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Voluntary disclosure in Israel

Using the opportunity wisely

By: Attny.and CPA Eitan Asnafy

It is now unavoidable, the world trend the first signs of which started being felt a decade ago, as part of the OECD and G20’s fight to stop the “race to the bottom” and the battle against tax havens, has now reached boiling point.

The world of international taxation is at the start of a new era, exchange of information and removal of bank confidentiality. Already today the tax authorities (including the Israeli Tax Authority) are acting vigorously to create an infrastructure for exchanging information between them. The day is not far off where every taxpayer in the world will carry an international identity number, via which the tax authorities in many countries around the world will be able to obtain full information of his world assets and income. The world is becoming transparent.

This is the background to the voluntary disclosure procedure, which is a one-time opportunity for taxpayers who own unreported assets or income. These include not only businessmen but also salaried employees who have never had any contact with the authorities.

A new voluntary disclosure procedure was recently released (7.9.2014) in Israel (replacing the previous procedure from 2005). According to the procedure, the tax authorities are interested in encouraging taxpayers who are in contravention of the tax laws to correct their reports and report true data. For this purpose, the Israeli Tax Authority, in coordination with the State Attorney, is prepared to undertake not to initiate criminal proceedings (as long as the source of the income is not from illegitimate activity) against anyone carrying out voluntary disclosure under the conditions set forth in the procedure. This procedure has also been recently released in English.

Concurrently with releasing the procedure, the Israeli Tax Authority released a temporary order enabling the submission of anonymous or short track requests, for a period of one year from the release date, that is, until 7.9.2015.

The principle conditions for granting criminal immunity within the framework of the procedure are:

1. Honest and full application made in good faith;

2. At the date of the application, no investigations or checks are in progress (not by the Tax Authority and not by the police), and the Tax Authority does not have information relating to voluntary disclosure, regarding the taxpayer, his spouse or companies controlled by him/her.

The Tax Authority is permitted not to approve the application, if information exist relating to it regarding the taxpayer or his/her spouse or companies controlled by them, from any other governmental authority, in the media, or in court documents in Israel or overseas.

The application (which is to be submitted by e-mail to the Senior Intelligence and Investigations Manager at the Tax Authority) will include all of the information and documents relevant to the application. These will include, inter alia, the relevant tax years, source of income, details of income that has been omitted and an estimate of the tax payable.

Whilst the procedure is something to be welcomed, entering into a process with such significant implications needs to be done with extra care, after consultation with an attorney who is a specialist in the area of international taxation. The published information (at the press of a button) on the net cannot be relied upon, it being in some cases inaccurate and sometime totally incorrect. It can be compared to a person trying to remove an eye cataract by himself, using a YouTube film for guidance.

The vague formulation of the instruction as published, and the lack of a clear response on the part of the Tax Authority, create lack of clarity on certain issues involved in the voluntary disclosure process (for example: the question of the relationship between Form 5329 and/or its submission and the ability to employ the voluntary disclosure process; the question of the effectiveness of the anonymity protection; the question of taxation of the “principle”; the question of the lack of ability of the Authority to use the revealed information in the case of the application being refused; question of the validity of the published instructions vis-à-vis the provisions of the law itself, and so on).

Furthermore, prior to carrying out the voluntary disclosure process, it is essential to clarify, with an attorney who is a specialist with international taxation, whether the taxpayer indeed committed a tax offence of non-reporting or non-payment of tax. In no few instances, taxpayers have come to our firm after having been recommended to carry out the voluntary disclosure process, even though according to the tax laws in Israel (and inter alia in view of the tax treaties), they are not required to report or pay tax.

In appropriate cases, obtaining a legal opinion from an attorney who specializes in international taxation, will create an effective defense from criminal proceedings, and will save the taxpayer having to deal directly (and needlessly) with the Tax Authority in the voluntary disclosure process.

Thus, for example, a taxpayer who immigrated into Israel prior to 2007 could still be entitled to the benefits given to new immigrants and to returning residents starting in January 2007 and going forward (including a benefit in the form of an exemption from reporting and tax liability for 10 years from the date of becoming and Israel resident for tax purposes). A deeper and better quality examination of his location of center of life, based amongst other things on recent developments in legal rulings on the subject, could show that his center of life was moved to Israel only after January 2007, and not immediately on arriving in Israel.

At these critical decision junctures, an attorney who is a specialist in international taxation is clearly preferable to an accountant. The attorney is an expert in the legal system in Israel, including the rules of interpretation of the law and as to the binding normative structure. Working in the “legal gray area” is what the attorney does best.

Consulting with an attorney is preferable also in view of attorney-client confidentiality (confidentiality which does not exist between an accountant and his client). In the nature of things, this confidentiality is of great importance in processes such as voluntary disclosure.

On the other hand, the applications need to include, as previously mentioned, an estimation of the tax payable. This estimation is based on the preparation of precise calculations (usually, by a certified public accountant), and it would thus be desirable for the consultant to have the knowledge necessary for preparing these calculations.

Eitan Asnafy Law Firm has vast experience in the area of international taxation and in filing voluntary disclosure applications.

Attny. (CPA) Eitan Asnafy is one of the leading experts in Israel in the area of international taxation. He is a co-author of the leading treatise in this area (“International Taxation – The Law In Israel”), containing approximately 1,500 pages of in-depth legal analysis of all of the provisions of international taxation law in Israel.

The treatise serves as a prominent textbook in various universities, is frequently cited in Israeli cases on international law, and forms an infrastructure for development of the field in Israel.

You can contact us at:
International Tax Lawyer - Mr. Eitan Asnafy
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 054-4318-300

PM Netanyahu's remarks in Rome

I very much appreciate the Secretary of State's efforts to prevent a deterioration in the region.Attempts by the Palestinians and several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks in Rome:

"I would like to send my condolences to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and to the Australian people over the loss of innocent life. International Islamic terrorism knows no borders; therefore, the struggle against it must be global.

This afternoon I met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. This was our first meeting since he was elected Prime Minister and it was very good. Israel and Italy have much in common and many joint interests and we decided to expand cooperation in very many areas and on all levels.

I come here from a serious conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry. We discussed a range of issues including Iran, Syria, the war against ISIS and others. Of course, we also discussed at length the Palestinian issue. I very much appreciate the Secretary of State's efforts to prevent a deterioration in the region. I said that the attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel; therefore, we will strongly oppose this."

PM Netanyahu addresses 11th Annual Saban Forum Excerpts

While stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program is by far the most vital national security challenge we face, the unprecedented instability afflicting the entire region poses an enormous challenge for our common security as well. Violence and fanaticism are spreading throughout the Middle East.

Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recorded remarks to the 11th Annual Saban Forum in Washington, DC:

The prestigious Saban Forum discusses so many of the important issues facing America and Israel today. And of these, none is more important to our common security than Iran's ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The November 24th deadline for an agreement has come and gone. That's fortunate because a deal was not signed last month that would have effectively left Iran as a threshold nuclear power. And even though Israel isn’t part of the P5+1, our voice and our concerns played a critical role in preventing a bad deal. Now we must use the time available to increase the pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capability.

While stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program is by far the most vital national security challenge we face, the unprecedented instability afflicting the entire region poses an enormous challenge for our common security as well. Where once seemingly coherent nations and clearly defined borders stood, we now see chaos - in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, in Yemen and Lebanon.

The entire region is hemorrhaging. Violence and fanaticism are spreading throughout the Middle East, and ISIS's savagery is merely one example of it. The collapse of the old order has made clear to pragmatic Arab governments that Israel is not their enemy. On the contrary, Israel and our moderate Arab neighbors have much to gain by cooperating. And this cooperation could, in turn, open the door to peace...

... Like the moderate Arabs, I want Israel to have peace with the Palestinians: a genuine peace, an enduring peace, a secure peace. I stress the word secure because for years I demanded that any peace agreement be founded upon robust security arrangements. That was always understood by Israelis, but I hope, I sincerely hope that it's now better understood internationally for there can be no peace without real security and there can be no real security without a long-term IDF presence to provide it.

For nine months we negotiated with the Palestinians, but they consistently refused to engage us on our legitimate security concerns, just as they refused to discuss recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while at the same time insisting that Israel recognize a nation-state of the Palestinian people.

The talks didn't end because Israel announced that it would build apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem - neighborhoods that will remain a part of Israel under any conceivable peace agreement.

The talks ended because the Palestinians wanted them to end. The talks ended because President Abbas unfortunately chose a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership is simply not prepared, and I hope this changes, but it's not yet prepared to truly confront violence and fanaticism within Palestinian society, within their own ranks. The jihadist murderers in the tragic attack on the Har Nof synagogue were not focused on how many apartments Jews were building in Jerusalem. They were focused on killing Jews. After Secretary Kerry spoke with him, President Abbas condemned the Har Nof murderers, but still blamed Israel for their heinous actions. And Abbas remains in a political pact with those who celebrated the murder of the rabbis, three of whom were also American citizens.

Regrettably, the Palestinian leadership not only refuses to confront that extremism, at times, it even fuels it. It engages in incitement day in and day out. Just look at their webpages. Look at their websites - it'll make your hair stand on end. And I think it's important to confront this. I don't think sticking our head in the sand promotes real peace and I don't believe that false hopes promote real peace. I think they just push peace further away.

Real peace will only come with leadership that demands from the Palestinians to accept the three pillars of peace: one, genuine mutual recognition; two, an end to all claims, including the right of return; and three, a long-term Israeli security presence. Now, I will never give up on this triangle of true peace.

Israel seeks peace. I seek peace, but for peace we need a Palestinian partner willing to stand up to Palestinian extremists - as other Arab governments are now doing throughout the region. I hope that we will find such a partner - a partner who will recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, who will take our security concerns seriously, who will end all claims...

...Last week, we celebrated the 67th anniversary of the United Nations' call for the establishment of the Jewish state. Today, we are proud that the Jewish people have achieved our national self-determination in a genuinely democratic state, one that guarantees equal rights for all its citizens, regardless of race, religion or sex - as promised in our Declaration of Independence. And this will not change. In standing up for Israel's identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people, I will never agree to legislation that undermines Israel's democratic character. Not now, not ever...

...The great bond between Israel and America is anchored in our shared democratic values and our friendship was demonstrated again over the summer when President Obama and the Congress provided Israel with that additional funding for Iron Dome, which has saved so many lives. And that friendship was demonstrated yet again last week when an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House followed the Senate in approving the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act. I thank our many friends from both parties in the House and the Senate who - like me -are committed to strengthening even further the US-Israel alliance.

President Rivlin meets with Quartet Representative Blair

​President Rivlin: Israel sees you as a friend with whom we see eye to eye on the problems and obstacles we face across the region.

President Reuven Rivlin held a working meeting at the President's Residence with Quartet Middle East Representative Tony Blair.
At the start of the meeting, President Rivlin stated: “Israel sees you as a friend with whom we see eye to eye on the problems and obstacles we face across the region. As you are aware, Israel has no war with Islam, nor do we wish for one. Israel is our homeland, the homeland of the Jewish people and the homeland of all non-Jewish citizens as well.”

With regard to the importance of the rehabilitation of Gaza, President Rivlin said: “The rehabilitation of Gaza is both an Israeli and international interest. Gaza could become prosperous and successful if its population was not held hostage by the Hamas terror organization.”

Quartet Representative Tony Blair commented: “I am pleased to meet you for the first time as president. I want to congratulate you on the important work you are doing, and for the strength and clarity you have shown on the issues of concern to us all. Your words have had a great resonance, not only in Israel but outside as well, particularly over the past months that were difficult here."

Israeli Lawmakers Set March 17 Parliamentary Election

VOA News, Israeli lawmakers have agreed to hold new elections on March 17 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would dissolve the current parliament "as soon as possible."

Party officials decided on the date Wednesday, a day after Netanyahu fired two key ministers and called for early elections.

The parliament was due to begin the process of dissolving itself Wednesday in order to pave way for the March vote.

Opinion polls indicate that Netanyahu's party would likely retain power, allowing him to remain in office.

He said Tuesday that he wanted a "clear mandate" to carry out his policies, and that he would "no longer tolerate an opposition inside the government."

The prime minister dismissed Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Lapid and Livni split with Netanyahu on several issues, including a controversial Netanyahu supported measure that would declare Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. Critics say the proposal that would remove Arabic as an official language would undermine the democratic character of Israel and further marginalize the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab.

Internal dissent has also focused on next year's budget, taxation policy and the high cost of living.

Israel foiled Palestinian rocket attack to assassinate Lieberman

WJC, The Shin Bet said it had foiled a plot to assassinate Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a rocket-propelled grenade during last summer's Gaza conflict. Four Palestinians were arrested over the plot.

Israel's inland security agency said the attack was to be carried out during Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza last July and August. The Shin Bet said the four men belonged to Hamas.

The cell reportedly planned to buy an a grenade and fire it at Lieberman's convoy near his home in Nokdim, in the West Bank. The agency said the group had the minister's convoy under surveillance. They are said to have timed and measured different sections of the convoy's journey to calculate the most effective point for the attack.

Three of the suspects - Ibrahim Salim Mahmoud al-Zir, Ziad Salim Mahmoud al-Zir and Adnan Amin Mahmoud Sabih - came from a nearby Arab village in the West Bank.

Ibrahim Salim Mahmoud al-Zir allegedly masterminded the plot and recruited his brother Ziad, Adnan Amin Mahmoud Sabih and another Hamas member Youssef Ibrahim Youssef al-Sheikh, from the Bethlehem area. The group were arrested two weeks ago, the Shin Bet said.

According to the agency, the men said they had hoped that killing Lieberman "would relay a message to the State of Israel that would bring about an end to the Gaza war".

Behind the Headlines: Terrorist attack in Jerusalem synagogue

In the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks, Palestinian terrorists massacred innocent Jews at prayer, motivated by intensive Palestinian incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism against Israelis.

Early Tuesday morning (7:00 Israel time), two Palestinian terrorists entered a synagogue in Har Nof (a neighborhood in north-west Jerusalem), with the intention of massacring innocent Jews at prayer. Using a gun and butcher knives, the terrorists murdered four Jewish worshippers during their morning prayers. All four men were rabbis and all held dual citizenship: three were American-Israelis and the fourth was a British-Israeli dual citizen.

A police officer who was critically injured while attempting to stop the terrorist attack succumbed to his wounds late Tuesday evening, bringing the death toll to five. Seven other Israelis were wounded (three of them seriously) in the attack.

The two terrorists from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber were killed during the exchange of fire with police. This massacre of peaceful worshippers is the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks.

These terrorist attacks as well as Palestinian violence on Jerusalem's Temple Mount are caused by intensive Palestinian incitement to hatred, violence and terrorism against Israelis. As US Secretary of State John Kerry stated today in London, this morning's attack on the synagogue was "the pure result of incitement."

This vicious incitement is conducted by the Palestinian Authority, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and extreme Islamist elements, particularly Hamas. The incitement is based on false claims against Israel and outright lies, including about sensitive religious issues.

For example, on Sunday, a Palestinian bus driver committed suicide in Jerusalem. The official autopsy and police investigation found that he had committed suicide by hanging himself inside his bus. Despite this, official PA media and other sources enflamed the situation by spreading the lie that he was murdered by Jews. This morning, the main headline of the official PA paper, al-Hayat al-Jadida, quoted Abbas calling the suicide "an abominable crime" and the bus driver "a martyr."

Palestinian incitement is continuing despite last Thursday's talks (13 November) in Jordan with Secretary Kerry, King Abdullah of Jordan, PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The parties were supposed to act to calm the situation in Jerusalem. Israel did; Abbas most certainly did not. While Israel acted to restore calm and reaffirmed its commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, the Palestinians incited to terrorism and carried out murders. Israel ended the temporary security restriction on younger Muslims praying on the Temple Mount on Friday. The PA's official media called for a "Day of Rage" on Friday. Instead of calming the situation, Abbas exploited Sunday's suicide to inflame it.

Most members of the international community have turned a blind eye to Palestinian incitement to violence. This permits Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to allow the publication of the hate speech and blood libels that directly inspire terrorist attacks. World leaders and the international community at large should condemn this systematic and pervasive incitement, starting with that being carried out by President Abbas and PA officials.

While Abbas' office did issue a lukewarm condemnation of the attack this morning (which focused more on blaming Israel than denouncing or even identifying the attackers), it was clearly an attempt to deflect international pressure. Abbas' own Fatah party praised the terrorists who attacked the synagogue. Sultan Abu Al-Einein, an advisor to Abbas and a member of Fatah's Central Committee, called the synagogue attack "heroic" on Facebook. An additional statement praising the attack in the name of Fatah's Jerusalem branch was published on a main Fatah Facebook page.

Recent Palestinian terrorist attacks

16 November (Saturday night): A 35-year-old Jewish man was moderately injured after being stabbed in the back by a Palestinian in Jerusalem.
10 November: A 26-year-old Israeli woman died in the West Bank after being run over and stabbed.
10 November: An off-duty IDF soldier was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv.
5 November: An Israeli police officer and 17-year-old yeshiva student were murdered and 13 others injured when a Palestinian terrorist deliberately rammed his car into pedestrians near a Jerusalem light-rail station and then attacked them with a metal bar.
29 October: Rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot multiple times and critically injured by a Palestinian terrorist in central Jerusalem.
22 October: A three-month-old baby girl and a young woman from Ecuador were murdered, deliberately run over by a Palestinian driver at a light-rail train station in Jerusalem. Seven others were wounded.

World reactions

United States - President Barack Obama stated the he strongly condemned the attacks which killed 3 US citizens. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, called the attack an "act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was "horrified and heartbroken" by the attack. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement condemning the "horrific terror attack" which he said "was a deplorable act of evil that should be denounced as such by all regardless of their political or religious beliefs." The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they will be investigating the incident.

Canada - Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the "barbaric act of terror." Harper said Canada's "thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel."

European Union - Federica Mogherini, EU chief of foreign policy, condemned the deadly massacre as an "act of terror."

France - President François Hollande issued a statement condemning "the heinous attack ... in a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who dared to welcome the act."

Germany - Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the "deadly attacks targeting innocent believers in a place of worship" a "terrible transgression in an already extremely tense situation."

Great Britain - Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the Palestinian attack, writing "I'm appalled by today's horrific attack on worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue. My thoughts are with the victims' families."

Turkey - Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the attack.

United Nations - Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describing the attack as a "reprehensible incident", "strongly condemns today’s attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem which claimed four lives and injured several persons." Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said: "There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings."

Bahrain - Sheikh Abu Khalifa, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, condemned the attack.

Palestinian Authority - Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, stated that "the presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshipers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it."

Hamas - Hamas praised the attack as "an appropriate and functional response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation." In the Gaza Strip people distributed sweets to celebrate, and brandished axes and posters of the killers. Palestinian television displayed photographs of celebratory scenes in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and Palestinian radio called the killers "martyrs".

Terror attack in Jerusalem synagogue

Four killed, eight wounded - three seriously and one critically

The victims: Rabbis Moshe Twersky, 59, Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Kalman Levine, 55.

PM Netanyahu: "This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen, incitement which the international community is irresponsibly ignoring. We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers."

At 7: 00 on Tuesday morning, 18 November 2014, two terrorists wielding meat cleavers, knives and guns entered the Kehillat Bnei Torah building on Harav Shimon Agassi Street in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, which includes a synagogue and yeshiva. They began attacking worshipers, stabbing them before opening fire. About 30 worshipers were in the midst of the morning prayers, wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries.

Police who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack began shot and killed the two terrorists.

Police confirm that four people were killed in the terror attack and eight wounded, three seriously and one critically. Two of the wounded are policemen, one in critical condition as doctors fight for his life.

One of the victims has been identified as Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, head of the Torat Moshe Yeshiva in Jerusalem, elder son of Rabbi Isadore Twersky of Boston, and a grandson of Modern Orthodox luminary Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The three other victims were identified as Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Rabbi Kalman Ze'ev Levine, 55, all of Jerusalem.

Hamas said on its official Al-Aqsa TV: "The attack in Jerusalem is a reaction to the crime and execution of the martyr al-Ramouni and a reaction to the crimes of the occupation. The Hamas movement is calling for more revenge attacks." Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, employed as a driver by the Egged bus company in Jerusalem, was found hanged at a bus terminal on Sunday night. Contrary to claims published in the Palestinian media that al-Ramouni was murdered, official autopsy results confirmed the police's suspicion of suicide.

US Secretary of State John Kerry strongly condemned the attack:
"People who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere.”
"To have this kind of act, which a pure result of incitement,” is unacceptable, Kerry said, adding that Palestinian leaders “must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, other people’s language and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path."


Yitzhak Rabin 1922-1995

On Wednesday, November 5, 2014 (12 Heshvan on the Jewish calendar), Israel marks the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995.

Yitzhak Rabin - IDF Chief of Staff, diplomat and the fifth Prime Minister of the State of Israel - was born in Jerusalem in 1922, the son of an ardently labor-Zionist family.

Rabin completed his schooling at the Kadoorie Agricultural High School with distinction and then joined the Palmach - the elite strike force of the Haganah underground defense organization.

He distinguished himself as a military leader early on, during his seven years of service in the Palmach. After the disbandment of this force with the establishment of the State of Israel, Rabin embarked on a military career in the IDF which spanned two decades.

Rising to the rank of Major-General at the age of 32, Rabin established the IDF training doctrine and the leadership style which became known by the command "follow me." In 1962 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. He developed the IDF fighting doctrine - based on movement and surprise - which was employed during the 1967 Six-Day War, when the achievement of air supremacy and massive deployment of armor led to the famous military victory. In January 1968, after 26 years in uniform, Rabin retired from the IDF.

He was appointed Ambassador to the United States in 1968. During his five years in Washington, he strove to consolidate bilateral ties and played a major role in promoting "strategic cooperation" with the United States, which led to massive American military aid to Israel. Rabin returned to Israel in 1973, before the Yom Kippur War. He became an active member of the Labor party; was elected a Member of Knesset in the general elections of December 1973; and was appointed Minister of Labor in the government formed by Golda Meir in March 1974. This government resigned shortly thereafter, and on June 2, 1974, the Knesset voted confidence in the new government formed by Yitzhak Rabin.

Yitzhak Rabin, the first native-born Prime Minister, displayed a leadership style which was candid, direct and at times unadorned to the point of bluntness. He not only had to face the need to rehabilitate the IDF, solve social problems and improve the country's economy, but also to rebuild public confidence in both the military and the civilian leadership. This task was complicated by domestic scandals, growing industrial unrest and personal rivalry within the government. In 1975, Rabin concluded the Interim Agreement with Egypt, which led to Israeli withdrawal from the Suez Canal in return for free passage of Israeli shipping through the canal. As a result of this agreement, the first Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of Israel and the United States, ensuring American support for Israeli interests in the international arena and renewed American aid.

In July 1976, the government headed by Yitzhak Rabin ordered the "Entebbe Operation" for the rescue of Air France passengers hijacked by terrorists to Uganda. In this daring operation, thousands of miles from home, the hostages were released and flown to safety in Israel. The commander of the operation, Lt.-Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed in the fighting at Entebbe airport.

A no-confidence vote toppled Rabin's government, sparking new elections. He was nominated to lead Labor in the elections, but disclosure of his wife's bank account in the USA - an infringement on foreign currency regulations - prompted Rabin to resign from the party leadership prior to the 1977 elections, which swept opposition leader Menachem Begin into office.

During the next two decades, Rabin served as a member of Knesset. For six years (1984-1990), he was Minister of Defense in two national unity governments, engineering security arrangements on the Israeli-Lebanese border that allowed Israeli troops to withdraw to a narrow security zone. Rabin also guided the country's initial response to the intifada. From March 1990 until June 1992, Rabin served again as an opposition Member of Knesset.

In February 1992 the Labor Party held its first primaries: Rabin was selected Chairman of the Labor Party and, after the election victory in June 1992, began his second tenure as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Rabin's second term as Prime Minister was marked by two historic events - the Oslo Agreements with the Palestinians and the Treaty of Peace with Jordan . Working closely with Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister and his longtime rival, he masterminded negotiations on the Declaration of Principles signed with the PLO at the White House in September 1993. This won Rabin, Peres and Arafat the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize and opened negotiations with the Palestinians on autonomy in Gaza and some areas of Judea and Samaria and on the establishment of a Palestinian Authority. Then, in October 1994, a Treaty of Peace was signed with the Kingdom of Jordan. This encouraged the development of ties with additional Arab countries in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

On November 4, 1995, on leaving a mass rally for peace held under the slogan "Yes to Peace, No to Violence," Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing extremist. Age 73 at his death, he was laid to rest before a shocked and grieving nation, in a state funeral on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, attended by leaders from around the world.

Rosh Hashanah message from the President of Israel

Message from the President of the State of Israel to the Jewish Communities of the Diaspora on the occasion of the New Year - Rosh Hashanah

Brothers and sisters,

Leaders of the Jewish communities of the Diaspora and their friends,

According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah represents a time of personal, community and national soul-searching. In the shadow of the events of the past months, this year, here in Israel, these days of reflection are reaffirmed and take on a special meaning.

With the kidnapping and murder of the four teenagers: Naftali, Gilad, Eyal and Muhammad; and the ongoing campaign in southern Israel in the background, the citizens of Israel and their leaders were faced with difficult dilemmas: the responsibility to defend our homes and land, alongside the concern of harming innocent people; the commitment to enable a free democratic dialogue, versus the need to set clear limits to restrain manifestations of inflammatory behavior and incitement. Israel had to respond to the threats of terror organizations from the outside, while maintaining its image and values as a Jewish and democratic state that is committed to international law and is dedicated to providing all its citizens with equality and dignity, Arabs and Jews alike.

The resilience of Israel is not based on its military strength, but emanates from the liberal, democratic and Jewish values on which it was founded. Even at a time when Israel is required to mobilize its military front, it cannot ignore its home front and the surge of violent political manifestations of incitement and hate in its streets. Israel’s leadership and Israel’s society are judged not only by their military resiliency, but also by their civil resiliency, not only in normal times, but also in times of crisis.

In the course of Operation Protective Edge, I felt that Israel was not alone in the arena. Leaders of the free world and many of the members of the various Jewish movements and communities stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel, supporting its duty to defend its citizens and identifying with its efforts to restore peace to Israel’s southern communities.

On the threshold of the New Year, I want to thank you, leaders and members of the Jewish communities, for your support of Israel’s soldiers and its home front, and especially its southern communities. It is with much anticipation that I hope we shall continue to stand together in the face of the challenges awaiting the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora in the future, generated by a sense of mutual responsibility and partnership.

Dear Friends,

The coming year is marked by Jewish tradition as a shmita year, a sabbatical year for land and man. The observance of shmita serves to slow down the economic race and utilitarianism, and see in others, a human being. I pray that this year the gates of our hearts will open to let in compassion, generosity and mutual responsibility. May the coming year bring the sound of joy, a symphony of miscellaneous Jewish voices that will unite us all as a family, community and people.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה!
Shana Tova Ve’Metuka,

Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin
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