Posts Tagged ‘PM Netanyahu’

Netanyahu pulls out of Obama’s nuclear conference

April 9, 2010

Withdrawal prompted by likely pressure from Egypt and Turkey over Israel’s presumed atomic arsenal

Peter Walker and agencies, The Guardian/UK, April 9, 2010

Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not attend Barack Obama’s international nuclear weapons conference in Washington next week. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has pulled out of Barack Obama’s international nuclear weapons conference in Washington next week at the last minute after learning his country was likely to face pressure over its own presumed atomic arsenal.

Officials in Netanyahu’s office said this morning that the decision was made after it emerged that Egypt and Turkey planned to raise the matter at the 47-nation event, Reuters reported.

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Meir Dagan: the mastermind behind Mossad’s secret war

February 21, 2010

The Sunday Times/UK, February 21, 2010

By Uzi Mahnaimi

Israel's Mossad spy agency chief Meir Dagan

Mossad spy agency chief Meir Dagan

IN early January two black Audi A6 limousines drove up to the main gate of a building on a small hill in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv: the headquarters of Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, known as the “midrasha”.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, stepped out of his car and was greeted by Meir Dagan, the 64-year-old head of the agency. Dagan, who has walked with a stick since he was injured in action as a young man, led Netanyahu and a general to a briefing room.

According to sources with knowledge of Mossad, inside the briefing room were some members of a hit squad. As the man who gives final authorisation for such operations, Netanyahu was briefed on plans to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a member of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza.

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Roger Cohen: Hard Mideast Truths

February 16, 2010
By ROGER COHEN, New York Times, February 16, 2010

NEW YORK — For over a century now, Zionism and Arab nationalism have failed to find an accommodation in the Holy Land. Both movements attempted to fill the space left by collapsed empire, and it has been left to the quasi-empire, the United States, to try to coax them to peaceful coexistence. The attempt has failed.

Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Roger Cohen

President Barack Obama came to office more than a year ago promising new thinking, outreach to the Muslim world, and relentless focus on Israel-Palestine. But nice speeches have given way to sullen stalemate. I am told Obama and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have a zero-chemistry relationship.

Domestic U.S. politics constrain innovative thought — even open debate — on the process without end that is the peace search. As Aaron David Miller, who long labored in the trenches of that process, once observed, the United States ends up as “Israel’s lawyer” rather than an honest broker. The upside for an American congressman in speaking out for Palestine is nonexistent.

I don’t see these constraints shifting much, but the need for Obama to honor his election promise grows. The conflict gnaws at U.S. security, eats away at whatever remote possibility of a two-state solution is left, clouds Israel’s future, scatters Palestinians and devours every attempt to bridge the West and Islam.

Here’s what I believe. Centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust created a moral imperative for a Jewish homeland, Israel, and demand of America that it safeguard that nation in the breach.

But past persecution of the Jews cannot be a license to subjugate another people, the Palestinians. Nor can the solemn U.S. promise to stand by Israel be a blank check to the Jewish state when its policies undermine stated American aims.

One such Israeli policy is the relentless settlement of the West Bank. Two decades ago, James Baker, then secretary of state, declared, “Forswear annexation; stop settlement activity.” Fast-forward 20 years to Barack Obama in Cairo: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” In the interim the number of settlers almost quadrupled from about 78,000 in 1990 to around 300,000 last year.

Since Obama spoke, Netanyahu, while promising an almost-freeze, has been planting saplings in settlements and declaring them part of Israel for “eternity.” In a normal relationship between allies — of the kind I think America and Israel should have — there would be consequences for such defiance. In the special relationship between the United States and Israel there are none.

The U.S. objective is a two-state peace. But day by day, square meter by square meter, the physical space for the second state, Palestine, is disappearing. Can the Gaza sardine can and fractured labyrinth of the West Bank now be seen as anything but a grotesque caricature of a putative state? America has allowed this self-defeating process to advance to near irreversibility.

In fact, it has helped fund it. The settlements are expensive, as is the security fence (hated “separation wall” to the Palestinians) that is itself an annexation mechanism. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, U.S. aid to Israel totaled $28.9 billion over the past decade, a sum that dwarfs aid to any other nation and amounts to four times the total gross domestic product of Haiti.

It makes sense for America to assure Israel’s security. It does not make sense for America to bankroll Israeli policies that undermine U.S. strategic objectives.

This, too, I believe: Through violence, anti-Semitic incitation, and annihilationist threats, Palestinian factions have contributed mightily to the absence of peace and made it harder for America to adopt the balance required. But the impressive recent work of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank shows that Palestinian responsibility is no oxymoron and demands of Israel a response less abject than creeping annexation.

And this: the “existential threat” to Israel is overplayed. It is no feeble David facing an Arab (or Arab-Persian) Goliath. Armed with a formidable nuclear deterrent, Israel is by far the strongest state in the region. Room exists for America to step back and apply pressure without compromising Israeli security.

And this: Obama needs to work harder on overcoming Palestinian division, a prerequisite for peace, rather than playing the no-credible-interlocutor Israeli game. The Hamas charter is vile. But the breakthrough Oslo accords were negotiated in 1993, three years before the Palestine Liberation Organization revoked the annihilationist clauses in its charter. When Arafat and Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn, that destroy-Israel charter was intact. Things change through negotiation, not otherwise. If there are Taliban elements worth engaging, are there really no such elements in the broad movements that are Hamas and Hezbollah?

If there are not two states there will be one state between the river and the sea and very soon there will be more Palestinian Arabs in it than Jews. What then will become of the Zionist dream?

It’s time for Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it.

PM Netanyahu’s three-card trick

November 27, 2009
John Haylet, Morning Star Online, November 27, 2009

Scarcely had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unveiled Israel’s latest fraudulent “far-reaching step towards peace” than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leapt forward to welcome it.

Netanyahu spouted the usual rhetoric about a “historic peace agreement to finally end the conflict,” knowing that his offer lacked honesty and integrity.

And Clinton gave it the White House seal of approval, aware that it had no chance of being acceptable to the Palestinian people’s negotiators and, equally, that it fell short of Barack Obama’s earlier demand that Israel freeze all construction projects on the occupied West Bank.

Since Netanyahu gave this demand the bum’s rush, Clinton has repackaged it as a vacuous call for “restraint.”

And, as if sharing a scriptwriter, Netanyahu passed off his 10-month partial halt to housing construction as evidence of Israeli government restraint.

As so often with heavily touted Israeli initiatives, there is a lot less to this offer than meets the eye.

First, it does not apply to east Jerusalem, which was captured in the 1967 war with the rest of the West Bank. Tel Aviv has unilaterally and illegally declared the annexation of east Jerusalem, together with several settlements to the east of the city, with the intention of designating a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal” capital.

Not even the most abject Palestinian supplicant could accept such a negotiating precondition.

Second, whereas most people might believe that halt equals stop, in Israel’s lexicon, halting construction signifies no such thing.

It means not starting any new projects over and above those dozens that have already been either begun or authorised.

Nor does it apply to the building of synagogues and schools, which are essential elements of Israel’s ethnic-cleansing strategy.

Despite the fraudulent nature of Netanyahu’s three-card trick, Clinton categorised it as helping to “move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

She also echoed Netanyahu’s reference to Israel’s racist goal of a “Jewish state,” which would put the current 20 per cent Arab minority in legal jeopardy.

Whatever the excitement in Washington, no Palestinian representative regards the Netanyahu plan as a starter.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat suggested that it had more to do with placating the US president, pointing out: “At the end of the day, Netanyahu needs to make peace with us, the Palestinians. He doesn’t need to make peace with Americans.”

Hamas dismissed it as a “cosmetic step,” designed to restart “pointless negotiations.”

Many Palestinians have been increasingly critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his handpicked but never ratified prime minister, the US-educated economist and former senior World Bank official Salam Fayyad.

This, together with Obama’s failure to achieve a settlement freeze, has led the authority to call on West Bank residents to boycott large supermarket chains that stock Israeli products.

Palestinian Economy Minister Hassan abu Libdeh estimates that illegal Israeli settlements currently have a 15 per cent share of the Palestinian market and is determined to implement an already existing law that bans the sale of settlement produce.

According to Stop the Wall co-ordinator Jamal Juma, “if the Palestinian Authority insists on implementing this decision, it means the authority will participate in boycotting one-third of the Israeli products that come to the West Bank.

“The decision will allow Palestinians to say: ‘No to the occupation, we are not going to pay for the bulldozers that destroy our houses and for the bullets that kill our people’.”

And President Abbas is pressing all Arab countries to cancel their business ties with French companies Veolia and Alstom, which are involved in the construction of a Jerusalem-based light railway through the West Bank.

He announced this at a press conference organised by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, which is made up of several non-governmental organisations.

Abbas’s chief of staff Rafiq Husseini lambasted Arab countries, chief among them Saudi Arabia, that continue to work with the two companies, accusing them of “not fulfilling their duties” despite repeated requests by the Palestinians and from the Arab League.

Alstom has several Saudi contracts, including one to build a railway to Mecca.

It is illustrative that even Abbas, who has announced his impending retirement, is sufficiently disillusioned with the US administration and the road map to throw his weight behind the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

These developments give additional importance to next Saturday’s trade union conference, organised by colleges union UCU, for BDS supporters to discuss practical implementation in the light of the resolution carried at this year’s TUC annual conference in September.

With speakers of the calibre of Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian BDS committee, former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, Congress of South African Trade Unions international secretary Bongani Masuku, Dr Ilan Pappe of Exeter University and Palestine Solidarity chairman Hugh Lanning, this conference could be vital in putting mass pressure on Israel.

No peace progress as Obama, Netanyahu meet

November 10, 2009

Middle East Online, November 10, 2009



‘Shame on you’, the hardline premier was told


Hardline Netanyahu leaves White House without Obama appearance amid Israeli defiance.

WASHINGTON – Hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left the White House Monday after spending an hour and forty minutes inside, emerging without US President Barack Obama.

It is not immediately clear whether Netanyahu spent the entire time in closed-door talks with Obama.

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Abbas to Clinton: No peace talks without settlement freeze

November 1, 2009

The Sunday Morning Herald, November 1, 2009

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the Palestinians would not agree to re-launch peace talks with Israel without a complete freeze of Jewish settlements.

Abbas rejected the request from Clinton because a deal reached between US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Israel ‘‘does not include a complete freeze of settlement activities,’’ Erakat said.

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Israel uses Hitler picture to sell its settlement expansion

July 25, 2009

Foreign minister orders diplomats to circulate photo ahead of discussions with President Obama’s envoy

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem | The Independent/UK, July 25, 2009

As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Second World War, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni was a powerful Nazi sympathiser  - and an assassination target for the Allies.
GETTY IMAGES

As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Second World War, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni was a powerful Nazi sympathiser – and an assassination target for the Allies.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, has triggered fresh controversy by urging diplomats abroad to use a 1941 photograph of a Palestinian religious leader meeting Hitler to counter protests against a planned Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem.

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Fascism Needs an Enemy

July 21, 2009
by Ran HaCohen, Antiwar.com, July 20, 2009

Critically thinking Israelis – a negligible minority – already know the pattern: no matter how extreme our new prime minister is, it won’t take more than a couple of months for the media to portray him as the sane, moderate, and pragmatic leader of the political center. If even the warrior General Sharon could be reborn as “a Man of Peace,” why can’t Netanyahu? The landmark was his “Bar Ilan Speech” of June 14, after which mainstream Israeli columnists, lead by the pathetic Ari Shavit (Ha’aretz) and his lowbrow twin brother Ya’ir Lapid (Yedioth Achronot), all resorted to ludicrous narratives of Rebirth, Revolution, and Rubicon for the allegedly new leader of peace-loving Israel.

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Obama Presses Israel on Settlements, but Their End Isn’t in Sight

June 26, 2009
by William Pfaff, Antiwar.com, June 26, 2009

PARIS — The Obama administration’s confrontation with Israel over its colonies inside the Palestine territories began as a test of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to enter serious negotiations on a Middle Eastern settlement. It actually possesses potential dimensions that few today imagine.

Netanyahu first counted on the Likud and settlement lobbies in Washington to produce, as always in the past, a disingenuous formula that would allow the colonies to continue to expropriate Palestinian land and expand the settlements, while the American government oversaw essentially meaningless negotiations with the Palestinians.

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