Yisrael Katz (politician, born 1955)
Katz in August 2010
|Date of birth||21 September 1955|
|Place of birth||Ashkelon, Israel|
|Knessets||14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20|
|Faction represented in Knesset|
|2003–2006||Minister of Agriculture|
|2009–||Minister of Transportation|
|2015–||Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy|
Yisrael Katz (Hebrew: ישראל כץ, born 21 September 1955) is an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud and as Minister of Transportation and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy.
Katz won 34th place on the Likud-Gesher-Tzomet list for the 1996 elections, but missed out on a place in the Knesset when the alliance won only 32 seats. However, he entered the Knesset in November 1998 as a replacement for Ehud Olmert. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2003, and was appointed Minister of Agriculture in Ariel Sharon's government in 2003. Katz left the cabinet in January 2006 after the Likud-Kadima split, and was re-elected in the 2006 elections.
In January 2004, Katz announced a plan to substantially increase the number of settlers in the Golan Heights. In March 2004, he suggested making a referendum among all registered members of Likud, which allowed Ariel Sharon, intent on mobilising public opinion to back his Gaza disengagement plan, to get round opposition within the Likud convention, dominated by Israeli settler pressure groups. Katz along with Benjamin Netanyahu, Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnat announced that they would resign from the government within two weeks if Sharon did not agree to hold a national referendum on the pull out plan. In the same period, he lobbied, together with the World Zionist Organization, to have $32 billion set aside to provide incentives and subsidies for settlements in the West Bank.
In March 2007, the Israel Police recommended indicting Katz on charges of fraud and breach of trust linked to political appointments at the Ministry of Agriculture during his tenure as minister. The report found 24 seasonal ministry employees were members of the Likud Central Committee or were children of committee members. The police transferred their investigative material to the central district prosecution, which subsequently declined to prosecute.
In the 2009 elections and after winning 11th place on the Likud list, Katz retained his seat and was appointed Minister of Transportation in the Netanyahu government. In July 2009, he decided to replace existing road signs in Israel with new ones so that all the names appearing on them in English and Arabic would be a direct transliteration of their Hebrew names, instead of being directly in English and Arabic.
In February 2010, Katz was ordered by the High Court of Justice to issue instructions based on a committee's findings that gender segregation in public buses was illegal and that separate seating could not be coerced, as Haredis were doing. Katz, undertaking to implement the recommendations, responded that the buses could carry signs suggesting that gender segregation was voluntary. The Haredi community considered this failure of enforcement a victory. Judges from the High Court of Justice criticized Katz's decision to allow continued operation of sex-segregated buses.
In July 2011, Katz confirmed that the state subsidizes bus tickets within West Bank settlements, causing them to be cheaper than tickets for rides within the Green Line. According to Katz, the move was intended to incentivize settlers to use armor-protected public transportation within the West Bank, which would ostensibly reduce state spending on stationing military and security escorts for non-armored, private vehicles.
Katz was re-elected in 2013 and remained Minister of Transportation in the new government. After being placed fourth on the Likud list, he was re-elected in 2015, after which he was appointed Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy in the new government, as well as remaining Minister of Transportation.
On peace and security
On peace and security matters, Katz is considered to be a hardliner in the Israeli government. He takes an annexationist view of the West Bank: supporting building of settlements, extending full Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria and severing all relations with the Palestinian Authority. He opposes the two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state in any form, which he regards as unacceptable considering "our rights to this land". Instead, Katz favors the creation of an autonomous Palestinian entity "with Jordanian civil and political affiliation", and connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt. In March 2007, Katz said, "Israel will never retreat from the Golan Heights; the region is an integral part of Israel and vital for its security and protection."
In November 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, in the Orthodox Hebrew website B'Hadrei Haredim, Katz said with reference to Lebanese citizens escaping an Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006: "When I see Palestinian citizens escaping into Sinai, the way Lebanese citizens escape toward Beirut when there is a round of fire against Israel -- we will then know that the deterrence has been achieved." In the same month, he called for Gaza to be bombed "so hard the population has to flee into Egypt."
On terrorism and deterrence
In February 2016, in response to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief Gadi Eizenkot's statement regarding the military's rule of engagement during terror attacks, Katz wrote on his Facebook page, "The terrorists were captured alive. I hope that the statement against the automatic shooting of minors by the chief of staff, who I know and regard highly, was not wrongly interpreted and didn't lead to hesitation that put lives in danger. Sometimes the message is louder than the words. The codes of conduct and limitations are clear, but terrorists who attack Jews should not get out alive."
In the aftermath of the 2016 Brussels bombings, Katz caused controversy when he made comments which were considered "harsh" on Israel Radio about the inability of Belgium and the Western world to fight Islamic terrorism effectively. The Jerusalem Post quoted Katz as saying that, "The first rule of war is know your enemy, and Europe and the current American government are unwilling to define this war as against Islamist terrorism. If in Belgium they continue eating chocolate and enjoying life, and continue to appear as great democrats and liberals, they won't be aware that some Muslims in their country are organising terror, they won't be able to fight them." The "chocolate-eating Belgians" remark was widely quoted in the Western media and ridiculed on Twitter, and Katz was accused of giving Israel a bad image abroad as a result.
In March 2016, Katz said regarding a bill to the Knesset to enable the Israeli government to deport the families of terrorists, "I welcome the public support of the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] in the initiative to expel the families of terrorists and on his request for a legal opinion on the topic from the attorney general." In the same month, he argued that Israel should employ "targeted civil eliminations" against leaders of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The expression puns on the Hebrew word for targeted assassinations.
On criticism against Israel
In August 2014, after Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of attempting a "systematic genocide" of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, on account of Israel's Operation Protective Edge military campaign, Katz publicly reminded Erodgan of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, rejecting any accusations for defending Israel against those he termed Erdogan's "friends in the Islamic movement".
Katz is married and has two children.
- Yisrael Katz: Particulars Knesset
- Yisrael Katz: Knesset activities Knesset
- "MEED" 48 (1-12). Economic East Economic Digest. 2004. p. 33.
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- Friedman, Ron (5 February 2010). "Court slams Katz for his approach to sex-segregated buses". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Lis, Jonathan (26 July 2011). "Israeli Minister Admits State Subsidizes Public Transportation for Settlers". Haaretz. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Government 33 Knesset
- Likud list CEC
- Government 34 Knesset
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- "Z Magazine" 22. Institute for Social and Cultural Communications. 2006. p. 29.
- "Echo of Islam" (204-222). Islamic Thought Foundation. 2007. p. 33.
- "Yisrael Katz Warns PA Against Declaring a State". Arutz Sheva. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- "Yisrael Katz: Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria". Arutz Sheva. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- Lazaroff, Tovah; Harkov, Lahav (11 July 2013). "Ariel, Katz oppose Palestinian state in West Bank". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Mearsheimer, John J; Walt, Stephen M (2014). The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Penguin Books. p. 454. ISBN 978-0141031231.
- Mastracci, Davide (20 November 2012). "5 Israeli Quotes on the Gaza Conflict You'll Wish Were False". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- Roth, Sherry (11 November 2012). "נתניהו: "ערוכים להחריף" • ברק: "לתת מכות כשצריך (Netanyahu: Prepared to respond)" (in Hebrew). B'Hadrei Haredim. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
- Iltis, Tony (21 November 2012). "Australia should side with the Palestinians". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- Littlewood, Stuart (9 September 2013). "Selective impunity is a Western specialty". Al Arabiya News. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
- "Yisrael Katz Takes IDF Chief of Staff to Task Over Supermarket Stabbing". Haaretz. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Yanovsky, Roi; Somfalvi, Attila (18 February 2016). "Netanyahu backs IDF chief on rules of engagement". Ynetnews. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Noack, Rick; Eglash, Ruth (23 March 2016). "Belgians should stop eating chocolate and focus on fighting terror, says Israeli minister". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Harkov, Lahav (23 March 2016). "Israeli minister: Belgians who continue to eat chocolate, enjoy life can't fight terror". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- "Israeli Minister: Belgians Should Stop Eating Chocolate, Start Focusing on Muslims". Haaretz. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Fenton, Siobhan; Sandhu, Serina (23 March 2016). "Brussels attack: Belgium must 'tighten security instead of eating chocolate and enjoying life,' says Israeli minister". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Snowdon, Kathryn (23 March 2016). "Israeli Minister Yisrael Katz Blames ‘Chocolate Eating’ Belgians For Brussels Attack". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Rapoport, Meron (28 March 2016). "Israel seeks to exploit Brussels attacks as it did with 'war on terror'". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
- Newman, Marissa (2 March 2016). "Minister Yisrael Katz welcomes effort to expel terrorists’ families". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- Zonszein, Mairav (28 March 2008). "In Israel, BDS is winning". +972 Magazine. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
- Benari, Elad (18 August 2014). "Katz Hits Back at Erdogan: What About the Armenian Genocide?". Israel National News. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Yisrael Katz, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Yisrael Katz on the Knesset website