No, We Don’t Want War. And Yes, There Was a Better Deal: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, July 16, 2015 — Three months ago, defending what he called the “historic” framework understandings reached with Iran in Lausanne over its rogue nuclear program, US President Barack Obama planted a false and highly unpleasant insinuation.
Talk of National Unity – Again: Susan Hattis Rolef, Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2015 — Once again speculations have begun regarding the establishment of a national unity government, this time against the background of the agreement signed last week between the P5+1 powers and Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program.
The Gaza Withdrawal, According to Sharansky: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2015 — On September 15, 2005, exactly a month after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon lumbered through the corridors of the United Nations as if he was taking a victory lap.
“We Must Fight Without Fear and Without Mercy Against Our Enemies”: Diane Weber Bederman, Canada Free Press, June 23, 2015— I met Israel’s newly elected Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the offices of the Minister of Justice, a rather nondescript building, located in East Jerusalem.
Poll: Israelis Overwhelmingly Certain Iran Still Wants Nukes: Adiv Sterman, Times of Israel, July 16, 2015
UN Security Council Endorses Iran Deal: Tova Dvorin, Arutz Sheva, July 20, 2015
Lapid Seeks Probe Into PM’s Handling of Iran Nuclear Talks: Times of Israel, July 18, 2015
Who Does Lapid Think He Is?: Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom, July 20, 2015
The New Israeli Government: Steven J. Rosen, Middle East Forum, June 24, 2015
Times of Israel, July 16, 2015
Three months ago, defending what he called the “historic” framework understandings reached with Iran in Lausanne over its rogue nuclear program, US President Barack Obama planted a false and highly unpleasant insinuation. “It’s no secret,” the president declared in an April 2 address, “that the Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.” The nasty implication? That while America favors diplomacy to thwart Iran’s march to the bomb, Benjamin Netanyahu wants war.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, a day after the US-led world powers had signed their comprehensive accord with the Islamic extremists who rule Iran, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond escalated that false narrative by another few degrees. “The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv,” Hammond said in Parliament, and then continued, despicably, “The answer of course is that Israel doesn’t want any deal with Iran.”
Finally, later Wednesday, Obama cemented the foul misrepresentation of Israel’s stance. “There really are only two alternatives here,” the president correctly asserted at a press conference. “Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation, or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options.” So far, true enough. But he went on to claim that the accord signed Tuesday was the best that could have been achieved — and that critics such as Netanyahu had failed to present viable alternative conditions. “What I haven’t heard is, what is your preferred alternative?” claimed the president, his voice full of injured good intention.
The consequence of all this disingenuous oratory: The United States and its partners have concluded a dreadful agreement with a treacherous regime in Tehran — an agreement that places Israel, but emphatically not only Israel, in considerable danger. And they are now busily compounding their failure by misrepresenting what has unfolded, and pointing some of the blame, thoroughly unjustifiably, at what Hammond so charmingly called “Tel Aviv.”
Well, here’s the truth. First, Israel certainly does not favor the option of war over diplomacy in thwarting the ayatollahs’ patient march to the bomb. The last thing this country, this little sliver of decency on the edge of the brutal Middle East, wants or needs is more conflict. What it wanted, what it wants, is diplomacy that would effectively halt and reverse that Iranian nuclear march. So, no, President Obama, Netanyahu does not disagree with you “about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.”
And second, of course there was a better deal to be done, and of course Netanyahu and Israel offered alternatives. Three prime examples: • The United States would not have alienated its P5+1 partners if it had insisted that Iran, dragged to the table under economic pressure, acknowledge its previous illegal military nuclear activities as the crucial basis for any agreement. The Iranians built entire secret facilities in violation of their international obligations, and yet they were not held accountable. The failure to hold Iran to account impacted the entire negotiating process, allowing Iran to assert that it was innocent, well-intentioned and unfairly persecuted, and should not be constrained.
• A more robust US-led negotiation would have ensured — as administration officials acknowledged until very recently was necessary — that IAEA inspectors have immediate access to any suspect Iranian site, not just known nuclear facilities, as a central element of preventing further Iranian duplicity.
• A better deal would not have allowed Iran to continue R&D and testing of ever-more advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium — centrifuges that can dramatically speed Iran’s breakout to the bomb. “Iran’s enrichment R&D with uranium for 10 years will only include IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges,” the deal states, language designed to imply that these terms represent some kind of concession by Iran to international pressure. Only the IR-4s, 5s, 6s, and 8s? The IR-8, which is still being perfected, is the most advanced centrifuge in Iran’s nuclear armory. There is nothing more sophisticated. And the terms of the deal enable Iran to legitimately perfect it.
Despite being slapped down intermittently by Secretary Kerry when it criticized the emerging deal, despite being told that it didn’t know what it was talking about and that specific objections to various clauses were based on inaccurate information, Israel most certainly did highlight these and other gaping holes in a deal that actually turned out to be still more flawed than anticipated. Israel most certainly did detail key changes that would render a deal more effective. (In April, the Israeli government made publicly available a document highlighting key areas of vital focus. Doubtless a great deal more Israeli input — all too evidently discarded input — was delivered in private.)
So, Secretary Hammond, it is simply false to claim that there was no deal that would have been acceptable to Israel. And, President Obama, it is false to claim that there was no viable better deal and that Israel did not detail viable alternatives. Leaving aside for a moment the bid by the president and some of his P5+1 allies to misrepresent Israel’s stance, and leaving aside the particular flaws of the accord itself, the wider catastrophe here is the legitimization and economic bonanza being granted to so rapacious a regime.
“Iran will be and should be a regional power. They are a big country and a sophisticated country in the region,” the president told the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman on Tuesday. He then creditably added, “They don’t need to invite the hostility and the opposition of their neighbors by their behavior. It’s not necessary for them to be great to denigrate Israel or threaten Israel or engage in Holocaust denial or anti-Semitic activity.” But therein lies the problem. As a big, sophisticated country, Iran could indeed be a regional power. But so long as the current regime rules Iran, the free world, led by the president of the United States, should be ensuring that it does not attain that status.
A country led by a regime that secretly pursued nuclear weapons, that fosters unrest across the region, that calls for the elimination of Israel, that finances, arms and trains terrorist armies in Lebanon and Gaza, that orchestrates terrorism worldwide, that works to bring Europe and North America into the range of its missiles, that criminalizes homosexuality, that discriminates against women, that jails, tortures and executes political opponents, that executes more juvenile offenders than any other country on earth… that Iran must not be allowed to become a more dominant regional power. And yet, by concluding this week’s accord, and thereby sending hundreds of billions of dollars into that regime’s coffers, the US-led negotiators have guaranteed this is precisely what will happen now…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Susan Hattis Rolef
Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2015
Once again speculations have begun regarding the establishment of a national unity government, this time against the background of the agreement signed last week between the P5+1 powers and Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program. As usual in such cases, we do not know what exactly is going on. Have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog been talking seriously about the option of unity in recent meetings? Does Netanyahu actually wants the Zionist Union, which during the recent election campaign he called “the Anti-Zionist Union,” in his government, or is using the situation as a ploy to convince Yisrael Beytenu to join the coalition? Under what conditions would Herzog will be willing to join the government? The information we are getting is partial, biased and undependable.
Has anything changed, now that Israel must confront the ramifications of the agreement with Iran, which is highly problematic from Israel’ s point of view, no matter what way one looks at it? From the perspective of the more radical Left, to which around a third of the Zionist Union MKs belong, the answer to this question is an unequivocal “no.” The more moderate, pragmatic Left is inclined to say “under certain conditions – yes.” What are these conditions? First of all, on the formal level: if we are speaking of national unity, the current government, with its coalition agreements and policy guidelines, must give way to a new government, with new coalition agreements and policy guidelines.
If a large parliamentary group enters an existing coalition in return for crumbs – as did Kadima under Shaul Mofaz in May 2012 – this is not national unity, but rather unconditional surrender. We may recall that Mofaz remained in Netanyahu’s second government (formed in 2009) for just over two months, and that subsequently Kadima fell from 28 MKs in the 18th Knesset (one more than the Likud had!) to two in the 19th.
If Netanyahu really wants the Zionist Union in his government, after reaching an agreement in principle with it as to what sort of government should be formed he must resign, and together with Herzog and the leader of at least one more member of the current coalition (preferably Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon) inform the president that he plans to form a new government. Whether such a government will include all the members of the current coalition (the Jewish Home Party is a potential candidate for removal) is secondary to the coalition agreements and basic guidelines to be decided upon.
The fact that the Likud, Zionist Union and Kulanu (Kahlon’s party) together hold 64 Knesset seats should facilitate the process – on condition, of course, that Netanyahu really favors national unity over unconditional surrender by the Zionist Union. Personally, I doubt this is what Netanyahu really wants, since the impression one gets is that he is not ready to make the policy compromises (and I mean compromises, not surrender) that full cooperation with the Zionist Union would involve.
From the vantage point of the moderate, pragmatic Left the following issues are among those that must be negotiated: Israel’s reaction to the agreement with Iran; Israel’s policy regarding the Gaza Strip; Israel’s policy vis-à-vis the West Bank; an improved policy outline in the field of natural gas; a better balance between the government’s national economic priorities and promises made to individual members of the coalition. The fact that the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties have categorically refused to spread out over several years fulfillment of the promises made to them in the coalition agreements of the current government, and this in order to enable a reasonable budget for 2015-16 to be presented to the Knesset for its approval, highlights the importance of this last point.
Even though the Iranian issue is the main (if not the only) reason for the current talks between Netanyahu and Herzog, and both sides agree that the agreement with Iran is extremely problematic, it is not at all clear whether they can agree on what exactly Israel should do at this juncture. From the media reports one gets the impression that Netanyahu has no second thoughts with regard to his decision to wage an all-out battle against US President Barack Obama and his administration on the issue, rather than make every feasible effort to work as closely as possible with them in order to minimize the damage and future dangers to Israel.
Especially now, after Obama decided to get the UN Security Council to endorse the agreement with Iran before it reaches the US Congress, the issue is whether Israel should continue to actively support the rejection of the agreement by Congress by a majority that will prevent the president from using his veto power, and adamantly refuse to talk to the administration about a compensation package to Israel to deal with the increased danger to its security.
Even if the Republican move to thwart Obama’s policy succeeds, with Security Council endorsement of the agreement there is nothing to stop all the other partners to the agreement – including the UK, France, Russia and China – from acting in accordance with it. Where will that leave Israel, even if the Republicans win in the 2016 US presidential elections?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2015
On September 15, 2005, exactly a month after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon lumbered through the corridors of the United Nations as if he was taking a victory lap. Presidents, prime ministers and princes all wanted to meet him, to slap his back, shake his hand. It was an astounding reversal for a man so long demonized around the world, and – to a lesser extent – in certain circles in Israel as well. Sharon the super-hawk, Sharon the settlement- builder, Sharon the bulldozer had bulldozed down the settlements in Gaza, and forcibly evacuated all the Jews there. At the UN, the world stood and applauded.
Ten years later, Natan Sharansky – now head of the Jewish Agency, but at the time a recently-resigned minister from Sharon’s cabinet – said that applause, that acceptance, that legitimacy was undoubtedly a factor in Sharon’s decision to do what Sharansky still finds inexplicable: unilaterally pull out of Gaza.
Sharansky was the diaspora affairs and Jerusalem minister in Sharon’s government, and resigned from the cabinet over the disengagement plan on May 2, 2005, a few months before the August 15 withdrawal. He handed Sharon a letter spelling out the reasons for his resignation, saying the plan “is a tragic mistake that will exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, increase terrorism, and dim the prospects of forging a genuine peace.”
Sharansky wrote that “the guiding principle behind the disengagement plan is based on the illusion that by leaving Gaza we will leave the problems of Gaza behind us,” he wrote. “As the familiar mantra goes, ‘We will be here and they will be there.’ Once again, we are repeating the mistakes of the past by not understanding that the key to building a stable and lasting peace with our Palestinian neighbors lies in encouraging and supporting their efforts to build a democratic society. Obviously, these changes surely will take time, but Israel is not even linking this departure from Gaza upon the initiation of the first steps in this direction.”
Leave Gaza without gradually setting into place institutions that would ensure democracy was a recipe for disaster, Sharansky argued then, fruitlessly. That argument rested on a diplomatic plan he presented to Sharon three years earlier, in May 2002, based on the idea of linking a peace process to the expansion of freedom in Palestinian society. Peace, he argued then and still believes today, will not come until there is democracy in the Palestinian areas – something that will take time, money and energy to develop.
His diplomatic proposal, which he said could be dusted off and considered today, called for the establishment of an interim Palestinian administration, which would be selected from a coordinating body headed by the US, including representatives from Arab countries that recognize Israel. The interim administration would run the territories under Palestinian control for a transition period of about three years, during which time democratic and civil institutions would be developed; freedom of speech and press guaranteed, as well as the right of free political, social and religious organization; and the educational curriculum glorifying terrorism would be replaced with one sanctifying peace. The refugee camps would be dismantled, and proper housing for the residents built.
During this period, Israel would retain overall security control. Three years later a free election would be held, and Israel would then hold peace talks with the elected representatives. The theme underpinning the plan is that peace with a dictatorial regime – at that time led by Yasser Arafat – would never work, and that for real peace, there had to be a real Palestinian democracy. “Our problem is that we don’t have common interests with nondemocratic leaders on the other side,” Sharansky explained. “Arafat’s interest as a dictator was how to control his people, and how to have us as an external enemy. That is why he was not interested in any concessions we gave to him if it diminished his control over his people.” The moment a government is elected on the basis of wanting what is good for the society, of improving lives, not political control, then the logjam can be relieved, he asserted…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Diane Weber Bederman
Canada Free Press, June 23, 2015
I met Israel’s newly elected Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the offices of the Minister of Justice, a rather nondescript building, located in East Jerusalem. Her office is spacious but simply furnished. The wall behind her desk is filled with books. Her desk was clear except for some platters of vegetables and carafes of water for the many people she sees each day.
Minister Shaked is a secular member of a religious political party. She is both Ashkenazi and Iraqi. She has degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and worked at Texas instruments before entering politics in 2006. She is tall and slender and yes, beautiful. She has been attacked for her looks as if a woman blessed genetically with beauty cannot be intelligent. Photo-shopped images of Shaked as a Nazi have been posted on social media. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once compared her to Adolf Hitler. Minister Shaked is bright, beautiful and full of brawn. Borrowing a metaphor from football-she is a triple threat…
I came to the interview with concerns about the mood of the people of Israel. I’d just spent time with some grandmothers who’d expressed exhaustion over the non-stop wars. They’d watched their husbands go off to war, their sons and now their grandsons. I spoke to young people in Tel Aviv just out of the IDF who no longer concerned themselves with war but felt despair over the fact that the cost of living was too high. They spend up to 60% of their income on rent. I asked Mrs. Shaked, a wife and mother of two, what hope she could offer to these people She said “It is not despair. Israel needs to accept that there will be no peace in the near future. The reality is that the Middle East is on fire. It has collapsed. Radical Islam surrounds Israel. But Israel remains a light-house of democracy, humanity and the economy in the darkness. In the meantime, Israel must manage the conflict because that is the only option available for now. In the foreseeable future the status quo is going to remain”
And then she added, “We must fight without fear and without mercy against our enemies.” Mrs. Shaked has grown up in a country at war. There hasn’t been one day of peace, be it war or violent acts of terror on civilians, random rocket fire and now BDS. While I was in Israel, rockets were fired in Ashkelon and a number of terrorist attacks were thwarted; others were not. Friday June 19 a young man was shot dead by a terrorist near the Dolev community in Judea/Samaria. On Sunday June 21 at the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City an Israeli Border Police officer in his 20s was stabbed in the neck by an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist.
Mrs. Shaked then responded to the concerns I had expressed about the cost of living by young Israelis. I had read that Prime Minister Netanyahu had already made this issue a priority by appointing Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon. The Minister explained: The rent issue is the most important economic issue. Finance Minister Kachlon has been put in charge. We are in good hands. He will be co-ordinating with all the authorities dealing with the planning and building. Former Knesset Minister, Uri Ariel from the Bayit Yehuda Party had started work on building many more residential units in order to the problems. If requested I will assist.”
Mrs. Shaked is also tackling debt. Like Canada and the USA, many people are drowning in debt. I spoke to a young man, out of the IDF, working two and sometimes three jobs Minister Shaked explained that in Israel the majority of people can’t “close the month:” they are in overdraft every month. She plainly stated that unfortunately, this is common in Israel. I have heard from Israelis from all walks of life that living expenses in Israel are very high and salaries can’t keep up with expenses…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Poll: Israelis Overwhelmingly Certain Iran Still Wants Nukes: Adiv Sterman, Times of Israel, July 16, 2015—Three-quarters of the Israeli public believe the recent signing of the nuclear accord between world powers and Iran will not prevent the Islamic Republic from striving to acquire atomic weapons, and only 10 percent the population say they trust the US to thwart Tehran’s ambitions to produce unconventional arms, according to a poll conducted Wednesday by the Sarid Institute and published Thursday by Channel 10 news.
UN Security Council Endorses Iran Deal: Tova Dvorin, Arutz Sheva, July 20, 2015 —The UN Security Council held the critical vote on the Iranian nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and the West on Monday afternoon, at 9:00 am EST (4:00 pm IST) in New York.
Lapid Seeks Probe Into PM’s Handling of Iran Nuclear Talks: Times of Israel, July 18, 2015—Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Saturday called for a state commission of inquiry into what he said was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic failure regarding the newly signed world powers’ agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
Who Does Lapid Think He Is?: Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom, July 20, 2015—Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid has a new American political consultant who is seeking to turn him into a major political player.
The New Israeli Government: Steven J. Rosen, Middle East Forum, June 24, 2015—Although the new Netanyahu government seems fragile with only 61 of 120 Knesset members, past governments (Menachem Begin/Yitzhak Shamir, 1981-84; Yitzhak Rabin, 1992-95) survived similar circumstances.