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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Senate Foreign Relations Committee’

Kerry Tells Senate Hearing Israel Busted the Peace Talks

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Israel’s announcement last week of new homes for a southern Jerusalem neighborhood in an area claimed by the Palestinian Authority was the trigger that caused the blow-up in the American-led effort to extend peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate committee Tuesday.

He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that after Israel refused to release a fourth batch of terrorists, and then followed that decision with the housing tender in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem, “poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.”

Poof?

Just like that, with a snap of the fingers, after eight months of charades in which the Palestinian Authority and Israel made no headway, in which Israel demanded that Mahmoud Abbas declare that Israel is a Jewish State, in which Abbas continued to negotiate not to negotiate, it went “poof”?

Kerry is the same man who a few days said it’s time for a “reality check.”

After his “poof” puff, Republican Sen John McCain of Arizona told Kerry that concerning the peace process, “It is stopped. Recognize reality!”

But Kerry can’t. When Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said a couple of months that Kerry is “obsessive” with the peace process and is “messianic,” he was 100 percent on the money.

Only a few days ago, after the “poof,” Kerry said he wanted to focus on rescuing his pet nightmare rather than try to blame one side or the other.

“Look, to be clear, over the last 24 hours, there have been unhelpful actions taken on both sides here, and we didn’t think it was a productive time for the secretary to return to the region,” U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “But we’re not playing the blame game.”

That was five days ago.

Since then, Abbas has insisted there is no turning back the clock. He will go through with his requests to join 15 U.N.-related agencies. He justified the action, a violation of the rules of the game Kerry laid down eight months ago, by charging that Israel reneged on a promise to release the fourth batch of terrorists.

The real cause of the ”poof” that blew up Kerry’s Peace Talks Follies was his dangling the release of Jonathan Pollard as bait to get Israel to agree to Abbas’ terms for releasing more terrorists That is what “poofed” the Arabs, who were enraged at the idea of Pollard going free while arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti remains in jail..

The media parrots have forgotten all about that because it is more convenient to blame someone else, and guess who?

It no longer makes any difference what the facts are.

What matters is what they are perceived to be. So you can leave aside the fact that Israel and the Palestinian Authority were unable to agree on which terrorists to release.

And you can leave aside the fact that Israel made it clear, before “poof,” that any limited and unofficial building freeze, as part of a deal to extend peace talks, would not include Jerusalem.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s announcement of the new homes was the official stamp of that policy.

Kerry is desperate, and Abbas knows it.

That is why five days after he said he does not want to blame either side, he told the Senate hearing that, yes, the Palestinian Authority took an “unhelpful” action by its latest  ploy for attention in the United Nations, but it was Israel that “poofed” his peace talks.

Spokeswoman Harf tried to cover up her boss’s diplomatic faux pas at the Senate hearing.

“Both sides took ineffective steps. Kerry is not playing the blame game,” she told reporters at the daily media question and answer session.

AIPAC: Intensify Sanctions if Iran Advances Nuke Program

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

AIPAC joined Israel’s government and some congressional leaders in calling on the Obama administration to intensify sanctions should Iran continue its uranium enrichment during negotiations.

“To avoid any misunderstanding in Tehran, America must clearly signal that it will consider no easing of sanctions until Iran has verifiably suspended its nuclear program,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a memo sent Monday to congressmen and released to reporters. “If Iran’s nuclear activities continue, the United States and the international community should escalate sanctions and reinforce President Obama’s message that a credible military option is on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

Top Obama administration officials have asked Congress not to consider new sanctions on Iran until after talks over the country’s suspected nuclear weapons program renew later this month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has campaigned in recent weeks for intensified sanctions should Iran continue to enrich uranium. Last week, in a meeting with the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he found a friendly ear.

“Our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged and we will not hesitate from proceeding with further sanctions and other options to protect U.S. interests and ensure regional security,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement after meeting with Netanyahu on Sept. 30. “While we welcome Iran’s diplomatic engagement, it cannot be used to buy time, avoid sanctions, and continue the march toward nuclear weapons capability.”

President Obama has said he sees an opening in the ostensible moderation of Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to make transparent a nuclear program he insists is peaceful. Netanyahu says he believes Rouhani is lying.

Notably, the AIPAC statement did not embrace Netanyahu’s calls for an end to all enrichment as part of a final deal. Instead it called only for a suspension of nuclear enrichment as a predicate for negotiations, not as part of a final deal.

That posture is aligned more with Western powers, which reportedly are ready to allow a degree of enrichment to continue, than with Netanyahu.

U.S. Sen Foreign Relations Comm Queued Up to Vote for Strike on Syria

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

On Tuesday afternoon, September 3, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asking for its approval to launch a limited strike against Syria.

Kerry couched his request very clearly in terms of what it was not: it was not a request for approval to go to war. Kerry stated once again that “there will be no boots on the ground.”  What he was asking for was “the power to make clear, to make certain that the United States means what we say, that the world, when we join together in a multilateral statement, mean what we say.  He’s asking for authorization to degrade and deter Bashar al-Assad’s capacity to use chemical weapons.

The secretary of state made the argument in the plainest terms.  He compared what Assad has done – gassing hundreds of his own people, including hundreds of children – to the greatest evil most people recognize.  This administration is adamant that Assad be held accountable for committing a heinous act whose victims, Kerry and his boss insist, cry out for retribution.

So this is a vote for accountability. Norms and laws that keep the civilized world civil mean nothing if they’re not enforced. As Justice Jackson said in his opening argument at the Nuremberg trials, ‘The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to the law.’ If the world’s worst despots see that they can flout with impunity prohibitions against the world’s worst weapons, then those prohibitions are just pieces of paper. That is what we mean by accountability, and that is what we mean by we cannot be silent.

After four hours of debate in the Hart Senate Office Building, the committee will go into a closed session tomorrow and then, as early as tomorrow afternoon, may gave this administration what it is seeking: congressional approval to take limited action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The initial text of the resolution authorizing “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria” was made available late Tuesday evening, Eastern Time.  The committee will vote on some version of the draft tomorrow.

The secretary of state was asked what the administration will do if congress refuses to approve the use of force against Syria. Kerry said, “We’re not contemplating that, because it’s too dire.”

The draft resolution provides that the resolution upon which the committee members will vote shall be called ” Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the “Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.” It will

authorize the president to use the U.S. Armed Forces as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria, and (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.”

In addition to Kerry, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jack Dempsey also testified in support of the administration’s position.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.  Boehner said that “All votes authorizing the use of military force are conscience votes for members, and passage will require direct, continuous engagement from the White House.”

The draft resolution provides for a 60 day period during which the powers granted may be used, with a single additional 30 day extension.

Sen. Menendez: US-Israeli Bond Stronger than Turbulent Mideast

Monday, May 27th, 2013

The United States cannot stop at jawboning Iran and turning a blind eye to Syria but instead needs to take the offensive to “stand up for American’s interests” as well as those of Israel, said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Robert Menendez during his first official visit to Israel.

A strong and passionate support of Israel, he chose to write in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper Monday, “I arrive in a thriving Israel, but there is trouble in the neighborhood. From Egypt to Syria and beyond, the Arab revolutions have been a mixed bag for Israel.”

He wrote that instead of standing on the sidelines, the Obama administration “cannot allow the Iranians to continue to stall through talks while simultaneously bringing hundreds of new centrifuges online.”

He also stated that the United States must actively intervene in Syria, regardless of the emergence of Islamic terrorist groups among rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The United States must play a role in tipping the scales toward moderate opposition groups and work to build a free and stable Syria,:” he wrote. “I know that there are real concerns about providing arms to the opposition, and I understand those concerns. But the choice is not between arming and not arming. The choice is between responsibly stepping in and leaving it to others who will simply arm the extremists.”

The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons sharply criticized Menendez and the Foreign Relations Committee, warning that the senator does not understand that the “heart-breaking situation in Syria is…not nearly as vital to American national interests as” he claims.

“The al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra front is one of the few Syrian opposition operations currently making headway against Assad,” according to Clemons. “When it comes to al-Nusra in Syria, the enemy of our enemy remains our enemy — but Senator Menendez does not seem to include this group in his fantasy vision of what the Syrian resistance is comprised of.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/sen-menendez-us-israeli-bond-stronger-than-turbulent-mideast/2013/05/27/

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