Kafe Knesset for December 18

Hate to say I told you so: Right-wing Twitter broke out in calls of “I told you so” this morning following the Politico story on Obama, Hezbollah and the Cassandra project. “Is there any doubt about why Obama was bad for Israel, and how Trump is better for us? I wonder who will apologize now?” Likud Communications Minister Ayoob Kara tweeted, complimenting the “excellent” Politico report. In the opposition, Kafe Knesset asked Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid for his reaction at the weekly faction meeting. “First of all, at the moment it’s only a report on a website, a respected site, so we do not know if it’s true. If the report is correct, Obama must return his Nobel Peace Prize – because Israel repeatedly warned that there can be no connection between the nuclear agreement and anti-terror activity, certainly against Hezbollah, which is the largest terrorist organization in the world. We also warned specifically about this because of the proven link between Hezbollah and Iran.”

Former Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said the report “is no surprise for me and every Israeli who was involved in the effort to prevent a bad nuclear agreement with Iran. It was clear that the administration was willing to do anything to reach an agreement, including ignoring the smuggling of Hezbollah’s cocaine into the United States, and the Iranian terror that had taken hundreds of Americans and Israelis lives and hundreds of thousands of Syrians. This exposé, and others that may be published in the future, must strengthen our determination to cancel, or at least substantially alter, this dangerous agreement.”

New life for the death penalty: Coalition party leaders agreed yesterday to vote in favor of Yisrael Beytenu’s bill making it easier to sentence terrorists to death. The bill changes the current situation, which requires a consensus by a panel of judges in a military court to sentence someone to death, to just needing a majority of the judges to approve. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s 2015 election campaign focused on the death penalty, and his party put forward the bill when they were still in the opposition, and it was voted down 94-6. Now, Yisrael Beytenu is in the coalition, and they’re angry about a series of Haredi-appeasing bills, so they got coalition backing for their flagship issue. Liberman argues that death penalty will be “a significant deterrent.” The opposition, however, thinks Liberman is just pushing the bill for his political needs. According to Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, “Liberman, in order to hide his weaknesses in security, will always find an opportunity…to talk about death penalty for terrorists. Liberman’s bill is political and not good for security, because if there was a security need for it, security forces would have demanded it, but they don’t want it.” Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid pointed out that Netanyahu opposed the death penalty in the past, which he said shows that this bill is just about populism.

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