Pro-Israel News

Date:
Friday, May 15, 2015


UN sanctions compliance panel says Tehran tried to purchase compressors from US corporation using fake documentation


BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF May 15, 2015, 10:44 am| The Times of Israel| 

 

The Iranian government attempted to purchase technology that can be used in its nuclear program using false documentation in an attempt to bypass international sanctions, Reuters reported.

 

The attempted purchase was uncovered by Czech officials who managed to prevent the sale, according to the latest annual report of the UN Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee.

The incident is likely to bolster concerns that the Iranian regime may not adhere to a major nuclear deal Tehran is negotiating with world powers.

The report details Iran’s attempt to purchase compressors manufactured by the Prague-based American-owned company Howden CKD Compressors using a “false end user.”

 

“The procurer and transport company involved in the deal had provided false documentation in order to hide the origins, movement and destination of the consignment with the intention of bypassing export controls and sanctions,” the report said, according to Reuters.

Compressors of certain types — the exact type of compressor being purchased has not been reported — are useful in the uranium enrichment process required to produce both nuclear energy, and at higher levels of enrichment, also nuclear weapons.

The contract was valued at some $61 million. The parties attempting to make the purchase said the compressors were “needed for a compressor station, such as the kind used to transport natural gas from one relay station to another,” Reuters reports, citing a Czech official.

 

According to the UN panel, the Czech incident wasn’t the only piece of evidence Tehran is actively seeking to circumvent sanctions. Britain, the report said, had tracked another nuclear procurement network for Tehran.

Under an interim deal struck between world powers and Iran, the Islamic Republic agreed to scale back its nuclear activities, including stopping higher levels of enrichment, in exchange for a negotiated relief to international sanctions.

Israel and several Arab states have criticized the emerging deal. The US and other negotiating powers have said Iran has complied with the conditions set by the interim deal. A final nuclear deal is scheduled to be concluded at the end of June.

Date:
Thursday, May 14, 2015

 


Riyadh and other Gulf capitals reportedly will insist they will have ‘whatever the Iranians have,’ as Camp David summit gets underway


BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AP May 14, 2015, 12:26 pm| The Times of Israel| 

 

SAudi Arabian officials are warning that they will seek to match Iran’s nuclear arsenal, a US newspaper reported Thursday, as US President Barack Obama and leaders from six Gulf nations — including Riyadh — convened outside Washington to work through tensions sparked by the US bid for a nuclear deal with Tehran, a pursuit that has put regional partners on edge.

Along with Saudi Arabia, smaller Arab countries also say they also plan to pursue a nuclear weapons program to offset Iran’s, portending a much-feared nuclear arms race in the Middle East, according to the New York Times.

 

“We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research,” one Arab leader attending the Camp David summit told theNew York Times.

The official, who was unnamed, said he and others will also make their case to Obama at the meeting Thursday.

 

Obama is seeking to reassure the Gulf leaders gathering at Camp David that US overtures to Iran will not come at the expense of commitments to their security. He is expected to offer them more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems.

Obama and the leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain opened their talks with a private dinner Wednesday night at the White House. Just two heads of state are among those meeting Obama, with other nations sending lower-level but still influential representatives.

 

Arab and Israeli officials have lobbied against the deal, though Gulf states have kept their criticism more discreet. Yet leaders around the region have warned that Iranian nuclear development will lead them to also pursue nuclear programs of their own, a worrying idea in a part of the world already riven by violent conflicts.

“Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” former Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki bin Faisal said last month at a special session of the Asan Plenum, a conference held by the South Korean-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, according to the New York Times.

 

Faisal also warned that the Iranian nuclear deal “opens the door to nuclear proliferation, not closes it, as was the initial intention.”

When Thursday’s meetings at the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains conclude, it’s unlikely Obama will have fully assuaged the Gulf’s deep-seated fear of Iranian meddling in the region.

“My guess is that the summit is going to leave everybody feeling a little bit unsatisfied,” said Jon Alterman, the Middle East director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

 

The most notable absence from the meeting is Saudi King Salman. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that the king was skipping the summit, just two days after the White House said he was coming.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were representing Saudi Arabia instead. They held a separate meeting with Obama before the other leaders arrived.

The president made no mention of Saudi skepticism of the Iran talks as he opened the meeting, but acknowledged the region is in the midst of a “very challenging time.”

 

The White House and Saudi officials insist the king is not snubbing Obama. But Salman’s conspicuous absence comes amid indisputable signs of strain in the long relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, driven not only by Obama’s Iran overtures, but also the rise of Islamic State militants and a lessening US dependency on Saudi oil.

“There have been disagreements under this administration and under the previous administration about certain policies and development in the Middle East, but I think on a set of core interests, we continue to have a common view about what we aim to achieve,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

 

The Gulf summit comes as the US and five other nations work to reach an agreement with Iran by the end of June to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions. The Gulf nations fear that an influx of cash will only facilitate what they see as Iran’s aggression.

The White House says a nuclear accord could clear the way for more productive discussions with Iran about its reputed terror links. The US has criticized Iran’s support for Hezbollah, as well as terror attacks carried out by Iran’s Quds Force.

In 2011, the Obama administration accused Iran of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States in Washington.

 

The Saudis are also particularly concerned about the situation in Yemen, where Houthi rebels with ties with Iran have ousted the US- and Saudi-backed leader.

For more than a month, a Saudi-led coalition has tried to push back the Houthis with a relentless bombing campaign. On Tuesday, a five-day humanitarian ceasefire went into effect, though the pause in fighting was already at risk. A jet fighter from the Saudi coalition on Wednesday struck a military convoy belonging to Shiite rebels and their allies in southern Yemen.

Saudi officials cited the ceasefire as one of the reasons why King Salman needed to stay in Riyadh and not make the trip to the United States.

 

The Saudi king isn’t the only head of state sending a lower-level representative to the summit. The heads of the United Arab Emirates and Oman have had health problems and were not making the trip.

Bahrain’s royal court announced Wednesday that rather than travel to Washington, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa would be attending a horse show and meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.

Date:
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

By SAM SOKOL \  05/12/2015 20:55| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

The international community should criminalize anti-Semitism and establish a multilateral body to monitor it, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal adviser Amb. Alan Baker asserted on Monday in the text of a draft international convention being promoted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In 2013 Baker, who heads the think tank’s Institute for Contemporary Affairs, drafted a similar document banning inciting terrorism, which was promoted at the United Nations by former Israeli UN envoy Dore Gold but which does not seem to have gained much traction.
 

“The international community has never considered criminalizing anti-Semitism as an international crime, in a manner similar to the criminalization of genocide, racism, piracy, hostage-taking, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and terror,” Baker wrote in the introduction to the document, adding that one might have expected it do so in light of the recent wave of anti-Semitism that has swept Europe.

The lack of coordinated action on this matter is “clearly a vast international injustice,” he wrote, stating that his draft accord is intended to “universally criminalize anti-Semitism within the world community.”

According to Baker, any manifestation of anti-Semitism that results in violence or is meant to incite violence should be considered a crime under international law. He defined anti-Semitism as consisting of several phenomena, including Holocaust denial; expressions of hostility or demonstrations of violence toward Jews individually or as a religious, ethnic or racial collective; the use of “sinister stereotypes” and conspiracy theories “charging Jews with conspiring to harm humanity” and justifying the killing or harming of Jews.

The application of double standards against Israel “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and the vilification of Israeli leaders through comparisons to the Nazis are likewise manifestations of anti-Semitism, Baker averred.
 

He also took issue with those who use developments in the Middle East to justify attacks on Jews abroad, an apparent reaction to people like a German judge who recently ruled that an arson attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal by two Arabs was not anti-Semitic but rather motivated by a desire to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict.”

Aside from obligating signatories to promote educational programs for combating anti-Semitism and remembering the Holocaust, the draft convention would also establish an International anti-Semitism Monitoring Forum which would serve as a clearinghouse for national anti-Semitism statistics and would assist member states in preparing legislation banning anti-Semitism.

Both Europe and the United States have come under fire for their allegedly insufficient monitoring mechanisms.
 

Speaking with the Jerusalem Post last year, Anti-Defamation League national chairman Abe Foxman said that “there is no serious monitoring by continental entities” and that governments are “not doing their job, they’re not monitoring.”

Anti-Semitic violence rose by nearly 40 percent in 2014 over the previous year, according to a report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University released last month.

A total of 766 violent incidents were recorded worldwide, a "sharp increase" over the 554 tallied in 2013, according to the European Jewish Congress, which contributed to the report.
 

According to Baker, combating anti-Semitism requires its own treaty and structures unrelated to the general work of tackling racism because “by its very nature, with anti-Semitism’s long, bitter, and never-ending history, and its propensity to constantly re-appear in modern forms and contexts, it cannot and should not be equated with, linked to, or treated as any other form of racial discrimination.”

He condemned efforts within the international community to equate anti-Semitism with Islamophobia, calling hatred of Jews “a unique, sui generis phenomenon that must be dealt with independently.”

Earlier this year Jewish organizations worldwide expressed shock and dismay following the announcement that the European Commission is planning on holding a conference that implies an equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Date:
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

 

By SAM SOKOL \05/11/2015 03:40| The Jerusalem Post|

Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman says Europeans “have to change the way they are managing and monitoring everyday society,” like Americans did after 9/11.

 

The future of Jewish life in Europe will be in large part dependent on the way in which national leaders there respond to attacks on their freedom and liberty, Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

According to Foxman, who is in Jerusalem for the biennial Global Forum on anti-Semitism, Europeans need to begin examining the balance between freedom and security as Americans did following the September 11 attacks fourteen years ago.
 

After 9/11 Americans “were willing to make sacrifices in some of our basic freedoms,” ushering in the use of mass surveillance, profiling and other controversial measures whose propriety and legitimacy are still being debated today. While the exact balance between security and freedom is an open question, he said, in America “we are willing to pay a price to protect our traditions” and the question is if Europe is willing to do the same.

Europeans, Foxman said, “have to change the way they are managing and monitoring everyday society.” The Jewish community, he continued, is watching how their governments respond to see if their societies are “willing to fight for their freedom and liberty.”

Asked about critics of Europe such as Hebrew University anti-Semitism scholar Dr. Robert Wistrich, who have charged that Europeans are unwilling to recognize the role played by Islamic immigrants in the rising tide of Jew hatred, Foxman said that while it is certainly a problem, things are not as dire as may be thought.

“If you are not willing to recognize your enemy for who they are and name them” it will be hard to combat threats, he said. “So when [French President Francois] Hollande said after [January’s massacre at the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine that] this crime had nothing to do with Islam, who did it have to do with?” Despite the myopia and oversensitivity exhibited by some, however, the governments in Belgium and France are “addressing the underlying cause but are just unwilling to say so,” Foxman added.

“One should take a look at arrests [during the] last couple of months, they are from that community because that’s where threats come from. They are not comfortable publicly declaring we are ‘surveilling mosques,’” he explained.
 

According to Foxman, Jews in Europe are now, for the first time since the end of the Holocaust, confronted by three choices: assimilating so as not to be recognizably Jewish, defiantly remaining Jews and bearing the consequences or emigrating.

While a mass exodus of European Jews is unlikely in the short term and Jews worldwide must be concerned for the bulk of those who remain there, he said, it is important to “asses where exit strategies are more likely to happen sooner rather than later.”
 

Asked if he believed that the Europeans have done enough to protect their Jewish minorities, he said that from the point of view of those in danger it’s almost never enough but that he believes that local leaders have come a long way from a decade ago when there was widespread denial regarding the rise of anti-Semitism.

Now there is a more vocal response, a recognition of the issue and the deployment of security forces to protect Jewish institutions, he said, praising the progress that has been made.
 

Pointing to France, which recently announced that it will allocate significant funding to tolerance education, Foxman said that such moves are part of a “long-term process but has to begin somewhere.”

That being said he cautioned, legislation on issues of hate is not in short supply across Europe, but rather the “political will” to implement it is.

Date:
Monday, May 11, 2015

By HERB KEINON \05/10/2015 12:33| The Times of Israel| 

 

Preventing Iran from opening an additional front against Israel on the Golan Heights, as well as delivering Hamas the blow of its lifetime last summer, were among the outgoing government’s chief accomplishments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the last meeting of the 33rd government.
 

At a brief cabinet meeting, Netanyahu summarized the outgoing cabinet’s achievements with a special emphasis on what he said were the government’s success – for the most part – at keeping the region’s tumultuous events from spilling over Israel’s borders.

The bulk of the cabinet meeting dealt with passing legislation that will raise the number of government ministers from 18 to 20.

“In the over two years of this government’s existence, since its first meeting, the region around us has been roiling and stormy,” he said “And despite the many attempts to challenge us on our borders, we rebuffed all of these attempts bar none.”
 

In addition to rebuffing Iran on the Golan, and Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu also said Israel kept Hezbollah at bay in southern Lebanon, and thwarted “unceasing efforts to bring advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon.”

Above all, he said, the outgoing government “acted unceasingly against Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This effort is at its peak. We will not relent. We will continue to maintain Israel’s right to defend itself under any conditions and in any situation.”

Netanyahu said Israel’s attempts to make diplomatic progress with the Palestinians were foiled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to make “difficult decisions,” opting instead to abandon the negotiations with Israel, turn unilaterally to the international arena and enter an alliance with Hamas.
 

But while Netanyahu was blaming Abbas, the EU issued a statement slamming Israel for plans to build 900 more units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, and saying that “Israel’s determination to continue its settlement policy despite the urging of the international community, not only threatens the viability of the two-state solution but also seriously calls into question its commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.”

Peace Now announced on Thursday that the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved construction of 900 homes in the primarily haredi neighborhood just beyond the 1949 Armistice Line in the capital.

Date:
Friday, May 8, 2015

 


President hails ‘deep and abiding partnership’ between US and Israel, says he ‘looks forward to working’ with Netanyahu


BY TAMAR PILEGGI AND AFP May 7, 2015, 6:55 pm | The Times of Israel | 

 

US President Barack Obama congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, a day after the prime minister announced he had forged a new coalition government.

“President Obama looks forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the White House said, in a businesslike statement that followed fierce pre-election exchanges between the two men.

 

Immediately after the March 17 election, Obama administration officials had said they were “reevaluating” how best to pursue peace and defend Israel in international forums because of Netanyahu’s apparent retreat on the eve of balloting from embracing the two-state solution. Netanyahu told an Israeli website that he did not intend to preside over the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While Netanyahu said after the election that he did support a peaceful, “sustainable” two-state solution, administration officials made it clear that they were waiting to see if the new coalition would be willing to pursue a peace plan that included a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Unmoved by Netanyahu’s backtrack, Obama himself said that he took the prime minister “at his word.”

“As the President has emphasized, the United States places great importance on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries,” Thursday’s White House Press statement said.

 

“We also look forward to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues, including international negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and the importance of pursuing a two-state solution,” the statement said.

The relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has become increasingly strained as a result of the prime minister’s outspoken criticism of the ongoing US-led nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The White House said Wednesday that Obama did not intend to meet with Netanyahu in the near future, and the president reportedly told Jewish leaders recently that he would not host the prime minister before the June 30 deadline for the Iran deal.

With less than two hours before his Wednesday night deadline, Netanyahu hammered out a deal with Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, securing him a 61-seat coalition and the narrowest of Knesset majorities

Date:
Thursday, May 7, 2015

By REUTERS \05/07/2015 15:51\ The Jerusalem Post\ 

 

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia proposed a five-day humanitarian truce in Yemen on Thursday after weeks of airstrikes and fighting, but said a ceasefire depended on the Houthi militia and its allies also agreeing to lay down arms, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, addressing a news conference alongside Jubeir in Riyadh, welcomed the proposal and added that neither Saudi Arabia nor the United States was talking about sending ground troops into Yemen.

 

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in air raids and fighting since a Saudi-led coalition began strikes against the Houthis on March 26, aimed at pushing the Iranian-allied militia back from captured areas and restoring President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government.

The fighting and a coalition arms embargo have also caused hunger and shortages of food and fuel, worsening Yemen's humanitarian crisis and prompting alarm around the world.

 

"The pause will affect all of Yemen for a period of five days. The actual date will be announced shortly as well as the requirements. This is all based on the Houthis complying with the ceasefire," Jubeir said.

Despite the airstrikes, the Houthis and forces loyal to a former president have remained entrenched in areas they seized earlier this year and on Wednesday took an important district in Aden, leading to speculation about a possible coalition land operation.

Kerry added that he was "very, very concerned" by Iranian activities in IraqYemen and elsewhere

 

Date:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By REUTERS \05/06/2015 11:13| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

ANKARA - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran would not take part in nuclear talks if threatened with military force, state television said, as Iran and world powers try to meet a June 30 deadline for a final deal.

"Holding nuclear talks (with major powers) under shadow of threat is unacceptable for Iran ... Our nation will not accept it ... Military threats will not help the talks," Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iran's English language Press TV.

"Recently two US officials threatened to take military action against Iran. What does negotiation mean under the shadow of threat," he said. He gave no further details on the threats.

Khamenei repeated his cautious support for the nuclear talks, saying that the country's "red lines" should be respected by the Iranian negotiators.

"Our negotiators should continue the talks with respect to our red lines. They should not accept any imposition, humiliation and threat," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and rejects allegations from Western countries and their allies that it wants the capability to produce atomic weapons. It says all sanctions are illegal.

Iran and the six world powers, which struck an interim agreement on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, wrapped up nearly a week of talks in New York on Tuesday.

The negotiations between Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union will resume in Vienna next week.

Date:
Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Newly improved 30,000-pound bomb that can take out nuclear site has not been provided to IDF


BY MITCH GINSBURG May 4, 2015, 10:25 pm | The Times of Israel| 

 

Secretary of State John Kerry raised the specter of using a 30,000-pound (13,600-kg) bunker-buster bomb  against Iran’s nuclear program in an interview aired this week, during an attempt to reassure Israelis that America had its back against Tehran, even if it means preemptive military action.

 

People in Israel should have some confidence in an “administration that designed and deployed the weapon that has the ability to deal with Iran’s nuclear program,” Kerry told Channel 10, adding that his is “an administration, a government, a country that will stand by Israel way into the future.”

The weapon he was referring to, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, is a 30,000-pound bomb that was made operational in 2011 and recently redesigned in terms of guidance and penetration. The massive weapon has not been offered to Israel for purchase.

 

The US Department of Defense invested $330 million to develop 20 of the bombs and requested an additional $82 million to enhance their efficacy, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2012.

 

In April the Journal reported that the upgraded bomb was tested in mid-January, when it was dropped from a B-2 bomber that took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

The successful test showed a massive bomb that could be guided much like smaller precision weapons and was upgraded with electronic countermeasures that protect it from potential Iranian jamming, which could otherwise be used to steer incoming weaponry off target.

The US officials, who were reportedly not involved in the administration’s negotiations with Iran, told the Wall Street Journal that the bombs, if used, would have a devastating effect never before seen by a non-nuclear weapon.

The bombs are designed to be released in pairs, with the first burrowing through the layers of rock and steel that protect underground nuclear facilities like the one in Fordo, Iran, and the second to follow immediately on its heels and destroy the target.

 

The Journal reported that Pentagon officials have shared details about the bomb with Israeli counterparts, and have “shown them videos of the weapon hitting a target during testing.”

The videos reportedly showed a deep bunker utterly destroyed by a precision-guided bomb.

“The Pentagon,” officials told the Journal, “continues to be focused on being able to provide military options for Iran if needed,” and stressed that “if you say all options are on the table, you have to have something on the table that’s credible.”

Kerry, in the Israeli television interview, seemed to be indicating that the threat of US military action still hovers over the negotiations and acts as a stick to prevent future Iranian violations of any would-be agreement.

 

Official Israel, which was chastised for its preemptive action against Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in 1981, and which witnessed the US’s unwillingness to act in order to thwart North Korea and Syria, remains unconvinced that the emerging deal will thwart Iran’s nuclear drive to nuclear weapons, though Kerry said he could “guarantee” this was the case.

“Now there are those who say that the Lausanne framework will make Israel safer,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday. “As the prime minister of Israel, I can tell you categorically this deal will endanger Israel — big time.”

Date:
Monday, May 4, 2015


In Israeli TV interview, US secretary insists emerging deal will ‘protect Israel'; PM: ‘It will endanger Israel and the world’


BY AP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF May 3, 2015, 11:41 pm | The Times of Israel| 

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to calm Israeli worries over an emerging nuclear deal with Iran in an interview aired Sunday, dismissing some concerns as brought on by “hysteria” over the possible agreement.

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 10 television, Kerry said the deal wouldn’t affect American options to counter any possible effort by Iran to build atomic weapons.

 

He also said he did not believe Israel would surprise the United States by attacking Iran without prior consultation, because of the “huge” potential implications.

“I say to every Israeli that today we have the ability to stop [the Iranians] if they decided to move quickly to a bomb. And I absolutely guarantee that in the future we will have the ability to know what they are doing, so that we can still stop them if they decided to move to a bomb,” Kerry said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the harshest critics of the US-led framework deal with the Islamic Republic, which offers it sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back its contested nuclear program.

 
 

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat, citing hostile Iranian rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Iran’s missile capabilities and its support for terrorist groups. In an apparent direct response to Kerry’s comments, Netanyahu said Sunday that the emerging deal “endangers Israel, it endangers the region, it endangers the world, the entire world in my opinion. So I think it’s very important to insist on a better deal.”

Kerry was adamant, nonetheless, that the criticism is misplaced, and that the deal emphatically benefits Israel. “We will not sign a deal that does not close off Iran’s pathways to a bomb and that doesn’t give us the confidence — to all of our experts, in fact to global experts — that we will be able to know what Iran is doing and prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon,” Kerry told Channel 10.

The emerging deal “will in fact protect Israel,” he said, and he vowed that the US “will never disappoint Israel.”

Kerry made clear that the US maintained all its options, including the military option, to thwart Iran.

He did not directly rule out the possibility of Israeli military action, but he said he did not believe Israel would attack independently of the US. Asked whether he thought he might “wake up one morning” to find that Israel had launched an offensive in Iran, Kerry said: “Obviously, for the most part that’s hypothetical, until we know what the circumstances are where that choice might or might not be made.”

 

He went on: “I do not believe frankly that Israel… that we’d wake up one morning and find that. I believe our relationship with Israel is such that the prime minister would talk to us at considerable length, because we would be deeply involved in what would happen as an aftermath, and there are huge implications to that.”

Netanyahu believes the potential deal leaves intact too much of Iran’s contested nuclear program, including research facilities and advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium, a key ingredient in building an atomic bomb.

“We will have inspectors in there every single day; that is not a 10-year deal, that is forever,” Kerry countered. “There is a lot of hysteria about this deal. People really need to look at the facts, and they need to look at the science of what is behind those facts.”

Kerry was robust and insistent in highlighting the Obama administration’s support for Israel. “Every week we step up to defend Israel in one forum or another in the world,” he said, citing the UN, the ICC and other institutions. “We constantly are voting, working, pushing in order to push back against unfair, biased, bigoted, degrading, inappropriate assaults on Israel’s sovereignty, integrity, and we stand up for it,” he said.

 

“In fact,” he went on, “we’re even being kicked out of entities at the UN now because we stand up [for Israel]. And we have a law that says if the Palestinians do something, then we would not pay our dues. Well guess what? Because of that we’re losing our vote in UNESCO.” He said the US had asked Netanyahu “to give us a waiver so that we can at least be able to defend Israel [at UNESCO].”

Kerry noted without elaboration that the administration had “designed and deployed a weapon that has the ability to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.” That, he said, was just one mark of “an administration and a government and a country that will stand by Israel way into the future.”

“No administration in American history has literally done as much,’ he said, “to try to help Israel in so many ways.”

President Barack Obama “wants a strong and normal relationship with the government and the prime minister,” he said.

He denied that Netanyahu’s speech to both houses of Congress in early March had sparked a crisis in ties — “I don’t think there is a crisis,” he said, though he acknowledged a flare-up over the procedure by which that speech was arranged.

 

And he didn’t accept there was poor chemistry between Netanyahu and Obama: “I don’t get into the chemistry,” he said. “I’m not here to be psychologist or psychobabble-ist. My job as secretary of state is to work with our allies and our friends. And Israel is a great ally and a great friend.”

“I am confident that the relationship between the president and the prime minster will be viewed… as one that is operating on all the critical issues,” Kerry said.

Channel 2 reported Sunday that Netanyahu told Kerry to hold off on a visit to Israel earlier this year until after a coalition is formed.

Kerry had wanted to visit in an effort to reignite peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and possibly to compel Netanyahu to meet previous promises regarding a two-state solution. Netanyahu responded by asking Kerry to arrive only after a new government is formed, according to Channel 2. Kerry himself acknowledged that he had planned to visit “sooner” but would now do so in the coming weeks.

Netanyahu on Sunday maintained his criticism of the Iran deal.

 

“We think there needs to be a different deal, a better deal, and there are those that tell us this won’t endanger Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday during a visit by US Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“I must say as prime minister of Israel, who is responsible for Israel’s security — this does endanger Israel.”

Kerry’s interview came after The New York Times reported on Fridaythat the Obama Administration is also “scrambling” to assuage the fears of its Arab allies over the deal, and is considering a range of options to placate them, some of which could come at Israel’s expense.

 

According to The New York Times report, options under consideration include: a defense pact under which the US would commit “to the defense of Arab allies if they come under attack from outside forces”; joint training missions for American and Arab military forces; designating Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as “major non-NATO allies,” a step that would loosen restrictions on weapons sales and offer “a number of military advantages that are available only to NATO allies”; and approving the sale of its advanced F-35 stealth fighter to the UAE three years after it is delivered to Israel.

The sale of F-35s could undermine Israel’s hitherto sacrosanct military edge, the paper noted.

President Obama is reportedly refusing to meet Netanyahu until after the June 30 deadline for the nuclear talks.

Pages