web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-Israel relations’

Netanyahu to Obama: Israel Cannot Allow Nuclear Iran

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama that Israel cannot let Iran get a nuclear bomb and said an end to uranium enrichment is an Israeli demand of any agreement with Iran.

“If Iran is prevented from enriching uranium and dismantles fully its military nuclear capability,” Israel would accept the deal, the Israeli prime minister told Obama on Monday when they met at the White House in the Oval Office.

Obama and U.S. officials have said that Iran is likely to be left with a limited enrichment capability as part of any deal.

“Israel cannot permit such a state to have the ability to make a bomb,” Netanyahu said. “We just cannot be brought back to the brink of destruction. I as the prime minister of Israel will do whatever I must to defend the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu also appeared to push back against warnings from Obama in an interview published Sunday by Bloomberg View that Israeli settlement expansion and a failure to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians would lead to Israel’s international isolation.

“Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say the Palestinians haven’t,” Netanyahu said, saying he expected an end to Palestinian incitement and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

“That’s what the people of Israel expect me to do, to stand strong against criticism, against pressure.” he said.

Obama refrained from pushing back in the Oval Office appearance, confining his remarks to pledging to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and commending Netanyahu for his commitment to the peace process.

Israel Publishes New Tenders for Settlement Construction

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Israel published tenders for 600 new homes in East Jerusalem and 801 in Judea and Samaria settlements.

Government officials delayed the announcement until U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had ended his latest peace-brokering tour in the region, Army Radio reported.

European leaders and the United States had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to move forward at all with new building, saying it would impede the peace process.

Some 600 units will be in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo near Ramot, Har HaHotzvim and Shuafat neighborhoods.

The announcement in March 2010 of of plans for the Ramat Shlomo homes during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden led to a period of tension between the Obama and Netanyahu governments.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid Party said his party “will do everything to make sure these plans stay a bad and unrealized idea,” according to Army Radio. He added: “These are not building tenders, but empty building statements.”

The Ministry of Construction and Housing also published tenders for 801 new homes in West Bank settlements, including 227 units in Efrat, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 86 in Karnei Shomron, 40 in Ariel, 75 in Geva Binyamin (Adam), 24 in Beitar Illit, 102 in Emmanuel and 169 in Eliana.

The ministry also republished tenders for 532 homes in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev (182), Ramot (294) and Neveh Yaakov (56).

Abbas Asks US to Block Settlement Construction

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Obama Administration to block a new Israeli plan to build hundreds of additional homes in Jewish settlements.

Israel officials have said the planned construction of new units in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem will be announced next week, just as Israel is set to release 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands, under a pledge it made at the outset of peace talks earlier this year.

In a late-night meeting Thursday with U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, Abbas “asked for U.S. intervention to stop the Israeli government from issuing new settlement decisions in order to save the peace process and the American efforts,” top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as telling the Associated Press.

The planned Israeli announcement risks sparking a crisis in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which resumed in July after a nearly five-year break.

The new construction plans include 600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, an enclave in East Jerusalem, and roughly 800 additional homes in Judea and Samaria, according to an Israeli official familiar with the plan.

Under heavy pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Palestinians were forced to drop a demand for a halt in settlement construction. In exchange, Israel agreed to release 104 of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners it holds.

Kerry has urged Israel to show restraint. And an unnamed EU diplomat told Israel’s Channel 10 Thursday that, “Israel needs to expect a harsh reaction from the European governments if it intends to go in that direction.”

Obama Assures Netanyahu of Consultation on Iran Going Forward

Monday, November 25th, 2013

President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States would consult closely with Israel as talks with Iran go forward.

“Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution,” said a statement by the White House issued Saturday evening.

“The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” it said.

Multiple media reports have said the United States did not brief Israel until two months ago on advances in the secret talks that culminated in the deal struck over the weekend in Geneva between Iran and major powers. The deal provides some sanctions relief in exchange for rollbacks in Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu said repeatedly over the weekend that the deal is a bad one.

“As we learn more and more details about the agreement that was achieved last night in Geneva, it becomes increasingly clear how bad and dangerous this agreement is to the world, the region and Israel,” he said Sunday evening at an awards ceremony.

Israel and a number of U.S. lawmakers have said that nothing less than a total halt to uranium enrichment and a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program should have triggered any easing of sanctions.

Under the interim agreement, about $7 billion in sanctions out of the $100 billion to $120 billion a year that impacts Iran’s economy will be eased. Also, Iran will lower enrichment to 5 percent, well below weaponization levels, and freeze construction in its nuclear program.

The interim period is supposed to culminate in a final status deal that would ensure Iran’s nuclear program is not moving toward a weapon.

White House: Israel’s All-or-Nothing Proposal on Iran Means War

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Israel’s proposal that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief would likely lead to war, a top White House official said.

The official, in a conference call Wednesday with think tanks and advocacy groups sympathetic to the Obama administration’s Iran strategy, outlined the proposal that the major powers will put to Iran at a third round of negotiations in Geneva beginning Thursday.

JTA obtained a recording of the call on condition that it not name the participants or fully quote them.

A think tank participant on the call said Israel’s posture — demanding a total halt to enrichment and the dismantling of all of Iran’s centrifuges — was a path to war.

Agreeing that such reasoning was “sound,” the White House official said that given a choice between “total capitulation” and advancing toward a nuclear weapon, Iran would choose the weapon.

That posture would “close the door on diplomacy” and would “essentially lead to war,” the official said.

The official sounded notes of frustration with Israel’s pushback against the U.S. proposal for a “first step” deal that would exchange some sanctions relief for some rollback of Iran’s nuclear program, saying it would provide Israel with a six-month window to influence the shape of a final deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backed by a number of U.S. lawmakers, wants Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program and abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all its uranium enrichment.

The proposed deal outlined by the official would suspend uranium enrichment for six months at 20 percent, implying that Iran would be able to continue enrichment at 3.5 percent to 5 percent; “address” Iran’s existing stockpiles of 20 percent- and 5 percent-enriched uranium; suspend the development of a heavy water reactor that could produce plutonium; and end the installation and construction of new centrifuges.

The official emphasized that the construction — not just the installation — of new centrifuges would be halted, countering arguments by opponents of an interim deal who say it would buy Iran time to advance its weapons program.

All of this would be verified by intrusive inspections, the official said.

In exchange, the Western powers would release a “fraction” of $100 billion in Iranian frozen funds and end “ancillary” sanctions — the official did not identify them — but keep in place sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors.

The official said the administration was confident that a proposal by a group of Republican senators to attach an amendment adding intensified Iran sanctions to a must-pass defense-funding act would likely not reach the floor of the Democrat-led Senate.

The senators, led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), agree with Netanyahu’s assessment that intensified sanctions at this stage would extract from Iran an agreement to suspend enrichment and dismantle centrifuges.

The White House official said that intensified sanctions would likely not only drive Iran away from the talks but would collapse the international sanctions regime in place by alienating a number of countries now abiding by it.

US Mid-East Czar: Settlers Bad

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The United States strongly condemns settler violence and does not accept the legitimacy of Judea and Samaria settlement expansion, a top Obama administration official told the American Task Force on Palestine, JTA reported.

Philip Gordon, the National Security Council coordinator for Middle East policy, emphasized perceived Israeli transgressions in describing the difficulties afflicting renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in an address Tuesday evening to the annual gala dinner of the ATFP.

“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement expansion,” Gordon said, an apparent reference to new housing starts announced by Israel in recent weeks.

Citing attacks by settlers on Palestinian olive groves, he said, “We also strongly condemn settler violence.”

Of course, it is well known that no olive tree is ever pruned by Arabs – they’re all cut down brutally by settlers who, let’s face it, hate olive trees and are even prepared to violate the laws off Shabbat to take down those poor trees.

Like on Saturday, Oct. 19, as reported by Ma’an, Israeli settlers chopped down more than 100 olive trees in “the village of Qaryut early Saturday.”

“Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli destroyed over 100 trees.”

Here’s a telling factoid in the same Ma’an story: “According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.” So, you prune your tree, then you realize there are so many broken branches rolling on the ground, they shouldn’t go to waste, and you come up with this ingenious story about settlers who are violating the Sabbath because they hate olives so much.

Gordon praised both sides for renewing talks and for confidence building measures, noting that Israel has released prisoners convicted of terrorist attacks and that the Palestinians have suspended bids to achieve statehood recognition.

You see the difference between the two sets of gestures? The released prisoners are gone, and even if the Palestinians walk from the negotiations table tomorrow, the prisoners will stay gone. But the suspended bids for statehood – they can be unsuspended at any time.

It’s so cool when you can do that…

However, in citing elements that do not create a “conducive atmosphere” for the talks, Czar Gordon did not mention Israeli complaints about the Palestinians, including a spate of recent rocket attacks and the Israeli sense that Palestinians are not doing much to discourage incitement to violence. Heck, they’re doing much of the inciting themselves, over their official TV.

He praised Israel for removing some restrictions inhibiting Palestinian movement in Judea and Samaria, but called on it to do more.

According to JTA, The ATFP is a leading advocate for a two-state solution, and works closely with a broad array of Jewish and pro-Israel groups. Many of them were represented at the gala dinner.

Jewish groups collaborating with ATFP include Americans for Peace Now.

Much of the above report was filed by JTA, but we felt compelled to correct some of the items presented as facts in the initial copy. We did so much fixing, that we feel it can no longer be presented as a JTA report. But the original news gathering for this report was definitely done by JTA.

Israel’s Surprising Economic and Strategic Position

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Israel’s economic and strategic situation is surprisingly bright right now. That’s partly due to the government’s own economic restraint and strategic balancing act, partly due to a shift in Obama Administration policy and partly due to the conflicts among Israel’s adversaries.

Let’s start with the economy. During 2012, Israel’s economy grew by 3.1 percent. While some years ago this would not be all that impressive it is amazing given the international economic recession. The debt burden actually fell from 79.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 73.8 percent. As the debt of the United States and other countries zooms upwards, that’s impressive, too.

Israel’s credit rating also rose at a time when America’s was declining. Standard and Poor lifted the rating from A to A+. Two other rating systems, Moody’s and Fitch, also increased Israel’s rating.Now not only is gas from Israel’s offshore fields starting to flow but a new estimate is that the fields are bigger than expected previously.

And that’s not all. Unemployment fell from 8.5 percent in 2009 to either 6.8 to 6.9 percent (according to Israel’s bureau of statistics) or 6.3 percent (according to the CIA).

In terms of U.S.-Israel relations, the visit of President Barack Obama and Israel’s cooperation on Iran and on an attempted conciliation with Turkey brought quick rewards. For the first time, Israel will be allowed to purchase KC-135 aerial refueling planes, a type of equipment that could be most useful for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities among other things.

The same deal—which includes sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to make U.S. allies feel more secure vis-à-vis Iran—includes V-22 Osprey planes that can switch between helicopter and plane mode. Israel is the first foreign country to be allowed to purchase this system. It could be used for border patrols—a bigger problem given the decline in the stability along the Egyptian and Syrian borders—and troop transport.

Finally, there would be more advanced radars for Israeli planes and a new type of missile useful for knocking out enemy anti-aircraft sites, potentially useful against Iran among other targets. In addition, an Israeli company is now going to be making the wings for the advanced U.S. F-35 fighter planes.

The completion of the border fence with Egypt increases security in places where Palestinian and Egyptian Islamist groups are trying to attack. It also has reduced illegal civilian crossings to zero. Ironically, Israel has gotten control of its border while the U.S. government proclaims that task to be impossible for itself.

And of course there is the usual and widely varied progress on medical, agricultural, and hi-tech innovations. Here is a summary of those inventions.That doesn’t mean problems don’t exist, including a budget deficit caused by some boosts in social spending (responding to protests in 2012) and unexpected defense spending to protect the border with Egypt or to handle the Iranian threat. But that deficit will be addressed, unlike in other countries. (Here is a discussion of the problems and likely policies of the new government).

The picture is even bright regarding U.S.-Israel relations, certainly compared to the previous four years. This point is highlighted by Wikileaks publication of a U.S. embassy dispatch of January 4, 2010, describing my article that day in the Jerusalem Post:

“[As far as Israel is concerned] what is important is that Obama and his entourage has learned two things. One of them is that bashing Israel is politically costly. American public opinion is very strongly pro-Israel. Congress is as friendly to Israel as ever. For an administration that is more conscious of its future reelection campaign than any previous one, holding onto Jewish voters and ensuring Jewish donations is very important….

“The other point is that the administration has seen that bashing Israel doesn’t get it anywhere. For one thing, the current Israeli government won’t give in easily and is very adept at protecting its country’s interests. This administration has a great deal of trouble being tough with anyone. If in fact the Palestinians and Arabs were eager to make a deal and energetic about supporting other U.S. policies, the administration might well be tempted to press for an arrangement that largely ignored Israeli interests.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/israels-surprising-economic-and-strategic-position/2013/05/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: