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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

‘Arab-Israel Alliance’ Leaving Obama Isolated

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has jabbed President Barack Obama with a stinging remark that although Israel and the United States are friends, fears of Iran and the ISIS have forged a “new partnership” of Israel and “many of our Arab neighbors.”

Netanyahu took the opportunity of being charged with the responsibility to form a new government to say:

We very much appreciate, and will take care to preserve, our alliance with the best of our friends, the United States; however, we will continue to work to prevent the agreement with Iran, an agreement that endangers us, our neighbors and the world. We see eye to eye with many of our Arab neighbors regarding the danger posed by Iran and we also view positively the benefit that this new partnership could have for the region.

The chaos in Yemen has once again embarrassed the Obama administration by exposing another colossal foreign policy failure that has made President Obama increasingly isolated in the region.

Obama and his foreign policy gurus still hold on to the delusion that if Israel simply would agree to surrender every inch of territory that was restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967, the sky would be filled with doves of peace, pooping on Jews, instead of rocks and rockets aimed at Jews.

The biggest problem with that policy, which to be fair has been fostered by every administration in the past 40 years thanks to the State Dept., is that the Arabs world couldn’t care less about the Palestinian Authority.

Mahmoud Abbas was supposed to be the messenger for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab League to force Israel into submission and prepare the way for a Muslim takeover over “Palestine.”

Instead, corruption, mismanagement and the failure to accept the word “compromise” have left the Palestinian Authority a sorry welfare state.

When it comes to keeping the Palestinian Authority alive, it is the European Union that has forked over most of the money while the oil-rich kingdoms pledge billions of dollars and end up giving a few shekels.

Abbas has become nothing but a depreciating tool for the Arab League to use to pay lip service to the masses that Jerusalem will be the capital of a Muslim country.

One big exception has been Qatar, but its money has gone to the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization, which has been boycotted by Egypt but endeared by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan.

Given events in Yemen, both Qatar and Erdoğan, must be fretting and sweating at the idea of Iran’s adding Yemen to its real estate portfolio, which includes a good slice of Lebanon and is trying to move in on Syria.

While the Obama administration and its media groupies try to prove themselves that Prime Minister Netanyahu is isolating Israel, it is the president who is finding himself increasingly alone.

Saudi Arabia was unhappy with Obama last year after he backed off his threat to directly fight the Assad regime, which has begun using chemical weapons against opposition forces.

Add the failures of the Obama administration in Libya, Afghanistan Iraq and now Yemen, and throw in growing signs that he will call a “bad deal” with Iran a “good deal,” and it is no wonder that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Muslim allies feel more comfortable with Israel than with Washington.

Netanyahu Not Replacing Dermer

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

A source in the Prime Minister’s office said that PM Netanyahu is not planning to replace Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, according to Galey Tzahal.

The Obama administration, besides their open dislike for Netanyahu, apparently aren’t enamored by Ambassador Ron Dermer either, and the administration has purportedly demanded that Netanyahu replace him.

The source was responding to the rumors that Dermer would instead be made Ambassador to the UN, and either Yuval Steinitz or Ron Prosor would replace him.

US President Obama Punishes Israel for Re-electing PM Netanyahu

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Punishment for Israelis who chose to re-elect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week was not long in coming from U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Obama administration is now reportedly weighing the option of whether to agree to a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as well as the withdrawal of Israel from Judea and Samaria, with mutually agreed land swaps.

The resolution would force Israel to enter immediate talks with the Palestinian Authority, in advance of a final status agreement for both sides.

Obama administration officials said Thursday the White House may support passage of this new resolution, according to a report published in the New York Times.

“We are now in a reality where the Israeli government no longer supports direct negotiations. Therefore we clearly have to factor that into our decisions going forward,” a White House official said.

Major differences have emerged between the two administrations over the question of how to deal with the constant threat posed by a Palestinian Authority that succors and glorifies the terrorists in its midst.

Future contacts between Israel and the United States would be managed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Pentagon officials, the White House official added, saying, “The president is a pretty pragmatic person and if he felt it would be useful he will certainly engage. But he’s not going to waste his time.”

For decades, U.S. presidents traditionally call the apparent victor of Israeli elections after the polls have closed to congratulate them on their win. Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has received that call three times in the past, including from President Barack Obama, even during their most fractious relations – but not this week.

Instead, “the day after,” Netanyahu received a public scolding from Obama on his “divisive language” and a refusal by the American president to call his Israeli counterpart to offer the traditional congratulations. Secretary Kerry did make the call, per the tradition.

In an initial response to Israel’s election results, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the U.S. would have to “re-evaluate” its position.

On Wednesday, the White House spokesperson talked about the president’s “deep concern” over the “divisive language” used by Netanyahu’s Likud party, claiming attempts to marginalize Israel’s Arab citizens in social media posts urging voters to get to the polls to offset a high turnout of more radical Arab voters supporting the united Arab party lists. “These are views the administration intends to convey directly to the Israelis,” Earnest said. Similar efforts by Obama during past presidential campaigns among targeted populations were seemingly forgotten.

During Obama’s own electoral campaign, as GOP Congresswoman Ileana Roz-Lehtinen of Florida pointed out, the president himself used divisive language while trying to whip up support from Latinos. “If Latinos sit out the election cycle, we’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends,” he said at the time — which she noted was a “pretty divisive kind of rhetoric” as well.

“The [Israeli] election is over,” Roz-Lehtinen told Fox News. “Let’s move on.”

But in fact, that’s not happening. “They’re really sticking it to Netanyahu to this day,” she added, “… but President Obama needs to understand that the United States Congress sides with Prime Minister Netanyahu on [Iran].”

The straw that broke the camel’s back for the president, apparently, was a remark by Netanyahu during his campaign in which he stated he would not allow creation of an Palestinian Authority state next to Israel due to what is now obviously a security threat.

Earnest, however, said the president still believes a “two-state solution” is best, even though top Israeli leaders warn that such a move would pave the way for an Iranian launching pad on Israel’s borders – or worse, an ISIS terror state right in Israel’s midst.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the administration would “absolutely” continue to push for an independent PA state.

Speaking on CNN, White House political strategist David Simas congratulated Israelis – but not Netanyahu – and noted the difficult process of coalition building still lies ahead.

“Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks and we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government, and we’re not going to weigh in one way or the other, except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward.”

US Removes Iran, Hezbollah from National Intelligence Terrorist List

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Both Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, have been removed from the National Intelligence list of terrorism threats – the most authoritative document produced by the National Intelligence Agency.

Fox NewsOn The Record with Greta Susteren reported late Tuesday on information found in the unclassified version of the report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities 2015 (PDF), dated February 26, 2015. An annual report, this one was delivered recently to the U.S. Senate by National Intelligence Director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James Clapper.

The document noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Also noted was the fact that “Iranian leaders – particularly within the security services – are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran… Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses…”

The intelligence report added that Tehran’s “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige and regional influence” have led it to “pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

Whether or not Iran would choose to do so it still not clear, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment. However, if the Iranian government decides to go ahead, there exist no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon,” American intelligence experts concluded, most likely to be delivered via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News journalist Greta Susteren that he believes the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist list was not a simple “format change” as reporters were told at a briefing, but rather a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to deceive the American public.

“What we’re having now is an Orwellian example of disappearing references to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the terrorism report,” Bolton said, during an exchange with Susteren on Fox. “This was a concession, I think, by the administration relating to the nuclear negotiation. You will not find it in the signed deal.

“How many other concessions has the administration made that are not in the deal — that may not even be related to the nuclear program — in this desperate effort to get a deal?”

Meanwhile, Iran is moving to widen its sphere of influence in South America, where its diplomatic ties are already strong with Argentina and even warmer with Venezuela, which has the largest reserves of uranium in the Western hemisphere, outside of Canada.

Photos that flashed across Fox News during a report by Susteren showed a heavily guarded facility that was set up in Bolivia in 2011, allegedly with Iranian backing.

“There are elements of that facility which is supposed to be some type of military academy,” Susteren reported, “but is very heavily fortified. And the suspicion is that it’s being used by Iran as a way to have a footprint in Bolivia” which she described as “not a friend of the United States.”

Despite the disappearance of Iran from the terror map in the 2015 National Intelligence assessment, Fox journalist Cathern Herridge also noted that “the documents, the photos and Congressional testimony show that Iran is really effectively expanding its influence into South America, into our neighbor.”

In effect, Herridge said, Iran is “creating a launching pad into North America.”

Bolton concurred in his own remarks. “Look, Iran has terrorist networks all over this hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Remember, three years ago, the Justice Department indicted senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards Corps for conspiring to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington by infiltrating through the Mexican border.

“I think this is just another example of Iran’s activities.”

Obama Let 40-Year-Old Oil Supply Guarantee to Israel Expire in November 2014

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Originally published at Liberty Unyielding

The Obama administration should give lessons in passive aggression.

Eying the impending Israeli election as a political influence operation wasn’t the only thing it was doing in November 2014. It was also letting a 40-year-old strategic guarantee to Israel expire.

The guarantee, which says the U.S. will ensure that Israel has access to oil in case of security emergencies, dates originally to September 1975, when Israel and Egypt were negotiating elements of an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai after the 1973 War. Throughout those negotiations, which culminated in the 1979 peace treaty, the status of the Sinai oil fields was a core issue. Israel had obtained oil from them since occupying the Sinai after the 1967 War, when an Arab coalition attacked, and Israel seized territory to maintain a defensive perimeter.

The U.S. oil guarantee was instrumental in giving the Israelis a secure basis for withdrawing from the Sinai. The use of the oil fields was one aspect of that dynamic; another was Egypt’s closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to June 1975. The Canal closure affected trade of all kinds, and specifically had the potential to disrupt Israel’s energy supplies – as effectively, by driving prices up, as they would be disrupted by an actual cut-off.

Because of this dual vulnerability, the U.S. guarantee looks not only at whether Israel is able to obtain oil, but how much it costs her to. The guarantee can kick in for either reason. (It entails ensuring that Israel can buy oil; it’s not a guarantee that the U.S. will supply oil for free.)

A Congressional Research Service study done early in 2014, before the most recent agreement expired, can be found here. It outlines the history of the guarantee. The agreement was formalized in 1979, with an initial period of 15 years, ending on 25 November 1994. It was extended twice after that, each time for 10 years, and most recently expired – without renewal – on 25 November 2014.

Interestingly, Reuters cited an unnamed State Department official on that date claiming that State was “working on” renewing the agreement. It never happened, however, and on 12 March, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to John Kerry requesting that he attend to the matter immediately.

It’s not clear what “work” would have to be done to renew this agreement. It is clear, on the other hand, that it’s an agreement that was made for important reasons, and that those reasons are not only still valid: they are more of a concern today than they were 10 years ago. Since the last renewal in November 2004, Israel has pulled out of Gaza; the Arab Spring has thrown the region into tremendous turmoil; the threat of terrorism and guerrilla action in the Sinai has increased; and Iran’s navy has extended its operations dramatically, into the Red Sea and even the Eastern Mediterranean. The potential threats to Israeli trade, and specifically to Israel’s energy imports, have increased significantly since 10 years ago.

Israel has huge reserves of natural gas, but remains dependent on foreign sources for oil. The U.S. guarantee has never had to be invoked, but keeping it in place is far from an academic exercise. The Globes report quotes an Israeli source:

Israel has never invoked the agreement, but Israel sources say that its importance lies in its very existence. An Israeli source compared the oil supply agreement to the loan guarantee agreement between the two countries that enables Israel to obtain commercial loans at low rates of interest. “Israel used the loan guarantee agreement very sparingly, but it is important that the loan guarantees agreement should exist, and the same applies to the energy agreement that guaranteed a regular supply of oil,” the source said, “We never used it, but it’s important that it should lie signed in a drawer.”

A Big Deal: Bipartisan Senate Panel Investigates Obama Link to Anti-Netanyahu Electioneering

Monday, March 16th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

As Israel closes in on the national election scheduled for Tuesday, 17 March, Fox News has come out with an exclusive report.  The U.S. Senate has appointed a bipartisan panel to investigate the use of funds donated from the Obama State Department to the organization OneVoice, which in January partnered with an Israeli anti-Netanyahu group, V-2015 (or V15) to import Obama’s own campaign operatives for the election.  The goal of V15 and OneVoice:  to defeat Netanyahu’s Likud coalition in the Knesset.

That this inquiry has bipartisan agreement is obviously significant.  Senators on both sides of the aisle think something stinks — and that’s just the first-order conclusion.

The Fox story outlines the initial concern of the investigation: the $350,000 the State Department has funneled to OneVoice.  State says the funding is unrelated to the V15 effort in the Israeli election:

One expert told FoxNews.com earlier this month the State Department grants constituted indirect administration funding of the anti-Netanyahu campaign by providing OneVoice with the $350,000 — even though State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election.

Fox quotes an NGO funding expert who considers that a bit disingenuous:

Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor, which tracks money flows to unmask non-governmental organizations that deviate from their stated human rights or humanitarian agendas, said even ostensibly unrelated grants keep an organization going during periods it is not engaged in political activity.

But there’s another reason to parse the timeline closely here.

The timeline

The story has expanded since late January, with additional evidence that U.S. groups are involved in an effort to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu.  Alana Goodman reported at Washington Free Beacon in early February that a U.S.-based group called Ameinu (motto: “Liberal values; Progressive Israel”) sent out a fundraising memo on 17 December 2014, outlining a very Jeremy Bird-like plan to “get out the vote” and transform the Israeli political landscape.

The December memo cited consultation with “American experts,” including Obama campaign operatives.

We are already in touch with a highly talented combination of knowledgeable Israeli professionals and American experts with experience in similar recent operations, including the Obama presidential campaign.

Ameinu president Kenneth Bob told Free Beacon in February that Ameinu had indeed consulted with Bird and V15, but had since parted ways with them:

[Bob] later said that V15 and Bird’s consulting group 270 Strategies were involved in the discussions early on, but have since parted ways with Ameinu.

“When we first began soliciting funds for GOTV efforts ahead of the Israeli elections, we spoke to a number of entities with projects in mind, including Strategies 270, which ultimately became V15,” said Bob.

But that disclosure, even assuming it’s accurate, puts the State Department’s claim about when its funding for OneVoice stopped in an interesting light.  It’s obvious why the Senate thinks it needs investigating.

The State Department, as cited by Fox News, said its funding for OneVoice stopped in November (emphasis added):

State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election.

The early election in Israel was announced on 2 December 2014, when Netanyahu’s governing coalition was officially dissolved.  That means interested parties – like V15, OneVoice, Jeremy Bird, and Ameinu – were certain, less than a month after the State Department funding to OneVoice stopped, that there would be an election.

That alone means it’s hard to make the case that State Department funding was irrelevant to a OneVoice project decision that could have been in progress no later than 2 December.  OneVoice clearly could have been using, in December – and probably in January and February – money it received from the State Department in November.

But OneVoice and its partners could very well have been eying an Israeli election project before 2 December.  And since we also know that Bird and V15 were discussing an election plan with Ameinu sometime before 17 December, it becomes, at the very least, increasingly unbelievable that the OneVoice funding Bird and V15 ultimately went with was on no one’s radar screen earlier than late January, when Bird and his cohort showed up in Israel.

The big picture

The announcement of an early Israeli election didn’t come out of the blue.  In fact, it had been talked about as a possibility for months, and was publicly discussed as likely throughout the month of November 2014.  From statements by cabinet ministers in September, to speculation in October about the meaning of early Likud primaries (see here as well), to MSM statements in November that the “smart betting” was on an early election, to pointed disclosures in mid-November that Netanyahu was telling Likud leaders to get ready for an early election, the word was out.

November, or even October, was when advocacy groups and full-time political professionals would have been putting their scope on an early Israeli election.

Indeed, the phrasing of Kenneth Bob’s statement about the discussions with Bird and V15 evokes a timeline that probably did start earlier than 2 December 2014 – a bare 15 days before the Ameinu fundraising memo went out with its shaping-the-vote plan.

In that light, the timing of State’s last release of funds to OneVoice – according to State, in November 2014 – might even look like a severance for appearances’ sake.  If the Fox News report conveys the Senate’s concerns accurately, one of them seems to be with the coincident timing of Marc Ginsberg’s resignation announcement from OneVoice.  Ginsberg made that announcement on 11 November 2014.

By 11 November, as the links above illustrate, it was received wisdom in MSM reporting that Netanyahu would call for an election in early 2015.  But 11 November was also less than two weeks after the Obama administration had thrown its infamous tantrum by “leaking” the news that someone in its ranks thought of Bibi as a “chickens***.”  Moreover, 11 November was one week after the Democrats lost the Senate to a Republican wave in the mid-term election, and Obama thus lost Congress for the balance of his presidential term.

At that point, Obama’s actions on more than one front – e.g., executive amnesty; executive restrictions on firearms; ignoring Iran’s violations of the 2013 “nuclear deal” in order to press ahead with ill-advised negotiations – were beginning to show an increasing recklessness and disdain, not only for public opinion but for the prerogatives of Congress.  It would actually have been quite in character for the administration’s post-election agenda to include a strategy to campaign against Netanyahu in the widely anticipated Israeli election.

Congress may or may not be able to turn anything up with this investigation.  The Obama administration is likely to stonewall, as it so often does, and the non-profits involved may be able – ironically enough – to hide behind the IRS in declining to reveal their financial information.  (This although it may well be a violation of IRS regulations for OneVoice to fund V15’s activities in the first place – a point Ted Cruz has twice made official inquiries about.)

Apparent certitude and unity in the Senate

The fact that this is a bipartisan investigation is telling, however.

Senate Democrats aren’t moving to protect the administration from scrutiny.  That may represent fall-out from the administration’s thinly-veiled attack on New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Democrat who has opposed Obama on both his Iran and Cuba policies.  In part, at least, Senate Democrats are probably sending a signal of their own to the Obama White House.

But this goes beyond not protecting Obama.  The Democrats could have simply not participated, and thereby split the baby: neither protecting Obama nor helping the Republicans put his officials in the hot seat.

Instead, they’ve signed up for a legitimate inquiry: an inquiry whose outcome will matter.  The Fox story indicates that the investigation has been ongoing, apparently for some weeks before the public heard about it.  It’s possible – even likely – that the senators know things we don’t (not yet, at any rate).  And the Democrats, at least, can’t be in this just for the theater.

It would be remarkable for both parties to undertake an investigation they didn’t think anything would come of.  The opposition party (the GOP, in this case) would still be motivated to try to air improprieties in the president’s administration.  But the president’s own party doesn’t have a motive to involve itself, if it doesn’t expect to achieve anything more than that.

It’s not clear precisely what’s going on.  News of the bipartisan panel has been leaked just three days before the Israeli election.  The Senate is well aware that that, too, is political timing.  Whatever’s going on, it seems to be something big.

Reaction to GOP Letter Exposes Attempt to Outfox Congress on Iran Deal

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Reactions to the letter by Republican senators to Iran that a deal on its nuclear deal could require Congressional approval have exposed the Obama administration as possibly being involved in international moves to make an agreement binding through the United Nations.

The United States and other world powers have been secretly talking about going to the U.N. Security Council to lift U.N. sanctions if the P5+1 powers strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

The possibility of a Security Council resolution being considered legally binding would make the Obama administration’s statement to the contrary look ridiculous.

The open letter to Iran from the senators underlined what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and told Congress – that a deal would not be binding on future presidents.

“If there’s a nuclear deal, and that’s still a big ‘if’, we’ll want to move quickly on the U.N. sanctions issue,” an unnamed official told Reuters.

“There is an interesting question about whether, if the Security Council endorses the deal, that stops Congress undermining the deal,” the news agency quoted a Western diplomat as saying.

Iran was quick to pick up the thread,

Supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who apparently is far from critically ill or and certainly not dead, as reported last week, scoffed at the threat in the letter that Congress could alter any possible nuclear deal between the US administration and Iran. He said:

According to international norms, governments are bound to their commitments and those rules cannot be breached with the change of governments.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is also the country’s top negotiator in talks with powers, mocked the United States for acting as if it is equal to the world and stated:

I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law…..

I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law….

Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of the US obligations.

Omri Ceren, press director for The Israel Project, stated, “The letter forced the administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm.

“The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight.”

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/reaction-to-gop-letter-exposes-attempt-to-outfox-congress-on-iran-deal/2015/03/13/

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