Pro-Israel News

Date:
Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Amid talk of Obama backing pro-Palestine motions, bipartisan group says it opposes ‘efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel’

BY REBECCA SHIMONI STOIL March 31, 2015, 3:41 am | The Times of Israel| 


WASHINGTON — As reports proliferate that the US administration is considering stripping Israel of the protective diplomatic umbrella with which it has historically provided the Jewish state in the international arena — including its vetoing of UN resolutions damaging to Jerusalem — a bipartisan group of US senators urged President Barack Obama in a letter Monday to avoid threatening Israel with such punitive measures and to reassert Washington’s support for the state.

 

The letter obtained by the Times of Israel was signed by two Democrats and two Republicans who did not directly criticize the president’s policies, but did warn that “using the United Nations to push Israel and the Palestinians to accept terms defined by others will only ensure that the parties themselves are not committed to observing these provisions.”

Democratic Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Warner (D-VA) joined with Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in signing the missive, which stated their opposition to “efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel at the UN and other international bodies.”

The senators reminded the president that America’s “longstanding commitment to Israel transcends any one leader or government” — a not particularly veiled reference to the personal acrimony between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Relations between the two leaders have hit a new low in recent weeks, after Netanyahu appeared before Congress to warn against an impending deal with Iran which the Obama administration has been working on since 2013. The negotiations toward a political framework for a comprehensive deal are expected to conclude by Tuesday and Netanyahu has continued to warn that the deal is one that will endanger Israel’s security.

The tension only increased following Netanyahu’s reelection two weeks after his Congressional address. The Obama administration complained about statements made by Netanyahu in the final days of the campaign, during which he warned that Arab voters were turning out “in droves” to vote against them and said that no Palestinian state would be created during his premiership.

In reaction, the administration indicated that it would “evaluate” its actions toward achieving a two-state solution, hinting that it might not block — and might perhaps even draft — a UN resolution in support of Palestinian independence.

Netanyahu later walked back the latter statement, and apologized to Arab leaders for the former statement, but the Obama administration has continued its critical stance toward Netanyahu.

“We’ve made our point,” a White House official told Politico on Sunday. “The message has clearly been received. The next move is theirs, presumably after the new government has been formed.”

But the administration has been under increased pressure to moderate its stance. The same Politico article reported that a dozen Jewish Democrats in the House of Representatives — including some stalwart Obama allies — had told Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes that Obama needed to tone down his rhetoric regarding Israel.

On Saturday, the Washington Post published a scathing editorial in which the paper’s editorial board declared that “Mr. Obama’s efforts to promote a settlement [with the Palestinians], going back to 2009, ignored innumerable warnings (including from this page) that he was premising his diplomacy on breakthroughs that were not achievable. It is Mr. Obama who has long been pretending, and he compounds his mistake by claiming that the reality he now accepts was created 10 days ago by Mr. Netanyahu’s rhetoric.”

Monday’s letter echoed the same discontent with an administration that has posed challenges to Jewish Democrats who are at pains to emphasize that support for Israel is not just a Republican issue.

“For decades, both Democratic and Republican administrations have stood by Israel in opposing anti-Israel or one-sided resolutions at the UN Security Council and other UN agencies,” the senators noted, telling the president that “we must remain firm in opposing actions that are designed to circumvent direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Such actions, the senators warned, “will set back the opportunities for peace in the long term.”

“We must make clear our willingness to use our veto power to block such efforts at the UN Security Council and our continuing defense of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other agencies where Israel is under constant assault,” the senators emphasized.

The senators quoted Obama’s own 2011 address to the UN General Assembly in which he told the international body that “ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us — who much reach agreement on the issues that divide them.”

 

Date:
Monday, March 30, 2015
As officials convene to hammer out a nuclear deal, prime minister vows to ‘continue to act against every threat’
 
BY AFP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF March 30, 2015, 4:55 pm | The Times of Israel| 
  
 
Foreign ministers from major powers raced against the clock in the Swiss town of Lausanne Monday on the eve of a deadline to nail down the final pieces of a framework deal they hope will put any Iranian nuclear bomb out of reach.
 
 
Meanwhile in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Western powers that any agreement with Tehran would be seen as a reward for the country’s alleged “aggression” in Yemen.
 
 
“The agreement being formulated… sends a message that there is no price for aggression and, on the contrary, that Iran’s aggression is to be rewarded,” Netanyahu said, referring to Iranian support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
 
 
“The moderate and responsible countries in the region, especially Israel and also many other countries, will be the first to be hurt by this agreement,” said the prime minister, who has waged a campaign against the emerging nuclear deal with Tehran, arguing that it will pave the way “to an Iranian nuclear arsenal.
 
“One cannot understand that when forces supported by Iran continue to conquer more ground in Yemen, in Lausanne they are closing their eyes to this aggression,” Netanyahu said. “But we are not closing our eyes and we will continue to act against every threat in every generation, certainly in this generation.”
 
Adding to the drama, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was set to leave the crunch talks with Iran in Switzerland and will only return if there is a “realistic” chance of a deal, his spokeswoman said.
 
Lavrov and his counterparts from the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany met with the Iranians in a lakeside Lausanne hotel on Monday for their first full session since missing a previous November deadline.
 
They want Iran to scale back its nuclear program to give the world ample notice of any dash to make the bomb and end a crisis that has threatened to escalate dangerously for 12 years.
 
 
The diplomatically isolated Islamic Republic denies wanting nuclear weapons and is calling for the lifting of sanctions that have strangled its lifeblood oil exports and its access to the global financial system.
 
The threat of new US sanctions, and domestic pressure on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for his attempts at rapprochement with the West, all but rule out any further extension of the deadline.
 
A Western diplomat said Monday it was “yes or no” time, adding that the talks remained blocked on three major issues — the length of the accord; the lifting of UN sanctions; and a mechanism to ensure both sides stick to the deal.
 
Global powers have set a midnight Tuesday deadline to agree to the outlines of a deal that they will then try to finalize by June 30. Only then would Iran receive sanctions relief, diplomats said.
 
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that after 18 months of negotiations, they were in the “endgame.”
 
Iran’s lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi said they were in the “final phase.”
 
 
But Araqchi also said the talks were “very difficult,” while Steinmeier cautioned that the “final meters are the most difficult.”
 
Even before a deal is sewn up, opponents have been lining up to criticize it, worrying it will not do enough to stop Iran getting the bomb.
 
“I just don’t understand why we would sign an agreement with a group of people who in my opinion have no intention of keeping their word,” US House Speaker John Boehner told CNN.
 
Israel is widely believed to be the sole, if undeclared, nuclear-armed power in the Middle East and has long been opposed to any Iran accord.
 
Saudi Arabia — leading an Arab coalition, which on Monday carried out a fifth straight night of airstrikes on Iran-backed rebels in Yemen — is also uneasy about any US-Iran thawing of ties.
 
Western diplomats say some areas in a highly complex jigsaw puzzle of an accord are tentatively agreed upon. But they caution there is a long way to go.
 
One said Sunday that Iran had “more or less” agreed to slash the number of its centrifuge enrichment machines from 20,000 to 6,000 and to ship abroad most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
 
 
This would make it a much more lengthy process to further purify these stocks to weapons-grade.
 
Iranian officials dismissed the numbers as “speculation,” with Araqchi ruling out sending the stocks abroad, although he said “other options” were being examined.
 
This could include diluting low-enriched uranium or converting it to another form.
 
But, nevertheless, Iranian officials have expressed guarded optimism that a breakthrough may be at hand.
 
 
“Getting to an accord is doable. Solutions have been found for numerous questions. We are still working on two or three issues,” Araqchi said.
 
In addition to scaling down its nuclear program, the powers want Iran’s remaining facilities to be subject to an unprecedented level of inspections by the UN atomic watchdog.
 
Its underground facility at Fordo would also likely be barred from uranium enrichment, diplomats said, although it might be kept open for research purposes.
 
The US, EU and others are only prepared to suspend their sanctions, not terminate them, and in a phased manner in order to ensure that Iran does not violate the deal.
 
The issue of UN Security Council sanctions is particularly tricky.
 
Araqchi said Sunday there must be a “precise framework” for lifting sanctions. The duration of any deal — the US wants at least 10 and possibly up to 15 years — is also a point of contention.
 
 
 
Date:
Friday, March 27, 2015

By REUTERS \03/27/2015 16:59| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

Major powers and Iran were pushing each other for concessions on Friday ahead of an end-March deadline for a preliminary nuclear deal, with Tehran demanding an immediate end to sanctions and freedom to continue sensitive atomic research, officials said.

Tehran and six major powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - are meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, to hammer out a political framework accord by the end of this month that would lay the foundations for a full deal by June 30.

Under a final settlement, Tehran would halt sensitive nuclear work for at least a decade and in exchange, international financial and oil sanctions on Iran would be lifted. This would aim to end the country's 12-year nuclear standoff with the West and reduce the risk of war in the Middle East.

While all sides agree they have been inching closer to a deal, there are major disagreements that have prevented a resolution.

Tehran insists on the freedom to continue research on advanced centrifuges, machines that purify uranium for use in nuclear power plants or, if very highly enriched, in weapons, at an underground facility, and the immediate lifting of all UN sanctions and the most severe US and European Union sanctions.

"There has been massive progress on all the issues," a senior Iranian official told Reuters. "There are still disputes over two issues - R&D (research and development) and UN sanctions."

A Western official close to the talks confirmed that from his side, centrifuge research and enrichment in general remained the most difficult unresolved issue: "The essential element for us is R&D, and enrichment."

The United States and European partners are reluctant to allow Iran to operate centrifuges at the Fordo enrichment site, Western officials said, adding that the issue was unresolved.

An Iranian government website said in November that Washington could let Iran keep some 6,000 early-generation centrifuges, down from nearly 10,000 now in operation out of under 20,000 installed.

After meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters outside the 19th century hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva where the talks are taking place that it was unclear if there would be a deal in the coming days.

"The negotiations are difficult and complicated and there are highs and lows," Zarif said. "We think an agreement is still possible but when is another story. Our feeling is that we certainly will be able to reach an agreement, but that will need political will on the other side."

Zarif added that the issue of the Saudi-led military operations against Yemen's Houthi fighters, which Tehran has backed, had come up on the sidelines, though the Lausanne talks were exclusively focused on the nuclear issue.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with his French, Russian, British and Chinese counterparts on Thursday in an attempt to break the impasse. He also sent a letter to the leaders of all six powers, including US President Barack Obama, though officials said the letter did not suggest Tehran was ready to compromise.

Western officials said the main problem remains Tehran's refusal to offer serious concessions. Iranians say the same thing about the six and accuse the French of taking the hardest line.

They also said there was no guarantee a deal would be clinched by the deadline, but several foreign ministers are due to arrive in Lausanne this weekend.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose country has been making the most stringent demands on Iran according to negotiators, will arrive on Saturday. His British and Russian counterparts have also confirmed they will join the talks.

If there is a political framework agreement in the coming days, the US and European delegations want it to be as specific as possible, including figures for permissible numbers of centrifuges Tehran could operate, uranium stockpiles and other sensitive technical issues.

Further technical details would be included in annexes to be agreed before July 1.

"We are not messing about here," a Western diplomat said. "If there is a deal it won't be a vague understanding that collapses as soon as we leave. If there is a political framework agreement it will have the broad parameters of the issues even if, given the complexities surrounding these talks, it may mean that some issues are not explained in detail."

The six powers want the limits on the most sensitive aspects of Iran's nuclear program to be in place for at least a decade followed by years of intrusive inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog.

They also want to be certain Tehran would need at least one year to produce enough high enriched uranium for a weapon should the Iranians decide to produce one. Iran denies having any nuclear weapons ambitions.

Israel, Saudi Arabia, France and the US Congress have all raised concerns that the Obama administration might be willing to conclude a deal that would allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability in the future.

Date:
Thursday, March 26, 2015

03/24/2015 16:58| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

Eight members of the House of Representatives announced the formation of a task-force Tuesday aimed with the challenge of combating anti-Semitism. The forming members will serve as co-chairs of the force and work to minimize the proliferation of anti-Semitic acts across the globe.

"Around the world, we are witnessing an alarming rise of anti-Semitism that is dangerous and complex. Over the past few years, Jewish schools, synagogues, and even homes and property have been targets of anti-Semitic violence. Jewish populations are facing increased levels of hatred, frequently under the guise of political differences or other alibis, but in reality it is solely because of their faith," the members said in a statement.

The committee, coined "The Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating anti-Semitism," will work to educate Congress members on this particular form of prejudice and will seek to share solutions that could minimize the phenomenon with the Executive Branch of the government, foreign leaders and civil society organizations.

The task-force hopes to integrate Congress into the fight against anti-Semitism and promote tolerance on an international level. 

"It is the responsibility of everyone who believes in basic universal liberties and freedoms to condemn this trend and work together to root out the hatred which underlies anti-Semitism. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to find innovative solutions that match the 21st century face of this age-old bigotry," their statement read. 

Date:
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

By TOVAH LAZAROFF \03/23/2015 13:23| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

The US on Monday affirmed that it stands with Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council and opposes biased actions by that body against the Jewish state.

It therefore plans to continue to oppose the UNHRC mandate to use Agenda Item 7 to debate Israeli violations of human rights at every session. There is no such mandate to repeatedly censure any other country.

“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it,” the US Ambassador to the UNHRC Keith Harper said on Monday.

He explained that his country had joined Israel in boycotting the debate.

The US has warned that it is reevaluating its stance on Israel at the UN Security Council in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election comments that a Palestinian state would not be created while he is premier.

On Monday Harper issued a statement that clarified that the US continues to reject anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC.

“The United States’ approach to the Human Rights Council’s Item 7 has not changed,” Harper said.

“We remain deeply troubled – by this council’s stand-alone agenda item directed against Israel, and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item,” he said.

“As was the case last year, the United States will not engage in the debate. Neither will Israel. Instead, we will call a vote, and vote no on Item 7 resolutions,” he said.

Upon taking office in 2009, US President Barack Obama has made eliminating Agenda Item 7 one of his policy objectives.

Since 2013, the US, Israel and many Western countries, including the EU, have refrained from taking the floor during the Agenda Item 7 debate. They have preferred instead to make statements under Agenda Item 4, which discusses human rights violations of all countries.

This public stand against Agenda Item 7 was one of a number of steps that were taken two years ago to sway Israel to reestablish its ties with the UNHRC.

Still on Monday, five EU countries — Sweden, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Ireland and Malta — broke rank with that policy and censured Israel.

Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aaia condemned the attacks on Agenda Item 7.

“It is regrettable that some countries are so hypocritical that they call on the council...to cease condemnation of Israeli practices instead of calling on the occupying forces to cease their crimes and their violations,” Edin Aaia said.

On Monday, during the UNHRC Agenda Item 7 debate, the 47-member body heard seven reports on Israeli human rights violations in the Palestinian territories, more than were issued on any other country during its 28th session. There were two reports on Iran and one on Syria.

The documents focused on last summer’s Gaza war, the continued “blockade” of Gaza, the slow reconstruction effort, Israeli settlement buildings, IDF use of force against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Israel’s arrest and treatment of Palestinian minors in detention.

Three of the reports were penned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, three were by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein and one by UNHRC special investigator Makarim Wibisono.

That report questioned Israel’s adherence to the principle of proportionality and said it may have deliberately targeted civilian areas in Gaza.

The council also issued four resolutions against Israel, including one that called on it to withdraw from the Golan Heights. One affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and urged all UN bodies to help Palestinians achieve that right.

Another, on settlements, called for Israel to freeze and then reverse its settlement enterprise. It also called on all UN member states “to ensure that they are not taking actions that either recognize or assist the expansion of settlements or construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem.”

The resolution further urged that states insure that businesses domiciled in their territory refrain from contributing to “gross human rights abuses of Palestinians” including refraining from settlement- related activities.

The fourth resolution was fairly broad, listing multiple Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians.

For several hours, country after country protested Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, including Algeria, which went so far as to accuse Israel of genocide.

The PLO Ambassador to the UNHRC Ibrahim Khraishi said, “We call on Israel to stop occupation and implore the international community to do its utmost to stop the occupation. Israel can’t act irrespective of international law.

Date:
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Exhausting lobbying efforts with US, Israel making last­ditch effort with skeptic Paris to head off nuclear agreement 

 
BY AP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF March 23, 2015, 6:05 pm | The Times of Israel| 
 
I ntelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said a “bad deal” was likely to be the final outcome of nuclear talks between world powers and Iran, as Israel made a last­ditch effort to head off the controversial high­stakes agreement. 
 
Steinitz, in France for consultations about the emerging agreement, told Reuters that Israel would do all it could to toughen any accord before talks resume this week. “We think it’s going to be a bad, insufficient deal,” Steinitz said before meeting French officials in Paris.
 
“It seems quite probable it will happen, unfortunately.” Unable to find support from its US allies, Israel is turning to France to help head off what it sees as a bad and dangerous nuclear deal with Iran. Paris has expressed skepticism over the deal being brokered between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany Speaking also with The Associated Press in Paris, Steinitz, who doubles as strategic affairs minister, said that dialogue with France over Iran’s nuclear program “has proven in the past that it was productive” and makes this week’s last­minute diplomatic mission to Paris worthwhile. 
 
France played a key role strengthening an interim agreement with Iran in late 2013 that froze key parts of the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in exchange for some relief from Western sanctions. 
 
The so ­called P5+1 group is attempting to reach a final nuclear deal with Iran before a deadline expires at the end of the month. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday “achieving a deal is possible” by the target date. 
 
A preliminary accord then is meant to lead to a final deal by the end of June that would crimp Tehran’s nuclear programs in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Iran claims that its program is only aimed at generating power, but other nations fear it is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Steinitz and Israel’s national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, were meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and other top diplomats involved in the Iran talks. He told the AP only a deal that “dismantles, not simply freezes” Iran’s nuclear program would be acceptable. France has been more hawkish than the US at the negotiating table, reportedly demanding more stringent restrictions than other Western delegations.
 
Shimon Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany who has been briefed on the P5+1 efforts with Iran, says Steinitz’s trip to France is a natural course of action given Israel’s opposition and the way the talks have been progressing. He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress March 3 essentially exhausted the American option for Israel, and it is now trying to exert its influence against the deal wherever that is possible. Against a perception that the Americans are rushing to a deal and willing to cut corners to do so, he said France has become a potential ally from Israel’s perspective, supplanting Britain as the most hawkish European country regarding Iran.
 
“It’s only natural that given Netanyahu’s concern of a deal with Iran that he would turn to France,” Stein said. “France is the weak link among the group.” In the interview with AP, Steinitz declined to discuss what would happen if the deal now on the table goes through. “We don’t have a plan B, we only have a plan A and this is to try to prevent a bad deal with Iran or at least to try to make it more reasonable and to close some of the gaps and loopholes that made it even worse,” he said. In Tehran Monday, an Iranian nuclear negotiator urged world powers to find a “common position” to achieve a “balanced” final nuclear deal. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran saw a lack of coordination among the six­nation group at the latest round of talks.
 
The US and Iran broke off nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday for consultations but they are to resume the talks Wednesday. Both Iran and the US have reported substantial progress in the talks but also say gaps remain. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that “there is nothing that can’t be resolved.” 
Date:
Monday, March 23, 2015

By REUTERS \03/23/2015 14:09| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

PARIS - Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Monday it was probable that world powers and Iran would agree a "bad deal" over Iran's nuclear program, but he would still lobby to toughen any accord before talks resume this week.

"We think it's going to be a bad, insufficient deal," Steinitz told Reuters in an interview before meeting French officials in Paris. "It seems quite probable it will happen unfortunately."

France, the United States and four other world powers suspended talks with Iran in Switzerland on Friday and are to reconvene this week to try to break the deadlock over Tehran's atomic research and the lifting of sanctions before a March 31 deadline for a framework deal.

Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, is not a party to the negotiations but feels especially threatened by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.

It has long described France as the negotiating power with views closest to Israel's and Steinitz is due to speak to France's top negotiator and President Francois Hollande's diplomatic adviser later in the day.

"Although we are against a deal in general, until it is completed we will point to specific loopholes and difficulties," he said.

He said two fundamental issues that need to be toughened up were the number of centrifuges - machines that spin at supersonic speed to increase the concentration of the fissile isotope - and any potential capacity Iran is given to pursue research and development.

"In this (accord) you are getting a robust and complicated deal that enables Iran to preserve capabilities and allow it to remain a threshold nuclear state," he said.

Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful needs only.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that the United States was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could lead to a "nuclear nightmare" - drawing a rebuke from US President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening US-Israeli rift.

"I don't believe the US will abandon one of its closest allies, its closest and most democratic ally in the entire Middle East, because we express our differences on the Iran deal," said Steinitz, who is Netanyahu's point man on Iran.

Date:
Friday, March 20, 2015


President says Washington committed to two-state solution, following Netanyahu backpedal on rejection of Palestinian state

 
BY AFP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF March 19, 2015, 11:22 pm | The Times of Israel| 


US President Barack Obama on Thursday called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his recent election win, after a campaign that seemed to sour relations between the two allies.

Obama spoke to the Israeli leader “to congratulate him on his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats,” the National Security Council said in a statement.

According to the White House, Obama “emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries.”

The two leaders “agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Some pundits had seen a delay in Obama calling Netanyahu as a sign of poor ties between the two.

In the lead-up to the elections, Netanyahu disavowed his commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, remarks he later retracted after his election victory.

“The President reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine,” the White House said in a statement.

Earlier, spokespeople in the White House and State Department indicated the US would re-evaluate its approach to the peace process and its support for Israel in the United Nations in the wake of Netanyahu’s comments.

Netanyahu’s Likud party swept the national elections on Tuesday, taking nearly 25% of the vote, winning 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

The landslide victory over the Zionist Union, which won 24 seats, places Netanyahu in a secure position to form a governing coalition.

Ties between Netanyahu and Obama reached historic lows earlier this month with the Israeli prime minister’s speech before a joint session of Congress in Washington in which he criticized a developing nuclear deal with Iran. The address was coordinated over the head of the White House, to the ire of Obama.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, which has been a point of contention between Netanyahu and Obama, the White House said that the president “reiterated that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.”

The two also discussed Netanyahu’s comments on Israeli Arab voter turnout, according to CNN.

Netanyahu was accused of race-baiting after calling for support by claiming that Arabs were voting in high numbers during election day Tuesday.

Earlier on Thursday, the White House called the move a “cynical election day tactic.”

 

Date:
Thursday, March 19, 2015

By ARIEL COHEN \03/19/2015 14:27| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

Christians United for Israel congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on securing his fourth term in office, expressing hope that the Israeli leader and US President Barack Obama would have better relations during this term.
 
"The US- Israel relationship is central to the national security interests of both nations," CUFI spokesman Ari Morgenstern told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we do not believe President Obama has been a good steward of this alliance and in general has created a situation in which our enemies do not fear us and our friends do not trust us."
 
Christians United for Israel has taken copious steps to support Israel's security and its interests in the US government. Most recently they supported Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and have also called on their more than two million members to support the Corker-Menendez legislation that would help block Obama’s current deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons.
 
"As Prime Minister Netanyahu begins his next term and President Obama concludes his final term, we hope the President will approach Israel as the friend and front line ally she is," Morgenstern said.

Obama and the Israeli premier have experienced rocky relations over the years regarding disagreements on crucial issues such as the war in Gaza, the nuclear deal with Iran and settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu spoke of these disagreements at AIPAC while in Washington earlier this month. "Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family," Netanyahu reassured the audience. "Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come."
 
CUFI, the largest pro-Israel group in the US, does not take political stances on Israeli politics, but they congratulated Netanyahu on his win, reiterating their support for the democratically-elected government of Israel. "Since its founding, Israel has treated all its citizens equally and welcomed Christian pilgrims," Morgenstern said. "Israel's attitude towards Christians and religious minorities in general will continue to be an example for the region and the world."
 
Tuesday's general "election should serve as a reminder to the world that the Jewish state is an open, democratic and vibrant society, where all citizens are free to speak, vote and worship as they see fit," CUFI added in a statement following the conclusion of the elections. "CUFI has always and will always stand with the democratically-elected government of Israel."

Date:
Thursday, March 19, 2015

By ARIEL COHEN \03/19/2015 14:27| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

Christians United for Israel congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on securing his fourth term in office, expressing hope that the Israeli leader and US President Barack Obama would have better relations during this term.
 
"The US- Israel relationship is central to the national security interests of both nations," CUFI spokesman Ari Morgenstern told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we do not believe President Obama has been a good steward of this alliance and in general has created a situation in which our enemies do not fear us and our friends do not trust us."
 
Christians United for Israel has taken copious steps to support Israel's security and its interests in the US government. Most recently they supported Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and have also called on their more than two million members to support the Corker-Menendez legislation that would help block Obama’s current deal with Iran regarding nuclear weapons.
 
"As Prime Minister Netanyahu begins his next term and President Obama concludes his final term, we hope the President will approach Israel as the friend and front line ally she is," Morgenstern said.

Obama and the Israeli premier have experienced rocky relations over the years regarding disagreements on crucial issues such as the war in Gaza, the nuclear deal with Iran and settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu spoke of these disagreements at AIPAC while in Washington earlier this month. "Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family," Netanyahu reassured the audience. "Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come."
 
CUFI, the largest pro-Israel group in the US, does not take political stances on Israeli politics, but they congratulated Netanyahu on his win, reiterating their support for the democratically-elected government of Israel. "Since its founding, Israel has treated all its citizens equally and welcomed Christian pilgrims," Morgenstern said. "Israel's attitude towards Christians and religious minorities in general will continue to be an example for the region and the world."
 
Tuesday's general "election should serve as a reminder to the world that the Jewish state is an open, democratic and vibrant society, where all citizens are free to speak, vote and worship as they see fit," CUFI added in a statement following the conclusion of the elections. "CUFI has always and will always stand with the democratically-elected government of Israel."

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