Pro-Israel News

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.

Date:
Thursday, March 12, 2015
 
MARCH 11, 2015 4:24 PM| By Chris Coffey| The Algemeiner|
 
The US Senate received over 57,000
emails in 24 hours from people
demanding congressional review of
any nuclear deal with Iran,
according to a statement from
Christians United for Israel (CUFI)
on Wednesday.
 
CUFI organized the grass roots
email campaign in an effort to raise
awareness about the lack of
congressional involvement in the
current negotiations with the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Every major arms control
agreement in recent history has
been submitted to Congress for
approval. A deal with Iran should
be no different,” said CUFI executive director David Brog.
 
The CUFI email campaign specifically voiced support for the Iran Nuclear Agreement
Review Act of 2015 (S.615). This legislation, among other things, directs President
Obama to promptly transmit the details of any Iranian nuclear deal to Congress. It
further directs the Secretary of State to assess the feasibility of verifying Iran’s
compliance with any such deal. The bill also limits the President’s ability to lift
sanctions againstIran.
 
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R­TN). A number of potential
2016 presidential candidates have joined Corker as co­sponsors, including Senator Lindsay Graham (R­SC),
Senator Rand Paul (R­KY), and Senator Marco Rubio (R­FL).
 
CUFI says that it has 2 million members, and is the largest pro­Israel organization in the United States
Date:
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
ByDouglas J. Feith

 

‘Extraordinarily reasonable,” President Obama called it in an interview aired on Sunday, referring to the multiparty deal being negotiated on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. When the talks began, Mr. Obama said it was “unacceptable” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Now it isn’t clear whether that is actually his view.

On Capitol Hill, distrust of the president is intense, fueled by resentment that he doesn’t intend to submit the nuclear deal for congressional approval. Forty-seven Republican senators on Monday sent a letter to Tehran explaining that a future U.S. president or Congress could easily revoke an agreement not validated by this Congress. Mr. Obama responded testily, accusing the signers of making “common cause with the hard-liners in Iran.”

Under the pending deal, Iran can maintain large nuclear facilities and continue enriching uranium. Mr. Obama says this is fine because Iran would have to allow inspections of specified nuclear sites. In response, also on TV Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I do not trust inspections with totalitarian regimes. What I’m suggesting is that you contract Iran’s nuclear program, so there’s less to inspect.”

The key, in Mr. Netanyahu’s view, is to pressure Iran to dismantle major facilities. That way, if Tehran eventually decides to abandon the deal, the regime would have to work much more than a year to produce a nuclear weapon. In addition, Mr. Netanyahu says, sanctions should remain in place until Iran stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. Mr. Obama says such demands are unrealistic. They would kill the talks, he asserts, and leave only a military option.

But at the heart of the Obama-Netanyahu dispute—and of the president’s clash with Congress—is not diplomacy versus war. It’s the difference between cooperative diplomacy and coercive diplomacy.

By taking a cooperative approach, Mr. Obama insists, the U.S. and others can persuade Iran’s ruling ayatollahs to play by rules that all parties voluntarily accept. In contrast, the coercive option, which Mr. Netanyahu favors, assumes that Iran will remain hostile, dishonest and dangerous. The coercive approach sees Iran’s nuclear program as a symptom of the hostility between Iran and the West, but not as the source of the hostility. Coercion means America and its friends would use trade and financial restrictions, diplomatic isolation and other methods (short of military strikes) to pressure a resistant Iran into changing its behavior.

When Mr. Obama says the Israeli leader has offered “no viable alternative” to the deal being negotiated, he is denying that a coercive option exists. But Mr. Netanyahu’s point is that we can have one if we try. U.S. officials would need to exert leadership by highlighting Iranian threats, prescribing ways to limit them and soliciting other countries’ support.

There are two major problems with Mr. Obama’s cooperative approach. The first is the nature of Iran’s regime. The second is the history of attempts to constrain bad actors through cooperative approaches such as arms control and peace accords.

The Iranian regime is theocratic and revolutionary. It came to power in 1979 on a wave of extremist religious ideology and remains committed to exporting its revolution. Its leaders despise liberalism and democracy. They particularly hate Western respect for the rights of women and homosexuals. The regime remains in power through torture and murder of its domestic critics. It makes frequent use of public executions—the numbers have increased lately even though President Hasan Rouhani is commonly called a reformer.

Abroad, the Iranian regime acts as a rogue. Its agents and terrorist proxies have committed bombings and other murders in countries including France, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq. A U.S. court convicted Iranian agents of plotting in 2011 to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Iranian officials foment hatred of the U.S. and Israel and call for the annihilation of both.

Iranian leaders have a long record of shameless dishonesty. Their aid to the tyrannical Assad regime has been massive since the Syrian civil war began, but they routinely deny it. And they make a practice of lying to United Nations weapons inspectors. Commenting on how the inspectors have repeatedly been surprised by what Iran hides, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, told this newspaper in 2013, “If there is no undeclared installation today . . . it will be the first time in 20 years that Iran doesn’t have one.”

 

Iran is a bad actor, and history teaches that constraining bad actors through arms control and peace accords is a losing bet. The arms-control approach is to invite bad actors to sign legal agreements. This produces signing ceremonies, where political leaders can act as if there’s nobody here but us peaceable, law-abiding global citizens. The deal makers get to celebrate their accords at least until the bad actors inevitably violate them.

Nazi Germany violated the Versailles Treaty. The Soviet Union violated the Biological Weapons Convention, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, various nuclear-arms treaties and other international agreements. The Palestine Liberation Organization violated the Oslo Accords. North Korea violated the Agreed Framework.

Patterns emerge from this history. When leaders of democratic countries extract promises of good behavior from bad-actor regimes, those democratic leaders reap political rewards. They are hailed as peacemakers. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was cheered when he returned from Munich in 1938 with “peace in our time.” These leaders have a stake in their deals looking good. When those deals are violated, the “peacemakers” often challenge the evidence. If the evidence is clear, they dismiss the violations as unimportant. When the importance is undeniable, they argue that there aren’t any good options for confronting the violators.

In the end, the bad actors often pay little or nothing for their transgressions. And even if the costs are substantial, they are bearable. Just ask Russia’s Vladimir Putin , or Syria’s Bashar Assad or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

The Obama administration has wedded itself to a cooperative policy toward Iran. The White House rejects the coercive approach as not viable. But if Iran violates its deal with us, won’t our response have to be coercive? President Obama insists that his policy is the only realistic one. In doing so, he is showing either that he is naïve and uninformed about the relevant history or that he no longer considers an Iranian nuclear weapon “unacceptable.”

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