President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu, from Air Force One, to update Netanyahu on the terms of the Iran nuclear framework.
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Iran and the P5+1 powers announced Thursday afternoon they have reached an understanding of “key parameters” for a final agreement that will remove sanctions on Iran and would require it to allow verified inspections of its nuclear program.
Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that “many technical details” must be ironed out.
President Barack Obama called it a “good deal” that will keep Iran from getting its hands on weapons grade plutonium and would require enriched uranium to be shipped out of Iran.
He said the arrangement is better than “bombing Iran and starting a new war in the Middle East” and would only set back Iran’s nuclear program for a few years. Kerry said that the nuclear facility at Natanz is the only plant that will continue to operate and where the uranium is low grade.
No other enrichment material will remain, and the Fordo nuclear plant will be converted to a “research and development “center.
Kerry also said that the heavy water reactor will be converted so that it cannot be used for the development of a nuclear weapon.
Iran is required to ship all enrich uranium out of the country, and it is committed not to build any more heavy water reactors for at least 15 years.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced, “Our decision today will be the base for the start of drafting the Joint the Plan of Action (the final deal) which should end by the July 1 deadline.”
He said all sanctions will be lifted, but Kerry stated that this will happen in stages until a final agreement is made by midnight June 30.
One of the most interesting parts of the “key parameters” is that some clauses may not be made public except to governments and Congress.
The key elements are inspections and access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, to which Kerry said Iran has agreed.
President Obama said in his remarks after the announcement of “key parameters” that he is maintained to the security of Israel and that he will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Iran will reduce the number of its centrifuges to around 6.000, including 5,000 at Natanz for industrial-scale enrichment and 1,000 at Fordo, but not for enrichment.
The kicker is Zarif’s statement that not everyone will understand the “key parameters” the same way. Fars News Agency reported::
He [Zarif] cautioned that the seven nation’s party to the nuclear talks might present today’s agreement in different ways as they see fit.
The same Foreign Minister Zarif said earlier today that “no agreement will be announced today,” a sure sign that something would indeed be announced, even it is called “key parameters.”
But Obama reassured the American people that although the emerging deal will not remove distrust between Iran and the United States, Iran is committed to using its nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
How does he know?
Because the Islamic Republic has supposedly issued a religious fatwa forbidding nuclear weapons.
The Washington Post reported a year and a half ago on whether the there is such fatwa or it is simply a statement:
Even if one believes the fatwa exists — and will not later be reversed — it clearly appears to have evolved over time. U.S. officials should be careful about saying the fatwa prohibits the development of nuclear weapons, as that is not especially clear anymore.
President Obama covered all the bases in his remarks at the White House,. He said he has spoken with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia and is looking forward to a lively debate” with Congress.
U.S. President Barack Obama — America’s Commander-in-Chief — seems to have added the head of the North America Treaty Organization, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to his “diss list.” No one has any idea why, however.
Stoltenberg, whose office notified the White House staff of the dates well in advance, but his office didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply from the White House, according to Bloomberg View columnist Josh Rogin.
The NATO chief is in Washington DC for a three day visit that includes attendance at the annual NATO Transformation Seminar. NATO leaders, various experts and top officials from the host company gather to brainstorm on strategies in the sessions, organized by the Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia and the Atlantic Council.
Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council, could not say why Obama did not respond to Stoltenberg’s request for an informal meeting. At last minute, the NATO leader was able to obtain a meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
But there’s just no getting around the fact that Obama’s behavior is an outright insult. Where was he and what was so incredibly important that he could not make time for the head of NATO –an alliance in which the U.S. is a pivotal member?
The only event on Obama’s schedule for Wednesday, media moguls said, was a short speech to launch the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday he is also pretty free: he heads to Alabama to deliver a speech. Wow. Stressful…
And Stoltenberg isn’t exactly small potatoes: the NATO chief served two terms as Norway’s prime minister prior to starting in October as head of the largest military alliance in the world.
Moreover, he’s on a pretty tight schedule: on Monday he met in Toronto with Canada’s Stephen Harper, where the two discussed the crisis in Ukraine and the threat of the Daesh terror organization, known also as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Both issues are of equal concern to the United States, so one would think that President Obama might at least be somewhat invested in hosting Stoltenberg at the White House.
Tuesday he was involved in other affairs. Wednesday was the seminar.
But nary a phone call, text or email was made. Not even an acknowledgment of the request for a meeting. Weird, particularly when one considers the fact that America’s membership in NATO is its main treaty obligation.
In particular, the president has ticked off former U.S. permanent representative to NATO Kurt Volker, who actually served under Obama, as well as under Pres. George W. Bush before him.
“It is hard for me to believe that the president of the United States has not found the time to meet with the current secretary general of NATO, given the magnitude of what this implies, and the responsibilities of his office,” Volker told Josh Rogin at Bloomberg.
Perhaps he was not present to cover the day Obama had his first tiff with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, stalking out of the Oval Office and leaving Israel’s top leader to hang around while the president had dinner in his private quarters with the family.
Or the time he sneaked Netanyahu out through a side door of the White House, and the time he refused to end a meeting with the routine joint news conference to address questions from international media, because he didn’t want Netanyahu to have the benefit of a photo op.
The list is endless, petty and getting stranger by the day.
It is not at all clear what minor infraction the NATO chief has committed against Barack Obama, but clearly it was something he considers to be of magnified importance – important enough to risk offending the chief of the largest allied military force in the world.
I sure hope it’s worth it.
The Reuters news agency reported the absence of the United States at a scheduled United Nations Human Rights Council debate came as part of President Barack Obama’s “reassessment” of Israel at the international forum. The report, which flashed around the world on the news agency’s international wire network, made headlines in Middle Eastern and other nations whose time zones are six or more hours ahead of the U.S.
However, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the report is patently false.
In fact, the absence of the United States from the forum was indeed a deliberate act indeed, but one coordinated in advance with Israel to protest Agenda Item 7. Israel had asked its friends in the Council not to appear during debate of the Agenda Item, in order to boycott the issue.
A U.S. spokesperson in Geneva confirmed the reason for the delegate’s absence to Israeli officials, who reassured inquiring media.
Both the U.S. and Israel were boycotting the debate, which focusedon ‘Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories.’
The UNHRC has passed a mandate to use Agenda Item 7 at every session to debate this specific topic.
For hours, Middle Eastern Arab and African nations ranted on the Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Algeria even accused Israel of genocide.
Although the members of the European Union attended the session, the EU delegates did take the floor to defend Israel during the Agenda Item 7 debate, insisting it should be treated as other nations, and its violations discussed under Agenda Item 4.
Not one other country is deliberately singled out for mandated censure at each and every session of the UN Human Rights Council – including Saudi Arabia, which still allows slavery and beheads criminals, nor Iran, which indulges in public whippings and hangings, nor Sudan, where torture is commonplace, and the list goes on.
In a speech to the Council in Geneva at the start of this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused the UNHRC of obsessions with claims of Israeli violations.
“We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just at the UN Human Rights Council, but wherever it occurs,” Kerry vowed.
“It must be said that the UNHRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization. It has the potential to limit the good that we have to do,” he added.
Kerry’s well-intended promise may have been forgotten, at least in the White House, however: President Barack Obama is doing everything possible to yank the rug out from under Jerusalem, using rhetoric by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his election campaign as the excuse to claim a lack of commitment to peace by Israel.
“We take him at his word when he said [creation of a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama told The Huffington Post last Friday.
Gone were the assurances Obama himself made in a speech to AIPAC during his own political campaign for president in 2008. That was when he vowed to commit, as president of the United States, to “help committed (peace) partners avoid stalemate and the kind of vacuums that are filled by violence.” Any agreement with the Palestinian people, he said, “must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” he promised.
U.S. President Barack Obama finally called Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to congratulate him — on the Likud party’s success at the polls.
According to a statement issued by the White House, the President “emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries.
“The President and the Prime Minister agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the statement continued.
“The President reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine.
“On Iran, the President reiterated that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.”
Obama was preceded by Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and numerous others in congratulating Netanyahu on the historic re-election for a fourth term – the only prime minister to be so chosen since Israel’s founding father, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
The issue of Israel’s security is growing exponentially more serious as the days pass, with terror groups backed by Iran and global jihad organizations surrounding the Jewish State.
Aside from the clear and present danger posed by the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel’s existence, the Daesh global jihad terror group is becoming an increasing concern as well.
This past Wednesday, the European Union formally blamed the group, known also as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorist organization, and as ISIS, for a bloody attack at Tunisia’s iconic Bardo Museum in that nation’s capital. At least 19 people were killed, including 17 foreign tourists, and 20 others were wounded.
“With the attack that has struck Tunis, the Daesh terrorist organization is once again targeting the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region,” EU foreign policy chief Mogherini said in a statement late Wednesday.
“This strengthens our determination to cooperate more closely with our partners to confront the terrorist threat.”
Israeli security personnel have been closely tracking the progress and growth of Daesh terror cells in the region, particularly in northern Israel, Gaza, Judea, Samaria and other areas within pre-1967 Israel.
A number of Arabs who have become involved with the terror group have been identified and arrested by Israeli security forces. Others who left the country and traveled abroad to fight with Daesh are being tracked.
It is for this reason — among others — that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been adamant about ending assumptions of well-meaning nations who believe they can simply force Israel back to the negotiating table with the PA to sign on to any two-state solution.
President Barack Obama appears to be “rushing to the United Nations” to force a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Fox News reported Thursday night. It’s another nail in the coffin replacing the trust Israelis once had in American presidents, a commentator observed.
In an interview on the cable television news network, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Ralph Peters (res.), said Obama seems to want to “pick a fight – a deadly fight potentially – with Israel.”
Peters, clearly upset, told the interviewer he could not understand why Obama appears to be aligning the United States with radical Islamist nations against the sole democracy in the Middle East. “Our policy is off the rails,” he said.
Obama’s staff, he maintained, “overplayed their hand so badly that the Israeli people, even those who don’t much like Bibi (Netanyahu), turned this from an economy-based election to a security-based election. Obama’s accommodation with Iran at any cost is very frightening.”
Although most U.S. politicians consider the Iranian nuclear deal to be a policy issue, Peters correctly noted that in Israel, “it is a matter of survival.
“And that’s what this election told us, that the people of Israel, for the first time ever, fear an American president,” he concluded.
However, Fox News journalist Megan Kelly reported in a separate segment that the White House does not see it the same way. She quoted President Obama as saying that he sees “no path to a peace agreement,” and added that the president is “now threatening to abandon Israel at the United Nations.”
The comment referred to Obama’s threat to consider the option of not using America’s veto to block a UN Security Council resolution to grant statehood to the Palestinian Authority, possibly along the 1949 Armistice lines, also known as the “1967 border.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded: “You can’t force the people of Israel, who just elected me by a wide margin to bring them peace and security — to secure the State of Israel — to accept terms that would endanger the very survival of the State of Israel.
“I don’t think that’s the direction of American policy,” he said. “I hope it’s not.”
Kelly interviewed Netanyahu about the issue on her Fox News TV program, The Kelly File, late Thursday night.
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.”