Pro-Israel News

Thursday, March 5, 2015


By ARIEL COHEN \03/04/2015 14:34| The Jerusalem Post| 


"This is the hour that America has heard the truth. we must respond with meaningful legislation to guarantee liberty for both Israel and America," Pastor John Hagee says.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest Christian pro-Israel group in the United States, backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat on Tuesday, also calling for a united religious front against extremism.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is confirming something that we in CUFI have long believed. The fact is that we are all in this together.  Radical Islam -- both in its Shiite and Sunni forms -- targets America and Israel, Christians and Jews," Christians United for Israel Executive Director David Brog told The Jerusalem Post. “This is not a Jewish problem that the rest of the world can afford to ignore. Israel is not the cause of this evil. Quite to the contrary, Israel is our first line of defense against this evil."

In his speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu brought up the threat to Christians in the Middle East twice, specifically calling out persecution at the hands of the Iranian government and the threat global terrorism poses to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.

"In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone," Netanyahu said. 

Christians United for Israel’s Executive Director David Brog told the Post that CUFI believes the best option moving forward would be for “radical Islam controls as little territory and as few weapons as possible.” He went on to explain  this means the United States the United States needs to help to defeat ISIS on the battlefield and ensure that Iran is not further enabled by the premature easing of sanctions. 

“An emboldened Iran safe under its own nuclear umbrella would be a disaster for America, Israel and our Arab allies, as well as for the region's Jews, Christians and other religious minorities,” Brog said. “ No one would be safe.  No one should operate under the naive illusion that Iran is someone else's problem.”

Founder of Christians United for Israel, Pastor John Hagee, echoed Netanyahu's sentiments regarding the Iranian deal after the conclusion of the speech, stating that "This is the hour that America has heard the truth, and now we must respond with meaningful legislation to guarantee liberty for both Israel and America."

"Today America and the world had the opportunity to experience a Churchill moment with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel,” Hagee said.  “In the dark days of World War II, when Hitler and the Nazis were destroying Europe, Winston Churchill addressed the British making this statement 'You ask what is our aim. I can answer in one word: It is victory... for without victory, there is no survival.'"

A month prior to Netanyahu’s speech CUFI sent an action alert to it’s over 2 million members asking them to email their elected representatives about attending Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Thousands responded to the call to action.

“I never make up my mind on an important issue without first listening to a variety of views,” said Pastor John Hagee said at the time. “I expect the same from my elected officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a very important voice on the issue of Iran.  Attending his speech is not a partisan statement. It’s a basic requirement of their job.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BY RAPHAEL AHREN March 4, 2015, 12:11 pm| The Times of Israel| 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he offered a “practical alternative” to the prospective nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran, rebutting criticism from the White House that his speech in Congress did not offer any new practical policy proposals on how to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

He also said that his controversial address helped US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle better understand why the agreement currently under discussion is deeply flawed.

“The response I received from both Democrats and Republicans was very supportive,” Netanyahu said upon landing at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport after a three-day trip to Washington. “I got the impression that they better understand that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal and that the alternative is a better deal.”

Netanyahu said he presented “a practical alternative” to the deal six world powers under American leadership  — the so-called P5+1 — are currently discussing with the Islamic Republic by imposing tougher restrictions on its nuclear program. He said he called for the extension “by years” of Iran’s breakout time, or the time it would need to amass enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb to several years, in case Iran were to violate the agreement.

“I also called on the P5+1 to insist on a deal that would link the lifting of those restrictions to Iran’s ceasing its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbors and its calls for Israel’s destruction,” he said.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said Netanyahu’s speech had offered “nothing new” and suggested no viable alternatives to the plan were discussed.

“We don’t yet have a deal. But if we are successful, this will be the best deal possible with Iran to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters after having read a transcript of Netanyahu’s speech. “On the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.”

During his speech Tuesday, Netanyahu called on the P5+1 to drop the current deal and strive to attain a better one by increasing pressure on Iran. He denied the often-made claim that a breakdown of the current negotiations would make a diplomatic solution of the nuclear standoff impossible.

“Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true,” he said. “The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal: a better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short breakout time; a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends; a better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb; a better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”

Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back “well-beyond the current proposal” by maintaining pressure on Iran, Netanyahu said, describing Tehran as a “very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.”


Tuesday, March 3, 2015


By MICHAEL WILNER \03/03/2015 16:34| The Jerusalem Post| 

60 Democratic members of Congress are skipping the joint meeting, but that does not mean those who are attending are doing so enthusiastically


WASHINGTON -- Unintentionally so or politically motivated, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters Congress on Tuesday set to deliver the address of his career.

In the shadow of Winston Churchill— in his mind, anyway— Netanyahu will deliver his third speech to a joint meeting, which will also be his third speech focused on Iran.

March 17, Israel's national elections, may play a role in the prime minister's positioning in Washington. But nearly two decades of concern over Iran and its nuclear ambitions brings Netanyahu to this moment, where he addresses the American people over a threat he believes demands a public debate before diplomats reach a political framework agreement on the program, possibly by the end of March.

He will be careful not to detail classified US intelligence in the speech. But towing the line, he will lay out new information before Congress in order to drive home the nature of the threat he perceives. 

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, one senior Obama administration official said that US President Barack Obama has no plans to respond directly to Netanyahu's speech.

The official said the focus, instead, is on reaching a detail-oriented, technical solution to the nuclear issue. The administration has laid out concrete proposals to Tehran, the official asserted, speaking with a sense of umbrage at Netanyahu's decision to criticize the effort without putting forth what the White House considers to be viable counterproposals.

Nor will the president watch Netanyahu. Instead, he will be in the White House Situation Room on a conference call with the leaders of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the European Union - all parties to the negotiations currently under way in Geneva, where they have already presented Iran with a proposal.

60 Democratic members of Congress are skipping the joint meeting, but that does not mean those who are attending are doing so enthusiastically. Watch carefully for moments when Democratic leadership sits, stands and applauds— a key barometer of any joint gathering.

The proposal on the table would restrict Iran's program strictly for at least ten years, preventing them from coming within one year of obtaining the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. Key to the deal, officials say, is an intrusive inspections and verification system. Over time, sanctions on Iran would be lifted.

Netanyahu is expected to outline aspects of the Geneva proposal that he considers unacceptable to Israel— the wisdom of a sunset clause on a deal, which would ease restrictions on Iran after a finite period; the likelihood of Iranian compliance throughout its duration; and the world's Plan B should Iran kick out inspectors, only a year away from a nuclear bomb.

The speech itself may not change the course of the negotiations. But Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and several other colleagues seek legislation that would require congressional approval of enforcement of any future deal.

Support for such a bill may rest on the outcome of this speech. Without lobbying for specific legislation against the president, expect Netanyahu to allude to the role of Congress as a co-equal branch of government with a key role on Iran policy. 

Netanyahu may go as far as to say that, given the unique threat Iran poses to the Jewish people, Israel finds itself cornered but unbound by a future nuclear pact. When he refers to Israel's experience acting alone in its defense, he is suggesting a willingness to sabotage a deal with unilateral Israeli military force.

Whether such a strike is still within Israel's capabilities is questionable. But Netanyahu's fear of an emboldened Iran is so grave— and his trust in Obama so lacking— he may find himself entertaining the extreme. More than any other moment, this inflection point reflects his fears and his vision of what Zionist leadership requires.

Monday, March 2, 2015

At AIPAC conference, prime minister thanks president for his support, says despite disagreements ahead of Congress speech, Israel-US relations have not faltered



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress is not intended to disrespect President Barack Obama or his administration, but to warn the world of the threat posed by Iran’s apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Israeli leader told a pro-Israel audience in Washington on Monday, a day before the controversial address.


Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, DC, Netanyahu described tensions between the US and Israel over Iran as a disagreement within a family.

He stressed that the alliance between Israel and the US was “stronger than ever,” and added that he expected the alliance to become “even stronger in the coming years.”

“Disagreements in the family are uncomfortable. But we must always remember that we are family. Our alliance is sound, our friendship is strong,” he said. “The values that unite us are much stronger than issues that divide us.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to address the US Congress on the Iranian threat Tuesday, in a move White House officials had described as damaging to bilateral ties.

The prime minister defended the appearance as necessary to thwart Iran, which he described as heading toward the bomb.

“We are no longer silent. Today we have a voice. And tomorrow, I plan to use that voice,” Netanyahu said to a supportive crowd. “I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that’s developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.”

The US-Israel relationship will “weather” the current disagreement “because we share the same dream,” he said.

Netanyahu also rebuffed claims that his speech had turned Israel into a divisive issue, saying that support for the Jewish state must remain bipartisan.

“The last thing I would want is that Israel would become a partisan issue,” he said firmly.

He added said he “deeply appreciates” the US for its support, and that he did not ever mean to disrespect Obama or his office, as he had “great respect for both.”

Netanyahu also backed up his embattled ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, who worked with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to schedule the Congressional address.

Netanyahu described Dermer, who has reportedly been isolated from routine contact with the Obama administration, as “a man who knows how to take the heat.”

Employing a crude graphic showing attacks around the world, the prime minister accused Iran of exporting terror.

“This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons,” he said. “Imagine what would happen if it had nuclear weapons.”


The Israeli leader explained that he had “a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them.” For 2,000 years, Netanyahu said, Jews have been defenseless. “Well, no more!” he declared.

“Those days are over,” he added. “Today in the sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves.” In so doing, Israel allies itself with the US “to defend our common civilization against common threats,” Netanyahu said.

Iran, the prime minister said, “is threatening to destroy Israel, is devouring country after country in the Middle East… and is developing, as we speak,” the capability to build nuclear weapons.

The disagreements among the US and Israel over the Iranian nuclear issue were “only natural,” because there are differences between the two countries, Netanyahu continued.

The Israeli leader said that in the nine years he served as prime minister, not one day has passed in which he had not thought about Israel’s survival.


Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier Monday, a senior official traveling with Netanyahu said the Israeli leader was set to reveal details from an emerging nuclear deal to “uninformed” US lawmakers during his controversial speech to Congress on Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters covering the prime minister’s trip that Israel knows more about the agreement with Iran than many members of Congress.

“We know many details from the agreement being put together, details that we feel members of Congress are unaware of,” the official said, according to the Haaretz daily. “According to the information we have, the deal currently taking shape will leave Iran with the capability to build a nuclear weapon, if [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei makes a decision to do so.”

The official said Netanyahu would reveal some details of the agreement during his speech before both houses of Congress on Tuesday, according to the Ynet news site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, as they depart for the United States on March 1, 2015, ahead of his speech at the US Congress. (Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)

“We are not here to offend President Obama whom we respect very much,” said a Netanyahu adviser, who was not authorized to be identified. “The prime minister is here to warn, in front of any stage possible, the dangers” of the deal that may be taking shape.

A report late last month that the US was pursuing a deal with Iran that would freeze the ability to produce a nuclear weapons for 10 years before allowing it to ramp up enrichment activities was quickly denied by the White House and State Department.

However, Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have said the deal being put together is a bad one that will be dangerous for Israel and the Western world.

The invitation to speak to Congress extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Netanyahu’s acceptance have caused an uproar that has exposed tensions between Israel and the US, its most important ally.

By consenting to speak, Netanyahu angered the White House, which was not consulted in advance, and Democrats, who were forced to choose between showing support for Israel and backing the president.

“I will do everything in my ability to secure our future,” Netanyahu said before flying to Washington. He described himself as “an emissary” of the Jewish people.

Boehner said Iran’s nuclear ambitions were a threat well beyond the region.

“We’re not going to resolve this issue by sticking our heads in the sand,” Boehner told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

He said Netanyahu “can talk about this threat, I believe, better than anyone. And the United States Congress wants to hear from him, and so do the American people.”


Friday, February 27, 2015

Pray For Israel And Its Prime Minister 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing Congress Tuesday March 3rd. He is coming to warn America about the dangers of radical Islam and a nuclear-armed Iran. Yet the Associated Pressreports that the Obama White House is "mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington." 

This is what we have sunk to: a president who panders to the mullahs of Iran while he orchestrates a campaign against a hero and defender of our civilization like Bibi Netanyahu. 

Israel and its prime minister need our help!

America must stand with Israel. That's why I launched a new social media campaign this morning encouraging men and women of faith like you to pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his speech before Congress. You can join us by visiting my Facebook page. I want you to help us spread the word. "Like" and share this post with friends, family members and your church family. 

Lernergate Update 

Lois Lerner is back in the news. You will recall that Lerner was the IRS official who led the targeting of Tea Party groups. When her inquisition was exposed, her hard drive mysteriously crashed, her Blackberry was destroyed and all her emails just disappeared. 

The IRS did everything it could to recover her data, but, tragically, it was all lost. Or so we were told. No one believed that and for good reason -- it wasn't true.

The IRS Inspector General's office has in fact discovered thousands of Lerner's emails on backup tapes -- tapes we were told had been disposed of and recycled. 

Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he discovered the backup tapes were being stored at a facility in West Virginia. Contrary to the testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, no one from the IRS had ever asked for them. In addition, investigators discovered at least 400 more backup tapes just two weeks ago. Those tapes were discovered after investigators realized the IRS was withholding documents from them. 

Technicians are still reviewing the tapes, and they don't yet know exactly what is on them. Nevertheless, Camus said, "There is potential criminal activity." 

Benghazigate Update 

Newly revealed State Department emails prove that Hillary Clinton's closest advisors knew within minutes that the assault on our consulate in Benghazi was in fact a terrorist attack. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought against the State Department by Judicial Watch. Here's what they show:

  • Minutes after the attack began, former Secretary of State Clinton's chief-of-staff, Cheryl Mills, and Clinton's executive assistant, Joseph McManus, received a message entitled, "U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack."
  • They received another email 30 minutes later noting: "15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. . . . [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire."
  • Two hours later a third message was received reporting that an Al Qaeda-linked group was taking credit for the attack: "Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU):  “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli." 

    Yet in spite of these real time details, Clinton's State Department and Obama's White House -- contrary to advice from the Pentagon -- concocted a story about a spontaneous demonstration in response to a movie.

    After saying over and over again that "Al Qaeda was decimated and on the run," the Obama/Clinton team couldn't tell the truth and admit that Al Qaeda had just attacked our consulate, killing our ambassador and three other Americans. 

    Clinton Ethical Lapses 

    The Washington Post reported this week that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments while Hillary served as Obama's secretary of state. At least one donation "violated [the foundation's] ethics agreement."

    The Clintons, fundraising scandals, ethical lapses. . . This sounds all too familiar. 

    One of the more problematic donations to the Clinton Foundation came from the government of Qatar, which also spent more than $5 million lobbying the State Department while Hillary was secretary of state. 

    Qatar has a scandalous human rights record. When Hamas fled the Syrian civil war in January 2012, it moved its headquarters from Damascus to Qatar. According to Amnesty International, "Women who report rape or sexual violence in Qatar are at risk of being charged with 'illicit relations' and face prison sentences if convicted." 

    Marriage Matters 

    Is the marriage debate over? Many political elites claim that it is, and that same-sex marriage has won the day. But that claim confuses the will of the people with the dictates of a handful of unelected judges. 

    When people have actually voted on marriage or revealed their preferences to pollsters, a much different picture emerges. Read more in my latest opinion piece at The Blaze.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Netanyahu defends his Congress speech in an interview to a haredi radio station.

By JPOST.COM STAFF \02/27/2015 14:48| The Jerusalem Post| 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat is crucial because Congress is one of the only bodies that can actually stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, he said during an interview to a haredi radio station on Friday morning.

"I am writing the speech and it is important, because I am going there to try to stop the deal from happening. We remember the times when Persia tried to destroy us, and today in the same Persia there is a ruler who calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and they plan on doing it with nuclear weapons," he said.

Netanyahu's speech to US Congress, due on March 3, has caused a rift between himself and US President Barack Obama's administration. During his speech, Netanyahu will speak out against the emerging nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. 

The prime minister shared that following his Congress speech, he will dine with Republicans and Democrats in Washington. "I take it as a blessing. There was an invitation from both sides...this shows that there is a greater interest." he said.

"According to the signs, in most of the US, there is support for Israel. So I can have differences with the US president, that is legitimate, so what is not legitimate about us speaking our minds? Especially when the majority supports us."

Netanyahu was asked about his feelings towards the negative media attention he garners, and he answered "you need to strong. The feeling is hard, when you and your family are being attacked and slandered." 

In regards to the upcoming election, Netanyahu was asked to whom his first phone call will be in order to make a coalition after the elections. He responded that depending on the results, the coalition building could fall on Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, but if it doesn't, he will call on Naftali Bennett, Moshe Kahlon and Avigdor Liberman. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lawmakers express skepticism on reported concessions to Tehran in framework of nuclear deal

BY DEB RIECHMANN AND MATTHEW LEE February 26, 2015, 1:33 am | The Times of Israel| 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry played defense Wednesday on Capitol Hill, fielding dozens of questions from lawmakers worried about what Iran could get in a deal being negotiated to block its ability to make an atomic weapon.

California Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Kerry at a hearing that members of the panel have serious concerns about the direction of the more than 1-year-old talks, which are at a critical juncture. Negotiators are rushing to try to meet a March 31 deadline for a framework agreement between Iran and the US and five other world powers.

“I’m hearing less about dismantlement and more about the performance of Iran’s nuclear program,” Royce told Kerry. “That’s particularly disturbing when you consider that international inspectors report that Iran has still not revealed its past bomb work.”

New York Rep. Elliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the committee, expressed skepticism too.

Engel noted news stories claiming that negotiators are willing to ease limits on Iran’s enrichment production during the later years of an accord in order to bridge the differences between the two sides over how long an agreement should last.

“We’re hearing troubling reports on the scale and duration of the program that Iran may be allowed as part of a deal,” Engel said.

The secretary testified in the House two days after returning to Washington from the latest round of talks in Geneva. US and Iranian officials reported progress on getting to a deal that would clamp down on Tehran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but would then slowly ease restrictions.

Any comprehensive pact could ease 35 years of US-Iranian enmity — and seems within reach for the first time in more than a decade of negotiations.

Royce said the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is worried about the scope of Iranian military-related activities, including its work in designing a nuclear payload for a missile.

“The IAEA inspectors have amassed over 1,000 pages which showed research, development and testing activity on technologies needed to develop a nuclear weapon,” the congressman said. “Of the 12 sets of questions that the IAEA has been seeking since 2011, Iran has answered part of one of them,” adding the Iranians are withhold information on the remaining set.

“They are legitimate and the questions have to be answered,” Kerry replied. “And they will be if they (the Iranians) want to have an agreement.”

He said Iran has complied with all the provisions of a first-step agreement, which launched the talks. “They agreed to roll back their program,” Kerry said. “I think that’s cause for hope.”

Wednesday was Kerry’s second appearance before Congress in as many days. As he did on Tuesday in the Senate, Kerry declined to disclose details of the discussions and told members of the House that it’s inappropriate to condemn what is in an agreement before anybody knows what it is — or even if there even will be a deal.

“It’s fair to be skeptical until you see the agreement, and it’s important to be hopeful. And that’s the way I’d put it,” Kerry said. “I’m not sitting here expressing confidence. I’m expressing hope, because I think we are better off with a viable, acceptable, good, diplomatic agreement than with the other choices. But it remains to see whether or not we can get that kind of agreement.”

“There are some big issues yet to be resolved. We are not there yet,” he said.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PM says planned speech before Congress next week ‘the final brake’ before an agreement

BY AFP February 24, 2015, 9:42 pm | The Times of Israel | 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he would do “everything I can” to prevent what he considers a bad nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, a week ahead of travelling to Washington.

Netanyahu’s government has long opposed the deal taking shape with Tehran over its nuclear program and he is to address the US Congress on March 3 on the subject, in a move that has angered the White House.

“The information which has reached me in recent days greatly strengthens our concerns regarding the agreement being formulated between the major powers and Iran,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This agreement, if indeed it is signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state,” he said.

“It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3.

President Barack Obama has refused to meet Netanyahu during his trip, saying diplomatic protocol forbids him from doing so, since the Israeli leader is running for re-election on March 17.

The two leaders have a famously frosty relationship, which has grown even more tense as a result of the disagreement over Netanyahu’s upcoming speech.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for civilian use.

There is a heightened sense of urgency as the clock ticks down towards a March 31 deadline to agree on a political framework for the deal.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Feb. 20, 2015 3:47 PM EST | AP News | 


WASHINGTON (AP) — In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.

There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.

Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America's leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel's March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.

Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

Netanyahu's plan for a March 3 address to a joint meeting of Congress has further strained already tense ties between the U.S. and Israel. Congressional Republicans orchestrated Netanyahu's visit without consulting the White House or State Department, a move the Obama administration blasted as a break in diplomatic protocol. Some Democratic lawmakers say they will boycott the speech.

U.S. officials believe Netanyahu's trip to Washington is aimed primarily at derailing a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama's signature foreign policy objective. While Netanyahu has long been skeptical of the negotiations, his opposition has increased over what he sees as Obama's willingness to make concessions that would leave Iran on the brink of being able to build a nuclear weapon. His opposition has intensified as negotiations go into overdrive with an end-of-March deadline for a framework deal.

"I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it," Netanyahu said Thursday.

The difference of opinion over the deal has become unusually rancorous.

The White House and State Department have both publicly accused Israeli officials of leaking "cherry-picked" details of the negotiations to try to discredit the administration. And, in extraordinary admissions this week, the administration acknowledged that the U.S. is withholding sensitive details of the talks from Israel, its main Middle East ally, to prevent such leaks.

The rebukes have only emboldened the leader of Israel, whose country Iran has threatened to annihilate. He has a double-barrel attack on the Iran talks ready for when he arrives in Washington. Not only will he address Congress, he will also deliver similar remarks at the AIPAC conference, an event to which administrations past and present have traditionally sent top foreign policy officials.

But maybe not this year.

An AIPAC official said Friday that the group has not yet received any reply to its invitation for senior administration figures to attend the meeting that starts March 1. The official stressed that last-minute RSVPs are not unusual, but the White House has been signaling for some time that a Cabinet-level guest may not coming.

Instead, the administration is toying with the idea of sending newly installed Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken to speak to the conference, according to officials familiar with internal discussions on the matter. But it's possible Treasury Secretary Jack Lew could attend.

Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who have both previously addressed AIPAC, will be out of the country on foreign travel that appears to have been arranged to make them unavailable to speak. Biden will be visiting Uruguay and Guatemala on a trip that was announced after Netanyahu's speech was scheduled, while the State Department announced abruptly this week that Kerry will be traveling to as-yet-determined destinations for the duration of the AIPAC conference.

Obama spoke to AIPAC in 2012, while he was in the midst of his re-election campaign

Monday, February 23, 2015

PM pans US­led ongoing negotiations in light of IAEA report that Tehran is hiding military components of nuke program

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AFP February 22, 2015, 1:10 pm | The Times of Israel| 


P rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticized the international community for negotiating with Iran while taking no steps to curb its sponsorship

of global terrorism, as top American and Iranian diplomats attempted to hammer out a deal in Geneva. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister s

aid that it was “astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks are proceeding.”


“Not only are they continuing, there is an increased effort to reach a nuclear agreement in the coming days and weeks,” Netanyahu said. The deadline for the six world powers and Iran to reach a political agreement about Tehran’s unsanctioned nuclear program is March 31. His

comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to arrive in Geneva Sunday for renewed talks with his Iranian counterpart on Tehran’s nuclear program,

after warning “significant gaps” remain ahead of the deadline. On Thursday, an IAEA report stated that Tehran is being evasive and ambiguous in its dealings with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, preventing the organization from launching a thorough assessment of the country’s

nuclear program. In the wake of the report, Netanyahu called on world leaders to stop “wooing Iran” over a nuclear deal. Netanyahu also panned the international community

for continuing to negotiate despite Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism. “The fact that Iran is continuing its murderous terrorism that knows no borders and which embraces the region and the world has, to our regret, not prevented the international community from

continuing to talk with Iran about a nuclear agreement that will allow it to build the industrial capacity to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said Sunday. Israel has accused Iran of carrying out a slew of terrorist attacks in recent years against Israeli targets from Bulgaria to

Bangkok and providing material support for both Hezbollah and Hamas.


Netanyahu said the emerging deal was “dangerous for Israel,” and defended his planned speech about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program in Washington next month. In a jab at the executive branch, he said the US Congress “would appear to be the body that will affect the

fate of the deal.” World powers are trying to strike a deal with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of punishing international economic sanctions. Kerry is set to arrive in the Swiss city Sunday morning for two days of talks with I

ranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country denies its nuclear program has military objectives.

“There are still significant gaps, there is still a distance to travel,” Kerry said in London on Saturday. There is a heightened sense of urgency as the clock ticks down towards the March 31 deadline for a political framework for the deal. “President [Barack] Obama has no inclination

whatsoever to extend these talks beyond the period that has been set out,” Kerry said. US and Iranian diplomats have been meeting in Geneva since Friday, and senior negotiators from the so­called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany were also

expected to meet on Sunday to help drive the talks forward.