On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it is shelving plans to build 1,500 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood.
Har Homa Settlements in the West Bank
Officials gave no explanation for its sudden move. But none was needed. Obviously the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was blocked in the hopes of appeasing US President Barack Obama. But is there any reason to believe he can be appeased? Today the White House is issuing condemnations of Israel faster than the UN.
To determine how to handle what is happening, we need to understand the nature of what is happening. First we need to understand that the administration’s hostility has little to do with Israel’s actions.
As Max Boot explained Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the administration’s animosity toward Israel is a function of Obama’s twin strategic aims, both evident since he entered office: realigning US policy in the Middle East toward Iran and away from its traditional allies Israel and the Sunni Arab states, and ending the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.
Obama and Iran – A twisted love story…
Over the past six years we have seen how Obama has consistently, but gradually, taken steps to advance these two goals. Toward Iran, he has demonstrated an unflappable determination to accommodate the terrorism supporting, nuclear proliferating, human rights repressing and empire building mullahs.
Beginning last November, as the deadline for nuclear talks between the US and its partners and Tehran approached, Obama’s attempts to accommodate Tehran escalated steeply.
Obama has thrown caution to the winds in a last-ditch effort to convince Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei to sign a deal with him. Last month the administration published a top secret report on Israel’s nuclear installations. Last week, Obama’s director of national intelligence James Clapper published an annual terrorism threat assessment that failed to mention either Iran or Hezbollah as threats.
And this week, the administration accused Israel of spying on its talks with Iran in order to tell members of Congress the details of the nuclear deal that Obama and his advisers have been trying to hide from them.
In the regional context, the administration has had nothing to say in the face of Iran’s takeover of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden this
week. With its Houthi-proxy now in charge of the strategic waterway, and with its own control over the Straits of Hormuz, Iran is poised to exercise naval control over the two choke points of access to Arab oil.
The administration is assisting Iranian Shi’ite proxies in their battle to defeat Islamic State forces in the Iraqi city of Tikrit. It has said nothing about the Shi’ite massacres of Sunnis that come under their control.
Parallel to its endless patience for Tehran, the Obama administration has been treating Israel with bristling and ever-escalating hostility. This hostility has been manifested among other things through strategic leaks of highly classified information, implementing an arms embargo on weapons exports to Israel in time of war, ending a 40-year agreement to provide Israel with fuel in times of emergency, blaming Israel for the absence of peace, expressing tolerance and understanding for Palestinian terrorism, providing indirect support for Europe’s economic war against Israel, and providing indirect support for the BDS movement by constantly accusing Israel of ill intentions and dishonesty.
Then there is the UN. Since he first entered office, Obama has been threatening to withhold support for Israel at the UN. To date, the administration has vetoed one anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council and convinced the Palestinians not to submit another one for a vote.
In the months that preceded these actions, the administration exploited Israel’s vulnerability to extort massive concessions to the Palestinians.
Obama forced Benjamin Netanyahu to announce his support for Palestinian statehood in September 2009. He used the UN threat to coerce Netanyahu to agree to negotiations based on the 1949 armistice lines, to deny Jews their property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to release scores of terrorist murderers from prison.
Following the nationalist camp’s victory in last week’s election, Obama brought to a head the crisis in relations he instigated. He has done so for two reasons.
First, next week is the deadline for signing a nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama views Netanyahu as the prospective deal’s most articulate and effective opponent.
As Obama sees it, Netanyahu threatens his nuclear diplomacy with Iran because he has a unique ability to communicate his concerns about the deal to US lawmakers and the American people, and mobilize them to join him in opposing Obama’s actions. The letters sent by 47 senators to the Iranian regime explaining the constitutional limitations on presidential power to conclude treaties without Senate approval, like the letter to Obama from 367 House members expressing grave and urgent concerns about the substance of the deal he seeks to conclude, are evidence of Netanyahu’s success.
The second reason Obama has gone to war against Israel is because he views the results of last week’s election as an opportunity to market his anti-Israel and pro-Iranian positions to the American public.
If Netanyahu can convince Americans to oppose Obama on Iran, Obama believes that by accusing Netanyahu of destroying chances for peace and calling him a racist, Obama will be able to win sufficient public support for his anti-Israel policies to intimidate pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers into accepting his pro-Iranian policies.
Obama and Iran’s Rouhani
To this end, Obama has announced that the threat that he will abandon Israel at the UN has now become a certainty. There is no peace process, Obama says, because Netanyahu had the temerity to point out that there is no way for Israel to risk the transformation of Judea and Samaria into a new terror base. As a consequence, he has all but made it official that he is abandoning the peace process and joining the anti-Israel bandwagon at the UN.
Given Obama’s decision to abandon support for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians, modes of appeasement aimed at showing Israel’s good faith, such as Jewish building freezes, are no longer relevant. Scrapping plans to build apartments in Jewish neighborhoods like Har Homa will make no difference.
Obama has reached a point in his presidency where he is prepared to give full expression to his plan to end the US’s strategic alliance with Israel.
He thinks that doing so is both an end to itself and a means of succeeding in his bid to achieve a rapprochement with Iran.
Given this dismal reality, Israel needs to develop ways to minimize the damage Obama can cause.
Israel needs to oppose Obama’s policies while preserving its relations with its US supporters, including its Democratic supporters. Doing so will ensure that it is in a position to renew its alliance with the US immediately after Obama leaves office.
With regards to Iran, such a policy requires Israel to act with the US’s spurned Arab allies to check Iran’s expansionism and nuclear progress. It also requires Israel to galvanize strong opposition to Obama’s goal of replacing Israel with Iran as America’s chief ally in the Middle East and enabling it to develop nuclear weapons.
As for the Palestinians, Israel needs to view Obama’s abandonment of the peace process as an opportunity to improve our diplomatic position by resetting our relations with the Palestinians. Since 1993, Israel has been entrapped by the chimerical promise of a “two-state solution.”
By late 2000, the majority of Israelis had recognized that there is no way to achieve the two-state solution. There is no way to make peace with the PLO. But due to successive governments’ aversion to risking a crisis in relations with Washington, no one dared abandon the failed two-state strategy.
Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader – Khamenei
Now, with Obama himself declaring the peace process dead and replacing it with a policy of pure hostility toward Israel, Israel has nothing to gain from upholding a policy that blames it for the absence of peace.
No matter how loudly Netanyahu declares his allegiance to the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, Obama will keep castigating him and Israel as the destroyer of peace.
The prevailing, 23-year-old view among our leadership posits that if we abandon the two-state model, we will lose American support, particularly liberal American support. But the truth is more complicated.
Inspired by the White House and the Israeli Left, pro-Israel Democrats now have difficulty believing Netanyahu’s statements of support for the establishment of a Palestinians state. But those who truly uphold liberal values of human rights can be convinced of the rightness of Israel’s conviction that peace is currently impossible and as a consequence, the two-state model must be put on the back burner.
We can maintain support among Republicans and Democrats alike if we present an alternative policy that makes sense in the absence of an option for the two-state model.
Such a policy is the Israeli sovereignty model. If the government adopts a policy of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria in whole – as I recommend in my book The Israeli Solution: A One- State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, or in part, in Area C, as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett recommends, our leaders will be able to defend their actions before the American people, including pro-Israel Democrats.
Israel must base its policy of sovereignty on two principles. First, this is a liberal policy that will ensure the civil rights of Palestinians and Israelis alike, and improve the Palestinians’ standard of living.
Second, such a policy is not necessarily a longterm or permanent “solution,” but it is a stable equilibrium for now.
Just as Israel’s decision to apply its laws to united Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the past didn’t prevent it from conducting negotiations regarding the possible transfer of control over the areas to the Palestinians and Syrians, respectively, so an administrative decision to apply Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria will not block the path for negotiations with the Palestinians when regional and internal Palestinian conditions render them practicable.
The sovereignty policy is both liberal and strategically viable. If the government adopts it, the move will rebuild Israel’s credibility and preserve Israel’s standing on both sides of the aisle in Washington.
Never before has Israel had to deal with such an openly hostile US administration. Indeed, until 2009, the very notion that a day would come when an American president would prefer an alliance with Khamenei’s Iran to its traditional alliances with Israel and the Sunni Arab states was never even considered. But here we are.
Our current situation is unpleasant. But it isn’t the end of the world. We aren’t helpless. If we act wisely, we can stem Iran’s nuclear and regional advance. If we act boldly, we can preserve our alliance with the US while adopting a policy toward the Palestinians that for the first time in decades will advance our interests and our liberal values on the world stage.
President Obama is insisting on the creation of Palestine with a border separating it from Israel based on the ’67 lines plus swaps.
Obama continues to push for a two-state solution that would result in the destruction of Israel
In doing so he is ignoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which grants Israel the right to secure and recognized borders and does not demand a full retreat to the ’67 lines. He is also threatening to allow the UNSC to impose such borders on Israel, thereby circumventing his oft-stated insistence that all matters are to be negotiated between the parties.
Ben-Dror Yemini, writing in YNET, which is left of center and Netanyahu’s arch enemy, makes the case, “Given the upheaval in the Arab world, Obama needs to ask himself why he thinks a Palestinian state is viable right now; meanwhile, Israel’s right needs to understand that its actions are leading to a bi-national state.”
“According to Hamas’ official television station, ‘Christians, Communists and Jews must be eliminated down to the very last man.’ Hamas has the support of 61 percent of the Palestinians. Even if we assume that support for Hamas will fall, Hamas will take a violent stand against its opponents. Some of the Hamas leaders are talking about ‘the conquest of Rome and Andalusia.’
Obama with Mahmoud Abbas the head of the Palestinian Authority (terrorist organization Hamas).
“Is Obama listening? Does Obama know that Hamas won the last election? Is it hard for Obama to understand that a Palestinian state would mean, in all likelihood, another Jihad state and more bloodshed? What gives him the illusion that a Palestinian state will become a model of stability? Where is there stability under one of the Jihad movements?
“Will Qassem Soleimani sit by quietly and allow peace to flourish? And what kind of agreement could be achieved anyway? Is there a Palestinian leader – even just one – who is willing to accept the peace proposals submitted by Obama, J Street or Meretz? After all, over the past decade or two, the Palestinians have rejected every offer of a two-state solution. So what agreement is Obama talking about?
“What is needed, therefore, is a reevaluation. We don’t need another failure. And this reassessment must take place both in Washington and in Jerusalem. A sober look at the situation will lead to the obvious conclusion – that under the current geopolitical circumstances, talk of a Palestinian state, which is likely to turn into a Hamas state, is delusional and evidence of a detachment from reality.”
Sounds a lot like the case that Netanyahu always makes. But contrary to Netanyahu, Yemini avers that “A peace settlement is a necessity.”
Yes, given Israel’s increasing defamation and de-legitimation, a peace settlement is needed but it is not available even on Obama’s terms. Furthermore any “peace settlement” would not be bankable or dependable. As Bibi never tires of repeating, although in another context, no deal is better than a bad deal. And that’s why he prefers to manage the conflict, rather than to solve it.
“The Palestinians need to be given a political horizon and hope – by means of an agreement that will be implemented gradually and cautiously, in keeping with changing circumstances. But for now, a Palestinian state is a recipe for endless bloodshed.”
How blind can Yemini be? The only political horizon the Palestinians will accept is one which wipes Israel off the map. Their goal is not to found a state, but to destroy a state. It is a total lie to say that that “Palestinians need to be given a political horizon and hope”. What they need is to abandon their goal of destroying Israel and to be liberated from their leadership who misdirects them and steals them blind. Even so he writes, “But for now, a Palestinian state is a recipe for endless bloodshed.”
Nevertheless, he argues that this doesn’t make the Right, right.
“Does this mean that the Israeli right is right? Far from so. The right is leading Israel into a reality of one large state. Rather than a Jewish state, Israel would become a bi-national one. Mixing populations that demand an expression of national independence – with each population group having a different ethos, a different language, a different religion, a different culture – is a recipe for bloodshed.
“This is what is happening in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. This is exactly what is happening now in eastern Ukraine. This is what happened in the 1990s in Yugoslavia. A brotherhood of nations was a nice idea in theory. But Yugoslavia split up, after years of bloodshed, into seven entities. It doesn’t work and it didn’t work in the heart of Europe.
“Why does the right want to force this mixture onto Israel?”
Martin Sherman shares this belief and accordingly, he is adamantly against giving citizenship to qualified Arabs in Judea and Samaria, were Israel to extend sovereignty to these lands as proposed by Caroline Glick and originally proposed by Mike Wise. He writes “The only thing more dangerous, delusional and disastrous than the Left’s proposal for a two-state solution, is the proposal now bandied about by the Right – for a one-state solution.”
Instead he advocates for The Humanitarian Solution, as opposed to the Two State Solution which he calls “the political solution.” In it he proposes to pay the Arabs to leave voluntarily.
Yes, it’s time for a reevaluation.
In Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech of 2009, in which he supported “two states for two peoples”, he argued “The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been – and remains – the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland…. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People.” In addition, he adds the caveats that Obama ignores, namely that the state be demilitarized and that Israel retains defensible borders.
Without this recognition, there can be no peace. That is why Israel insists on it.
Some progress seems to have been negotiated between Obama and Netanyahu pursuant to which the United States provided a cool reception on Friday to a new French initiative on a new Security Council resolution to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“We’re not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with regard to potential action at the UN Security Council,” a U.S. official told AFP, hours after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced the plans.
“We continue to engage with key stakeholders, including the French, to find a way forward that advances the interest we and others share in a two-state solution,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Of course this wasn’t a freebie. Netanyahu’s announcement canceling the proposed 1500 units in Har Homa, in Jerusalem, and his announcement releasing the withheld tax money to the PA were probably the price paid.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing a joint meeting of Congress; here is a running transcript of his remarks.
NETANYAHU: Thank you.
… Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet.
I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.
My friends, I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.
Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Netanyahu addresses the US Congress on March 3rd, 2015
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel.
My friends, I’ve come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.”
I’m standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
Netanyahu’s speech is interrupted with applause nearly forty times and he receives many standing ovations during his address to Congress
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.
And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here’s the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don’t stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we’re warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It’s done that on at least three separate occasions — 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught — caught twice, not once, twice — operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, “If there’s no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn’t have one.” Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that’s why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran’s Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount — 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world’s: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel’s neighbors – Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.
And many of these neighbors say they’ll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won’t change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that’s supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks – if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there’s no alternative to this deal, that Iran’s nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn’t get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can’t drive. A pilot without a plan can’t fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can’t make nuclear weapons.
Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.
Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.
A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country…
… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.”
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
I know that you stand with Israel.
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS,” also known variously as “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” or simply the “Islamic State”) is metastasizing throughout northern and western Iraq and swaths of Syria.
It won’t stop there. Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and other parts of the Middle East are within its sights. Ultimately, its pathological leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi warned, ISIS is after the United States. “Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day,” he said last January. More recently, an ISIS spokesperson declared “we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
ISIS on Mosul, Iraq street
President Obama, after months of dithering, finally authorized air strikes against ISIS, which are helping to slow down their advance against the Kurds in northern Iraq and to provide space for urgent humanitarian relief to besieged minority groups under threat of genocide by ISIS jihadists. However, as welcome as this is, the president still views ISIS as a local Iraqi problem to be dealt with by instituting a more inclusive centralized government in Baghdad rather than seeing ISIS as part of a much larger global ideological threat.
ISIS has a swelling army of more than 10,000 fighters, including jihadists and Sunni sympathizers, and advanced weapons seized from storehouses in conquered territories. ISIS is largely self-financed from such lucrative sources as the sale of oil from seized territories, looting of banks, taxes imposed on subjugated individuals trapped in the conquered territories, ransom paid for abductees, and donations from rich supporters in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
See the video below for more on ISIS;
ISIS’s jihadist ideology and methods are barbarous. Its brutality includes summary executions, crucifixions, beheadings, abductions, forced conversions to Islam on penalty of death for disobedience, and the trafficking of girls as sex slaves. But added to their savagery, which knows no bounds, is their command of 21st century Internet technology to widely broadcast their brutal acts as a way of instilling fear in their “infidel” enemies and propagandizing their exploits. An additional worry is the probability that their conquests will enable them to obtain weapons of mass destruction, such as toxic chemicals stored in the conquered territories, as may have already happened. The result, as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters on August 12th, is that “the poison of hatred and brutality is spreading.”
Despite the rapid spread of ISIS from its expanding bases in Syria back into Iraq where ISIS had begun its operations, President Obama essentially sat on his hands. Iraqi officials began requesting almost a year ago that the U.S. carry out drone strikes against ISIS while ISIS was still in the process of mobilizing its forces. U.S. intelligence and military experts also warned of ISIS’s rising threat. Drones could have struck ISIS fighters as they were establishing bases in Iraq’s western desert and then moving convoys across the desert – all before ISIS reached any major civilian population areas. Obama refused to take action.
“This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East. “This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy. It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”
President Obama’s assertion last week that U.S. intelligence had under-estimated ISIS is patently false and just a cover for his own indecisiveness.
When Fallujah fell months ago, Obama still did little other than to increase some military aid to the Iraqis. There was still no direct use of American airpower to stop ISIS. The ISIS threat continued to grow exponentially.
When Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was captured by ISIS in June and Christians there were being killed or displaced if they refused to convert to Islam, Obama remained his usual laid-back self. More study and analysis were needed, he concluded. Aside from sending a few hundred military advisors to assess the situation in Iraq and provide training to Iraqi forces, as well as some Marines to help guard U.S. facilities, he continued to watch and wait.
The president waited because he did not want to be seen as sending U.S. military forces back to Iraq after he had kept his campaign promise to withdraw all troops. He has also derided the capabilities of ISIS, comparing it to a junior varsity team. “If a J.V. team puts on Lakers’
Words of a ventriloquist’s dummy….
uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” is how the president trivialized the ISIS threat. And he has blamed its rise on the lack of an inclusive government in Iraq.
However, President Obama’s hand was finally forced in the last week by an impending genocide of Christians and Yazidis in areas controlled by the Kurds in northern Iraq that ISIS was overrunning, and the imminent risk to American personnel located in the Kurdish capital of Erbil which ISIS forces were fast approaching. Thus, on August 7th, President Obama authorized the U.S. military to launch air strikes against ISIS jihadists in these areas and to airlift emergency humanitarian assistance to Yazidis stranded on a remote mountainside. In remarks he made from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing, President Obama reported that U.S. air and drone strikes have been successful in slowing the ISIS advance.
Yazidi refugees on the move
The U.S. is also sending weapons directly to the Kurds, whose Peshmerga fighters have begun to push back against ISIS and have retaken several towns. This decision to bypass Iraq’s central security forces and deal directly with the Kurds is apparently a reversal of previous policy. The State Department had reportedly refused to permit direct shipment of arms to the Kurds from a U.S. company whom had been contacted by the Kurds requesting such weapons.
Yet despite President Obama’s welcome but belated action to intervene more directly against ISIS, the Obama administration still refuses to see ISIS as part of a larger global jihadist threat that is a direct danger to the U.S. homeland. The administration still views ISIS through the lens of a regional conflict over territory and power that has gotten out of hand because the Iraqi government has not been sufficiently inclusive.
Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor, posted on the White House blog a ludicrous attempt to distinguish al Qaeda and its spin-off ISIS (which he refers to as ISIL):
Is ISIL more dangerous than al-Qaeda right now?
While both are terrorist forces, they have different ambitions. Al-Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the west and U.S. homeland. That’s the direct threat that we have taken direct action against for many years. Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State. So they’re different organizations with different objectives.
Implicit in Rhodes’ comment is the fallacious assumption that ISIS would be content with “their own Islamic State” carved out of territory in the Middle East region and that their caliphate ambitions pose no direct threat to the U.S. homeland. ISIS now already controls territory larger geographically than Great Britain and rules over six million people. But if Rhodes thinks that ISIS would stop there, he is living in an alternative universe. Both al Qaeda and ISIS are driven by the same jihadist goal of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.
Map released by ISIS delineating the planned extents of the caliphate within 5 years
In other words, ISIS and al Qaeda follow the same jihadist ideology, with the same objective of establishing the worldwide supremacy of Islam and submission or death of all infidels. Neither has an interest in participating in any sort of inclusive government. Indeed, they both reject the very idea of a self-governing democracy or compromise with those whom they consider infidels. And the only limiting factors on their continuing expansion are their weaponry, number of recruits and finances.
If anything, ISIS poses more of a threat to the U.S. than ISIS’s parent al Qaeda because it has managed to create a well-armed, well-financed army with control of large swaths of territory from which to further expand and to plot much wider ranging assaults. Moreover, as hard as it is to believe, the sheer brutality shown by ISIS reportedly even disturbed al Qaeda leaders.
ISIS leader calls for worldwide caliphate
Rhodes went on in his blog post to deny that the U.S. is at war with the jihadists. That is certainly not the way ISIS sees it. As one of its followers declared in a video released by ISIS, “Our message to the entire world is that we are the soldiers of the Caliphate state and we are coming.”
Rhodes is simply reflecting the fallacious assumptions that underlie President Obama’s feckless policies in dealing with the Islamic supremacist ideology of jihad. It is pre-September 11, 2001 thinking, the same turning of a blind eye when Osama bin Laden had declared war against the United States during the 1990’s. ISIS is doing the same now, and building a more dangerous base from which to launch their deadly attacks against Americans than Osama bin Laden had in Afghanistan.
In short, the strategic objective of the United States in fighting against ISIS is not for the sake of Iraq, whether it has an inclusive government or not. The strategic objective is to cripple ISIS enough to prevent it from wreaking a repeat of 9/11 or worse on the U.S. homeland.
After State Dept. warns Israel could do more to protect civilians, Kerry offers US support for focused ground ops
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State John Kerry told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US strongly supports Israel’s right to defend itself against threats posed by the Gaza tunnels dug into Israel and urged Israel to limit its ground operation to a precision offensive against the tunnels, the State Department revealed late Thursday evening.
In a statement following a Thursday afternoon phone call between Netanyahu and Kerry as Israel launched a ground offensive into Gaza, State Department officials said that “the secretary reaffirmed [the US’s] strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist threats emanating from tunnels into Israel and expressed our view that this should be a precise operation to target tunnels, as described in a statement from the Israeli Defense Forces.”
A picture released by the Israeli Defense Forces shows weapons found inside a tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa in the Israeli Gaza border on July 17, 2014 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s office/Flash90)
During the call, Netanyahu briefed Kerry on the attempted terrorist attack that was thwarted near Kibbutz Sufa on Thursday morning, and emphasized what the State Department described as “the imminent threat to Israeli civilians posed by Hamas tunnels from the Gaza Strip.”
Netanyahu discussed with Kerry his decision to launch a ground operation to target the threat of further terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel.
According to State Department officials, in addition to offering support for the operation against Hamas’s underground networks, Kerry “emphasized the need to avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible.”
The secretary of state also reiterated Washington’s “continuing commitment to the Egyptian initiative as the way” to restore the ceasefire, while emphasizing that it was important for Hamas to accept the plan “as soon as possible.”
The statement came a day after State Department officials were pressed as to whether the US had only cool support for the Egyptian proposal, which was reportedly brokered with the help of Quartet representative and former British prime minister Tony Blair.
On Tuesday, Israel agreed to abide by the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire, but Hamas refused, continuing to launch rockets at Israeli cities.
In his conversation with Netanyahu, Kerry also reiterated US concern about the safety and security of civilians on both sides and the importance of doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties. Kerry’s comments followed a strongly-worded statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki casting doubt as to whether Israel was really taking all steps possible to avoid civilian casualties.
After two separate incidents of Gazan children being killed were reported in as many days, Psaki said that the State Department was “increasingly concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides” and said that the US was “asking for a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties given the events of the past couple days.”
Psaki told reporters that Kerry had addressed the issue in a call with Netanyahu earlier in the week. “We believe there is more that can be done” to protect civilians, Psaki said.
John Kerry, Jen Psaki and not a brain between them.
Expanding on her reaction to Wednesday’s killing of four Gazan children playing by the city’s fishing pier, Psaki described the US as “heartbroken” by reports of children’s deaths, and that – regarding the specific incident Wednesday – “the reports were horrifying, the photos were horrifying and the video was horrifying.”
Psaki said State Department officials, including Kerry, “were heartened to see the statement by President Shimon Peres in which he spoke to the deaths of these children” but underscored the fact that they did not consider Peres’s statement to be a condemnation of the children’s deaths.