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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Obama Facing Vocal Opposition to Freeing Pollard

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

President Barack Obama is taking it on the chin for the suggestion that the United States free Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel’s releasing terrorists and agreeing to a partial building freeze on building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria – all of this in order to keep Israel and Palestinian Authority on the diplomatic war path for another year.

Obama has repeatedly rejected any idea that Pollard be freed from his life punishment for passing on to Israel classified information during his work for the Pentagon.

Maybe the president is smoking something strange. He talked his way into office, and now he is doing a great job in proving he is not much of anything besides a  great orator and a brilliant comedian.

But his handling of “Pollard for terrorists and peace talks” is no joke.

It would be interesting which presidential advisers came up with the horrendous notion of freeing Pollard so Israel can free terrorists so John Kerry can talk  and talk.

Obama is ultimately responsible, as the buck stopped at his desk when he backed the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, backed the Muslim Brotherhood regime, backed the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime, backed military action against Syria and backed no military action in Syria.

It is a small wonder that an Associated Press poll released last week showed that only 59 percent, and not 89 percent, of Americans disapprove of the way he is running the country.

Even The New York Times would have a hard time coming up with an excuse for the immorality of deciding that Pollard can go free because the President of the United States thinks that the security of Americans is dependent on another year of tortured conversations between American mediators and negotiators for the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Dozens of American officials and former officials have said Pollard was dealt a fixed deck and an unfair trial.

Although anyone who knows how much or how little damage Pollard has done to the United States isn’t talking, perceptions are more important than the truth when it comes good ol’ American patriotism.

The Pollard episode, for whatever harm it may have done to the United States, did more harm to the American ego.

The revelation that Pollard worked as a double agent made him a traitor in the eyes of millions of Americans, and U.S. media still report he was convicted for “spying,” which is not true.

Obama showed some cold feet Tuesday, and White House press secretary Jay Carney said “no decision” has been made.

Criticism of freeing Pollard is coming from all quarters, including defense and intelligence officials, politicians and even a former Middle East negotiator.

“I think what he did is exceeded only by Edward Snowden,” Retired Adm. Thomas Brooks told Foreign Policy.

The Christian Science Monitor reported, “Pollard peddled secrets that included details of US spy satellites, analyses of foreign missile systems, and the extent of NSA surveillance of foreign governments.

“He reportedly offered material to South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan, and was in touch with officials in Pakistan. Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger testified in court that the US national security community suspects that much of what Pollard stole ended up with the Soviet Union, through the USSR’s own network of spies and moles.”

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote in TIME Magazine, “Releasing Pollard… reflects the weakness and desperation of an administration that is presiding over a peace process not yet ready for prime time.

“What does the administration get for releasing Pollard — something none of its predecessors agreed to do? A final deal on Middle East peace? How about just an agreed framework to guide the negotiations? How about agreement on just one ball-busting-tough issue like borders or Jerusalem?

Pollard Refused to Attend Parole Hearing

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Jonathan Pollard may have ditched the deal in the making by which the Obama administration would free him from his life sentence in a U.S. federal prison cell if Israel agrees to release terrorists “with blood on their hands” along with several other security prisoners

Patricia Smoot, a member of the U.S. Parole Commission, said on Tuesday that Pollard has waived a planned parole hearing for the same day, the Associated Press reported.

The hearing was to be held at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., where Pollard is imprisoned.

No reason was stated for Pollard’s refusal, but it is possible that he is protesting the proposal that he be exchanged for terrorists. Israel also has promised to limit construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria so U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry can prolong his peace process saga for another year.

Others claim that Pollard did not show up for the hearing because his lawyers postponed it for procedural reasons.

Israel’s Housing Minister Uri Ariel commented on Tuesday, “I was personally told he is against being released in such a shameful deal.”

Pollard previously has objected to his being used as a bargaining chip in a mass release of Palestinian Authority terrorists by Israel.

It won’t be known until Wednesday, when Kerry arrives in Ramallah, if the deal will go through, but Pollard’s refusal to attend a parole hearing could cause problems for the Obama administration. Many U.S. intelligence and defense officials, as well as a large number of dyed-in-the-wool Americans, would prefer that Pollard die in jail, especially if his release is for no other reason than extending the failed peace process for another year.

Rumor Mill Turns Pollard into a Bargaining Chip

Monday, March 31st, 2014

The media’s favorite “anonymous but official” sources are spreading the word that the Obama administration may be willing to release Jonathan Pollard if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu frees a few hundred terrorists, possibly including those with Israeli citizenship.

It is far from a done deal, but where there is smoke, there is fire, the same smoke that was blowing last week when the same story made the rounds, as reported here.

This time it is more serious because  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must come up with the goods this week in order to keep his peace talks fantasy from disappearing into thin air.

President Barack Obama has consistently said that Pollard committed a “serious crime” and will not be pardoned, but it is no secret that one of his positions often take a back seat to one of his dearest principles, which is to control other leaders, especially Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli officials confirmed that the Obama administration has been willing to discuss the subject of freeing Pollard but added they have little hope that anything will come out of it. The officials certainly do not want to create great expectations, but they also may be telling the truth.

If the deal goes through, Pollard might even be freed in time for Passover, and the pundits already are playing up the concept of the release symbolizing the holiday celebrating the Jews freedom from slavery in Egypt. The comparison is strictly abstract, but it brings out all the emotions that Obama can use to play on the heartstrings of Israelis as well as many American Jews.

There is much more support in Israel for freeing Pollard than there is in the United States, where American patriots consider Pollard a spy, although he was not convicted for spying.

However, many former and current American officials have admitted that Pollard underwent an unfair trial and was unfairly punished. He was handed down a life sentence for passing on to Israel, an ally, classified information. The offense usually is punished with 2-4 years in jail.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who is travelling with  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said Monday, “Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I do not have any update for you on his status.”

Besides getting her facts wrong – Pollard was not convicted of espionage – she simply spews out whatever Kerry wants her to say, so her statement can be ignored.

If Kerry succeeds in forging an agreement between Netanyahu and Abbas to continue talks, at the price of Israel’s freeing hundreds of terrorists  in return for Pollard, a dual America-Israeli citizen, Pollard would feel like a prisoner of confused emotions as much he is a physical prisoner while in jail

He has dismissed previous attempts to win his release in exchange for Israel’s freeing terrorists, stating he would prefer to stay in jail than knowing he weakened Israel’s security and contributed to the spilling  of more blood. More than 120 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists who have been freed, many of them having signed a pledge never to return to terror.

Kerry Back in Town to Force Release of Terrorists

Monday, March 31st, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed the emergency ejection button on his Paris talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov over the crisis in Ukraine and flew into Israel to try and force a last-minute agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the release of more Arab terrorists.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stated no more concessions will be taken unless it is “clear” what Israel will receive in return, but it is anyone’s guess what Israel could gain except for Brownie points in the White House and another dinner with Kerry, for what it’s worth.

And motorists are being smacked with the occasional closing of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 pm. Israeli time and during Tuesday morning’s rush hour, 8-10 a.m., so Kerry can have all the of the road it himself.

The Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Quds quoted Kerry as saying he told PA officials he will free the terrorists with his own hands if he has to.

Most Israelis, from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to even the dovish media with the exception of Haaretz, would not mind if Kerry would take a walk, a very long walk and even better off a short pier.

The Palestinian Authority also is not so thrilled with him. Its officials have created a cold air mass before his arrival, saying that they really are not interested in extending the talks that Kerry initiated last July, but that can be discounted as playing hard to get.

Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday evening and then travel to Ramallah for a discussion with Mahmoud Abbas.

“Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region,” State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Translation: Kerry is roaring into town with ammunition on both shoulders and will tell both sides that they will bear the wrath of Obama himself if they don’t agree to help the president make a fool out of himself.

No one really knows who is on first anymore. Kerry and his media groupies have created the fiction that Israel agreed last July to free several Arab terrorists who are card-carrying Israeli citizens.

Netanyahu was quoted this past December 31 saying he never agreed to free them as part of the fourth and final batch of terrorists, but the truth really doesn’t matter anymore. Freeing them has been accepted as a fact by Kerry, the Palestinian Authority, and the media, so the truth really does not matter anymore.

Israel reportedly has offered to free more than the last group of 26 terrorists, which is not likely to happen unless he card-carrying Israelis will remain in jail. The Palestinian Authority supposedly has demanded that Israel free several hundred terrorists, and all of this, of course, for the grand prize of a few more months of charades masked as negotiations” over when to end the follies.

Kerry said Monday afternoon, “I think it’d be inappropriate to get into any kind of judgments about what may or may not occur or happen because it’s really a question between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and what Prime Minister Netanyahu is prepared to do. So he has – he is working diligently, I know. I just literally talked to him 15 minutes ago. And he’s working at it.”

Kerry and Netanyahu spoke Sunday night and again Monday morning, and they obviously were not just chewing the fat.

Not by coincidence, Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog is meeting in Amman Monday with Jordanian King Abdullah, the first official Israeli visit since Israeli soldiers killed a Jordanian judge at the Allenby Bridge crossing when he allegedly attacked a soldier and tried to grab his weapon.

Kerry is banking on the usual gambit of threatening Abba and Netanyahu that whoever says “no” will be blamed for the collapse of his stage show. At some point, and that point is not far down the road and may already have been reached, the Palestinian Authority will say, “Blame us all you want. We have the United Nations in our pockets.”

Netanyahu so far has been too chicken to be blamed because the only thing he has in his picket is the Book of Psalms, but he hasn’t used it very much.

European Double-Talk on the Funding of PA Terrorism

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Over at the ParliamentToday.com update service (“operated by Parliamentary News Services, Press Gallery, House of Commons”) they posted the following exchange today to their subscribers, one of whom (H/T Michael H.) kindly forwarded it along to us.

E-001778/2014 | Monday, 3 March 2014 Question for written answer to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative) Rule 117: Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR) VP/HR — Salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons

It is a well-known fact that the Palestinian Authority proudly owns up to illegally spending over 6% of its budget — donated by, among others, the EU, where funding terrorism is against the law — on salaries for terrorists in Israeli prisons and pensions for the families of suicide bombers. The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister, Issa Qarake, has admitted on television that the salaries are directly proportional to the terrorists’ sentences and the number of Jews they have killed. 1. What information can the EEAS provide concerning this case? 2. What is the Commission’s strategy to stop EU funds being used to pay salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons? As the last known case of paying money for killing Jews was in Nazi Germany, will the EU High Representative condemn this practice?

Answer given by Mr Füle on behalf of the Commission

The EU is aware that the Palestinian Authority has a system of allowances in place for Palestinian prisoners, their families and ex-detainees. This scheme is not and has never been financed by the EU. All the funds the EU allocates to the Palestinian Authority for salaries, pensions and social allocations, are subject to rigorous ex ante and ex post verification procedures, notably including a specific check against a recognised data base of individuals listed as having a connection with terrorism of any sort. Any name which is signalled by the check is automatically deleted from the list of beneficiaries. The Commission would also refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E-14320/2013

Anyone who has reviewed the tragic history of EC double-talk around the subject of money – generously but ignorantly provided by unwitting European taxpayers via their representatives in Brussels – handed over to the Palestinian Arabs, knows that it is rich in language like what’s on display here. Don’t blame us; we didn’t do anything wrong; we have rigorous ex ante and ex post verification procedures, and so on.

This sand-in-your-eyes resort to self-parodying language is calculated to do precisely what it achieves: to conceal far more than it reveals.

Some might be interested to know that we wrote about this phenomenon in the Wall Street Journal Europe as far back as September 2003: see “Blood, Money and Education“. The issue was by no means new or unknown even then.

In fact, from personal knowledge, there has been an inside understanding among the civil servants of the EC and their political masters [9-Sep-13: Snouts and troughs"] since at least 2003 to do whatever it takes to hide the truly hideous things that everyone knows are done with those European funds that go to Ramallah.

In all those years during which torrents of European funding, amounting to billions of Euros, were channeled, first, to the blood-drenched Arafat regime, and then to the corrupt and insider-controlled regime of Mahmoud Abbas, those oh-so-careful Eureaucrats managed to avoid carrying out even one financial audit, until the one published this past December [full text here]. All of this while the the EU “provides 20% of the direct financial support for the PA“, making it “the biggest multilateral donor to the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

And what did that audit find?

• EU aid to the Palestinian Authority worth billions of euros needs an “overhaul” and major changes in some areas, the bloc’s Court of Auditors said… If the circumstances are difficult, there are still “a number of aspects of the current approach in need of an overhaul,” said Hans Gustaf Wessberg, who wrote the report for the court. “There is a need for major revisions such as encouraging the PA to undertake more reforms” [EUbusiness, December 12, 2013]

• “The EU should stop paying the salaries of thousands of Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip who are not going to work… They called for a major review, saying money spent on civil servants there should go to the West Bank instead.”BBC, December 11, 2013

• “It is difficult to ensure that EU money is not misused or does not become a drip-feed, it said… The PA is not undertaking all the reforms that the EU would like. At every turn there are political causes and factors. The audit is therefore a political minefield.” [European Voice, December 12, 2013] (It’s worth noting that a Times of London journalist who saw the pre-publication version of the audit report in October 2014 wrote an article then that went further, summing up what the pre-publication version of the report he saw was going to say: “Billions of euros in European aid to the Palestinians may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption, according to a damning report by the European Court of Auditors...” Our sense is that the report went through a sanitization process after his article appeared and before the public saw it.)

The Pollard-Shalit Hostage Negotiations

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Terrorists who murdered a friend of mine are supposedly on the list of terrorists to be released in this upcoming round of prisoner releases – all for the “privilege” of seating down with the PA chief terrorist for talks. That makes this particular terrorist release a bit more personal for me than some of the other releases.

The talk today in Israel is about the proposal that Kerry and Obama purportedly made to Abbas and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu will free these terrorists, Abbas will continue to sit and talk to Netanyahu until the end of the year or so, and Obama will, in exchange, free Jonathan Pollard.

A lot of thoughts went through my head when I heard this.

The first was the Wye Agreement, when Clinton promised Netanyahu that he would free Pollard, and then reneged on that. So I hope that if Netanyahu agrees, he learned his lesson, and will demand Pollard be released first.

But I also thought about Pollard being freed, with the disgusting price being demanded in return.

And that brought me to thinking about Gilad Shalit and Hamas.

Gilad Shalit was being held hostage by Hamas in order to obtain the release of terrorists, and now the message from the White House is that Pollard is being held hostage by Obama in order to obtain the release of terrorists.

The comparison is obvious, and here in Israel, where we’ve had a lot of unfortunate experience in this area – it’s what most of us are thinking.

I’m not going to discuss the morality of trading terrorists for hostages, but it is an incredibly difficult decision.

But I would ask Netanyahu to add one more condition to this hostage negotiation.

We don’t want these terrorists anywhere near us. Not in Israel, not in the PA.

We’ll take Pollard, in exchange for releasing the terrorists, so Abbas will pretend to talk to us some more. But we don’t want those terrorists anywhere near us.

Netanyahu should say our condition is as follows, the plane that is bringing Jonathan Pollard home to Israel, should, on its way back to America, be transporting all those released terrorists to their new homes – in America.

That’s a fair trade.

A ‘Peace Process’ That’s Past its Shelf Life

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

It’s time to just say it. The obsession of Barack Obama and John Kerry with forcing along a discredited and unproductive “peace process” involving the Palestinian Arabs and Israel is weird – even creepy.

Notice I didn’t say “peace process between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel.” There’s nothing “between” about it. At this point, the Obama-Kerry show seems to involve the Palestinian Arabs and Israel only tangentially. All the action is in Washington, D.C., and it’s all one-sided.

When we left our drama last week, Mahmoud Abbas had just delivered “three ‘no’s’” to the White House on this freighted topic: no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; no relinquishment of a so-called “right of return”; and no commitment to honoring a pact with Israel as an “end of conflict” between the two.

There’s nothing for Israel in this deal, in other words. Abbas won’t sign up to anything that would make Israeli commitments or concessions worthwhile. He’s very explicit about that. His ruling cabal in the West Bank in fact organized rent-a-crowds for a show of public support for his position, in advance of his visit to Washington – and was primed to run a victory lap celebrating his intransigence immediately afterward. Abbas couldn’t be more categorical about his refusal to engage with John Kerry’s negotiating framework; not if he spelled it out in six-foot neon letters.

As Jonathan Tobin points out, however, Israel has agreed to Kerry’s proposed framework for talks going forward, although with reservations. It’s Abbas who won’t come to the table. He won’t agree to even talk about finding common ground.

Seems like we’ve been here before, of course. But there are reasons for the current impasse, beyond the Palestinian Arabs’ longstanding pattern of refusals. The Quartet-brokered, Oslo-based peace process is a dead letter, and I think everyone outside Washington and Brussels can sense that. Oslo was born out of a moment that has passed: a moment of unchallenged American supremacy and the illusion of unforced global stasis. That moment is gone. The rise of a more territorial, geographically oriented Islamism, coupled with the Arab Spring, and now Putin’s invasion of Crimea, have demonstrated that too much of our current reality has changed.

It would be foolish of Abbas to make commitments at this point; foolish of Arabs throughout the region, and Islamists of all stripes. Too many opportunities are now possible. The last thing anyone wants to do is make commitments that will leave him out of position to profit from the coming instability.

Multinational observers or peacekeeping forces may be highly exploitable, as they have been in southern Lebanon, but their utility depends on an excruciatingly slow, indirect approach to undermining Israel. They could be a serious inconvenience for a quicker-acting approach, if such multinational forces took up a position – through some agreement along the lines of the Kerry proposal – in the Jordan Valley.

Abbas has excellent strategic reasons to reject the idea of a U.S.-brokered multinational force in the Jordan Valley. So do his various patrons. Now isn’t the time to commit to deals. Not with the status quo about to bust wide open.

The Obama administration hasn’t realized it’s 2014, largely because its members haven’t even realized it’s no longer 1968. That’s another story, but it’s central to the failing dynamic of the Middle East peace process. The context in which the Oslo framework was the best or only option is simply gone.

Under these emerging conditions, Israel’s continued cooperation has a twofold purpose, I believe: first, to show good faith in general – a willingness to negotiate to settle the Palestinian problem – and second, to maintain her good relations with the United States.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-peace-process-thats-past-its-shelf-life/2014/03/25/

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