Pro-Israel News

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."

Date:
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to the Western Wall Wednesday in his first post-election night public appearance after sweeping to victory and said he was moved by the responsibility placed on his shoulders.

“Here, in this place, I am awed by the historical significance of a people renewing itself in its homeland after 4,000 years,” he said, after praying at the Wall and placing a note inside its crevices. “I am moved by the weight of responsibility that the people of Israel have placed on my shoulders, and appreciate the decision of Israeli citizens to chose me and my colleagues against all odds.”

A day after he triggered a barrage of criticism for urging his supporters to go out and vote because “Arab voters were going in large numbers to the polls,” Netanyahu pledged to work for the “welfare and security of all the citizens of Israel.”

Netanyahu was accompanied to the Wall by his wife, Sara. He last went there some three weeks ago, just before going to Washington to speak to Congress. Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog went to the Wall on Sunday, two days before the elections.

Date:
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

 

By SAM SOKOL \03/15/2015 20:13| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

It is very important that European institutions take part in this effort with an “organized action plan and a clear and organized agenda,” says Foreign Ministry spokesman.

 

Last week’s call for the formation of a continental task-force on anti-Semitism by European Commission President Federica Mogherini is very welcome but steps must be taken to ensure that such rhetoric is translated into a concrete action plan, the Foreign Ministry stated.

“We welcome the initiative to set up a task force to combat anti-Semitism and hope that it will be an active force that will contribute in a real and significant way in the battle against rising European anti-Semitism,” ministry spokesman Nahshon Emmanuel told The Jerusalem Post.

It is very important that European institutions take part in this effort with an “organized action plan and a clear and organized agenda,” he added. These “most important and encouraging statements from European leaders” must be translated into “very clear action.”

Last week Mogherini told Italian daily La Repubblica that she had endorsed the idea of a taskforce to the EU commissioner dealing with issues of fundamental rights.

“I transferred the idea to Frans Timmermans, who has the formal authority in this issue, and we are already working on various initiatives,” she said, according to a translation of the statement this week on the EUobserver website.

Mogherini’s statement was welcomed by Jewish leaders across Europe although an anti-Semitism watchdog in England warned that that calls for a new body to deal with hatred “miss the essential point, which is the actual ability or willingness of member states to implement recommendations, such as those already made in existing EU and EC forums.”

Late last month American senators introduced a bi-partisan resolution calling on European leaders to appoint national anti-Semitism czars to monitor and combat hate against their countries’ Jewish minorities

Date:
Monday, March 16, 2015

While negotiations continue in Lausanne, Congress and Tehran’s parliament throw a wrench in the gears

BY AFP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF March 15, 2015, 6:56 pm| The Times of Israel|
 

 

U S Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Sunday that American was “on the cusp of entering into a very bad deal” with Iran. On CNN’s

“State of the Union,” McConnell called Iran “one of the worst regimes in the world” and said that the current deal “would allow them to continue to

have their nuclear infrastructure.” “We’re alarmed about it,” he added. “We will either be voting on a bill that would require the deal to come to Congress.

The president said he would veto that. Or if there is no deal, we’ll be voting on a bill that says the sanctions need to be ratcheted up,” he said. Last Tuesday

McConnell said debate on bipartisan legislation requiring US President Barack Obama to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for its approval should begin next week.

 

That debate could also open the door for consideration of new economic sanctions on the regime in Tehran, a move strongly opposed by the Obama administration amid ongoing international negotiations with Iran. While the US Congress continues its debate on increased sanctions, their counterparts in the Iranian Parliament are calling for an end to sanctions altogether against the Islamic Republic. In a statement, Iranian MPs stressed the need for the removal

of all sanctions, restoration of the nuclear rights of the Iranian nation and objective assurances binding the US compliance with the agreement, the Fars News Agency reported. The US bill requiring congressional review of any nuclear agreement “will be on the floor of the Senate for debate next week,” McConnell told reporters last week.

It would give Congress 60 days to hold hearings and classified briefings on the deal, and either approve or reject it. The bill was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and the panel’s top Democrat, Senator Robert Menendez. The White House has already threatened to veto the legislation because the administration wants flexibility to hammer out an accord with Iran and other international negotiators without meddling from Congress.

Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough confirmed that any nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers would be subject to a vote by the UN Security Council. “Just as it is true that only Congress can terminate US statutory sanctions on Iran, only the Security Council can terminate the Security Council’s sanctions on Iran,” McDonough said in a letter on Saturday to Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 

“Because the principal negotiators of an arrangement with Iran are the five permanent members of the Security Council, we anticipate that the Security Council would pass a resolution to register its support for any deal and increase its international legitimacy,” he said. Legislation that would impose sanctions in the event no final deal is reached by the end of July, a deadline imposed by negotiators, passed the foreign relations committee on January 29.

In Iran, Chairman of the Parliament’s Nuclear Committee Ebrahim Karkhaneyee said Sunday, “A sum of 226 lawmakers have already put their signatures down the statement which lays emphasis on the inalienable rights of the Iranian nation and calls for the removal of all sanctions.” Several Democrats including Menendez told Obama in late January that they would not vote on Iran sanctions until after March 24.

With Congress in recess in the final week of March, that would give the administration room to reach a political deal with Iran by their initial March 31 deadline. “Certainly, if no agreement is reached, we’ll need to ratchet up the sanctions,” McConnell said last Tuesday. 

Date:
Friday, March 13, 2015

By REUTERS \03/12/2015 04:14| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

SACRAMENTO - Students at two University of California campuses have passed resolutions condemning anti-Semitism after incidents on two UC campuses, including the painting of swastikas on the doors of a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis.

The UCLA Undergraduate Students Association unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday amid controversy over the tough grilling of a Jewish candidate for a student office at UCLA in which student government representatives interviewing her questioned her ability to be impartial because of her religion.

At UC Berkeley, the student senate passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism late last month, after the Davis and UCLA incidents had occurred.

"This represents an important step towards an inclusive and safe climate, especially in light of recent events," UCLA student association president Avinoam Baral said on Wednesday.

The campus incidents, along with disquiet in Sacramento after a man in the River Park neighborhood festooned his house with swastikas imposed on an Israeli flag, have prompted worries in Jewish and civil rights circles in California that anti-Semitism may be on the rise.

On Monday, lawmakers of different faiths, several rabbis and the NAACP held a rally on the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento condemning anti-Semitism. Several hundred people attended.

Speaking at the rally, Darrell Steinberg, formerly the top Democrat in the state senate, called on all UC campuses to adopt resolutions condemning anti-Semitism as well as Islamophobia and racism.

He said he was concerned that legitimate disagreement with the policies of Israel had veered into acceptance of old prejudices against Jews.

"All too often, anti-Israel feelings serve as a shield for anti-Semitism," said Steinberg, who is Jewish.

Tensions over Middle East politics are high on campuses in California, where some students and professors have called for divestment from companies doing business with the Israeli military.

Students at UC Davis voted in January to support such divestment, and last month, the undergraduate senate at Stanford passed a similar resolution.

The UC Berkeley resolution said "many incidents of anti-Semitism occur both inside and outside of the classroom on UC campuses." It condemned the swastikas sprayed on the wall of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house at UC Davis and set up a committee to examine anti-Semitism on campus.

Pages