Posts tagged Israel
Bloomberg: When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House tomorrow, President Barack Obama will tell him that his country could face a bleak future — one of international isolation and demographic disaster – if he refuses to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians. Obama will warn Netanyahu that time is running out for Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy. And the president will make the case that Netanyahu, alone among Israelis, has the strength and political credibility to lead his people away from the precipice.
In an hourlong interview Thursday in the Oval Office, Obama, borrowing from the Jewish sage Rabbi Hillel, told me that his message to Netanyahu will be this: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” He then took a sharper tone, saying that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.” He added, “It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.”
Unlike Netanyahu, Obama will not address the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, this week — the administration is upset with Aipac for, in its view, trying to subvert American-led nuclear negotiations with Iran. In our interview, the president, while broadly supportive of Israel and a close U.S.-Israel relationship, made statements that would be met at an Aipac convention with cold silence.
Obama was blunter about Israel’s future than I’ve ever heard him. His language was striking, but of a piece with observations made in recent months by his secretary of state, John Kerry, who until this interview, had taken the lead in pressuring both Netanyahu and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to agree to a framework deal. Obama made it clear that he views Abbas as the most politically moderate leader the Palestinians may ever have. It seemed obvious to me that the president believes that the next move is Netanyahu’s.
“There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices,” Obama said. “Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?”
During the interview, which took place a day before the Russian military incursion into Ukraine, Obama argued that American adversaries, such as Iran, Syria and Russia itself, still believe that he is capable of using force to advance American interests, despite his reluctance to strike Syria last year after President Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama’s chemical-weapons red line.
“We’ve now seen 15 to 20 percent of those chemical weapons on their way out of Syria with a very concrete schedule to get rid of the rest,” Obama told me. “That would not have happened had the Iranians said, ‘Obama’s bluffing, he’s not actually really willing to take a strike.’ If the Russians had said, ‘Ehh, don’t worry about it, all those submarines that are floating around your coastline, that’s all just for show.’ Of course they took it seriously! That’s why they engaged in the policy they did.”
I returned to this particularly sensitive subject. “Just to be clear,” I asked, “You don’t believe the Iranian leadership now thinks that your ‘all options are on the table’ threat as it relates to their nuclear program — you don’t think that they have stopped taking that seriously?”
Obama answered: “I know they take it seriously.”
How do you know? I asked. “We have a high degree of confidence that when they look at 35,000 U.S. military personnel in the region that are engaged in constant training exercises under the direction of a president who already has shown himself willing to take military action in the past, that they should take my statements seriously,” he replied. “And the American people should as well, and the Israelis should as well, and the Saudis should as well.”
I asked the president if, in retrospect, he should have provided more help to Syria’s rebels earlier in their struggle. “I think those who believe that two years ago, or three years ago, there was some swift resolution to this thing had we acted more forcefully, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the conflict in Syria and the conditions on the ground there,” Obama said. “When you have a professional army that is well-armed and sponsored by two large states who have huge stakes in this, and they are fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict — the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”
He portrayed his reluctance to involve the U.S. in the Syrian civil war as a direct consequence of what he sees as America’s overly militarized engagement in the Muslim world: “There was the possibility that we would have made the situation worse rather than better on the ground, precisely because of U.S. involvement, which would have meant that we would have had the third, or, if you count Libya, the fourth war in a Muslim country in the span of a decade.”
Obama was adamant that he was correct to fight a congressional effort to impose more time-delayed sanctions on Iran just as nuclear negotiations were commencing: “There’s never been a negotiation in which at some point there isn’t some pause, some mechanism to indicate possible good faith,” he said. “Even in the old Westerns or gangster movies, right, everyone puts their gun down just for a second. You sit down, you have a conversation; if the conversation doesn’t go well, you leave the room and everybody knows what’s going to happen and everybody gets ready. But you don’t start shooting in the middle of the room during the course of negotiations.” He said he remains committed to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and seemed unworried by reports that Iran’s economy is improving.
On the subject of Middle East peace, Obama told me that the U.S.’s friendship with Israel is undying, but he also issued what I took to be a veiled threat: The U.S., though willing to defend an isolated Israel at the United Nations and in other international bodies, might soon be unable to do so effectively.
“If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said. “If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.”
We also spent a good deal of time talking about the unease the U.S.’s Sunni Arab allies feel about his approach to Iran, their traditional adversary. I asked the president, “What is more dangerous: Sunni extremism or Shia extremism?”
I found his answer revelatory. He did not address the issue of Sunni extremism. Instead he argued in essence that the Shiite Iranian regime is susceptible to logic, appeals to self-interest and incentives.
“I’m not big on extremism generally,” Obama said. “I don’t think you’ll get me to choose on those two issues. What I’ll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn’t to say that they aren’t a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they’re not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives.”
This view puts him at odds with Netanyahu’s understanding of Iran. In an interview after he won the premiership, the Israeli leader described the Iranian leadership to me as “a messianic apocalyptic cult.”
I asked Obama if he understood why his policies make the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries nervous: “I think that there are shifts that are taking place in the region that have caught a lot of them off guard,” he said. “I think change is always scary.” source – Bloomberg
Jerusalem Arabs set ablaze a police station next to the Lions’ Gate in the capital’s Old City on Wednesday. Aryeh King, nationalist Jerusalem city councilman and member of the municipality’s Emergency and Security Committee, was present at the attack and managed to document it. According to King, police officers fled the scene.
“Unfortunately the prime minister is instructing the authorities to avoid eastern Jerusalem, and these are the results,” charged King. “Last night the funeral of a terrorist was held there, they marched from the Mount of Olives towards the Lions’ Gate attacking everything in their path and didn’t let Jews pass,” reported King. He adds that once the group arrived at Lions’ Gate they burned the police station.
King, who lives in Maaleh Zeitim on the Mount of Olives, noted that the incident merely highlights an endemic failure of the capital’s security. “The security in eastern Jerusalem is abandoned, women don’t dare go to the mikveh (ritual bath) in Armon Hanatziv, in Park Hamesilah next to Beit Tzafafa people are robbed in broad daylight,” commented King. The Jerusalem councilman added that Arab residents “build wherever they want,” without enforcement of the building laws. source – PamelaGeller.com
As far-fetched as it may seem to some, many sober-minded news outlets in Israel in the past week have been reporting the existence of a secret deal now being negotiated ahead of the Pope’s visit to Israel in May. If true, it would be the single biggest advancement of bible prophecy since May 14, 1948. Interesting side note, the Pope’s visit in May will coincide with the 66th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation again. Hmm, now that’s interesting…
From Israel Today: Israel could be entering the final stages of negotiations to turn over control of Mount Zion to the Vatican, if recent reports by Israel National News are to be believed. According to the online news source, a secretive meeting took place this week between the Jerusalem Municipality, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Tourism and senior Catholic officials.
During the meeting, the Catholic delegation reportedly pressed Israel to follow through on a years-old proposal to give the Church control over the compound that houses the traditional “Hall of the Last Supper.”
The problem is that the same compound also houses the traditional “Tomb of David,” a holy site revered and frequented by religious Jews. Not to mention that Mount Zion is symbolic of Jerusalem as a whole, and surrendering it to the Vatican would be seen by many Israelis as a repudiation of Judaism’s claim to the city.
In response to reports regarding the negotiations, the Jerusalem Municipality released a statement insisting that it would remain “the central sovereign power on Mount Zion.” Others are not so sure, and believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to turn over control of Mount Zion prior to Pope Francis‘ visit to the Holy Land in May. source – Israel Today
JPost: Israeli warplanes have struck Hezbollah targets near the Lebanese-Syria border, the Lebanese press reported late Monday evening. The hits were reportedly near the Lebanese towns of Janta and Yahfoufa, and were carried out by multiple planes on multiple targets.
According to the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, IAF jets flew two bombing sorties against a Hezbollah post in the Nabi Sheet area on the border between Lebanon and Syria. A Lebanese security source is quoted by The Daily Star as saying that Janta is known to be a hotbed of Hezbollah recruitment and training. It is also considered a key stop on the route through which arms are smuggled between Lebanon and Syria.
Eyewitnesses told the Lebanese press that the IAF jets were seen flying out to sea and back toward Israel. Thus far, the Israeli army has refused to comment on the reports.
In August 2013, unnamed US officials told The New York Times that a July 5 IAF strike on a Syrian warehouse near Latakia targeted Russian-made Yakhont missiles destined for Hezbollah, and that the strike failed to destroy all of the missiles.
At the end of January, foreign reports claimed that Israeli fighter jets flying over northern Lebanon struck Latakia again. Some reports speculated that the targets were S-300 air defense systems destined for Hezbollah.
Foreign media reports have attributed five alleged Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria in 2013, reportedly to prevent the transfer of strategic arms to Hezbollah.
These include an alleged strike on a convoy ferrying SA-17 air defense missiles from Syria to Hezbollah in January, and two strikes in May in the Damascus area, targeting storage facilities housing guided, medium-range, Iranian Fateh-110 missiles.
Following the reports of strikes in May, a Syrian army post near the Israeli border opened fire at IDF soldiers patrolling the frontier. The IDF returned fire with a guided Tamuz surface-to-surface missile, destroying the post and hitting two Syrian soldiers. There were no injuries on the Israeli side. A few days earlier, two Syrian mortar shells slammed into Mount Hermon. source – JPost
WHEN A FLY FALLS INTO A CUP OF COFFEE
The Italian: throws the cup, breaks it and walks away in a fit of rage.
The German: carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it and makes a new cup of coffee.
The Frenchman: takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.
The Chinese: eats the fly and throws away the coffee.
The Russian: drinks the coffee with the fly, since it came with no extra charge.
The Israeli: sells the coffee to the Frenchman, sells the fly to the Chinese, sells the cup to the Italian, drinks a cup of tea and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.
The Palestinian: blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act to the UN as an act of aggression, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, Frenchman, Chinese, German and Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give his cup of tea to the Palestinian.
In the latest in a series of warnings against the US, Iran’s chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi warned the Islamic republic’s foes that Iran is prepared for a “decisive battle” if attacked. “We are ready for the decisive battle with America and the Zionist regime (Israel),” Fars news agency quoted Firouzabadi as saying Wednesday.
He also warned neighboring nations not to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from their soil. “We do not have any hostility toward regional states, but if we are ever attacked from the American bases in the region we will strike that area back,” he said.
Washington has many military bases in the region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. US Secretary of State John Kerry said late last month that if diplomacy with Iran fails, “the military option of the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.”
But Firouzabadi accused the US of bluffing.
“Over the past decade, they brought their forces but came to the conclusion that they can’t attack us, and left,” he said, dismissing the US military threat as nothing but a “political bluff.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the West should not have any delusions about using a military option.
“I say explicitly, if some have delusions of having any threats against Iran on their tables, they need to wear new glasses. There is no military option against Iran on any table in the world,” he said.
On Sunday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy Commander Ali Fadavi said the US knows that its aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf would be sunk if it launched a military strike on Iran.
“The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea,” said Fadavi, according to Fars news agency.
“They cannot hide themselves in the sea since the entire Middle East region, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are monitored by us and there is no place for them to hide.”
Also Sunday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan touted the Iranian military’s ability to respond to an American attack, Fars reported.
“The Iranian Armed Forces are an intertwined and coherent complex that can give a decisive response to any threat at any level and any place under the command of the commander-in-chief,” Dehqan said in a ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of the revolution that brought the current Islamic regime to power.
“The enemy can never assess and think of the range of the response given by the powerful and mighty Armed Forces of the Islamic Iran,” he added.
The bellicose rhetoric follows Saturday’s announcement by an Iranian admiral that Iran had dispatched warships to the North Atlantic, while Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the Americans as liars who, while professing to be friends of Tehran, would bring down his regime if they could. He also said it was “amusing” that the US thought Iran would reduce its “defensive capabilities.”
On Friday, Iranian state TV ran a documentary featuring a computerized video of Iran’s drones and missiles bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor in a simulated retaliation for a hypothetical Israeli or American strike on the Islamic Republic.
Iran is due to resume talks on Monday in Vienna with the P5+1 — Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany — aimed at reaching a comprehensive nuclear accord following a landmark interim agreement struck in November.
Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian program, allegations denied by Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful. Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if diplomacy fails. source – Times of Israel
For the past 5 years, US occupying president Barack Hussein Obama has done a political tap dance on par with anything that Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire did on the ballroom floor in their primes. Obama has nearly single-handedly coddled, cajoled and maneuvered world leaders and situations to allow Iran all the time and space they needed to bring nuclear reactors online and create the bomb(s) that will be fired at Israel.
Critical mass has been achieved with today’s announcement from US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that Iran can now build the bombs that Hillary, Obama and others promised would never be built.
TOI: Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected.
In the “US Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.
“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”
In the past year alone, the report states, Iran has enhanced its centrifuge designs, increased the number of centrifuges, and amassed a larger quantity of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride. These advancements have placed Iran in a better position to produce weapons-grade uranium. source – Times Of Israel