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April 2, 2015 / 13 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘White House’

White House Takes Aim: Netanyahu ‘Departing From Protocol’

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

A spokesperson for President Barack Obama is making sure Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knows his boss is disgruntled.

The White House says it is “reserving judgment” of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress about Iran on February 11, but that the event to which the prime minister has been asked to speak “is a departure from protocol.” The event is being held at the first branch of the American government, the legislative branch.

Netanyahu’s planned visit comes in response to a direct invitation by Congressional Speaker John A. Boehner, who asked the prime minister to address lawmakers of both houses on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat. Boehner extended the invitation Wednesday, Jan. 21, less than 24 hours after Obama snubbed the Congress on the issue in his State of the Union address, broadcast live Tuesday night local time on national television.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing aboard Air Force One that it had not yet spoken with Israeli government officials. He said U.S. officials are reserving judgment on prime minister’s visit until they hear from their Israeli counterparts about Netanyahu’s plans.

“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama. “This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” he added dryly in a clear poke at Israel’s top leader and the Speaker.

As has been the case for some time, there is obviously no deep friendship between the American president and the Israeli prime minister. Nor have Obama’s staff in recent months bothered to trouble themselves to hide their own personal distaste for most members of the Israeli administration.

But this latest sarcasm makes it plain the president is now granting new privileges to those who speak for him; or perhaps he is no longer chooses to restrain his own emotions in the interest of diplomacy or simple good taste.

Sadly, this particular battle is not even with Netanyahu although Obama has decided to make it so: actually it’s between the president and his Congress, and Israel’s prime minister is just being caught in the crossfire.

In his address, Obama vowed to veto any measure that in any would infringe on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear development activities.

Israel’s voters, meanwhile, are facing a national election in March. Netanyahu will have to answer to his constituents at the ballot box himself and explain what, if anything, he has or has not done to eliminate the existential threat to Israel presented by Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the international community, and the United States, that Israel will never allow Iran to achieve its goal in creating an atomic weapon of mass destruction.

No Israeli government official, and few – if any – intelligence officials in the world today actually believe Iran’s claims that it is continuing to increase and upgrade its uranium enrichment activities for “peaceful purposes only.”

Even if the Supreme Leader himself crosses his heart and solemnly says so.

 

Indiana’s GOP Governor Tours Israel with Eyes on the White House

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is touring Israel this week in a business and pleasure trip that also is considered as a first step to tout credentials to be the Republican party presidential nominee in the 2016 elections.

He celebrated Christmas in Jerusalem with his family and toured Christian holy sites.

Last week, Ben Carson, a black Republican, avowed Christian and retired neuro-surgeon from Florida and also a touted candidate for the GOP nomination, visited Israel for the first time in his life

Pence, like Carson, often sounds like an evangelist and is deep in the conservative camp, but his being virtually unknown outside Indiana has left him in the bottom of the growing heap of possible candidates.

A non-profit Christian-based organization paid for the Pence family’s trip, which is also a three-day economic mission.

“Hoosiers have cherished our relationship with the people of Israel for generations,” Pence said in a statement. “As we look ahead, deepening our ties with the people, businesses and state of Israel remains a commitment that will empower us as partners.”

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith called Israel a “global entrepreneurial hotspot” and stated, “Israelis are launching new businesses at a tremendous rate, and that’s triggering economic and job growth that’s primed to expand to the United States.”

His trip includes a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and leaders in high technology and life sciences.

Pence will meet with the Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett on Monday and will fulfill the requirement of foreign dignitaries by visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

It is only a matter of time before likely GOP candidates Rick Perry and Ted Cruz visit Israel to enhance their CVs for being policy experts, more so than several Israeli Knesset Members.

State Dept.: Anti-Settlement Policy Will Remain even After Obama Leaves

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

The State Dept. insists that its anti-settlement policy is not dependent on President Barack Obama and will continue even after he leaves the White House in January 2017.

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told high school students this week in Gush Etzion, which the United States considers “illegal,” that the  Obama Administration “won’t be around forever” and that Israel will resume building for Jews in Judea and Samaria once he is gone as president.

He apparently thinks Hillary Clinton won’t succeed Obama.

Ya’alon has a habit of saying what he thinks before he thinks. Earlier this year, he was quoted as stating in “private” remarks that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is “obsessed ‘and has a Messianic complex when it comes to the “Peace Process.”

He didn’t bother to think that his remarks to the high school students this week would be quoted, but maybe it is better off to give the White House a not so gentle reminder that it is going to have to fight hard in the Israeli election campaign if it wants to get rid of people like Ya’alon, who don’t take orders from Washington., which thinks otherwise.

“This Administration’s opposition to settlements is fully consistent with the policies of administrations for decades, including of both parties. So the notion that would change is not borne out by history,” State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at Wednesday’s press question and answer session,

She agreed that Obama will be out of office in two years, pending a sudden change in the U.S. Constitution, and the next administration is not going to change anything regarding the audacity of Israel to build homes for Jews in half of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, where it had been doing so for more than 40 years before President Obama blew in with the wind.

Previous administrations, contrary to what Psaki says, never have been called Jews “illegitimate” for living in areas of Jerusalem that the Palestinian Authority, with the backing of the State Dept. thinks is their God-given property.

Ya’alon notwithstanding, Israel will be stuck with American opposition to Jews living within Israel’s borders that the United States determines, according to Psaki.

It is unusual for a State Dept. spokesperson to predict what future administrations will determine.

Maybe she knows something that no one knows, but it is more likely that her comments give testament to an attempt to make the State Dept.’s long-standing pro-Arab policy part of the White House Bible.

Joe Biden to Light ‘National Menorah’

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden will assist in the lighting this year of the Hanukkah menorah on the ellipse in front of the White House.

Biden’s participation on Dec. 16, the first night of the holiday, marks the 35th anniversary of the first lighting of the “National Menorah,” an event sponsored by American Friends of Lubavitch, the Washington office of the Chabad movement.

It has become a tradition for Cabinet-level officials to assist in the lighting.

White House Spokesman Denies Sanctions Against Israel

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The White House denied on Monday that President Barack Obama’s administration is planning to impose economic sanctions against Israel.

Spokesperson Josh Earnest told journalists that reports that the president had been considering the sanctions due to plans by the Israeli government to build homes in Jerusalem were “completely unfounded and without merit.”

“Recent reports suggest that your administration has held classified meetings over the past several weeks to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Israel for its decision to construction homes in East Jerusalem,” 48 Congress members wrote to Obama on Friday.

“We believe that those actions are counterproductive, that they don’t serve to facilitate the kind of trust that we believe is necessary for both sides to try to hammer out their differences in a way that is consistent with the national security concerns of the Israeli people and with the broader aspirations of the Palestinian people,” Earnest said.

Last month there were echoes of frustration from the U.S. State Department over plans to build 500 housing units in the badly overcrowded Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem. The State Department called an announcement of the plans by the Jerusalem district planning and building committee “unfortunate” and “illegitimate” — a condemnation that followed a similar spat the week prior.

At the end of October, the prime minister’s office approved plans to build 600 new housing units in the same neighborhood, in addition to 400 units in Har Homa, another post-1967 neighborhood in the capital. Washington said at that point that Israel was taking steps that were “not conducive to peace in the region and a two-state solution.”

The State Department had expressed “concern” over what it called “settlement construction” — an odd choice of words for a northern Jerusalem neighborhood that is home to more than 20,000 people and has been in existence for nearly half a century.

 

 

Iran Wins 7 Month Reprieve, Nuclear Talks Extended

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Iran won a seven month reprieve Monday after stonewalling major world powers over ending its uranium enrichment program.

Iranian negotiators said it would be “impossible” to reach an agreement by November 24. This, after months of coy evasions about ways the Islamic Republic might comply with international demands to curtail its nuclear development activities.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his nation on Monday negotiators “achieved a significant victory” and that “negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later.” In a nationwide broadcast Monday evening, Rouhani said that many gaps that remained between the two sides had “been eliminated.”

He expanded on the talks, saying, “One phase is about the behind-the-curtain issues, where ideas are made closer and talks [really] take place. In this phase there has been good progress.

“The other phase is when those agreements are put on paper and turn into a final, ultimate deal in writing. We still have some distance to go in this second phase,” he admitted.

The new deadline for negotiations to wrap up is actually a two-stage runoff sort of deal. It involves first a decision to be made about what actually “needs to be done” — that’s by March 1 — and then a written agreement on whether Iran will actually do it — with that deadline to follow four months later, according to a report published by the Associated Press.

“If we can do it sooner, we want to do it sooner,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in a follow-up briefing on Monday. “These talks are not going to get easier just because we extended them. They’re tough. They’ve been tough. And they’re going to stay tough.”

Kerry said world powers could not continue to carry on talks with Iran forever, but that it was not yet time to walk away. “In these last days in Vienna we made real and substantial progress and we have seen new ideas surface,” he said.

In the meantime, fortunately, the international community has not agreed to reduce sanctions on Iran as long as no agreement has been reached – a point over which Israel had been deeply worried.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing Monday in an apparent response to both Israel and Congressional lawmakers that imposing fresh sanctions on Iran could be counterproductive.

“The president has also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal,” Earnest said, in an echo of words used in a statement made earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “But we do believe that enough progress has been made to warrant giving the Iranian regime more time to answer the international community’s concerns about their nuclear program — and to put in place a protocol for continuing to assure the international community about their compliance with these agreements.”

Senior Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill don’t necessarily agree, however. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte issued a joint statement on the matter, saying they view Iran’s insistence on uranium enrichment as problematic — and a “bad deal” with Tehran as no less than a prelude to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

“We believe this latest extension of talks should be coupled with increased sanctions and a requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval,” they said.

Senator Bob Corker, the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress should weigh in before any final agreement is inked with Iran. He also warned lawmakers to begin preparing a “Plan B,” just in case the talks fail.

Ya’alon: US Defense Secy Hagel is ‘True Friend’ of Israel

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was unstinting with his praise of outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday in response to the news that Hagel is stepping down.

Ya’alon called Hagel a “true friend” of Israel, commenting that in recent years, his relationship with the defense secretary had been “very open and honest.”

The U.S. security establishment under his command, said Ya’alon, “is an example of uncompromising support and exchange of information.” Ya’alon also referred to the “extensive and valuable military assistance that the U.S. has provided Israel.”

He thanked Hagel “in the name of the government of Israel and on behalf of its citizens” for his “contribution to the empowerment of Israel and his friendship and willingness to help at any time.

“I wish him well and good luck in his future endeavors,” Ya’alon added.

Hagel handed his formal letter of resignation to President Barack Obama on Monday morning prior to a ceremony at the White House in which Obama told reporters that both men agreed it was an “appropriate” time for him to resign.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/yaalon-us-defense-secy-hagel-is-true-friend-of-israel/2014/11/24/

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