WEEK OF MAY 24 THROUGH MAY 31
Israel and the Axis of Evil
May 29….(JWR) North Korea is half a world away from Israel. Yet the nuclear test it conducted on Monday has the Israeli defense establishment up in arms and it its Iranian nemesis smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Understanding why this is the case is key to understanding the danger posed by what someone once impolitely referred to as the Axis of Evil. Less than two years ago, on September 6, 2007, the IAF destroyed a North Korean-built plutonium production facility at Kibar, Syria. The destroyed installation was a virtual clone of North Korea's Yongbyon plutonium production facility. This past March a Swiss daily reported that Iranian defector Ali Reza Asghari, who before his March 2007 defection to the US served as a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards and as deputy defense minister, divulged that Iran paid for the North Korean facility. Teheran viewed the installation in Syria as an extension of its own nuclear program. According to Israeli estimates, Teheran spent between a billion and two billion dollars for the project. It can be assumed that Iranian personnel were present in North Korea during Monday's test. Over the past several years, Iranian nuclear officials have been on hand for all of North Korea's major tests including its first nuclear test and its intercontinental ballistic missile test in 2006. Moreover, it wouldn't be far-fetched to think that North Korea conducted some level of coordination with Iran regarding the timing of its nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests this week. It is hard to imagine that it is mere coincidence that North Korea's actions came just a week after Iran tested its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a range of two thousand kilometers. Aside from their chronological proximity, the main reason it makes sense to assume that Iran and North Korea coordinated their separate tests is because North Korea has played a central role in Iran's missile program. Although Western observers claim that Iran's Sejil-2 is based on Chinese technology transferred to Iran through Pakistan, the fact is that Iran owes much of its ballistic missile capacity to North Korea. The Shihab-3 missile for instance, which forms the backbone of Iran's strategic arm threatening to Israel and its Arab neighbors is simply an Iranian adaptation of North Korea's Nodong missile technology. Since at least the early 1990s, North Korea has been only too happy to proliferate that technology to whoever wants it. Like Iran, Syria owes much of its own massive missile arsenal to North Korean proliferation. Responding Monday to North Korea's nuclear test, US President Barack Obama said, "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia." While true, North Korea's intimate ties with Iran and Syria show that North Korea's nuclear program, with its warhead, missile and technological components, is not a distant threat, limited in scope to faraway East Asia. It is a multilateral program shared on various levels with Iran and Syria. Consequently, it endangers not just the likes of Japan and South Korea, but all nations whose territory and interests are within range of Iranian and Syrian missiles. Beyond its impact on Iran's technological and hardware capabilities, North Korea's nuclear program has had a singular influence on Iran's political strategy for advancing its nuclear program diplomatically. North Korea has been a trailblazer in its utilization of a mix of diplomatic aggression and seeming accommodation to alternately intimidate and persuade its enemies to take no action against its nuclear program. Iran has followed Pyongyang's model assiduously. Moreover, Iran has used the international, and particularly the American response, to various North Korean provocations over the years to determine how to position itself at any given moment in order to advance its nuclear program. For instance, when the US reacted to North Korea's 2006 nuclear and ICBM tests by reinstating the six-party talks in the hopes of appeasing Pyongyang, Iran learned that by exhibiting an interest in engaging the US on its uranium enrichment program it could gain valuable time. Just as North Korea was able to dissipate Washington's resolve to take action against it while buying time to advance its program still further through the six-party talks, so Iran, by seemingly agreeing to a framework for discussing its uranium enrichment program, has been able to keep the US and Europe at bay for the past several years. The Obama administration's impotent response to Pyongyang's ICBM test last month and its similarly stuttering reaction to North Korea's nuclear test on Monday have shown Teheran that it no longer needs to even pretend to have an interest in negotiating aspects of its nuclear program with Washington or its European counterparts. Whereas appearing interested in reaching an accommodation with Washington made sense during the Bush presidency when hawks and doves were competing for the president's ear, today, with the Obama administration populated solely by doves, Iran, like North Korea believes it has nothing to gain by pretending to care about accommodating Washington. This point was brought home clearly by both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's immediate verbal response to the North Korean nuclear test on Monday and by Iran's provocative launch of warships in the Gulf of Aden the same day. As Ahmadinejad said, as far the Iranian regime is concerned, "Iran's nuclear issue is over." There is no reason to talk anymore. Just as Obama made clear that he intends to do nothing in response to North Korea's nuclear test, so Iran believes that the President will do nothing to impede its nuclear program. Of course it is not simply the administration's policy towards North Korea that is signaling to Iran that it has no reason to be concerned that the US will challenge its nuclear aspirations. The US's general Middle East policy, which conditions US action against Iran's nuclear weapons program on the prior implementation of an impossible-to-achieve Israel-Palestinian peace agreement makes it obvious to Teheran that the US will take no action whatsoever to prevent it from following in North Korea's footsteps and becoming a nuclear power. During his press briefing with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Monday, Obama said the US would reassess its commitment to appeasing Iran at year's end. And early this week it was reported that Obama has instructed the Defense Department to prepare plans for attacking Iran. Moreover, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen has made several recent statement warning of the danger a nuclear-armed Iran will pose to global security, and by extension, to US national security. On the surface, all of this seems to indicate that the Obama administration may be willing to actually do something to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Unfortunately though, due to the timeline Obama has set, it is clear that before he will be ready to lift a finger against Iran, the mullocracy will have already become a nuclear power. Israel assesses that Iran will have a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb by the end of the year. The US believes that it could take until mid-2010. At his press briefing last week Obama said that if the negotiations are deemed a failure, the next step for the US will be to expand international sanctions against Iran. It can be assumed that here too, Obama will allow this policy to continue for at least six months before he will be willing to reconsider it. By that point, in all likelihood, Iran will already be in possession of a nuclear arsenal. Beyond Obama's timeline, over the past week, two other developments made it apparent that regardless of what Iran does, the Obama administration will not revise its policy of placing its Middle East emphasis on weakening Israel rather than on stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. First, last Friday Yediot Ahronot reported that at a recent lecture in Washington, US Lt. General Keith Dayton, who is responsible for training Palestinian military forces in Jordan stated outright that if Israel does not surrender Judea and Samaria within two years, the Palestinian forces he and his fellow American officers are now training at a cost of more than $300 million will begin killing Israelis. Even more unsettling than Dayton's certainty that within a short period of time these US-trained forces will commence murdering Israelis, is his seeming equanimity in the face of the known consequences of his actions. The prospect of US-trained Palestinian military forces slaughtering Jews does not cause Dayton have a second thought about the wisdom of the US's commitment to building and training a Palestinian army. Dayton's statement laid bare the disturbing fact even though the administration is fully aware of the costs of its approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, it is still unwilling to reconsider it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates just extended Dayton's tour of duty for an additional two years and gave him the added responsibility of serving as Obama's Middle East mediator George Mitchell's deputy. Four days after Dayton's remarks were published, senior American and Israeli officials met in London. The reported purpose of the high-level meeting was to discuss how Israel will abide by the administration's demand that it prohibit all construction inside of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. What was most notable about the meeting was its timing. By holding the meeting the day after North Korea tested its bomb and after Iran's announcement that it rejects the US's offer to negotiate about its nuclear program, the administration demonstrated that regardless of what Iran does, Washington's commitment to putting the screws on Israel is not subject to change. All of this of course is music to the mullahs' ears. Between America's impotence against their North Korean allies and its unshakable commitment to keeping Israel on the hot seat, the Iranians know that they have no reason to worry about Uncle Sam. As for Israel, it is a good thing that the IDF has scheduled largest civil defense drill in the country's history for next week. Between North Korea's nuclear test, Iran's brazen bellicosity and America's betrayal, it is clear that the government can do nothing to impact Washington's policies towards Iran. No destruction of Jewish communities will convince Obama to take action against Iran. Today Israel stands alone against the mullahs and their bomb. And this, like the US's decision to stand down against the Axis of Evil is not subject to change.
Hillary Clinton Spars with Bibi: No Building in Yesha - ‘No Exceptions’
May 29….(Arutz) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out swinging at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night and specifically rejected his policy for allowing building for “natural growth" in Judea and Samaria. Her statement came on the eve of Thursday’s visit of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, which two weeks ago told Israel to stop all building for Jews in Judea and Samaria. The president was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements, not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions," Secretary Clinton said at a news conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. She also dined with Abbas Wednesday night. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Netanyahu government, immediately responded and said that life will continue as usual for residents in towns and cities in Judea and Samaria. He said that the future of the areas will be settled in negotiations. The PA, with support from the Obama government, has implicitly said that negotiations are only possible once its demands are met. After returning from Washington, Netanyahu took steps to please the American government and announced that his administration will remove 26 hilltop communities and outposts. They are termed illegal because they were established after the Sharon government agreed to a US demand not to establish more communities in Judea and Samaria. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear he would not capitulate to all of the PA demands that are backed by the Obama government. Both he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have said they cannot “tell families not to have babies” in Judea and Samaria, where growth outstrips the population increase in the rest of the country. The Obama administration has not declared whether its demand includes Jerusalem neighborhoods over which the PA also wants sovereignty for its proposed new Arab country, which would give it control of all of the land restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last year reversed American policy and defined as a “settlement” the neighborhood of Har Homa, which has the same legal status as French Hill, Talpiot, Ramot and Gilo. All of the neighborhoods were annexed to Jerusalem nearly 30 years ago but are not recognized by the international community as part of the capital. The annexation prompted the removal of all embassies that were located in Jerusalem, leaving consulates in the city.
Israel Must Free Itself From Failed '2-State' Paradigm
May 28….(IsraelNN.com) Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon believes that the time has come for Israel to “free itself from the failed paradigm” of the “two-state solution.” Yaalon spoke Tuesday at a meeting of MKs dedicated to finding an alternative to the creation of a Palestinian Authority-led Arab state. While the creation of a PA-led state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is perceived as a necessity both in Israel and worldwide, such a state would not solve the Israel-PA conflict, said Yaalon. In fact, he said, it is doubtful that the possibility of creating such a state exists, due to Arab and Muslim reluctance to take any step that would imply recognition of Israel or compromise on Arab claims to the entire Land of Israel. Israel's mistake lies in accepting a-symmetrical talks with the PA, Yaalon said. From the beginning of talks, he explained, Israel has accepted the idea of a Palestinian national movement with the PA as its representative, while the PA has resolutely refused to accept the Jewish national movement of Zionism or the idea of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. Furthermore, while the PA demands that Arabs and Muslims be allowed to live in Israel, Israel accepts that a PA state would not have Jewish citizens, he said. And while Israel gives in on crucial issues such as the status of Jerusalem or the borders of a PA state, the PA refuses to bend in the slightest. Israel has also been mistaken in assuming that the Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is the cause of Israel-Arab tension, he said. Arab attacks on Israel began well before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel gained control of those areas, he said, and the Arab world's real goal is not a state in those areas, but rather, on the ruins of the State of Israel. For this reason, he said, the PA is actually uninterested in a “two-state solution.” Former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat waged war on Israel in order to avoid the creation of a PA state, he argued. "There are those who will argue that the PA wanted to establish a state in the 1967 borders but was unable to do so,” he said. “I say the problem was not one of ability, but of desire.” If the PA does not desire an independent state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and will not accept such a state as the fulfillment of its national goals, the “two-state solution” has no chance to bring peace, he concluded.
Israel must give up on seeking to fully solve its conflict with the PA and the Arab world as a whole, Yaalon said. “I believe we should not approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the phrase 'solution' in the foreseeable future,” he told his audience. “Instead, we should seek 'crisis management' or long-term coping strategies.” Israel should still seek a solution in the long term, he added. However, the process of seeking a solution should be “bottom-up,” and not “top-down.” Instead of hoping that a diplomatic agreement with the PA will lead to peace and security, the PA should prove that it is capable of self-rule prior to the signing of a diplomatic agreement, he argued. Yaalon presented five crucial elements of the “bottom-up” process:
The PA currently teaches Arab children that the entirety of Israel is an illegal colonialist entity, Yaalon said, and denies any historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. In addition, the PA teaches Jihad (holy war) against Israel and honors suicide bombers. Changing the PA school system to teach the value of life, not of death, and to accurately portray Jewish history is crucial, he said.
In order to create a viable economy, the PA must strengthen small businesses and create a stable middle class, Yaalon said. Attempts to create a PA economy through international aid have failed due to a corrupt PA leadership that misappropriates funds, and terrorist groups that attempt to keep PA Arabs living in poverty, he said. To avoid the problems posed by corrupt leadership, the world should focus on PA businessmen and support their initiatives.
Beyond creating a political entity, the PA must allow for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and protect human rights. Yaalon referred to “the American mistake” of supporting strong dictators over true democratic activists. Activists who seek true democracy and freedom should win encouragement from the West, he said.
The goal should be “One authority, one law, one weapon,” Yaalon said, referring to the disarming of rogue terrorist groups and the enforcement of law throughout the PA territories.
The PA must begin to truly fight terrorism, Yaalon said. Among other things, the PA must rid itself of the “revolving door” by which terrorists serve only light sentences, and the sentencing of terrorists who murdered Israelis for “harming the public interest” instead of “murder.” These things encourage terrorism, he said. The PA must be able to fight terrorism properly on multiple levels, he said, from gathering intelligence information to putting terrorists on trial.
There is no guarantee that the “bottom-up” proposal can be put into effect, Yaalon said, because it relies on the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary action. In order to increase the chances that the PA will do what is necessary, Israel must make it clear that the PA has no chance of defeating Israel, he said, or of forcing further Israeli concessions and withdrawals without making concessions of its own. "The Palestinians' extreme violence does not stem from despair over their situation, as the West tends to assume, but rather from hope, hope that the State of Israel will disappear,” he said. “Destroying the hope of defeating Israel will encourage new ideas.”
North Korea Warns South of War, 1953 Truce Over
May 27….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Pyongyang announced early Wednesday, May 27, that its withdrawal from the truce that ended the Korean War in 1953 means that "the Korean peninsulas will go back to a state of war." Thousands of US troops are deployed in the buffer zone since the war ended. US spy planes reported that the plutonium separation plant at Yongbyon had been reactivated. North Korea repeated that Seoul's decision to joint the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative was tantamount to a declaration of war. "Any hostile acts against our republic, including the stopping and searching of our peaceful vessels... will face an immediate and strong military strike in response," the North Korean statement said from the North's military representative at the border truce village of Panmunjom. Firing another short-range missile in Japan's direction, its sixth since conducting a nuclear test Monday, Pyongyang said it could not guarantee the safety of shipping off its west coast. The test was unanimously condemned by the UN Security Council. The White House then announced that US president Barack Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and Japanese prime minister Taro Aso had agreed to work together to support the Security Council resolution with concrete measures to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile activities. To Mr. Aso, the US president pledged "unequivocal commitment to the defense of Japan and to maintaining peace and Monday, DEBKAfile's military sources disclosed that North Korea and Iran are closely and secretly coordinated on their military nuclear programs. Most of the missile guidance technology which gave the long-range Seijl 2 surface missile tested by Iran Wednesday, May 20, its bull's-eye accuracy came from Pyongyang. Iran's long-range missile test was carried out less than a month after North Korea's own internationally condemned missile test launch on April 5. Tehran may therefore be expected to be not far behind its nuclear partner in conducting its own first nuclear test. Not surprisingly, therefore, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out negotiations on its nuclear program.
Russia Presents Persian Gulf Naval Presence Coordinated with Tehran
May 27….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Russian warships are due to call Wednesday, May 27, at the Bahrain port of Manama, seat of the US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. They will be following in the wake of the Russian vessels already docked at the Omani port of Salalah, the first to avail themselves of facilities at Gulf ports. Their arrival is fully coordinated between the Russian and Iranian naval commands. According to our sources, this is the first time a Russian flotilla will have taken on provisions and fuel at the same Gulf ports which hitherto serviced only the US Navy. Moscow has thus gained its first maritime foothold in the Persian Gulf. The flotilla consists of four vessels from Russia's Pacific Fleet: The submarine fighter Admiral Panteleyev is due at Manama Wednesday, escorted by the refueling-supply ship Izhorai, The supply-battleship Irkut and the rescue craft BM-37 are already docked in Salalah. DEBKAfile's military sources report that the Russians, like the Iranians, cover their stealthy advance into new waters by apparent movements for joining the international task force combating Somali pirates. While Iranian warships have taken up positions in the Gulf of Aden, the Russians are moving naval units southeast into the Persian Gulf. Monday, May 25, the Iranian naval chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari announced that six Iranian warships had been dispatched to "the international waters" of the Gulf of Aden in a "historically unprecedented move to show its ability to confront any foreign threats." He did not bother to mention the pirates. Russian and Iranian naval movements in the two strategic seas are clearly synchronized at the highest levels in Tehran and Moscow. Our military analysts find Russia and Iran seizing the moment for supplanting positions held exclusively by the US and other western fleets. They are taking advantage of two developments:
The number of US warships maintained in the Gulf has been reduced to its lowest level in two years; President Obama quietly reduced their presence near Iran's shores in order to generate a positive atmosphere for the coming US dialogue with the Islamic Republic, and not a single US aircraft carrier is consequently to be found anywhere in the Gulf region.
Israeli Intell: Venezuela Sending Uranium to Iran
May 27….(Breitbart) Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The two South American countries are known to have close ties with Iran, but this is the first allegation that they are involved in the development of Iran's nuclear program, considered a strategic threat by Israel. There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program," the Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, "Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran." The report concludes that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to undermine the United States by supporting Iran. Venezuela and Bolivia are close allies, and both regimes have a history of opposing US foreign policy and Israeli actions. Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador during Israel's offensive in Gaza this year, and Israel retaliated by expelling the Venezuelan envoy. Bolivia cut ties with Israel over the offensive. There was no immediate comment from officials in Venezuela or Bolivia on the report's allegations. The three-page document about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared in advance of a visit to South America by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who will attend a conference of the Organization of American States in Honduras next week. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is also scheduled to visit the region. Israel considers Iran a serious threat because of its nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and frequent references by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Israel's destruction. Israel dismisses Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, charging that the Iranians are building nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear work is aimed only at producing energy. Its enrichment of uranium has increased concerns about its program because that technology can be used both to produce fuel for power plants and to build bombs. Israel has been pressing for world action to stop the Iranian program. While saying it prefers diplomatic action, Israel has not taken its military option off the table. Experts believe Israel is capable of destroying some of Iran's nuclear facilities in airstrikes. Iran, under Ahmadinejad, has strengthened its ties with both Venezuela and Bolivia, where it opened an embassy last year. Its alliance with the left-led nations is based largely on their shared antagonism to the United States but is also a way for Iran to lessen its international isolation. The Israeli government report did not say where the uranium that it alleged the two countries were supplying originated from. Bolivia has uranium deposits. Venezuela is not currently mining its own estimated 50,000 tons of untapped uranium reserves, according to an analysis published in December by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Carnegie report said, however, that recent collaboration with Iran in strategic minerals has generated speculation that Venezuela could mine uranium for Iran. The Israeli government report also charges that the Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon have set up cells in Latin America. It says Venezuela has issued permits that allow Iranian residents to travel freely in South America. The report concludes, "Since Ahmadinejad's rise to power, Tehran has been promoting an aggressive policy aimed at bolstering its ties with Latin American countries with the declared goal of 'bringing America to its knees.'" The document says Venezuela and Bolivia are violating the United Nations Security Council's economic sanctions with their aid to Iran. As allies against the US, Ahmadinejad and Chavez have set up a $200 billion fund aimed at garnering the support of more South American countries for the cause of "liberation from the American imperialism," according to the report.
Israel’s Forgotten Rights to Jerusalem
May 27….(Dore Gold) Israel has not yet declared its detailed positions in future talks with the Palestinians, and for understandable reasons. At this point, the government is justly focusing on the Iranian issue, which constitutes an existential threat. This is the context in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted his visit in Washington DC. (“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.” Zechariah12:2 ) However, when the actual talks with the Palestinians are launched, Israel will have to avoid making the basic diplomatic mistake that previous governments have made in defining Israel’s primary interests, especially when it comes to Jerusalem. For most of the past two decades, an asymmetry could be observed in how the two parties handled their struggle in the diplomatic sphere. While the Palestinians maintained that their goal was to achieve a Palestinians state whose capital is Jerusalem, most Israeli declarations sufficed with general statements that the goal is peace, or peace and security. In other words, whereas Israel presented an abstract goal, the Palestinians spoke about a clear and well-defined purpose. As a rule, the side that presents clear objectives is the triumphant one in any political conflict. Little wonder, then, that the contemporary diplomatic discourse is focusing on the Palestinian narrative, and Israel’s arguments have been swept aside. Thus the asymmetry between how the Israelis and the Arabs presented their arguments to the world became one of the central factors responsible for the ongoing erosion in Israel’s diplomatic status. This process comes despite the fact that Israel’s claims rest on a broad base, and have in the past received solid international recognition, especially when in comes to Jerusalem. In 1967, for example, when the Israel Defense Forces entered East Jerusalem, the Soviet Union’s attempt to label Israel as the aggressor failed. The world’s leading jurists recognized its superior right to possess Jerusalem in light of the fact that Israel had entered the city in a defensive war. U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Stephen Schwebel, who also headed the International Court of Justice at The Hague, wrote in 1970 that “Israel has better title in the territory that was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than Jordan and Egypt.” The esteemed British jurist Elihu Lauterpacht expressed a similar view. Such views are significant in international law, as implied in the constitution of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Because of the historical circumstances of the Six-Day War, the United Nations Security Council did not insist on a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, as clearly stated in Resolution 242. Morover, former US ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg, mentioned at one occasion that Resolution 242 did not include Jerusalem, making it of a different status than the West Bank. In 1994, the US ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, announced at the Security Council that she rejects the assertion that Jerusalem is “occupied Palestinian territory.” The late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin stressed that there was no contradiction between the willingness to hold talks with the Palestinians and the insistence on Israel’s legal right to Jerusalem. Two years after his government signed the Oslo Accords, Rabin reiterated in a speech to the Knesset his belief regarding the need to keep Jerusalem united. This position received further backing by a decisive majority in both houses of Congress in 1995. Two Israeli governments that proposed to divide Jerusalem have come and gone since then, though they never reached a final agreement. Israel need not be bound to the protocols of a failed negotiation. To protect Jerusalem, Israeli diplomacy must reestablish the unification of the city as a clear national goal, and not abandon the subject of Jerusalem exclusively to Palestinian spokespeople.
Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia to Discuss Peace & Iran
May 27….(Reuters) US President Barack Obama will meet Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in Riyadh next week to seek his support over the nuclear standoff with Iran and reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Obama will visit Riyadh on June 3 in a surprise addition to his scheduled three-day trip to Egypt, Germany and France, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is a US ally in the region and potentially a key player in the drive for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which Obama has declared a top foreign policy priority. The Obama administration has embraced the 2002 Arab peace initiative, a proposal authored by Saudi Arabia that offered Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full withdrawal from the lands it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees. Gibbs dismissed the idea the Saudi stop was added to persuade Arab states to make conciliatory gestures to Israel. "The president believes it's an important opportunity to discuss important business, like Middle East peace, but it's not born out of anything specific," he said. Gibbs last week scotched speculation that Obama would use his much-anticipated speech to Muslims, which he is due to deliver in Egypt on June 4, to unveil a new Middle East peace initiative. Obama has held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent weeks as part of efforts to jumpstart stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace moves and will meet Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Thursday.
The visit to Saudi Arabia comes as Obama is seeking to build an alliance of moderate Muslim nations to put pressure on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, which Washington fears is a cover to build a nuclear bomb. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called in March for Arabs to agree on how to tackle Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for electricity generation. Obama's administration has been at pains to reassure Saudi Arabia that Washington's efforts to reach out diplomatically to Iran will not affect bilateral relations. Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the leader of mainstream Sunni Islam, fears the growing regional power of non-Arab, Shi'ite Iran, which backs Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamist factions such as Hamas and has considerable influence in neighboring Iraq. The United States has raised the idea of sending Yemeni terrorism detainees held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has said he will close by next January, to Saudi Arabia, as Riyadh has a program to rehabilitate militants. Saudi Arabia is among the United States' top 15 trading partners. Last year, two-way trade was $67.3 billion, which equaled about 2 percent of total US exports and imports. Saudi Arabia exported $54.8 million worth of oil and few other products to the United States in 2008 and imported $12.5 billion of US goods.
PA: Netanyahu will Try to Rebuild the Jewish Temple
May 27….IsraelNN.com) Sheikh Raad Salah, leader of the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, believes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will try to rebuild the Jewish Temple. Speaking at a conference organized by website Islam Online in Doha, Qatar, Salah stated his belief that Netanyahu may try to build the Jewish Temple, which the Islamic preacher called “the false temple,” during his current term after allegedly failing to do so in his first term as Prime Minister in the late 1990s. “I ask that those with the power to make the political decision hear me,” Salah exhorted his audience. “Netanyahu is about to build the false Temple, and when the Jews build the Temple they will do so upon the ruins of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The danger to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque is “tangible and immediate,” Salah said, echoing similar dramatic statements he has made over the years. “I warn, I ask for aid and I call out,” he said. “We should expect deadly surprises that could hurt Jerusalem in general and Al Aqsa in particular,” he said. “We live in years that will determine if Jerusalem survives and in Al Aqsa will remain standing,” he added. Salah said that in an effort to prepare world opinion for the realization of its goals in Jerusalem, Israel sends tourists to the Al Aqsa mosque and tells them that it was built upon the ruins of the Jewish Temple. The solution to “the threat against Jerusalem,” according to Salah, is a complete mobilization of the Arab world, including the religious imams, who need to act and “recruit the masses.” He asked Muslim scholars to pronounce edicts that will force “the Muslim nation and its leaders to confront their duty towards the problem of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa.” “A thousand politicians can talk without changing a thing,” Salah said. ‘One religious sage can do what the politicians cannot carry out." The Jewish Temple was first built by King Solomon (Shlomo) about 3,000 years ago. It served as the spiritual center of the Hebrew nation and as a place of national pilgrimage and sacrifice. Serviced by the priestly class (Kohanim) and Levites, the Temple contained the Seven-Branched Menorah and housed the golden Holy Ark within a room known as the Holy of Holies.
Coming soon: the Third Temple
The First Temple was razed by Babylonian conquerors, rebuilt by Jews by permission of a Persian emperor, defiled by Greeks and then re-consecrated by the Hasmoneans, and burnt down again by Romans. Jewish religion commands the Jews to rebuild the Temple as part of a Divine plan for the salvation of the Jewish people and the entire world, but Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is not considered observant, never has associated himself with efforts by Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.
Is America Getting its Final Warning From God?
May 27….(Jan Markell) America is at a crossroads. Many are asking if she can be saved, or has God abandoned America? What a pitiful conclusion, if so, for a nation that has been a beacon of hope for the oppressed of the world. How often has America banded to fight off aggression or traveled to the ends of the earth to aid the less fortunate? How many missionaries has she provided to the world saving an untold number of lost souls? Some say America must be punished for her sins, but are they really that much more grave than other wealthy nation? (Luke 12:48) reminds us that from those given a great deal will be required much more. Have we used our God-given assets properly? My radio guest on May 16 was John McTernan, author of God's Final Warning to America and As America Has Done to Israel. (As America Has Done to Israel will be on my Web site in the next few days.) Since 1987, John has tracked judgment on America when we abuse the unborn, look the other way at the radical gay agenda, and cause any kind of harm to God's covenant land of Israel. Some have "issues" with this. I am not sure why since there is a biblical illustration for each category. Ever heard of Sodom and Gomorrah? Right now America is torn in two, and the more Obama pushes the division of Israel, the more division there will be in our country. It has far surpassed the clever little red state-blue state illustration of a few years ago. Now it is hard-core secular humanist liberalism vs. traditional values and biblical values' people butting heads. Just this rampant division in our country is judgment. We cannot all get along! The chasm of division grows more each day! America is trillions of dollars in debt. More than 60% of the country is experiencing a drought. Two million houses are in foreclosure. Read Deuteronomy 28 to see how God dealt with a rebellious Israel. Why would He do less to a rebellious America? Recently Homeland Security declared millions of good people "right-wing extremists." Janet Napolitano has now pulled that position paper due to the outcry. Nonetheless, very good people were called evil with overtones of (Isaiah 5:20) at play. Let's be honest and say this kind of labeling was going on long before the Obama administration came to power but now it is on fast-forward. Dr. James Dobson stated that "America is awash in evil." He also stated in WorldNetDaily on May 14, 2009, "There is utter evil coming out of the US Congress." Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) has been reporting on the "pedophile protection act" being promoted by Congress. He states, "If we don't have another awakening, I'm not sure what's left (of America)." Dobson concurs and says that the threat to religious rights "keeps me awake at night." Under certain circumstances, names for Jesus or symbols of Jesus must be covered up as ordered by the Obama administration. If any prayer is to be used in any service or ceremony, it must be approved and likely will be stricken out. There is almost unbelievable news that our Pentagon is burning Bibles. Do we even have a right to expect God's favor on America? Thankfully some Christian leaders and pastors are speaking up and risking all, but for the most part, the church is asleep. A nation is only as strong as her churches are strong. A passage was given to Israel that can be applied to our day, which reads, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, then turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land" (II Chronicles 7:14). The verse is not directed at the devil's crowd! The responsibility for turning around the direction of a country falls heavily on people of faith. Unfortunately many churches today don't want to preach about judgment. They are spiritually anesthetized. They have not been taught to fear the Lord but rather, that God is all about love because that makes people come to church. Many pastors and ministry leaders would never put a big part of the blame on America's demise onto the church! They're into church growth and don't make waves or people won't return next week. Praise needs to be extended to pastors and church leaders who are holding to truth, who are telling the truth, and who are warning of serious judgment occurring now and in the future. This past spring, "America's pastor," Rick Warren, reversed himself on California's "Proposition 8." He ultimately apologized to the gay community for his endorsement of it. And we expect God's blessing when "America's pastor" does this? I realize many reading this do not consider Rick their pastor, but let's be honest, many do. America's "other pastor" is Joel Osteen who said on Larry King that he's just glad Obama "loves the Lord." Why the sugar-coating? Why not tell the inconvenient truth? We have reached a point where we can only pray that God would have mercy in His judgment on America, and that He would send an outpouring of His Spirit to help beat back the rampant evil of our times. Perhaps right now our only focus should be on evangelism before the Ark door shuts once again. Maybe it is too late for petitions and pleading with Congress to do things right. Maybe our focus should be eternal, not earthly. But once an individual or a nation gives up, the slide can be at rapid pace and no one wants to see that. The Bible doesn't tell Christians to be "salt and light" just up to a certain point in history and then quit! Thus I would exhort you to press on and speak up for righteousness, for "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).
PA: Obama Administration Sees Jerusalem Divided
('He told us city will never be united under Israeli sovereignty')
May 26….(WND) President Obama told the Palestinian Authority that Jerusalem will never be united under Israeli sovereignty, a top Palestinian Authority official told WND today. "Americans said an open Jerusalem - yes. But a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty - no," Hatem Abdel Khader, the PA's minister for Jerusalem affairs, said in comments to both WND and Israel's Ynetnews website. "(The Obama administration) has made clear that Jerusalem must be accessible to everyone, but not united under Israel's rule," Khader said. Khader claimed the US is cooperating with the PA to "thwart Israel's plans in Jerusalem." "When they collaborate with us in Israeli courts against home demolitions or the confiscation of land we see their attitude," he said. Khader told WND, "The Americans are very present on the ground, and they are making pressure over Israeli authorities and even municipalities." "They are acting according to the concept that the failure to establish a Palestinian state would jeopardize US national security interests, and without Jerusalem there is no Palestinian state," he said. Khader made the remarks after the State Department yesterday refuted a speech in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week Jerusalem will never be divided. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Netanyahu said at an event marking 42 years since Israel reunified the city following the 1967 Six Day War. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." In response, the State Department released a statement that Jerusalem "is a final status issue."
Russian Official Says Israel is Behind Continuous Tension in the Middle East
May 25….(SANA) Vice President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs in Moscow General Leonid Ivashov said that Israel is behind the continuous conflicts and tension in the Middle East. In a statement to Russia Today Satellite Channel, Ivashov said on Monday that achieving a comprehensive and just peace doesn't only serve the Middle East, but it also serves all humanity and in spite of that Israel doesn't work for achieving it. In another context, Ivashov said that Syria is considered as a real partner to Russia, pointing out that trade exchange between Russia and Syria increased seven-fold during the last three years, the thing which asserts that there is a common interest and language between the two countries. Ivashov hailed the deep historical relations between Syria and Russia which are in continuous advance, saying that Syria is considered a cultural center and a cradle of civilizations and that is why the cultural relations and values between Syria and Russia in the fields of military, economy and tourism must be bolstered.
Why is Russia a Mentor to Israel’s Enemies?
May 25….(FOJ) Why has Russia always been a close ally of all Israel’s enemies? Russia has cozied up to Hamas and Hezbollah. Russia has long utilized Syria as a client state for its interests in the Middle East, And Russia is busy helping Iran attain nuclear capablities. The question is, why. Could it be that Russia is preparing to regain a position of superpower status by enlarging its role in world affairs by inserting itself into the Middle East Peace Process by powerbrokering on behalf of anti-American and anti- Israel clients. The Bible clearly indicates that Russia will one day lead a coalition of allies against the nation of Israel. Perhaps it is already strategizing with Hamas and Iran for that eventuality! Umm.
Russia: Hamas is Relevant to Middle East Peace
May 25….(Jerusalem Post) Avigdor Lieberman took the rare step for an Israeli foreign minister Sunday of publicly criticizing Moscow, expressing "deep disappointment" over the previous day's meeting in Damascus between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashaal. Lieberman expressed "his deep disappointment" at the meeting, a brief statement put out by the Foreign Ministry said, adding that every meeting with Hamas pushes a diplomatic agreement further away and legitimizes terrorism. Lavrov said Sunday that Hamas was following a more "realistic" path after Operation Cast Lead. He urged the group to agree to a formal truce with Israel, noting that since the end of the war in mid-January there has been less rocket and mortar fire from Gaza into Israel. "We noticed a more realistic evaluation of the situation, the responsibility that Hamas feels not just for what happens in Gaza but for the fate of the entire Palestinian people," Lavrov said in remarks broadcast Sunday on Russia's state-run Vesti-24 television. Lavrov said he pressed Hamas to try to maintain a halt to rocket fire. "The ideal thing would be to conclude a formal truce," Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency quoted him as saying. He also took up Hamas's call for an end to a blockade of Gaza that Israel and Egypt imposed after the group seized control of the territory two years ago. He said he would discuss the blockade with Lieberman when the latter visits Moscow next month. Lavrov defended Russia's engagement with Hamas, saying that all sides must be included in peace efforts and that shunning Hamas helped lead to the Gaza crisis, according to RIA-Novosti. "This should have been done much earlier, when Hamas won elections in 2006 that everyone accepted as democratic, free and honest. But because of political prejudice, most Western countries did not recognize the Hamas government," he said. Unlike most other countries with whom Israel has close ties, Russia never stopped meeting Hamas, and consistently claims that in each meeting it presses the organization to accept the three conditions set by the Quartet for recognition - recognizing Israel, forswearing terrorism, and accepting previous Israel-Palestinian agreements. Russia is a member of the Quartet, together with the US, EU and UN. Mashaal has been in Moscow several times since his movement won the Palestinian Authority legislative elections in January 2006. Lavrov was in Damascus to attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Following his Saturday night meeting with Mashaal, Lavrov said he was convinced it was necessary to maintain contact with the organization. "We are certain that this is needed," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. Earlier this month, Lieberman launched a campaign to get Russia to cut off contacts with Hamas and Hizbullah, urging Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to raise the issue with Russian leaders. Lieberman met with the Italian prime minister in Rome and asked him to convince the Kremlin that Hamas and Hizbullah were terrorist organizations working against Western interests in the Middle East.
Palestinians: Jerusalem Construction May Spark Another Intifada
May 25….(YNET) The Palestinians warn that Israel’s "continued construction and appropriation of land" in east Jerusalem may be grounds for another uprising. The Palestinian minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Khatem Abdel Kader, told Ynet Sunday evening the US administration realizes that "the implementation of Israel's plans for appropriation and the demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem may spark a third intifada." Kader said the Palestinians have identified a clear change in America's position on the issue of Jerusalem. "They are acting according to the concept that the failure to establish a Palestinian state would jeopardize the US' national security interests, and without Jerusalem there is no Palestinian state. This is why the Americans are cooperating with us to thwart Israel's plans in Jerusalem." According to the minister, US representatives have been monitoring every demolition order issued by the Jerusalem Municipality. "The Americans understand that these plans endanger not only to the future of Jerusalem, but also the future of the Palestinian state and the entire (peace) process," he said. The Obama administration, Kader maintained, "Realizes that Jerusalem will never be unified under Israeli sovereignty and has made it clear that Jerusalem must be accessible to everyone, but not united under Israel's rule."
WEEK OF MAY 17 THROUGH MAY 23
Netanyahu: Jerusalem Will Always be
May 22….(YNET) The State ceremony marking Jerusalem Day was held Thursday at the capital's Ammunition Hill. "Unified Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem always has been and always will be ours and it will never be divided again," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the sounds of roaring applause. "I stand here today… saying what I said in my visit to the US: Jerusalem will never be divided again. Only Israeli sovereignty over the city would ensure the freedom of religion for the three faiths, and it is the only thing that can guarantee that all minorities and congregations could continue living in it," he said. Rafik Husseini, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in response to Netanyahu's speech that "Israeli occupation of east Jerusalem is illegal," adding that an Israeli attempt to keep control of east Jerusalem would be a "major obstacle to peace." President Shimon Peres took the stage before Netanyahu, saying that Jerusalem is the only capital Israel and the Jewish people have ever known. "Jerusalem's greatness does not stem from its geography, but rather from its history. No other city in the world has created such an abundance of spiritual and political history. "Jerusalem is held sacred by half of mankind. It has and always will be Israel's capital. We never had another and it has never been the capital of any other people." Addressing the families whose loved ones lost their lives in the Battle of Ammunition Hill, fought during the Six Day War, the president said: "I know how deep your pain runs. "It is inconsolable. But here, on this formidable hill we have to look around and say the achievement is as great as the pain. The men who have fallen here saved the most precious thing in our history, they saved Jerusalem."
Obama is Intentionally Dividing Jerusalem
May 22….(Ha Aretz) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's enemies have gotten together to promote a few sacred causes: to bring Israel to its knees, to force a Pax Americana on Israel (the "Obama plan") and to grind the prime minister's status to dust. If the media in his own country is trying to grind Netanyahu down, why shouldn't the American administration - which has mobilized the enthusiastic Israeli media for its own needs, take advantage of the latter's disparaging attitude to attain its goals? (Although it is repelled by such an attitude. In American culture, with its code of honor and restraint, this type of behavior would not pass.) They have not managed to bring Netanyahu to his knees, but they have managed to fan a foreign fire of Biblical proportions ("Please, with might," Gideon Levy begs Barack Obama in a piece on May 17). This fire persuaded whomever it persuaded that an American presidential initiative can be presented, without any preparatory dialogue with the government in power, that is unacceptable to the vast majority of Israeli Jews. Besides the demand to exert powerful pressure on Israel, the peacemakers demanded that Obama also end the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel. These relations, the Israeli patriots explained, are damaging to US interests. Here, too, their labors bore fruit. The speech on a vision of peace for the Middle East, slated for June 4, will not be given at the White House, not even at a joint session of Congress. Only by delivering the speech in Cairo, intentionally skipping a visit to Jerusalem (and even to Tel Aviv!), will the spirit of peace alight on the lips of the American messiah. Obama has little knowledge of the history, ideology and psychology of the Arab opposition to the Jewish state's existence. But he has a strategy: to thaw relations with Islam. It is clear what will be demanded in return. But those who built his program, which purely by coincidence conforms entirely to the ideas of the extreme left in Israel (whose wheeler-dealers are in close touch with Rahm Emanuel and his ilk), are showing an ambition and arrogance that will leave them cooked. No Arab leader, political or religious, has yet been found who agrees to give up the right of return, which is a central pillar in the Obama plan. The idea to internationalize the Old City and its governance by the United Nations is a futile idea. Only assimilated Jews, and one can be so in Israel, too - could garner support for this idea from a neophyte president, who has no idea how deep the Jewish bond is to its capital, especially to the area containing its most sacred sites. Obama has tossed a lot of balls into the air, maybe too many. Even a magician like him cannot catch them all. The last ball, the especially heavy one of the Obama plan, might land on his foot, but also on the feet of everyone in the region, who will pay the price imposed on them by the person who wants (by force) to change the order of things. That will also be the case if he does not set aside his disconnected initiatives and quickly connect to reality in other places in the world, as well as at home. Today, Jerusalem Day, a state ceremony will be held marking 42 years since the liberation of Israel's capital. In his speech, Netanyahu can somewhat cool down Obama's messianic fervor and (politely) make clear to whom, exclusively, Jerusalem belongs. He can pledge that after the Paratroopers liberated the city in 1967, no foreign power will ever again pass through its gates.
Bill to 'Fortify Jerusalem' Require 80 MKs to Change Jerusalem’s Status
May 22….(Jerusalem Post) On the anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, MKs from five factions representing both the coalition and the opposition submitted a bill on Thursday that would require a supermajority vote within the Knesset to enact any change to Jerusalem's borders. The amendment would require a special majority of 80 MKs to approve any change to the capital's borders. "Jerusalem is a city with a special status and historical significance to the Jewish people, and is its eternal capital. Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people must be maintained whole as a legacy to future generations. "To that end, the Knesset must take an action that will prevent any harm to the capital of Israel. Giving up any part of Jerusalem should thus entail a supermajority and not simply a majority vote or a majority of MKs." The current law requires a simple majority - 61 votes - in order to shift the capital's boundaries. The bill's sponsors argued that the amendment would "fortify the unification of Jerusalem, to ensure its future and to maintain the security of its residents." Likud Party officials emphasized that the current law defines the area of Jerusalem as the area determined on June 28, 1967, and forbids the transfer of any authority over Jerusalem to any foreign entity, diplomatic or administrative, without a majority approval from the parliament. The bill is reminiscent of a similar initiative passed in the last Knesset that would require a national referendum and supermajority approval in the Knesset before Israel could make any deals involving a retreat from the Golan Heights. That legislation was pushed through in the wake of rumors that then-prime minister Ehud Olmert was seeking to negotiate an agreement with Syria, that would presumably entail a withdrawal from at least part of the region. Also on Thursday, Schneller presented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat with another private bill that would amend the Jerusalem Law to provide annual aid to invest in infrastructure and national events as part of Jerusalem's status as the capital city. A total of 54 MKs signed on to Schneller's initiative. In a speech a day earlier during a special session of the plenum to commemorate Jerusalem Day, Schneller emphasized that "the Old City and the holy sites will forever be under Israeli authority under the blue and white flag, and this bill is an expression of that." In the same speech, he lashed out against Obama, arguing that "governments and rulers are switched every four years, but Jerusalem, the eternal city, will stay under Israeli authority forever."
Jerusalem in Numbers
May 22….(IsraelNN.com) Since 1967, Jerusalem’s population has grown almost three-fold to nearly 760,800, rendering it the largest city in Israel. The Jewish population, which comprises 64% of the citizenry, has grown by 150%, but the strong Arab minority, 33%, has grown by 290%. The following are among the new neighborhoods built in areas liberated in 1967, and their populations:
Gilo - 32,000
Har Homa – 8,500
N\'vei Yaakov – 22,000
Old City – 5,000
Pisgat Ze’ev – 41,000
Ramat (Reches) Shlomo – 17,000
Ramot (Alon) – 47,000
Talpiot Mizrach – 15,000
As in recent years, more people left the city last year than moved in – but the gap is dropping. In 2008, 18,500 moved out, while 13,600 moved in a negative balance of 4,900, which is an improvement by between 1,000 and 2,000 over recent years. Just over a third of those who left moved to Judea and Samaria. 110,000 vehicles enter Jerusalem daily. Tourism to Jerusalem was at a record high in 2008, breaking the previous records set the year before. A total of 1,354,300 hotel guests were registered, 85% of them in western Jerusalem. 40% of them were from the Americas, and 44% from Europe. Green areas in Jerusalem and environs are equal to the entire area of Tel Aviv, some 50,000 dunams (50 square kilometers, 20 square miles). The city’s Jewish population grew 1% in 2008, and the Arab sector grew by 3%. 23% of the Jewish families and 67% of the Arab families live beneath the poverty level. The city has 60 museums, 6,382 street benches, 400 paper recycling bins, 550 plastic recycling bins, 821 public parks, and 70 garbage collection vehicles. It also has 70 hotels, with a total of 9,000 rooms, as well as 2,000 archaeological sites, 220 junctions with traffic lights, and 11 tunnels with a total length of 6 kilometers. Over 226,000 children are registered in Jerusalem’s schools, including 75,000 Arabs. Among the Jewish students, 60% study in hareidi-religious schools. The most popular names: David and Sarah in the hareidi system, Yonatan and Hodaya in the religious network, Daniel and Noah (not to be confused with the boys’ name Noach) in the secular schools, and Muhammed and Malek in the Arab sector. 2,100 new immigrants settled in Jerusalem in 2008, 15% of the country’s total number of immigrants. Jerusalem is the country’s youngest city: 53% are under age 24, and 41% are under age 18.
PA Peace Plan: Iran to Share Rule over Temple Mount
May 22….(IsraelNN) Israel may find Iran as one of the administrators of the Temple Mount, according to a new Palestinian Authority plan reported Thursday by the Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz. PA sources said giving up claims to the Temple Mount and handing over control to the 57-member Saudi-based Islamic Conference Organization is conditional on Israel’s agreeing to a final status agreement. Iran, which is classified as Persian and not an Arab country, is part of the Islamic group. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has opposed agreeing to a new PA state without knowing ahead of time what it would entail. The PA recently has escalated its propaganda campaign that disassociates the holy site from any connection with Judaism and claims it is solely a Muslim site. A group of Arabs demonstrated at Shechem Gate in the Old City Thursday morning, shouting anti-Israeli slogans as Jews began celebrating Jerusalem Reunification Day. Sovereignty over the Temple Mount, based in Jerusalem, has been one of the foundations for a new Arab country that the PA wants following the proposed expulsion of more than half a million Jews from Judea and Samaria, as well as from Jerusalem neighborhoods that were established after the 1967 Six-Day War. The PA's official website as far back as 2005 rejected the Jewish connection with the Western Wall (Kotel), the remains of the wall that surrounded the Holy Temple area. Muslim legend claims that Mohammed tied his horse to the wall before ascending to heaven, even though the city of Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran. The Israeli government initially ignored the PA propaganda campaign, but Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the International Department of the of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, warned in 2005 that the PA claims have “far reaching implications” for Israel. Rabbi Richman said that the PA’s denial of the Jewish Temple's existence “is part of a campaign to totally eradicate, erase, and destroy all Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the land of Israel.” The PA incitement against Israel, which violates the American Roadmap plan, also attributes the 1929 Arab pogrom to Jewish efforts to claim ownership of the Western Wall. The Islam Online website Wednesday re-asserted long-standing accusations that archaeological excavations at the Temple Mount are designed to cause a “real and immediate” danger to the Al Aqsa mosque. The latest charges were attributed to Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s Galilee branch and who has been arrested several times for incitement against Israel. Sheikh Salah told the website he is certain Israel has a ”diabolical plan” to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque “in a way that would appear as is happening as a result of natural causes, such as an earthquake." According to Islam Online, “The Israeli government, in coordination with powerful settler groups, began digging an extensive tunnel network throughout the Old City. Israel describes the tunnels as "tourist projects" that pose no threat to Islamic holy places, but Palestinians and some Israeli organizations, including the Israeli Committee against House Demolition, believe that the ultimate goal is to create a subterranean access route to attack Al-Aqsa and other Islamic shrines in the area.”
A Two-State Peace Isn't The Arab Goal
(Who favors a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?….Just about everybody)
May 21….(JWR) President Barak Obama does, of course, as he made clear in welcoming Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Monday. So dod former President George W. Bush, who began advocating Palestinian statehood in 2002 and continued until his final days in office. The Democratic Party’s national platform endorses a two-state solution; and the Republican platform does, too. The UN Security Council unanimously reaffirmed its support a few days ago. The European Union is strongly in favor as well, so strongly that the EU's foreign-policy chief, Javier Solana, has been warning Israel that its relations with Europe "will be very, very different" if it drops the two-state ball. Pope Benedict XVI called for a Palestinian State this year during his recent visit to the Holy Land, thereby aligning himself, on this issue, at least with the editorial boards of most media outlets in America. And for that matter, with most Israelis. A new poll shows 58 per cent of the Israeli public supports backing a two-state solution; with prominent supporters including Netanyahu's three predecessors, former prime ministers Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Barak as well as President Shimon Peres. The consensus, it would seem, is overwhelming. As Henri Guaino, a senior adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, put it in speaking to reporters on Sunday: "Everyone wants peace. The whole world is unanimous in wanting a Palestinian State." It isn't going to happen. International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs' goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down. In 1936, when Palestine was still under British rule, a royalheaded by Lord Peel was sent to investigate the steadily worsening Arab violence. After a detailed inquiry, the Peel Commission concluded that "an irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country." It recommended a two-state solution, a partition of the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. "Partition offers a chance of ultimate success for peace," the commission reported. "No other plan does." But the Arab leaders, more intent on preventing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine than in achieving a state for themselves, rejected the Peel Plan out of hand. The foremost Palestinian leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, actively supported the Nazi regime in Germany. In return, Husseini wrote in his memoirs, Hitler promised him "a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world." In 1947, the Palestinians were again presented with a two-state proposal. Again they spurned it. Like the Peel Commission, the United Nations concluded that only a division of the land into adjacent states, one Arab and one Jewish, could put an end to the conflict. On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly debated, and by a vote of 33-13 adopted Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine on the basis of population. Had the Arabs accepted the UN decision, the Palestinian State that "the whole world wants" would today be 61 years old. Instead, the Arab League vowed to block Jewish sovereignty by waging "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre." Over and over this pattern has been repeated. Following its stunning victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel offered to exchange the land it had won for permanent peace with its neighbors. From their summit in Khartoum came the Arabs' notorious response: "No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel." At Camp David in 2000, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they claimed to be seeking, a sovereign state with its capital in East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, tens of billions of dollars in "compensation" for the plight of Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and launched the bloodiest wave of terrorism in Israel's history. To this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel's liquidation. "The whole world" may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. (No Israel) Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.
Palestinians: Obama Will Give us Jerusalem!
May 21….(Israel Today) Palestinian officials cited by Ynet on Wednesday said that US President Barack Obama intends to formally bequeath them the eastern half of Jerusalem when he unveils his new Middle East peace initiative in Cairo next month. The Palestinian Authority officials said that Obama will go further than presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in that he will prejudge the outcome of negotiations by calling for Israel to fully surrender those areas of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967. America’s last two presidents refrained from calling for the redivision of Jerusalem, aware of how unpopular that option is with Israelis in general, and acknowledging that the current agreements between Israel and the Palestinians say that the future status of Jerusalem is a matter for bilateral negotiations. The new Obama plan will also reportedly include a firm timetable for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state that will not be adversely affected by ongoing Palestinian violence.
General Commander of the Iranian Army:
It will Take us 11 days "to Wipe Israel out of Existence"
May 20….(Jeruslem Post) Click for Video
Obama Approach to Mideast Peace Making US Less Secure
May 20….(JWR) This is a lousy time to have a president in the White House who is, apparently, contemptuous of Winston Churchill. President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest in a series of efforts aimed at weakening Israel and otherwise bending it to the US administration's will, a practice against which an historian/statesman like Churchill would have strenuously warned. In his extraordinary memoir, "The Gathering Storm," the future British prime minister recalled how he had publicly pronounced in the run-up to World War II that he could not "imagine a more dangerous policy" than one then being practiced by the British government. It involved trying to appease Adolf Hitler by encouraging Britain's principal continental ally, France, to disarm, even as Nazi Germany was remilitarizing in increasingly offensive ways. This practice was subsequently applied by both the British and French as they compelled another powerful ally, Czechoslovakia, to surrender its formidable Western defenses and military-industrial capabilities to the Nazis. The results of these misbegotten initiatives produced not peace, but an unprecedented conflagration. Extreme care should be exercised to avoid a repetition of this tragic history. Yet, every indication is that Obama is determined to weaken Israel, America's most important and reliable ally in the Middle East, by forcing the Jewish state to surrender territory and make other strategic concessions in order to create a Palestinian state. As in the past, this weaken-your-friend approach to achieving the so-called two-state solution will not work. It will encourage, not eliminate, the abiding ambition of other nations in the region and their terrorist proxies to "wipe Israel off the map." It will actually exacerbate regional instability, not alleviate it. Fortunately, another thoughtful student of history and accomplished statesman has come forth in Churchill's footsteps (and follows his example) by laying out a markedly different approach to the idea of creating a second state out of the 22 percent of the original mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River that was not given to the Arabs in 1922. (The other 78 percent became "Transjordan," known today simply as Jordan.) At a Washington dinner hosted on May 6 by the Endowment for Middle East Truth, R. James Woolsey was recognized as a "speaker of the truth." In his brief acceptance address, a man who has served presidents of both parties as undersecretary of the Navy, conventional arms control negotiator and director of central intelligence laid out preconditions that must apply before there is any likelihood of a Palestinian polity with which Israel might actually be able to live "side by side in peace." Mr. Woolsey's analysis is informed by the status Israeli Arabs enjoy in the Jewish state today. They make up roughly one-fifth of the population of Israel. They are able to have their own places of worship and schools. They are free to own and publish their own newspapers. Israel's Arab citizens are also entitled to vote for real representation in a real legislature. Currently, they have 10 of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. There is an Arab justice on the Israeli Supreme Court. And an ethnically Arab Druze holds a seat in Netanyahu's Cabinet. Most importantly, as Woolsey notes, law-abiding Arab citizens of Israel "can go to sleep at night without having to worry that their door will be kicked down and they will be killed" by agents of the Israeli government or others among the majority Jewish population. In short, they enjoy real security as well as opportunities in a society in which Israeli Arabs are a distinct minority. Regrettably, as Woolsey notes, the world has a tendency to "define deviancy down for non-Jews." As a result, governments around the world, including the Obama administration, never even mention the possibility that Jews should be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges in any future Palestinian polity that Israeli Arabs exercise today in the Jewish State. So, instead of what amounts to a Hitlerian program of Judenrein in any prospective Palestinian state, meaning, as a practical matter, if not a de jure one, that no Jews can reside or work there, there could be about twice the number of Israeli Jews as currently reside in so-called settlements on the West Bank. They should be free to build synagogues and Jewish schools. And newspapers that serve the Jewish population in any future state of "Palestine" should be permitted to flourish there. Jews should also have a chance to elect representatives to a future Palestinian legislature. They should be able to expect to be represented as well in other governing institutions, like the executive and judicial branches. In order for the foregoing to operate, Jews in the Palestinian state must be able to live without fearing every day for their lives. In Woolsey's view, "Once Palestinians are behaving that way, they deserve a state." By establishing full reciprocity as the prerequisite basis for a two-state solution Obama might just be able to make useful progress toward peace in the Middle East. If, however, he persists in distancing the United States from Israel and otherwise weakening the Jewish state, he will likely get war, not a durable end to hostilities. As Churchill and Woolsey might attest, no good will come of Obama ignoring history and his efforts to euchre Israel into doing the same.
US to Abandon Israel, Warns Israeli MK
May 20….(Israel Today) Outspoken right-wing Israeli Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad said that what he took away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Barack Obama on Monday was that America is on its way to abandoning the Jewish state. Speaking to Israel National News, Eldad stressed that Obama had insisted on a deadline-free negotiating process with Iran, despite Netanyahu explaining that a nuclear-armed Iran poses a very real existential threat that Israel cannot accept. Obama’s position essentially means that while the US would prefer for Iran not to go nuclear, it is willing to accept that outcome, said Eldad, adding, “Israel will have no choice but to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities with all the means at its disposal, be the price what it may.” Netanyahu had hoped to convince Obama that while the Israeli-Arab conflict had been going on for decades, the Iranian nuclear crisis is a game-changing issue that must be dealt with independently and immediately. Israeli experts fear that Obama is betting on a change in the Iranian leadership when Iranians go to the polls in June, resulting in a halt to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in line with international demands. But senior Israeli defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that their intelligence indicates Iran’s nuclear program will steam ahead regardless of who wins the election, and that Iran will be able to field a nuclear weapon within 18 months. They noted that depending on who wins the presidential election this summer, Iran may not actually use a nuclear bomb, but will use its possession of such weapons to exert dominance over the region
Netanyahu Holds Fast Against Patronizing Obama
May 20….(Israel Today) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won high marks from most for generally holding his own in Monday’s meeting with US President Barack Obama. The White House talks were expected to be tense, as both leaders came in with divergent views regarding the creation of a Palestinian state, how to deal with the Iran nuclear crisis, and the linkage between the two issues. In the post-meeting press conference, Netanyahu maintained his refusal to publicly endorse the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, but repeated his long-held view that Israel has no desire to rule over millions of hostile Arabs. Obama made the difference between his and Netanyahu’s views clear by telling reporters that his government will push hard for the birth of “Palestine,” and urging Netanyahu to grasp hold of this “historic opportunity.” He also appeared to patronize Netanyahu by saying he knew the Israeli leader would eventually “rise to the occasion.” In another perceived slight, Obama cooly noted that Netanyahu had been “very vocal in his concerns” regarding Iran, but insisted that he will not put a timetable on what have so far been pointless diplomatic efforts to halt Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear arms. Obama was most adamant in his refusal to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iran nuclear crisis as separate issues. He flatly rejected Netanyahu’s argument that if there is any link at all between the two issues, it is that Israel cannot possibly conclude a final status peace deal with the Palestinians while Iran is building nuclear bombs and emboldening Palestinian terror groups. “If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way,” Obama said. “To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians - between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.” The one point of agreement between the two was Obama’s intention to push more Arab nations to directly join Israeli-Arab peace talks. The president indicated that he will unveil a new regional peace initiative when he visits Cairo next month. Political spin doctors in both Washington and Jerusalem immediately went to work painting the meeting as a relaxed and friendly encounter, though the substance of what the two leaders told the press bespoke a far different reality beneath the surface.
Netanyahu Gives Obama Till End of Year on Iran
May 20….(In The Days) The differences on the Palestinian issue remain. Obama wants a Palestinian state, Netanyahu refuses to say “two states.” He prefers to speak about how to prevent the Palestinians from establishing a second Gaza in the West Bank, requiring them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and security arrangements. Obama said the settlements must stop, Netanyahu replied by demanding Palestinian “reciprocity.” The meeting focused on Iran, the Palestinians and the link between them. Netanyahu said they reached complete understanding on the goal regarding Iran - “to prevent Iran from developing a military nuclear capability.” Obama promised him that if the diplomatic effort fails to get results by the end of the year, the US will reevaluate the situation and perhaps impose tougher sanctions. He also said that all options are on the table. Netanyahu said that Israel has the right to defend itself. He did not spare Obama a description of Jewish suffering throughout history and spoke of his commitment to preserving Israel and the Jewish nation. Netanyahu said he hopes “Obama will succeed” in his talks with Iran, but this is a diplomatic phrase. It is doubtful that he believes the Iranians will suddenly become nice and give up their nuclear program just because Obama talks with them. In practice, this means that Netanyahu agreed to give Obama until the end of the year. Then, if Iran’s nuclear program is still proceeding, Israel will consider “other options.” Netanyahu spoke about preventing Iran from getting “military nuclear capability,” leaving open the possibility of it retaining a civilian nuclear capability. That opens a crack to a possible deal between the US and Tehran. The differences on the Palestinian issue remain. Obama wants a Palestinian state, Netanyahu refuses to say “two states.” He prefers to speak about how to prevent the Palestinians from establishing a second Gaza in the West Bank, requiring them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and security arrangements. Obama said the settlements must stop, Netanyahu replied by demanding Palestinian “reciprocity.” Obama intends to launch a new American peace plan in his speech in Cairo on June 4. It will no doubt contain all the elements Netanyahu is uncomfortable with - two states, halting settlement construction and removing outposts.
Hamas Launches Rocket Attack on Sderot
May 20….(Arutz) A Kassam exploded at a house in Sderot, causing heavy damage and sending people into shock as Hamas renewed rocket attacks on Israel late Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters, police and rescue teams rushed to the scene to treat the victims, one of whom also suffered light wounds in his hand from shrapnel. A second rocket exploded nearby. The attack came at the same time Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Democratic Senator John Kerry, who visited Gaza earlier this year, were discussing the Obama administration’s push for peace with the Palestinian Authority. The explosion also coincided with the announcement by PA sources that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah party, has given up trying to reach an agreement with Hamas and will announce a new government Tuesday night.
Obama Tells Netanyahu He Will Present new Regional Peace Initiative
(Netanyahu, Obama leave White House meeting with significant gaps on issue of two-state solution. US president informs prime minister he intends to present a new regional peace initiative, probably during his trip to Cairo next month)
May 19….(YNET) US President Barack Obama informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he intends to promote a new regional peace initiative for the Middle East. Speaking to reporters following his meeting with Obama earlier on Monday, the prime minister said that his understanding the regional component will be the key focal point of the new initiative. It will likely be presented in Obama's planned June 4th speech in Cairo. The US president will be in Egypt as a conclusion to a series of meetings with local leaders, namely Jordan's King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Netanyahu said that the two discussed the currently proposed Arab League initiative, "but only in regards to the markedly more positive spirit displayed by Arab nations compared to the 'Three Nos' adopted in the Khartoum Conference, nothing beyond that." The prime minister said that Israel shares Obama's view that as many Arab nations as possible should be included in the Palestinian process, "so that they talk directly to Israel."
'The right to defense'
"Israel has the right to defend itself," Netanyahu said when asked about the Iranian threat. He added that the US president "understands" that Iran must not be allowed to obtain military nuclear capability. "There is no green light or red light. There is a principle we agreed on. The important thing said is that there is a commitment to an outcome where Iran does not develop military nuclear power. President Obama expressed that very clearly," the prime minister said. Netanyahu failed to persuade the US president to set a timetable for the diplomatic efforts with Tehran. Obama said he does not see the need for any "artificial" deadline for the talks with the Islamic Republic. He said however that Washington was interested in seeing progress on this front by the end of the year. The US president said he expects a positive response from his diplomatic outreach to Iran on stopping its nuclear program by the end of the year. He said the United States wanted to bring Iran into the world community but declared "we're not going to have talks forever." Obama said he was not closing off a "range of steps" against Iran, including sanctions, if it continues its nuclear program. Netanyahu acknowledged the importance of the meeting with the US president, which lasted for over four hours, an hour and 45 minutes of it a private discussion between the two leaders. The prime minister characterized the meeting as positive and amicable, and said both leaders believed they could work with one another. "He expressed a deep commitment to Israeli-US ties, and a commitment to Israel's security," Netanyahu said.
'Two-states or Hamas state?'
On the Palestinian track he added that in addition to demanding "concrete moves on Israel's part," Obama recognizes that the Arab world most also do the same towards Israel. Netanyahu said he is willing to start talks with Abbas "immediately," but refused to discuss the possibility of the US administration setting a timetable for the process. "I'm not going into that," he said. The prime minister stressed that he did not use the term 'two-states for two-peoples' in his meeting with Obama. "First we must see if that state is, for example, a Hamas state. How do you guarantee it won't be a Hamas state? This is a fundamental question. The terminology is important, yes, but the fundamentals are more important. This is what we want to know." Netanyahu said that he told the US president the Palestinian Authority could have control over everything save for an army of its own or the ability to bring in weaponry. "If there is an understanding about the fundamentals, the other problems will be solved," he said. The prime minister said he was confident in the steadfastness of the bilateral relations between Israel and the United States. He also discussed the American demand that Israel freeze all construction in the settlements, saying such a move "would need to be realized as part of the commitments made by both sides. Israel went beyond (just freezing construction) in the Gaza Strip by dismantling settlements, and instead of dismantling terrorism, (the Palestinians) built a terror infrastructure in Gaza."
Obama Prods Israel Toward Palestinian Statehood
May 19….() President Barack Obama on Monday pressed a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict but failed to win a commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to back Palestinian statehood. In their first White House talks, Obama also urged Netanyahu to freeze Jewish settlement building but sought to reassure Israelis wary about his overtures to Iran that he would not wait indefinitely for diplomatic progress toward curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The two leaders tried to paper over their differences as Obama waded into the thicket of Middle East diplomacy four months after taking office, but the divisions were hard to ignore between Israel and its superpower ally. "It is in the interests not only of the Palestinians but also the Israelis, the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution," Obama told reporters with Netanyahu sitting beside him. Netanyahu, who heads a new right-leaning Israeli coalition, reiterated that he supported self-government for the Palestinians but made no mention of a state, a position underscoring a rare rift in US-Israeli relations. "I did not say two states for two peoples," Netanyahu said later at a solo briefing with reporters. "We need to deliberate to clarify this. Does it mean a Hamas state? I hope not. So how do I ensure it's not a Hamas state, an entity that threatens Israel security? I think that's a fundamental question," Netanyahu said. Hamas Islamists, who have rejected Western calls to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace accords, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas governing essentially only in the West Bank.
US-Israel Summit Shadowed by Obama's Soft Stand on Iran Nuke
May 19….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile's Washington sources report that the gap between US president Barack Obama and Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Iran was wider even than on the Palestinian issue. Overshadowing their outwardly easy conversation was the US president's growing inclination to meet Iran halfway on uranium enrichment and call off UN and American sanctions if Tehran allows international monitoring of the process. Our intelligence sources report that Obama is seriously considering taking up the Anglo-German proposal for an international monitoring mechanism strict enough to preclude Iran's attainment of weapons-grade enriched uranium. The president was convinced by American intelligence and nuclear experts that this can be done. He also believes that nothing will persuade Tehran to cede its right to enrichment activity on its soil. Israeli intelligence and military experts take the opposite view. They believe the Anglo-German plan gives Iran the perfect cover for concealing its race for a nuclear bomb, a misgiving shared by the political and military establishments of the moderate Arab governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. It is their view that if Obama adopts this plan, Iran can be sure of arriving at a nuclear weapon capability by the end of 2010. This dispute did not come up in the Obama-Netanyahu conversation. Both skated around the Iranian nuclear threat separately without touching on options outside diplomacy. The US president said he was in the process of "reaching out" to Iran and was confident he could persuade Tehran's rulers that a nuclear weapon was not in their best interest if they wanted to be fully accepted as part of the international community. He did not mention uranium enrichment or a military option against Iran. Neither would he accept a deadline for negotiations with Tehran, except to say that at the end of the year, "we will see where we stand." But asked later to comment, Netanyahu said: "We will defend ourselves." Seen from outside Washington, by Iran's neighbors, Israeli and Arab alike, President Obama has made Iran the gift of seven clear months for developing its nuclear capabilities and enrichment undisturbed.
Barack Obama Will Steer Netanyahu Away from Striking Iran
May 18….(Times On Line) President Obama's meeting in the Oval Office with Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu comes amid fundamental differences on their approach to the Middle East. President Obama will seek today to persuade the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister that the White House’s recent overtures to Iran should be given time to work and that an Israeli military strike against Tehran could trigger disaster. Obama’s meeting in the Oval Office with Binyamin Netanyahu comes amid fundamental differences on their approach to the Middle East and mixed signals over whether the Israeli Prime Minister could endorse the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, a cornerstone of US policy in the region. Netanyahu, who unlike his predecessors has refused to back the idea of an independent Palestinian state, arrived in Washington as his Defense Minister suggested that he may be prepared to endorse a peace process leading to such an outcome. “I think and believe that Netanyahu will tell Obama this Government is prepared to go for a political process that will result in two peoples living side by side,” said Ehud Barak. A former Israeli Prime Minister and long-time rival of Netanyahu, he has been a supporter of a “two-state solution” and is part of the current Prime Minister’s governing coalition. Yet no sooner had Barak spoken than Ofir Akunis, a confidant of Netanyahu and a member of his conservative Likud party, said that the Israeli leader would refuse to back a Palestinian state. Yisrael Katz, the Israeli Transport Minister, also said that Netanyau would “oppose any creation of an armed Palestinian state on Israel’s borders, which would endanger Israel’s security”. It is uncertain how much consensus Obama and Netanyahu will be able to reach, either on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or on Iran. Obama sees a two-state solution as vital to Middle East peace, and a key factor in the push to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The US President will also argue today that Israel must stop building new settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu does not believe that the Palestinians are ready to govern themselves, not least because they are fundamentally split. President Abbas’s increasingly shaky hold on power runs only in the West Bank. The rival Hamas militants control Gaza. Netanyahu says that he is ready to negotiate with Abbas. He also says that he is ready to open up border crossings and invest in the Palestinian economy but has stopped short of endorsing a sovereign independent state. Obama’s recent offer of talks with Tehran has raised deep concerns in Israel and Netanyahu views Tehran’s nuclear ambitions as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Both men agree that Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped but have differing opinions on how to to do it, particularly as the Israeli leader sees no link, as Obama does, between the issue of Palestinian statehood and efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program. During his election campaign Netanyahu hinted at his willingness to launch a military strike if Iran refused to halt the program. This month Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, said that world powers should take action against Iran if it does not curb its nuclear activities by August
Netanyahu Arrives in Washington for 'Tense' Talks
May 18….(Israel Today) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday for a visit that will include what many expect to be a tense meeting between the Israeli leader and US President Barack Obama. In fact, "tense" was how YNET described the atmosphere aboard Netanyahu's trans-Atlantic flight, during which the prime minister's entourage wondered just how much pressure Obama would put on them publicly commit to the birth of a Palestinian Arab state, even if the Palestinians fail to meet their own peace commitments. Regardless of how much pressure they come under, however, one Israeli official told the news portal that Netanyahu intends to stand his ground, particularly on its demands that the Palestinians give up terrorism, agree to remain largely demilitarized and recognize Israel as "the Jewish state." Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a close confidante of Netanyahu, indicated the prime minister in fact will go further than standing his ground and will promote fresh approaches to peace that don't involve handing land over to the Palestinians under their current leadership and until they have proved themselves true partners for peace. Netanyahu also reportedly planned to turn the tables a bit on the Obama administration by insisting that the primary threat to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a nuclear-armed Iran, and so something must be done immediately about the Islamic Republic's defiant nuclear program before meaningful progress can be made toward Israeli-Arab peace. Earlier this month, Obama's top aides suggested that the US would only really go after Iran after Netanyahu agreed to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state in the very near future. Netanyahu was treated to a healthy dose of pressure before even departing for the US from both sides of hits unity coalition. Members of Netanyahu's own Likud Party and other right-wing factions sent a letter to the prime minister at the weekend threatening to rebel if he breaks under US pressure as he did during his last stint leading the nation a decade ago. But members of the left-wing Labor Party also sent Netanyahu a letter, warning him against "deluding" himself and the rest of the nation into believing he can resist the birth of "Palestine." Meanwhile, Palestinian officials accused Netanyahu of planning to deceive the US president and change the terms of the peace process for no good reason. They insisted that the only thing that matters is a firm timetable leading Israel's surrender of Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem
PA Still Seeks Israel's Demise, US-Trained Army Could Attack Jewish State
May 18….(Israel Today) A top Palestinian Authority official admits the "two-state solution" is really just a means of bringing about Israel's collapse, and the American general training up the new PA army reveals those troops could turn on Israel. Speaking with Lebanon's ANB Television last week, Palestinian Authority representative in Lebanon Abbas Zaki said he personally doesn't desire any kind of peace deal with Israel, but explained that establishing a state in Judea and Samaria with eastern Jerusalem as its capital will be a step toward Israel's destruction. Said Zaki: "In my opinion, with such a solution, Israel will collapse. Because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will be left of all their talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen Nation? What will be with all the sacrifices they gave and then they are told to leave?" Most Israelis are no longer blind to the fact that most Palestinians still harbor a long-term desire to destroy the Jewish state, so Zaki's words surprised few. More worrying was US General Keith Dayton's apparent revelation this week that the Palestinian soldiers he is currently training could attack Israel in the near future. Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dayton said, "There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you're creating a state, when you're not." Writing in the liberal magazine The Nation, investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss noted, "To my ears, at least, his subtle warning is that if concrete progress isn't made toward a Palestinian state, the very troops Dayton is assembling could rebel." During the opening months of the last intifada in late 2000 and early 2001, uniformed Palestinian Authority troops armed with American weapons and training did indeed directly engage Israeli forces and attack Israeli civilians.
India Thinks Pakistani N-sites in Radical Hands
May 18….(DEBKA-Net-Weekly Exclusive Report) The important Times of India quotes DEBKA-Net-Weekly's exclusive report of Friday, May 15, which revealed that Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had warned US president Barack Obama that Pakistan's nuclear sites in North West Frontier Province areas that are Taliban-al Qaeda strongholds are already partly in the hands of Islamic extremists. He told Obama: "Pakistan is lost." DEBKA listed the locations of those nuclear sites and illustrated them with a special map. Singh's Congress Party has meanwhile won a second term in India's general election, according to exit polls Saturday, May 16. The Times of India goes on to cite visiting US scholar Robert Windrem as commenting: "It is quite disturbing that the administration is allowing Pakistan to quantitatively and qualitatively step up production of fissile material without as much so a public reproach." US officials have repeatedly maintained their confidence that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal will not fall into the hands of Islamic extremists and have Islamabad's assurance to this effect. Scholars like Windrem fear this confidence is misplaced because Pakistan's nuclear program "may already be infected with the virus of radicalism from within…"
Can Christians Save Israel from Obama?
May 18…..(WND) Christians are the "backbone" of grassroots US support for the Jewish state and could be crucial in lobbying lawmakers against supporting White House policies that may be detrimental to Israel, according to a Mideast reporter and author. "Most American Jews seem to have either abandoned Israel or endorse suicidal Israeli land concessions to the Palestinians. It is the Christians in America who are the real backbone of support there for the Jewish State," exclaimed WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein in a full-house speech at the prestigious Israel Center in Jerusalem. But Klein warned most Americans, both Christians and Jews, are not aware of the full dangers the Obama Administration poses to Israel, including specific ways the US is helping to physically divide Jerusalem and exclusive information on how the White House may open dialogue with the Hamas terrorist organization. the Obama administration is a direct threat to Israel and the Middle East regional stability. Klein said that Congress could be instrumental in easing some of the Obama administration's "dangerous" Mideast policies and objectives. He said grassroots Christian support, particularly efforts to reach state representatives, could make an "enormous difference." He pointed to recent election trends among US Jews and recent polls showing most American Jews support a Palestinian state as worrying signs. The subtitle of Klein's new book reads, "How enemies within and without threaten the Jewish nation's survival." "The greatest threat, the one that magnifies all others exponentially, is that only a few in Israel or abroad are aware of the real extent of the dangers facing the Jewish country, both from within and without," writes Klein. Hal Lindsey calls the book a "must read by a heroic journalist ... it's written for everyone seeking to understand the real situation in Israel and the Middle East." Klein pulls no punches, fingering the Israeli government as often being its own worst enemy. He also shows how policies from the Obama administration and international community harm Israel's interests and how Iran, Hamas, Palestinian terrorists and a host of other players are poised to end the Mideast democracy once and for all. If Israel falls, America will be next in line, argues Klein.
WEEK OF MAY 10 THROUGH MAY 16
Obama Warns Netanyahu: Do Not Strike Iran
May 15….(In The Days) US President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the US with an Israeli military operation against Iran. The message was conveyed by a senior American official who met in Israel with Netanyahu, ministers and other senior officials. Earlier, Netanyahu’s envoy visited Washington and met with National Security Adviser James Jones and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and discussed the dialogue Obama has initiated with Tehran. The message from the American envoy to the prime minister reveals US concern that Israel could lose patience and act against Iran. It is important to the Americans that they not be caught off guard and find themselves facing facts on the ground at the last minute. Obama did not wait for his White House meeting with Netanyahu, scheduled for next Monday, to deliver his message, but rather sent it ahead of time with his envoy. It may be assumed that Obama is disturbed by the positions Netanyahu expressed before his election vis-a-vis Tehran, for example, Netanyahu’s statement that “If elected I pledge that Iran will not attain nuclear arms, and that includes whatever is necessary for this statement to be carried out.” After taking office, on Holocaust Memorial Day Netanyahu said: “We will not allow Holocaust-deniers to carry out another holocaust.” Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak do not oppose American dialogue with Tehran, but they believe it should be conducted within a limited window of time, making it clear to Iran that if it does not stop its nuclear program, severe sanctions will be imposed and other alternatives will be considered. The American concern that Israel will attack Iran came up as early as last year, while president George W. Bush was still in office. As first reported in Haaretz, former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Barak made a number of requests from Bush during the latter’s visit to Jerusalem, which were interpreted as preparations for an aerial attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Following the Bush visit to Jerusalem, about a year ago the previous administration sent two senior envoys, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and the former US national intelligence chief Mike McConnell to demand that Israel not attack Iran. The previous administration also gave the message greater weight through Mullen’s public statement that an Israeli attack on Iran would endanger the entire region. Since that statement, Mullen has met a number of times with his Israeli counterpart, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
Obama Readying to Throw Israel to The Wolves
May 15….(In The Days) Obama is attempting to throw Israel under the Islamist bus, and he’s getting American Jews to do his dirty work for him. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly told the Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Sunday that efforts to stop Iran hinged on peace talks with the Palestinians. General James Jones, National Security Adviser to Obama, reportedly told a European foreign minister a week ago that unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be ‘forceful’ with Israel. Jones is quoted in the telegram as saying that the United States, European Union and moderate Arab states must redefine ‘a satisfactory endgame solution.’ The US national security adviser did not mention Israel as party to these consultations. If you are going to throw a country under the bus, you don’t invite it to discuss the manner of its destruction with the assassins who are co-ordinating the crime. As I said here months ago, the appointment of Jones and the elevation of his post of National Security Adviser at the expense of the Secretary of State was all part of the strategy to centralize power in the hands of those who want to do Israel harm. Yesterday Vice-President Joe Biden and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry turned the thumbscrews tighter, telling Israel to stop building more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement. This is all not only evil but exceptionally stupid. The idea that a Palestine state will help build a coalition against Iran is demonstrably absurd. The Arab states are beside themselves with anxiety about Iran. They want it to be attacked and its nuclear program stopped. They are desperately fearful that the Obama administration might have decided that it can live with a nuclear Iran. The idea that if a Palestine state comes into being it will be easier to handle Iran is the opposite of the case: a Palestine state will be Iran, in the sense that it will be run by Hamas as a proxy for the Islamic Republic. The idea that a Palestine state will not compromise Israel’s security is ludicrous. It is of course, by any sane standard, quite fantastic that America is behaving as if it is Israel which is holding up a peace settlement when Israel has made concession after concession, giving up Sinai, giving up Gaza, offering all the territories to the Arabs in return for peace in 1967, offering more than 90 per cent of them ditto in 2000, ditto again to Mahmoud Abbas in the past year, only to be attacked in return by a Palestinian terrorist entity, backed in its continued aggression, let us not forget, by the countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has made no concessions at all and is not being pressured to do so. It is not the aggressor here but the victim of aggression that America is now choosing to beat up. In any sane world, one might think the Americans would be piling the pressure on the Palestinians to renounce their genocidal ambitions against Israel, to stop teaching and training their children to hate and kill Jews, to adhere to the primary requirement in the Road Map that they must dismantle their infrastructure of violence as the first step in the peace process; one might think, indeed, that they would view Mahmoud Abbas’s repeated statements that the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state to be the main impediment to peace. But no. The repeated professions that America will never jeopardize Israel’s security are stomach churning when Obama is actually blaming Israel for measures it has taken to safeguard its security, the settlements were always first and foremost a security measure, and the travel restrictions are there solely to prevent more Israelis being murdered, and trying to force it to abandon them. Today comes further news that Obama will also try to force Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would force it to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, which it only has as a last ditch insurance against the attempt to annihilate it to which more than a billion Arabs and Muslims remain pledged. Of course Obama doesn’t care that Hamas would run any Palestinian state. Of course he doesn’t care that Israel would be unable to defend itself against such a terrorist state. Because he regards Israel as at best totally expendable, and at worst as a running sore on the world’s body politic that has to be purged altogether (see this bleak assessment by Sultan Knish). His administration is proceeding on the entirely false analysis that a state of Palestine is the solution to the Middle East impasse and the route to peace in the region. What that state will look like or do is something to which at best the administration’s collective mind is shut and at worst makes it a potential cynical accomplice to the unconscionable. So Israel is to be forced out of the West Bank. Far from building a coalition against Iran, Obama is thus doing Iran’s work for it. None of this, however, should come as the slightest surprise to anyone who paid any attention to Obama’s background, associations and friendships before he became President and to the cabal of Israel-bashers, appeasers and Jew-haters he appointed to his administration, with a few useful idiots thrown in for plausible deniability. Almost eighty per cent of American Jews voted for Obama despite the clear and present danger he posed to Israel. They did so because their liberal self-image was and is more important to them than the Jewish state whose existence and security cannot be allowed to jeopardize their standing with America’s elite. But the ordinary American people are a different matter. They do value and support Israel. They do understand that if Israel is thrown under that bus, the west is next. And it is they to whom Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu must now appeal, over the heads of the politicians and the media and America’s Jews and everyone else. He must tell the American people the terrible truth, that America is now run by a man who is intent on sacrificing Israel for a reckless and amoral political strategy which will put America and the rest of the free world at risk. This is shaping up to be the biggest crisis in relations between Israel and America since the foundation of Israel six decades ago. Those who hate Israel and the Jews will be gloating. This after all is precisely what they hoped Obama would do.
Former US Envoy says Obama’s Russia-Iran Policy is “Wrong”
May 15….(Washington TV) US President Barack Obama’s policy of linking US missile defense concessions to Russian cooperation over Iran’s nuclear program is “wrong”, John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Wednesday. “The administration’s Russia policy is wrong, the administration’s Iran policy is wrong, and the administration’s Russia-Iran policy is wrong,” Bolton said during a presentation entitled: Beyond the “Grand Bargain”: US-Russian Cooperation on Iran, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Bolton, who was appointed to the UN by former President George W. Bush, criticized Obama’s shift from Bush’s unilateralist approach vis-à-vis Iran in order to strike a “grand bargain” with Iran. Earlier this month, US defense secretary, Robert Gates, dismissed suggestions that Washington was seeking a so-called “grand bargain” with Tehran, which would see several sources of conflict between the two countries resolved at once. A senior US official did, however, confirm a report that Obama had sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, suggesting that Washington would scale down or abandon missile defense in Europe in exchange for Russian assistance in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat. Bolton blasted Obama’s Iran policy, saying that it was “based on a fundamental fallacy,” which, he said, was “the idea that the institution of bilateral negotiations between Iran and the United States over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, will produce a fundamental change in Iran’s view of the world, now aided by a Russian desire to help us out since we are giving up missile defense.” Bolton said that this approach “ignored six years of negotiations by the EU who have been attempting to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program, with full understanding by the EU and Iran that if Iran would give up its nuclear program, it would have a new relationship with the United States.” Yet, he argued, the net result of all these negotiations has been that “Iran is six years closer to a nuclear weapon, and we are beyond the point that sanctions will help.” Bolton considered that the chances of Russia cooperating with “crippling” sanctions on Iran, were “slim or none” since Russia viewed its approach toward Iran differently from those of the United States and Europe. The latter feared nuclear proliferation whereas Russia could live with a nuclear Iran, he said. He added: “It ought to be seen as being in Russia’s interest to join with us, not for what they get out of it in the short term but because it benefits all of us to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. That is manifestly not the view in Moscow, and that is why trying to deal with the Russians on that basis, among other reasons, is doomed to failure.” He concluded that the problems besetting the new administration’s Iran policy had resulted in a “weaker” United States. “The US will be weaker globally vis-à-vis Russia, weaker in the Middle East, and peace and security will be threatened worldwide,” said Bolton.
Replacement Theology Pope Calls for Independent Palestinian State
May 14….(Fox) Standing in the cradle of Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI told Palestinians Wednesday he understood their suffering and offered his strongest and most symbolic public backing yet for an independent Palestinian state. To get to Jesus' traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, Benedict crossed through the towering concrete slabs of the separation barrier Israel has erected to wall off the West Bank's Palestinian areas. On a visit to a nearby refugee camp, he expressed regret over Israel's construction of the separation barrier. A section of the barrier fortified by an Israeli military watchtower provided a stark backdrop as he spoke. In Bethlehem, he offered a prayer for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. But he also urged young Palestinians to "have the courage to resist any temptation to resort to acts of violence or terrorism." It was his first direct mention of terrorism since he arrived in Jordan last Friday on a weeklong Holy Land pilgrimage aimed at inspiring peace and strengthening frayed ties with Muslims and Jews. At the Aida refugee camp, the pope said it was understandable that Palestinians feel frustrated. "Their legitimate aspirations for permanent homes, for an independent Palestinian state, remain unfilled," he said. Benedict's first visit to Bethlehem since becoming pope took on increased significance as he endorsed the idea of a homeland while standing on Palestinian soil. "Mr. President, the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders," he said, standing alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Benedict's Holy Land pilgrimage was meant largely to boost interfaith relations. But so far, it has been fraught with political land mines. Israelis have criticized the German-born pope for failing to adequately express remorse for the Holocaust, while the Palestinians are pressing him to draw attention to the difficult conditions of life under Israeli rule. The pope also called for a Palestinian homeland when he arrived in Israel Monday for the five-day visit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in the audience, has resisted international pressure to endorse the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Netanyahu is to meet the pope on Thursday. At an open-air mass near Jesus' traditional birth grotto, Benedict delivered a special message of solidarity to the 1.4 million Palestinians isolated in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. “In a special way, my heart goes out to the pilgrims from war-torn Gaza: I ask you to bring back to your families and your communities my warm embrace, and my sorrow for the loss, the hardship and the suffering you have had to endure," the pope told thousands of Palestinians who packed Manger Square, some hoisting Palestinian and Vatican flags and pictures of the pontiff and Jesus. "Please be assured of my solidarity with you in the immense work of rebuilding which now lies ahead, and my prayers that the embargo will soon be lifted," he added. In a gesture for the Pope's visit, Israel allowed nearly 100 members of Gaza's tiny Christian community to travel through Israeli territory to the West Bank. Benedict's singling out of Gaza "means that Gaza is in the Pope's heart," said George Hernandz, bishop of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza City. "This a very courageous speech and we are satisfied." At the refugee camp, home to about 5,000 people, the pope was critical of Israel's separation barrier. "In a world where more and more borders are being opened up, it is tragic to see walls still being erected," Benedict said. "How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built." Israel says the barrier, which snakes hundreds of miles (kilometers) along the West Bank frontier, is a security measure. But the Palestinians say it is a land grab since it juts into areas they claim for a future independent state, leaving some 10 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli "side." The pope, who has described himself as a "pilgrim of peace," has been forced to navigate some of the touchiest political issues as he makes his way through Israel and the West Bank, his first visit to the region as the head of the Roman Catholic church. On Tuesday, the Vatican rallied to his defense, describing him as man of strong anti-Nazi credentials and a peacemaker after Israeli critics said he failed to apologize in a speech at Israel's Holocaust memorial for what they see as Catholic indifference during the Nazi genocide. The Palestinians want the pontiff to put pressure on Israel during his visit. Before he arrived, Bethlehem residents expressed hope that he would use his moral authority to support their quest for independence. "Our pope is our hope" read posters hung around the town, which was also dotted with the yellow and cream flags of the Vatican and red, black, white and green Palestinian flags. While Benedict acknowledged Palestinian difficulties, he stopped short of blaming Israel. "I know how much you have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades," he said. Abbas invoked the concrete separation barrier and the occupation in his greeting to the pontiff. "In this Holy Land, the occupation still continues building separation walls," Abbas said. "Instead of building the bridge that can link us, they are using the force of occupation to force Muslims and Christians to emigrate." Christians are a tiny minority among the 3.9 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a trend seen throughout the Middle East, their numbers have dwindled as Palestinians weary of occupation seek out new opportunities abroad. "When he comes and visits us, it gives us moral and material support," said Ramzi Shomali, a 27-year-old electric company worker. "It motivates us to stay in our land."
Pope Benedict Backs Palestinian State Formation
May 14….(YNET) Pope Benedict XVI marked his one-day visit to Bethlehem on Wednesday by declaring his support for a "sovereign Palestinian homeland" and calling for the end of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. In a speech at the Palestinian Authority's "presidential palace" in the city and later at Manger Square, the pope called the West Bank security barrier "tragic" and pledged support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would peacefully exist alongside Israel. "Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached, the wall," Benedict said. "In a world where more and more borders are being opened up, to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges, it is tragic to see walls still being erected." Palestinians expressed deep satisfaction with the pope's statements and his tour of the nearby Aida refugee camp, where he was photographed near the security barrier. They said they hoped the visit would pave the way for the arrival of pilgrims and tourists, a move that would boost the economy in this tourist city. Some Christian residents also expressed hope that the visit would stop Christian families from abandoning the city in favor of new lives in the US, Canada and Europe. Addressing PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the pope said: "Mr. President, the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders. Even if, at present, that goal seems far from being realized, I urge you and all your people to keep alive the flame of hope, hope that a way can be found of meeting the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for peace and stability." He added that "just and peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the Middle East can only be achieved through a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, in which the rights and dignity of all are acknowledged and upheld." The pope appealed for progress on several fronts, including the reconstruction of destroyed homes in the Gaza Strip, an easing of Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian movement, and cessation of Palestinian attacks on Israel. "I call on the international community to bring its influence to bear in favor of a solution," he said. "I pray too that, with the assistance of the international community, reconstruction work can proceed swiftly wherever homes, schools or hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, especially during the recent fighting in Gaza." Addressing a group of about 100 Christians from the Gaza Strip who were permitted to travel to Bethlehem for the event, the pope voiced sympathy for their plight and expressed hope that Israel would lift the blockade that has been in effect since Hamas came to power in Gaza almost two years ago. "Please be assured of my solidarity with you in the immense work of rebuilding which now lies ahead, and my prayers that the embargo will soon be lifted," the pontiff said. He also called on Palestinian youths to "have the courage to resist any temptation you may feel to resort to acts of violence or terrorism." He said that he hoped improved security would "allow greater freedom of movement" for the Palestinians. "Palestinians, like any other people, have a natural right to marry, to raise families, and to have access to work, education and health care," the pope said. Upon his arrival from Jerusalem, Benedict was greeted by Abbas, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh, as well as scores of senior PA officials and Christian and Muslim dignitaries. Posters featuring Benedict and Abbas appeared on many buildings, and large banners in Arabic and English welcomed the pope as "our hope." Gold and white Vatican flags decorated almost all the main streets. The tough security measures did not stop thousands of Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike, from converging on Manger Square to attend a mass held by the pontiff. PA security officials and local journalists estimated that nearly 25,000 people showed up. In his welcoming remarks, Abbas called for ending the suffering of the Palestinians by establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital next to Israel, the return of the refugees to their original homes inside Israel in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and the implementation of the Arab peace initiative. "We have been suffering since the Nakba [catastrophe] 61 years ago," Abbas said. "Our people are continuing to demand peace and justice." He criticized Israel for building the security barrier. "On this holy land they are erecting separation walls instead of connecting bridges," he said. Abbas also accused Israel of working to drive Christians and Muslims out of the country so that it could turn the holy places into archeological sites for tourism. The Palestinians attached symbolic significance to the pontiff's visit to the Aida refugee camp, home to 5,000 refugees, because of its proximity to the security barrier. Camp residents said they hoped that scenes of Benedict with the nine-meter high concrete slabs surrounding their community would highlight the hardships they have been facing since the wall was built. PA spokesmen exploited the pope's visit to the camp to reiterate the "right of return" for Palestinians to their former villages inside Israel. "Until when will our people continue to live as refugees?" asked Issa Qaraqi, a resident of the camp who heads the Palestinian Prisoners Club in the West Bank. "We want to go back to our homes." He pointed out that the pope's visit to the refugee camp coincided with the 61st anniversary of the Nakba. During the pope's tour of aida, children released 61 black balloons into the air to express their sadness over the Nakba.
Pope Calls Security Wall 'Tragic', PA Gets Photo-Op it Wanted
May 14…..(IsraelNN.com) Israel’s attempts to prevent a situation in which the pope would be photographed near the security barrier failed Wednesday, as the pope spoke at the Aida refugee neighborhood and drove past a section of the security wall in his popemobile. In what is seen as “a major publicity coup” for the PA, Benedict XVI was photographed near the security barrier which Israel built after hundreds of its civilians were massacred by Palestinian suicide bombers who crossed over from the PA. As the pope visited a school and shook the hands of children, organizers released 61 black balloons into the air, symbolizing the 61 years since Israel was established.
"Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached, the wall," the pope then said in a speech. “In a world where more and more borders are being opened up – to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges – it is tragic to see walls still being erected. How we long to see the fruits of the much more difficult task of building peace! How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built!”
Pope Lauds UNRWA
"My visit to the Aida refugee camp this afternoon gives me a welcome opportunity to express my solidarity with all the homeless Palestinians who long to be able to return to their birthplace, or to live permanently in a homeland of their own," Benedict XVI added. "To all the officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency who care for the refugees, I express the appreciation felt by countless men and women all over the world for the work that is done here and in other camps throughout the region." While it is an open secret that UNRWA is dominated by terrorists, the pope did not mention this. “On both sides of the wall, great courage is needed if fear and mistrust is to be overcome, if the urge to retaliate for loss or injury is to be resisted,” he said, adding that “There has to be a willingness to take bold and imaginative initiatives towards reconciliation: if each insists on prior concessions from the other, the result can only be stalemate.”
Pope Benedict: We Will No Longer Proselytize Jews
Chief Rabbi to Pope: Tell the World Jews Belong in Israel
May 13….(Ha Aretz) Israel's leading rabbis on Tuesday told Pope Benedict XVI that it was his duty to spread the message that the Jewish people belong in the Land of Israel. "You represent a large nation of believers that knows what the Bible is, and it is your duty to pass on the message that the Jewish people deserve a renaissance, and a little respect - to live in this land," Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar told the pope. The pope met with Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger in Jerusalem on Tuesday, on the second day of his pilgrimage to Israel. Benedict told the chief rabbis during the meeting that he is committed to reconciliation between Christian and Jews. He said he has delivered a prayer to God to help enact the command that one love their neighbor as they do themselves. Metzger told the pope that he regretted that such meetings had not been held earlier in history. "I thought to myself, if only a historic meeting like this in which the head of the biggest religion in the world meets in Jerusalem with the heads of Judaism, if this had happened many years earlier, so much innocent blood could have been saved," Metzger said. "So much senseless hatred could have been prevented in the world," he said. The pope continued his historic pilgrimage through the Holy Land earlier Tuesday, visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He recited a prayer in Latin, before placing a note in the cracks of the wall, as is the custom. The Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, also recited a prayer. Earlier, Benedict visited the Temple Mount, where he shook hands with the mufti of Jerusalem and senior Islamic Waqf officials. The German-born pope stood in prayer for several minutes at the Western Wall, a remnant of the Roman-era Temple complex that is Judaism's holiest place, after meeting the Grand Mufti, Palestinians' senior Muslim cleric, at the Dome of the Rock which dominates the Old City. With the mufti, he recalled the common roots of all three monotheistic religions in the story of Abraham and Jerusalem. He placed a written prayer in the Western Wall, a traditional gesture, and then met Israel's two chief rabbis. "Send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family," the prayer said, according to text provided by the Vatican. Palestinians later released balloons over Jerusalem's Old City in the colors of the Palestinian flag while the pope was at the Western Wall.
Pope Walks out After Muslim Cleric Accuses Israel of 'Slaughter'
May 12….(Ha Aretz) The head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, fiercely denounced Israeli policy in the presence of Pope Benedict on Monday and appealed to the pope to help end what he called the "crimes of the Jewish state." Speaking at an interfaith conference held at the Notre Dame Church in East Jerusalem, al-Tamimi accused Israel of slaughtering women, children and senior citizens. The speech was delivered in Arabic, without simultaneous translation, but after the pope was informed of the political nature of al-Tamimi's speech, he left the conference. The Sheikh opened his impromptu speech with a story about Saladin, who upheld the rights of Christians after he conquered Jerusalem, stressing that Islam and Christianity must unite against "the Israeli occupation and bring about an independent Palestinian state." "Israel destroyed our home, exiled our people, built settlements, ruined the Muslim holy sites, and slaughtered women, children and senior citizens in Gaza," he continued. At this point, the conference's organizers tried to persuade al-Tamimi to end his spontaneous speech, but to no avail. Al-Tamimi won a round of applause from some of the assembled clerics. Addressing the pope at the end of his six-minute address, he said: "Your Holiness, I call on you in the name of the one God, to condemn these crimes and press the Israeli government to halt its aggression against the Palestinian people." Al-Tamimi shook the pope's hand as he left the podium and the meeting broke up as scheduled immediately afterwards. The director general of Israel's Chief Rabbinate, Oded Wiener, said that "Sheikh Tamimi embarrassed the pope." He said Tamimi, a familiar and fiery figure in Palestinian public life, had pressured the Catholic organisers to be allowed to speak and that the Jewish members would no longer take part in a long-standing, three-way interfaith dialogue until the sheikh was barred from attending. "The Chief Rabbinate will not continue it as long as Tamimi is part of the Palestinian delegation," Wiener said. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi criticized al-Tamimi's speech. "The speech by Sheikh Taysir Tamimi was not scheduled by the organisers of the meeting. In a meeting dedicated to dialogue, this intervention was a direct negation of what a dialogue should be. We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the pope aiming at promoting peace and also interreligious dialogue," he said. The incident further marred the start of the German-born pope's five-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories, after criticism by some Jews that a speech at a Holocaust memorial did not go far enough to mend Catholic-Jewish rifts. Pope Benedict, in his own speech to the gathering of priests, rabbis and sheikhs, praised their efforts to seek common values and mutual respect to overcome differences in religious practices that "may at times appear as barriers."
Pope in Israel calls for Palestinian homeland
May 12….(My Way) Pope Benedict XVI called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian homeland immediately after he arrived in Israel Monday, a stance that could put him at odds with his hosts on a trip aimed at easing strains between the Vatican and Jews. The pope also took on the delicate issue of the Holocaust, pledging to "honor the memory" of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide at the start of his five-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Benedict urged Israelis and Palestinians to "explore every possible avenue" to resolve their differences in remarks at the airport after he landed. "The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace," he said. "In union with people of goodwill everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders." While Benedict's support for a Palestinian homeland alongside Israel is widely shared by the international community, including the United States, it was noteworthy that he made the call in his first public appearance. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the hard-line Likud Party, has pointedly refused to endorse the two-state solution since his election. But he is expected to come under pressure to do so when he travels to Washington next week. The pope has tried to improve interfaith relations throughout his four-year papacy. But Benedict has had to tread carefully on his Middle East visit after coming under sharp criticism from both Muslims and Jews for past statements. He is hoping his weeklong trip to the Holy Land, which began with three days in neighboring Jordan, will improve interfaith ties. Benedict angered many in the Muslim world three years ago when he quoted a Medieval text that characterized some of Islam's Prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith. He later expressed regret that his comments offended Muslims. The Vatican has also come under widespread criticism over the years for not doing enough to stop the genocide - a charge it rejects. And the German-born pope himself has faced questions for his involvement in the Hitler Youth corps during the war. Benedict says he was coerced. The pope also outraged Jews earlier this year when he revoked the excommunication of an ultraconservative bishop who denies the Holocaust. Later Monday, Benedict is scheduled to lay a wreath at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. "It is right and fitting that, during my stay in Israel, I will have the opportunity to honor the memory of the 6 million Jewish victims of the shoah," he said, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust. He said he would "pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude." Dignitaries and religious leaders greeted the pontiff at a red-carpet ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport. Yellow and white Vatican flags fluttered alongside blue and white Israeli banners as an honor guard played in the background. The pope smiled as he walked along the carpet, flanked by Israeli President Shimon Peres on one side and Netanyahu on the other. Other political leaders, along with black-robed Christian clergymen and Muslim religious leaders, stood in line to shake his hand. "Your visit here brings a blessed understanding between religions and spreads peace near and far. Historic Israel and the renewed Israel together welcome your arrival as paving the great road to peace," Peres said. The pope plans to visit holy sites in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. He also will try to draw attention to the shrinking Christian community in the Holy Land. In Jordan, he said he had a "deep respect" for Islam and toured the country's largest mosque, where he did not pray but had a moment of reflection. Before heading to Israel, Benedict urged Christians and Muslims at a farewell ceremony in Jordan to work for religious tolerance. He said his visit to a Jordan's largest mosque was one of the highlights so far of his first Middle East pilgrimage. "I would like to encourage all Jordanians, whether Christian or Muslim to build on the firm foundations of religious tolerance that enable the members of different communities to live together in peace and mutual respect," Benedict said. During his three days in Jordan, the pope said he hoped the Catholic Church could be a force for peace in the region.
Pope Pledges to Remember Jews Killed in Holocaust
May 12….(YNET) Pope Benedict XVI said Monday evening that the cries of Holocaust victims continue to reverberate 60 years after the Second World War. The German-born Benedict paid his respects to the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide at Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. Benedict shook hands with six elderly survivors of the Holocaust and rekindled the memorial's eternal flame during an emotional ceremony. He told the audience that the cry of victims "still echoes in our hearts," adding "They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names." He also said the Church is working to ensure that hatred never reigns again. The Vatican has been widely criticized for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust, a charge that the Church denies. The visit ended with a somewhat strident tone, as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chairman of Yad Vashem, criticized the pope's speech as being "devoid of any compassion, any regret, any pain over the horrible tragedy of the six million victims. Even the word 'six' was not included." Rabbi Lau also censured the pope's use of the word "killed" instead of the word "murdered." Benedict, he added "said nothing about the killers, neither Germans nor Nazis. What bothered me the most was the lack of condolences to the Jewish nation, which lost a third of its sons in the Holocaust. "I'm not talking about an apology, I'm talking about empathy, this was more about sympathy to the pain of humanity. This speech had a cosmopolitan phrasing to it." Yad Vashem Director Avner Shalev, however, valued the speech as "having important statements, especially when it comes to denying the Holocaust. It was an important, interesting speech and it referenced the need to fight violence, wherever it was. What I felt was lacking was any direct reference to anti-Semitism." Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said Monday evening that he regretted the fact that the Pope Benedict XVI speech "failed to rebuke past and preset Holocaust deniers." Earlier Monday, the Pope was greeted by President Shimon Peres at his official Jerusalem residence. During the ceremony Peres said, "This year, the year of your visit here, may reveal an opportunity for us and our neighbors, to attain peace."
UN Security Council: New Arab State Urgently Needed
May 12….(IsraelNN.com) The United Nations Security Council issued a statement Monday calling for the creation of a new Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the cessation of Jewish development in those same areas. Israel rejected the involvement of the Security Council in what it sees as a bilateral issue. The UN also specifically called on Israel to cease all further development of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The declaration, affirmed by 15 member states, was presented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia currently chairs the Council.
'Urgent Efforts' to Create a New Arab State
"The Council reiterates its call for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, will live side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders," the UN Security Council declared. To that end, the Council encouraged the Quartet - the UN, the US, Russia and the European Union. "to support the parties in their efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East." The Council also called for a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement, including between Israel and Syria. In her comments to the Council, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice added: "This is a moment that should not be lost and that is why the United States and others are redoubling our efforts to achieve a lasting two-state solution."
UN/No Jews Allowed in Judea and Samaria
The UN also specifically called on Israel to cease all further development of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. "The time has come for Israel to fundamentally change its policies in this regard, as it has repeatedly promised to do," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Explaining the Arab view, he called continued Jewish development in Judea and Samaria "unacceptable unilateral actions... house demolitions, intensified settlement activity, settler violence, and oppressive movement restrictions due to permits, checkpoints, and the barrier, which are intimately connected to settlements." Ki-moon further took the time to counsel Israel that the closure on the Hamas-run jihadist regime in Gaza "does not weaken Israel's adversaries in Gaza, but does untold damage to the fabric of civilian life." He and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner criticized Israel over the inability to get more than food and medicines into Gaza by way of Israel. However, neither leader mentioned Egypt's hermetic overland closure on Gaza from the south. Aside from the harsh criticism of Israel, Ki-moon called for an end to "indiscriminate rocket attacks" from Gaza, calling them "deeply unacceptable" and "totally counterproductive". Kouchner mentioned the rocket attacks as well, adding that the "window of opportunity" for an Israel-Arab diplomatic agreement "can be calculated in terms of months, not years."
Netanyahu-Mubarak Talks Aimed at Arab-Israeli Front Versus Iran
May 12….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) If successful, Binyamin Netanyahu's first meeting as Israeli prime minister with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak at Sharm el Sheikh Monday, May 11, may well mark an epic turning-point in Middle East history recalling the 1979 peace breakthrough with Egypt. Their common goals, and Mubarak speaks for the Saudi king Abdullah on this issue, are the formation of an Arab-Israeli front against Iran and putting a spoke in US president Barack Obama's planned détente with Tehran. Most of all, the Netanyahu government utterly rejects the Palestinian-Iran tradeoff proposed by the Obama administration, and reaffirmed by US National adviser Gen. James Jones Sunday, that a two state-solution would diminish Iran's existential threat to Israel. Israel points out that no guarantees are offered for the latter. Therefore, Netanyahu prefers to put the Iranian menace on a different, regional footing. Last Monday, May 4, in a message to the Israeli lobby in Washington, he said pointedly: "For the first time in my lifetime," Arabs and Jews see a common danger. There is a great challenge afoot. But that challenge also presents great opportunities." This was no idle talk. DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources report that the groundwork for the Mubarak-Netanyahu tête-à-tête was laid by Egypt's intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman in the two days he spent in Jerusalem on April 22-23. Officially, the Palestinians were the purpose of his talks, Suleiman has long acted as middleman between feuding Palestinian factions. In fact, Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas were the subjects of his intense discussions with Israel's government heads and his opposite numbers in Mossad, military intelligence and the General Security Service (Shin Bet). They covered the Radical Four's next moves and their potential military responses to a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear and strategic and infrastructure. From Jerusalem, the Egyptian official headed for Riyadh to bring the Saudis into the planning picture. He went straight into conference with King Abdullah and the Saudi chief of general intelligence, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, after which Muqrin secretly visited Cairo for a long session with Mubarak attended only by the Egyptian intelligence chief. This diplomatic flurry is aimed at establishing an informal Israel-Egyptian-Saudi framework for working together, this time on the Iranian issue, but not for the first time. The outcome of the culminating Mubarak-Netanyahu talks Monday will bear strongly on their meetings with President Obama later this month. When he arrives in Washington on May 18, the Israeli prime minister will no doubt have new ideas in his briefcase. Before the outbreak of Israel's 2006 war with the Lebanese Hizballah, the then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and his intelligence chiefs met with Saudi national security adviser, Prince Bandar bin Sultan in the Jordanian capital of Amman several times to coordinate Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli moves against the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah front. When Israeli launched its Gaza offensive against Hamas on Dec. 27, 2008, Jerusalem and Cairo were closely aligned on the various phases of warfare. For the duration of the 22-day conflict, Israel kept Egypt abreast of the action and Cairo updated Riyadh. This was Israel's first operation against an Arab target to be backed by an Egyptian-Saudi consensus. The difference between the two Israeli military ventures was that its collaboration with Egypt won the approval of the US president, then George W, Bush. For the Gaza operation, US approval was withdrawn by the new man in the White House. But the setback in Washington only served to spur the three silent partners' motives for working together when their interests converge, this time against Iran's rise as a nuclear and regional power. The Obama administration's outreach to Tehran and rehabilitation of Damascus served as a catalyst, accelerated by broad hints of US willingness to approve engagement with Hizballah and Hamas. Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi rulers presume Washington has abdicated its commitment to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and a lead-position in the Middle East. They take this retreat as a step toward America's reconciliation with the Islamic Republic. All three oppose this policy and resent being cast to the political and military sidelines of the region in the US president's consciousness. His emissaries failed to allay these concerns when they circulated around Arab capitals in the last fortnight. It was pointed out to them that the new US administration had not lifted a finger to slow Iran's nuclear development in its first 100 days. If the issue was dropped to the bottom of Washington's agenda with Tehran, it would be too late. Israel was ready to pay a steep price for Egypt's tacit and practical support by halting its Gaza operation last January short of the goals of crushing Hamas and overthrowing its government. Netanyahu has bought the proposition that he will have to pay Mubarak again in the coin of concessions to the Palestinians when they meet in Sharm el-Sheikh Monday. But the Israeli leader believes it is worth paying for the sake of a working partnership with Egypt and Saudi Arabia against Iran. In strategic-historic terms, he believes that would be a more advantageous deal than succumbing to American arm-twisting. After all, Cairo and Riyadh are willing to stand up shoulder to shoulder with Israel against Iran, unlike the Obama administration.
Iran Urges World Action on Israeli Nukes In Return For Peace
May 12….(Press TV) Iran says Israel's undeclared arsenal of approximately 200 atomic warheads is the only obstacle in the way of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In a Monday address to the third session of the preparatory committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Iranian delegates hit out at the lack of world action on Israel's possession of atomic nuclear weapons, which can be launched from land, sea and air. According to the delegates, the Israeli military's indiscriminate and deliberate use of white phosphorus shells against Palestinian civilians shows that “Tel Aviv is not fit to possess nuclear weapons”. “Israel's nuclear arsenal represents the single greatest threat to countries in the region,” said the delegates, while criticizing the West's hands-off approach to Tel Aviv's development of nuclear weaponry. Washington echelons and their European counterparts actually helped equip Israel with nuclear weaponry, in complete violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” the delegation asserted. Israel is widely regarded as the sixth-largest nuclear power in the world and the sole possessor of an atomic arsenal in the Middle East. It reportedly houses at least 100 bunker-busting bombs, which come in the form of laser-guided mini-nukes with the ability of penetrating underground targets. Over the past decades, US presidents have largely colluded with Israel's so-called policy of nuclear opacity. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that former US president Richard Nixon and his chief foreign policy adviser Henry Kissinger privately endorsed Israel's atomic arsenal in 1969 and banned any inspection of its Dimona nuclear center. Although Tel Aviv was not a signatory to the NPT, the US leadership went on to provide it with advanced weapons such as krytrons (nuclear triggers) and supercomputers. The Iranian delegation called for a non-discriminatory disarmament process, saying the West's silence on Israeli nuclear weapons sends a negative message about double standards
Pope to Israel: Give Your Land to the Arabs
May 12….(JNEWSIRE) Pope Benedict XVI Monday joined the international chorus that is demanding the Jews establish an Arab state on Israel's land. The head of the Roman Catholic Church aired his plea within minutes of arriving at Ben Gurion Airport at the start of a five-day visit to "the Holy Land." Speaking in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres - who had just warmly welcomed him with the Hebrew words, "Blessed is he who comes" - and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked on, the pope called on "all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders." Benedict, who is regarded by 1.3 billion people on the planet as God's representative on earth, was adding his voice to those of virtually every political leader in the world, all of whom are insisting that the Jews hand over the land that same God gave to their forefathers as an everlasting inheritance. After nearly two decades of their predecessors' failed and painful efforts to secure peace by doing precisely that, Israel's new government has indicated its reluctance to comply. Benedict's stance, said The Jerusalem Post, immediately "put him at odds with his hosts on a trip aimed at easing strains between the Vatican and Jews." The pontiff's position also contradicts what the Bible says concerning the ownership and future of this Land - and specifically of the so-called "occupied West Bank." Hundreds of millions of evangelical Christians strongly oppose what the world is demanding, and exhort Israel's leaders to withstand the pressure. They believe that the Jews returned from their second exile to reestablish their national homeland in accordance with the foreknown and foretold plan of God. Netanyahu has in the past described Evangelicals as Israel's most faithful friends. In the minds of probably the majority of Israelis, however, the size of the Roman Catholic Church and the consequent massive influence wielded by the pope make it the most important denomination in Christendom. The pope flew by Israeli Air Force helicopter from Ben Gurion to Jerusalem, where his feet touched down on that part of the Mount of Olives today known as Mount Scopus.
Obama Seems to Have Cut Out Information to Israel(Lack of communication 'not normal practice')
May 11….(WND) Unlike the Bush administration, the staff of President Obama is not coordinating its policy on Iran or the greater Middle East with Israel and has not been informing the Jewish state of its plans or recent diplomatic developments in area, according to sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office. The silence extends to US talks with the Palestinians, the sources said. "Our intention and our hope as we go to Washington is to establish close intimate cooperative relationships on these sensitive matters," a top Netanyahu official told WND yesterday. The official was speaking about Netanyahu's May 18th visit to the White House. According to other sources in the prime minister's office, Israel has been obtaining the vast majority of its information regarding US plans and advances for the Middle East from third parties, mostly European diplomats. This is in stark contrast to Bush's eight-year presidency, during which the White House and State Department routinely briefed Israeli counterparts on Middle East affairs to the extent that the majority of official US and Israeli statements on various policy issues were heavily coordinated. A recent example of the Obama administration leaving Israel in the dark was information received by Jerusalem officials of a US deadline of October for Iran to show progress in talks over their nuclear program. That deadline was apparently set by Obama's Middle East envoy Dennis Ross. The information of the deadline, first reported by Haaretz yesterday and confirmed by WND, was discovered in Jerusalem not via US sources but from third party European diplomats who were briefed on the matter. "Right now there is next to no communication coming to us from the White House," said a source in Netanyahu's office. A second source said the lack of communication between Israel and America extends to Israeli-Palestinian affairs. That source described a meeting last month between Netanyahu and another of Obama's Middle East envoys, George Mitchell. The source said the meeting largely was a one-way street, with the prime minister sharing his intended approach to Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said Mitchell outlined Obama's overall strategy for the region, but did not update Netanyahu on any talks with the Palestinians or specifics of Obama's intentions. "Other than the Mitchell meeting, basically there wasn't much other communication at all, period," said the second source. "And we were not informed beforehand of policy statements that were made by Obama or his administration regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including statements Obama made after meeting Jordan's King Abdullah (last month)."
WND's source said one thing Mitchell did convey to Netanyahu was Obama's alleged plan to help create a Palestinian state in hopes of normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world in line with the "Arab Peace Initiative." The source said Mitchell relayed that Obama's Middle East strategy would be based on the concept of the "initiative" but with security guarantees for Israel. Following scores of denials he would trumpet the plan, Obama in January hailed the Arab League initiative, which offers normalization of ties with the Jewish state in exchange for extreme Israeli concessions. In an interview with an Arab television network, his first formal interview as president, Obama stated: "Well, here's what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage to put forward something that is as significant as that. I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace. I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan." Since then, Obama and his team have trumpeted the plan several more times, including during a meeting last month with Jordan's Abdullah. The Arab Initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 and later adopted by the Arab League, states that Israel would receive "normal relations" with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount. The West Bank contains important Jewish biblical sites and borders central Israeli population centers, while the Golan Heights looks down on Israeli civilian zones and was twice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state. The Arab plan also demands the imposition of a non-binding U.N. resolution that calls for so-called Palestinian refugees who wish to move inside Israel to be permitted to do so at the "earliest practicable date." Palestinians have long demanded the "right of return" for millions of "refugees," a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel's destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Arabs, thereby changing its demographics. When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel's borders fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution. While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 U.N.-run camps that do not seek to settle the Arabs elsewhere. There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs, Arabs living full-time in Jordan and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West.
Obama Will Address World’s Muslims From Egypt
May 11….(Washington Post) President Obama will travel to Egypt next month to deliver his promised address to the Muslim world, culminating a long and politically sensitive selection process by choosing as his venue an Arab nation governed by an autocratic US ally who faces strong internal Islamist opposition. Those elements will present challenges to Obama as he delivers a speech his advisers described yesterday as the next step in his effort to dispel perceptions in the Muslim world that the United States is in conflict with Islam. It will be the first stop in a trip that will also take him to Buchenwald, the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany, and then to Normandy, in France, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing. By selecting Egypt, Obama could expose himself to criticism in the Arab Middle East for showing tacit support for President Hosni Mubarak, who has governed the country for nearly three decades with scant tolerance for political opposition. The 81-year-old Mubarak, who is scheduled to meet with Obama in Washington this month, has used his security services to harass and detain political rivals and is preparing for his son to succeed him. US support for Mubarak and other unelected Arab leaders has been interpreted across the Middle East as a hypocritical element of American foreign policy, particularly in the past eight years, during which the Bush administration made promoting democracy the centerpiece of its diplomacy in the region. The Muslim Brotherhood, in particular, has used the US support for Mubarak, who has jailed members of the Islamist opposition for years, to whip up anti-American sentiment in Egypt and beyond. Obama arrived in office eager to remake US relations with the Muslim world. Three key factors have contributed to millions of Muslims' bitterness toward the United States, (according to Muslims and the media): the Bush administration's war in Iraq; detention and interrogation policies, embodied by the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib; and the traditional American support toward Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, the most-populous Muslim country, took some immediate steps to change the US image among Muslims. He ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay brig within a year, banned interrogation techniques he has called torture, and granted his first interview as president to the al-Arabiya satellite channel. During a visit to Turkey last month, Obama told that predominantly Muslim nation's Grand National Assembly that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam." Gibbs said yesterday: "I think that's what the president will build on. All of this gives the president the opportunity hopefully to extend a hand to those that in many ways are like us but just simply have a different religion." Administration officials said Obama's trip next month will not include Israel, as some had expected. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit the White House on May 18. Netanyahu has yet to endorse Obama's position that allowing the creation of a Palestinian state on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war is the best way to end the wider Arab-Israeli conflict and to ensure the Jewish state's long-term security. Obama's budget for fiscal 2010 includes $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt and $250 million in economic assistance, a 25 percent increase from the Bush administration's proposed economic aid package. Human rights advocates have complained, however, that the Obama administration has agreed to the Egyptian government's demand that the economic aid cannot go to civil society groups unless they are sanctioned by the government. In a statement yesterday, Egypt's ambassador to Washington, Sameh Shoukry, said Obama's speech "offers a unique opportunity to deepen America's engagement with the Arab and Muslim world, and that Egypt offers a unique venue for that objective."
Pope Seeks Christian-Muslim Reconciliation
May 11….(Gulf News) Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called for an end to tensions between Muslims and Christians and warned against the misuse of religion for political ends in an address to Muslim leaders in Amman during his maiden Middle East tour. The appeal from the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics came as US President Barack Obama fast-tracked his bid to mend America’s image in the Islamic world, scheduling a long-awaited address to Muslims in Egypt on June 4. The speech, fulfilling an Obama campaign promise, will focus on how Americans and Muslims abroad can secure the “safety and security" of their children in a more hopeful future, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said. The trip will represent Obama’s most significant attempt yet to engage the Muslim world. In Amman, Benedict told Muslim leaders, diplomats and rectors of universities in Jordan in a keynote address at King Hussain Mosque that Muslims and Christians today, “because of the burden of their mutual history full of misunderstandings, have to strive to be seen and recognized as believers truly loyal to the commandments". "Often it is ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes with political goals, that is the catalyst for tensions and schisms and at times even violence in society," he added. His wide-ranging speech and call for inter-faith reconciliation, however, disappointed a section of Muslim clerics by failing to offer a new apology for remarks seen as targeting Islam. In a 2006 address, the pontiff quoted a medieval Christian emperor who criticized some teachings of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as “evil and inhuman”. “What the pope said was not an apology,” said Hammam Said, the overall leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood and University of Jordan professor. Other Muslim leaders echoed his comments. “We wanted him to clearly apologize,” Shaikh Yousuf Abu Hussain, mufti of the southern city of Karak, said. But Prince Gazi Bin Mohammad, the Jordanian King’s adviser on religious affairs, thanked the Pope “for expressing regret over the lecture in 2006, which hurt the feelings of Muslims”. Analysts said the Pope is keen to improve ties with the Islamic world during a tour that will also take him to Israel and to Bethlehem. As he arrived in Amman on Friday, Benedict described himself as a “pilgrim of peace" and stressed his "deep respect" for Islam.
Al Qaeda's Global Base Is Pakistan, Says Petraeus
(US Central Command Chief Says Group Has Shifted Operations There, While Afghani Taliban Plan 'Surge' of Their Own)
May 11….(Wall Street Journal) Senior leaders of al Qaeda are using sanctuaries in Pakistan's lawless frontier regions to plan new terror attacks nerve center of al Qaeda's global operations, allowing the terror group to re-establish its organizational structure and build stronger ties to al Qaeda offshoots in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and parts of Europe. The comments underscore a growing US belief that Pakistan has displaced Afghanistan as al Qaeda's main stronghold. "It is the headquarters of the al Qaeda senior leadership," said the general, who took the helm of the military's Central Command last fall. In the interview, Gen. Petraeus also warned of difficult months ahead in Afghanistan, saying Taliban militants are moving weapons and forces into areas where the US is adding troops, planning a "surge" of their own to counter the US plan. The commander said the US had intelligence showing that the Taliban were deploying new fighters to southern Afghanistan, appointing new local commanders, and prepositioning weapons and other supplies. "We have every expectation that the Taliban will fight to retain the sanctuaries and safe havens that they've been able to establish," he said. Senior Obama administration officials have spoken publicly for weeks about the threat posed by Pakistan. In late March, President Barack Obama said that Pakistan's lawless border region had "become the most dangerous place in the world" for Americans. Pakistani officials have acknowledged that their country is facing a growing threat from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other armed Islamist groups. Appearing at the White House on Wednesday with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari pledged to "stand with our brother Karzai and the people of Afghanistan against this common threat, this menace, which I have called a cancer." Pakistani Ambassador Hussein Haqqani said in an email that his government is "determined to eliminate Al Qaeda and the terrorist Taliban." He added, "We have launched a major offensive against the Taliban and look forward to acting on any actionable intelligence shared with us by our American partners." Gen. Petraeus painted a picture of a globalized al Qaeda that maintains extensive logistical and communications links to terror groups in Morocco, Somalia and other countries. He said militants and supplies pass through southern Iran, helped by Sunni Arab "facilitators" in the predominantly Shiite Persian country. A ring of Tunisian suicide bombers who were recently apprehended in Iraq appear to have received their directions from al Qaeda figures in Pakistan as well, he said. "There's absolutely no question about these links," he said. American intelligence agencies have used drones to fire missiles at dozens of militant targets inside Pakistan in recent months, killing several top al Qaeda figures. But US officials acknowledge that al Qaeda's senior leadership has survived those attacks. Al Qaeda's resurgence in Pakistan is posing a policy dilemma for the Obama administration and senior US commanders like Gen. Petraeus. Pakistan's government won't allow US military personnel into the country. That is forcing the US either to strike targets from a distance, which doesn't always work, or to rely on Pakistan's own security personnel, who have so far been largely unwilling to venture into al Qaeda's remote sanctuaries. The Pentagon has looked at possible changes in Afghanistan amid concern over the course of the conflict,Ma some of which have met resistance from current military leaders including Gen. Petraeus. A task force formed by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is conducting a broad review, according to a copy of its agenda. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to appoint an additional general to handle day-to-day operations there, senior defense officials say. A spokesman for Gen. Petraeus has declined to comment. Gen. Petraeus spent the past week in Washington as part of the Obama administration's summit with presidents Karzai and Zardari. He said the Pakistani Taliban appear to have overreached by sending fighters into the Buner District, just 60 miles from the capital. Echoing recent comments from top Obama administration officials, he said Pakistan's government, military and people seemed to have finally accepted that the Taliban pose a threat to their country's future and must be dealt with.
Pope Named as Defendant over Plunder of Jewish Temple Vessels
May 11….(IsraelNN.com) Pro-Land of Israel activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir will roll out the red carpet for Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival, by pressing criminal charges against him. As the Pope arrives in Israel on Monday, the activists will be at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, filing a criminal complaint in which the Pope tops the list of defendants. The criminal complaint details a record of treasures and possessions that belong to the Jewish People that are allegedly being held in the Vatican in Rome. Among the treasures claimed are vessels plundered from the Temple by the Romans under the command of then-general Titus, including the seven-branched golden Menorah. The complainants write in the complaint that “The vessels were plundered and Titus who burned the Temple, took them to Rome.” They complain that in addition to the Menorah, other vessels were plundered, including the Laver Basin, the Table of the Showbread, the Golden Altar, the Copper Altar, and the Ornamental Curtain at the entrance to the Holy of Holies. The complainants claim that at least some of the vessels are still existent in the Vatican cellars in Rome. The complainants add that on separate dates, many hundreds of years later, various tractates of the Talmud, books of Maimonides, and around 7,500 works on Jewish philosophy and science were stolen and remain in the Vatican library. According to information that the complainants have access to, these books can be found in the Vatican, and some of them were on display in an international book fair. They additionally claimed that the Vatican’s vaults are controlled by the Pope and others accused in the charge sheet. The Pope and others are accused of possessing stolen goods; receiving items considered stolen and receiving goods that were obtained through criminal means. The list of witnesses appearing on the complaint include Israel’s Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar, along with Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Institute. In addition to the criminal complaint, Ben-Gvir and Marzel intend to take legal action to delay the Pope’s departure from Israel until they receive a decision on their complaint.
Abdullah: Netanyahu/Obama Meeting Decides Mid-East’s Future
May 11….(Times On Line) President Obama’s critical meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu next week has become the acid test for the Administration’s commitment to peace in the Middle East, King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday. The monarch does not conceal his feelings about the Israeli leader. He described their last encounter, 10 years ago when he had just come to the throne, as the “least pleasant” of his reign. But he, and President Mubarak of Egypt, are expected to meet the Israeli leader before his trip to Washington, where the future course of the region could be decided. The King said that he was prepared to believe what Israelis have told him, that a right-wing Government in Israel is better able to deliver peace than the Left. “All eyes will be looking to Washington,” he said. “If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, there will be a feeling that this is just another American Government that is going to let us all down.” If Israel procrastinated on a two-state solution, or if there was no clear American vision on what should happen this year, the “tremendous credibility” that Obama had built up in the Arab world would evaporate overnight. And if peace negotiations were delayed, there would be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months, with implications far beyond the Middle East. “If the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East,” the King said. He broke off from his busy schedule hosting the Pope in Jordan to give his warning to The Times. He was the first Arab leader to call on President Obama in Washington two weeks ago, and is now leading the hectic Arab efforts to respond to the Administration’s determination to seek a comprehensive peace. Obama is expected to lay this out to the Muslim world in a visit to Cairo next month. Brokered by the Americans, this would be the most comprehensive deal attempted since the opening of the Madrid conference in 1991. It would offer Israel immediate benefits, such as entry visas to every Arab country, the right of El Al, Israel’s national airline, to overfly Arab territory, and the eventual recognition of Israel by all 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. In return, the Israelis would have to put an immediate stop to the building and expansion of settlements and agree to withdraw from territories occupied since 1967. The two most sensitive issues, the future status of Jerusalem and the right of return by Palestinians who fled in 1948, would be negotiated within the framework of the peace plan. The King yesterday sidestepped reports that he had been asked by the Americans to clarify the Arab proposals on making East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state and the Palestinian right of return, the two most contentious issues in Israel. Netanyahu has frequently said these were not negotiable. “I was very specific in carrying a letter on behalf of the Arab League highlighting the Arab peace proposal, their desire to work with President Obama to make this successful, their commitment in the peace proposal in extending the hand of friendship to the Israelis,” he said. Jerusalem was not an international problem but an “international solution”, he insisted. A symbol of conflict for centuries, it was now desperately needed to become a symbol of hope. And hinting at the Arab demand for international control of the old city, he said that Islam, Christianity and Judaism should make it a “pillar for the future of this century”. He sensed a lot more understanding in these times of cultural and religious suspicions that “Jerusalem could be the binder that we need”. The Pope’s visit, he said, was timely. His spiritual pilgrimage with a message of peace sent a signal of hope to back up the reconciliation that politicians in the region were planning. “It is all part of one major effort.” He saw Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama next week as the turning point: “A lot is on his shoulders as he goes to Washington.” The King said that Obama was committed to the two-state solution, which had to be implemented now. The Arabs were “sick and tired” of promises of a new peace process. What was needed was for the Israelis to sit down not only with the Palestinians but also with the Syrians and the Lebanese to settle all the issues. In a direct appeal to the Israeli public, he said they could either do a deal that would lead to peace and recognition by the 57 Muslim countries, a third of the world’s population; or they could maintain “Fortress Israel” for another ten years, which would be a calamity for everyone. This was a bigger issue than just Israel-Palestine. It had become a global problem. “This is where I think the Obama Administration gets it.” Britain also had been “very active,” more than at any time for a decade. The King singled out David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, for praise. Mr Netanyahu is expected in Amman on a private visit very soon. The atmosphere may be difficult, the King considers that Mr Netanyahu had contrived to make the first three months of his reign very unpleasant. But, he added, “we have to deal what we’re stuck with. Just because there is a right-wing Government in Israel does not mean that we should chuck in the towel.” It might even be easier for such a Government to do a deal, he believes. Emphasising again the urgency now felt by all Arab governments of making the most of Mr Obama’s commitment to a settlement, he said this was a final opportunity. “I think we’re going to have to do a lot of shuttle diplomacy, get people to a table in the next couple of months to get a solution.” The alternative was bleak, war, death and destruction. The King added: “This is a critical moment.”
WEEK OF MAY 3 THROUGH MAY 9
Blair: Israel-Palestinian Talks Must Address Jerusalem
May 8….(JPOST) Renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians must tackle core issues including Jerusalem, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said, raising the specter of a clash with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Unless you're dealing with the core issues, then the negotiation, I don't know what it's about," Blair, envoy for the Quartet of Middle East mediators, the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, told Reuters on Thursday. "It will be the substance that matters." Blair's remarks were the strongest signal yet by the Quartet that it would pressure Netanyahu to resume negotiations on final-status issues - the borders of a Palestinian state as well as the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Netanyahu's main right-wing and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners oppose negotiations on the core issues, underscoring the difficult balancing act he faces in trying to satisfy Western demands for substantive peace moves without triggering an internal backlash that could destabilize his government. Netanyahu, who met Blair on Wednesday, has been vague in public about the scope of any future peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Western-backed government holds sway in the West Bank. This week, Netanyahu said he was ready immediately to begin negotiations on economic, security and political issues. But he has so far refused to endorse a two-state solution, or to spell out whether "political" negotiations would include the core issues. Netanyahu's office declined to comment on Blair's remarks, but a senior official said "the Palestinians can bring to the table their concerns and we will bring to the table our concerns" without preconditions.
Hawaii Lawmakers Vote to Celebrate 'Islam Day'
May 8….(Politics and Government) Hawaii's state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to celebrate "Islam Day," despite the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn't think the state should honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001. The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote Wednesday. The bill was previously passed by Hawaii's House of Representatives. The bill recognizes what it calls "the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions" that Islam and the Islamic world have made. But the Senate's two Republicans argued that radical Islamists cheered the 2001 attacks. They also noted that other religions didn't have a special day honored. The lone Democrat voting in dissent opposed it on church-state separation grounds.
Taliban Islamists Nearing Pakistani Nukes
May 8….(National Terror Alert) Israel and the US should be focusing more on the Taliban’s rise in nuclear Pakistan than on Iran’s nuclear aims, more and more experts are saying. “Pakistan must move to the top of our strategic agenda,” writes former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Similarly, “Nuclear Taliban/Al Qaida is a far more ominous threat than nuclear Iran could ever be,” writes Byron Ellis, who heads the international Jethro Project consulting company. Bolton, writing in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, warns that the US must take “hard steps” to prevent Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of Taliban. US President Barack Obama’s statement of confidence last week that the nuclear arsenal will not fall to the terrorists is “not reassuring,” Bolton writes, “in light of the Taliban’s military and political gains throughout Pakistan.” There is a “tangible risk that several weapons could slip out of military control,” Bolton warns. “Such weapons could then find their way to Al Qaeda or other terrorists, with obvious global implications.” Even graver is the possibility that Pakistan’s government could collapse entirely, enabling “a well-organized, tightly disciplined group to seize control of the entire Pakistani government.” “To prevent either scenario, Pakistan must move to the top of our strategic agenda, albeit closely related to Afghanistan,” he wrote. “Neither greater economic assistance, nor more civilian advisers upcountry, nor stronger democratic institutions will eliminate the strategic threat nearly soon enough. We must strengthen pro-American elements in Pakistan’s military so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks; roll back Taliban advances; and, together with our increased efforts in Afghanistan, decisively defeat the militants on either side of the border.”
Turkey To Break With NATO On Iran
May 8….(Philadelphia Bulletin) A report issued by the Washington Institute says Turkey has moved steadily away from its NATO allies and toward Iran, Russia and Syria. The report, titled “The AKP’s Foreign Policy: The Misnomer of Neo-Ottomanism” and authored by senior researcher Soner Cagaptay, says Turkey’s new foreign policy, led by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP according to its Turkish initials, has come at the expense of Ankara’s relations with Israel, the European Union and the United States. “Ankara will likely opt out of a NATO consensus on Iran, clash with the United States on how to handle Hamas and Hezbollah, and disagree with the EU and the US on Russia,” the report said. The report says Turkey has developed friendlier relations with Russia and the Islamic world than with the West. Mr. Cagaptay cited Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria as examples of Turkey’s growing ties in the Islamic world. “The AKP’s foreign policy has a weakness for Arab Islamists and their causes,” the report said. “The policy shows empathy towards Middle East Muslims and Islamists, though the same empathy is missing towards non-Muslims and non-Middle Eastern issues. Business deals play an important role in sustaining the stronger ties that Turkey is developing with Russia, the Persian Gulf states, Sudan and Iran.” At the same time, Turkey refused to support Georgia during its brief war with Russia in 2008. The report said Turkey has also ignored its Central Asian neighbors, such as Azerbaijan and Georgia, to focus on relations with Russia. Cagaptay wrote AKP, most of whose leaders speak Arabic and were educated in Muslim schools, has divided the world in religious blocs, either Christian or Muslim. AKP, which won power in 2002 and dominates parliament, has avoided criticism of Iran’s nuclear program while maintaining ties with Tehran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah. “AKP is pro-Hamas, pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah, pro-Qatar, pro-Saudi,” the report said. “The AKP views the world as composed of religious blocs, and this disposition colors its views of the Middle East and the world.”
Obama Engineering 'Most Serious Crisis in 61 Years'
May 8….(JNEWSWIRE) US President Barack Obama appears to be setting course for a major confrontation with the Israeli people and government. Reports from both sides of the Atlantic indicate that the new American president plans to show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the people who elected him, just who calls the shots. Tuesday Ha'aretz disclosed the ominous contents of "a classified telegram received in Jerusalem a few days ago" in which Obama's National Security Adviser, General James Jones, advised an unnamed European foreign minister that "unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be 'forceful' with Israel." "The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question," Jones wrote. "We will not push Israel under the wheels of a bus, but we will be more forceful toward Israel than Bush." Earlier this week, AIPAC donors were informed that, when Netanyahu visits Washington on May 18, Obama will "firmly and decisively" let the Israeli know that the US' is determined to see the implementation of the "two-state-solution." So warned White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as reported by Ynetnews. This so-called solution has the Jewish nation hand over its historical homeland and strategic high ground for the creation of a new state called Palestine. As a bonus Israel will also receive promises of peace from the Arab states. After 18 years of being pushed down this two-state road, taking unparalleled risks with its security and getting more war and terror in return, Israel's new government has called it a dead end. Nonetheless, Emanuel insisted the two-state-solution remains "the only solution," and Israel has arrived at "its moment of truth." Furthermore, if Israel wants to see the Iranian nuclear threat effectively confronted it needs to ensure progress on the Israeli-"Palestinian" front. This was also the position spelled out by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 24: "For Israel to get the strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and peace efforts. They go hand-in-hand," she said. In other words, the new American message to Israel is: Resist our will, and we'll allow Tehran to continue its quest for an atomic bomb to fire at you. Similar blackmailing techniques were employed by the US to coerce Israel into attending the 1991 International Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid
Obama Will Not Observe National Day of Prayer
May 7….(Washington Times) President Obama is distancing himself from the National Day of Prayer by nixing a formal early morning service and not attending a large Catholic prayer breakfast the next morning. All Obama will do for the National Day of Prayer, which is Thursday, is sign a proclamation honoring the day, which originated in 1952 when Congress set aside the first Thursday in May for the observance. For the past eight years, President George W. Bush invited selected Christian and Jewish leaders to the White House East Room, where he typically would give a short speech and several leaders offered prayers. Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Committee, said the group was "disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration." "At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," said Mrs. Dobson, who occupied a prominent seat in the front row for the ceremonies during the Bush administration. Although the annual East Room events started with Mr. Bush, President Reagan hosted a Rose Garden event in 1982 and President George H.W. Bush scheduled a breakfast in 1989. President Clinton did not host any special observances, according to the National Day of Prayer task force. Some evangelicals said they were not surprised by Mr. Obama's decision. "For those of us who have our doubts about Obama's faith, no, we did not expect him to have the service," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. "But as president, he should put his own lack of faith aside and live up to the office." Referencing a remark the president made at a recent press conference in Turkey that Americans "do not consider ourselves a Christian nation," she added: "That was projecting his own beliefs, but not reflecting what the majority of Americans feel. It's almost like Obama is trying to remake America into his own image. This is not a rejection of Shirley Dobson; it's a rejection of the concept that America is a spiritual nation and its foundation is Judeo-Christian." David Brody, White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, said in a column that, "within the conservative evangelical community, there was never any real expectation that the White House would hold an event." Despite the White House snub, National Day of Prayer ceremonies are still slated from 9 a.m. to noon in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Speakers include former NFL all-pro running back Shaun Alexander and Dick Eastman of Every Home for Christ. An estimated 40,000 coordinators and volunteers will host locally organized events nationwide at courthouses, state capitols, city halls, parks and school flagpoles.
Obama Urged Arabs to Alter Saudi Peace Plan
May 7….(Israel Today) When US President Barack Obama met with Jordan's King Abdullah two weeks ago, he urged the moderate Arab leader to persuade his counterparts around the Middle East to make some changes to the Saudi-authored Arab peace initiative. That according to a report in the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Wednesday. In the report, Obama is cited as telling Abdullah he wants to make the Saudi plan part of his official Middle East policy, but that there are some elements that need altering to make it acceptable to Israel and the US. The only two changes specified in the report are the granting of citizenship in the new Palestinian state to so-called "Palestinian refugee" instead of letting them flood Israel, and the transfer of non-Muslim holy sites on the eastern side of Jerusalem to the United Nations instead of the Palestinian Authority.
Peres Butts Heads with Obama Over Settlements
May 7….(Israel Today) In front of the television cameras, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that his meeting with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday had revealed no rifts between the two governments when it comes to making peace in the Middle East. "There is no space between us and the United State," Peres told reporters after leaving the White House. But a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden demonstrated that great tension still exists over Jews living and building on their ancestral lands in Judea and Samaria. Earlier on Tuesday, Biden had told the annual gathering of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that Israel must stop building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria if it wants peace. Similar demands by the present and past US administrations usually focus on the construction of new Jewish settlements, but in reality even the building of new homes inside existing Jewish communities elicits outrage and condemnations. In his meeting with Biden later in the day, Peres said, "Israel cannot instruct settlers in existing settlements not to have children or get married." Meanwhile, Tony Blair, envoy for the US-led Quarter of Middle East mediators, revealed on Wednesday that the group will soon present a framework for ramming through the creation of a Palestinian state.
Obama Seeks to Demolish Secret US-Israel nuclear accord
May 7….(Washington Times) President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret US agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current US and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say. The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the US commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, speaking Tuesday at a UN meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said Israel should join the treaty, which would require Israel to declare and relinquish its nuclear arsenal. "Universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, remains a fundamental objective of the United States," Ms. Gottemoeller told the meeting, according to Reuters. Asked by The Washington Times whether the administration would press Israel to join the NPT, the official said, "We support universal adherence to the NPT. It remains a long-term goal." Avner Cohen, author of "Israel and the Bomb" and the leading expert outside the Israeli government on the history of Israel's nuclear program, said Mr. Obama's "upcoming meeting with Netanyahu, due to the impending discussions with Iran, will be a platform for Israel to ask for reassurances that old understandings on the nuclear issue are still valid." For the past 40 years, Israel and the US have kept quiet about an Israeli nuclear arsenal that is now estimated at 80 to 200 weapons. Israel has promised not to test nuclear weapons while the US has not pressed Israel to sign the nuclear NPT, which permits only five countries, the US, France, Britain, China and Russia, to have nuclear arms. The US also has opposed most regional calls for a "nuclear-free Middle East." The accord was forged at a summit between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Nixon on Sept. 25, 1969, according to recently released documents, but remains so secret that there is no explicit record of it. Mr. Cohen has referred to the deal as "don't ask, don't tell," because it commits both the US and Israel never to acknowledge in public Israels nuclear arsenal. When asked what the Obama administration's position was on the 1969 understanding, the senior White House official offered no comment. Over the years, demands for Israel to come clean have multiplied.
The Iran factor
Iranian leaders have long complained about being subjected to a double standard that allows non-NPT members India and Pakistan, as well as Israel, to maintain and even increase their nuclear arsenals but sanctions Tehran, an NPT member, for not cooperating fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog. On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign MinisterMohammad Ali Hosseini told a UN meeting preparing for a major review of the NPT next year that nuclear cooperation by the US, France and Britain with Israel is "in total disregard with the obligations under the treaty and commitments undertaken in 1995 and 2000, and a source of real concern for the international community, especially the parties to the treaty in the Middle East." The Obama administration is seeking talks with Iran on its nuclear program and has dropped a precondition for negotiations that Iran first suspend its uranium enrichment program. "What the Israelis sense, rightly, is that Obama wants to do something new on Iran and this may very well involve doing something new about Israel's program," said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington think tank.
The open secret
Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser for the George W. Bush administration, said that administration resisted international efforts to pressure Israel on the nuclear front. "We did not want to accept any operational language that would put Israel at a disadvantage and raise the question of whether Israel was a nuclear power," he said. "That was not a discussion that we thought was helpful. We allowed very general statements about the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East as long that language was hortatory." Israel began its nuclear program shortly after the state was founded in 1948 and produced its first weapons, according to Mr. Cohen's book, on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli defense doctrine considers the nuclear arsenal to be a strategic deterrent against extinction. But its nuclear monopoly is increasingly jeopardized by Iranian advances and the possibility that Iran's program could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. Israel's arsenal has also been an open secret for decades, despite the fact that Israeli law forbids Israeli journalists from referring to the state's nuclear weapons unless they quote non-Israeli sources. In 1986, the Israeli nuclear scientist, Mordecai Vanunu disclosed in the Sunday Times of London photographs and the first insider account of Dimona, the location of Israels primary nuclear facility. Israel responded by convicting him of treason. He was released in 2004 after spending 18 years in prison but has continued to talk about the program on occasion. The government has barred Vanunu from leaving Israel.
References to a "nuclear-free Middle East," meanwhile, have cropped up increasingly in international resolutions and conferences. For example, the 1991 UN Security Council Resolution 687, which sanctioned Saddam Hussein's Iraq, noted "the objective of achieving balanced and comprehensive control of armaments in the region." More recently, a March 2006 IAEA resolution, in referring Iran to the Security Council, noted "that a solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction." US allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia also have pressed the US to link Israel's weapons to Iran's as part of a plan to implement a nuclear-free Middle East. Mr. Netanyahu, whose meeting with Mr. Obama on May 18 will be the first since both took office, raised the issue of the nuclear understanding during a previous tenure as prime minister.
Israeli journalists and officials said Mr. Netanyahu asked for a reaffirmation and clarification of the Nixon-Meir understanding in 1998 at Wye River, where the US mediated an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu wanted a personal commitment from President Clinton because of concerns about a treaty that Mr. Clinton supported to bar production of fissile materials that can be used to make weapons. Israel was worried that the treaty would apply to de facto nuclear states, including Israel, and might oblige it to allow inspections of Dimona. In 2000, Israeli journalist Aluf Benn disclosed that Mr. Clinton at Wye River promised Mr. Netanyahu that "Israels nuclear capability will be preserved." Mr. Benn described as testy an exchange of letters between the two leaders over the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. He said Mr. Netanyahu wrote Mr. Clinton: "We will never sign the treaty, and do not delude yourselves - no pressure will help. We will not sign the treaty because we will not commit suicide." The Bush administration largely dropped the treaty in its first term and reopened negotiations in its second term with a proposal that did not include verification.
The Obama agenda
Mr. Obama has made nuclear disarmament a bigger priority in part to undercut Iran's and North Korea's rationale for proliferation. His administration has begun negotiations with Russia on a new treaty to reduce US and Russian arsenals. He also has expressed support for the fissile material treaty. "To cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb, the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons," he said last month in Prague. "If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade materials that create them." David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank, said such a treaty would be the first step toward limiting the Israeli nuclear program. "The question is how much of a priority is this for the Obama administration?" he said. John R. Bolton, a former UN ambassador and undersecretary of state, said Israel was right to be concerned. "If I were the Israeli government, I would be very worried about the Obama administration's attitude on their nuclear deterrent," he said. "You can barely raise the subject of nuclear weapons in the Middle East without someone saying: 'What about Israel?' If Israel's opponents put it on the table, it is entirely likely Obama will pick it up and run with it."
Obama Pressing Israel on Nuke Pledge: A sign of things to come?
(Surprising US statement regarding Israel’s nuclear program cause for concern)
May 7….(YNET) Is there a connection between Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming meeting with President Obama at the White House and the surprising statement by the American State Department Tuesday? If this is the case, then this is yet another worrying harbinger from America’s direction and this time in respect to a particularly sensitive matter. Until today, Israel refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or allow monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA.) The NPT was in fact a joint scheme by the great powers to prevent the nuclearization of Germany in the era following World War II. It was a sort of gentlemen’s agreement premised on the assumption that a state usually does not lie. According to the treaty, a state that signs it (Israel, for example, did not sign it) is obligated to report to the IAEA on all details of a nuclear project and refrain from producing nuclear weapons. In exchange, such state is given the legal possibility to deal with all areas of nuclear production for “peaceful purposes.” Dr. Avner Cohen, an Israeli researcher who resides in the US and specializes in the spread of nuclear weapons, quoted in his book “Israel and the Bomb “ the father of Israel’s atomic project, Ernst David Bergman, who said that there is no such thing as two distinct nuclear paths, one for peaceful purposes and another for military aims. It’s all the same path. In other words, a state that signs the NPT can reach, with authorization, very close to the stage where it can produce a bomb, without actually building it.
'Quartet to Unveil New Peace Strategy'
May 7….(Jerusalem Post) The US-led Quartet of Middle East mediators is working on a new strategy for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and is expected to present it in five to six weeks, Quartet envoy Tony Blair has said. The plan is being devised by the Obama administration, with input from others, Blair told Palestinian reporters. "We're about to get a new framework," Blair said Tuesday evening, adding that he did not know the details. "The reason I say people should be more hopeful, is that this is a framework that is being worked on at the highest level in the American administration, and in the rest of the international community." US President Barack Obama is holding separate meetings at the White House this month with the Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders to hear their views. Once those meetings are over, the Quartet is to convene in Washington to discuss and present the new strategy, Blair said. "I think that within the next five to six weeks, you will have a very clear picture of what the plan is." Blair said the international community was working on a new approach, adding, "The key thing for the next few weeks is to get an agreed strategy and then the key thing for the next few months is to implement it in a way that is credible for people." The London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Wednesday that Arab leaders were formulating a new peace offer, more detailed than the original Arab initiative, which will include a proposal for resolving the two thorniest final-status issues in peace talks, Jerusalem and the refugee problem. According to the report, which relied on Palestinian sources, the new initiative was being led by Jordan's King Abdullah II at President Obama's behest. The offer will reportedly call for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the Old City designated as an "international zone." The question of borders will be resolved with land swaps. Some of the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel's War of Independence in 1948 will reportedly be allowed a right of return to the Palestinian state, while others will be naturalized in their countries of residence throughout the Arab world. According to the report, the idea of a revised Arab peace plan emerged during Abdullah's meeting with Obama in Washington last month. The US president had reportedly asked his guest to formulate a new offer that would elucidate some of the issues that remain vague in the original initiative. Immediately upon returning to Amman, Abdullah took off for Riyadh in order to begin hammering out the new plan with his Saudi counterpart. On Sunday, the report said, Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and filled him in on the details. On Monday he did the same with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. Palestinian sources quoted in the report said that Obama had requested that the plan outline a "timetable for normalization and the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and the Arab world, which will encourage Israel to employ the necessary means in order to create a demilitarized Palestinian state." The revised initiative, the sources said, "will allow the Israeli flag to billow in all the capitals of the Arab world, while the Palestinian flag will be raised in the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, which will be the capital of the Palestinian State." The UN banner will fly over the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem, the sources were quoted as saying. The Palestinian sources said that the new initiative conceded that an influx of refugees and their descendants into Israel was broadly perceived as an existential threat to the Jewish state. The refugees "cannot return to the occupied Palestinian territories of 1948," they said, "for, according to the Americans' point of view, this would pose a danger to Israel's future."
US Wants Israel in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
May 6….(YNET) India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel should join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the global pact meant to limit the spread of atomic weapons, a senior US official said on Tuesday while neglecting to mention Iran. Speaking on the second day of a two-week meeting of the 189 signatories of the pact, Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller declined to say whether Washington would take any new steps to press Israel to join the treaty and give up any nuclear weapons it has. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Monday railed against the United States and what he said was its continued nuclear support for the "Zionist regime". Western diplomats called this an attempt to divert attention away from its own nuclear program. In failing to mention Iran even once in her speech, Gottemoeller broke from a tradition established by the administration of former President George W. Bush, which had used NPT meetings to criticize Iran and North Korea. Gottemoeller said that Iran came up indirectly in her statement when she spoke of the need for "consequences for those breaking the rules or withdrawing from the treaty." She also defended a US-India civilian nuclear deal, which developing nations have complained rewards New Delhi for staying outside the NPT. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have never signed the treaty. North Korea withdrew from it in 2003 and tested a nuclear device in 2006.
VP Joe Biden: Israel Must Back Two State Solution
May 5….(Jerusalem Post) US Vice President Joseph Biden said Tuesday that Israel must accept a two-state solution with the Palestinians, urging Jerusalem to stop settlement growth. "Israel has to work toward a two-state solution," Biden told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference. "You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement." He noted that President Barack Obama is "strongly and personally committed to achieving what all have basically said is needed - a two-state solution," something he called "absolutely necessary to ensure Israel's survival as a Jewish, democratic state." But Israel's new government has so far declined to back a Palestinian state, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu referring to formulas for Palestinian autonomy instead. Netanyahu is planning to meet with Obama and Biden on May 18, and the issue is expected to be a focus of their conversations. Biden's comments went farther than previous administration statements in demonstrating its demands to Israel, particularly as stated before America's largest pro-Israel lobby. He also referred to the ameliorative effect that a peace deal with the Palestinians could have with Iran. Some in Israel have been worried about the administration explicitly linking the issues, and while Biden didn't condition progress with Iran on Israeli movement with the Palestinians, he argued that making progress toward peace would help resolve the problem with Iran. Of the many reasons to work toward Israeli-Palestinian peace, he said, "One of the most pressing reasons may be to deprive Iran of the ability to extend its destabilizing influence" by inflaming public opinion and helping rejectionist groups like Hamas and Hizbullah. Biden reiterated that the US government was "intensely focused on avoiding the grave danger... of a nuclear armed Iran" and asserted that the administration's new engagement strategy offered the best chance of success. He justified the outreach as strengthening international support if engagement failed, adding, "Ladies and gentlemen, don't kid yourselves, international support matters, as we've learned over the last eight years." He said the "Islamic republic," a term of respect that observers have interpreted as a message that America is not seeking regime change, faced a choice. One path would bring it into the community of nations. The other was "one of international pressure, isolation, and one which nothing is taken off the table." "If our efforts to address this problem through engagement are not successful, we have greater international support to consider other options," he said to applause. "We must sometimes act alone, but it's always stronger when we act in unison with a secure Jewish State of Israel living side by side in peace and security with a viable and independent Palestinian state. Obama and I both believe that," Biden said. "That is also the solution that Israel and the Palestinians committed to in the road map and reaffirmed in Annapolis," he said. "It can be achieved. It must be achieved." "The continuation of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts strengthen Iran's strategic position. They give Iran a playing field upon which to extend its influence, sponsor extremist elements, inflame public opinion, all which are counterintuitive. It's counterintuitive if you think about it, that Iran's Shia influence in a Sunni Arab world would be able to be extended. There are many reasons to pursue an end to these conflicts," he said. "It gives Israelis peace and security they deserve; to help the Palestinians fulfill their aspirations of an independent and better life; to ease tension in the regions, in this region," Biden said.
UN Blames Israel for Gaza Carnage, Ignores Hamas Rocket Attacks
May 6….(Israel Today) A United Nations board of inquiry last week submitted to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon its final report on the recent Gaza War, in which is singled out Israel for harsh criticism, while almost completely ignoring the Hamas terrorism that sparked the conflict. Israeli media got ahold of the document this week, and reported that the board had found Israel guilty of intentionally firing on UN facilities in Gaza and at the unarmed civilians hiding in them. No mention was made of the fact that Hamas forces were firing at Israeli forces either from within or right next to those facilities. Israel noted that the document did refrain from explicitly accusing Israeli forces of war crimes, but Jerusalem still views the report as hostile and one-sided. The secretary general was scheduled to present his own summarized version of the report to the Security Council on Tuesday.
Obama Outreach to Muslims Worries Israelis
May 5….(Asharq Alawat) A solid majority of Jewish Israelis worry that President Barack Obama's outreach to the Arab and Muslim world will come at their expense, a new poll showed Monday. Israelis also strongly back stopping Iran's nuclear program, even if Israel has to attack Iran without American approval, according to the survey. The poll found that 63 percent of those questioned believe Israel will suffer from Obama's declared intention to reconcile with the Muslim and Arab worlds. At the same time, 60 percent of respondents said they view Obama favorably or very favorably, as opposed to 14 percent who regard him unfavorably. "Israelis like Obama as a person, but they also have reservations about his policy and ability to deal effectively with the Middle East," said Eytan Gilboa, a professor at Bar-Ilan University who directed the poll. The poll of 610 people was conducted last week by Bar-Ilan's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based Jewish advocacy group. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. It did not question members of Israel's Arab minority, who make up 20 percent of the country's 7.4 million people. Obama has called for engaging Iran diplomatically in order to defuse an international standoff over Tehran's suspect nuclear program. Obama also has begun a dialogue with Syria. Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and accuses both Iran and Syria of backing anti-Israeli militant groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah. "Israelis fear that President Obama's opening to talks with Iran, Syria and perhaps even Hamas, will be taken as appeasement by these radical actors," added BESA's director, Professor Efraim Inbar. The results were released on the eve of Obama's first meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Iranian nuclear threat will be a top item at those meetings. The poll also revealed that 66 percent of the people surveyed said Israel should take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities should diplomacy and sanctions fail, while 75 percent of those who support military action would back it even if the US opposed such a strike. Israel and the West are skeptical of Iran's claims that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not bombs. But US officials have said recently that any Israeli military strike would be ill-advised
Europe Offers Hand to Egypt but Keeps Israel at Arm's Length
(A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg has defined the next round of objectives for Europe's involvement in Middle East regional stability. Egypt is the main beneficiary while Israel remains at arms length.)
May 5….(Deutsh Welle) The European Union will push for closer ties with Egypt, continue to review the state of relations with Israel and increase pressure on Iran to accept the diplomatic terms offered by the United States. That was agreed at a meeting in Luxembourg of EU foreign ministers whose agenda had been heavy with topics concerning the Middle East. The EU "supports Egyptian efforts to work on closer ties and has decided to go a step further to enhancing relations," said Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. Egypt is a key member of the EU's "neighborhood policy" and the current co-chair of its new Union for the Mediterranean. In 2008, Egypt asked the EU to work on improving bilateral relations in areas such as research and development, trade and democratic reforms. "Enhancing the relations means you work with the EU and you put the relations on a higher level, the maximum you can attain without acquiring membership," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told journalists after the meeting, which also addressed the growing concern over a potential swine flu pandemic. "I'm sure that next year we would have that final agreement on the enhancement of relations between Egypt and the EU as long as our commitment and the EU commitment is there to push for it," he said. Abul Gheit also reported to the EU foreign ministers' meeting that, in his opinion, Israel's new government has not made a single positive move towards making peace with the Palestinians since it took power. "I do not believe the Israeli government has taken any positive moves up to this moment, nothing whatsoever," the Egyptian foreign minister said.
EU split over relations with Israel
The EU has already agreed to upgrade its relationship with Israel, but that process has come under fire following Israel's Gaza offensive and the new government's expansive settlement policy. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that it was too early for the EU to strengthen ties with Israel. "On the one hand, the upgrading was an offer that in principle still stands. But for it to be taken up and pursued, we need to be sure that we are working with the same terms of reference; and for Europeans, the context of EU-Israel relations remains the same: work for a prosperous, secure and peaceful Middle East," she said. That should include "an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living peacefully beside Israel with East Jerusalem as its capital," she added. But Ferrero-Waldner's stance clashes with that of the Czech government and current EU presidency. On Sunday, the Czech Republic's outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the Ha'aretz newspaper in Israel that he was "strongly critical" of earlier comments by the commissioner, which he termed "really hasty." The decision whether to strengthen ties between the EU and Israel is "a political decision to be taken by the council (of EU member states). I'm still president of the council, and I should know something about it," he stated. Ferrero-Waldner hit back on Monday, saying that Topolanek "does not know the council's conclusions. He should read the council conclusions." But Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is set to take up the EU's presidency on July 1, played down the significance of the open split between the EU's executive and political leadership, stressing that any move towards Israel would depend on events. "The upgrade is an option, but we are not at the moment at the time where we need to take the decision on what to do with it. We have to wait and see where the Israeli government comes out on some of the key issues," he said.
Take the new US opportunity, Europe tells Iran
The EU appeared more united on the topic of Iran with the foreign ministers taking the opportunity to urge the Islamic Republic to take advantage of a change in US policy to seal a deal and end the standoff over its nuclear ambitions. EU foreign ministers welcomed Washington's new attitude, saying it creates a "window of opportunity" for talks on Iran's atomic program and other issues. "The EU calls upon Iran to seize this opportunity to engage seriously with the international community in a spirit of mutual respect, in order to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue," they said in a statement. Such a solution "will address Iran's interests, including the development of a civil nuclear power generation program, as well as the international community's concerns,” the statement read. "The evolution of our relations with Iran will also depend on it." However Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in a television interview broadcast Sunday, said that his country was not ready to talk to the United States unconditionally. "We should just have a clear-cut framework for talks," he said.
Russia accuses EU of over-expanding its influence
In what could be the start of a new row between the EU and Russia, the foreign ministers also dismissed as "nonsense" a claim by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the EU is planning to build a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union, made just 24 hours before a meeting with him. On March 21, Lavrov said that the EU was trying to build a "sphere of influence" in Eastern Europe by setting up a so-called "Eastern Partnership" with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. But, according to Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Lavrov "knows himself that's nonsense. We strongly defend the point of view that there should be no spheres of influence, neither for the Russians, nor for us." The EU's top diplomat, Javier Solana, said that Lavrov's accusation was simply "not true." "We have a group of countries with which we have a special relationship because of neighborhood, because of trade, because of so many things. We want to establish a mechanism of relationship which is more stable, more institutional, and that has nothing to do with our relationship with Russia," he said. Lavrov is set to meet EU diplomats in Luxembourg on Tuesday for long-scheduled talks.
White House Links Iran Nukes to Palestinian State
May 5….(Israel Today) The Obama Administration on Sunday did what Israelis have long feared and pleaded with the US to avoid when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel linked the resolution of the Iran nuclear crisis to the creation of a Palestinian state. Speaking at the annual Washington conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Ynet quoted Emanuel as insisting that the ability to confront Iran and reach a diplomatic solution over its defiant nuclear program was solely dependent on progress toward the birth of "Palestine." Emanuel said that with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama later this month, Israel now faces a moment of truth, it can either acquiesce to international demands and in return have its most serious threats dealt with, or maintain the status quo and have those threats persist. In its main conference event on Tuesday, AIPAC is scheduled to present the congressmen representing its thousands of members from across the country with a letter urging Obama to take strong action toward the creation of a "viable Palestinian state." A majority of the congressmen are expected to sign the letter and pass it on to the president. While the US government and AIPAC have long advocated for the "two-state solution," the focus on that goal seems to be more pronounced since the election of Netanyahu, who has refused to publicly commit to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. Netanyahu insists that the world must take into account the example of the Gaza Strip, which was fully surrendered to the Palestinians, only to become the first territory officially ruled by a recognized terrorist organization and a launching pad for regular attacks on Israel. Instead of rush into handing the Palestinians sovereignty over any other parcels of land, Netanyahu stated during his election campaign that he wants to boost the Palestinian economy and remove the Palestinians' chief justification for terror - their poor living conditions.
Taliban Insurgency in Pakistan is a Nuclear Concern For US
May 5….(In The Days) As the insurgency of the Taliban and Al Qaeda spreads in Pakistan, senior American officials say they are increasingly concerned about new vulnerabilities for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, including the potential for militants to snatch a weapon in transport or to insert sympathizers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities. The officials emphasized that there was no reason to believe that the arsenal, most of which is south of the capital, Islamabad, faced an imminent threat. President Obama said last week that he remained confident that keeping the country’s nuclear infrastructure secure was the top priority of Pakistan’s armed forces. But the United States does not know where all of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are located, and its concerns have intensified in the last two weeks since the Taliban entered Buner, a district 60 miles from the capital. The spread of the insurgency has left American officials less willing to accept blanket assurances from Pakistan that the weapons are safe. Pakistani officials have continued to deflect American requests for more details about the location and security of the country’s nuclear sites, the officials said. Some of the Pakistani reluctance, they said, stemmed from longstanding concern that the United States might be tempted to seize or destroy Pakistan’s arsenal if the insurgency appeared about to engulf areas near Pakistan’s nuclear sites. But they said the most senior American and Pakistani officials had not yet engaged on the issue, a process that may begin this week, with President Asif Ali Zardari scheduled to visit Mr. Obama in Washington on Wednesday. “We are largely relying on assurances, the same assurances we have been hearing for years,” said one senior official who was involved in the dialogue with Pakistan during the Bush years, and remains involved today. “The worse things get, the more strongly they hew to the line, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got it under control. In public, the administration has only hinted at those concerns, repeating the formulation that the Bush administration used: that it has faith in the Pakistani Army. “I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure,” Obama said Wednesday, “primarily, initially, because the Pakistani Army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.” He added: “We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation.” But that cooperation, according to officials who would not speak for attribution because of the sensitivity surrounding the exchanges between Washington and Islamabad, has been sharply limited when the subject has turned to the vulnerabilities in the Pakistani nuclear infrastructure. The Obama administration inherited from President Bush a multiyear, $100 million secret American program to help Pakistan build stronger physical protections around some of those facilities, and to train Pakistanis in nuclear security. But much of that effort has now petered out, and American officials have never been permitted to see how much of the money was spent, the facilities where the weapons are kept or even a tally of how many Pakistan has produced. The facility Pakistan was supposed to build to conduct its own training exercises is running years behind schedule.
Netanyahu Heads for Collision with Obama Administration
May 4….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) Israeli president Shimon Peres' task in Washington on May 4-5 is to blunt the sharp edge the White House is honing to force Israel to toe the new Washington line on the Palestinians, Syria and Iran. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can expect the full force of a bludgeon to be wielded in his White House talks on May 18. Washington sources report that their host is fired up to be the first US president in decades of close friendship and cooperation to clash openly with Israel and the bulk of US Jewry. Oblivious to Israel's claim of US support for its security in a hostile regional environment, Barack Obama is expected to squeeze the Netanyahu government hard for immediate engagement on the Middle East conflict without further delay. According to our sources, the White House staff is working at top speed on options for imposing its will. Peres and Netanyahu will be informed that Washington is setting up two trilateral peace commissions to hammer out peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel with the Syrians. US officials in both chairs will intercede with their own ideas to prevent them running into deadlock on disputed issues. DEBKAfile's sources confirm that the Obama administration will not spare the whip to force the parties into line. The US president and his top advisers are convinced that the Palestinian problem is the main obstacle to accommodations for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran. Defense secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser Gen. James Jones are the leading advocates of this proposition, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more skeptical but ready to back the president's Middle East determination to place Israel in the first line of fire. Some of DEBKAfile's US sources admit that President Obama is himself under pressure because, despite the high approval rating he gained for his first 100 days in office, his myriad policy initiatives have yet to show results. His economic remedies have steadied the banking system but not yet filtered down to the general public, he faces a hard slog in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan before making headway, and Tehran is playing hardball at every turn on the road to dialogue. The only arena where the White House can hope for quick results is the Israel-Palestinian-Syrian track. The two peace conferences in preparation recall Bill Clinton's success in forcing the Serbs, Bosnians and Croats to sign the Dayton Accord of 1995, so terminating a war of three-and-a-half years. The presidential envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, was the architect of Dayton. George Mitchell, Obama's Middle East envoy, is in line for a similar role today. During his two rounds of talks in Middle East capitals, Mitchell has shown a smiling, genial face, but said little, while in Washington, a State Department team is working overtime on a new American "road map." It starts out with pressure on Israel to freeze settlement activity on the West Bank and construction in East Jerusalem. At a later stage, Israel would be pushed to abandon large sections of the West Bank, remove authorized communities as well as unauthorized outposts and hand over the historic nucleus of Jerusalem. Finally, the Israeli government would be required to accept an independent Palestinian state, even if its government is dominated by the rejectionist terrorist group Hamas. Peres and Netanyahu will find administration officials deaf not only on Israel's arguments on the Palestinian issue but on a nuclear-armed Iran too. They will see the US president no longer prioritizing the suspension of Iran's nuclear aspirations, but bent on establishing a new Persian Gulf order that formalizes Iran's rising power. Washington's objective now is negotiations for setting the boundaries of Iran's Middle East expansion and limits for its nuclear program. Israel will have no say in this process. In fact, by elevating Iran to premier regional power, America is sidelining its longstanding friends, Israel and Egypt, and setting aside their security and strategic interests for the sake of deals with Iran. Dennis Ross, US envoy for Iran, carried this message to the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, last week. But Obama's new Middle East design is not without powerful opponents:
1. Tehran itself will not let Washington dictate the limits of its expanding influence but insists on dialogue taking place amid "equality and mutual respect." This attitude also governs its nuclear aspirations. US diplomats will have to make the running to temper the ayatollahs rather than the other way round.
2. Cairo and Riyadh will resist with all their might the US bid to anoint Iran the crowning Middle East-Gulf power. Both perceive Iran's nuclearization as the inevitable outcome of this policy. They are also extremely concerned by Oabana's public endorsement of Turkey as the senior Muslim power in the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, a boost for Ankara's aspirations to resuscitate the Ottoman Empire.
3. Jerusalem will resist being cast into a peripheral role in the strategic and military processes going forward with regard to Iran, the Palestinians, Syria and their terrorist arms, Hizballah and Hamas, all of which bear pivotally on Israel's future existence. Like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Netanyahu government may not accept being crushed between two hostile regional powers, Iran and Turkey, whose aggressive pretensions Washington is promoting. Netanyahu is marshalling all Israel's resources, including an active role for President Peres, to avoid dropping into the role of second- or third-rate Middle East power whom no one consults. Peres, whose rich diplomatic experience and international reputation make him a prime asset, has been pressed into service to become the first Israeli president to step out of his ceremonial role into active-policy-making. The Israeli prime minister will also take advantage of the interests Jerusalem shares with Cairo and Riyadh in frustrating the new Washington orientation, and not only with regard to Iran. Netanyahu and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak have arranged to put their heads together and are meeting before their separate trips to Washington. Israel has not abandoned its option of a military strike against Iran's nuclear installations and its economic infrastructure. US officials, led by the defense secretary, are accordingly pouring contempt on the extent of the damage Israel is capable of inflicting. Next, they will try and tie Israel's hands by discrediting Netanyahu and his administration. A final arrow in Netanyahu's quiver is the ability to enlist American public opinion, which is traditionally supportive and sympathetic to Israel, against Obama's Grand Middle East Design. He will seek to canvass support among friends in the US Congress and the Jewish community.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon: Israel Accepts Two-State Goal
May 4….(IsraelNN.com) “The government of Israel, because of our democratic tradition and because of the continuity principle, is going to abide by all previous commitments the former government took, including the acceptance of the road map to peace which will lead to a two-state solution,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Sunday. The Bloomberg news agency reported that Ayalon made the comments in his Jerusalem office. The statement is the most explicit one by the present government regarding the acceptance of the two-state model. Its timing is significant: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will begin a tour of Europe Monday. He will visit Italy, France, the Czech Republic and Germany. President Shimon Peres will meet President Barack Obama on May 5 and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit Washington a short time later. The Deputy Foreign Minister, who is also from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, said that Iran was making an effort to derail progress toward peace by supporting Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. Ayalon called for harsher international sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. Talks on the Iranian nuclear program “shouldn’t be open-ended” and the time alloted to them “should be measured by months and not years.” To date, Netanyahu has stopped short of publicly endorsing the idea of a PA state. Instead, he has said that he intends to focus on “an economic peace,” built around improving the PA economy. Shmuel Sandler, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, told Bloomberg that Ayalon’s statement was meant to ensure Israel wouldn’t be blamed for slowing down peace negotiations. “They realized that it is not worthwhile not to accept this and pay dearly for it internationally,” Sandler said. “Why should they be punished for something that is very theoretical?” Foreign Minister Lieberman said on April 1 that Israel is not bound by commitments it made at the Annapolis Conference in 2007 and would follow the “road map.” Ayalon’s statement appears to contradict that position.
Gingrich: Obama is Endangering Israel
May 4….(JPOST) Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday blasted the Obama administration for setting itself on a collision course with Israel and endangering the Jewish state. "They are systematically setting up the most decisive confrontation that we've ever seen," the leading Republican politician told The Jerusalem Post, referring to news reports about the administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "There's almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world," he said, speaking to the Post ahead of his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference. He called US President Barack Obama's program of engagement on Iran a "fantasy," and his Middle East policies "very dangerous for Israel." He summed up Obama's approach as "the clearest adoption of weakness since Jimmy Carter." Instead, he maintained, the US should be sending the message to Israel that "we are for the survival of Israel" and that "we are not going to tolerate Iran getting nuclear weapons." He added that creating prosperity among Palestinians was important, and that the US should be helping their leaders grow their society and crowd out Hamas. The Obama administration has also been trying to support the Fatah party as it shuns Hamas, and is looking to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in part to accomplish that end. The US government has also been focusing on engaging Iran to try to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons, holding out the possibility of more economic sanctions should the diplomatic process fail. Gingrich is touted as a possible Republican candidate in the next presidential campaign and has re-established himself as a top leader in the Republican party as the GOP struggles to redefine its identity and appeal to voters after electoral losses this fall.