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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jen Psaki’

US, UN Condemn Rocket Attacks on Israel by Gazan Terrorists

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a brief condemnation of the rocket attacks into Israel by Gazan terrorists on Wednesday, March 12.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the rocket attacks on Israel, but urged restraint on all parties.

In contrast, the U.S. statement noted Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s rocket attacks into Israel by terrorists from the Gaza Strip. It is reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone. There is no justification for such attacks. We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself.

Ban noted that the terrorist group Islamic Jihad had claimed credit for the attacks.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the multiple rocket attacks today on Israel from Gaza, for which Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility,” Ban’s press office said in a statement issued by his New York office.

“While reports of damage and injuries are still being ascertained, Secretary-General deplores the severe escalation of violence,” it said. “He urges all actors to exercise maximum restraint to prevent further incidents that could bring greater escalation and destabilization in the region.”

US Claims It Assisted Israel in Iran Weapons Shipment

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The big news on Tuesday, March 4, for people who pay close attention to what is happening in the Middle East, was that Israel commandeered an Iranian ship that was carrying illegal weapons which were on their way to Gaza, for use against the Jewish State.

The ship was seized late Tuesday night, March 4, by Israeli naval commandos.

In her daily briefing, the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, provided details of American involvement which had not previously been widely noted.

Soon after becoming aware of the imminent movement of the suspected vessel, the White House directed the Department of Defense to monitor the vessel and to develop concepts of operation for a range of options in order to be prepared to take unilateral steps if necessary. This is part of, of course, a robust effort on the part of the Administration. We were closely coordinated, our intelligence and military activities, with the – with our Israeli counterparts, who ultimately chose to take the lead with this case. And even as we continue our efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies.

Jay Carney, the spokesperson for U.S. President Barack Obama also spoke to reporters about U.S. involvement in the incident. Carney was aboard Air Force One when he offered his remarks, which closely tracked those of Psaki’s. He also pointed out that the weapons smuggling on the part of Iran was in direct violation United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“These illicit acts are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s Security Council obligations,” the spokesperson said, as reported by YNet.

There has not been any public mention by the Israelis of American involvement in the operation.

 

State Dept: No Guarantee Arab League Recognize Israel Even after Deal

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

In her Friday news briefing, State Dept. Spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked: since the Arab league’s offer to accept the right of Israel not to be annihilated if only it withdrew from all the territories it acquired in 1967, will the league embrace the Jewish State should a deal with the Palestinian come through, or will there be other demands?

It’s a fair question on several levels, especially if the deal, should it, God forbid, take place, is softer on territorial demands than the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

You would think that would be the problem, right? You would be wrong. It’s all about Syria.

The reporter’s question on Friday was: The Secretary has repeatedly made remarks on the Arab Peace Initiative and how it “holds out the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel.” He’s said this numerous times, but in December, at the Saban Forum, he said, “Israel would enjoy a normal peaceful relationship the minute this agreement” – as in agreement with the Palestinians – “is signed with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations, 57 countries in all.”

That was the promise – very similar to the blunt promises of sticks and carrots with which Secretary Kerry has been saturating Israel’s official, left-leaning media. That’s been the gist of Tzipi Livni’s call to give up a few negligible, ancient stones in favor of regional peace and prosperity, courtesy of our loving Arab neighbor states.

Reported continued: Now, I was with someone at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy the other day who made the note that the Arab Peace Initiative (API) has a very distinct qualification to that, which is that Israel “completely withdraw from the occupied Arab territories, including the Golan Heights.”

Indeed, the argument could be made that while Judea and Samaria are integral parts of the promised biblical Eretz Israel, the Golan’s status has always been less certain, even in Jewish sources. If Israel is tearing out its historic heartland, what’s the big deal about giving back a part of Syria?

Reporter continued: So is the Secretary working on having the Arab League amend the API, or is the hope that the Arab League put aside the API and endorse some future Kerry plan? One of those two things has to happen. Otherwise, his statement isn’t entirely accurate. Is that right?

Ms. Psaki responded: Well, as you know, we’re working with both parties on a framework for negotiations. We don’t have a final framework that’s even being discussed at this point, so in terms of what will or won’t be in a framework, never mind a final agreement, that’s not something I could speak to or we have the information to speak to.

So far nothing but hot air which has no relation at all to the question. It’s what spokespeople do.

Ms. Psaki continued: He is in constant touch with the Arab League and the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-On Committee and briefs them regularly every couple of months about the status of the discussions, the status of the negotiations, and where things stand. And they have indicated very publicly their support for those efforts. In terms of what the outcome will be and what will be needed or required, I’m not going to make a prediction of that because we have several steps to take before then.

Yes, but her boss had indeed made a prediction, it’s the centerpiece of his sales pitch to the Israelis: just say yes to some form of a Palestinian state, and the whole region will become your oyster. You can do all that song and dance and then retreat into a quiet corner and pretend you have no idea what we’re talking about, “what do you mean dance, moi?”

US Rebukes Ya’alon for ‘Offensive’ Remark that Kerry is Messianic

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

The United States  rebuked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Tuesday for having reportedly said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is “messianic,” that the U.S. proposal for security arrangements under a Palestinian Authority state are worthless and that all of us would be better off if Kerry would just pick up his Nobel Prize and leave us alone.

Ya’alon has not denied or commented on the report of his comments, made in private, exposed without a source by Yediot Acharonot. Presumably, Ya’alon has a political enemy who snitched on him.

The United States was understandably insulted. “The remarks of the defense minister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement.

The beauty of the diplomatic faux pas is that the Israeli government – if it is not comatose – will realize that it is possible to say what it thinks about John Kerry without the world coming apart.

The United States was insulted. So what?

Ya’alon finally has done what no other Israeli leader has done -  call a spade a spade and call a Secretary of State a messianic jerk.

Ya’alon is not a diplomat. He is not the greatest politician, and that is to his credit because he is more intellectually honest than others. It was Ya’alon, as Chief of Staff in 2005, who refused to turn Israeli soldiers into an Iranian goon squad to expel Jews from their homes in Gaza.

At the same time, his three-year term as Chief of Staff was due to end. The usual practice is for the Prime Minister to extend it by another year, but faced with the possibility of a loose spoke in the wheels of destruction, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dumped Ya’alon and replaced him with Dan Halutz.

Let’s not forget that it was Halutz, one year later when he was supposed to be totally focused on two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah, who was on the phone with his bank to sell shares on the stock market. When he hung up, he got back to work to lead Israel into the debacle of the Second Lebanon War.

Ya’alon is not a diplomat, but he should know that whatever he says, anywhere, can be quoted. He would not dare stand on a podium and call Kerry “messianic.”

Here is what Ya’alon was quoted as saying:

“Kerry has come to act out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling {and} cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians. The only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel prize and leaves us alone.”

He  added that Kerry’s security arrangements “are not worth the paper they are written on.”

Ya’alon issued a written statement after the report that the United States is an important ally. “When there are disagreements, we work through them inside the room – including with Secretary of State Kerry, with whom I hold many conversations about Israel’s future,” he said.

The State Dept. reprimanded him. “To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” said Psaki.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stepped on the damage control pedal in a speech in  the Knesset, which marked on Tuesday its 65th birthday.

“We are working to advance regional security and defend our interests,” he said. “True peace is founded on recognition of the nation state of the Jewish people and on security arrangements guaranteeing that territories in Palestinian hands do not turn into launching pads for terrorists. But all that [must be achieved] while respecting our important ties to the United States. We continue to defend our national interests, one of which is the continued fostering of our relations with our ally, the United States.”

Indyk Joined Israeli-Palestinian Negotiating Session, State Dept. Admits

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Martin Indyk, the U.S. envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has attended a negotiating session, the U.S. State Department said.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams reportedly will meet on Tuesday; they met Saturday in Jerusalem. The Palestinians had said last week that Indyk had not attended any of the sessions.

“Israeli and Palestinian delegations have been meeting continuously since final status negotiations resumed on July 29,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday in a statement, according to Israeli media reports.

“The negotiations have been serious, and U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk and his team have been fully briefed on the bilateral talks and also participated in a bilateral negotiating session,” the statement said. “As we have said in the past, we are not planning to read out the details of these meetings.”

The peace talks have been under a nearly total media blackout, reportedly at the request of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, since their resumption.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday told his Fatah party officials that the Palestinians are negotiating with Israel for a state on the pre-1967 lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, which he called a “red line,” Israel Radio reported.

Abbas also said the Palestinian Authority agreed not to seek statehood from and membership in international organizations in exchange for the release of 104 prisoners held in Israeli jails. He said negotiators will ask for the release of about 250 other prisoners as well.

Fatah official Nabil Shaath told the Palestinian Maan news agency on Monday that the peace talks have not made any progress, and that the Israeli side has not presented any new suggestions or proposals. He said the PA could turn to international organizations if negotiations do not bear fruit.

One session of the talks reportedly was postponed last week following the deaths of three Palestinians during clashes with Israeli troops in the Qalandiya refugee camp. The State Department denied there had been any change in the negotiation schedule because of the incident.

State Dept Press Corps Shows Israel’s Safety Irrelevant

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

If rockets are fired into Israel but no one in the U.S. State Department press corps mentions it, did it really happen?

Well, we do know that four katyusha rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into Israel on Thursday afternoon, August 22, and that some of them crossed into Israeli territory.

We also know that one of those rockets was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, that another landed in a kibbutz, and that another landed somewhere in the Western Galilee.  Although some damage was caused, no one was injured from the attacks.

Warning sirens were heard throughout the north of Israel, and the airspace over northern Israel was closed for a time following the rocket attacks.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, said in a statement: “This reinforces the threat faced by the civilians of Israel on all fronts. Such act of aggression is a clear attempt to target and terrorize the civilian communities of northern Israel, a situation that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world. The IDF will continue to operate against those who seek to harm the civilians of this country.”

But during the course of the 45 minute daily press briefing given Thursday by U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, no one in the press corps thought the firing of four rockets towards Israel from Lebanon, a front in the region that has, so far, been relatively quiet during Syria’s explosion and Egypt’s implosion, was worth even a question.

That is not to say that the issue of Israel was not brought up.  No, several questions about Israel were asked during Thursday’s briefing.  It’s just that the only issue of concern was the “peace talks.”

Said Arikat, the Washington Bureau Chief of Al Quds newspaper, asked Psaki whether there were any updates on the talks.  Psaki merely referenced her comments from the prior day’s briefing.   Arikat’s was the second to last issue brought up during the briefing.

Arikat can be counted on to consistently raise issues of concern to Arab Palestinians during the daily briefings.  There are no reporters who raise issues of concern to Israel, or ask questions from an Israeli perspective. Arikat is probably the second most voluble reporter in the state department’s daily briefings, AP’s Matt Lee being the dominating force.

IAF STRIKES BACK

Shortly before this article was published, it was learned that the Israeli Air Force struck the location in Lebanon from which the rockets had been shot.  The strike was successful and all pilots returned to Israel without incident, according to a statement from the IDF spokesperson. It will be interesting to see if what will surely be labeled “Israeli aggression” is discussed at tomorrow’s briefing.

Arikat tweeted his response to the IAF retaliatory strike: “Israel does what it does best: bomb the hell out of Lebanon yr after yr redundantly & with impunity,” linking to a story about the strike.

THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED TO CHANGE THE WORD MISSILE TO ROCKET WHEN MISSILE WAS MISTAKENLY USED IN THE THIRD PARAGRAPH.

Catholic Priest Murdered by Syrian Rebels, Possibly Beheaded

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Although there are conflicting reports about which act of brutality killed a Syrian Roman Catholic priest late last month – whether, as initial reports, including from Catholic Online claimed, he was beheaded by Syrian rebels, or as has been reported more recently, the priest was shot to death by Syrian rebels who attacked his church, there is no doubt that Father François Murad was killed on June 23 by Syrian rebels at a church in Ghassaniya, northern Syria.

The Custody of the Holy Land, a Franciscan order which is the official custodian of religious sites in the Middle East, issued a statement two days after Father Murad’s death, saying Islamists shot him.

“Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything,” it said. “When Father François tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

Father Francois had started the construction of a monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh after entering the priesthood, but that monastary was bombed during this Syran civil war.  After the bombing, Fr. Murad moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the few remaining Catholics in the area.

According to various sources, the Vatican confirmed that Father Murad had been murdered, and initially also stated that he had been beheaded.

The confusion was caused, in part, because there is a video of Syrian rebels beheading two men on June 23, and Father Murad was also murdered on June 23.

Everyone agrees that both the murderers in the video shown beheading two Syrians, and the people who murdered Father Murad were members of the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, a Sunni terrorist organization that operates primarily in Iraq and Syria.

The video of the beheadings is posted at Catholic Online. This reporter has not viewed it, but by all indications it provides a clear and graphic view of the acts of beheading.  It also shows fellow terrorists watching the murders and chanting praise to Allah.

When the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department was asked at the daily press briefing on Tuesday, July 2, about the possible beheading of Father Murad by Syrian rebels, Jen Psaki said she had not yet seen the video (using an unfortunate phrase, she said she’d “be happy to take a close look at it”).  Psaki reminded journalists that the U.S. has consistently been scrupulous about making sure that all U.S. military aid goes through the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council, to make sure the aid is going to moderate members of the opposition forces and not to terrorist-linked groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra.

While most at this point are in agreement that Father Murad was not beheaded, it is believed that one of the people shown being decapitated on the video is a different cleric whose name is not yet known.

France Says Tests Prove Assad Using Nerve Gas, US Still Not Sure

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says that he is certain that the deadly nerve agent sarin has been used by the Syrian regime. The statement follows tests in France on samples smuggled out of Syria by Le Monde newspaper reporters.

“These tests show the presence of sarin in various samples in our possession,” Fabius said in a statement. The test results were given to the UN. “France is certain that sarin gas was used several times in Syria in limited areas,” he said to France 2 television, stating clearly: “There is no doubt that it’s the regime and its accomplices.”

In Fabius’s opinion, “It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes remain unpunished.”

Fabius suggested the West’s response could range from doing nothing to directly bombing the plants where the chemicals are being produced.

On Tuesday, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria has also sent a report to the UN, saying they had reasonable grounds to believe both sides in the conflict in Syria have been using chemical weapons, listing where they believe these attacks have taken place on four occasions.

But State Dept. Spokesperson Jen Psaki, in her daily press briefing Tuesday, stuck to her uncertainty guns. A reporter asked: “Foreign Minister Fabius … has said that France is now certain that sarin gas has been used several times in the conflict in Syria. Could you please give us the U.S. reaction?”

As we all know, President Barack Obama called in April for a “vigorous investigation” of the chemical weapons’ charges, saying the use of these weapons would be a “game changer” if verified. And ever since that day, the Administration has been busy knocking down the results of those vigorous investigations, arguing they aren’t sufficiently vigorous.

Psaki responded: “We are still seeking further information, and we’re not going to, of course, evaluate other countries’ information in public… As the U.S. delegation to the Human Rights Council announced today in a statement, we welcome this latest report from the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry. We agree with its expressions of serious concern for the unacceptable levels of violence being perpetrated against the Syrian people.

Let us not forget that this is a sad chapter in Syria’s history, which began over 800 days ago with the Assad regime’s decision to meet peaceful protests with violence. Although the Assad regime has yet to grant the commission long overdue access to Syria, we applaud the commission’s tenacity in nonetheless continuing to document violations and abuses – excuse me – of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties.”

Then Psaki did the lawyerly thing, citing the UN Commission of Inquiry statement: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used. It has not been possible on the evidence available to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems, or the perpetrator.”

There you go. It’s impossible to determine the precise circumstances of chemical weapons’ use, because it’s too dangerous to go in there, on account of all those chemical weapons…

“So we understand that the panel admitted that its findings remain inconclusive and note that as we have long said, a more comprehensive UN investigation is necessary in this case,” Psaki read her summation to the jury.

In other words, what’s required for the Obama Administration to decide conclusively, is for both sides to take a few days off, to let the investigators run reliable tests in lab conditions. So simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/france-says-tests-prove-assad-using-nerve-gas-us-still-not-sure/2013/06/05/

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