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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘White House’

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.

U.S. Reportedly Offers Israel Pollard Prisoner Exchange for PA Terrorists

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The United States has allegedly pulled out its ace in the hole this week, reportedly offering at last to free imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in exchange for the release by Israel of 26 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners.

The move, reported Wednesday morning by Ilil Shachar on IDF Army Radio, would force Israel to complete the last of a four-stage prisoner release that has thus far freed 78 PA inmates from Israeli jails.

Israeli government officials could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett told The Jewish Press, “Nothing is official, and we have not been given any information at this point. We haven’t been told anything other than the report we heard this morning on the radio.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed eight months ago to the “good will gesture” as a means of testing the truth of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s resolve as a peace partner in working towards a final status deal.

Netanyahu stated from the outset in an “open letter to the citizens of Israel” that the process would depend upon the actions of the PA and its ability to prove it is “really serious and not playing games.”

Pollard’s incarceration in 1985 on a single charge of passing classified information to an allied nation (Israel) has long been a sore point for Jews and Israelis the world over. The crime normally carries a maximum prison term of two to four years. Pollard has been often been held in harsh and sometimes inhumane conditions, and has suffered serious health problems as a result. Despite numerous appeals for his release by hundreds of American and Israeli leaders, every U.S. president has turned a deaf ear to requests for clemency, to terminate his sentence to time served.

According to the report, the alleged U.S. decision to offer Pollard in exchange for the PA prisoners came after Prime Minister Netanyahu told the White House officials that too many of his coalition members opposed the release.

Among those opposing the release were senior officials including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.

Shachar reported the U.S. proposed the swap deal for Pollard on condition that Israel would free the fourth round of 26 PA terrorists, which includes some 20 Israeli Arab citizens. The PA, in return, would also agree not to withdraw from the talks at least until the end of 2014.

Nevertheless, it is entirely possible the offer may have come too late.

Israeli advocacy groups, the Israeli public and numerous Israeli officials appear fed up with the White House intransigence on Pollard’s incarceration – and resent using him as a bargaining chip over the safety of Israeli citizens. Some have said they will not agree to support such a deal.

Pollard himself has said that he will not agree to be used in a prisoners swap for Arab terrorists.

Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League yesterday at its summit in Kuwait that the PA has no interest in continuing negotiations with Israel. Both the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority has categorically refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. They continue to insist on the so-called “right of return” for millions of Arabs, generations later, to return to homes they fled after the wars of 1948 and 1967. They also insist Israel hand them a major part of Jerusalem including Judaism’s holy sites, to which Jews would then have no access whatsoever.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials are set to meet with PA leaders to discuss the proposal today.

White House ‘Shocked’ that Ya’alon Criticizes Obama

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Officials at the a White House are incredibly upset with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who had the audacity Monday to say that that the  United States’ foreign policy is so weak that Israel cannot depend it on it to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.

President Barack Obama’s definition of ”friendship” – and everyone knows that Commander in Chief himself has said he is the greatest pal Israel has had since George Washington – means  the Israeli government must pat the president on his head every time he blinks, and he has been doing a lot of that lately.

Ya’alon said in a speech at Tel Aviv University earlier this week that allies have expressed “disappointment” at American policies leading up to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and that the United States clearly is  “demonstrating weakness.”

The Obama administration has accused the Israeli defense minister of insulting its senior officials and undermining the relationship between the US and Israel after he criticized American foreign policy for projecting “weakness” throughout the world.

“If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again,” Ya’alon said. “This is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer.”

That was not exactly harsh language. On the contrary, Ya’alon put the United States on a pedestal when he said that no one can replace it.

But the criticism was too much for President Obama, whose foreign policy blunders have brought him compliments from no one outside the State Dept.

“We were shocked,” one official was quoted as saying.

Not only was he shocked, he was “mystified” at Ya’alon, who earlier this year was reprimanded by the American government for very undiplomatic language he uttered in what was supposed to be closed meeting, where he called Kerry “messianic”” and obsessive.” Ya’alon expressed his wish that Kerry would simply go home, collect his Nobel Prize for No Peace and “leave us alone.”

Ya’alon seemed to have learned his lesson, His criticism was offered in friendly terms, but the White  House official was quoted as saying that the defense minister shows a “disturbing pattern” in which he “disparages the U.S. administration, and insults its most senior officials.

Moshe Ya’alon  has not replied to the Obama administration’s feeling sorry for itself, but one Israel minister told Army Radio “The foreign policy of the United States all over the world is collapsing. I learn from this that Israel must not be Ukraine. It is ridiculous today to hear the Americans talking about guarantees for Israel’s security.” So now it is an unnamed ministger who has not learned the Obama Commandment,”Thous shalt not criticize” – unless you are a Muslim country, Russia, China or a Republican.

 

US Juggling Act: ‘Diplomacy with Iran and Censure of Weapons Ship’

Monday, March 10th, 2014

The White House finally has come out with a statement condemning the ship carrying Iranian missiles destined for Gaza, but only after it took a couple of days to figure out how  to  censure the smuggling attempt without hinting that perhaps Iran cannot be trusted in talks on its nuclear development.

“It is important to make clear that even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue, in coordination with our partners and allies, to push back against Iranian support for terrorism, threats against our friends and partners, and violations of human rights,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing Monday.

“We were very clear about our views on the ship that was interdicted and the fact that we condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s efforts to supply terrorist organizations operating in the region with weaponry,” Carney said. “We, the United States, strongly condemn this violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929.”

He stated, “We are not holding back at all in the steps we take and the views we hold about Iran’s continued support for terrorist organizations.

Since the Obama administration clearly states that Iran supports terror, the question remains, “Why does President Barack Obama negotiate with Tehran and not with Hamas, or North Korea?”

Minister Accompanying Netanyahu: Settlement Freeze Off the Table

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz, accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his trip to the U.S., told Israel Radio Tuesday morning that Israel’s position both regarding the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the Iran question are receiving wall-to-wall support in Congress.

According to Stenitz, the leaders of the Senate and the House understand that the main hurdle before the peace process is the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their own country, and their terrible incitement against Israel.

According to the Washington Post, after his conference with Obama, Netanyahu met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Capitol Hill. Cantor said the Palestinians must “accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” and “uniformly and aggressively” combat terrorism while confronting, not condoning, “incitement against the Jews.”

Steinitz added that the Palestinian demand for a freeze on settlement housing starts, as well as their insistence on prisoner release in exchange for extending the negotiations are simply not part of the discussion.

Leftist party Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On told Israel Radio that the settlement freeze would serve Israel’s interests more than it would the Palestinians’.

Labor MK Nachman Shai argues that the Ukrainian crisis is not diverting the world’s attention away from Israel and the peace negotiations, and is not improving Israel’s political situation.

But, despite MK Shai’s note to the contrary, AP reported that Secretary of State Kerry left Monday for the Ukrainian capital. The European Union’s foreign ministers, meantime, issued a Thursday deadline for Russia President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face a rejection of visa liberalization and economic cooperation negotiations long in the works.

And the White House said Obama met for more than two hours Monday night with the National Security Council, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to discuss what steps the United States can take with international partners to further isolate Russia and persuade it to de-escalate the situation.

So, for now, nobody is pushing the 2-state thing. Maybe wait until after the Russian occupation…

Determined to Get Kerry a Nobel, Obama Planning to Squeeze Netanyahu

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The man who brought peace to Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Syria (did I forget anything? Yes – Turkey!), our own President Obama, is about to throw his weight into the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the NY Times reports this morning.

When he welcomes Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, tye White House leaked to the Times, Obama will press him to embrace the Secretary of State John Kerry framework for a “conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations,” which is being drafted as we speak. Then, a few weeks later, Obama will meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, “to make the same pitch.”

By the end of April, if all goes according to plan, both sides will have a road map (didn’t we already have one of those?). In April the self-imposed 9-month time limit will expire, and in a television-driven political world, a date is a date, ergo the big gun.

“Now is a very timely opportunity for him to get involved,” a senior official told the Times, setting up the newest great expectation in a tone that didn’t convey much conviction: If the two sides agree to the framework, which would set out general terms on issues like Israel’s security and the borders of a future Palestinian state, the negotiations could be extended, with a new target of completing a treaty by the end of 2014.

Of course, should things not work out as expected, we could always come up with new shticks, rename the whole thing, possibly divide the topics of discussion into columns A and B and pick targets Chinese restaurant fashion, slap a new target date on it and go on with the show. The idea is to keep having a peace process—never mind the peace.

If they keep doing this through the 2016 presidential election, there’s a good chance Kerry could still get the Nobel Peace Prize even if he doesn’t get anything accomplished peacewise. After all, Obama got it just for being black and promising – couldn’t Kerry take one for being tall and lanky? Good teeth? No?

It is far from clear, notes the Times, that Mr. Obama can pull off what has so far eluded his secretary of state. Here’s another thing that’s been eluding the Americans – over the past several weeks, the Arabs and the Jews haven’t been meeting face to face. They talk to Kerry and to his special envoy, Martin S. Indyk, and that’s it. It means, “analysts say,” that there’s been no movement on anything.

If you ever sold cars for a living, or watched any sitcom or movie about selling cars, you know that the time to bring in the owner is after it’s been established that the customer really wants the car, he just needs to discuss terms. You bring in the boss, right away he knocks of two grand off the list price, everybody’s smiling – and you close. But to bring the boss in before both sides are buying anything, anything at all, that has desperation written all over it.

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator who is a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told the Times that bringing the president in at this stage is admission of defeat on Kerry’s part. “What is it going to take to get to a comprehensive deal if the president has to do heavy lifting?”

It means Kerry has little credibility left with either side. And the Jews hate him for the boycott threats, which he has since been backtracking from so fiercely, you worry he’d hit his head on the end of the pool.

White House Names First Envoy for Holocaust Survivor Services

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

The White House on Friday announced the appointment of Aviva Sufian as the first Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services.

Vice President Joe Biden had announced the formation of the new position in December 2013. Sufian “will focus on those [Holocaust] survivors currently living in poverty, as well as those who may not be receiving services for which they are currently eligible,” according to the White House.

“She will coordinate with colleagues at HHS and across the Federal government to advance programs that help Holocaust survivors, including national service programs such as AmeriCorps VISTA,” the White House said. “She will also collaborate with nonprofit organizations and the private sector to raise awareness about the needs of this vulnerable population and explore public-private partnerships that could provide additional support.”

According to the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), one-quarter of Holocaust survivors in the U.S. are living at or near the federal poverty line.

“We are thrilled to be working with Ms. Sufian as we launch this new effort to provide Holocaust survivors the support they need to live in dignity,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees.

Sufian is currently director of regional operations for the HHS Administration for Community Living, and previously served as senior advisor at the Social Security Administration.

Statement by President Obama on First Step Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community. So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged. I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall. Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister. And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.

Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.

While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb. Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.

Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution. We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy. But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.

In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.

If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect. If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.

Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today. Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress. However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/statement-by-president-obama-on-first-step-agreement-on-irans-nuclear-program/2013/11/24/

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