Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Bibi Report radio show 11/29 on Israel, Wikileaks, Iran and US pro Israel activist groups W/ Z-Street President

@JacobKornbluh - The Bibi Report Radio Host:
"The latest Wikileaks cables released have drawn a lot of critics here in the US, The US administration called it unfair and damaging, Republican NY Rep. Peter king called the Wikileaks owners a terrorist group, the Heritage foundation in its daily email claims Wikileaks has committed a crime, and so on….

Well from my perspective this is an historic day for the link of Diplomacy and journalism, as a curious and concerned citizen, I want and have the right to be disclosed with the real views of my leaders, their actions, and hold them accountable to their closed door promises or pledges…. I have the right to know, the public has the right to know and be exposed to what president Obama thinks on the world leaders, the contrast between his public pledges of commitment to stop Iran’s nuclear, to his dismissal of Netanyahu and defense leaders estimates of time running out on Iran.. as I put it last night on twitter; Israel and the Arab leaders alarm clock ring has been put at snooze time and time… and if to draw a conclusion of the Wikileaks released cables, it is to demand , that the world leaders must say the same in private as they say publicly, and that they should have the courage to say in public what they say in private, as it proved Israel's position on Iran was consistent -- in public and in private...."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deputy Speaker calls for Pollards release as Wikileaks show US state Dep. spied on Israeli gov't officials

The US State Department under Condoleezza Rice instructed its Tel Aviv embassy employees to collect personal information about Palestinian leaders and closely monitor Israeli military and telecommunications capabilities, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

In a 2008 cable, Rice told US diplomats to pass on credit card numbers, frequent flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of Palestinians, The cable also asked for extensive tracking of Israelis and Palestinian views on the peace process, contacts with Hamas, settlements and attitudes towards the American administration, among other issues.

It called on US diplomats to report on “IDF tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting conventional and unconventional counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations.”

"Government of Israel Plans, Policies, and Actions
1) Israeli Leadership Plans and Intentions on the Peace Process.
--Government of Israel (GOI) leadership's negotiating positions, strategies, and goals in interactions with the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority officials, with supporters or elements affiliated with HAMAS, and with other Palestinian parties concerned with the peace process.
--Israeli leaders' perceptions of and relations with Palestinian leaders and negotiating counterparts. Evidence of informal channels, either sanctioned or unsanctioned by the Israeli leadership, to discuss peace steps with Palestinian leaders.
--Israeli leadership views and intentions regarding the impact of their negotiations with Syria on their negotiations with the Palestinians.
--Israel's decision-making process for launching military operations and determining retaliation for terrorist attacks.
--Israeli leaders' involvement in decisions on response to terrorist attacks.
--Israeli leadership intentions and strategy toward managing the US relationship; views of prime minister and advisors toward the US and its counterterrorism policies. Israeli thoughts and views on impact of Israeli domestic politics, including changes in GOI leadership, on GOI approach to and conduct of the peace process and negotiations.
--Views and actions on prisoner swaps/releases; information on Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners or detainees, including interrogation methods.
--Details on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operations underway or planned against the HAMAS-controlled Palestinian militants in Gaza, terrorists, or terrorist infrastructure, including targeted assassinations and tactics/techniques used by ground and air units.
--Israeli efforts to counter short-range rockets and mortars.
--IDF preparations to conduct increased operations against Palestinian targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon.
--Impact of Israeli efforts against rocket attacks on Israeli views of security.
--IDF preparations to conduct combat operations against Hizballah or Syrian targets along Israel's northern border or m inside Lebanon or Syria.
--Evidence of Government of Israel support for or opposition to actions to limit and/or reduce settlement and outpost growth and construction.
--Information on leaders of the Israeli settlement establishment, including Golan settlers, their ideology, motivations and who they claim to represent.
--Details about information repositories associated with radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled systems used for passports, government badges, and transportation systems.
--Official and personal phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses of principal civilian and military leaders"....
read more Here

In the wake of these revelations by Wikileaks, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon called today on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intensify his efforts for the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Danon harshly criticized the hypocrisy of the American government which spied on its allies for years while holding Pollard in prison for decades under extremely harsh conditions.

"In lights of the reports published by Wikileaks, I call on the Israeli government to immediately file an official request with the US administration demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard, It is hypercritical for the American government – which we now know has continuously spied on its allies and even operated a 'mole' within a friendly government – to continue to keep Jonathan imprisoned while ordering American civil servants to commit similar acts."

WikiLeaks Buried Obama's linkage between peace process and Iran

“Cut the head of the snake.” (Saudi King Abdullah)

“That program [the Iranian nuclear program] must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” (King Hamad of Bahrain)

“Ahmadinejad is Hitler.” (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed)


Since the earliest days of Barack Obama’s presidency, there have been two major conceptual differences between how Israel and how the US administration view the Middle East.

The first difference has to do with the region. While the US maintains that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum is the key to unlocking peace in the Middle East and getting other countries in the region on board to help stop the Iranian threat, Israel’s position is to first deal with Iran – neutralize it – which will then make it easier to reach an accord with the Palestinians.

Israel’s logic is that Hamas and Hizbullah – Iran’s two proxies – will be much less able to gum up the works whenever diplomatic progress looms if Iran is defanged.

The second key conceptual difference has to do with how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the US still tied into the land-forpeace formula – Israel gives up land and gets peace in return – and much of Israel, bitten badly by reality, no longer convinced that formula is relevant.

And along comes the cache of WikiLeaks documents and reveals that Obama’s linkage of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran is nothing short of fiction – a fiction he and his key aides have been spinning since the beginning of his tenure.

At his very first White House meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in May 2009, that famous meeting in which Obama called for a complete halt to all settlement construction, Obama was asked what he thought about Israel’s position that only if the Iranian threat were solved could there be real progress on the Palestinian track.

“Well, let me say this,There’s no doubt that it is difficult for any Israeli government to negotiate in a situation in which they feel under immediate threat. That’s not conducive to negotiations. And as I’ve said before, I recognize Israel’s legitimate concerns about the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon when they have a president who has in the past said that Israel should not exist. That would give any leader of any country pause.

“Having said that,if there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way. 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 a potential Iranian threat.”

What the WikiLeaks cache revealed, however, was that this argument was a fabrication. There was no need to crack the Palestinian-Israeli nut before getting the “moderate” Arab nations in the region – Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan – on board regarding Iran, because those nations were already fully camped out on board the deck of the ship, just waiting for action against Iran.

Now this doesn’t mean efforts should not be made toward trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but don’t say the reason is to get the Arabs to stop Iran.

Wikileaks: Sen. John Kerry calls for Israel to cede Golan Heights and East Jerusalem

(FP).On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was "shocked" by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.

Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a visit to Qatar during separate meetings with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, as revealed by the disclosure of diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks.

The emir told Kerry to focus on Syria as the path toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry agreed with the emir that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who wants change but pointed out that his arming of Hezbollah and interference in Lebanese politics were unhelpful. Kerry said that Assad "needs to make a bolder move and take risks" for peace, and that he should be "more statesman-like." Kerry also agreed with the emir that the Golan Heights should be given back to Syria at some point.

"The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace," the diplomatic cable reported.

As for the peace process, Kerry defended the Obama administration's drive to use indirect proximity talks (which were only being discussed at that time) as a stepping stone to direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He said the two sides should first agree on the amount of land to be swapped and then work on borders, followed by settlements.

Kerry also said that final agreement would have to include a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

"Any negotiation has its limits, added Senator Kerry, and we know for the Palestinians that control of Al-Aqsa mosque and the establishment of some kind of capital for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not negotiable...For the Israelis, the Senator continued, Israel's character as a Jewish state is not open for negotiation. The non-militarization of an eventual Palestinian state and its borders can nonetheless be resolved through negotiation."

Sever Plocker/ WikiLeaks boosted and gave reinforcement to Israel’s foreign and defense policy

WikiLeaks boosted Israel by revealing that most world leaders share our views

(Sever Plocker-Ynet). Had WikiLeaks didn’t exist, Israel would have had to invent it. The massive leak of US diplomatic documents produces a clear, unequivocal picture: The whole world, and not only Israel, is terrified by the Iranian nuclear threat.

Iran’s nuclearization is not Israeli paranoia, as certain camps try to argue. It makes all world leaders, from Riyadh to Moscow, lose sleep. The Iranian issue is the common thread in the hundreds of thousands of documents that were leaked and it produces a narrative whereby the world expects Israel and the United States, in this order, to do something to stop “Hitler from Tehran.”

Some people feared WikiLeaks’ leaks because of the embarrassment to American diplomacy and the fears that the lives of US agents would be jeopardized. Yet that was a false alarm. The leak does not hurt America’s foreign policy, with the exception of a few tales recounted by junior diplomats.

The leak reinforces the main message of two US administrations - which turned out to be incredibly similar to the main message conveyed by Israeli governments: Iran constitutes the clear, immediate and greatest threat to the world’s stability, and the world needs to act towards uprooting this malignant tumor. All the rest is dwarfed by it.

Some media outlets indeed tried to make a big deal out of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s supposed order to US diplomatic staff to spy after senior UN officials. However, scrutinizing the documents makes it clear that this had to do with concerns about close cooperation between some UN officials and Hamas/ Hezbollah. This theme had been frequently raised by Israel too.

In fact, the ocean of leaks has not yet produced an item that casts a negative light on Israel. Netanyahu came out of it (relatively) ok, Olmert came out of it (relatively) ok, and even Mossad Chief Meir Dagan’s statement about the US need to encourage the protest of intellectuals and students in Iran is commensurate with a liberal, democratic worldview and with accumulated experience in toppling dictatorships.

It is doubtful whether in recent years Israel’s foreign and defense policy received such significant backing and reinforcement as happened Sunday. At least on the Iranian front, and apparently in respect to quite a few other issues too, world leaders – including the Arab world – think like us but are ashamed to admit it. WikiLeaks exposed this shame.

LAtimes/ WikiLeaks diplomatic cables - For Israel somewhere between relief and vindication

(Babylon & Beyond-LAtimes).The morning after the first disclosures of WikiLeaks' trove of diplomatic cables, buzz in Israel was somewhere between relief and vindication, and officials were being thankful by keeping quiet. Relations between Israel and the U.S. are based on a tight weave of shared interests, not local incidents, said deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon.

Gradually, more official voices were heard. The revelations show what some of us knew, said President Shimon Peres -- that the Arab countries know they have an enemy, "and it's not Israel."

A headline in Haaretz was more direct: "Everybody hates Iran."

If WikiLeaks didn't exist, Israel would have had to invent it, wrote Sever Plocker, noting the big leak backed Israel's foreign and defense policy and revealed "the shame" that many agree with Israel but "won't admit it openly."

"Sorry we were right," wrote columnist Dan Margalit.

Israel wasn't embarrassed "one bit" by the fiasco, writes Aluf Benn.

OK, so the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he found Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "elegant and charming" but felt Netanyahu never kept his promises. And defense official Amos Gilad thinks Mubarak lives in the past more than the present. Worse things have been said in public.

It's a tempest in a teapot for Israel, for now, according to finance minister Yuval Steinitz.

In a radio interview Monday, former national security adviser Giora Eiland, said Israel can be satisfied that so far no security secrets, operational plans or intelligence capabilities were revealed. Many agree the main victim is diplomacy, which may not have been exposed entirely naked but is stripped down to its flowered boxer shorts, as one radio reporter put it Monday morning.

Diplomatic cables, even classified, aren't where "the real action" happens, says analyst Amir Oren. Even secure phone lines in embassies aren't trusted for important stuff, as a former Israeli diplomat explains here. Netanyahu, who said Israel wasn't damaged by the leaks, confirmed that important things were discussed in small forums, in person or by encrypted phone calls.

Still, the documents relating to Israel contained some very interesting stuff. Read Here for a partial list

Netanyahu on Wikileaks: Let the Arabs say the truth out loud

"This is an historic day for the relationship between journalism and diplomacy," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday following the uncovering of hundreds of thousands of documents by the WikiLeaks website. In a meeting in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu told journalists "your job will become much harder to do, as will ours."

"If the exposure causes the region's leaders to refrain from saying what they think in private talks, then we have a problem, But if the leaders make the statements publically there will be a significant change. When leaders are willing to tell their people the truth it promotes peace." The prime minister added that "peace based on truth has a lasting chance."

"The leak will cause documents to be exposed to less people. "Cables leak. We in Israel have already learned this and have adapted ourselves to this reality."

He noted that this new reality caused the government to narrow down meetings to two or four people. "Each person you add raises the chance for a leak," he noted.

"The greatest threat to peace is the Iranian regime's arming race, and what is most important is that many leaders and governments in the Middle East realize this threat. There is a gap between what is said publically and was is said behind closed doors".

"Leaders realize there is a new threat and a new understanding. I don't remember there was such understanding in the Middle East (in the past). I hope leaders will have the courage to tell their people what they said about Iran publically."

Netanyahu also addressed the peace process and blamed the Palestinians of the current stalemate. He noted that the process does not depend solely on Israel. "The Palestinians are the ones who did not take steps."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jpost Analysis/ Israel and Mideast leaders alarm on Iran is still on snooze

Based on the trove of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the United States is clearly listening to and recording what Middle Eastern leaders have to say about Iran. The question left unanswered is what the US is willing to do about it.

For years now, top Israeli political and defense leaders have warned the world that a nuclear Iran is not just a threat to the Jewish state but is a threat to the entire region.

“If only we could say publicly what we hear behind closed doors,” Israeli officials would comment, following off-record talks they held with Arab leaders throughout the Middle East.

Well, now they can. According to one cable published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, Saudi King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program” and to cut off the head of the snake.

According to another cable, King Hamad of Bahrain, a country with a majority Shi’ite population, urged in a meeting with former CENTCOM commander Gen.

David Petraeus that action be taken to terminate Iran’s nuclear program.

“That program must be stopped,” Hamad said, according to the cable. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

Jordan, another country that voiced concern, is uncomfortable with the possibility that a nuclear Iran would provide an umbrella for opposition groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is also challenged by Iran’s continued nuclear development, as shown by the conviction in April of 26 men who were spying for Hizbullah and plotting attacks in Egypt.

From an Israeli perspective, therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that WikiLeaks may have done the country a service on Sunday. By presenting the Arab leaders as more extreme in their remarks than Israeli leaders, the cables show the dissonance in the region and the danger involved in allowing Iran to continue with its nuclear program.

At the end of the day, though, none of this has changed the state of affairs regarding global efforts to stop Iran. While the UN has ratcheted up sanctions and the US is threatening more and tougher ones, the Teheran regime is continuing to defy the international community and to enrich uranium, making it today just a jump away from creating a nuclear weapon whenever it wants.

Wikileaks: Netanyahu: The US must be more reasonable on settlements to get along with the peace process

Settlements are not a obstacle to peace:


"The Prime Minister discussed his visit to Washington, focusing on his discussions of Iran, a regional approach in support of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and his approach to the Palestinians and settlements, including his opposition to a complete freeze on settlement construction.

"Netanyahu told CODEL Ackerman that he did not feel boxed in politically and that his coalition in fact reflects the demands of the Israeli public to address their concern about security. While some argue that agreements bring security, Netanyahu said Israel's experience of the past fifteen years proved that neither agreements nor unilateral withdrawals brought security. Netanyahu said he had told President Obama that while he would not condition negotiations with the Palestinians on halting Iran's progress toward a nuclear weapon, if Iran obtained such a weapon it would destroy any progress made toward peace.

"Netanyahu said he wants to work with the U.S. on the basis of the understandings reached with the Bush Administration, i.e. that Israel will not build new settlements or seize more land, but if families grow, they will still have the right to build within existing settlement boundaries. Now Israel is hearing that the U.S. wants no construction at all. Israelis consider this position to be unfair, he said. The question is whether the U.S. is seeking a geographic or a demographic restriction on settlements.

"Netanyahu commented that Israel needs a common understanding with the U.S. The U.S. position should be "reasonable," since opposition to a total freeze cuts across political parties in Israel. This is more of an issue with the U.S. than with the Palestinians, Netanyahu asserted, arguing that the PA will go along if there is an understanding between Israel and the U.S. He noted that Israeli officials were meeting with U.S. officials on this issue, adding that there could be an understanding if the U.S. wants one. Netanyahu commented that he understood there should be no land seizures, but he could not tell settlers not to have children.

Wikileaks: Netanyahu tries to convince the US - He is sincere and serious in efforts toward peace

Barak: Netanyahu is serious about peace:

During the week of May 25: one from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator Casey, the other from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs led by Congressman Ackerman met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who conveyed points on the Peace Process:

"Barak began his meeting with the Casey delegation by apologizing for being late due to what he described as an "internal debate" at the Prime Minister's office regarding the development of a response to President Obama's upcoming speech in Cairo. He noted there are "perceived gaps" between the USG and the GOI regarding the Peace Process, and explained the GOI's internal debate is focused primarily on how to ensure that the U.S. and Israel "trust each other." Barak expressed confidence that PM Netanyahu is sincere in wanting to "seize this opportunity and move forward" with the Palestinians, but alluded to members of the coalition who do not agree with this course of action.

"From his perspective, Barak told the Casey delegation that the GOI was in no position to dictate policy to the Palestinians or the USG regarding the Peace Process -- "it takes two to tango, and three to negotiate," he said. Barak noted that it is the GOI's responsibility to ensure that "no stone is left unturned" regarding the Peace Process; if efforts to achieve peace ultimately fail, then the GOI must be able to state that every effort was pursued. He said he personally had no objection to "two states for two nations," and panned Arab arguments for a bi-national state in Israel. Barak said Israel envisions "two peoples living side by side in peace and good neighborliness" as the final goal.

"With the Ackerman delegation, Barak focused on the need for a regional approach to the peace process. He supports a regional initiative for peace and cooperation for the entire Middle East region to be launched by Israel. He stressed as well the need to build trust and convince the U.S. administration that the new Israeli government is "serious in its efforts toward peace."

US says Netanyahu is not reliable:

Israel's prime minister Binjamin Netanyahu is "elegant and charming" but never keeps his promises, according to a cable from Cairo recounting a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak, who added: "I have told him so personally".

Wikileaks: The US administration dismissed Netanyahu's estimates of time running out on Iran

Netanyahu warns US on Iran:

A 2009 claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran was months away from achieving military nuclear capability was dismissed by the Americans as a ploy.

According to German weekly Der Spiegel, a State Department official says in a classified cable that Netanyahu informed the United States of Iran's nuclear advancement in November 2009, but that the prime minister's estimate was likely unfounded and intended to pressure Washington into action against the Islamic Republic.

Israeli Intelligence on Iran:

"Major General Amos Yadlin, Israeli's military intelligence chief, warned last year: 'Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on 11 September 2001'

On May 10 2009, Representative Robert Wexler (D, Florida), accompanied by Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Rogin and DCM Moreno, met with Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief, MG Amos Yadlin,MG Yadlin focused his discussion on the preparations for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu to the United States and the Iranian nuclear program

"MG Yadlin explained that Israel tries to be more precise than the US in estimating Iran's intentions and timeline for obtaining a nuclear bomb. Iran is in the position of wanting to pay only a minimum cost for its current program. MG Yadlin stated that Iran could decide to produce a bomb by 2010, but Iran is waiting for the right time in the future and that there are some who will always doubt it despite the evidence".

"MG Yadlin said he does not oppose engagement, He feels there needs to be an agreed upon deadline; a measure for success or failure; and a plan B if engagement does not work in order for engagement to have any chance. He also expressed strongly that engagement should have already started. MG Yadlin outlined four possible outcomes of engagement. Two good outcomes would be the Iranian nuclear program stopped or a failure of engagement that allows Russia and China to see the US made all efforts to prevent the program diplomatically and allows for greater cooperation in the future. Two bad outcomes would be Iran playing for time with no claim of failure on the part of engagement or a bad bargain that still allows Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb even if in a longer timeline. it has to be understood that Israel sees things differently and that Israel has to be ready and can not remove the military option from the table'.

Ehud Barak Nov. 2010 is deadline to stop Iran nuclear ambitions:

In June 2009, Defense minister Ehud barak met with 2 US delegations - Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator Casey, the other from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs led by Congressman Ackerman.

"Barak said we share the same intelligence, but acknowledged differences in analysis. He suggested that the US view is similar to presenting evidence in a criminal court case in which a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Barak said the fate of the region and the world rests on our ability to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons -- as such, the standards for determining guilt should be lower as the costs are higher".

"In both meetings, Barak described Iranians as "chess, not backgammon players." As such, Iran will attempt to avoid any hook to hang accusations on, and look to Pakistan and North Korea as models to emulate in terms of acquiring nuclear weapons while defying the international community. He doubted Tehran would opt for an open, relatively low-threshold test like the recent one in North Korea. Rather, Iran will seek ways to bypass the NPT while ensuring its program is redundant and well-protected to prevent an irreparable military strike. Barak estimated a window between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable. After that, he said, any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage. He also expressed concern that should Iran develop nuclear capabilities, other rogue states and/or terrorist groups would not be far behind.

"To the contrary, he argued that if the United States had directly confronted North Korea in recent years, others would be less inclined to pursue nuclear weapons programs. By avoiding confrontation with Iran, Barak argued, the U.S. faces a perception of weakness in the region".

Saudi King and Arab Leaders urged the US to attack Iran's nuclear facilities:

"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

"The Saudi king was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", one cable stated. "He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah's meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.

"In a conversation with a US diplomat, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their [Iran's] nuclear programme, by whatever means necessary. That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate, told a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."

"In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war ... It's a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive."

"In another exchange , a senior Saudi official warned that Gulf states may develop nuclear weapons of their own, or permit them to be based in their countries to deter the perceived Iranian threat.

Mossad Chief Dagan on Diplomacy with Iran:

Another cable published by The Guardian, from later in 2009, cites a meeting of the U.S.-Israel Joint Political Military Group, in which members of Israel's Mossad spy agency said Iran was using repeated attempts to resolve the nuclear issue through diplomacy to "play for time" and evade sanctions, "while pursuing its strategic objective to obtain a military nuclear capability."

The cable also quotes Mossad representatives as believing that Iran wanted "to become a regional hegemon, and is dictating its agenda by using Hamas and Hezbollah as force multipliers."

Regarding what he considered Iran's true nuclear capabilities, a 2007 cable quoted outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan as stating that Tehran was attempting to convey a "false presentation that they have mastered the uranium enrichment process."

"The reality is," Dagan said, "that they are not there yet, and they are paying a heavy political price [sanctions] for something they have yet to achieve."

In Dagan's view, the 2007 cable stated, there wasn't an "ideological conflict within the Iranian leadership (all wish to see the destruction of Israel), but there is a growing divide on tactics with some supporting a retaliatory position against the West and others favoring new policies of moderation."

Gulf States Await Action (From Others) on Iran:

Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (AFHSC), met Mossad Director Meir Dagan on July 12 for a general discussion of regional security threats:

"Mossad Director Meir Dagan began his two-hour meeting with Townsend by expressing satisfaction with sanctions against Iran.

According to Dagan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States all fear Iran, but want someone else "to do the job for them." Dagan characterized Qatar as "a real problem," and accused Sheikh Hamid of "annoying everyone." In his view, Qatar is trying to play all sides -- Syria, Iran, Hamas -- in an effort to achieve security and some degree of independence. "I think you should remove your bases from there...seriously," said Dagan. "They have confidence only because of the U.S. presence." Dagan predicted, with some humor, that al-Jazeera would be the next cause of war in the Middle East as some Arab leaders (specifically Saudi Arabia) are willing to take drastic steps to shut down the channel, and hold Sheikh Hamid personally responsible for its provocations.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Obama imposes freeze on lips - gets 12 stitches after hit during basketball game

U.S. President Barack Obama was accidentally elbowed in the face while playing basketball on Friday and received 12 stitches to his lip, the White House said.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip ... the president received 12 stitches today, administered by the White House Medical Unit," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

The president was given a local anesthetic while receiving the stitches, Gibbs said.

Obama was later spotted by reporters through an upstairs White House window holding what appeared to be a compress against his mouth, while the White House Christmas tree was being delivered outside.

IRS to Jewish group Z-Street: 'Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?'

(Politico).Pennsylvania Jewish group Z-street has claimed the Internal Revenue Service is targeting pro-Israel groups introduced in federal court today a letter from an IRS agent to another, unnamed organization that tax experts said was likely outside the usual or appropriate scope of an IRS inquiry.

"Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?" IRS agent Tracy Dornette wrote the organization, according to this week's court filing, as part of its consideration of the organizations application for tax exempt status. "Describe your organization's religious belief sytem toward the land of Israel."

The document emerged in the course of a lawsuit filed in August by Z Street, a hawkish group that casts itself as the Zionist answer to the liberal J Street. Z Street claims that a different IRS agent reviewing its application for tax exempt status said the agency is "carefully scrutinizing organizations that are in any way connected with Israel" and that "a special unit" is determining whether its activities "contradict the Administration's public policies.'"

The IRS can deny tax exempt status to groups that work against "established public policy," a precedent established in its denial of a tax exemption to Bob Jones University over racial discrimination, and Z Street is suggesting that the IRS has begun applying some such policy to pro-Israel groups. The State Department has complained of tax exempt contributions to groups that fund weapons and equipment for West Bank settlers, which Z Street co-founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus said Z Street has never come close to doing.

"Given that we have fallen within this net, how big is the net?" she asked.

The agent's question was contained in correspondence with "a Jewish religious organization" with no stated position on Israel, Z Street says in its court filing. The group's tax adviser, Z Street says, shared the correspondence with Z Street. Z Street does not know the name of the group and may subpoena the tax adviser, who is no longer cooperating with them, for more information, Marcus said.

Several experts on non-profit tax law said the questions to the organization were unusual, at best, though they were also skeptical of the claim that the IRS is specifically targeting pro-Israel groups.

"The claims go far beyond what should be the IRS's role," said Paul Caron a University of Cincinnati law professor and the author of TaxProf Blog.

Ellen Aprill, a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles said the second question was "appropriate" in the context of an application seeking a tax exemption on religious grounds.

"The first one is not the way I would want any of my agents to do it," she said.

Former I.R.S. Commissioner Sheldon Cohen said he was skeptical of Z Street's motives in its high-profile lawsuit, rather than pursuing its concerns in tax court.

"They were hardly into the process when they screamed rape – nobody lifted the dress yet," he said, noting that 501(c)3 groups can't advocate for political positions.

But he called the specific questions "unusual."

"I've never seen that kind of inquiry," he said.

And Ofer Lion, a California tax lawyer, said he thought the question was probably the work of a misguided agent.

"People who work in the field and have done a lot of these applications have seen these bizarre questions shot back at them more than once," he said.

Z Street maintains, however, that the questions are more evidence of a broader policy targeting pro-Israel groups. The organization claims that the agency is "improperly considering the political viewpoint of applicants" and engaging in "clear viewpoint discrimination."

The IRS has sought to dismiss Z Street's claim on technical grounds. A spokesman said he couldn't immediately comment on the new filing; in August, a spokesman said he couldn't comment on an ongoing case.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Politico: Israel granting some time for the US to take Harder line on Iran

(Ben Smith-Politico).Some Israeli officials say the country’s fingers are off the hair-trigger that would launch a strike on the Iranian nuclear program, but that convincing the United States to take a harder line on Iran remains a top national priority.

The apparent willingness of the Israelis to postpone a demand for confrontation by months – at least – represents a success for the Obama administration, which has sought to convince Israel that it should give sanctions a chance to work.

It also, Israelis said, represents the belief on both sides that Iranian technical difficulties – some of them reportedly the result of a computer virus attributed to Israeli intelligence – have slowed the program.

“The Iranians are moving more slowly than they want to – but they are still moving,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, the deputy director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry. “Everybody understands that you have to give some time for the sanctions to bear their full fruit.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – the two key decision makers in the possibility that Israel would strike Iran – have both stressed the seriousness of the threat in recent weeks, and the importance of a credible American military threat.

“We have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Tehran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at a speech in New Orleans earlier this month, where he offered tepid praise for sanctions and called for “a credible threat of military action.”

“If the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action,” he said.

But while Israeli leaders continue publicly to stress the immediacy, and urgency, of the Iranian threat, other Israeli officials said more specifically that they are waiting, if without a great deal of optimism, for summer to see whether sanctions and diplomacy have moved the Iranian program.

“We think that people are underestimating the effect of the sanctions,” said an aide to a hawkish Israeli minister. “There are indications that the regime is quite beside itself about them and on the defensive more and more.”

“In mid-2011 you will see a debate about whether the sanctions are working,” said one former senior Israeli military official, who noted with some satisfaction that the Iranians had suffered “technical disappointments

The sanctions, Kuperwasser said, “are very efficient and impressive.”

“But the purpose of the sanctions is not” to cripple the Iranian economy, he said. “The purpose of the sanctions is to stop the project.”

Netanyahu also continues to make the case – into which he has so far failed to direct Obama’s peace-making energies – that the moment is ripe for a broader regional settlement centered on the fear Israel shares with a range of Arab states.

“You never had the strategic stars so lined up between Israel and the Arabs,” said Ron Dermer, a top Netanyahu adviser. “We do have a window of time where the Arabs and Israeli have a common opponent that can create a strategic alliance.

“Any idea of a broader Arab-Israeli [peace] was pollyannish five years ago. But I think with the rise of Iran it’s a different situation today,” he said.

Other Israeli officials have adopted a new argument aimed at persuading Obama to act against Iran: His broad, career-long goal of limiting nuclear proliferation appears to be in danger on a number of fronts, and an Iranian bomb could, in particular, launch a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

“Does he want to be the president on whose watch the [nuclear non-proliferation treaty] collapses,” one Israeli official asked.

Israeli officials say the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran will surface again if sanctions don’t have a dramatic effect, and few were willing to predict what decision the key players – Netanyahu and Barak –would take if presented with intelligence that Iran was on the brink of having the capacity to make a bomb.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ben Smith/Politico: In the Mideast gridlock: It's Obama, Stupid - Obama is the problem -

POLITICO By BEN SMITH Vowing to change a region that has resisted the best efforts of presidents and prime ministers past, Barack Obama dove head first into the Middle East peace process on his second day in office.

He was supposed to be different. His personal identity, his momentum, his charisma and his promise of a fresh start would fundamentally alter America’s relations with the Muslim world and settle one of its bitterest grievances.

Two years later, he has managed to forge surprising unanimity on at least one topic: Barack Obama. A visit here finds both Israelis and Palestinians blame him forthe current stalemate – just as they blame one another.

Instead of becoming a heady triumph of his diplomatic skill and special insight, Obama’s peace process is viewed almost universally in Israel as a mistake-riddled fantasy. And far from becoming the transcendent figure in a centuries-old drama, Obama has become just another frustrated player on a hardened Mideast landscape.

The current state of play sums up the problem. Obama’s demand that the Israelis stop building settlements on the West Bank was met, at long last, by a temporary and partial freeze, but its brief renewal is now the subject of intensive negotiations.

The political peace process to which Obama committed so much energy is considered a failure so far. And in the world’s most pro-American state, the public and its leaders have lost any faith in Obama and – increasingly — even in the notion of a politically negotiated peace.

Even those who still believe in the process that Obama has championed view his conduct as a deeply unfunny comedy of errors.

“He’s like rain,” said a top Israeli official involved in diplomacy with the U.S., speaking of Obama’s role in negotiations. “You can do all kinds of things to cope with it.”

Some fret that not only has Obama failed to move the process forward, but that he and his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts may have dealt it a setback that will leave it worse off than when they began.

“Each of them has exacerbated the mistakes of the other,” said Michael Herzog, a retired general who still plays an informal role advising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s negotiators. He worries that the result of the bumbling could be “disastrous: people will lose hope in the possibility of a two-state solution.”

The notion that Israel would get $2 billion worth of military hardware for a three-month delay in the construction of a few houses appears incomprehensible, and has drawn criticism for two reasons: Netanyahu’s conservative coalition partners worry that the Americans are selling them yesterday’s carpet, making a condition of something that was already in the works. His American critics, meanwhile, expressed astonishment that Obama would pay so much for so little.

The reality is more complicated, and emblematic of the stilted relationship between the United States and its ally, and of the Israeli angst over American support, its mistrust of Obama, and its assumption that peace talks will fail. The Israelis are using the talks – viewed by most of the government as a fantasy – as a bridge to their more immediate security needs.

“It’s not connected to the 90 days – it’s connected to the Saudi deal,” said a senior aide to Netanyahu. “It’s not something [Netanyahu] had in his pocket.”

Still, a visitor finds no shortage of good news on the ground. Israel’s tech sector is booming, Tel Aviv’s cafes bustle and Israel has enjoyed a period largely free of suicide bombings and rocket attacks. In the Palestinian territories, there is also a positive tale to tell: The robust economic growth in West Bank cities patrolled by a functioning Palestinian police force.

But the American president has been diminished, even in an era without active hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. His demands on the parties appear to shrink each month, with the path to a grand peace settlement narrowing to the vanishing point. The lack of Israeli faith in him and his process has them using the talks to extract more tangible security assurances – the jets. And though America remains beloved, Obama is about as popular here as he is in Oklahoma. A Jerusalem Post poll in May found 9 percent of Israelis consider Obama “pro-Israel,” while 48 percent say he’s “pro-Palestinian.”

“Israelis really hate Obama’s guts,” said Shmuel Rosner, a columnist for two leading Israeli newspapers. “We used to trust Americans to act like Americans, and this guy is like a European leader.”

Many senior Israeli leaders have concluded that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were right about Obama’s naivete and inexperience.

“The naïve liberals who are at the heart of the administration really believe in all the misconceptions the Palestinians and all their friends all over the world are trying to place,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former high-ranking military intelligence officer who is now deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Kuperwasser, like other Israelis, bridled at the suggestion that the country’s dislike of Obama draws from the Muslim influences of his heritage – or even his name.

“It drives me crazy. Who cares that his middle name is Hussein? It’s the last thing we care about. [To suggest that] is just anti-Semitism,” he said. “There is one reason why we are hesitant about this guy: he doesn’t understand us.”

“It might be that the reason you haven't had peace with the Palestinians is not because you haven’t had changes in policies, not because you haven’t had changes with the American approach, but because the Palestinians haven’t brought themselves to real reconciliation with Israel,” Netanyahu’s closest adviser, Ron Dermer, told POLITICO.

“The prime minister is not only more optimistic than his staff. The prime minister is more optimistic than his ministers,” he said, adding that unlike Begin, Netanyahu “does not believe that the status quo is sustainable.”

Netanyahu is almost alone in his party in suggesting that the peace process could go somewhere; one of the few others in Israeli public life who insists on that point is his chief rival and critic, opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Peace talks really could advance, she argues, if Israel had a leader whom the Americans and Palestinians could trust, as they did when she served as Foreign Minister when her party, Kadima, ran the government before the rightward correction that occurred just weeks after Obama’s own election.

“I believe it’s feasible, but I don’t have a 100 percent guarantee. What I don’t do is try to undermine the willingness of the other side,” Livni told POLITICO. “When we negotiated there was trust – there’s no trust now.... It depends on the way you negotiate.”

Livni scrupulously avoids criticizing Obama’s conduct of the peace talks, but those around her are blunter.

“If Obama wanted to be a transformational figure, he would never have led with the settlements,” said Eyal Arad, the architect of Livni’s campaign for prime minister. He argues – like most Israelis – that Obama inadvertently got talks hung up on a matter of irrelevant principle, rather than engaging the reality that some settlements can stay while others must go.

“The settlements were pushed by a bunch of left-wingers who were out of sync with the realities and were out of government too long,” he said. “The irony is that Obama went directly back to the place where George Bush the father left off.”

“Obama’s biggest problem is that we don’t buy what he’s selling, and that is hope,” said one Israeli veteran of past negotiations. “There’s this sincerity about the American approach that is heartbreaking to watch.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Netanyahu: Second Freeze to be More Strict, but vows: No third freeze

(Ynet). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Likud MKs Sunday in an additional attempt at securing his party's support for an additional freeze on West Bank settlement construction, which the US has demanded in order to continue peace talks.

The prime minister presented the MKs with three principles from which he would refuse to stray under US pressure. He said he would reject any additional freeze on settlements, demand that the US veto a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN, and stress that no agreement will be pressed upon Israel at the end of the 90-day moratorium on construction.

The state will also compensate all settlers harmed by the freeze, Netanyahu said. With regards to the Palestinians he added, "I don't want them as citizens or subjects. Nothing good can come of our managing Jenin's sewer systems."

"It is entirely my responsibility to make decisions beneficial to Israel's security," the prime minister said, adding that the only downside of the agreement to freeze construction would be that work houses already being built would have to be halted as well.

"We asked for nothing in return for the 10-month freeze, but for these three months we will demand compensation that is important to the State of Israel," Netanyahu said in answer to criticism against him

Ben Caspit/ US-Israel's current relations - A matter of credibility

(Ben Caspit/Maariv, translated via Coteret).National Security Adviser Uzi Arad sat in the “Meet the Press” studio and handed out grades to the Americans. Obama’s administration, Arad said, began its battle against the Iranian nuclear program with a “policy of smiles” and believed the Iranians’ talk, “but then sobered up.” In principle, Arad is right. In practice, he isn’t supposed to say that on television. After all, even without this, the Americans don’t much like us.

Arad’s candid remarks are the tip of a much bigger iceberg. At least three top Likud figures who were briefed recently by officials very close to Netanyahu on the talks with the Americans, on the letter that has not (yet) been written, on the promises that were not made and the stealth bombers that stole away, say that the prevalent view in the Prime Minister’s Bureau about the US administration is that it is “not a credible administration.” That is the reason, these sources say, for Netanyahu’s insistence on receiving the promises in writing. And that is the reason, say these sources, that some of the promises that Netanyahu heard from the Americans evaporated shortly afterwards.

True, the current US administration has shown ineptitude, poor decision-making and problematic behavior. The fact that it has refused to stand behind Bush’s letters to Sharon from April 2004 undermines the basis for any discussions with them. But you don’t say this to politicians. You think this, you take this into account, but you’re careful that it not get out. As it is, the strategic relationship between Israel and the US is at an unprecedented nadir. The level of trust between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Bureau is scraping the bottom of the barrel from below. Automatic matters, such as a veto in the UN Security Council, are now promised as a freeze bribe, and even that for a pre-allotted time period. Cold water must be poured on this, not oil.

One needs to read the article by Dan Kurtzer, the former American ambassador to Israel and Obama’s adviser, which was published yesterday in the Washington Post, to understand how big a deal this is. Kurtzer warns against the deal being cooked up between the Obama administration and Netanyahu. He calls this bribery, he says that this is a mistake both for the Americans, but mainly for Israel, he points out that such a deal would even further rock the strategic basis of the relationship between the two countries.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poll: 51% of Israelis support freeze, Yet 68% do not think the freeze will lead to renewed peace talks

(JPOST).Most Israelis think a freeze is acceptable in exchange for aid; 68% do not think the freeze will lead to renewed peace talks.

Over half of Israelis support an additional construction moratorium, according to a poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel, released Thursday.

The survey showed that 51 percent of Israelis would be willing to accept the three-month freeze in exchange for aid from the US, 45% of the public opposes a freeze.

In addition, 73% agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any building freeze should not include Jerusalem. Only 22% of Israelis think that construction in Jerusalem should be banned, as well.

Despite supporting a freeze, 68% do not believe that it will help renew talks with the Palestinians, while 29% think the opposite.

NSC head Uzi Arad: US gave written commitment not to ask for an additional moratorium

PM Netanyahu's top adviser and National Security advisor Uzi Arad said Saturday night on "Meet the Press" on Channel 2, it was not clear whether Israel had a Palestinian partner for an accord.
“For a year we are seeing a phenomenon of refusal from Abu Mazen [Abbas] to go to direct talks. We see him grasping onto different pretexts in order not to go, even though no pre-conditions are being asked of him, and he is not willing to come [to the talks] under the same terms he was willing to when Olmert was the prime minister. This raises question marks,”
Regarding the status of the commitments the US would give to Israel in return for another three-month settlement freeze, Arad said that the two sides were currently trying to translate agreements reached at the meeting in New York 10 days ago between Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into “concrete and operational” language.

The question then will be whether these commitments meet Israel’s national interests, and if Netanyahu believes that they do, he will only then bring the package to the security cabinet for a vote, Arad said.

Arad did say “a commitment not to ask for an additional freeze after 90 days was written by the Americans,” the first time an official has said that such a written commitment was made.

Arad said that it was natural that the translation of the agreements reached between Clinton and Netanyahu into “operational details” takes time.

Arad said there were three different planes to the Clinton- Netanyahu understandings. The first had to do with a second squadron of F-35 fighters to be provided to Israel, with an agreement on the sale of a first squadron already agreed upon over the summer.

The second plane had to do with the freeze itself, with Netanyahu making it clear that this would be the last moratorium, and that the US would have to commit to not asking for an additional freeze, Arad said.

And the third plane was in the diplomatic realm, with the US committing itself to using its full weight at the UN, including a Security Council veto if necessary, to keep the Palestinians from getting UN recognition of statehood without negotiations.

Arad said it was clear all this was being done “in writing.” Arad said it was also clear that there would be no final accord without the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, although this was not a pre-condition to entering into talks, rather a condition for any eventual accord.

TIP poll: Majority of Palestinians say two-state solution is a two-stage solution – toward one Palestinian state

(Theisraelproject.org).A majority of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza favor direct negotiations with Israel, finds a new poll sponsored by The Israel Project, but most are yet to reconcile themselves to the long-term existence of the Jewish state.

The survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in early October, shows that 61 percent of Palestinians favor continuing with direct negotiations, and overall 60 percent say they accept a two-state solution. A 54 percent majority also agree peace is possible with Israel.

While Palestinians express support for the peace process and a two-state solution, a majority declines to renounce armed struggle and reveal the view that a two-state solution is more a two-stage solution – a path toward one Palestinian state.

Although 23 percent accept the statement that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people,” two-thirds opt for the alternative statement that, “over time Palestinian must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.”

Additionally, when presented with the proposition that “the best goal is for a two-state solution that keep two states living side by side,” 30 percent agree with 60 percent opting for the alternative statement that “the real goal should be to start with two states but then move it to all being one Palestinian state.”

And when responding to another choice of paired statements, 58 percent choose “this is a time for armed struggle” over “this is a time for engagement with Israel” – chosen by 36 percent. Differences exist between the territories, with support for armed struggle lower in Gaza than the West Bank – 51 percent versus 62 percent respectively.

But what underscores the nuance of Palestinian opinion is that when respondents hear a detailed scenario – where Palestinian institutions are built up in preparation for independence and an agreement with Israel is reached based on clear borders based on 1967 with adjustments – there are dramatic shifts.

In light of this scenario, the acceptance of a Jewish state of Israel rises significantly – from the 30 percent who agree that “the best goal is for a two-state solution that keeps two states living side by side,” to 50 percent who would “favor the Palestinian Authority officially recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as part of a two-state solution.” This breaks down to 57 percent favoring recognition of Israel in the West Bank and 37 percent in Gaza under this situation.

Further, there is support for some conciliatory moves toward Israel: 56 percent in the West Bank and 58 percent in Gaza see importance in ending the practice of naming of streets and squares after “martyrs” who killed civilians, and 51 percent in the West Bank – though only 12 percent in Gaza – favor depicting Israel on maps of the region in schoolbooks and official documents to show it exists.

Similar to Hamas, Iran’s image is also quite low, especially in Gaza where 27 percent point to the country as contributing to the problems Palestinians face. Iran received quite negative ratings: 55 percent “cool” overall with 39 percent giving it a “very cold” rating, and its president, Ahmadinejad, receives nearly identical marks.

When asked to choose between two statements on Iran, a plurality of respondents (47 percent) agree with the statement that “Iran and its president, Ahmadinejad, care about themselves and their own agenda” with 43 percent saying instead that “Iran and its president, Ahmadinejad, are friends of the Palestinian people.” In Gaza the percentage thinking Iran is a friend to the Palestinian drops to 37 percent.

Pollster Stan Greenberg said the poll presents a mixed bag. “It offers a special window into Palestinian thinking at this critical juncture. There are some things to applaud, some to note and some things that are concerning,” he said.

“On short-term issues, Palestinians are pragmatic and giving their leaders the space to perform — both in governance and the peace process,” he said.

"Although some of the data is very concerning, we are encouraged by the fact that Hamas approval rates among the Palestinians are significantly down, both in the West Bank and Gaza," said TIP Israel Director Marcus Sheff.

"The hostility and misconception towards Israel and Jews among our neighbors shows the urgent need of direct communication between Israelis and Palestinians. In order to change the perceptions we must work with the Palestinian and Arabic media. TIP was the first one to face this challenge and will continue to do so, using new ways, especially new and social media,” he said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Netanyahu requires refinements on US bleary written draft of agreements reached on Freeze

Lack of trust? The US agreed to sign on a document of obligations,Today they sent a relatively bleary draft,but Netanyahu refused to approve it.

Disagreements with the U.S. administration are delaying the inner cabinet from discussing and voting on a potential settlement freeze. The letter outlines U.S. guarantees to persuade Israel to agree to a three-month moratorium on settlement construction.

As of Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy for the peace process, Isaac Molho, was conducting marathon talks with senior advisers to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the text of the letter, so that it could be brought before the inner cabinet on Wednesday.

Most of the disagreement concerns the American desire to remain vague over whether it will seek another freeze in three months' time. The Americans would like the text to say that progress over the next three months would render another freeze unnecessary.

"Israel is demanding that everything reached are clear in all sections,it wants more salt and pepper to it. Netanyahu wants to clarify the precise formulations of all issues, So he can come to cabinet and say: this is the package."

Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the US,told Ynet: That Obama has brought upon himself the written commitment requirement, "Israel's trust in the US admin. was undermined,when they Announced they would not honor Bush's commitments for building in settlements blocs"..."The relationship between the 2 countries are not good enough, It's a shame because Israel-US relations should largely be based on mutual trust".

Netanyahu: If Obama presents signed guarantees, Cabinet will be pushed to approve Freeze with great conviction

Israel has demanded the United States provide written security guarantees before it votes on whether to agree to freeze Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, an Israeli political source said Tuesday.

The official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the offer to his Cabinet only upon receiving written guarantees which “reflect the understandings reached during his talks with Hillary Clinton in New York.”

Jerusalem is insisting that it is the Palestinians who are delaying a finalized version of the US proposal. “What is causing the delay in drafting an agreed version of the American paper is the Palestinian claim that the understandings between Clinton and Netanyahu are too good for Israel and deny them of pressure means,” a state official said.

“The political benefits take the pressure off Israel and prevent the Palestinians from carrying out their strategic plan of evading direct talks and trying to impose UN resolutions on Israel.”

Another official said the agreement includes an American commitment to veto any initiative brought before the UN to bypass the peace negotiations; a US commitment not to demand another freeze extension beyond the agreed upon 90 days and guarantee that the borders issue will not be negotiated on separately.

Government officials who are familiar with the issue told Ynet that Netanyahu’s demand for written guarantees has resulted in some tension with the Americans.

An Israeli official on Tuesday denied reports of tensions between Israel and the United States over the American proposal for a further freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, in particular a letter from President Barack Obama sought by Israel that would detail the incentives offered by the U.S. in return for a new moratorium on settlement building.

“Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu stands firm on the terms essential for the security of Israel and its diplomatic interests,” the source said.

Stakelbeck on Terror: How Venezuela is helping Iran build Nuclear weapon on its soil

Special edition of Stakelbeck on Terror, CBN News examines the growing alliance between Iran and Venezuela, and reveals how the two sworn United States enemies are working on Iran's nuclear weapons program -- in the West.

Watch as former high-ranking State Department official Roger Noriega and leading Iran expert Ilan Berman give exclusive evidence that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is providing heavy assistance to Iran's military, economy, and in the nuclear realm.

Noriega and Berman also discuss how Venezuela is working closely with Hezbollah, and the possibility of Chavez working on a nuclear weapons program of his own -- as the U.S. government fails to respond.

Listen to The Bibi Report W/ Erick Stakelbeck Monday Nov. 15 on Muslim Brotherhood, Threat of radical Islam

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Obama Praises Netanyahu: "I commend Prime Minister Netanyahu, He is serious"

En route back from Japan on Sunday, President Barack Obama praised Netanyahu for proposing the new freeze proposal:

"I think it is promising," Obama told the press on the back of the plane, of Netanyahu introducing the new freeze package to his cabinet, according to the pool report. "I commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking I think a very constructive step."

"It's not easy for him to do, but I think it's a signal that he is serious," Obama added of Netanyahu.

Obama also said he wants to have the parties quickly return to final-status negotiations, so future freezes won't be needed.

Netanyahu raises hopes for peace process breakthrough; Cabinet likely to accept U.S. freeze trade

(Telegraph, Haaretz).Benjamin Netanyahu raised hopes for a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process on Sunday by giving preliminary backing to a US proposal on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Under the proposal, Mr Netanyahu is expected to resume a freeze on residential construction in the West Bank for a one-off period of 90 days and commit to discussing the location of borders for a Palestinian state in the next phase of negotiations.

In return, Washington would offer an array of inducements, ranging from 20 fighter jets worth nearly £2 million and an undertaking to scupper attempts to introduce UN Security Council resolutions opposed by Israel.

“If and when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet,In any case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel’s security needs...both in the immediate term and vis-a-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade," Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast by Israeli media. ”

Mr Netanyahu is understood narrowly to have won vital support for the proposal from his inner cabinet after the pro-settler interior minister, Eli Yishai, said he would abstain in any vote.

An Israeli political source said the security cabinet vote was expected later this week and that seven ministers - Netanyahu among them - were likely to back the U.S. proposal, against six who would vote against and two who would abstain.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Netanyahu unveils U.S. plan for renewed freeze and resumption of peace talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed ministers a five-point U.S. peace plan that included a 90-day settlement freeze, a diplomatic source said on Saturday.

The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday.

The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem.

The details of the deal were worked out Thursday during a seven-hour meeting in New York between Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of their staff.

Should Israel accept the offer, the US in turn has pledged in the next year to veto any efforts by the UN Security Council to impose on Israel a non-negotiated solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, as the Palestinians have requested.

It would further veto any resolutions that deny Israel the right to self-defense or seek to de-legitimize Israel. The US would also oppose such efforts in other UN bodies and forums.

The US administration would ask Congress to approve the supply of 20 additional advanced fighter planes to Israel worth $3 billion so that Israel can keep its qualitative edge.

This defense assistance will be added into Israel's security agreement with the US, so that Israel's safety can be assured. Talks about these defense understanding will begin in the coming weeks.

Netanyahu learned of the details of this deal during his trip to the US, Netanyahu favors the new freeze. The other six ministers in the mini-cabinet are generally split.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No white smoke, but cloud after PM Netanyahu and Sec. Clinton meet for 7 hours in NY

Thursday's meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York lasted for more than seven hours, despite initial plans for a two-hour session at most.

Following an initial face-to-face meeting, American and Israeli negotiation team representatives convened at Netanyahu's hotel. According to estimates, both sides presented various proposals, and late

In joint statement, the two leaders said they had a "good discussion" and agreed on the importance of continuing direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians:

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton had a good discussion today, with a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides. Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States' unshakable commitment to Israel's security and to peace in the region. The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals.

The Secretary reiterated that "the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome... "

An outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements." Those requiremen...ts will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.

The discussions between the Prime Minister and the Secretary focused on creating the conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations aimed at producing a two-state solution. Their teams will work closely together in the coming days toward that end".

GOP Leader Eric Cantor: The Republican party will serve as Check n' Balance on Israel

(AP, Politico). Top US Republican Eric Cantor has assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the party, which romped in last week's elections, cherishes the allies' "special relationship," the lawmaker's office said Thursday.

Number-two House Republican Eric Cantor and Netanyahu also discussed Iran and the embattled Middle East peace process during an hour-long meeting late Wednesday in New York, the congressman's spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement.

Last night, Netanyahu met in New York for over an hour with incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who is set to become the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress in history. The meeting took place at New York’s Regency Hotel, and included no other American lawmakers besides Cantor. Also attending on the Israeli side were Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, and Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor Uzi Arad.

Israeli sources characterized a one-on-one meeting between an Israeli prime minister and a lone American lawmaker as unusual, and Cantor's office did not think that Cantor and the Prime Minister had held a one-on-one meeting before.

"Eric has a longstanding friendship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and appreciated the opportunity to catch up last evening," Cantor's office said in a readout of the meeting it provided. Their discussion "covered a range of topics that included Iran, the United Nations, and the recent U.S. election which saw the Republicans win the majority in the House."

On Iran, "Eric made clear that he believes that it is time for the administration to fully and aggressively implement the Iran Sanctions Act passed by Congress earlier this year," it said. "Unless the Administration continues to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian regime, the progress made by the sanctions already implemented will unravel. Now is not the time to ease off the pressure."

Cantor also "reiterated his belief that compromise between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties." He urged the Obama administration to "make it absolutely clear that the U.S. will veto any effort by the Palestinians" to seek recognition of their state by going to the United Nations."

Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm.

"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."