Vice President Joe Biden attacked time and again the Netanyahu government which he said causes the White House “overwhelming frustration,” in a speech at the leftwing J Street organization’s annual gala dinner on Monday. “The present course Israel’s on is not one that’s likely to secure its existence as a Jewish, democratic state— and we have to make sure that happens,” Biden said.
Biden recalled his recent meetings with both Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas, concluding that “there is at the moment no political will that I observed among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations. The trust that is necessary to take risks for peace is fractured on both sides.”
According to Politico, the tone and direction of that Biden reference and his overall speech “seemed to rule out the chances of a final year peace push from the Obama administration.” Perhaps.
Biden acknowledged the attack on a Jerusalem bus by Arab terrorists that took place on the same day he was sharing his frustrations regarding the Netanyahu government’s lack of willingness to pursue the two-state solution. Biden condemned the bombing, saying it had been done by “misguided cowards.” He offered prayers to the injured and their families. Which is probably more realistic at this point than anything else the administration could do to promote its goals in the region. That should be frustrating indeed.
Biden began his speech with praise for another guest of honor, young, first-term MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Camp – Labor), who reminded him, he said, of the time he had run for the Senate at the age of 29. “May your views once again begin to have a majority opinion in the Knesset,” Biden said.
Not likely. In fact, if Labor ever wants to be a contender in Israeli coalition politics, it’ll have to move to the center—as the majority of its members have been advocating—which could mean the dropping of needless indulgences like Shaffir.
Towards the end, Biden said, “We are Israel’s maybe not-only friend, but only absolutely certain friend.” That statement will be tested in November, after the elections, when the US Administration will have to decide whether or not to veto a UN Security Council resolution unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.
State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby’s daily press briefing on Thursday touched on the ominous possibility that the Obama Administration will wait until after the November election, so as not to steer Jewish votes away from the Democratic candidate, and then, in a final splash of power, just before going down from the world’s stage, blow up a landmine in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s face and support or fail to veto a UN Security Council resolution creating a Palestinian State and ordering the hasty removal of all Jewish presence on the “wrong” side of the 1967 border.
We redacted and edited the exchange to make it a tad more entertaining. But one can smell the danger hidden in the spokesman’s evasions. Barring divine intervention, the Obama gang is planning to install a Palestinian State and create facts on the ground so that the next Democrat in the White House will have to start from that point, rather than with today’s murky uncertainty.
We join the conversation that’s already in progress…
Reporter: On Security Council resolutions – will you consider either supporting or failing to veto a resolution on settlement activity in the West Bank?
Kirby: …We are very concerned about trends on the ground and we do have a sense of urgency about the two-state solution. We will consider all of our options for advancing our shared objective of lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but I’m not going to comment on a draft Security Council resolution. Okay?
Reporter: What does that mean, we do have a sense of urgency for a two-state solution?
Kirby: It means exactly what it says and what I’ve been saying from the podium here for months and months and months.
Reporter: So you see a sense of urgency to get to a two-state solution?
Kirby: Sure we do. We very much would like to see a two-state solution realized, yes.
Reporter: I don’t understand.
Kirby: I don’t know what’s not to understand about “we have a sense of urgency.”
Reporter: Well, because there’s only, like, eight months left of the Administration. … You had a sense of urgency back in 2009; you had a sense of urgency when Secretary Kerry took over in 2012.
Kirby: So as time gets shorter, we shouldn’t have a sense of urgency?
Reporter: But if you had a real sense of urgency, you would’ve done something already, right?
Kirby: We have consistently had a sense of urgency.
Reporter: Does that mean, when you say you have a sense or urgency about this, that you’re going to try to cram something in that results in a two-state solution by the end of this Administration?
Kirby: I’m not going to hypothesize on future actions, whatever we continue to do or continue to consider, I don’t know that I would say it’s about cramming. It is about trying to move forward in a productive way towards a two-state solution. And as I’ve said before, we also look to the sides to enact the right kind of leadership to get us there, because ultimately it has to be done by them.
Reporter: But you’re not automatically opposed to a UN Security Council resolution that would call for a two-state solution?
Kirby: We’re not going to comment on this informal draft resolution.
Reporter: I’m not asking you to comment on this informal one. I’m saying that if a resolution presented itself that was evenhanded, in your view – not one-sided or biased against Israel – that called for an end of settlements, called for an end of incitement, and also called for the creation of two states, would you automatically oppose?
Kirby: Well, without getting into those provisions that you listed out there and making a judgment about that, I’d go back to what I said before, and that’s we will consider all of our options for advancing a shared objective, a two-state solution.
Reporter: And that would include a resolution?
Kirby: We’ll consider all options to advance a two-state solution.
Reporter: When you spoke of urgency, did you mean that the urgency comes from the possibility that the two states [solution will go] beyond reach?
Kirby: A sense of urgency about the importance of getting to a two-state solution, which has been a consistent point that we’ve made.
Reporter: But there’s a difference between consistency and urgency.
Kirby: What’s the difference?
Reporter: Well, if it’s always urgent, then it’s never more urgent than before.
Kirby: Well, I don’t know that I’d agree with that. Sometimes something can be always urgent and consistently urgent —
Reporter: You sound like a Foreigner song. (Laughter.) … There’s a song called Urgent. Maybe you’re too young to remember —
Kirby: No, I remember that. (Laughter). I know – I remember the song. I didn’t like it.
For the record, here’s the refrain from Foreigner’s memorable ending to Urgent:
“It gets so urgent / So urgent / You know it’s urgent / I wanna tell you it’s the same for me / So oh oh urgent / Just you wait and see / How urgent our love can be / It’s urgent.
“You say it’s urgent / Make it fast, make it urgent / Do it quick, do it urgent / Gotta rush, make it urgent / Want it quick / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / Urgent, urgent, emergency / So urgent, emergency / Emer… emer… emer… / It’s urgent.”
Reporter: There are those within the President’s party, certainly the former Secretary of State, that say that simply the venue itself is not the place to impose a solution from without. I just want to be clear that you think that, because you’re considering all of your options, you may consider the UN Security Council to be the venue to impose —
Kirby: I don’t – I’m not going to elaborate on my answer to you. I think I’d point you back to what I said before.
Reporter: Let me just follow up on this just for a second, okay? I mean, seeing how time after time you call on the Israelis to refrain from settlement activities, to cease settlement activities, you call them illegal and so on, but in fact they don’t really listen much to what you have to say. So in that case, in that situation, why not have a forum in the United Nations where the world can collectively come up with some sort of a resolution that they all agree on, which is the cessation of settlement activities? Why would you be opposed to that? Why can’t you say that you would support this at the United Nations?
Kirby: Again, I’m going to point you back to my original answer, which made it clear we’re not going to comment on a draft resolution that’s only been informally presented in New York, and that, as I said, we’ll consider all of our options to try to get to a two-state solution. So I think I’m just not going to go any further than that, Said. I know that’s not satisfying for you, but that’s really where we are right now.
(The conversation we refer to starts around min. 43:50)
Dateline, Moscow, Syria – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew from Damascus to Russia Tuesday night to thank president Vladimir Putin for saving his life and keeping in power, for the time being.
Assad has not left Syria since the Arab Spring swept through the country in 2011. He rode out the storm for a couple of months, backed by the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who called him a “reformer,” before his heavy hand of suppression boomeranged into civil war.
So far, the alternative to Assad is a worse barbarian.
President Barack Obama says there will be no peace in Syria so long as Assad is in power. Fortunately, what he says means less and less in the world, especially in the Middle East and particularly in Syria, where Putin has outfoxed and out-smarted President Obama to fill the vacuum of power.
Putin’s massive military support for Assad, ostensibly to attack the Islamic State (ISIS) but in reality to protect the Assad regime from revel groups, Al Qaeda and a host of other enemies, has erased the overdone predictions that Assad is about to disappear, one way or the other.
Everyone has been saying that for four years, including Israel’s then Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who public stated that he would be toppled within six months. That was three years ago.
News of Assad’s visit was kept secret until Wednesday morning, when the Kremlin released a transcript of the Putin-Assad meeting. The Syrian president may have returned to Syria already.
Moscow is just about the only place on earth he could have visited without fearing that he might never return to Syria, unless in a coffin, if he were lucky.
The world’s “most dangerous man,” as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Joel Brinkley once described Assad, was given a royal welcome by Putin, for whom Assad is a pawn.
Assad said during the visit:
First of all I wanted to express my huge gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian Federation for the help they are giving Syria.
If it was not for your actions and your decisions the terrorism which is spreading in the region would have swallowed up a much greater area and spread over an even greater territory.
We are ready to make our contribution not only in the course of military actions in the fight against terrorism, but during the political process
The United States is the big loser in the Middle East chess game. It lost credibility long ago with the make-believe “peace process” that has left Kerry somewhere on another planet.
It remains to be seen whether Russia one day will be sorry for trying to be in charge of the Syrian-Iranian axis if the eternal Muslim hatred of outsiders trying to tell them what to do explodes in Moscow’s face.
For the time being, strange as it seems, Israel is a winner, despite the constant threat of Iran’s nuclear development that Russia has helped fund.
Assad is a butcher, dictator, a despot and corrupt, just like almost every other Middle East ruler. However, it was clear from the fall of Hosni Mubarak that the alternative of anarchy is even worse.
If Assad can remain in power, especially if Putin calls the shots, Israel can feel more secure that the Syrian his hatred of Israel and his threats to capture the Golan Heights will remain rhetoric.
Another bonus is that with Russia in charge, the United States will make less trouble.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Madrid on Monday that the French proposal for foreign troops to maintain order on the Temple Mount is “not needed.”
It was a rare public statement that put Kerry and Israel on the same side and which was expressed hours before Israeli officials spoke to their French counterparts in Jerusalem that the idea is, to be polite, insane.
Kerry told reporters:
We don’t contemplate any change, but nor does Israel. Israel understands the importance of that status quo. What is important is to make sure everybody understands what that means. We are not seeking some new change. We are not seeking outsiders or others to come in….
We need to have clarity.
It is ironic that his remarks were made in Madrid, where the United States launched the “peace process” with the presence of then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, Jordanian and Egypt leaders, and President George H. W. Bush.
The “clarity” that Kerry said is lacking today has been messing ever since the Madrid conference. It is speculation to ask what would have happened if there had been no “peace process,” but the facts are that since 1991, the ensuing Oslo Accords set the stage for the Oslo War, aka the Second Intifada.
Israel has erased every red line except for the Temple Mount and the “refugee” issue. Concessions have cost the lives and limbs of thousands of Israelis who have been victims of Palestinian Authority “resistance,” the Arabic code word for terror.
The Arabs in Gaza, Judea and Samaria have paid a price not only in casualties but also with a miserable political and economic life that had flourished under the “occupation” until the Egyptian-born Arafat wore his camouflage of a “Palestinian” when he blew in from Tunisia.
Here is what President Bush told Congress several months before the Madrid Conference:
Peace will only come as the result of direct negotiations, compromise, give-and-take. Peace cannot be imposed from the outside by the United States or anyone else
And now Secretary of State John Kerry, even if he had enough common sense to dismiss the absurd French proposal, announces that “clarity” is needed.”
There never has been clarity since 1991 because the Americans and the Europeans cannot understand that Israel and the Arabs world never were talking the same language. The Arab understanding of “peace” is the Jewish State of Israel becoming the Arab state of Palestine.
Ever since, the United States has done the opposite and has imposed conditions on Israel, leaving a “consensus” that a future Palestinian Authority country would include all of Judea and Samaria except for large Jewish population centers such as Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. Israel would have to rely on the PA to protect Jews form terrorists.
That “consensus” no longer exists because the Palestinian Authority, contrary to Bush’s statement, understands “compromise” as “you give, I take.”
It only was a matter of time until the Temple Mount became the excuse for terror and lies that Israel is trying to change the “status quo,” at the same time that the entire Arab world is trying to change it by declaring, “No Jews allowed.”
Today, Kerry’s simple words that rejected the French proposal for foreign troops are nothing short of a shock for the Arab world. The Palestinian Authority, which called for U.N. intervention to stop alleged “excessive violence” by Israel, never intended that and never would accept non-Muslims guarding the Temple Mount.
But the fact that Kerry said out loud that Israel understands the need to preserve the status quo is a clear signal to Mahmoud Abbas that he also has to do so.
The Arab arson of Joseph’s Tomb and the attacks by Palestinian Authority police on Jews who arrived at the holy site have finally forced the Obama administration to take a stand, and it clearly is not with an ISIS-like theology against non-Islamic holy sites.
Gilad says the State Dept. believes lies to draw false conclusions, but he does not expect an apology because the Obama administration is “hostile” to Israel.
The off-and-on irritable relationship between the United States and Israel is back into the “testy” category with frowns from Washington that Israel uses excessive violence to quell rioters and terrorists and a Cabinet minister’s labeling Washington as “hostile.”
Public Security Minister and Likud hawk Gilad Erdan, speaking on Army Radio Thursday morning, accused the State Dept. of being “misled by lies.”
He said he expects the Obama administration to “clarify” its statements,” but then added:
I don’t expect anything from the spokesmen at the State Department. The State Department has traditionally been hostile to the State of Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has talked himself into trouble again. The JewishPress.com reported here earlier this week that he told Harvard University students that there has been a rapid growth of settlements and followed by noting “frustration” among Arabs.
As reported here this morning, Kerry’s spokesman John Kirby tried to roll back the remark but only make things worse by referring to “excessive violence.”
Errand’s response is bound to be raised at today’s daily press briefing at the State Dept., whose spokesmen have found it very difficult lately to answer questions by journalists who have finally realized that something is rotten in the Washington as well as in the Palestinian Authority
But Erdan’s use of the word “hostile” may have been out of order.
“Ignorant” would Netanyahu more appropriative.
As for excessive force, does anyone remember Ferguson?
The State Dept. Tuesday issued a rare condemnation of terror “against Israelis citizens’ without directly mentioning injuries to Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arab terrorists and rioters, who are called “civilians” by Western leaders and media.
Spokesman John Kirby said:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, which resulted in the murder of three Israelis and left numerous others wounded.
He added, “We mourn any loss of innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian, but the statement was a clear change from the usual “balanced” statements that express sorrow for victims on “both sides.”
Kirby added the routine comments that the United States is “in regular contact with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority [and] remain[s] deeply concerned about escalating tensions and urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.
More important is what Kirby did not say.
He did not call on “both sides” to prevent injuries, which would imply that Israel must tolerate rioters and use limited force against terrorists.
Even more significant was the omission of any reference to the Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa mosque, which is at the heart of the Arab campaign that accuses Israel of trying to prevent Muslims from praying there while supposedly encouraging “settlers” to destroy it.
Israel indeed has prevented Muslims from using the mosque as a launching pad for attacking police and Jews, as well as non-Jews, who visit the site. That is not exactly what the value of “freedom of worship” means.
The change in tone by the United States is a sign that the traditionally successful Arab lie of playing the victim is not going to work this time.
The Palestinian Authority already is churning out the same warped reports that Hamas previously has fabricated to suck the sympathy and anti-Zionist venom of the European Union and United Nations, if not to a lesser degree the State Dept. and the Obama administration.
Arab media are working overtime to tell the world that more than 1,000 Arabs have been wounded by Israelis forces, compared with only a few dozen Jews who have been stabbed or shot by terrorists,. It has headlined that more than 30 Arabs have been killed, compared with less than a dozen Israelis victims.
It wants to convince everyone that it is disproportionate when more terrorists are killed than Jews.
The official Palestinian Authority still calls the terrorists “martyrs”, and the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA website today was full of reports with headlines such as:
Israeli Police Kills Teenager, Injures another near Jerusalem.
Israeli Police Fatally shoot 3 Palestinians, Critically Injure another in Jerusalem.
It also reported that Israeli officials “claimed” that Arabs had staged the attacks.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has called on the European Union “to exert pressure on Israel to immediately end its military escalation against Palestinians in the occupied territories.”
He also “called for an end to settlers’ extremism and their daily violations in Jerusalem and the West Bank against vulnerable communities and sacred and holy sites.”
Hamdallah then urged “the United Nations Security Council to take immediate action to stop the grave Israeli escalations and provide international protection to the Palestinian people.”
UNRWA, as usual, has cooperated, and said that Israeli forces are using “excessive use of force [that] “may be contrary to international law enforcement standards.”
It made no mention of Palestinian Authority or Israeli Arab murders and attempted murders of Jews.
The United States is not buying it, and it is questionable how much the European Union will swallow it.
EU Federica Mogherini said earlier this week, “Far from preventing the resumption of a political dialogue, the latest tensions should push both parties to work together for the sake of their people.”
An Iranian court has convicted Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaiain for espionage, the regime’s ISNA news agency reported, but details of the verdict were not released.
Rezaiain has 20 days to appeal the verdict, but that is irrelevant in the Islamic Republic’s system, where everything is controlled and manipulated by the regime leaders.
He was arrested in July 2014 along with his wife, who later was released. The journalist allegedly turned over confidential information to President Barack Obama.
Washington Post’s foreign editor Douglas Jehl hit the nail on the head, telling Reuters:
It’s increasingly clear that the final decision about how Jason’s case will be handled will be made by political authorities, not by judicial ones.
Iranian officials have dropped hints that the journalist could be released, possibly along with other American prisoners, in exchange for Iranian prisoners being held in the United States.
The two most prominent American prisoners being held in Iran are Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant. A third American is former FBI agent and contractor for the CIA Robert Levinson, who was arrested in 2007. It is not known if he is alive.
Iran will negotiate a prisoner swap the same way it dealt with the Obama administration and other Western powers on the nuclear agreement, which still has not been finalized by Tehran.
It will release information on the Razaiain’s verdict drop by drop, if at all, and might even try to exploit his incarceration for more concessions on the nuclear deal before concluding a prisoner swap.