Kafe Knesset for July 18
Submarine confusion: Is Israel going to lose out on the German submarines at the center of a major corruption scandal involving Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin David Shimron? Haaretz reported that the deal to buy the ThyssenKrupp vessels is off, citing an anonymous National Security Council source, but no one has been able to confirm it, and, in fact, Walla reported that the German company said it did not find any indication of corruption that would lead to canceling the deal. Meanwhile, more former top security officials are being called for questioning by police in this corruption scandal that has been gripping Israel – but as Likud MKs make sure to remind the public at every opportunity, Netanyahu is not a suspect.
Budapest dispatch: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban opened Netanyahu’s visit with a clear attempt to brush off some of the anti-Semitism controversy surrounding the Israeli PM’s first visit to the country. In joint statements this morning, Orban made a clear disavowal of his country’s WW2 past – in what is perceived as an attempt to appease the Jewish community and settle their concerns from his anti-Semitic rhetoric, or at least put them to rest until after Netanyahu’s visit. “Hungary made a mistake and sinned when it cooperated with the Nazis and did not protect the Jews,” he said, “I want to make it clear that every Hungarian government has an obligation to protect the security of all its citizens regardless of their origin.” Orban added that “in World War II, we did not meet this obligation neither morally nor substantively, and that is a sin, I made it clear to the Prime Minister of Israel that this will never happen again. We must put an end to the growing anti-Semitism in Europe and make it clear that we respect Israel’s right to defend itself. A policy of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.”
Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for Orban’s “strong words,” but is still facing a tense meeting tomorrow evening with the local Jewish community as the government billboard campaign against George Soros is still up in the air, and some senior Jewish leaders feel they were “stabbed in the back” by Netanyahus stance on the debacle last week. Orban greeted Netanyahu with a grand honor guard and with all the respect in the world and they appear to have quite a friendly relationship. Bibi also expressed Israel’s gratitude for Hungary’s support in international forums, and that will be the leading theme tomorrow in his meetings with the V4 leaders of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. According to Israeli officials, the main goal of Bibi’s participation in the summit is to promote bilateral economic relations and in exchange – ensure support in the hostile multilateral international arena, primarily the EU, as each of these four countries could come into hand and block a consensus on future critical and anti-Israel resolutions.
LGBT rights rock the coalition: Government flip-flopping over whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children hit the Knesset today, with Likud MK Amir Ohana, who is gay, threatening to rebel against the coalition. On Sunday, the Justice Ministry filed a response to a petition by the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center opposing allowing LGBT couples to adopt. The reasoning was that the matter is controversial in Israeli society, and should be decided by the Knesset, and that the Social Services and Welfare Ministry says adoption by a gay couple can make life more difficult for the child. When asked to confirm its position, the Welfare Ministry sent out vague, unclear messages to the press. Currently, gay couples can legally adopt, but they’re at the end of the line after straight couples and common-law marriages, such that only a handful have adopted in recent years. Opposition parties slammed the government over its seemingly-changed position. Yesh Atid MK Yael German even pointed out on Army Radio this morning that the Foreign Ministry touts that LGBT people have equal rights in Israel, calling the government hypocrites.
And the pressure was on for Ohana. Ohana kept mum for two days, and today he wrote a Facebook post, along with a photo of himself, his husband and his two kids, who he had through a surrogate. Ohana said he would not vote with the coalition until gay parents have equal adoption rights. The first right-wing openly gay MK has faced criticism from LGBT activists, saying he’s a fig leaf for a government that doesn’t help their cause. During the Tel Aviv Pride Parade last month, he was jeered at by marchers.