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April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Binyamin Netanyahu’

Netanyahu Warns of Increased Iran Aggression in Middle East

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that Iran is stepping up its aggression in the Middle East – and that world powers seem to be deliberately ignoring Tehran’s activities in the region.

In his opening statement to the weekly government cabinet meeting, Netanyahu noted how Iran proudly displayed the recent shipment of the S-300 missiles Tehran received from Russia in a military parade.

“Israel views with utmost gravity the supply of S-300 missiles from Russia to Iran, especially at a time when Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region and around the borders of the State of Israel,” the prime minister said.

“Israel also views with utmost gravity the fact that there is no reference to this aggression in the agreement being made between the major powers and Iran.

“There is no stipulation that this aggression be halted, whether at the start of the agreement or as a condition for the lifting of sanctions.

“Yesterday we saw the military parade in Tehran and Iran’s exhibition of weapons to the world. Every year the missiles are bigger and enhanced – in accuracy, strength and deadliness; however, one thing does not change.

“What does not change is the inscription ‘Death to Israel’ on the missiles. Against the threats that I have described, Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend the security of the state and its citizens,” Netanyahu added.

Obama: ‘Deal Ensures Iran Won’t Have Nuclear Weapons, Will Keep Israel Safe’

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Leopards do not change their spots and Iran’s radical Islamist government is not likely to stop sponsoring terrorism either. U.S. President Barack Obama apparently does, in fact, know that — he just doesn’t think it’s important enough to stop the U.S. from closing a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Why? Because he says he believes it’s the best way to keep everyone, including Israel, safe.

Actually, Obama believes the world powers led by the United States should close that deal precisely because the Iranian government is not likely to stop sponsoring terrorism. At least, that is the way Obama explained his reasoning in an interview Monday with NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep. In the exclusive interview, he also said Israelis are right not to trust Iran, but that they can always trust America to be there to help protect them.

The interview was focused in its entirety on the issue of the nuclear deal worked out between U.S.-led world powers and Iran last week, and how it affects the rest of the world, particularly Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been especially critical of what he has called, from the start, a ‘bad deal” repeatedly urging the “P5+1” world powers to reconsider, and reformat the agreement into a “different, better deal.”

Netanyahu this week expressed his deep concern over the enhanced ability of Iran to promote its terror agenda with newly-increased funds earned when international sanctions are dropped as a result of the agreement.

But Obama told NPR he believes it is more important to keep the focus on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – via the current agreement – than dealing with anything else Tehran is doing.

“I’ve been very forceful in saying that our differences with Iran don’t change if we make sure that they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.

“They’re still going to be financing Hezbollah, they’re still supporting Assad dropping barrel bombs on children, they are still sending arms to the Houthis in Yemen that have helped destabilize the country.

“There are obvious differences in how we are approaching fighting ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq, despite the fact that there’s a common enemy there.

“So there’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran — and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime.

“But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment,” he said.

“The — I want to return to this point. We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons precisely because we can’t bank on the nature of the regime changing. That’s exactly why we don’t want [Iran] to have nuclear weapons. If suddenly Iran transformed itself into Germany or Sweden or France, there would be a different set of conversations about their nuclear infrastructure.

“So, you know, the key here is not to somehow expect that Iran changes — although it is something that may end up being an important byproduct of this deal — but rather it is to make sure that we have a verifiable deal that takes off the table what would be a game-changer for them if in fact they possess nuclear weapons.

NPR: The demand that’s being made there, of course, underlies a broader concern that Israelis have. You’re suggesting implying through this nuclear that Israel must live another 10 or 15 years and longer with a country that is fundamentally opposed to the existence of Israel. How should Israelis think about Iran in the years to come?

Obama Finally Forced to Admit Iran’s Nuclear Breakout Time ‘Zero’ in 13 Years

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

It took a lot of pressure and many more speeches and harangues by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu than anyone probably wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, it paid off:

U.S. President Barack Obama was finally forced on Tuesday to admit the truth: In 13 years – if not fewer – Iran’s breakout time to an atomic bomb will be zero.

That means the world will have practically no warning whatsoever as to when Iran actually reaches its nuclear weapons capability – if it has not already done so by then, without telling anyone.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Obama told NPR News that for the first decade following the new deal reached last week with world powers led by the United States in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tehran will be capped at 300 kilograms of enriched uranium. The president insisted this was not enough to convert to a cache of weapons-grade fuel.

But then the president said this:

What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

By then, restrictions on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles will have been eased for the two years prior – in Years 11 and 12 – which means there will already have been two years in which to gather enriched nuclear fuel.

The admission confirms just one of a long list of concerns that Israel’s prime minister had underlined to the U.S. Congress – and to the rest of the world – in his repeated explanations of why “an even greater danger” exists that Iran could “get to the bomb by keeping [this] deal.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday issued a government statement outlining “the irresponsible concessions given to Iran” in the agreement. The document also showed “how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the world.”

Among the changes demanded by Israel to the current agreement between Iran and world powers prior to the June 30 final deadline (which the United States has ignored):

  • Bar further Iranian research and development on advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges;
  • Significantly reduce the number of centrifuges available to Iran for it to reactivate in violation of the deal;
  • Close down the Fordow underground enrichment facility;
  • Require Iranian compliance in detailing previous nuclear activities with potential military dimensions;
  • Ship Iran’s stockpile of lower-enriched uranium out of the country;
  • Ensure “anywhere-anytime” spot inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The document (click here for the PDF file) also made clear – as has Netanyahu, repeatedly in statements to the media – that the current agreement “ignores the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program to Israel.” The prime minister emphasized that a “better deal” can and must be reached with Iran, “an enemy of the United States whose regime, even during the negotiations, continued to conduct aggression in the region and to call for the destruction of Israel.”

The document pointedly calls attention to the fact that under the current agreement:

  • Not a single nuclear facility will be shut down;
  • Iran is allowed to continued advanced uranium centrifuge enrichment research and development;
  • Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile program development is altogether ignored;
  • Sanctions that could be used to regulate Iran’s compliance are instead removed.

Included in the document are 10 questions aimed at those who negotiated this deal and support its passage into law:

1. Why are sanctions that took years to put in place being removed immediately (as the Iranians claim)? This removes the international community’s primary leverage at the outset of the agreement, and make Iranian compliance less likely.

Israel Quietly Acknowledges Accidental Death of Spanish UNIFIL Soldier

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

An Israeli investigator has confirmed that it was Israeli fire that accidentally killed a Spanish peacekeeper with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in January during a shootout with Hezbollah.

Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledano died after being hit in a barrage aimed at Hezbollah by Israel. The force missed and struck the UNIFIL soldier instead.

The gunfire followed an unprovoked cross-border attack with anti-tank missiles fired by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon at Israeli military personnel and civilians about seven kilometers from the border, inside Israel. Two Israeli soldiers were killed instantly and several other people were seriously wounded. A civilian home in a nearby Druze village was destroyed in the multi-pronged attack as well.

Nevertheless, Spain’s UN ambassador blamed Israel, and the United Nations Security Council was persuaded to condemn the killing of the UNIFIL soldier, implying his death was caused by Israel alone even though that was obviously not the case.

It was the most serious exchange of gunfire between Israel and Hezbollah since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a point of warning Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah on public media to “look at Gaza” before he considered his next step and decided whether to proceed with more violence or to cease the attacks.

According to a UN diplomat, Israel has submitted an apology privately to Spain, but there has been no public admission of responsibility. Jerusalem has made it clear the death was accidental, resulting from the deliberate attack on Israel by Hezbollah.

Obama and Netanyahu’s Different Versions of Same Phone Call on Iran

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The White House and the office of the Prime Minister issued two statements on a phone call between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the “key parameters” of a deal with Iran were announced, and it is difficult to believe they were referring to the same conversation.

President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu after the fuzzy agreement, as reported here, was announced, and according to the White House, Obama said:

The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.

He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel.

The readout of the call also referred to Netanyahu’s re-election, saying that Obama told the Prime Minister “that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.”

The White House did not refer at all to what the Netanyahu had to say, a clear message that he cares about what Israel thinks about the deal as much as he cares what Congress thinks.

The difference is that he has to deal with Congress, which can ditch the agreement, if it wants.

Obama did not want to tell anyone what Netanyahu said in the conversation because it would work against public opinion that the president wants to beat back Congressional opposition.

The office of the Prime Minister said of the phone call:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Barack Obama this evening and expressed Israel’s strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.

Netanyahu said, ‘A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel. Just two days ago, Iran said that the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable, and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.

This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb.  It would pave it.’

France Leaves Iran Nuclear Talks, Will Return When ‘Useful’

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is leaving the marathon negotiations that have gone into overtime led by the United States between world powers and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear technology activities.

A French official told France 24 today (Wednesday, April 1) that Fabius was leaving the talks and would return from France when it was “useful.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, French President Francois Hollande said it would be better to have no deal than a bad deal – the same opinion expressed last month by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu while speaking to the U.S. Congress.

And yet, talks are continuing in a marathon effort to reach a deal which by all accounts other than those of the negotiators themselves, appears to be a bad deal, at least for everyone other than Iran.

The deadline for talks had been set for March 31 – a supposed “hard” red line that U.S. President Barack Obama vowed would not be crossed.

Today that line was crossed with ease, in Obama’s desperation to reach a deal with Tehran – as was the “red line” set by Obama over the use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens by President Bashar al-Assad.

It was not clear what prompted the French foreign minister to leave. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had told Russia’s TASS news agency that a general accord had been reached all “all key aspects.”

Both Iran and Russia had expressed optimism in the wee hours of Wednesday as talks broke for the night that an agreement was within reach.

Hamid Baidinejad, a senior Iranian negotiator, told reporters his team is willing to talk until the deadlock is resolved. “Iran does not want a nuclear deal just for the sake of having a deal,” he said. “A final deal should guarantee the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights.”

Those rights would include unfettered Iranian nuclear research, and development into even more advanced uranium enriching centrifuges than already exist, when the 10-year limit of the agreement is reached.

Iran has been demanding that all United Nations sanctions be lifted prior to any cessation of nuclear activities without automatic reinstatement upon violation of the agreement. “There will be no agreement if the sanctions issue cannot be resolved,” Iranian negotiator Majid Takhteravanchi told the Iranian FARS news agency.

The five world powers led by the United States (P5+1) meanwhile warned that nothing could be done without concessions from Iran as well. These include access to sites where nuclear research is being conducted, a severe reduction in the number of centrifuges operating to produce enriched uranium and other issues still to be worked out.

But Israel is maintaining that the deal as it currently stands is altogether a bad deal – that no centrifuges should be allowed to operate, and that Iran should not be allowed to produce any enriched uranium, the fuel that powers atomic weapons of mass destruction.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing in Washington that U.S. negotiators won’t keep talking “until June” to reach a deal. “If we’re not able to reach a political agreement, then we’re not going to wait … until June 30 to walk away,” he said. June 30 is the date a final agreement was originally to be signed, sealed and delivered – not just a basic outline.

At this point, Obama seems to have painted himself into a no-win situation: if negotiators reach a deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, America’s allies in the Middle East will be profoundly unhappy. Israel is not the only nation that does not trust Iran’s word at the negotiating table: Saudi Arabia and many other nations in the region have been urging the United States to end the talks or — more to the point — consider a “better” deal.

Holdup for Har Homa Housing Again Looms

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

It looks like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already begun the delicate two-step into the wacky world of covert construction freezes.

Hebrew-language Israeli media reported Wednesday that a massive building project in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa was suddenly suspended — barely two days after Netanyahu got the nod to form the next government.

The City of Jerusalem and Israel Ministry of Housing and Construction both confirmed that two key planning sessions that were set for next week to discuss the next phase in the project have been canceled “for neither planning nor professional reasons,” Ynet reported.

Sources close to the project told the news outlet the plan was not being advanced due to political issues. They said the Prime Minister’s Office had not given a green light to go ahead with the meetings.

The city received approval in August 2011 to build more that 1,000 apartments in Har Homa. But that was only the very first step in what became an incredibly long process which saw endless delays. By June 2013, the city managed to squeeze out permission from the state to build 69 new homes in the neighborhood for which tenders were issued in April 2012.

Despite intense pressure on Israel by the United States to freeze all Jewish construction of any type in any area won in the 1967 Six Day War, the city of Jerusalem has not changed its construction policy in 40 years.

“We continue to build in all city neighborhoods according to zoning plans for Jews and Arabs,” a city official told The Jerusalem Post in 2013. “In the coming years, we intend to build tens of thousands of homes throughout the city for the different population sectors.” New construction is essential for the city’s development, the official pointed out, noting that students and young adults also need to be able to purchase apartments and rent homes.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel has noted in the past that the process of publishing tenders for housing construction in Israel – throughout the country – is one that affects plans for some 600,000 residential units every year, and takes seven years. Even if the tenders are issued, however, not all the tenders are used.

The Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher faces the Har Homa neighborhood, which was built in the late 1990s despite intense international and local Arab criticism. The neighborhood itself stands on 32 acres of land (130 dunam) that was purchased by a Jewish group in the 1940s, located on the outskirts of southeastern Jerusalem, facing Bethlehem. The area was known as Jabal Abu Ghneim.

During the 1948 War of Independence, the hill was conquered by the elite troops of the Jordanian Arab Legion. Its Hebrew name, Har Homa, refers to a wall built on the remains of a Byzantine church that sat on the mountain, which was visible to the Palmach forces who were stationed at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.

In 1991, expropriation of the land from various Jewish and Arab private owners was approved by Israeli cabinet minister Yitzchak Moda’i, for the purpose of completing a master plan for the capital under eminent domain.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/holdup-for-har-homa-housing-again-looms/2015/03/25/

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