The Jerusalem Post

Bennett begins purge of rebel Yamina MKs

- • By GIL HOFFMAN

Efforts to rid the Yamina faction of MKs who opposed forming the new government began on Tuesday with the resignatio­n of the candidate next on the list to enter the Knesset, Shai Maimon.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants his faction of seven MKs to be loyal to him and his government.

After Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana quit the Knesset via the Expanded Norwegian Law on Sunday night to bring in deaf activist Shirley Pinto, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked also wanted to resign. But she did not quit out of concern that Maimon, who was after Pinto on the list, would join the opposition and cause the coalition to lose its majority.

Maimon said he decided to keep his promise not to join a coalition backed by “supporters of terrorism,” a reference to the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party of MK Mansour Abbas.

In the resignatio­n letter he sent to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, Maimon said he decided to leave Yamina’s list because remaining would not bring the government down.

But sources who spoke to Maimon said another reason for his departure was that he wanted to be collegial to the next candidates on the list, who became friends with him as they campaigned together for the Knesset. Shaked can now resign in favor of the head of Yamina’s French-speaking campaign, attorney Yomtob Kalfon.

Yamina has another portfolio to give out: the Community Affairs Ministry. It is expected to go to MK Nir Orbach, who would quit the Knesset via the Norwegian Law in favor of Yamina’s next candidate, the head of its Russian-speaking campaign, Ashdod City Councilwom­an

Stella Weinstein.

The Expanded Norwegian Law, which was passed on June 15, 2020, enables ministers and deputy ministers to resign their Knesset seats to allow the next candidates on their party lists to take their place. Any minister who subsequent­ly leaves the cabinet automatica­lly reverts to becoming an MK and displaces the person for whom they made way.

The coalition agreement calls for amending the Norwegian Law to enable factions such as Yamina, which has seven MKs, to have four ministers and deputies resign.

Roni Sassover, who is next on the Yamina list and opposes the government, is expected to follow Maimon’s lead and resign from the list. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Abir Kara would then resign from the Knesset for his confidante, Nahariya City Councilwom­an Orna Shtarkman, who was part of the self-employed protesters group Kara headed, Ani Shulman (I am Shulman).

The candidate after Shtarkman is Bar-Ilan University Prof. Asher Cohen, who also opposes the government and would quit the list. After that happens, pressure would be applied to rebel Yamina MK Amichai Chikli to resign from the Knesset in favor of the candidate after him, the head of Yamina’s English-speaking campaign, Chicago-born Bennett adviser Jeremy Saltan.

Saltan is a vocal supporter of joining the government.

“This unity government has the potential to do wonders,” Saltan said. “Shai [Maimon] is a close friend, and I regret that he will not be a part of our future achievemen­ts. I think it speaks to his stellar character that he is returning the mandate over the options at his disposal. I am sure Shai will continue to do great things for the State of Israel.”

The US government on Tuesday announced a new strategy to combat domestic terrorism, but left open many questions about how that strategy will affect issues such as antisemiti­sm.

The new strategy clearly represents an increased commitment of financial, intelligen­ce and law enforcemen­t resources to counter domestic terror groups, including antisemiti­c groups and some involved in the January 6 Capitol riots.

Groups like the Anti-Defamation League strongly support the new strategy and heightened government efforts to expand the battle against antisemiti­sm in both the physical and digital worlds.

On the other hand, the Biden administra­tion has delayed decisions on many core issues concerning domestic terrorism, fearing the blowback of criticism for impinging on free speech and other rights.

In fact, many of the practices the Biden administra­tion is still unsure about on handling provocativ­e social media posts, like data mining to profile individual­s, are practices which the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) adopted as early as the 20152016 Knife Intifada.

In addition, Israel passed a counter-terrorism law in 2016 re-defining as more serious crimes a wide array of actions which support terrorism so as not to allow persons who help form a terror network escape prosecutio­n simply because they did not pull the trigger during a shooting.

The Biden administra­tion is

still undecided about whether passing a similar law to define domestic terrorism in broad terms is necessary and worth the risks to Americans’ civil liberties.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden said, “Domestic terrorism – driven by hate, bigotry, and other forms of extremism— is a stain on the soul of America. It goes against everything our country strives for and it poses a direct challenge to our national security, democracy, and unity.”

Biden stated that the new strategy “lays out a comprehens­ive approach to protecting our nation from domestic terrorism while safeguardi­ng our bedrock civil rights and civil liberties –

values that make us who we are as Americans.”

“We have to take both shortterm steps to counter the very real threats of today and longer-term measures to diminish the drivers that will contribute to this ongoing challenge to our democracy,” said Biden.

Unlike Israel, the US has a constituti­on, and the constituti­on places firmer limits on what the state can do, even in the areas of national security.

In contrast, since Israel has no constituti­on and has been in a state of perpetual conflict with various neighbors, the laws and culture empower the state to take much more drastic measures to fight terror, even

impinging on certain key rights of citizens.

Another problem is a Democrat-Republican divide over some of these issues.

Some Republican­s clearly condemn groups involved in the January 6 riot, but others are more worried that Democrats might try to use the issue to tar the whole Republican party in the 2022 midterm elections, and to suppress ideologica­l dissent.

There is no evidence that the Biden administra­tion has abused existing anti-domestic terror authoritie­s, but some Republican­s already feel that the social media giants themselves have shown a pro-Democrat bias.

Moreover, many Democrats are strong privacy rights activists who vehemently oppose government monitoring social media posts in any fashion, and claim that there is little effective intelligen­ce to be gained.

The new US strategy will encourage and support American intelligen­ce agencies studying social media trends in order to help analyze and prepare for domestic terror threats.

However, as things stand, the Biden administra­tion said that it is not data mining individual­s’ social media posts to perform surveillan­ce on them or to carry out criminal probes, short of special cases involving a court-approved search warrant.

In Israel, by using social media platforms, the Shin Bet has much easier access to private informatio­n.

A fact sheet distribute­d by the White House said it would “augment its efforts to address online terrorist recruitmen­t and mobilizati­on to violence by domestic terrorists through increased informatio­n sharing with the technology sector and the creation of innovative ways to foster digital literacy and build resilience to recruitmen­t and mobilizati­on.”

“The United States also recently joined the Christchur­ch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online, an internatio­nal partnershi­p between government­s and technology companies that works to develop new multilater­al solutions to eliminatin­g terrorist content online while safeguardi­ng the freedom of online expression,” said the statement.

 ?? (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) ?? INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked and outgoing minister Arye Deri attend their transition ceremony on Monday.
(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked and outgoing minister Arye Deri attend their transition ceremony on Monday.
 ?? (Stephanie Keith/Reuters) ?? SUPPORTERS OF then-president Donald Trump climb onto the outer walls of the US Capitol January 6, to protest congressio­nal certificat­ion of the 2020 presidenti­al election results.
(Stephanie Keith/Reuters) SUPPORTERS OF then-president Donald Trump climb onto the outer walls of the US Capitol January 6, to protest congressio­nal certificat­ion of the 2020 presidenti­al election results.

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