Bank Hapoalim
20 марта, 06:20

Nomi Prins: Jared Kushner, R.I.P., A Political Obit For A President's Son-In-Law

Authored by Nomi Prins via, Here we are a little more than a year into the Trump presidency and his administration’s body count is already, as The Donald might put it, “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting.” Among the casualties are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; my former boss at Goldman Sachs, economic policy chief Gary Cohn; National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; FBI Director James Comey; White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean Spicer; four other communications directors including Hope Hicks who, having been Ivanka Trump's confidante, was elevated to the status of the president’s “real daughter” before her own White House exit; chief strategist Steve Bannon; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; a bunch of other instant relics of Trumpian political history, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Actually, a 200-year-old magnolia uprooted from the White House grounds thanks to the first lady.) Responding to Hope Hicks' departure and, perhaps subliminally, the rumored future exile of son-in-law Jared Kushner, the president typically half-lamented and half-quipped, “So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s invigorating, since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?” Melania has been unavailable for comment on her own possible future place among the fallen of the Trump era.  Perhaps, though, she’ll hang around and offer her husband a little comfort in Stormy weather, as rumors continue to circulate that his perfectly real daughter and her all-too-real husband may be ousted from the premises. Not surprisingly, personnel issues seem to be on the president’s mind these days.  On March 6th, in the East Room of the White House and flanked by the Swedish prime minister, he boasted, “So many people want to come in. I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House, and I’ll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there." However, with constant media conjectures about yet more departures including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and possibly even White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, there seems to be a predisposition to move out of, not into, this Oval Office.  In a remarkably short space of time, President Trump has already achieved a record 43% turnover rate for top-level staff members, some of whom may be jumping ship in hopes of emerging with reputations relatively untarred, while avoiding lengthy prison sentences. As collateral damage in his world mounts, it seems as if the only members of the Trump Empire, White House division, guaranteed job security are his lawyers and perhaps Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Even that most nuclear of families -- his -- seemed in peril of exploding, as the countdown to Kushner's exit approaches the zero hour. It looks as if we may all have scored front-row seats for the latest you’re-fired episode in the White House reality show. Given the not-if-but-when nature of Kushner’s departure from the White House, it’s none too soon for media outlets to prepare themselves.  With that in mind, here is a prospective political obituary for him. Bringing Peace to a Riven World The political career of Jared Kushner met a slow death from unparalleled incompetence, conflicts of interest, and financial sleights of hand. He is survived by his father-in-law Donald Trump and -- though no one knows for how long -- his wife, Ivanka. At age 37, he had held the role of White House senior adviser and assistant to the president since the day Donald Trump entered the Oval Office. Just two months later, his wife agreed to take a similar advisory position.  Though together they were reported to be worth a mere $740 million, they generously offered to do their new jobs without pay from a sense of duty to country and the kindness of their hearts -- and also perhaps to avoid running afoul of an anti-nepotism law passed in 1967 when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. Jared’s year-plus in the White House proved another Trump-style record setter, a pro bono financial odyssey of a sort no previous White House had ever witnessed.  While traveling the globe to carry out his “duties” and hobnob, negotiate, and pose for endless photo-ops with world leaders from Iraq, China, Israel, and a host of other countries -- a role once upon a time filled by the secretary of state -- the overworked adviser somehow found a few moments to cash in his diplomatic air-miles big time. In his Rolodex of titles, he would also serve as head of a completely fabricated new entity, the White House Office of American Innovation. In both capacities, he stood ready to change the world, a goal he achieved handily -- if the world you happen to be talking about was his own financial one. And that was no small thing.  After all, it’s not easy to oversee and advance (or, in his case, even potentially depth charge) your private business interests while lending a hand running the country, not to speak of the world, and freeing your father-in-law to work on his golf stroke. For example, Kushner attempted to extract from investors in Qatar a modest half-billion dollars in bailout funds for a cratering Manhattan skyscraper, 666 Fifth Avenue, that he had purchased for his family business while still in the private sector. Unfortunately, that particular deal fell through, after which Kushner and his father-in-law happily backed the Saudis in their blockade and quarantine of Qatar. Taking his business-oriented focus on the road as the White House liaison for peace in the Middle East, Kushner was also tasked with the simple goal of brokering the settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. His familiarity with the region was significant since, among other things, he had gotten at least four major loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, for the Kushner family real estate company. (Hapoalim is undergoing a criminal probe by the U.S. government for tax evasion services it reportedly provided to its wealthy clients.) Shortly before President Trump’s visit to Israel in May 2017, Kushner Companies also received a $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, one of Israel’s largest insurers -- and what could be more peaceable than that? As everyone knows, Kushner himself left office just as peace was settling over the region (and the U.S. was moving its embassy to Jerusalem). China, of course, had been a longtime target of Donald Trump until -- in a similarly diplomatic frame of mind -- Kushner helped organize a fabulous Dover sole dinner at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club with Chinese President Xi Jinping last April.  He would also prove to be a key figure in smoothing the way for better relations with that rising global superpower -- an approach that just happened to fit perfectly with the Kushner family business.  Only a month after that dinner, for example, his sister, Nicole Meyer, was already reportedly pitching the glories of One Journal Square, a Jersey City housing project the Kushner family owns that was in need of $150 million in investments, to a gathering of 100 potential Chinese investors at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Beijing. As part of that pitch, while dropping her brother’s name, she offered them a path into the U.S. EB-5 visa program, sometimes referred to as a “citizenship for sale” program, which they could enter through Kushner properties for a mere $500,000 each. Building brilliantly on his Chinese portfolio, Jared Kushner, too, held private meetings with elite potential Chinese investors in... well, properties like his family’s and spent copious time with the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. during and after the election campaign. He allegedly also attended high-level meetings with the chairman of Anbang Insurance Group during the Trump transition period.  At the time, Anbang just coincidentally was considering making an investment in 666 Fifth Avenue.  Unfortunately, no deal resulted. Since then, the company has been seized by the Chinese government and its chairman prosecuted for “economic crimes.”  For Kushner, refinancing that single building in New York proved no easier than making peace in the Middle East. But give him credit: while advising the president, he never stopped looking out for those closest to him (i.e., his family) and never forgot his role as a junior mogul on the make.  In the process, he entertained a cast of key bank executives.  In an office only doors from the Oval Office, he regularly connected with some of the biggest players on Wall Street, including those at bailout-prone Citigroup, scandal-ridden Deutsche Bank, and the asset-management goliath Blackstone Group. As the Wall Street Journal reported, he also remained in undisclosed business relationships with Goldman Sachs, investor George Soros, and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel. All three had business stakes in a “real-estate tech startup called Cadre that Kushner co-founded and currently partly owns.” Being the statesman he was, however, there can be little doubt that Kushner attended such meetings purely to explore the state of banking and investment for the sake of the economic well-being of the American people. After all, no portfolio, from the secretary of state’s to infrastructure and the opioid crisis, was beyond his skills. In his brief time in the White House, one thing can be said: his generosity of spirit was second to none. He opened his arms to any financial firm that wanted to help him put the United States on a path back to being great again.  (Whatever multi-million-dollar loans to the Kushner family business occurred in the process surely represented no more than a random confluence of events.) Last November, for example, Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, loaned $184 million to Kushner’s family real estate company in order to refinance a mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper. That was after its founder, an adviser to the Trump administration on “infrastructure,” met numerous times with Kushner in the White House. When that sum proved less than adequate for the family’s dreams, a far larger company, one that the U.S government had bailed out during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, stepped in and offered his family firm an even bigger loan.  It came from Citigroup, which lent Kushner Companies $325 million to help finance office buildings in Brooklyn.  As the New York Times reported, “That loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Mr. Kushner met in the White House with Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat.” In all such situations, the appearance of impropriety was at best circumstantial. In his year-plus in the White House, Kushner unfortunately became the subject of “fake news,” above all by reporters pushing the absurd idea that his family business had somehow profited by his unpaid position in the Trump administration. Death in a Revolving Door Only in February did things start going truly badly for the young presidential adviser.  Having held only an interim top-secret security clearance for more than a year while his background check stalled (reportedly due to fears that he might be manipulated by foreign powers over his family’s finances), he was suddenly downgraded to “secret” by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, considered anything but a “Javanka” ally. Such a functional demotion meant that he suddenly had less access to key documents and crucial information of governing than the White House calligrapher.  In the process, he got pummeled in the media (through no fault of his own, of course).   President Trump was reportedly “frustrated” by that media browbeating, but no less so by Kushner himself.  According to the New York Times, Trump now viewed his son-in-law “as a liability because of his legal entanglements, the investigations of the Kushner family’s real estate company, and the publicity over having his security clearance downgraded.” It even began to be rumored that the president had privately asked Chief of Staff Kelly to begin the process of pushing not just Kushner but his own daughter out of the White House. Given the president’s well-documented predisposition to turn his back on former loyalists, that proved to be the end of the road.  In Trumpian terms, Kushner quickly found himself not six feet out of power, but six feet under it. It was with deep regret that Jared Kushner left behind his cozy office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his unfinished masterpiece: peace in the Middle East (and possibly the world). He did, however, retain the Washington residence that the first daughter and he had occupied for $15,000 a month. That humble abode was owned by Chilean mogul Andrónico Luksic, whose mining company happens to be mired in a dispute with the U.S government over billions of dollars (which, it goes without saying, had no bearing on the Kushners’ choice of a dwelling). In his post-political life, Kushner faces another problem he couldn’t solve while in the White House: by January 2019 the Kushner family organization needs to cough up $1.2 billion to save its flagship New York property from defaulting, a building that, despite Kushner’s well known savvy when it comes to... well, everything, has been losing money since it was purchased for a record $1.8 billion in 2007.  Fortunately, who knows better than the Trump family and by extension the Kushners that, after every possible investor is exhausted, bankruptcy court is always an option. In the end, Kushner’s White House journey was through a door revolving around the instability of Donald Trump’s judgment. And so Jared Kushner’s political career ended. Of course, he’ll always have, if not Paris, then Jerusalem and the odd trip to Mexico. He is survived in the White House by his father-in-law and, for the time being, his wife. Meanwhile, that revolving door continues to spin.

30 января, 15:21

Microsoft Q2 Earnings: Azure, Office 365, Windows 10 in Focus

Microsoft's (MSFT) Azure, strong Office 365 and Windows 10 adoption are growth drivers.

29 января, 15:30

Key Factors That May Impact Microsoft's (MSFT) Q2 Earnings

Microsoft (MSFT) Q2 results to gain from adoption of Azure & Office 365 Strength.

17 октября 2017, 18:34

Microsoft Azure to Support Symantec's Security Products

Microsoft (MSFT) wins a new cloud customer, Symantec.

11 сентября 2017, 17:14

Microsoft Enters Into Blockchain Contract with Hapoalim

Microsoft (MSFT) is likely to benefit from the blockchain deal with Israel-based Bank Hapoalim, the first-of-its-kind for Israel.

01 апреля 2017, 19:45

Ivanka Trump Keeping Stake In D.C. Hotel Despite White House Role, Filings Show

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Ivanka Trump is keeping her stake in Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., while she serves as an assistant to her father in the White House, financial filings show, according to The New York Times. Financial documents filed by her husband, Jared Kushner, who serves as senior adviser to President Donald Trump, reveal that she earned between $1 million and $5 million from January 2016 to March from the hotel, the Times reports. The couple’s combined business assets are valued at $741 million, according to Kushner’s 54-page document filed on Friday. Kushner earned close to $180 million last year, while Ivanka Trump earned $10 million, NBC reported Saturday. The Trump International Hotel leases from the government a refurbished public building — the old post office in Washington, D.C. According to government rules concerning the property, no federal official is allowed to profit from property. However, Donald Trump is now not only a tenant but also the landlord. The General Services Administration ruled this month that the hotel isn’t violating its lease with the government because the president is not managing the property and it’s now owned by a revocable trust — which Donald Trump controls. The Trump family’s continued business holdings have raised serious ethical concerns about how the president, his elder daughter and son-in-law can fairly serve the interests of the public as they remain private business owners looking out for their own vast operations. Analysts believe the Trump International Hotel is of particular concern because large amounts of money and time that lobbyists or foreign countries could spend there as a way to curry favor with its owners in regards to government business. The government of Kuwait, for example, held a single-night fete at the hotel in February that was estimated to cost $60,000. The information about Ivanka Trump’s holdings were part of a large release Friday of documents about the holdings of some 180 senior Trump administration officials. Ivanka Trump was named assistant to the president this week. As for Kushner, the documents also provide details about his extensive real estate holdings. In addition, the filings reveal Kushner’s personal lenders — but not investors or lenders in his business projects. His businesses have borrowed money from international banks, including the Israeli Bank Hapoalim, which the Justice Department is investigating over allegations that it helped Americans evade taxes, the Times reports. Being in debt to an Israeli bank could also be seen to compromise Kushner’s objectivity when negotiating peace between Israel and Palestinians, which is one of his many roles in the Trump administration. Trump’s administration is considered the wealthiest in American history, with members of the president’s senior staff and cabinet worth some $12 billion, according to Bloomberg. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that a “lot of people” in Trump’s administration are “very blessed.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=58de5bdde4b0e6ac7094442c,589b4c41e4b09bd304bf2c7b -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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01 июня 2016, 21:00

REFILE--Israel's EarlySense raises $25 mln in Hapoalim-led funding

JERUSALEM, June 1 (Reuters) - Israel's EarlySense, a maker of medical monitoring systems, said on Tuesday it raised $25 million in a funding round led by Bank Hapoalim, with participation from Pitango Venture Capital, JK&B and other previous investors.

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23 марта 2016, 21:31

Bank Hapoalim chair attacks salary cap plan

Seroussi warns salary cap will have serious impact on Israeli economy

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23 марта 2016, 21:31

Bank Hapoalim chair attacks salary cap plan

Seroussi warns salary cap will have serious impact on Israeli economy

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23 марта 2016, 21:31

Bank Hapoalim chair attacks salary cap plan

Seroussi warns salary cap will have serious impact on Israeli economy

17 ноября 2015, 14:42

Israel Manufacturing Pmi

Manufacturing Pmi in Israel increased to 58.40 in August from 54.30 in July of 2017. Manufacturing Pmi in Israel averaged 50.69 from 2003 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 67.20 in December of 2016 and a record low of 27.80 in December of 2008. In Israel, the Purchasing Managers’ Index measures the performance of the manufacturing sector and is derived from a survey of a large number of industrial companies. The Purchasing Managers Index is based on six individual indexes: New Orders, Production, Employment, Suppliers’ Delivery Time, Inventories and Prices of Raw-Materials. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion of the manufacturing sector compared to the previous month; below 50 represents a contraction; while 50 indicates no change. This page provides - Israel Manufacturing Pmi- actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news.

22 июля 2015, 14:18

Global Finance: лучшие банки по цифровым услугам

Издание Global Finance опубликовало победителей первого раунда в рейтинге 2015 World’s Best Digital Banks Awards - лучших банков, предоставляющих цифровые услуги в разных регионах мира .

03 июля 2014, 19:05

Israel’s conglomerates: Dankners in the dock

THE situation of Nochi Dankner, one of Israel’s most prominent businessmen, went from bad to worse this week. In December he lost his grip on his heavily indebted business empire, IDB Holding Corporation, when a court approved a rescue plan supported by the group’s creditors that handed control to two rival entrepreneurs. On June 30th prosecutors indicted Mr Dankner for securities fraud, accusing him of manipulating the stockmarket to ensure the success of a sale of shares in the group in 2012. He denies wrongdoing.In May Dan Dankner, a cousin of Nochi, got a three-year jail sentence for bribery and money laundering. That Mr Dankner is a former chairman of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s biggest bank, and a director of his family’s salt-mining company. He was convicted for his part in a scheme in which Holyland Development Company, a property firm, paid bribes to politicians, including a former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who was sentenced on the same day. Two Holyland executives, as well as other politicians and officials, also got jail terms. More bad news for Nochi Dankner These legal moves should help to assuage the anger of those...

18 февраля 2014, 17:26

Israel boycott movement is antisemitic, says Binyamin Netanyahu

PM says founders of international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement want to see end of Jewish stateBinyamin Netanyahu has launched a swingeing attack on supporters of a boycott of Israel, accusing them of practising "antisemitism in a new garb", and urged the country's friends to "expose and outflank" them by emphasising its high-tech achievements and global economic appeal.Addressing a conference of US Jewish organisations in Jerusalem, the Israeli prime minister said the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement was intended to lead to "the end of the Jewish state"."Some supporters of the movement see it as a way to put pressure on Israel to end illegal settlements in the territories occupied in the 1967 war; others favour the creation of a single state that would dismantle Israel."I think the most eerie thing, the most disgraceful thing is to have people on the soil of Europe talking about the boycott of Jews," Netanyahu said. "In the past, antisemites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state. And by the way, only the Jewish state."The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They're quite explicit about it. And I think it's important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They're classical antisemites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It's time to delegitimise the delegitimisers."Netanyahu's remarks reflect anger and anxiety in Jerusalem about BDS, which claims to have made a significant advance during the recent row involving Scarlett Johansson's sponsorship of a factory in a West Bank settlement and her leaving her role as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam.Pressure on Israel is mounting, especially from Europe, where NGOs, trade unions, churches and others are forcing their governments to take action. Last year the EU blocked grants and funding for any Israeli entity operating beyond the pre-1967 borders, building on earlier decisions to require the labelling of goods produced in settlements. Two weeks ago the US secretary of state, John Kerry, warned that Israel would face more calls for boycotts if the current peace talks with the Palestinians collapsed.But Israel was far from being shunned, Netanyahu insisted: "Israel is being sought after.. Founders and leaders of big companies and some small companies and medium-sized companies … are all coming to Israel. They all want the same three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology. They know that Israel is the repository of great genius, great creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific capability, out-of-the-box thinking." But Rafeef Ziadah, from the Palestinian BDS national committee, said: "More international corporations are ending their business and shying away from bids in Israel This trend is due to continue until Israel abides by international law and ends its system of colonialism, apartheid and occupation. The BDS movement is steadily making 'Brand Israel' a toxic one."IsraelBinyamin NetanyahuMiddle East and North AfricaIan Black © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

02 февраля 2014, 23:27

US warns Israel over apparent distortion of John Kerry statements

State department says it expects all parties in Middle East peace talks to portray accurately secretary of state's commentsThe US hit back at Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday after the Israeli prime minister warned that calls for boycotts of Israel to pressure it over settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are "immoral and unjustified" and would not achieve their goal.In a public spat that reflected tensions over slow-moving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the state department rebuked Netanyahu for apparently misrepresenting the words of the US secretary of state, John Kerry. Another senior rightwing minister accused Kerry of serving as a "mouthpiece" for antisemitic views.Speaking on the record at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, the Israeli prime minister said that the growing international boycott movement would only "push peace further away" by encouraging Palestinian intransigence."No pressure will force me to give up the vital interests of the state of Israel, above all the security of the citizens of Israel," Netanyahu stated.The remarks followed Kerry's warning on Saturday that failure to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians would damage Israel's capacity to be a democratic state and could lead to more boycotts."The risks are very high for Israel," he said at an international security conference in Munich. "People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution. Today's status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100%, cannot be maintained. It's not sustainable. It's illusionary. There's a momentary prosperity, there's a momentary peace."The US statement department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, noted that Kerry had been referring to the actions of others and resolutely opposed boycotts. "Secretary Kerry has always expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements," she added pointedly.Two weeks ago Israel's defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, raised the political temperature by describing Kerry as "obsessive and messianic" in his pursuit of an agreement.Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief negotiator, said Kerry was merely "expressing concern" for Israel's future.Netanyahu's coalition government has registered alarm at growing talk of boycotts. In the past week, a Danish bank announced it would sever ties with Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest bank, over the financing of settlements built across the old 1967 border in breach of international law. Danske Bank cited "ethical and legal conflicts." The Israeli bank said Danske Bank had no investments with it.Pressure has been building up in the European Union for tougher measures to punish Israel for its settlement activity.Netanyahu's remarks were mild compared to those of cabinet colleagues. Yuval Steinitz, the intelligence minister and a member of the prime minister's Likud party, called Kerry's comments "offensive, unfair and insufferable", complaining that Israel could not negotiate "with a gun pointed to its head".Further to the right the economics minister, Naftali Bennett, from the religious and pro-settler Jewish Home party, said bluntly: "We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against antisemitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier."With the US pushing hard, Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace talks in July after a long gap but these have so far shown little sign of progress. With an April deadline looming, Kerry is expected to present ideas for a "framework" agreement sometime in the next few weeks.The boycott issue has been dramatically highlighted in recent days by the resignation of film star Scarlett Johansson as an Oxfam goodwill ambassador because of her appearance in an advert for SodaStream, an Israeli company based in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, which is built on expropriated Arab land. The actress said she had "a fundamental difference of opinion" with the humanitarian group because it opposes all trade with Israeli settlements. Oxfam came under pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.Up to 100 Palestinian activists have established a new protest against settlements by occupying an abandoned village in the Jordan valley. Called Melh al-Ard – "salt of the earth" in Arabic – the campaign rejects the status quo "especially given futile negotiations destroying the rights of our people for liberation and claim to their land". It has called on international supporters "to stand with the demands of the Palestinian people and boycott all Israeli companies including Israeli factories and companies that work in the Jordan Valley and profit from Palestinian natural resources".IsraelUnited StatesMiddle East and North AfricaJohn KerryBinyamin NetanyahuPalestinian territoriesTzipi LivniScarlett JohanssonUS foreign policyIan Black © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

02 февраля 2014, 18:57

Israeli Premier Netanyahu Rejects Kerry's Boycott Warning

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's warning against a growing boycott movement against the Jewish state should peace talks with the Palestinians fail, while some of his Cabinet ministers lashed out angrily, saying the stance undermined Israel's legitimacy and the chances of reaching a peace agreement. The brush-up comes as Israel is negotiating with the Palestinians against a backdrop of increasing international pressure to reach a deal, coupled with a growing call for boycotting Israel over its settlements in areas it captured in the 1967 Middle East war. A small but growing number of European businesses and pension funds have begun to drop investments or limit trade with Israeli firms involved in the West Bank settlements. At a security conference in Germany this weekend, Kerry warned that a breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian talks would accelerate this trend and could threaten Israel's economic prosperity and its safety. "You see for Israel there's an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things," Kerry said. "Today's status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It's not sustainable. It's illusionary. There's a momentary prosperity, there's a momentary peace." At the opening of his weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said international pressure on Israel would backfire and only cause the Palestinians to harden their positions. "Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal," he said. While Netanyahu refrained from taking aim at Kerry, some of his ministers were more direct. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, called Kerry's comments "offensive, unfair and insufferable." "You can't expect the state of Israel to conduct negotiations with a gun pointed to its head," he said. Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, from the religious, pro-settler Jewish Home party, said all "the advice givers" should know that Israel will not abandon its land because of economic threats. "We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier," said Bennett, a fierce critic of the Kerry-led talks. "Only security will bring economic stability, he said. Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief negotiator, came to Kerry's defense, saying he was merely expressing concern for Israel's future. Aiming to clarify, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry's only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed. "Secretary Kerry has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel's security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts," she said in a statement. "Secretary Kerry has always expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements." Over the past six months, Kerry has held endless back-and-forth talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in hopes of reaching a framework for a peace agreement. He is expected to present his ideas in the coming weeks and both sides have balked at some of his expected proposals. Israeli nationalist leaders like Bennett, for instance, oppose a Palestinian state that is based on the pre-1967 borders. More than 500,000 settlers live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war and which the Palestinians now hope will be part of their future state. Known to religious Jews as Judea and Samaria, they are parts of the biblical land of Israel and hard-liners object to ceding either area on both spiritual and security grounds. Any expected peace accord would put the fate of dozens of settlements at risk. But European officials have warned that Israel could face deepening economic isolation if it presses forward with the construction of more settlements. In the latest example, Denmark's largest bank, Danske Bank, blacklisted Israel's Bank Hapoalim because of its links to settlement construction. Once dismissed as a fringe issue, the boycott threat is now increasingly taking center stage in Israeli public debate. Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid recently said that even in the case of a limited boycott that reduces Israeli exports to the European Union by 20 percent, the damage would amount to about 20 billion shekels ($5.7 billion) in exports annually. In a related development, Lapid also ordered that all payments to settlements be stopped until their use is clarified. The move followed a TV report that said funds were allegedly being illegally transferred to the Yesha Council — an umbrella groups of settlers — that was illicitly using the money for political purposes. ____ Associated Press Writer David Rising contributed to this report from Munich, Germany.