Entries in Isreal (10)


Palestinian Liberation Organization Chief Rep: Israeli E1 Settlement Is 'Red Line'

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Maen Rashid Areikat, chief representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation in D.C., said Friday that if Israel goes ahead with plans to establish settlements in a sensitive area outside Jerusalem known as the "E1 settlements," the PLO will see it as a “red line.”
“E1 is a red line, and if Israel embarks on that it will be sending -- not a clear signal, but a final signal to us that there will be no Palestinian state,” Chief Rep. Areikat told reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor Friday. “So that’s why we are looking seriously at their plans and at their efforts to implement the E1 plan.”
“A red line is some line that if the Israelis cross it again it means that there is no hope that there will be a future Palestinian state and therefore it will have some grave consequences.”
Areikat clarified he was not calling for an armed struggle.
“Under no circumstances would the PLO or the current Palestinian leadership advocate violent or armed struggle. Period. This is not an option,” Areikat said. “Because it doesn’t serve the interests of the Palestinian people.”

“Whatever is available to us legally, diplomatically, politically, we are going to resort to whatever venues available to us in order to make sure that Israel does not kill our dream, kill our hope and keep us under their military occupation,” Areikat said. “Peaceful, legal, political, diplomatic – what have you.”
Talking about the possibility that President Obama would nominate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Areikat said he did not want to speculate but that he knows Kerry well.
“Of course we know Sen. Kerry very well, and he has always maintained open channels and contacts with the Palestinians and other parties and we have had many opportunities in the past to exchange views with him,” Areikat said. “We also had good relations with Susan Rice.”
With the coming change up in the Obama cabinet, Areikat said he hoped to see a change in U.S. relations with both countries, wherein the U.S. would hold Israel and Palestine equally accountable for actions each country takes that could jeopardize peace talks.
“Now whether we anticipate a change, I think we are hopeful that this administration will once again get engaged, and the sooner, the better in trying to lay that foundation needed for the two parties to once again resume direct talks with the end, the objective of ending, resolving the conflict and not only managing the conflict like we have seen in the past few years.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israel, Hamas Agree to 'Unofficial Ceasefire'

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(GAZA CITY) -- After days of deadly fighting, Israel and Hamas have agreed to "unofficial ceasefire," BBC News reports.

The fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militants who control Gaza, had worsened in recent days, forcing schools on both sides to close, according to BBC News. Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to defend itself against any attacks aimed at the country.

"We didn't ask for this escalation and didn't initiate it. But if it continues, we are prepared to embark on a far mor extensive and penetrating operation," he said, according to BBC.

The terms and length of the ceasefire, negotiated with the help of Egypt, are unknown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Iranian Proxies Target US Embassy Abroad?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAKU, Azerbaijan) -- Nearly two dozen people are in custody in Azerbaijan for allegedly plotting terror attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies in the Azeri capital of Baku on behalf of neighboring Iran, according to local and international reports.

Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry released a statement Wednesday saying it had arrested 22 of its citizens who were recruited by Iran's Revolutionary Guard to "commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli and other Western states' embassies and the embassies' employees," according to Agence France Presse.

It was not immediately clear whether the suspects had been recently arrested or if the ministry was commenting on a previous round of arrests reported last month.  The Azeri National Security Ministry did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for clarification.

In addition to the purported embassy plots, "the Azerbaijanis began spying on diplomatic missions, companies and public organizations including the Jewish center Sohnut, a U.S. fast food restaurant, British oil company BP-Azerbaijan's office and other objects in Baku," the Ministry said in its statement, according to the AFP.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that the State Department was working to get a fuller picture of the plot and those behind it.

"We are in the process of coordinating with our embassy in Baku," she told reporters.

During the arrests, officials found weapons and explosives, AFP reported.  A local news outlet, Contact, reported the weapons seized included sniper rifles and pistols, as well as grenades and grenade launchers.

Some of the suspects were recruited as early as 1999 and had trained in military camps in Iran, according to the Azeri statement obtained by AFP.

The arrest comes on the heels of other allegedly Iranian-backed plots against Israeli officials in Thailand, Georgia and India.  The Iranian government has denied any involvement in those incidents. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Give Diplomacy a Chance to Work in Iran, Obama Tells Israel

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking before the annual conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday, President Obama rebuffed calls from the Israeli government and its supporters to more starkly warn Iran against building a nuclear weapon, instead urging them to allow time for diplomatic pressures to work.

The president also assailed “loose talk of war,” which he said only helped Iran.

“I firmly believe that an opportunity remains for diplomacy -- backed by pressure -- to succeed,” Obama said, adding that “the international community has a responsibility to use the time and space that exists.”

Detailing the various ways the sanctions programs have been effective in squeezing the Iranian regime, the president insisted that “the only way to truly solve this problem is for the Iranian government to make a decision to forsake nuclear weapons.  That’s what history tells us.”

Obama asked the audience to “remember the weightiness of these issues; the stakes involved for Israel, for America, and for the world.  Already, there is too much loose talk of war,” which he said only helped the Iranian government by driving up petroleum prices.

“Now is not the time for bluster,” he said.  “Now is the time to heed that timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

In a message more tailored for his domestic audience than the leaders of Israel sitting before him -- especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak -- Obama, who won the presidency promising to end the war in Iraq, noted his “deeply-held preference for peace over war.”

Referring to wounded U.S. troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said it was “part of my solemn obligation to the American people, I only use force when the time and circumstances demand it.”

After asking for breathing room, Obama made remarks more along the lines of what Netanyahu may have hoped, noting that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States. … I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.”

That includes all ways American power could be leveraged, he said: political, diplomatic, and economic efforts, “and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.”

Speaking to a more international audience, Obama said, “Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

The president pledged that he would “not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli Official: If World Can't Protect Syrians, It Can't Protect Us

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- A top Israeli official has little faith that the rest of the world can keep his country safe from Iran.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's ominous opinion suggests that Israel would take matters into its own hands to get rid of the threat of Iranian's nuclear program.

Lieberman based his view on the current situation in Syria, in which he said the international community has done nothing to stop "systematic murder of innocent civilians."

This perceived weakness "challenges all the promises of the international community that they are responsible for our security," according to the foreign minister, who is the equivalent of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a sign that his country would move ahead to protect its interests, Lieberman added, "Ultimately, the state of Israel will take the decisions that are most appropriate based on its evaluation of the situation."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joint Chiefs Chairman Says US Not Advising Israel on Iran

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With reports Tuesday that Israel won't notify the U.S. ahead of time if it decides to knock out Iran's nuclear program, Capitol Hill lawmakers want to know what kind of advice the Pentagon has been giving its Israeli allies about the matter.

According to the Israeli officials, the U.S. would be kept in the dark about any preemptive strike so that Iran has less of a reason to retaliate against American interests.

As for what the U.S. told Israel related to a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not advise against a military strike when meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials last month.

All Dempsey would tell the Senate panel was, "We’ve had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time."

The general previously said in an interview that any Israeli action against Iran would be "destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives."

When Dempsey was asked by lawmakers Tuesday if the U.S. was backing off the possibility of having to attack Iran itself, he replied, "Absolutely not."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli President Reaches Out to Iranian People

Uriel Sinai/Getty Image(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres delivered a message to the people of Iran Wednesday, calling for peace and understanding.

Peres' olive branch comes as the Iranian government has not been deterred from its goal of the destruction of Israel, while the Israeli government has made no secret about possibly launching a preemptive strike to knock out Iran's nuclear program once and for all.

Yet, Peres' remarks to the Israeli parliament on its 63rd anniversary was a refreshing change of pace compared to the constant saber rattling that has underscored the enmity Israel and Iran have had for each other since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that deposed the Shah of Iran.

Peres said, "We were not born enemies and there is no need to live as enemies.  Do not allow the flags of hostility to cast a dark shadow over your historic heritage.  Your people are a sensitive people that aspire for friendship and peace, and not for conflicts and wars."

On the other hand, Peres let Iran's leaders have it right between the eyes, "Iran is not only a threat for Israel, it constitutes a real danger to humanity as a whole.  The present Iranian regime is Imperialism-hungry, aspiring to be the region's supreme ruler."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Talks More About Israel’s Borders with BBC as GOP Attacks

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In an interview with the BBC Thursday, President Obama went into a bit more detail about his stated new policy that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

To the BBC, the president said, "the basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides. That's on the one hand and on the other hand, and this was an equally important part of the speech, Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank and that security element is going to be important to the Israelis.”

The president said that the Israelis "will not be able to move forward unless they feel that they themselves can defend their territory particularly given what they have seen happen in Gaza and the rockets that have been fired by Hezbollah."

Republicans have attacked the president for his position. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement that “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who like Romney is pursuing the GOP presidential nomination, said that “President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand.  The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen.  At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

The president, however, told the BBC that he wasn’t discussing Jerusalem, saying “our argument is let's get started on a conversation about territory and about security, that doesn't resolve all the issues, you still end up having the problem of Jerusalem and you still end up having the problem of refugees, but if we make progress on what two states would look like, and a reality sets in among the parties, that this is how it is going to end up, then it becomes easier for both sides to make difficult concessions to resolve those two other issues.”

Other voices in the pro-Israel community seemed to have a different take than those of Republican presidential candidates.

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith issued a statement applauding the president for his speech including his “strong affirmation of the importance of the deep and unshakeable U.S.-Israel relationship, and his clear articulation of the moral and strategic connections between America and Israel.  We support the president's vision of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement with strong security provisions for Israel, and a non-militarized Palestinian state.  We appreciate his direct rejection of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and his understanding that the Hamas-Fatah agreement poses major problems for Israel.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin: 'Gadhafi Is Going to End Up Dead'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NAPLES, Fla.) -- Sarah Palin thinks President Obama needs to explain the American mission in Libya more clearly, but she has much harsher words for the Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, saying he “is going to end up dead.”
Appearing on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, the former Alaska governor said, “I think there is a lot of confusion” when it comes to the White House goals in Libya -- “are we really ready to turn over command and control to Arab League and to the British and the French?  When do we get to reclaim command and control over our troops?”
Palin, a paid contributor to Fox News, was an early advocate of the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya, but is now critical for what she considers mixed messages from the President.  “As long as we are in it, we better be in it to win it, “ she told Van Susteren. “And if there's doubt, get out.”
She added that Col. Gadafi has “the blood of innocent Americans on his hands” for his alleged role in the Lockerbie bombing and that “now is our chance to make sure he is held accountable.”  And when asked what she thought the immediate fate of the Libyan dictator would be, she concluded he “is going to end up dead,” either at the hands of the rebels or someone else.
Van Susteren was speaking to Palin in Naples, Fla. where earlier in the evening the former governor addressed the “Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speakers Series.”
Palin just returned from an overseas trip that included a speech in India and her first visit to Israel, including a dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She called the visit to Israel the “trip of a lifetime,” adding, “I have such a love of Israel.”
She was extremely critical of the President’s efforts to freeze development of Israeli settlements, saying “President Obama was inappropriate to intervene in a zoning issue in Israel,” and stated,  “I would have taken an opposite approach. “
Yet again, Palin said she has not made up her mind about running for President.  However, she said she is “tempted” this time, even while she began to say there are other ways to contribute.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Clinton Urges Palestinians Not to Try for UN Recognition, Announces $150 Million More for Palestinians

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen shaking hands with Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Bilateral Meeting. Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(WASHINGTON) -- With Israel announcing plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem in the past week, Palestinians have reiterated their threat to seek U.N. recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state on their own in the absence of process in the Mideast peace talks.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged them not to do it. “We do not support unilateral steps by either party that could prejudge the outcome of such negotiations,” she told reporters following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit.

On Thursday, Clinton will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, just days after he and President Obama traded barbs over Israel’s decision to build in East Jerusalem. Obama said Israel should halt settlements and Netanyahu shot back that Jerusalem was not a settlement.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton urged the two sides to restart the talks, saying they are the only way forward. “I believe strongly that negotiations are the only means by which the parties will be able to conclude an agreement that will lead to a Palestinian state and Israel living in security with its neighbors,” she said.

Her comments came as the United States announced Wednesday morning that it would increase its contributions to the Palestinian Authority by $150 million, to $225 million this year. That’s part of an overall support and investment of nearly $600 million this year.

Speaking by videoconference after Clinton, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government was on track to improve services and governance in the territory.

“Readiness for statehood is in fact the key objective of the program that we launched,” he said. “We are well on our way...we, as I said, remain hopeful that we are actually going to be state-ready come summer of 2011. It's a goal that we are doing our level best, in fact, to meet.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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