qassim Suleimani,” Liberman told Haley.  Liberman stressed that Jerusalem expects the US to use its influence with the Lebanese government and demand the expulsion of the three Hamas operatives. “He is a dangerous terrorist responsible for lethal attacks against Israel and must not be allowed to continue. Lebanon is a sovereign state that maintains relations with the United States, which include mutual meetings at the highest levels, both in Beirut and in Washington. For us, Lebanon is responsible for what is happening inside it and for any terrorist activity that will emerge from it.”

Moscow first? After the disappointment with President’s Trump delay on the much anticipated US Embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel is continuing the campaign and perhaps shifting the focus of the campaign to the east. Likud Minister Zeev Elkin called on Moscow yesterday to beat the US to the point and be the first country to announce an Embassy move. Speaking at a Russian Embassy event marking the country’s National Day in Tel AvivElkin said “I cannot but wish that you and your country take advantage of the half-year hiatus that the President of the United States has unfortunately taken to win the competition between the two powers and be the first country to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem – before the Americans. This year in built Jerusalem!”

Gay-pride politics: The Annual Tel Aviv gay pride parade kicked off today with dozens of politicians joining the 200,000 people marching in the heat of the city. MKs from all of the Jewish secular parties joined the celebrations, including a grand Likud delegation led by Culture Minister Miri Regev.  Regev marched alongside MKs Amir Ohana and Sharen Haskel and members of the centrist Kulanu party, who inaugurated a new LGBT party faction during the event. However, the opposition pointed out that the coalition’s support for the LGBT community is not necessarily sincere and has not been met with action. Meretz MK Michal Rozin slammed the government for “not lifting a finger” for the LGBT community, blasting Netanyahu for using them only as a “diplomatic bulletproof vest” and calling on the PM to “face reality and tell the truth that in the two years since its establishment, the right-wing government has not done anything for the LGBTcommunity in legislation or promoting equal civil rights.”

As always, the parade also sparked political tit for tats with some of the religious MKs. Zionist Union’s Omer Bar Lev, who is currently running for the Labor Party leadership, posted a photo of himself dressed up as a drag queen, and reactions quickly followed. Jewish Home’s Moti Yogev tweeted that “A Jewish family is a father and mother, who naturally bring life into the world. Our children are our joy, our future and our strength.”  Likud’s Yehuda Glick said Bar Lev’s gimmick was “cheap and shallow.”  Bar Lev slammed both of his colleagues and said “We don’t work for you, you will not scare anyone here and the parade will take place even if you have a problem with it.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.