Archive for November 2012

White House: Israeli settlement plan ‘counterproductive’

November 30, 2012

White House: Israeli settlement p… JPost – Diplomacy & Politics.

( Notice the flag over the White House.  Ironic and appropriate. – JW )

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
11/30/2012 20:44
After gov’t responds to Palestinian UN status upgrade by approving building of 3,000 units in W. Bank, J’lem, US says “actions counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a 2-state solution.”

White House

Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

The White House said on Friday a new Israeli settlement expansion plan was “counterproductive” and could make it harder to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Israel approved the construction of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem and in the West Bank on Friday in response to the UN approving the Palestinian UN bid for non-member observer state status, government officials stated.

The inner cabinet also decided to give the go ahead for the planning of thousands of housing units in area E1 that connects Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.

“We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and east Jerusalem construction and announcements,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

“We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution,” Vietor said. “Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve.”

Last week, Washington urged Israel not to allow construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim as a possible response to the Palestinian UN bid.

Building in E-1, which would create contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim to the northeast beyond the Green Line, is something various Israeli governments have long wanted to do, but which US opposition has prevented.

The Labor Party on Friday criticized the timing of the decision to announce new building beyond the Green Line.

“There is no objection to Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem, but at this time, it is advisable to lower the flames,” the party stated.

“Declarations of this nature promote nothing and are liable to hurt Israel’s interests in Jerusalem and in the settlement blocs,” the statement added.

Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat condmened the building plans on Friday, saying they ran counter to efforts to restart the peace process.

“While the Palestinians are doing everything possible to keep the two-state solution alive, including with our vote in the United Nations, yesterday, the Israeli government is doing everything possible to destroy it,” Erekat stated.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

UN rights boss condemns crackdown on Tunisia protest

November 30, 2012

Jerusalem Post – Breaking News.

( Radical Islam, the 21st century’s Totalitarianism is showing its true face quickly.  Arab Spring freed Tunisia and Egypt from dictatorships.  Sadly, they are both following the Iran model.  Dictatorship replaced by totalitarianism. – JW )

By REUTERS
11/30/2012 17:29
GENEVA – The top United Nations human rights official accused Tunisia’s security forces on Friday of using excessive force to quell a protest in an economically deprived region of the north African country.Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the authorities must stop using firearms against demonstrators in some of her harshest criticism of the Islamist-led government brought to power by an Arab Spring uprising last year.

The tactics used to put down the protests this week have stirred anger among secular politicians in Tunisia, who say the new government is advocating the kind of harsh policing long employed by ousted autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

More than 220 people are believed to have been injured when the demonstrators demanding jobs clashed with police on Tuesday and Wednesday in Siliana, a city on the edge of the Sahara whose inhabitants have long complained of neglect.

US Senate votes 94-0 to expand sanctions on Iran energy, shipping

November 30, 2012

US Senate votes 94-0 to expand sanctions on Iran energy, shipping – Israel News, Ynetnews.

Published: 11.30.12, 18:12 / Israel News

The US Senate resoundingly approved new sanctions on trade with Iran’s energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors on Friday, its latest effort to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Senators voted 94-0 to make the new sanctions part of an annual defense policy bill. The defense bill must still be approved by the Senate and House of Representatives before it would be given to President Barack Obama to sign into law. (Reuters)

‘Canada will not let the Jews or Israel stand alone’

November 30, 2012

‘Canada will not let the Jews or … JPost – Diplomacy & Politics.

11/30/2012 15:30
Canadian foreign minister says Abbas should have used the support he received to reach out to Israel for peace talks.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Photo: Courtesy of Herzliya Conference

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who delivered a supportive speech of Israel at the UN before its vote Thursday on the Palestinian statehood, said Friday “the bottom line is we will not let the Jewish people and the State of Israel stand alone when the going gets tough.”

Baird, in a phone interview from New York, said he had “absolutely no hesitation” about taking the podium and opposing the Palestinian bid, something he knew was not a popular position in the hall.

The Canadian foreign minister criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the hostile tenor of his speech.

“Knowing that he had such overwhelming support, this would have been an occasion for him to reach out to the government and people of Israel, to embrace the Jewish people, to talk about his hopes for peace and be magnanimous,” he said. “Unfortunately it was a rather aggressive speech that will really do nothing to advance the cause of peace or the peace process.”

Baird said he was “disappointed with some countries in Europe for failing to stand up. I thought the Czech Republic was courageous to take the position it did and stand alone in the European Union. I certainly admire their leadership.”

The Czech Republic was the only EU country to vote against the Palestinian resolution, and – along with Israel and Canada – made up a group of nine countries that opposed the bid.

Dishonour and War – The legacy of the feckless, anti-semitic West

November 30, 2012

Israel Hayom | The biggest lie.

( My stomach continues to turn over practically everything I read about the middle east.  This is only the latest outrage.  I pray that the leaders of Israel have prepared the requisite “balancing event.”  If Iran gets the bomb, it really is all over.- JW )

On Thursday, we saw the leader of the so-called moderates in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, giving a perfectly Hamas-like speech. The keywords in his address came straight out of the world’s, and Israel’s radical Left dictionary, Holocaust denial circles and anti-Semitic rhetoric: Israel committed “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” “apartheid,” “racism,” and, of course, “Nakba” (“Catastrophe”). Abbas repeated the phrase “the Israeli aggression” dozens of times.

Not a word, however, about the constant, murderous terror perpetrated by Palestinians. Not a word about the protection Israel provides to the Palestinian Authority from Hamas, which could easily take over Judea and Samaria in one day if Israel were to withdraw, God forbid. Not a word about the Fatah charter, and the Hamas charter, both of which reject the right of the Jewish people to sustain a Jewish state on any part of the Land of Israel. Abbas didn’t mention, not even in once, “the Jewish people” or “a Jewish state.”

Abbas stood before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday playing the part of a Jew after the Holocaust. And for good reason: As representatives of the Arab world, the Palestinians not only seek to take our land, they are also actively trying to erase the Jews’ history in this land. They have even commandeered our historical dates. But most importantly, they have become expert at stealing the Jews’ identity. The Palestinian collective never gathered around a positive identity, but revolves around the negation of the Jews’ right to independent lives in their only state: The Jews’ historic homeland of thousands of years.

Israel should keep talking more and more about our moral, historic and religious right to this land. The security arrangements are less important. The legitimacy of terror against us stems from the habitual denial of the living connection between the Jews and their land. The Palestinians’ refusal to sign a conclusive agreement to end the conflict, despite reckless offers they got in the past from Israeli leaders, proves the following profound truth: They will never be satisfied with just a part of the Jewish land. Any compromise will only serve as a stepping stone for more demands for what was never theirs.

The U.N. has already declared the most moral movement — Zionism — to be racist once before. The U.N. could also decide to reject the Jewish state. There would be an automatic majority in favor of such an initiative. The applause elicited by Abbas’ speech, as well as the U.N.’s very approval of his request, is another aspect of the international community’s decadence. The international community is unable to recognize its main enemies — the ones seeking to obliterate the free world — which Fatah and Hamas represent.

On Thursday, the U.N. approved the biggest lie of the last 100 years. Europe abandoned Israel and reverted to its past behavior: sacrificing Jews on the altar of imagined peace. Just as in the 1930s, and other historic junctions, the West wants peace (or quiet), but it will end up getting both dishonor and war.

Soltanieh: Attack on Iran may lead to withdrawal from NPT

November 30, 2012

Soltanieh: Attack on Iran may le… JPost – Iranian Threat – News.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
11/30/2012 14:26
Iran’s IAEA ambassador tells UN if Iran is attacked, it will stop agency inspections and withdraw from Non-Proliferation Treaty, says military strikes will not stop uranium enrichment, adds sanctions have had “no effect.”

IRANIAN IAEA AMBASSADOR Ali Asghar Soltanieh

Photo: Herwig Prammer/Reuters

VIENNA – Any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities may lead it to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear arms, a senior Iranian official said on Friday.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also said the Iranian government in such a case could face “tremendous pressure” to install its uranium enrichment centrifuges in “more secure” places.

His comments highlighted concerns among many Western nuclear experts that military strikes against Iran aimed at preventing it from developing weapons may be counterproductive and only drive its entire nuclear program underground.

There has been persistent speculation that Israel might attack Iran, which it accuses of seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies the charge and says Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal is a threat to regional security.

If attacked, “there is a possibility that the (Iranian) parliament forces the government to stop the (UN nuclear) agency inspections or even in the worse scenario withdraw from the NPT,” Soltanieh said in a statement in English to the UN agency’s 35-nation board.

Military strikes would not stop Iran from enriching uranium, he said.

Refined uranium can have both civilian and military purposes, and a series of UN Security Council resolutions since 2006 have demanded that Iran suspend the activity, something the Islamic state has repeatedly ruled out.

“Iran is master of enrichment technology … it can easily replace the damaged facilities,” Soltanieh said.

But, he added in a long statement to the board, Iran is “well prepared to find a negotiated face-saving solution and a breakthrough from the existing stalemate”.

A Western diplomat criticized Soltanieh’s statement to the board, saying it included “absolutely ridiculous claims”.

Diplomacy between Iran and six world powers – the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain – aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the decade-old dispute has been deadlocked since a June meeting that ended without success.

Both sides now say they want to resume talks soon, after the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, and diplomats expect a new meeting in Istanbul in December or January.

Iran has faced a tightening of Western trade sanctions which the United States and its allies hope will force Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Soltanieh voiced defiance: “Western sanctions have had no effect whatsoever on the enrichment activities,” he said.

Panetta: US, Israel relationship stronger than ever

November 30, 2012

Panetta: US, Israel relationship stronger than… JPost – Defense.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
11/30/2012 09:38
Defense secretary awards Barak with public service honor; affirms commitment to Israel’s security regarding Iran, Iron Dome.

Leon Panetta and Ehud Barak

Photo: Ariel Hermoni

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday the relationship between the United States and Israel is “stronger than any time in history.”

Awarding Defense Minister Ehud Barak the highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Public Service Award at the Pentagon, Panetta said the strong relationship between the countries was “based on our relationship and based on the assistance that we are providing.”

Panneta added the relationship is grounded on shared values and an “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security. He stated this topic was the focus of discussions between the defense ministers on Thursday.

Both ministers commented on the granting of Palestinian statehood at the UN, with Barak labeling the move as a “mistake.”

Commenting on Syria, Panetta confirmed the US “non-lethal” assistance to the rebels in their attempt to topple President Bashar Assad. Barak added that Assad will “fall down,” but its too early to know the consequences of a regime collapse.

On Iran, Barak reiterated his concept of a “zone of immunity,” referring to an end-point of the Iranian nuclear program. When asked when the zone will occur, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland piped in to clarify that it “will happen during 2013.”

Barak added that he is confident Iran is trying to go in the “footsteps of Pakistan, North Korea.”

At the press conference, Panetta continued to praise Barak for his commitment to peace through his military and political career, stating: “few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on Israeli security and prosperity and, I have to say, on the US-Israeli relationship.”

The US Defense Secretary praised the success of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, and pledged “strong” US commitment to the Dome for the future, reiterating that the US will provide $70 million in fiscal 2012 on top of the $205 million previously appropriated. When asked on the future budget question, Panetta responded that the US is “going through our 2014 budget requests.”

“The events of the past month underscore something that the Israeli prime minister and I have said, that Iron Dome does not start wars; it helps prevent wars,” Panneta said.

Bestowing Barak with the award, Panneta complimented him as a man of peace, saying, “Minister Barak is a battle-hardened warrior. And like so many great military leaders, he is fundamentally a man of peace, because he’s seen war firsthand. He recognizes that we must take every possible step to try to avoid war.”

For his part, Barak thanked Panetta for his “open door” policy when it came to discussing issues of defense between Israel and the US.

Barak added that although Israel seeks peace, it will “always be ready with the pointing finger.” Panetta responded by finding the words for Barak, detailing it as a “trigger finger.”

Thanking Panetta and the US assistance on the Iron Dome, Barak presented him with a small Iron Dome as a memento of their close friendship.

US senators unveil tougher sanctions against Iran

November 30, 2012

US senators unveil tougher sanctions against Iran | The Times of Israel.

New package of proposed punitive measures targets Islamic Republic’s domestic industries

November 30, 2012, 8:39 am 2
The Senate side of the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Senate side of the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (AP) — US senators pressed ahead on a new set of tough sanctions against Iran’s domestic industries in an effort to cripple the Islamic republic’s economy and thwart its nuclear ambitions.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk unveiled a package of penalties that would designate Iran’s energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors as entities of proliferation and sanction transactions with these areas. The legislation also would penalize individuals selling or supplying commodities such as graphite, aluminum and steel to Iran.

The punitive measures build on the sanctions on Iran’s oil industry that the two lawmakers have shepherded through Congress in the past year.

Congress has overwhelmingly backed previous efforts by Menendez and Kirk.

“Yes, our sanctions are having a significant impact, but Iran continues their work to develop nuclear weapons,” Menendez said in a statement, adding that with the new penalties, “We will send a message to Iran that they can’t just try to wait us out.”

Kirk said the measure “will greatly increase the economic pressure on the Iranian regime and send a clear message of support to the Iranian people.”

Iran insists that it has never tried to develop nuclear weapons. It also dismisses concerns that it is enriching uranium for possible use as the core of a warhead, saying it wants only to produce reactor fuel.

The Senate legislation also would designate the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its president as human rights abusers for broadcasting forced televised confessions and show trials.

The sanctions are contained in an amendment the lawmakers hope to add to a far-reaching defense policy bill that the Senate was debating and could wrap up by week’s end.

The United States and European Union have imposed tough sanctions on Iran that have weakened its economy, but Tehran has found ways to bypass the penalties, such as Turkey’s use of gold to pay for Iranian natural gas imports.

The Menendez-Kirk measure would allow President Barack Obama to impose sanctions in cases of the sale or transfer of precious metals, targeting efforts by Iran to circumvent the penalties.

Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert and executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said there is strong bipartisan support in the US for intense sanctions, with the goal of pushing the Iranian economy to the brink of economic collapse.

Only then “can the central thesis of the administration’s sanctions policy be fairly tested: That crippling economic pressure will break the nuclear will of Iran’s supreme leader and his Revolutionary Guards and lead them to meet their obligations under international law,” Dubowitz said.

Obama has 90 days from the legislation’s enactment to act. The bill includes the authority to waive the sanctions based on national security.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Israeli Defense Chief Sounds Ready to Hit Iran, Thanks in Part to Iron Dome

November 30, 2012

Israeli Defense Chief Sounds Ready to Hit Iran, Thanks in Part to Iron Dome | Danger Room | Wired.com.

Israel’s retiring defense chief thinks Iran needs to be “coerced” in 2013 from building an atom bomb, despite any U.S. hopes that sanctions will bring Tehran to the negotiating table. And the recent success of his new, U.S.-funded missile defenses seems to have convinced him that Israel is better able than ever to deter its Iran-backed foes.

“Of course, we would love to see some heavenly intervention that will stop them, to wake up some morning and learn that they’ve given up on their nuclear intentions,” Barak told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday during a joint press conference with Leon Panetta, his American counterpart. “You cannot build a strategy based on these wishes or prayers. Sanctions are working and they are more hurting than anything I remember from the past vis-a-vis Iran, but I don’t believe these kinds of sanctions will bring the ayatollahs to a moment of truth where they sit around a table, look into each other’s eyes and decide that the game is over.”

Not exactly what Panetta wanted to hear during what was supposed to be a friendly press conference in which they celebrated how the U.S.-backed Iron Dome rocket defense system stopped Hamas’ rocket attacks cold. The U.S. defense chief, who effused over the retiring Barak as “a man of peace” and praised their long friendship, said the “unprecedented pressure” on Iran from international sanctions present “time and space for an effort to try to achieve a diplomatic solution.”

Not likely, thinks the retiring Barak. “During the coming year and hopefully before they reach what I have called a ‘zone of immunity’” — a point at which Israeli airstrike couldn’t meaningfully hinder Iranian nuclear work — Iran “will be coerced into putting an end to it this way or another way,” Barak said. “The physical attack option is an option that should be there, should remain on the table, never be removed.”

That may be short of a pledge to attack Iran next year, but it’s hardly a vote of confidence in any alternative. And it reflects a lingering divide in U.S. and Israeli goals on Iran, despite the rhetoric of unity. “We will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Panetta said, “and that remains our policy.” Barak’s policy is different: to stop Iran from even getting to the point in its technological nuclear work where an airstrike is senseless, before Iran gets the bomb. The Israeli defense chief acknowledged “sometimes slight differences” with U.S. policy “that should be better discussed behind closed doors.”

However much Barak seems resigned to Iran’s determination “to go in the footsteps of Pakistan and North Korea,” he also mused out loud about Iron Dome as a security game-changer for Israel. Not because a system that was “extremely successful” at stopping unguided Qassam rockets can also stop Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missiles — it can’t. But because of the demonstration effect that Israeli missile-defense technology can have on Iran and its proxies.

“The very knowing of the other side that you have such an effective system, especially when we’ll be equipped with many more interceptors, it will change the balance of contemplation on the other side,” Barak said. “It creates a logical kind of deterrent, not a psychological one, because any enemy that tries against Israel is exposed to the effectiveness of our efforts that we’ve seen during in this operation.” Especially since, Barak noted, Iron Dome’s big brothers — David’s Sling and the Arrow — are in development to stop more powerful missiles launched by Iran and Hezbollah.

Barak won’t be defense minister next year, as he announced this week he’s retiring from politics. But if other prominent Israeli decision-makers think that Iron Dome restored Israel’s ability to deter adversaries, imagine the value they might place on an Iran attack next year.

US gives Iran until March to cooperate with IAEA

November 30, 2012

US gives Iran until March to cooperate with IAEA – Israel News, Ynetnews.

Washington warns Tehran it will refer nuclear program issue to Security Council if it fails to cooperate with UN atomic watchdog

Reuters

Published: 11.29.12, 21:27 / Israel News

The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to start cooperating in substance with a UN nuclear agency investigation, warning Tehran the issue may otherwise be referred to the UN Security Council.

The comments by US diplomat Robert Wood to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency signaled Washington’s growing frustration at a lack of progress in the IAEA’s inquiry into possible military dimensions to Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran – which was first reported to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program by the IAEA’s 35-nation board in 2006 and then was hit by UN sanctions – rejects suspicions it is on a covert quest for atomic bomb capability.

But its refusal to curb nuclear work with both civilian and military applications, and its lack of openness with the IAEA, have drawn tough Western punitive measures and a threat of pre-emptive military strikes by Israel.

A year ago, the IAEA published a report with a trove of intelligence indicating past, and some possibly continuing, research in Iran that could be relevant for nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has since tried to gain access to Iranian sites, officials and documents it says it needs for the inquiry, but so far without any concrete results in a series of meetings with Iran since January. The two sides will meet again in December.

In his statement, Wood requested IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to say in his next quarterly report on Iran, likely due in late February, whether Tehran has taken “any substantive steps” to address the agency’s concerns.

“If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other board members to pursue appropriate board action, and would urge the board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the UN Security Council,” Wood said, according to a copy of his statement.

“Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations … Iran must act now, in substance,” Wood said.

Amano earlier told the board that there had been no progress in his agency’s year-long push to clarify concerns about suspected atom bomb research in Iran, but said he would continue his efforts.

EU sees Iranian ‘procrastination’

A simple majority in the IAEA board would be required to refer an issue to the UN Security Council, which has imposed four sanctions resolutions on Iran since 2006.

It is unclear whether Russia and China – which have criticized unilateral Western sanctions on Iran – would back any US initiative to report Iran again to the Security Council.

Wood later told reporters he hoped the December talks between the IAEA and Iran would be fruitful. But, he added, “I have my doubts about the sincerity of Iran.”

The 27-nation European Union told the board that Iran’s “procrastination” was unacceptable. “Iran must act now, in a substantive way, to address the serious and continuing international concerns on its nuclear program,” it said.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, criticised what he called “political noise” and “pressure” from the United States and the EU.

Diplomacy between Iran and the powers – the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain – has been deadlocked since a June meeting that ended without success.

Both sides now say they want to resume talks soon, after the re-election of US President Barack Obama, and diplomats expect a new meeting in Istanbul in December or January.

Iran is ready for a “face-saving” negotiated solution to the nuclear dispute, but the West must accept the reality that Tehran would never suspend uranium enrichment, Soltanieh said.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear energy plants, Iran’s stated aim, and also provide bomb material if processed further, which the West suspects is Iran’s ultimate aim.

The West wants Iran to suspend enrichment, but Iran is showing no sign of backing down.

Iran “has provocatively snubbed the international community by expanding its enrichment capacity in defiance of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Wood said.


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