Pro-Israel News

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.

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

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


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.

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.”

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.

Friday, May 1, 2015

by Staff 


According to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, sixty-five percent of Americans believe that any agreement with Iran should be subject to congressional approval—increasing the public pressure on the White House to ensure Congress’ role in any final agreement reached. The current bipartisan legislation before the Senate, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, also known as the Corker-Menendez bill, is set for debate in the Senate starting today. The bill provides Congress thirty days to review any final deal reached.


There has been ongoing bipartisan support in Congress for passing legislation that would provide a role for the legislature on any nuclear deal reached between the P5+1 global powers and Iran. Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-Md.) declared, “I have always supported Congressional review of any final agreement with Iran.” Following the understanding reached in Lausanne on April 2, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said, “I look forward to a full and frank discussion with the Administration on these issues and the questions the framework leaves open, specifically including the necessary role Congress must play going forward.”


President Barack Obama originally threatened to veto any legislation relating to the current negotiations with Iran. However, On April 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committeeunanimously passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 after Corker and Cardin worked together to make changes to the original draft that would garner support from Republicans, Democrats and the White House. Following the committee vote, the White House signaled that the President would sign the legislation agreed to in committee. Following the announcement, Senator Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “The reason the administration in the last two hours has chosen the path they’re now taking is the number of senators they realized were going to support this legislation.”


Thursday, April 30, 2015

After lawmakers vote against making nuclear accord a treaty, US president warns against interfering legislation

BY AP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF April 30, 2015, 2:18 am| The Times of Israel| 


US President Barack Obama plans to veto any legislation that would depart from a deal between the White House and US lawmakers over Congress’ role in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, an administration official said Wednesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said Obama also would not support any bill that would interfere with the negotiations between Iran, the US and other world powers over its nuclear program, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate turned back an attempt to elevate any nuclear deal with Iran into a treaty, a vote that gave momentum to lawmakers trying to pass a bill giving Congress a chance to review and possibly reject any agreement with Tehran.

The amendment, filed by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, failed 39 to 57.

Supporters want the bill passed free of controversial add-ons they claim could scuttle negotiations with Tehran, draw a presidential veto or leave lawmakers with no say on a national security threat.


As written, the legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in on any final deal the US and five other nations can reach with Iran. And it would stipulate that if senators disapprove the deal, Obama would lose authority to waive certain economic penalties — an event that would certainly prompt a presidential veto.

The bill has gained tacit approval from Obama. He says he will sign it as written, but the White House warns that he will reconsider if the measure is substantially changed. Sen. Bob Corker, a lead sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the measure in its current form, has 67 backers, enough to override a presidential veto.

Corker and his supporters are trying to bat down more than 50 amendments have been introduced so far — all by Republicans.


Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid warned Republican presidential hopefuls in the Senate not to use it as a “platform for their political ambitions.” He said the full Senate should pass the bill with the same bipartisanship that occurred in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which unanimously approved the measure 19-0.

The alternative to the bill is not a better bill, he said, “it is a deal without any meaningful congressional input.”


Johnson’s failed amendment would have turned any final nuclear agreement with Tehran into a treaty, requiring ratification by two-thirds of the Senate.

The amendment failed just hours after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was national security adviser under President George W. Bush, said any Iran nuclear deal is an executive agreement that doesn’t need to be a treaty. “The proposed Iranian nuclear agreement is classically an executive agreement and doesn’t need to be a treaty with advice and consent of the Senate,” she said. “But Congress should be able to opine, given that congressionally mandated sanctions would have to be lifted.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


APRIL 27, 2015 2:51 PM | By ELIEZER SHERMAN| The algemeiner| 


Americans believe by an overwhelming majority that U.S. President Barack Obama should be a better friend to Israel, a poll of voters by Quinnipiac Universityrevealed on Monday.

When asked, “Do you think the President of the United States should be a stronger supporter of Israel or not,” 67% said yes. Twenty percent replied no, and 13% said they were undecided.

But, only 38% of respondents said they felt Obama actually was a strong supporter of Israel. Forty-eight percent said he was not, while 15% said they did not know.


The divide was clear along party lines, as 83% of Republicans said they felt Obama was not a strong supporter of the Jewish state, while 65% of Democrats said they felt he was.

Voters aged 55 and up were also less likely to believe Obama was a strong Israel supporter, with 56% saying no.

The poll also showed that most people disapproved of Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian “situation.”

Near the start of Obama’s second term, Secretary of State John Kerry launched a nine-month push in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which were ultimately followed by a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip last summer.


Only 31% of voters approved of Obama’s handling of the situation, while 55% disapproved. Among nine categories of voters, only Democrats (59%) approved by a majority the way the Obama administration has dealt with the conflict.

And on Iran, the numbers were quite similar, with 52% of voters disapproving of the way Obama has handled negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

But despite disapproval of Obama’s handling of Iran, 58% said they supported the recent framework agreement that was announced by the negotiators in Switzerland, in which sanctions would be lifted in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program. More than a third of Republican voters even supported a deal in that language.

This perhaps reflects the 77% of voters that supported a negotiated settlement to the Iranian issue over military intervention (13%).

The most recent Gallup poll put Obama’s overall approval rating at 48%.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lawmakers work out proposed legislation that would require approval for nuclear agreement

BY DEB RIECHMANN April 28, 2015, 3:15 pm | The Times of Israel| 


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate begins debate Tuesday over legislation empowering Congress to review and possibly reject any nuclear pact the Obama administration develops with Iran.

The bill approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has gained the tacit approval of Obama, and proponents are trying to discourage any changes. They recognize that politically driven amendments could undermine Democratic support and sink the carefully crafted measure.

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in. And it would stipulate that if senators disapprove the deal, Obama would lose authority to waive certain economic penalties — an event that would certainly prompt a presidential veto.


Among proposed additions to the bill are demands that Iran release any US citizens it is holding and refrain from any cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. Another insists that any agreement be treated as an international treaty, requiring two-thirds ratification by the Senate.

Another set of amendments would block any sanctions relief for Iran until it meets goals the US set years ago as negotiating stances and has long since abandoned.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Monday in New York for the first time since April 2, when world powers and Iran sealed a framework agreement. They now have little more than two months to meet their own June 30 deadline for a comprehensive accord.


Neither man spoke to reporters as the meeting got underway, but earlier Kerry told a UN conference on nuclear non-proliferation that a deal would make the world a safer place. “I want you to know the hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved,” he said. “But we are, in fact, closer than ever to the good comprehensive deal that we have been seeking. And if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.”

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates are lining up to oppose any deal with a government the US considers the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and to show their support for Israel.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wants to require Iran’s leaders to publicly accept Israel’s right to exist, a nearly impossible mandate. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas hopes to put the onus on advocates to win congressional approval of a deal, and not on opponents to gather enough votes for rejection