Tag Archives: Israel

Reality Check: Rep. Omar’s Comments On Israel Were Not Anti-Semitic

Leading House Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi plan to offer a resolution Wednesday condemning anti-Semitism in response to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel.

House Republicans and others want Pelosi to go even further and for Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee all because she questioned the lobbying efforts of a foreign nation.

What did she say? How are those comments being twisted?

Let’s give it a reality check you won’t see anywhere else.

Reality Check: Why Did Trump Abandon the Iran Nuclear Deal?

President Trump announced Tuesday that the U.S. will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. It is a campaign promise that he made repeatedly during the election.

Trump has said the Iran deal is the worst of all time, and instead of staying in it he’s going to impose new sanctions against Iran.

So why did Trump abandon the Iran deal? Was it truly a bad deal, or was there influence coming from Israel? And what could that influence mean for our future?

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

“The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

That was President Trump on Tuesday announcing that just three years into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. will abandon the agreement that got Iran, some say, to rein in its nuclear program.

But others say it was a terrible deal that sped up their nuclear ambitions.

So why did President Trump abandon the Iran deal? To understand that, we actually need to look back at our relationship with Iran. Here’s a quick history lesson to bring you up to speed.

In 1953, the CIA led Operation Ajax, a coup in Iran to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh and to strengthen the monarchy led by the Shah.

After that, our government actually provided Iran a nuclear reactor fueled by highly-enriched uranium, under the Atoms for Peace program.

But then the shah was overthrown in 1979, and the U.S. stopped supplying Iran with highly enriched uranium.

Since then, our government has worked to prevent any nuclear development deal in the nation of Iran. It’s been going on for some time.

That is, until 2015, when the Obama Administration made a deal to allow Iran to keep a maximum of 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium through 2031 and drastically reduce the number of installed nuclear centerfuges.

As part of the deal, Iran has been under 24-hour surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 2015, the IAEA found no credible evidence of nuclear bomb development. And the country has been under a very tight watch ever since.

But now, the U.S. pulling out of the deal, just as President Trump promised he would.

Yet a key reason that the president gave for quitting the Iran deal is alleged evidence from Israel that Iran was not in compliance.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on April 30 that Israeli spies had stolen Iranian nuclear plans. Yet, according to the New York Times, Netanyahu did not provide any evidence that Iran violated the agreement.

What you need to know is that Israel’s influence in President Trump’s decision is interesting. Those on the left say the Iran deal would have prevented a nuclear Iran. Those on the right say the Iran deal would have sped that process up. But that isn’t the question we should be asking. No, the real question is one I asked here exactly one month ago.

Is the U.S. being pulled into an all-out war with Iran and Syria?

Remember, in March the U.S. participated in a joint military exercise in Israel to play out a scenario of an Iranian attack. In April, Israel bombed Syria and injured Iranians, just days before the U.S. led targeted attacks on Syria. You see a theme here?

And now, just hours after the U.S. abandoned the Iran deal, Israeli air strikes targeted an Iranian position in Syria, with nine reported Iranian deaths. And in Israel, military forces are preparing for a possible Iranian attack.

The real question we should be asking: Are we, the American people, ready to join Israel’s escalating war against Iran, a war that looks more likely every day?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

Medical Cannabis Patients in Israel Will Now Be Allowed to Drive

Tel Aviv, Israel – The Israeli Health Ministry, on Tuesday, introduced a new amendment that will allow individuals to drive after using medical cannabis, after many patients complained that their freedom of movement was being restricted.

Currently, Israel recognizes more than 30,000 medical cannabis users who have a government-issued permit, but these patients were previously not allowed to drive since the government classified cannabis and all its derivatives as a dangerous drug under Israeli law, classifying anyone with a dangerous drug in their system as being “drunk,” according to Haaretz.

The Israeli permit to use medical cannabis specifically states: “While using the dangerous drug it is completely forbidden to carry out acts requiring concentration, including driving and operating heavy equipment.”

According to a report from Haaretz:

The new amendment, which will come into effect in about 30 days, stipulates that patients will be permitted to drive three hours after smoking cannabis. If they consumed it in the form of edibles or as oil, they will have to wait six hours before getting behind the wheel, while those who also consumed alcohol will have to wait 12 hours after taking cannabis before being allowed to drive.

The amendment puts further restrictions on drivers who use cannabis, requiring them to be under the supervision of the doctor who signed their medical cannabis permit and to refrain from consuming other substances classified as dangerous at the same time. The amendment also limits the cannabis dosage for drivers to 50 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 15 percent, or up to 40 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 20 percent.

Health ministers had previously refused to make an exception for the medicinal use of cannabis, requiring patients to acknowledge that they understood they were not allowed to drive if being treated with cannabis. Under the new amendment, individuals will be allowed to drive three hours after taking the drug, but critics note that there is no way to enforce the amendment due to being unable to verify when a patient last used cannabis.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Jeff Sessions Wages War on Cannabis]

The amendment decriminalizes patients who had become “offenders against their will,” according to the Health Ministry. Despite the progress, the Medical Cannabis Association, which advances patients’ rights, was critical of the amendment, highlighting the fact that amendment doesn’t apply to many patients using medical cannabis.

“There’s no way to ascertain the percentage level of active ingredients in each and every flower, so there’s no way to determine what active ingredient percentage a patient consumed in the hours before he got behind the wheel,” the Medical Cannabis Association noted.

“On top of that, the number of patients who take more than 40 grams of cannabis a month is significant, as is the percentage of patients who use another narcotic medicine as well. The amendment doesn’t apply to at least a quarter of medical cannabis users,” the non-profit group added.

Tension Simmers Between Israel and Iran, Syria

Last week, Israel attacked a Syrian government facility that it claimed was used in the production of chemical weapons. That claim was unusual considering that Syria’s chemical weapons and its ability to produce them were dismantled under UN supervision in 2013. This attack was just one of many attacks Israel has launched against government-held territory since Syria’s conflict began nearly seven years ago.

Though the Syrian government, led by Bashar al-Assad, has declined to respond to these unilateral attacks or Israeli violations of Syrian airspace in the past, all that changed last Saturday when Syria’s Air Defense Force shot down an Israeli Air Force jet. The F-16 jet, which had reportedly illegitimately entered Syrian airspace near the Syrian capital of Damascus, later crashed in Israeli territory after its two pilots ejected.

As a result, Israel launched multiple retaliatory strikes against other Syrian military installations near Damascus. Multiple rounds of missile launches were confirmed and reports indicates Israel was pounding the Damascus countryside with artillery for much of the day. There were also reports of Israel launching missiles into central Syria that also targeted the Syrian military; NPR reported that “Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed at least six members of the Syrian military or allied militia members” during the Saturday incident.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) issued a statement during Saturday’s morning chaos:

“The IDF will act determinately against such severe violations of Israeli sovereignty by Iran and Syria and will continue to act as necessary. The IDF is ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments.” Meanwhile, the Syrian government accused Israel of unwarranted ‘aggression’.”

Though casual observers of the Syrian conflict may find Saturday’s events as having come out of nowhere, those who have closely followed the conflict are likely aware of longstanding discord related to the background between Israel and Syria.

Five years before the conflict in Syria, the government of Israel worked with other countries to overthrow the Assad government; Wikileaks cables indicate this strategy included creating sectarian strife in the country and isolating Syria from its strongest regional ally, Iran. Israel has long sought to officially annex the Syrian land it seized in the Golan Heights – due to their sizable oil reserves. However, Assad is a major obstacle to that annexation as well as Israel’s other regional ambitions.

The plan sought the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt in fomenting the “breakdown” of the Assad regime as a way of weakening both Iran and Hezbollah— with the effect of empowering both Israel and the Gulf monarchies, two seemingly antagonistic forces in the region that are becoming increasingly allied.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on board with the plan, as revealed by emails published by WikiLeaks. One of those emails stated that “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

It also noted that “A successful intervention in Syria would require substantial diplomatic and military leadership from the United States.” It added that “arming the Syrian rebels and using western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.”

However, that “low-cost high payoff approach” has not gone as planned. Instead, Assad has managed to consolidate large parts of Syrian territory once lost to the “rebels,” the vast majority of which are terrorist groups or their affiliates.

Israel has grown more focused on regime change in Syria, as evidenced by the “dozens and dozens” of attacks they have launched against Syria and last year’s threats to assassinate Assad by bombing his residence.

Following the weekend’s developments regarding Israel and Syria, Tillerson was quick to declare that he was “quite concerned” about the clash that unfolded between Israel and Syria and Iran.

“I think this again illustrates why Iran’s presence in Syria is only destabilizing to the region. We think Iran needs to withdraw its military, its militia from Syria and allow the hope for the peace process to take hold in Geneva,” Tillerson said.

Tensions have appeared to dissipate for the time being; Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for diffusing a “simmering conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria” that “could have erupted into another regional war” by making a “furious phone call” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a report by Business Insider. However, given the recent escalation between Israel and Iran/Syria, a regime change war may not be out of the question, complete with U.S. involvement.

Indeed, the U.S. is the largest sponsor of the IDF, giving Israel $10 million in military aid per day. The U.S. is also committed to remaining involved in Syria as seen in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s announcement to retain U.S. troops and their recent attack this past Wednesday on Syrian military positions that included Russian soldiers – an attack which came soon after Israel’s. If such a war came to pass, it may not remain a regional war between just Israel and Syria for very long.

Israel Police Recommend Charging Netanyahu With Corruption

Tel Aviv, Israel— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been recommended for indictment by Israeli police over allegations he engaged in bribery, fraud and “acting against public interest.”

Following the announcement, Netanyahu made a televised statement in which he denied the allegations, calling the case against him “baseless,” and vowing to continue to lead Israel.

The recommendation of charges follows a 14-month long investigation into allegations that Netanyahu traded political favors for costly gifts from wealthy businessmen, and that he sought to complete a deal with a popular newspaper to obtain positive coverage in exchange for using his position to damage a rival newspaper.

According to Haaretz:

The two cases are the so-called Case 1000 – in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for advancing their interests – and Case 2000, which alleges that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel’s second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom.

A report by the Times of Israel last week noted “senior police officials are in unanimous agreement on the matter, and that a ‘final’ discussion on the investigation had now been held.”

[RELATED: Boehner And Netanyahu Deny Report That Israel Spied On US-Iran Nuclear Negotiations]

Reuters noted Netanyahu has been questioned numerous times since early 2017. Police now believe they have enough evidence to bring criminal charges. Consequently, the indictment recommendation will now go to the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who must decide whether to proceed with an indictment.

In fact, The Times reports that Alsheich also claimed that “powerful figures” operating on behalf of Netanyahu hired private investigators to collect information about police investigators working the Netanyahu cases, in an attempt to smear them once the recommendations became public.

Last Wednesday, in anticipation of the recommendation to indict, Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook proclaiming his innocence.

“There will be recommendations, there will also be signs saying ‘Bibi is guilty until proven otherwise,’ and there will be improper pressure, too. But I’m sure that at the end of the day the legal authorities will arrive at one conclusion, at the simple truth: there is nothing.”


Even if Netanyahu is eventually indicted, under current Israeli law, he could not be forced to resign.

Clinton Email Shows US Sought Syria Regime Change for Israel’s Sake

by Jason Ditz

It is rare for a succinct foreign policy platform paper to so fully encapsulate a candidate’s thinking process. A State Department email of Hillary Clinton, available on WikiLeaks, lays out the Democratic front-runner’s strategy as an architect of US intervention in Syria, shows the flawed reasoning that beget the scheme. Perhaps most importantly, the document shows utter blindness to the huge problems that the war ultimately led to.

As with so many US wars in the Middle East, it all starts with Israel, and then-Secretary of State Clinton saw the US imposing regime change in Syria as primarily about benefiting Israel and spiting Iran, a position that closely mirrors that of several Israeli officials.

The Clinton ideal was that the US would impose regime change by supplying arms, but without US troops, and that Russia wouldn’t dare oppose America (noting Russia did nothing during Kosovo), that the new US-backed Syrian government would abandon ties with Iran, turn against Hezbollah, and potentially negotiate a peace settlement with Israel, while the rest of the Arab world cheers America “as fighting for their people.”

There are myriad flaws in this reasoning, and in hindsight very few of Clinton’s predictions came to pass, from her declaration that the Iran nuclear talks wouldn’t lead to a deal, that Russia wouldn’t defend the Assad government from US-backed rebels, that US pledges of arms would lead to more defections from the Syrian military, etc.

Perhaps the most glaring mistakes was the failure to acknowledge even to the prospect of Islamist groups getting involved. Five years into the civil war, US-backed rebels are still comparatively ineffectual, despite huge weapons shipments, and ISIS and other Islamist groups control more than half of the country.

Clinton’s position seems to be wrong at nearly every turn, with her one correct analysis being the fairly trite observation that Israel wants to retain a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East, without offering any plausible reason for why the US should commit forces to supporting of this objective

While the paper reveals Clinton’s interventionist leanings, it may also be elucidative regarding interventionist mentality in general, showing how quickly the notion of a “low cost” war becomes official policy, and that policymakers are ultimately blind not just to the reality on the ground, but also to the bigger risks of their schemes.

U.S. Government Investigating Alleged Data Leak of Justice Department, DHS Employees

Internet hackers, who appeared to be activists in support of Palestine, claimed to have publicly released the personal data of 20,000 Justice Department employees including some within the FBI on Monday after gaining entry to the Justice Department’s database.

The hackers reportedly claimed via Twitter that the leak was in support of Palestine, and was a direct message to the U.S. government to pressure them into ceasing ties with Israel and to also bring awareness to the occupation of Gaza and attacks by Israel.

Before releasing the data of the 20,000 DOJ employees, the group began the leak on Sunday evening by releasing a list containing over 9,000 Department of Homeland Security employees’ names, emails, current country location, employment titles and phone numbers, with a warning stating that there was more to come.

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An individual who contacted Motherboard and identified himself as one of the hackers claimed that he was able to access the employee information after he “compromised” a DOJ employee’s email address. After an unsuccessful attempt to access the DOJ web portal with that email address, he reportedly pretended to be an employee who needed assistance. He said he called the web department to obtain an access code needed to obtain the files. “They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that’s fine—just use our one,” the hacker told Motherboard.

After the web department gave him the information he needed, he gained admittance into the portal. According to the Telegraph, the hacker claimed that the group also currently has credit card numbers as well as military emails in their possession from the hack. The Telegraph noted that the “list appears to be real.”

The Department of Justice issued this statement in response to the leak: “This unauthorized access is still under investigation; however, there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive personally identifiable information,” DOJ spokesperson Peter Carr said in a statement.

While the Justice Department’s statement claimed that there doesn’t appear to be a “breach of sensitive personally identifiable information,” Motherboard noted that the FBI is taking steps to prevent the data from spreading.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, CryptoBin, the site that was reportedly hosting the leaked data, has become more difficult to access. “A Department of Justice spokesman, who previously confirmed that the agency was investigating a possible breach of its systems, declined to comment when asked if the agency had anything to do with the takedown,” reported the Chronicle.

Israeli Army May Attack ISIS in Sinai Peninsula

General Says Military Has Duty to Launch Preemptive Strikes

by Jason Ditz, July 30, 2015

Israel has been mostly ambivalent about the rise of the ISIS parent organization in neighboring Syria, and throughout that war has mostly attacked ISIS’ foes, including Hezbollah’s top anti-ISIS commanders. Israel is a close ally of the Egyptian junta, however, and Egypt is said to be keen for more help in the ongoing war in Sinai.

After the summer 2013 coup that brought them to power, the Egyptian junta attacked Sinai, claiming that the Islamists there were in league with the democratically-elected government. The group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has grown in power considerably since that coup, and pledged loyalty to ISIS last year. They now simply call themselves the State of Sinai.

The ISIS affiliate has often presented the Egyptian junta’s attacks as them doing the will of Israel, a way to court support from overseas Islamists. The group is also closely linked with the ISIS faction in the neighboring Gaza Strip, which has been fighting against Hamas, and overtly talking about attacking Israel to try to get Israel to attack Hamas, a strategy which has been working so far.

US Preparing ‘Unprecedented’ New Arms Package to Israel for Iran Deal

Netanyahu Complains About Plan, Pentagon Downplays It

by Jason Ditz, July 19, 2015

On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed the nation expects significant “compensation” from the US in the form of a major new arms package after the Iran nuclear deal. Today, officials confirmed that they are mulling an “unprecedented” package for Israel.

Last week’s indications were that the figure was formerly in the $3.7 billion range, but that Israel expected this figure to grow significantly in return for their acquiescence on the pact. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was complaining about the package at any rate, saying the fact that the US is willing to pay him off proves the Iran deal is “bad” for Israel.

In reality, of course, the US is trying to buy off Netanyahu on Iran because they see him as being for sale on the issue. Though officials are downplaying the chances of sending “swag bags” of arms across the region after the Iran pact, it does seem that Israel will be getting one.

The Israeli expectation is that they will get more the longer they hold out, however, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is not expected to make an offer during this week’s visit, after Netanyahu refused to even address the subject in talks with Obama last week.

Holding off on the deal is a gamble for the Israeli leadership, however, particularly with Netanyahu publicly spurning the idea. If it becomes increasingly clear that the Israel Lobby’s efforts will not secure a veto-proof majority in Congress to kill the deal, the administration may decide Israel doesn’t need buying off, or at least not at such a gaudy price.

Obama: Only Alternative to Iran Deal Is War

British Foreign Secretary: Israel Just Wanted Permanent Standoff

by Jason Ditz, July 15, 2015

When the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran was announced early Tuesday, everyone knew what was coming next. After spending decades railing against Iran’s nuclear program and months claiming the negotiations were a threat to Israel, there was no calming Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu down.

A day later, world leaders are starting to fire back with surprising openness, lashing Netanyahu for his insincerity. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insisted no deal would’ve been good enough for Netanyahu, and that what he really wanted was a “permanent standoff” with Iran.

President Obama seemed a little less interested in placating Netanyahu today as well, giving his usual lip service on Israeli security concerns but insisting Netanyahu never provided a valid alternative to the deal, and said the deal was a fair sight better than war.

The criticisms are all fairly obvious, and the real news is how publicly they’re being made by high profile officials, and how quickly. This underscores a growing problem faced by Netanyahu internationally, compounding domestic criticism over his botched lobbying against the deal.

Israelis must see Netanyahu’s effort one of two ways. Either he was correct that the deal means the end of Israel, and failed despite his promises to stop it, or he was incorrect about the deal and is alienating the international community by continuing to complain. Neither puts him in a particularly favorable light.

Confirmed: Israel spied on America’s nuclear negotiations with Iran

By Erica Wenig

Solid evidence has emerged Israel spied on U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran by using a powerful virus to infiltrate computers in hotels where talks were held.

Kaspersky, a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm, discovered it had been infected by a sophisticated virus last year, reports The Wall Street Journal. The firm realized it was dealing with an advanced version of Duqu, a virus U.S. officials say Israel uses to collect especially sensitive information.

After a investigation of computers worldwide, a Kaspersky team found the virus in three luxury European hotels. They had one thing in common: hosting discussions between the U.S. and Western powers over Iran’s nuclear capabilities, a deal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly opposes.

U.S. officials accused Israel of spying on negotiations and sharing the information with members of Congress to sabotage the potential nuclear agreement earlier this year.

Israeli officials deny spying on America or other allies, reports the WSJ. The Israeli embassy said they had no addition comment in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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‘Timely’ US Arrests Against FIFA May Delay Israel Vote

Netanyahu Vows to See FIFA Destroyed Over Efforts to ‘Hurt Israel’
by Jason Ditz, May 28, 2015

Wednesday’s high-profile US-Swiss raids against FIFA leaders set the football world, and by extension most of the world in general, astorm with controversy, and indications are that the arrests were timed to do the most harm to the governing body.

Already, we’re seeing a dramatic shift in focus for the FIFA conference, and the planned vote on suspending Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinian footballers seems almost certain to be delayed.

Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu is crowing about this, and bragged of telling FIFA president Sepp Blatter that a vote of the suspension of Israel would mean the destruction of FIFA outright.

The arrests also seem timed to greatly damage the international profile of the governing body with respect to events as well, with Russia playing host to the next World Cup. Though the US is denying any relation between that and the arrests, they spent much of the period around the Winter Olympics in Sochi harping about Russia, and would love nothing more than to undermine another major, Russia-based event.

Obama Defends Iran Nuclear Deal, Responds To Criticism From Israel

On Monday, President Obama defended the framework of the deal surrounding Iran’s nuclear program that was reached on Thursday between the United States, Iran, and five other major powers: China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. He also addressed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerns regarding how forming a nuclear deal with Iran will affect Israel.

In an interview with Steve Inskeep, the host of NPR’s Morning Edition, Obama defended his pending deal with Iran, saying that he believes it is “the right thing to do for the United States, for our allies in the region and for world peace regardless of the nature of the Iranian regime.”

Obama said that his goal when he came into office was to “make sure that Iran did not get a nuclear weapon and thereby trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile part of the world.” He explained that while ideally Iran would see sanctions reduced and would start focusing on its economy, it has provided assurance that it is “peaceful in nature” thus far.

We’re now in a position where Iran has agreed to unprecedented inspections and verifications of its program, providing assurances that it is peaceful in nature,” Obama said. “You have them rolling back a number of pathways that they currently have available to break out and get a nuclear weapon. You have assurances that their stockpile of highly enriched uranium remains in a place where they cannot create a nuclear weapon.”

Obama noted that, if the deal is agreed to, the US is “purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year,” meaning that if Iran decides to break the deal, the US will have over a year to respond.

It’s a hard argument to make that we’re better off right now having almost no breakout period, no insight, and letting them rush towards a bomb, than saying, over the course of 15 years, we have very clear assurances that they’re not going to do anything,” Obama said.

Regarding how nuclear negotiations with Iran have affected Israel, Obama said that while the idea of pushing Iran to recognize Israel is not unreasonable, he doesn’t feel that applying more pressure will lead to a better deal, which he said is the logic Netanyahu has put forth.

So there’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime,” Obama said. “But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”

Obama went on to say that he thinks it is “important to recognize that there are a whole host of countries in the Middle East that don’t yet recognize Israel,” and that the most important thing for Israel to keep in mind is that they have America, “the world’s most powerful country” to defend them.

While the White House is working to convince US lawmakers to accept the framework of the deal, Reuters noted that Iran’s negotiators have interpreted the outline differently, and have said, “Sanctions would be lifted immediately once an accord is signed.”

During a press conference on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that sanctions would not be lifted immediately, and that there would have to be “sustained compliance” from Iran.

It has never been our position that all of the sanctions against Iran should be removed from day one,” Earnest said. “That is their position, but it’s not one that we agree with.”


Boehner And Netanyahu Deny Report That Israel Spied On US-Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Following a report that claimed Israel spied on nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran, and then gave the stolen classified information to Congressional Republicans, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US House Speaker John Boehner have denied the allegations.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that according to both current and former senior White House officials, Israel has been spying on private nuclear negotiations between Washington, Tehran and other major powers.

According to the anonymous officials, the spying operation, which included “information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe,” was part of Israel’s larger campaign to “penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal.”

The officials told the Wall Street Journal that the White House wasn’t as concerned about the fact that Israel spied on the negotiations, as it was about the fact that Israel then shared the stolen classified information with US lawmakers, in order to “drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program.”

On Tuesday, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, told WND that the Prime Minister “unequivocally and totally” denies the allegations. “This is a story by uncited, anonymous sources and doesn’t have an ounce of truth to it,” Regev said.

Boehner, who was responsible for breaking protocol and inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3 about nuclear negotiations with Iran without first notifying the White House, is expected to visit Israel at the end of March on a Republican congressional delegation. He addressed the report on Tuesday, and said that he was “baffled” by it.

Frankly I was a bit shocked, because, there was no information revealed to me whatsoever.” Boehner said. “I’m not sure what the information was, but I’m baffled by it.

Obama Takes Netanyahu ‘at his word’ In His Promise To Prevent Palestinian Statehood

On Friday, President Obama addressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State in his attempt to garner support for a fourth term as Prime Minister.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Obama said he took Netanyahu “at his word” when he said that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine would not be reached under his watch.

We’re going to make sure, regardless of disagreements we have on policy, that our military and intelligence cooperation to keep the Israeli people safe continues and that cooperation also helps the American people stay safe,” Obama said. “But we are going to continue to insist that, from our point of view, the status quo is unsustainable. And that while taking into complete account Israel’s security, we can’t just in perpetuity maintain the status quo, expand settlements. That’s not a recipe for stability in the region.”

Reuters reported that despite the “the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial efforts towards peace” expressed by the European Union, the United States will not speak at the annual United Nations debate on Israeli violations in Palestinian territories on Monday.

During an interview with Israeli news website NRG last week, Netanyahu promised that if re-elected as Israeli Prime Minister he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

With opinion polls prior to the election showing Netanyahu’s Likud falling behind Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union, he urged citizens to vote, claiming that the right-wing government is in danger, due to the fact that “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,” and “Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

Netanyahu won in a narrow victory on Wednesday with his Likud party winning 30 seats and surpassing Herzog’s Zionist Union, which won 24 seats.

Obama told the Huffington Post that when he called Netanyahu on Thursday to congratulate him on the Likud party’s victory, he said that given Netanyahu’s statement prior to the election, “it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible.”

We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions,” Obama said. “That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly.

Netanyahu to Serve Fourth Term As Israel’s Prime Minister Following Likud Win

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party prevailed in yesterday’s Israeli parliamentary elections, winning 30 seats. Zionist Union, the party of Netanyahu rival Isaac Herzog, obtained 24 seats, taking second place. Though Netanyahu must technically build a coalition in order to remain prime minister for what will be his fourth term, his success is all but guaranteed by the results of the election. The contest was considered to be a referendum on Netanyahu’s hard-line national security policies, which, as NBC News notes, have recently put him at odds with US President Barack Obama.

“The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do – and we will do so,” said Netanyahu in a statement, cited by Reuters, which outlined his next steps.

Yesterday, Netanyahu raised fears that he might lose, citing claims that left-wing groups were busing “Arab voters” to the polls “in droves.” In a last-ditch effort to win the election, Netanyahu appeased hard-right groups by taking an aggressive stance against the establishment of a Palestinian state and escalating tensions over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

According to Fox News, President Obama responded to Netanyahu’s win by congratulating the Israeli people, but stopped short of congratulating Netanyahu himself.

The above-embedded video by Sky News notes that the Israeli Prime Minister is expected to build his governing coalition from nationalist and religious political parties including Jewish Home. Though Netanyahu is the incumbent, his party’s win is considered an upset as Zionist Union had a significant lead in the polls prior to election day.

If Re-Elected, Netanyahu Promises to Prevent Establishment of a Palestinian State

As he entered the final day of campaigning before Tuesday’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to garner support by promising that if re-elected, there would be no establishment of a Palestinian State in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The Associated Press reported that after six years as prime minister and as the “most dominant personality in Israeli politics,” Netanyahu’s standing has fallen in recent weeks.

According to Reuters, opinion polls predict that Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union will take 24 to 26 seats in the 120-member parliament, while Netanyahu’s Likud will only take 20 to 22.

In an interview with Israeli news website NRG, Netanyahu was asked about his stance on creating a Palestinian State. In his response, which was translated to English by the Times of Israel, he claimed that the establishment of such a state would only lead to radical Islamic attacks on Israel.

“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The New York Times noted that Netanyahu’s statement was contrary to his endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2009, during a speech at Bar Ilan University, and that the change  “fulfilled many world leaders’ suspicions that he was never really serious about peace negotiations.”

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu has done more campaigning in the Israeli press this election season than in the last six years, and in his latest appearances, he appears to be “under pressure, nervous, tired and confused.”

The Associated Press reported that in contrast to Netanyahu, Herzog has vowed to “revive peace efforts with the Palestinians, repair ties with the U.S. and reduce the growing gaps between rich and poor.”

Reuters noted that both Herzog and his former running mate Tzipi Livni, have accused Netanyahu of “playing up fears over the Palestinians and Iran’s nuclear program to distract voters from the high cost of living and other social issues.”

Violence and Discrimination Against Africans in Israel?

Washington DC- It is a story that few Americans have heard anything about. About 60,000 non-Jewish African migrants who have come to Israel since 2010 seeking asylum, have come under violent attacks and degrading situations.

Israeli filmmaker David Sheen has authored a U.N. report on the plight of these non-Jewish African migrants and the conditions they have been forced into since coming to Israel. He has now just finished a documentary on the matter.

He speaks with Ben Swann in about this story in an interview you won’t see anywhere else.

Rand Paul Caves on Iran, Backs Move to Kill Deal

Republican Senators Vow to Sabotage Iran Deal

by Jason Ditz, March 09, 2015

With progress having been made on the Iran negotiations, Republican Senators opposed to a deal have been threatening the administration left and right over it. Today, they took a different tack, issuing an open letter to Iran, warning them against the deal on the grounds that they’re just going to sabotage it in the future.

The letter was pushed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR) and signed by 47 senators. Surprisingly, this included Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY), who had previously expressed opposition to Congressional attempts to sabotage the negotiations.

Just a month ago, Sen. Paul had admonished the Senate against standing in the way of negotiations in good faith. Now, with Iran a key issue in the upcoming presidential primaries, he seems to be wavering on the matter, and towing the party line.

The letter provoked a sharp criticism from the White House over the Senate’s attempt to interfere in diplomatic efforts, and a dismissal from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said Iran didn’t take the threat seriously.

Whether Zarif’s comments reflect the view of the entire Iranian government remains to be seen, however, and opposition from US hawks, and a threat to sabotage the deal, should only add to the calls from Iran’s own right-wing to ditch the negotiations on the grounds that the US can’t be trusted to keep its bargains.

The argument has been pushed for a long time by Iran’s Conservative parliamentarians, who have been averse to the deal. With US Republicans now confirming as much, and explicitly writing a letter saying they can’t be trusted to keep any deals reached by Obama, the talks will surely suffer at least somewhat.

image by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons license.