Kafe Knesset for October 3

Palestinian party pooper: As the Palestinian government convened in Gaza for the first time since 2014, the Israeli PM poured cold water over the latest reconciliation attempts in his first comments on the issue today. “We expect anyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel. We will not accept an imaginary reconciliation in which the Palestinians reconcile with each other at the expense of our existence. To those who want to make such a reconciliation, it’s very simple: recognize the State of Israel, dismantle the Hamas military wing of Hamas, cut ties with Iran and others who call for our destruction,” Netanyahu said, just a few hours after PA President Abbas also presented his conditions for the reconciliation process, giving it low chances of actually succeeding.

Netanyahu is not the only one who has conditions: Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett is pushing for a much tougher reaction, and has called to cease transfer of all of the taxes Israel collects for the Palestinians. “Israel must stop being the terrorists’ ATM. This is not about Palestinian reconciliation but about Abbas’ association with a murderous terror organization. Transferring funds to the Hamas government is tantamount to transferring funds to ISIS – we will get missiles shot at us in exchange for these funds. Israel must define three conditions as red lines before transferring the Palestinian taxes: the return of the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, recognition of Israel and cessation of PA salary payments to terrorists”.

“Trump is continuing Obama’s tradition”: Meanwhile, after months of silence, the right wing is starting to openly criticize the Trump administration for the settlements restrictions semi-official freeze on the ground. Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin said in an interview to Adelson’s NRG website: “This administration is far friendlier to Israel, but unfortunately, the only thing that has not changed is the negative perception of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, . On this matter, the administration continues with the Obama tradition. We need to explain to them that there are matters of supreme national interest, such as building in Hebron”, Elkin said.

Lapid making hay from haredi IDF exemption: The government is still reeling from the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that it has to replace the current law exempting Haredi men from military service. The deadline for the replacement law is within one year, or else the IDF must conscript all Haredi 18-year-olds. Netanyahu wants to pass a law as soon as possible – especially because Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is only scoring political points from the current situation. On Sunday, Bibi appointed his right-hand man in the cabinet, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, to head a committee to come up with a new law. Levin told Kafe Knesset that he thinks a more gradual approach, cooperating with the Haredim, will have better results and encourage more of them to serve, than trying to force them. Meanwhile, Lapid is milking this for all he can. Labor leader Avi Gabbay and Lapid are competing for centrist votes. Gabbay told a Haredi news site that he, too, is not a fan of coercing population groups that have been exempted from IDF service since Israel’s establishment. Instead, Gabbay advocated greater incentives for those who do serve, such as paying them minimum wage, that could encourage Haredim who are less inclined to study in a yeshiva all day to serve. In response, Lapid went straight for Gabbay’s jugular, saying that he is against equality. “There’s no reason for my children to endanger their lives every day, and for the Labor Party to support releasing anyone who doesn’t feel like [serving] because he had the luck of being born Haredi. Even the government’s outline didn’t go so far in giving in to [Ashkenazi Haredi party] United Torah Judaism.” Ouch.

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