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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘NULAND’

And Over at the UN… Diplomats Try to Keep Israel Front and Center

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

At the U.N. Press Center, we can read

While the brutal conflict in Syria continues to dominate headlines, the world cannot afford to be complacent to the ongoing deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a top United Nations official said today, stressing the urgent need to focus on the goal of a two-State solution.

But can the world afford to nothing much about Syria?  It is not a dominant theme for peacemakers?

After all,

the conflict in Syria, now entering its 20th month has reached “new and appalling heights of brutality and violence,” said Mr. Feltman, adding that, available estimates, which the U.N. is not in a position to verify, put the number of people killed at over 30,000.

But

“While the world’s gaze of concern points elsewhere in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drifts dangerously in a direction that must be avoided,” the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the Security Council, during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

“…the creeping realities on the ground and the stalemated diplomacy portray a more worrying reality”…The parties “cannot be impervious to the warning signs of a fading two-State solution,” he added. “Nor can this Council.”

Violence and other sources of tension on the ground are making it all the more difficult to overcome the political stalemate, Mr. Feltman stated, noting concern about security in the West Bank, settler violence, continued settlement activity, Palestinian attacks against Israelis, as well as sporadic eruptions of violence in the Gaza Strip…

And what did U.S. Ambassador Rice say?

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan E. Rice said on Monday that the U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity, and will continue to oppose any efforts to legalize outposts.” Speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, Rice emphasized: “The fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties along with other permanent-status issues.”

Oh, and I caught this attempt to muddy the waters at a State Dept. Press Conference:

MS. NULAND: Thanks. Anything else? Said.
QUESTION: Scholarships for the Palestinians?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware that you have cancelled a three-year program of scholarships for the students from Gaza because of an Israeli pressure on the travel ban, and this disallows young Palestinian students, especially women, from traveling to the West Bank, and they find themselves confined to Islamic universities in Gaza?
MS. NULAND: Well first of all, let me just clarify, Said, that there have been no scholarships canceled by the United States or by our Consulate General in Jerusalem for Gazan students to study in West Bank universities. In fact, we are currently funding three undergraduate students from Gaza who are on four or five-year university degree programs in the West Bank with assistance granted through our A-PLUS programs. These folks have been studying for some time and permits have been granted for these students by Israeli authorities.
My understanding of the situation is that the Israeli high court in May opened a case with regard to the future of Gazan students studying in the West Bank. They made clear to us in the context of that that while the case was ongoing, they would not issue any new permits. So understanding that and with the school year starting, we chose this year, for the 2012 school year only, to grant scholarships to folks already in the West Bank. But it is our hope that we will be able to get back in the business of helping Gazan students study in the West Bank.
QUESTION: Are you raising this issue with Israel to allow Palestinians to travel from Gaza to the West Bank for studying purposes?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, those who are already part of our programs and were before the high court took up the case have been able to continue their studies. And we have heard from the Israelis that this is a freeze, if you will, until this court case goes forward. So we will see where we are after the court case is finished, but it’s obviously our hope and aspiration to be able to continue the program for Gazan students.
QUESTION: Thank you.

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US Aid to Egypt Blocked by Republican Congress Following Riots

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

At last, the violent rallies against the U.S. embassy in Cairo, in reaction to an anti-Islam video, and Egypt’s laxidasical efforts to defend American assets, have yielded a real result: talks about $1 billion in debt relief and millions more in aid to Egypt are suspended, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

It took Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi more than 48 hours to condemn the breach of the US embassy premises in Cairo and the removal of the American flag.

There will not be new aid approved for Egypt until after the November elections, and talks intended to ease to payment of funds that have already been approved are stalled, the officials said.

But the same officials added that the delays are temporary and do not represent a reevaluation of U.S. aid to Egypt.

“Folks are going to wait and see how things materialize both with the protests and on Capitol Hill,” one congressional aide told the Post.

The U.S. annual aid to Egypt comes to about $1.6 billion, and the Obama Administration was fully prepared to continue providing this aid, despite the election of a new government in Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, President Obama has proposed an additional $1 billion in debt relief for Egypt, whose debt to America stands at about $3 billion.

Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, since 1979. Of the $1.6 billion it receives, more than $1.3 billion goes to military aid.

The major hurdle in the path of U.S. funds to Egypt is the Republican House of Representatives which last year attached conditions to U.S. aid, most notably a requirement that the State Department certify that Egypt is abiding by its peace treaty with Israel.

Several Congress members have been proposing additional conditions. And there’s been some pushback on the part of the State Department. For instance: this week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wanted to hold a hearing on U.S. relations with Egypt, but it was canceled because the State Department refused to send witnesses. DOS instead offered a private briefing for lawmakers, a congressional aide told Reuters.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland attempted to paint with pastel colors that clash of wills between Republican Congress Members and Hillary’s DOS: “We are continuing to work with the Hill on the support that we think is important to support those very forces of moderation, change, democracy, openness in Egypt that are very important for defeating extremism of the kind that we saw,” she said on Monday.

According to Nuland, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would appear before Congress in person soon regarding U.S. aid to the Muslim-Brothers run Egypt and all the other painful realities exposed by the violent protests.

According to the Washington Post, American and Egyptian officials were in the final stages of negotiating hundreds of millions of dollars in aid just as the protests exploded outside the embassy and American flags were being set on fire.

And a delegation of 120 U.S. business leaders was in Cairo at the same time as well, as the State Department was trying to encourage foreign investment in Egypt.

Here is an excerpt from the State Dept. Monday briefing regarding the U.S. and Egypt:

QUESTION: On Egypt, you said the Egyptians have been cooperative in providing the additional security you requested. Can you talk a little bit more broadly about what the contact with the Egyptians has been like over the last few days? And what is the status of the discussions about delivery of aid? Has that been affected at all?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the White House reported that the President had a good conversation with President Morsi. I think it was before the weekend. I can’t actually remember. It might have been Friday. Right. And then the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Amr on Saturday. I think we reported that conversation out to you over the weekend. She, as you know, spoke to leaders around the region on Saturday. She also spoke to Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, FM al-Faysal. She spoke to the Libyan Prime Minister Abushagur. She spoke to Foreign Minister Davutoglu, spoke to Foreign Secretary Hague, and Foreign Minister Fabius of France.

How Not to Keep Israel from Bombing Iran

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

There are no deadlines:

The U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations to be “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Bloomberg Radio on Sunday after the conclusion of meetings at an Asia-Pacific forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Clinton said that economic sanctions are affecting Iran and the U.S. is “watching very carefully about what [the Iranians] do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”

And there are no red ones either, according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland yesterday:

QUESTION: Toria, your closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is quite upset with a interview that the Secretary gave, particularly when she was asked about redlines or deadlines for Iran’s nuclear program. Do you have positions or levels in Iran’s nuclear enrichment that you consider unacceptable and that would force some sort of change to the current stalemate, let’s say?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we have been saying for many months, and as was clear when the Secretary was in Jerusalem earlier this summer, we have extensive and ongoing contacts with our close ally Israel to discuss the full range of security issues, but obviously to compare notes on the challenge posed by Iran, and we will continue to do that…

QUESTION: Well it’s a very – will you agree that it’s – are you – is there a specific policy of being – of constructive ambiguity here? Because, I mean, not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon means many different things to many different people. As you know, the Israelis have one definition of what it means to have a nuclear weapon, and maybe you have another one. So could you provide any –

MS. NULAND: Among the many reasons, Elise, why these consultations with Israel need to be constant, they need to be detailed, they need to be private. …

So we are absolutely firm about the President’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, redlines. It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states, as we are doing.

Nuland seems to be trying to suggest that there is more going on under the surface with Israel, but Israel Hayom quoted “senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem” saying that,

Hillary Clinton is speeding up the Iranian centrifuges with her erroneous public comments … Without a clear red line, Iran will not halt its race for nuclear weapons.  … not only do Clinton’s comments not deter Iran, they actually appease it.

So to recap: there are sanctions, but Iran’s 20 biggest trading partners have exemptions. Iran still refuses to let IAEA inspectors into its test site at Parchin, where it appears that experiments related to weaponization have been carried out. The I.A.E.A. also reports that Iran is carrying out computer simulations of the destructive power of nuclear warheads. Iran continues to add centrifuges to bolster its enrichment capabilities.

But the U.S. is not prepared to issue an ultimatum. It will go no further than to repeat that “we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” but it will not say — publicly or to Israel — how far it will allow Iran to go.

The Iranians understand this to mean that they can keep on doing what they are doing, which is putting all the pieces in place to sprint to the finish line when they choose to do so. It’s by no means clear that we will know when this is about to happen, or that we will be able to act quickly enough to stop it, even if we do know. It is also generally accepted that the ability of Israel by itself to prevent Iran from building a weapon is eroding with time.

The U.S. has the power to issue a credible threat to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, as well as a great deal of its military assets — missiles, air defense systems, etc. Such a threat would most likely cause Iran to pull back and would not actually have to be carried out.

By not doing this, the administration leaves Israel with only one option, which is to try to destroy or delay Iran’s program itself. While an American threat carries the risk that the Iranians will call our bluff and provoke a conflict, an Israeli attack guarantees one.

Incidentally, it should be mentioned that the former Israeli security officials like Meir Dagan who are opposed to an Israeli attack in the near term do not believe that Iran should be allowed to get nuclear bombs. They simply disagree with the PM and Defense Minister aboutwhen there will be no other way to stop Iran. If the US persists in allowing Iran to proceed, then even Meir Dagan’s red line will be crossed.

If the administration wants to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran, it has a strange way of showing it!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/how-not-to-keep-israel-from-bombing-iran/2012/09/12/

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