INTERNATIONAL PULSE

Period: May 2015
 

ISRAEL, THE MIDDLE EAST & ASIA


 
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SENIOR PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL: US, EU PRESSURING PA TO RENEW PEACE TALKS WITH ISRAEL
May 11, 2015 | Worthy News - The Palestinian Authority leadership is under pressure from the international community to resume the peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian official was quoted on Saturday, the Jerusalem Post reported. Continued: http://www.worthynews.com/18686-senior-palestinian-official-us-eu-pressuring-
pa-to-renew-peace-talks-with-israel

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MUBARAK AND SONS SENT TO JAIL FOR CORRUPTION
[Ednote: Last I heard Mubarak received the death sentence] Former Egyptian president and his two sons sent to three years in prison on corruption accusations.
By Ben Ariel - 5/10/2015 - An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted president Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison on corruption accusations, after he was cleared of murder charges in another case, AFP reports.
Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal, also sentenced to three years, were present in the caged dock, wearing suits and sunglasses. Their lawyers may try to appeal. It was not immediately clear whether the sentencing took into account time served, according to the report. All three had been arrested in 2011, months after Mubarak was toppled in a popular 18-day uprising after three decades in power. State news agency MENA later reported that prison authorities contacted the prosecution to inquire about how much time the three had already spent in jail.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/195215#!

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ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER CALLS OFF WEST BANK BUS SEGREGATION
By JOSEF FEDERMAN - AP - May 20, 2015 - JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday canceled a plan that would have banned Palestinian laborers from riding on the same buses with Jewish settlers in the West Bank, just hours after it was announced - an embarrassing about-face that reflected the tensions enveloping Israel's new government. The inauspicious start for Netanyahu's hard-line government illustrated the difficulties that loom as it tries to advance a pro-settler agenda in the face of rising global outrage and domestic criticism.
The reversal came as the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was in town. The EU has taken a tough stance against settlements built on lands claimed by the Palestinians. As the bus plan was unveiled, Israeli critics across the political spectrum derided it as racist, with one opposition politician comparing it to "apartheid." Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, a member of Netanyahu's Likud Party, called the plan "unthinkable" and said there had been "great damage" to Israel. Netanyahu's new coalition, which was sworn into office last week, is dominated by settler sympathizers, and the busing plan, launched late Tuesday on a trial basis, had sought to separate settlers and Palestinians from traveling together through the West Bank. http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/israeli-prime-minister-calls-off-west-bank-bus-segregation

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AFTER ELECTIONS, NETANYAHU LOYALIST SAYS ISRAEL 'DELIGHTED' TO RENEW PALESTINIAN TALKS
March 18, 2015 - Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said yesterday in an interview that the new government is willing to return to the negotiation table with the Palestinians. “We would be delighted to renew the negotiations,” Hanegbi said in an interview with the Israel Project. “We believe it is in the interest of both people– the Israeli and the Palestinian– to have a dialogue; to discuss our disputes; to try and find [a] common denominator in the issues that are so crucial to both people.”
Hanegbi, a Netanyahu loyalist, also said that the new government will begin an intense effort to renew the trust between the United States and Israel.
“We will make an effort, a very, very intimate and intense effort to renew the trust between the governments,” said the deputy foreign minister. “It is essential for the security of Israel. It is essential for the survival of the state of Israel.” Hanegbi’s words are significant in light of Netanyahu’s vocal opposition this week to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The hostility of the Obama Administration towards Netanyahu was also widely reported in the weeks leading up the Israeli election.
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/18/netanyahu-loyalist-says-israel-delighted-to-renew-palestinian-talks/

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OBAMA MOVING TOWARDS SUPPORTING UN RESOLUTION TO FORCE PEACE DEAL
The White House hoped a new Israeli prime minister would resume peace talks with the Palestinians. With Netanyahu holding on, the administration is weighing a turn to the U.N. to help force a deal.
March 19, 2015 - After years of blocking U.N. efforts to pressure Israelis and Palestinians into accepting a lasting two-state solution, the United States is edging closer toward supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would call for the resumption of political talks to conclude a final peace settlement, according to Western diplomats.
The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive re-election Tuesday after the incumbent publicly abandoned his commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state — the basis of more than 20 years of U.S. diplomatic efforts — and promised to continue the construction of settlements on occupied territory. The development also reflects deepening pessimism over the prospect of U.S.-brokered negotiations delivering peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Shortly before this week’s election, the United States informed its diplomatic partners that it would hold off any moves in the U.N. Security Council designed to put Israel on the spot at the United Nations in the event that Netanyahu’s challenger, Isaac Herzog, won the election. But U.S. officials signaled a willingness to consider a U.N. resolution in the event that Netanyahu was re-elected and formed a coalition government opposed to peace talks. The United States has not yet circulated a draft, but diplomats say Washington has set some red lines and is unwilling to agree to set a fixed deadline for political talks to conclude.
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/18/from-tel-aviv-to-turtle-bay-israel-palestinians-un-resolution/

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U.N.: PEACE PROCESS ONLY WAY FOR ISRAEL TO STAY A DEMOCRACY
Reuters - By Michelle Nichols - 3.18.2015 - UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Wednesday that Israel needs to stick with the Middle East peace process to remain a democracy after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abandoned a commitment ahead of his re-election to negotiate a Palestinian state.
In the final days of campaigning before Israeli voters went to the polls on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would not permit a Palestinian state to be created under his watch and also promised to go on building settlements on occupied land. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believes the peace process, including an end to illegal settlement building, is "the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
Palestinians seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 War.
http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-says-expects-israel-continue-middle-east-153111681.html

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UN CHIEF URGES ISRAEL PEACE DEAL WITH PALESTINIANS FOR STATE
Associated Press - 3.18.2015 - UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory with a call Wednesday for the new government to negotiate a final peace agreement that will create "a viable Palestinian state." U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq made clear that the unusually pointed statement reflects the secretary-general's expectation and response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign comments opposing a two-state solution. He said Ban's call for the new government to create conditions for a negotiated peace deal includes halting "illegal settlement building."
"The secretary-general firmly believes this is also the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state," Haq said.
He said Ban welcomed the election results and expressed hopes "for the rapid establishment of a new government that reflects the will of all Israeli voters."
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor denied Israel's democracy is threatened. "The United Nations may disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but there is one fact that can't be disputed - that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East," Prosor said in a statement, noting that voter turnout in Tuesday's election was 72 percent
http://news.yahoo.com/un-chief-urges-israel-peace-deal-palestinians-state-180428078.html

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THAT DIDN'T LAST LONG... HE CHANGED HIS MIND JUST BEFORE THE ELECTION
After Netanyahu promises no Palestinian state if he is re-elected he reverses on the Two-State solution
Netanyahu's Last-Minute Reversal on the Two-State Solution
The Atlantic - By Adam Chandler 3.18. 2015 - Back in 2009, just three months after he became Israel's prime minister for the second time, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered what many called "an historic address." In it, Netanyahu described his "vision" of peace between Israelis and Palestinians:
There are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor's security and existence. The speech was deemed remarkable because it contained Netanyahu's first-ever call for the establishment of a Palestinian state, a statement he had resisted throughout his long and winding political career. Nearly six years and three Gaza wars later, and with his political legacy on the ropes, Netanyahu issued a major retraction on Monday evening: “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands, is giving attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel,” he said in a radio interview. Needing to siphon off votes from right-leaning parties, Netanyahu's change in course is the latest moment of panic.
The reversal came as his political fortunes flounder—Netanyahu's Likud Party is trailing in Israel's (notoriously fickle) polls, leaving many to believe he might be unseated in Tuesday's elections. Badly needing to siphon off votes from Israel's right-leaning parties, Netanyahu's change in course is the latest moment of panic in a campaign he was never meant to lose. On Sunday, Netanyahu raised the specter that his party might not emerge with enough seats to secure the premiership. In doing so, Netanyahu sank his long-standing air of invincibility in a country where a majority of citizens have had trouble imagining anyone else as their prime minister.
"One of Netanyahu’s greatest electoral assets—borne out in those relentless polls showing him to be voters’ preferred prime minister—is that he had created a palpable sense of inevitability about his rule," David Horovitz argues over at The Times of Israel. We'll find whether that is still true on Tuesday. But given his election-eve reversal, it seems Netanyahu may not even believe it anymore. This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/03/Benjamin-Netanyahu-Rejects-Two-State-Solution-
Palestine-Israel-Before-Election/387919/?UTM_SOURCE=yahoo


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WHAT ISIS REALLY WANTS
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
By Graeme Wood - March 2015 - What is the Islamic State? Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/?UTM_SOURCE=yahoo

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PUSHING BACK, KERRY SAYS SENATORS CAN'T TOUCH IRAN NUKE DEAL
Diplomat voices ‘utter disbelief’ at Republican senators’ letter to Tehran, says prospective pact won’t be legally binding
The Times of Israel - By Times of Israel staff, AP and AFP March 11, 2015 - Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said a prospective nuclear deal wouldn’t be legally binding, and that Congress wouldn’t be able to override the accord between Washington, Tehran and world powers.
The American diplomat spoke at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and criticized Republican lawmakers for dispatching a letter to Iran warning against the nuclear talks he’s leading, saying it threatened global trust in America. Kerry said that the letter undermined American foreign policy and was legally incorrect.
“This risks undermining the confidence that foreign governments in thousands of important agreements commit to,” Kerry told the committee, adding he had reacted with “utter disbelief” to news of the letter, which comes as he prepares to return for further intense negotiations reaching the critical end-stage.
Kerry said that the deal he’s negotiating is not a “legally binding plan,” but will be one that has “a capacity for enforcement.”
“The senators’ letter erroneously asserts this is a legally binding plan,” he said. “It is incorrect when it says that Congress can actually modify the terms of an agreement any time. That is flat wrong.”
http://www.timesofisrael.com/pushing-back-kerry-says-congress-wont-be-able-to-touch-iran-nuke-deal/

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SECURITY COUNCIL REPORTEDLY STARTING TALKS ON LIFTING IRAN SANCTIONS
Officials say major world powers considering a resolution to remove UN sanctions if a nuclear deal goes through
By Judah Ari Gross - March 12, 2015 - Major world powers are considering a UN Security Council resolution to lift UN sanctions against Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck this month, Western officials told Reuters Thursday.
Though officials in Tehran and Washington have warned that work remains before an agreement is reached, the Security Council is seeking to law the groundwork to lift restrictions quickly should the sides come together.
“If there’s a nuclear deal, and that’s still a big ‘if’, we’ll want to move quickly on the UN sanctions issue,” an official who declined to be named told the news agency.
Iran and six world powers are currently engaged in high-stakes talks to curb Iran’s nuclear program and keep it from developing the ability to build nuclear weapons, in exchange for lifting punishing sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. Talks thus far have dealt primarily with easing the US and EU sanctions against Iran in exchange for the Islamic Republic curbing its nuclear enrichment program for at least 10 years.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/security-council-reportedly-starting-talks-on-lifting-iran-sanctions

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SUING TERRORISTS TO STOP TERRORISM
Chris Mitchell - CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief - This week on Jerusalem Dateline: President Barack Obama claims Islamic terrorism isn't rooted in Islam but Christian and Jewish leaders say differently. Plus, suing terrorists to stop terror; and the brutal Islamic caliphate rounds up hundreds of Christians.
http://blogs.cbn.com/jerusalemdateline/archive/2015/02/27/suing-terrorists-to-stop-terrorism.aspx


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OBAMA CAMPAIGN TEAM ARRIVES IN ISRAEL TO DEFEAT NETANYAHU IN MARCH ELECTIONS
By THOMAS ROSE - 26 Jan 2015 - Just days after the Obama White House accused House Speaker John Boehner of “breaking protocol” by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, a team of up to five Obama campaign operatives has reportedly arrived in Israel to lead a campaign to defeat the Israeli Prime Minister in upcoming national elections scheduled for March 17. The anti-Netanyahu, left wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports a group called “One Voice,” reportedly funded by American donors, is paying for the Obama campaign team. That group is reportedly being led by Obama’s 2012 field director Jeremy Bird. As Jerusalem Post columnist and putative Knesset candidate Caroline Glick reported on her Facebook page, “Obama won’t meet Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington when he addresses the Joint Houses of Congress in March because of Netanyahu’s visit’s proximity to the Israeli elections. And Obama, of course believes in protocol and propriety which is why he won’t get involved.” And yet, Glick adds, “He’s just sending his 2012 field campaign manager to Israel to run a campaign to defeat Netanyahu.”
For all the harsh accusations of foreign interference currently being leveled against GOP Speaker John Boehner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, reports of Obama operatives actively working to unseat a democratically elected leader of a strong U.S. ally is hardly the news it might appear to be.
The Obama White House has aggressively worked to defeat allied leaders it has not liked and to elect or re-elect foreign leaders it does like. As the Times of Israel recently reported, the list of Obama Administration meddling in foreign elections is a long one.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Merkel, an Obama Administration ally, was hosted at the White House prior to recent German elections. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the left wing Labor Party visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not once, but twice prior to British elections. Those were won by Conservative party leader David Cameron, who himself visited Washington last week at Obama’s invitation to lobby the U.S. Congress against adopting a new sanctions measure to help confront Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. Oddly, that’s the very issue Obama and the mainstream media now roundly condemn John Boehner for involving himself .
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/01/26/obama-campaign-team-arrives-in-israel-to-defeat-netanyahu-in-march-elections/

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ZIONISM DEBATE AT HEART OF BITTER ISRAELI VOTE
By DAN PERRY - AP - February 22, 2015 - JERUSALEM (AP) — What is Zionism? The ideological question, rooted in the 19th century, has gained surprising urgency in an Israeli election campaign that seems more open than had been expected. Seeking to take votes from the nationalistic right of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the relatively liberal opposition has rebranded itself as the Zionist Union -- sparking a debate about a concept that some considered resolved when the Jewish state was declared and widely recognized in 1948.
Since adopting the name in early December, Isaac Herzog's Labor Party — bolstered by a smaller grouping led by former opposition leader Tsipi Livni — has surged in the polls. They are now running neck-and-neck in the polls with Netanyahu's Likud.
The debate over who best reflects the ideals of Zionism -- and who can most credibly lay claim to its successes -- has lent an oddly philosophical hue to a campaign that had been dominated by more prosaic issues such as budget scandals in the management of the prime minister's residence. Along the way, the stage appears to have been set for a surprisingly climactic vote.
http://wlns.com/ap/zionism-debate-at-heart-of-bitter-israeli-vote/

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U.S. AND ISRAEL: MANUFACTURED CRISIS
Feb 26, 2015 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS - The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats. Suppose for a moment that the Netanyahu speech before Congress is a mistake, a breach of protocol, a campaign maneuver, indeed all the bad things the White House is calling it. Grant all of that for a moment for the sake of argument and the behavior of the Obama administration is still inexplicable. Clearly more is behind its conduct than mere pique over the speech.
First comes the personal relationship and the desire to see Netanyahu lose the election. Recall that Obama became president before Netanyahu became prime minister, and it is obvious that the dislike was both personal and political before Netanyahu had done anything. Obama does not like people on the right, period—Americans, Israelis, Australians, you name it. Obama also decided immediately on taking office to pick a fight with Israel and make construction in settlements and in Jerusalem the central issue in U.S.-Israeli relations. Remember that he appointed George Mitchell as his special negotiator one day after assuming the presidency, and Mitchell was the father of the demand that construction—including even construction to accommodate what Mitchell called “natural growth” of families in settlement populations—be stopped dead. A confrontation was inevitable, and was desired by the White House. http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/us-and-israel-manufactured-crisis_867037.html?
utm_campaign=Washington+Examiner&utm_source=washingtonexaminer.com&utm_medium=referral

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DID OBAMA GIVE ISRAEL GO-AHEAD WITH SYRIA?
Mar 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER - On Friday, President Barack Obama left Israel, after spending a couple days with the leaders of America's closest ally in the region. Now today, two days later, Israel has acknowledged that it fired at a military position in Syria. "Israel said it fired into Syria on Sunday and destroyed a machinegun position in the Golan Heights from where shots had been fired at Israeli soldiers in a further spillover of the Syrian civil war along a tense front," Reuters reports. "It was not immediately clear whether Israel held Syrian troops or rebels responsible for what a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had been a deliberate attack on Israeli patrols in the occupied territory."
The sequence of events leads one to ask, what did the two leaders, Obama and Netanyahu, discuss regarding Syria when they met multiple times this last week in Jerusalem? And what did they agree to do to deal with the Syria issue?
The answers aren't immediately clear. But we do know that the two discussed Syria. "Mr. President, we discussed today the situation in Syria," said Netanyahu at a joint press conference with the two leaders. "We share the goal of seeing a stable and peaceful Syria emerge from the carnage that we have witnessed over the last two years. That carnage has already resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 people and the suffering of millions. We also share a determination to prevent the deadly arsenal of weapons within Syria from falling into the hands of terrorist hands. And I have no doubt that the best way to do that is to work closely with the United States and other countries in the region to address this challenge. And that is what we intend to do."
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/did-obama-give-israel-go-ahead-syria_708907.html

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NETANYAHU SPEECH: HOW FAR WILL DEMOCRATS GO TO SAVE OBAMA'S PRIDE?
By Michael Goodwin - February 04, 2015 - ·New York Post - Asked if Democrats might skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress about Iran next month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi answered, “I don’t know.” The implied threat is remarkable — and a sign of how bent out of shape the White House remains over Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to the Israeli prime minister. The growing anger is turning what aides initially called a breach of protocol into a dangerous test of how far the party will go to defend President Obama’s foolish pride.
Iran is the most dangerous nation on earth, and Obama’s disproportionate reaction to the planned speech reveals his determination not to have reality intrude on his craven negotiations with the mad mullahs. By all accounts, he has offered so many concessions that the deal in the works would effectively approve Iranian nukes. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/04/netanyahu-speech-how-far-will-democrats-go-to-save-
obama-pride/?intcmp=sem_outloud

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SUSAN RICE REMARK ON NETANYAHU'S UPCOMING SPEECH EVEN SEEMS TO SURPRISE VETERAN NEWSMAN
Feb. 25, 2015 - Oliver Darcy - National Security Advisor Susan Rice sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress Tuesday, contending the act would be “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the U.S. and Israel. “The relationship between Israel as a country, and the United States as a country, has always been bipartisan,” Rice told Charlie Rose. “And we’ve been fortunate that politics have not injected into that relationship. What has happened over the last several weeks … is that on both sides there has now been the injection of a degree of partisanship.” That’s when the national security advisor made the comment that seemingly took Rose, a veteran newsman, off guard. “[It's] not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice said. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/25/
susan-rice-makes-remark-on-netanyahus-upcoming-speech-that-even-seems-to-surprise-veteran-newsman/
Susan Rice: Netanyahu's 'Destructive' Speech to Congress (Feb. 24, 2015) | Charlie Rose
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6bKlFOrhEY

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LIVE BLOG: HERZOG CONGRATULATES NETANYAHU, REFUSES TO SAY WHETHER HE'LL JOIN COALITION
Final results: Netanyahu's Likud scores decisive victory in Israeli election, set to win 30 Knesset seats, Zionist Union gets 24 • Netanyahu calls for 'strong' government to safeguard security, welfare • Meretz leader Zehava Galon resigns in wake of election results. By Haaretz | Mar. 18, 2015 | With nearly all votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is set to emerge as the election's big winner with 30 seats. The Zionist Union trails behind with 24 seats. The Joint List of Arab parties is the third-largest party at this point, followed by Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and Yahad. President Reuven Rivlin said he would work for a national unity government. Ballots were cast at 10,372 polling stations throughout Israel. There are 5,881,696 Israelis (citizens over the age of 18) who were eligible to vote today for the 20th Knesset.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-election-2015/1.647304

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CENTRIST RUNNER-UP SAYS HE WON'T JOIN NEW ISRAELI COALITION
March 19, 2015 - Associated Press - Israel's parliamentary election this week says his party will not join the next government, and accused Benjamin Netanyahu of racism. Isaac Herzog says his Zionist Union, which finished second in the vote, would sit in the opposition and "challenge a narrow right-wing government." Herzog spoke Thursday to Army Radio. The latest tally from Tuesday's vote shows the Zionist Union got 24 seats, compared to Likud's 30. Herzog criticized Netanyahu's campaign, saying it "touched on racism" and was based on "lies, hostility and fear-mongering." In a last-ditch attempt to spur supporters to the polls, Netanyahu said Arab citizens were voting "in droves" and were endangering years of rule by his Likud Party. The comments drew accusations of racism from Israeli Arabs and a White House rebuke.
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/centrist-runner-join-israeli-coalition-29746804


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THIS SENTENCE SHOULD CAUSE A LOT OF CONCERN ABOUT IRAN TAKING OVER IRAQ
Jeremy Bender and Michael B Kelley - Mar. 17, 2015 - A disturbing sign of Iran's growing influence in Iraq and beyond was highlighted on March 8 during a seminar titled "The Iranian Identity," Bloomberg View reports. "Iran is an empire once again at last, and its capital is Baghdad," said Ali Younusi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei. Iraq, particularly the eastern and southern regions of the country with a majority Shia population, has tended to fall within the orbit of Iran's influence. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980 to 1988), Iran funded Shiite militias with the aim of overthrowing Saddam Hussein's government.
The two countries ultimately ground each other into a stalemate. But after the American invasion and subsequent withdrawal from Iraq, Iran's ability to project power into Iraq has only grown. Here are various ways in which Iran is constantly expanding its power in Iraq: The formation of Shiite militias - Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/concern-about-iran-take-over-iraq-2015-3

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IRAN'S MILITARY MASTERMIND IS 'A MORE STATELY VERSION OF OSAMA BIN LADEN'
Michael B Kelley - Mar. 5, 2015 - The US-led fight against the Islamic State relies increasingly on Iran and its proxies, and that has created an uncomfortable de facto alliance with an Iranian military mastermind with American blood on his hands.Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, the foreign arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has been pictured on the frontlines for the past couple of months. Most recently he has been seen in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein now controlled by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL),
which is under siege by Iran-backed militias. US assistance is nowhere to be found. "There's just no way that the US military can actively support an offensive led by Suleimani," Christopher Harmer, a former aviator in the United States Navy in the Persian Gulf who is now an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, told Helene Cooper of The New York Times. "He's a more stately version of Osama bin Laden." Nevertheless, the US military sees Iranian involvement as "a positive thing" — as long as Shia-Sunni tensions don't get out of hand. "This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things," Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. "Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism."
http://www.businessinsider.com/irans-military-mastermind-is-a-more-stately-version-of-osama-bin-laden-2015-3

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LARGEST CHRISTIAN PENTECOST CELEBRATION IN ISRAEL'S MODERN HISTORY
May 21, 2015 | LEONARDO BLAIR - At the 11,600-seater Jerusalem Pais Arena in Israel Monday morning, workers here were busy trying to get the brand new 40,000-square-meter facility ready for what could be the largest Christian Pentecost Sunday celebration in the Jewish nation's modern history. The workers, wary of publicly discussing the event at the venue out of concern for their jobs, would only say there has been a buzz about it in the last few days. They know "the Christians are coming."
The celebration being organized by the Empowered21 Global Congress, will happen May 20-25 and feature some of the most well-known Spirit-empowered leaders from around the globe such as Teen Mania Ministries president and founder, Ron Luce; Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel. Jeremy Burton, executive director for university relations and communications at Oral Roberts University, explained during a tour through the city Monday that they won't have specific numbers on how many Spirit-empowered Christians that will show up for the gathering until the weekend, but says participants are expected to show up from multiple countries around the world.
Oral Roberts University President, William M. Wilson, who also serves as president and co-chair of Empowered21, said the gathering will be a landmark one for the movement. "This is a pivotal moment in history for the global Spirit–empowered movement," said Wilson in a statement. "The Impartation service, which will pass the mantel of the global Spirit–empowered movement on to the next generation, is of particular significance. Our prayer is that this service will be a catalyst, igniting the hearts and minds of young people from around the globe with the fire of God's love and power. Continued: http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2015/May21/215.html

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WARY ISRAEL WATCHES LATEST UN BID TO FORCE IT TO COME CLEAN ON NUKES
State Department official holds talks in Jerusalem as US denies it will abandon pledge to protect Israel from damaging international pressure
By Times of Israel staff May 21, 2015 - Official Israel was on Thursday maintaining a stony silence, but insiders said they were concerned that the Obama administration might not block new efforts by a UN conference to force Israel to come clean on its nuclear capabilities as a step toward a nuclear-free Middle East.
The United States has sent a top official to Israel to discuss the question of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference that is set to adopt its closing resolutions on Friday. At the previous conference, in 2010, to Israel’s dismay, the Obama administration signed onto the final document which called for a conference of all Middle Eastern states to move forward on a 1995 proposal for a nuclear-free Mideast and which urged Israel to sign the NPT treaty and place “all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards.” Later, though, President Barack Obama and his then national security adviser James Jones denounced efforts to single out Israel. “We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security,” Obama said. And Jones said he “deplores” the singling out of Israel, which he said placed the prospect of the planned conference in doubt. http://www.timesofisrael.com/wary-israel-watches-latest-un-bid-to-force-it-to-come-clean-on-nukes


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PALESTINIANS HAVE RIGHT TO FREEDOM, OBAMA SAYS AT DC SYNAGOGUE
Jewish values compel two-state solution, president says, hailing contribution of American Jews, denouncing rise of anti-Semitism, defending Iran nuke deal
By Ilan Ben Zion and Rebecca Shimoni Stoil May 22, 2015 - WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday called for the establishment of a free Palestinian state alongside Israel, saying it was necessary for the preservation of Israeli democracy, security and integral to Jewish values. Wearing a white kippah, Obama spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 at Washington DC’s Adas Israel Congregation, one of the largest in the capital, marking Jewish American History Month. He touted his pro-Israel policies and sported his close ties with Jewish advisors, wishing the audience a “slightly early Shabbat Shalom” and peppering his speech with Hebrew terms such as “tikkun olam” — repairing the world. He said his personal philosophy was inspired by Jewish values and the Israeli pioneer spirit, and “forcefully” objected to claims that disagreements over policies belied a lack of support for the Jewish state.
Obama was greeted by ringing applause when he affirmed a vision of “Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.” “Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their land as well. That’s not easy,” he quipped. “The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners. The neighborhood is dangerous and we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security and so any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility.”
The president acknowledged what some of his opponents have also claimed – that his standards for Israel are high. “Yes, I have high expectations for Israel the same way I have high expectations for the United States of America.”
http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-jewish-values-compel-two-state-solution/

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FRANCE, BRITAIN SEEK UN ACTION ON PEACE PROCESS
New Zealand working on draft resolution; envoy says timing - after Israeli elections, before US presidential campaigns — is right.
By AFP and Times of Israel staff April 22, 2015 - 27 rance and Britain urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to set a framework for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, as New Zealand announced it was working on a draft resolution to revive long-stalled peace talks.
“It’s the responsibility of this council to adopt a consensual and balanced resolution that sets the parameters of a final status and a timeline for the negotiations, French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre told a council meeting, according to Reuters. Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that Britain saw merit in a council resolution “setting out the parameters for a peaceful and negotiated solution.” “But this will require proper consultation to achieve the full backing of the council,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying. [...] The ambassador emphasized that the timing was right to move forward, after the Israeli elections and before the United States becomes embroiled in the campaign for the presidency in 2016. Whole article: http://www.timesofisrael.com/france-britain-seek-un-action-on-peace-process

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US PROPOSES $1.9 BILLION MILITARY PACKAGE FOR ISRAEL
May 20, 2015 - JNS.org – The United States has proposed a $1.9 billion military package for Israel amid growing concerns over Iran. The massive package, which was announced by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency and must be approved by Congress, includes 750 bunker buster precision-guided bombs and 3,000 Hellfire missiles, among several other items.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” the Department of Defense said in a statement, adding, “The proposed sale of these munitions will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” The timing of the American-Israeli deal comes as President Barack Obama promised last week to step up military assistance to Arab Gulf states due to their concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Similarly, Israel’s concern about Iran is reportedly the reason for America’s increased military aid to the Jewish state.
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/05/20/us-proposes-1-9-billion-military-package-for-israel/

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ISRAEL DEMOLISHES HOUSE, 3 ILLEGALLY-CONSTRUCTED STORES IN EAST JERUSLAEM
Meretz City Councilman Dr. Meir Margalit describes demolitions as extreme, and poorly timed. Three illegally-built shops and a house under construction were demolished by Israeli government bulldozers in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, adjacent to the Old City, on Tuesday morning. In a statement, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said a coterie of IDF soldiers, accompanied by a bulldozer, arrived during the early morning hours, cordoned off the area, and proceeded to raze the structures. “Israeli bulldozers arrived at 4.00 a.m., backed by dozens of Israeli troops, and leveled the three shops to the ground under the pretext they had been built illegally,” the center said.
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Israel-demolishes-house-3-illegally-constructed-stores-in-east-Jerusalem-403571

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TZIPI LIVNI: ISRAEL IS WEAK, ISOLATED WITHOUT THE US
"Netanyahu committed the original sin of intervening in American domestic politics and ruined relations with US," says the Zionist Union knesset member. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is eroding Israel’s relations with the US, leading to the Jewish state’s diplomatic isolation, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said Tuesday. Speaking at an Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, Livni said the prime minister had “committed the original sin” of “intervening in American domestic politics and ruined relations with the US” – a reference to Netanyahu’s March speech to Congress without the approval of US President Barack Obama.
The former foreign minister continued that much of Israel’s security and ability to project strength “depends on US support,” pointing out that even in the heat of war, Israel’s ability to finish an operation and achieve its postwar aims depended on the US. According to Livni, the country has a choice of being seen as it is now, “a small, isolated country,” or as it could be seen if relations with the US were repaired – “a country with deep links [to] and support” from the world’s most powerful country.
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Tzipi-Livni-Israel-is-weak-isolated-without-the-US-403510

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U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL, MAKES EXCUSES FOR IRAN
Mar 19, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER - The U.S. government might impose sanctions on Israel or allow its greatest ally in the Middle East to be tried in the International Criminal Court, according to Politico. Michael Crowley reports: Obama officials must now decide whether more international pressure on Israel can help bring a conservative Netanyahu-led government back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians — or whether such pressure would simply provoke a defiant reaction, as some fear. Obama has other diplomatic options. He could expend less political capital to oppose growing momentum within the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel for its settlement activity.
More provocative to Israel would be any softening of Obama’s opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinian Authority will formally join on April 1. Under a law passed by Congress, any Palestinian bid to bring war crimes charges against Israel at the court will automatically sever America’s $400 million in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, although some experts suggested Obama could find indirect ways to continue some funding - even if only to prevent a dangerous collapse of the Palestinian governing body. Meanwhile, in other news, the U.S. government is making excuses for Iran's testing of its nuclear program. Bloomberg reports: When nuclear monitors said Iran had started testing a single advanced centrifuge last year, some U.S. politicians and analysts jumped on the report as proof the Islamic Republic can’t be trusted. http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/us-threatens-israel-makes-excuses-iran_891950.html

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