Posts tagged Netanyahu
The time of Jacob’s trouble
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,” Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now “closer than ever” to a strike designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.
The TV station’s military reporter Alon Ben-David, who earlier this year was given extensive access to the Israel Air Force as it trained for a possible attack, reported that, since upgraded sanctions against Iran have failed to force a suspension of the Iranian nuclear program in the past two months, “from the prime minister’s point of view, the time for action is getting ever closer.”
Asked by the news anchor in the Hebrew-language TV report how close Israel now was to “a decision and perhaps an attack,” Ben-David said: “It appears that we are closer than ever.”
He said it seemed that Netanyahu was not waiting for a much-discussed possible meeting with US President Barack Obama, after the UN General Assembly gathering in New York late next month — indeed, “it’s not clear that there’ll be a meeting.” In any case, said Ben-David, “I doubt Obama could say anything that would convince Netanyahu to delay a possible attack.”
The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November.
There is considerable opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the report noted — with President Shimon Peres, the army’s chief of the General Staff and top generals, the intelligence community, opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, “and of course the Americans” all lined up against Israeli action at this stage.
But, noted Ben-David, it is the Israeli government that would have to take the decision, and there Netanyahu is “almost guaranteed” a majority.
Other Hebrew media reports on Tuesday also said Netanyahu had despatched a senior official, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, to update the elderly spiritual leader of the Shas ultra-Orthodox coalition party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, on the status of the Iranian nuclear program, in order to try to win over Shas government ministers’ support for an attack. source – Times of Israel
“Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.” Psalm 129:5
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A bus carrying Israeli youth exploded Wednesday in a Bulgarian resort, killing at least four people and wounding 27, police and hospital officials said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “an Iranian terror attack” and promised a tough response.
The explosion took place in the Black Sea city of Burgas, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of the capital, Sofia. Images shown on Israeli and Bulgarian media showed smoke billowing from the scene – a parking lot at the local airport, where the Israeli tourists had apparently just landed. Several buses and cars were on fire near the carcass of the targeted vehicle.
Bulgaria, an eastern European nation bordering Greece and Turkey, is a popular tourist destination for Israelis.
It was not yet certain what caused the blast – whether it was the result of a suicide bomber or a device remotely detonated – and no group immediately claimed responsibility.
But Israelis often have been targeted in attacks outside their country, namely in India, Thailand and Azerbaijan. Israel suspects Iran of being behind these assaults, which have further added to tensions between the two nations already exacerbated by Israeli warnings against Iran’s alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Rosenzweig said a flight from Tel Aviv had landed at 4:45 p.m. at the airport and that the blast took place about 40 minutes later. The tourists were apparently boarding the buses to go to their hotels.
Witness Gal Malka told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that she saw someone board the bus before it exploded. Malka, who was lightly wounded, said the bus was full of Israeli teenagers. “We were at the entrance of the bus and in a few seconds we heard a huge boom,” she said.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Bulgarian national TV from Burgas that a person died in the hospital, bringing the death toll to four. Prior to that announcement, a doctor at the Burgas city hospital told Bulgarian radio that there were 27 people hurt – and at least three had severe injuries. He was not identified.
The airport was closed and traffic redirected. In Sofia, meanwhile, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova ordered a stronger police presence at all public places linked to the Jewish community. There are some 5,000 Jews in Bulgaria and most live in the capital.
The Israeli premier said “all signs point to Iran” in the deadly blast, though he did not offer any evidence to back up the claim. Netanyahu noted that the attack followed similar attempts in India, Georgia, Thailand and Kenya and Cyprus in recent months.
“This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world,” he said. “Israel will react strongly to Iran’s terror.”
Tehran did not immediately issue any comment
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is peaceful, has in the past accused Israel of being behind deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists.
Israel has never admitted to involvement, but it and others have accused Iran of alleged reprisal missions, including a February bombing in New Delhi that wounded an Israeli diplomat’s wife and the discovery of a cache of explosives in Bangkok that Thai officials claim was linked to a plot to target Israeli diplomats. Iran has denied involvement.
In Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku, security officials in March announced the arrest of 22 suspects allegedly hired by Iran for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and Israeli embassies and other Western-linked sites.
Wednesday’s attack also coincided with the 18th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. An Argentinian magistrate has concluded Iran was behind that attack.
Israeli officials also have long feared that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group would try to attack Israelis abroad. Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top leader in Damascus in 2008 and vowed to avenge the killing. Israel has never admitted involvement in the mysterious explosion.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Israel’s Channel 2 TV said there was no advance intelligence on an attack in Bulgaria. But counterterrorism expert Boaz Ganor said Iran and Hezbollah were the most likely culprits. He told The Associated Press that all the indications pointed toward them. He also cited the arrest of a Hezbollah operative in Cyprus in recent days who was suspected of preparing a similar attack.
“This is probably a parallel operation and likely not the last in a series,” he said. “All this looks like Hezbollah, Iran or a combination of the two.” source – AP
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off plans Tuesday for early elections and formed a unity government in a surprise move that could give him a freer hand to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The deal, agreed at a secret meeting overnight, means the centrist Kadima party will hook up with Netanyahu’s rightist coalition, creating a wide parliamentary majority of 94 legislators in the 120-seat parliament, one of the biggest in Israeli history.
“A broad national unity government is good for security, good for the economy and good for the people of Israel,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office, quoting Netanyahu.
At a news conference, Netanyahu promised “serious and responsible” talks on Iran with Kadima, and said the coalition would promote a “responsible” peace process with the Palestinians.
Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said the accord would help build support for potential action against Iran’s atomic program which Israel views as an existential threat. “An election wouldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program. When a decision is taken to attack or not, it is better to have a broad political front, that unites the public,” he told Israel Radio.
Global powers wary of war
The recently elected head of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, will be named vice premier in the new government, officials said, adding that the accord would be formally ratified later Tuesday and presented to parliament.
As deputy prime minister in a former Kadima-headed government in 2008, Mofaz was among the first Israeli officials to publicly moot the possibility of an attack on Iran.
A onetime defense minister, the Iranian-born Mofaz has been more circumspect while in the opposition, saying Israel should not hasten to break ranks with war-wary world powers that are trying to pressure Iran through sanctions and negotiations.
Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said the coalition deal “sends a very strong signal to Tehran, but also to Europe and the United States, that Israel is united and the leadership is capable of dealing with the threats that are there if and when it becomes necessary.”
Israeli officials have said the next year will be crucial in seeing whether Iran is willing to back down in the face of widespread international condemnation and curb its nuclear plans.
Israel has regularly hinted it will strike the Islamic republic if Tehran does not pull back.
Iran regularly dismisses Israeli and Western accusations that it is working on developing a nuclear bomb, saying its program is focused on generating electricity and other peaceful projects. Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.
‘A pact of cowards’
The next national election is not due until October 2013 but Netanyahu this month had pushed for an early poll after divisions emerged in his coalition over a new military conscription law. Parliament was preparing for a final vote to dissolve itself and clear the decks for a September 4 ballot while the backroom talks with Kadima were under way.
The accord stunned the political establishment and drew swift condemnation from the center-left Labor party, which had been touted in opinion polls to be on course for a resurgence at the expense of Kadima.
“This is a pact of cowards and the most contemptible and preposterous zigzag in Israel’s political history,” Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich was quoted as saying in the media, where commentators hailed Netanyahu’s political prowess.
Kadima, with 28 seats, will add significant weight to the coalition, but it remains uncertain how it will get along with religious and ultra-right parties also in the cabinet.
Inter-government relations are likely to be tested swiftly over the issue of settlement building after the high court ordered the government on Monday to demolish five apartment buildings in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Many of Netanyahu’s supporters want him to push through legislation to legalize settlements, such as the Ulpana apartments, which a court has ruled were built on privately owned Palestinian land.
It is not clear if Kadima would support such a move, which would draw international condemnation on Israel. Palestinians say settlement building is jeopardizing their chance to create an independent state. source – MSNBC
The Obama administration is blaming Israel for the recent rise in global crude oil prices, according to a Sunday report in The World Tribune. The rise in fuel prices is deemed as harming the U.S. economy and has also hurt Obama in the polls as he seeks re-election in November.
The report cited a leading U.S. analyst, Robert Satloff, who returned from talks with Israeli officials.
Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, according to The World Tribune, that the Israeli leadership saw Washington as attributing the higher gas prices to “Israel’s posturing” on Iran.
“They think the Iranians should be held responsible for the higher gasoline prices,” Satloff was quoted as having said.
He added that the officials told him the Obama administration was staging a campaign to undermine Israel.
“I cannot underscore how deep and visceral the [Israeli] comments of the leaking that came out of Washington were,” Satloff said, noting Israel is alarmed by what officials determined were leaks by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama of purported Israeli preparations to attack Iran.
The Israeli concerns come in the wake of a report in Foreign Policy magazine last week, according to which Israel has purchased an airfield in Azerbaijan on Iran’s northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely.
Journalist Mark Perry wrote that the Obama administration is monitoring Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan, particularly its military ties.
The Americans believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran’s nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.
“We’re watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we’re not happy about it,” an official told the Foreign Policy writer. Azeri president Ilham Aliyev later dismissed the speculation and said, “Azerbaijan’s territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran.” source – Israel National News
Netanyahu says Israel won’t need U.S. OK to hit Iran
JERUSALEM — Israeli aircraft and Gaza rocket squads traded strikes across the border on Thursday as the Israeli prime minister blamed Iranfor the violence from the Palestinian territory.
Benjamin Netanyahu, going a step further in his warnings to Iran, hinted that Israel didn’t need Washington’s blessing to go ahead and attack Iran’s suspect nuclear program.
Thursday’s cross-border violence tested a shaky truce Israel and Gaza militants reached this week to halt a four-day flare-up in fighting. Since then, sporadic rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes have persisted.
Israeli aircraft struck two militant sites in Gaza before dawn Thursday in response to rocket fire a day earlier. Gaza gunmen retaliated by launching two rockets at Israel by midday, police said.
No injuries were reported on either side.
In a speech to parliament on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu accused Iran of arming, financing and training Gaza militants, and giving them their marching orders. “Gaza is Iran,” he declared.
Israel considers Iran to be its most fearsome enemy, in large part because it is convinced Tehran is developing atomic weapons technology, despite its claims its nuclear program is peaceful.
In the U.S. last week, where he met with President Obama, Mr. Netanyahu was markedly more vocal about Israel’s willingness to attackIran’s program, alone if necessary, though he said no decision had been made on whether to strike.
On Wednesday, he ratcheted up the tough talk, suggesting Israel would be ready to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities even if the U.S. objected.
“Israel has never left its fate to others, not even the best of its friends,” he said, citing Israel’s 1981 attack on an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor, which at the time was condemned by the U.S.
Also Thursday, rights activists said the health of a Palestinian detainee who has been on a hunger strike for a month is deteriorating.
Hana Shalabi, 30, has refused food since her arrest by Israel on Feb. 16. She is being held without formal charges in so-called administrative detention and is demanding to be released immediately.
A doctor from Israel’s branch of Physicians for Human Rights examined her this week and reported advanced muscle atrophy and wasting, along with severe dizziness and muscle pain, especially in her chest and back.
Israel Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Ms. Shalabi’s condition is “relatively OK.” An independent ethics committee discussed her case this week and decided against force-feeding her, Ms. Weizman said, adding that Ms. Shalabi remains in her cell. source – Washington Post
Talk about sending a message! Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu today had the perfect smile, a dignified air, total respect for the office of the US president, and he opened his mouth and ‘delivered a message’ to President Obama. And that message was this – “we will strike Iran with you or without you”. Period.
From the Washington Free Beacon: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama that Israel would decide for itself whether to strike Iran.
“My supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate,” Netanyahu told Obama.
In a sit-down earlier today with the president in the Oval Office, Netanyahu pushed back against the administration’s repeated attempts to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran. “Israel must reserve the right to defend itself and after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state to, restore to the Jewish people control of our destiny,” said Netanyahu, who is meeting with the president in advance of his speech later today before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference.
Israel reserves the right to strike Iran if need be, Netanyahu said.
Obama, in a speech to AIPAC on Sunday morning, chastised those engaged in “loose talk of war” with Iran and urged for a policy of diplomacy towards Iran, which continues to enrich uranium and is suspected of clandestinely building a nuclear weapon.
The administration has also been pressuring Israel to hold off on an attack against Iran’s nuclear sites, arguing that economic sanctions require time to take hold.
AIPAC Executive Howard Kohr flatly rejected this assumption earlier today, when he told conference delegates that the U.S. “must increase the pressures on the mullahs to the point where they fear failure to comply will lead to their downfall.”
In advance of today’s meeting with Netanyahu, Obama has faced renewed criticism from pro-Israel groups over his handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, including the release of Daylight a documentary produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel highlighting his administration’s strained ties with the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East. source - Washington Free Beacon
How much longer can Obama protect Iran?
If the only the stakes weren’t so high, this might be laughable. Watching US President Barack Hussein Obama as he pulls every trick in his repertoire to keep Israel from doing what they need to do – strike Iran’s nuclear facilities – is like watching a little child trying to shovel the driveway while the snow storm still rages. He is fighting very much a losing battle, and can only forestall the inevitable for just so long. But what it does reveal, however, is just how deep his ties and loyalties run with the Muslim nation of Iran. PM Netanyahu, who I am sure is well aware of Obama’s game by this point, is getting ready to make a ‘break from the pack’. To which we say, ‘Go Bibi, and don’t look back.’ Am Yisrael Chai.
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Israel has not yet decided how to respond to concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and said there was no evidence that Iran has the “intentions or capabilities” to wage attacks on US soil.
Asked in an NBC interview whether Israel was set to attack Iran, Obama said: “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do. I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” adding Israel and the United States would work “in lockstep” on Iran.
US President Obama: No evidence Islamic Republic has “intentions or capabilities” to wage attacks on American soil; Israel and US to work “in lockstep” on Iran.
Obama, who is up for re-election in November, has ended the US war in Iraq and is seeking to wind down combat in Afghanistan amid growing public discontent about American war spending at a time when the economy remains weak.
The Democrat made clear on Sunday that he would not like to see more fighting in the oil-producing Persian Gulf region.
“Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices, we’ve still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran, and so our preferred solution here is diplomatic,” he said.
In the NBC interview, Obama stressed he was not taking any options off the table to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. “We’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating an arms race – a nuclear arms race – in a volatile region,” he said. source – JPost