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April 2, 2015 / 13 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

House Speaker Boehner Says Netanyahu Speech Won’t Harm US-Israel Relations

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Speaker of the House John Boehner hit back on Thursday at U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who characterized next week’s address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as “destructive.”

Boehner challenged her remarks, saying that in fact, the situation was quite the opposite.

“The president’s national security adviser says it’s destructive for the prime minister of Israel to address the United States Congress,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday.

“I couldn’t disagree more. The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel and nothing, and no one, could get in the way,” Boehner said.

The invitation by the Speaker came directly, without a first pass by the White House or the State Department, which presidential staff members have censured as a breach of protocol.

The prime minister maintains that Iran’s skyrocketing nuclear development and the pending agreement being arranged by the United States and world leaders with Tehran presents Israel with a clear existential threat. As such, Netanyahu said he cannot afford to pass up an opportunity to directly discuss the danger to Israel with America’s lawmakers.

Rice said Tuesday the prime minister’s acceptance of the Speaker’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress on March 3 is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between Israel and the United States.

“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship,” Rice said.

Boehner disagreed, saying, “What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran. That’s destructive.”

The Speaker insisted that it is important for the American people to hear what Israel’s prime minister has to say about the grave threats Israel faces.

“I’m glad that most of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, will be there” to hear it, Boehner said.

Both Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samatha Power, are expected to address the AIPAC annual convention which begins on Sunday, and where Netanyahu is also scheduled to appear.

‘5 Shades of Israel’ Debate the Issues for Anglo Votes in Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The top five political parties in Israel vied for the English-speaking vote in Jerusalem on Wednesday in a far more polite debate held at Cinema City in Jerusalem than is usually seen in Hebrew-speaking forums, in keeping with the cultural tenor of the audience.

JewishPress.com editor-in-chief Stephen Leavitt noted at the start of the event that Israel is home to nearly half a million “native English speakers” who have immigrated from countries as diverse at Australia, South Africa, the UK, Canada, the U.S. and other areas where the English language is spoken.

Representatives of the Likud, Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Tnua merger parties addressed the anglo voters on a set of five core issues. Among those that has been raising blood pressure in Israel and abroad is the Iranian nuclear threat and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned trip next week to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C.

Yisrael Beytenu representative Ashley Perry led off the responses by asking, “How can we take on Iran if we cannot successfully take on Hamas and Hezbollah? We can achieve a draw at best,” he said, pointing to the results of the recent operations carried out against terror groups in Gaza and Lebanon.

“We have to first deal with the more imminent threat on our borders,” Perry said. “We have to take the gloves off. We need to return deterrence. The next time a single rocket comes over, we need to respond with such impact that … quiet returns for generations.”

Yesh Atid representative and MK Rabbi Dov Lipman commented, “There are times when leaders speak with bravado, but create tremendous damage to Israel along the way… I see it when I travel abroad. There is a way to go about such things.” Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress, Lipman contended, is “doing tremendous damage.” He insisted the Congress could have — and would have — come up with a two-thirds vote to “override” any deal with Iran that President Barack Obama would have brought before the Congress for approval. Now, he said, “Congress cannot do anything about it.”

Hillik Bar, representing the Herzog-Hatnua parties, said he believes in “smart diplomacy” and that in essence, he agreed with Lipman. “But this time I agree with Netanyahu in that we in Israel do not believe the Iranians when they say they are using their nuclear power for peace. We know better.” The difference, Bar said, was that his party differs with Likud on how to differentiate between “those Arabs who want to live with us and those who don’t — those who want to live here INSTEAD of us. With those, we should speak with them in the language of the IDF; on this we agree with Netanyahu,” he said.

Likud representative and former MK, Professor Benny Begin’s oratorial skills prompted even the moderator to lose track of his own timekeeping — for which he later apologized to the audience.

“What a miracle,” he began quietly. “I should remind you that in the last decade and up to about two years ago, everyone agreed that Prime Minister Netanyahu was exaggerating about the Iranian threat in order to keep the debate about “internal” issues. The P5+1 was claiming there was “no weapons program” there in Iran… everyone was insisting that Netanyahu was making it up.

“There was only one person who carried that banner and he carried it high. It speaks about the far-sighted ability of Netanyahu, and his courage to carry it in the face of major opposition from everyone… These guys are a menace not only to Israel but to the whole world.

US Media Avoids Iran Opposition Group Exposure of Secret Nuclear Program

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

An opposition group in Iran was slated to reveal new information Tuesday morning about the presence of a top secret parallel nuclear program being carried out at a site called Lavizan-3.

But suddenly, after first announcing the upcoming news story and the presence of the blockbuster top secret parallel nuclear development program in Iran – the headlines vanished. The briefing by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) simply did not exist.

Instead, reports vanished about the upcoming news of the secret Iranian nuclear development program being carried on right under the very noses of the American and European negotiators while trying to reach a “good faith” agreement with Tehran.

They were replaced with headlines about “leaked cables” that reportedly showed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel’s international Mossad intelligence agency “disagreed” about the extent of the Iranian nuclear threat.

Talk about the proverbial red herring.

To his credit, CNN correspondent Nick Robertson in London debunked that myth, reporting that the Mossad clarified there “is no daylight” between the view of the Mossad and the prime minister. Robertson noted that a briefing sheet distributed to journalists about the issue included one point that seemed a bit vague – “item 9” which, he said, “someone has chosen to deliberately undermine the prime minister when he goes to the United States next week.”

While the top secret parallel nuclear development program is humming away, world powers led by the U.S. are hammering out an agreement to allow Iran to continue openly its clandestine activities, aimed at achieving an atomic weapon of mass destruction.

“The U.S. and Iran are shaping the contours of a deal that would initially freeze Tehran’s nuclear program but would allow it to slowly ramp up activities that could be used to make nuclear arms over the last years of the agreement’s duration,” Fox News reported on its website Monday and Tuesday.

The details of the six-power talks with Iran were still not fine-tuned, according to the report, which said restrictions on the uranium enrichment program would be lifted as part of the deal, along with sanctions, as a reward for “good behavior” by Iran.

News about the briefing by the Iranian opposition group, slated to take place at 10 am New York time, was non-existent however — and the original headline vanished as if it did not exist on both CNN and Fox News.

The original announcement remained on Yahoo! News but no follow-up was available, leading to questions of how the story had been squelched.

The nuclear development site itself has been kept completely secret from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and work there reportedly is continuing during negotiations with the P5+1 world leaders, including the United States.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran has previously provided highly reliable intelligence on Iran’s nuclear sites, however — and the U.S. representative office of the NCRI was slated to hold its news conference to reveal further information on the existence of “an active and secret parallel nuclear program in Iran,” the group said.

In the past, NCRI exposed some of the most significant parts of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, including information about the Natanz uranium enrichment and Arak heavy water sites in August 2002; Kalay-e Electric centrifuge assembly and testing facility in February 2003; Lashkar-abad Laser enrichment and Lavizan-Shian site in May 2003; Fordow underground enrichment site in December 2005; and Defensive Innovation and Research Organization SPND in July 2011.

It’s still not clear what happened with the briefing — nor is it clear how or why the U.S. news media suddenly ditched the story.

Senior US Sen. Charles Schumer Urges Fellow Democrats to Attend Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer called on fellow Democrats to put principles above politics this week and be in their seats March 3 when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu walks to the podium in Congress.

The U.S. has always maintained a “bipartisan policy” on its relationship with Israel, Schumer said during a radio interview in New York.

“Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on it; we ought to keep it that way.”

Vice President Joe Biden’s office announced that he will be “out of the country” when Israel’s leader addresses American lawmakers.

Schumer offered the opinion that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu “could have been done in a different way.”

As the leader of an ally in the Middle East that is “helping us fight terrorism,” Schumer said, Netanyahu has “every right to come here and speak, but he ought to do it in a bipartisan manner.”

Both of New York’s Democratic senators and all but two of its Democratic representatives will attend the session.

Long-time Congress member Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) is one of the ‘won’t go’s.

“I am certain his motivation comes more from Israel than from his American friends,” Rangel told the New York Daily News — as if the Israeli prime minister should put America’s interests above those of his own nation’s citizens.

“I think that they would have to realize that this is not in the best interests of Israel, that he does this for his campaign,” he added. The remark leads one to wonder why a New York Congress member would suddenly make a reference to an Israeli national election when the address – and the topic – was arranged months earlier.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) also plans to be absent for the session, according to the report. Congress member Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) did not respond to a query by the Daily News about her plans; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told the paper he is “consulting” with his constituents in Brooklyn before deciding. All other New York City Democrats plan to attend, the paper reported. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) commented that skipping the speech would be a political move. “I am not choosing to participate in those politics,” she said.

“I hope that things can be worked out to salve some of the legitimate wounds that people feel,” Schumer said. “I will go to the speech out of my respect and love for the State of Israel.”

Meanwhile, Iran continues to behave in the manner predicted by Israel, which deeply concerns its leadership over the likelihood Tehran will reach a nuclear threshold.

Iran is still not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters. The agency remains unable to clarify outstanding measures of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to create nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Data in both areas were to have been provided to the IAEA by August 2014.

But this is not new behavior; Tehran long ago mastered the technique of buying time for more nuclear development by stringing along Western leaders with promises of “new talks” and “negotiations” in return for delays on sanctions. The current P5+1 negotiations, slated to end in a “new agreement” by March 24, are just more of the same.

It is precisely the danger inherent in the repeated delays – and time granted to Iran that allows it to progress in its nuclear activities – that has finally prompted Netanyahu to turn to Congress directly.

Indyk, Ross Suggest US-Israel ‘Nuclear Guarantee’ Over Iran

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Former US envoy the Middle East Martin Indyk and US diplomat Dennis Ross proposed a “nuclear guarantee for Israel” on Tuesday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

Apparently it has not occurred to either former diplomat that one cannot “guarantee” the behavior of a rogue Islamic Republic.

Indyk suggested a joint Israel-U.S. Nuclear defense agreement that he called a “treaty arrangement” to address Israel’s concern that Iran is about to cross a nuclear threshold.

 The plan he suggested was similar to that proposed in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton at Camp David.

Intended as a way to ensure Israel’s safety if Iran puts the Jewish State in the cross hairs, Indyk said, “It was approved then, and the U.S. president said if there is a deal, we’ll do this.”

Ross, who serves as counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, added that spot inspections of Iranian facilities must be implemented along with stricter protocols.

“You have to ensure that you can verify that a program that has a thousand or two centrifuges is dramatically less than what is required if you have tens of thousands and you’d have to come up with an approach that allows you a high level of confidence that you can cover that,” he said. “There should be use of force worked out with the Hill that says, ‘if we catch them in the following kind of violation, the implication is we will take out those facilities.’

 “That would deter the Iranians, that would go a long way toward addressing one of the basic Israeli concerns,” Ross said.

 Retired Israeli Brig.-Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser injected a breath of reality into the discussion, however: he said flatly that Israel is clear that Iran cannot be trusted on compliance. Period.

“They would not believe [the U.S.] really mean business and it would mean that they would continue to move forward – cautiously, but continuously,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro did what he could to pour oil on the troubled waters between his country’s administration and Israel over the Iranian nuclear threat. “The United States is determined to prevent [a nuclear Iran] and we will prevent it,” Shapiro vowed. “Our cooperation and consultations with Israel on this shared goal will continue, even at moments when we may disagree with one or another aspect of the approach.”

Netanyahu Points Out, ‘If the Deal is Good, Why Hide It?’

Monday, February 16th, 2015

If the deal with Iran is so good, why hide it?

That’s the latest point driven home by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he continues to warn American legislators and world leaders against signing a deal being discussed with Iran over nuclear development activity.

The U.S. is being far more cautious in its updates to Israel on the progress of the talks taking place over the deal, apparently in response to Netanyahu’s determination to move forward with an invitation to address Congress on the issue on March 3.

The “P5+1 talks with Tehran” are scheduled to conclude – so far, apparently with an agreement in place – on March 24. Israel’s national elections will have already been held a few days earlier, on March 17.

Netanyahu contended Sunday in comments at the annual meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, held in Jerusalem, that Israel has a right to know the details of the agreement being discussed – since the Jewish State is the nation that will be most threatened by a nuclear Iran.

“If there is someone who thinks it is a good deal, why is there a need to hide it?” Netanyahu pointed out. The U.S. has gone mum on details of “sensitive information about the Iran talks,” according to a report by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, keeping Israel out of the loop out of concern that Netanyahu’s office had leaked “sensitive details” of the U.S. position.

Among the information no longer being share are details such as the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges that Tehran will be allowed to keep running – a delicate point that could mean the difference between life and death for the Jewish State.

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/congress-to-require-eu-to-reject-bds-boycott-of-israel-for-free-trade-deal/2015/02/11/

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