View Full Version : Israeli right cuts Biden's legs away

David Guyatt
03-10-2010, 02:38 PM
The timing was clearly designed to stall the peace process:


First praise, then a rebuke: Biden’s Israel visit turns sour
US Vice-President condemns plans for hundreds of new homes in occupied territory

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Tuesday, 9 March 2010


The Israeli government last night managed to overshadow a high-profile visit by the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, with an announcement of controversial and politically highly sensitive plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish residents in Arab East Jerusalem.

The announcement from the Interior Ministry – which drew a sharp and swift rebuke from Mr Biden himself – came only hours after the Vice-President had personally congratulated the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for "taking risks for peace".

The disclosure of the plan, infuriating the Palestinian leadership the day after it had finally agreed to US-brokered indirect "proximity" talks with Israel – followed an explicit appeal on Monday by President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, to both sides in the conflict "to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks".

The Vice-President declared last night that he condemned the "substance and timing" of the announcement, "particularly with the launching of proximity talks" as "precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel".

The Interior Ministry had said earlier that there would be 60 days to allow appeals against the plan for a substantial expansion of the existing Ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem "neighbourhood" of Ramat Shlomo. Most of the international community, which has never accepted Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, regards the district as a settlement.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, reacted angrily to news of the expansion. "With such an announcement, how can you build trust?" he said. "This is destroying our efforts to work with Mr Mitchell. It's a really disastrous situation. I hope that this will be an eye-opener for all in the international community about the need to have the Israeli government stop such futile exercises."

Israeli officials indicated last night that the revelation had come as a "surprise" to Mr Netanyahu, who was not consulted about its timing by the right-wing Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, leader of the Sephardic Ultra-Orthodox party Shas, and a key component of Mr Netanyahu's ruling coalition.

In a hasty damage limitation exercise last night, Mr Yishai's spokesman said the meeting of the committee which approved the plan had been "determined in advance" and insisted "there there is no connection to US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Israel". His statement added that Mr Yishai had "updated" Mr Netanyahu "this evening".

Nevertheless Palestinian leaders will point to the disclosure as strong evidence of what they see as the relentless growth of Jewish settlement construction in East Jerusalem and a further vindication of the demands they have made – in vain – for a total halt to such expansion in order to improve the atmosphere for negotiations with Israel.

Mr Netanyahu last year rejected the urgings of President Barack Obama for a settlement freeze to help kick-start peace talks and instead announced a 10-month temporary and partial freeze, one which did not stop Israel's announcement on Monday of 112 new homes in the – also Ultra-Orthodox – settlement of Beitar Illit.

The rapid expansion of Ultra-Orthodox housing east of the "green line" that was Israel's border up to the Six Day War in 1967 is driven as much by the desire to accommodate the large families of Israel's rapidly growing Ultra-Orthodox population as by the ideology which informs much of the rest of Jewish settlement in occupied territory.

But that makes little difference to the fears of Palestinians that "facts on the ground" are being created which make it increasingly difficult to envisage the contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza which they regard as the only acceptable outcome of peace talks.

Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem council member for the leftist Meretz Party, said that "the fact that Eli Yishai couldn't restrain himself for another two-three days until Biden left Israel means his intention was to slap the US administration in the face". He added that the announcement was "a provocation to the US and to the Prime Minister".

The latest row will create unwelcome difficulties for a visit in which Mr Biden has been seeking to proclaim strong US loyalty to the security interests of Israel – which is increasingly restive about Iran's nuclear ambitions – as well as helping to kick-start negotiations with the Palestinians.

Mark Stapleton
03-10-2010, 10:33 PM
The timing was clearly designed to stall the peace process:

That's right David, and the Palestinians would understandably say 'what peace process?'.

As the world watches in disbelief, Israel seems to be making the humiliation of its main ally a grotesque national sport. I get the feeling that in the US the penny has finally dropped. Years of mollycoddling, protecting and encouraging Israel's special brand of self-delusion (ie. we are God's chosen people) has created an incorrigible spoilt brat of a nation, unable to understand that others besides themselves have rights, and utterly incapable of taking their place among the global community of responsible nation states.

All those decades of shielding Israel from the criticism and sanction its actions warranted hasn't done them any good at all. Now what remains is a massive problem for the rest of the world.

David Guyatt
03-11-2010, 10:07 AM
It seems to be the right working this one up. And I have the odd sense that the right in the US are in cahoots with it too. No evidence for that at all to be fair, but I just do not think they'd stuff it at Obama unless they knew they were protected.


When Israelis degrade Israel by humiliating Joe Biden

By Bradley Burston

Why would Israeli officials degrade Israel by humiliating the vice-president of the United States?

What conceivable advantage is there in the Interior Ministry choosing the occasion of a high-profile visit by Joseph R. Biden, Jr., a mission aimed at soothing strained relations between Israel and the Obama administration, to announce the approval of 1,600 new homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem?

Or to add, in insult to injury, that construction on the new homes could begin as soon as early May.

What could officials here gain from what is, in effect, an Israeli version of the incitement the government so keenly - and correctly -decries in its Palestinian incarnations?

It the same edge that Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud stood to gain by telling the Washington Post, "While we welcome Vice President Biden, a longtime friend and supporter of Israel, we see it as nothing short of an insult that President Obama himself is not coming."

It is the base sentiment that Avigdor Lieberman's Foreign Ministry has courted in trying to make Israel appear to loom large by treating dignitaries from overseas to petty indignities and frank disrespect.

The profit, for the hard right, is political. It mines an emotional vein along a relatively small but potent segment of the Israeli electorate, which holds that to insult Israel's indispensible ally is to assert the Jewish state's independence.

In their drive to expunge any trace of hitrapsut - groveling to the colonial master - there are those among the ostensible super-patriots of the right who revel in shots across the bow of the American ship of state.

On the whole, the farther right one goes in Israel, the more pronounced the sentiment. Avowedly pro-Kahane extremists, now strong enough to have placed their own representative in the Knesset, have gained shock cred by lining highway underpasses with posters of the "Jew-hater Obama" photoshopped into wearing a Palestinian kaffieh.

Harder to fathom was the Defense Ministry's Monday announcement that work would resume on 112 homes in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit, units whose construction had been suspended under a White House-spurred settlement freeze.

Chalk it up, if you like, to the powerful pro-settler presence in certain strata of Israel's bureaucracy. Or credit the mercurial, not to say, erratic, policy style of Defense Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak. Or accept the official explanation that the timing of the decision was coincidence, entirely unconnected with the vice-presidential visit.

In the anarchic swirl of current Israeli governance, the correct answer may well be: all three.

Magda Hassan
03-11-2010, 10:13 AM
Two Humiliations - Can Obama Live With A Third?

By Alan Hart

March 10, 2010 "Information Clearing House (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/)" -- Amazing! While in Israel, an American vice president explicitly condemns an Israeli decision to build yet more homes, 1,600 apartments, in occupied Arab East Jerusalem. "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem,” Joe Biden said. “It’s the kind of step that undermines the trust we need". Yes, but...

They were only words. And they call to mind a comment made by Uri Avnery, the grandfather of the Israeli peace movement, in a piece he wrote for Tikkun on 23 September 2009, after President Obama’s call for a complete freeze had been rejected by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“There’s no point in denying it,” Avnery wrote. “In the first round of the match between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama was beaten... In the words of the ancient proverb, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Netanyahu has tripped Obama on his first step. The President of the United States has stumbled.” And Netanyahu had won in a big way. “Not only did he survive, not only has he shown that he is no ‘sucker’ (a word he uses all the time), he has proven to his people - and to the public at large - that there is nothing to fear: Obama is nothing but a paper tiger. The settlements can go on expanding without hindrance. Any negotiations that start, if they start at all, can go on until the coming of the Messiah. Nothing will come out of them.”

Whether or not Netanyahu himself had advance knowledge of the decision to humiliate Biden is not the point. It is that Biden and so Obama were humiliated, the president for a second time. And that begs my headline question – Can he, Obama, live with a third humiliation?

If the history of previous American attempts to give life to a peace process is a good guide, Obama will have no choice but to live with a third humiliation, and no doubt others, at least for a while. An explanation of why is offered in the Epilogue of the forthcoming Volume 3 of the American edition of my book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. (The Epilogue is titled Is Peace Possible?) Explaining why Obama moved so quickly with his demand for a total settlement freeze, I put it this way:

He knew something that all American presidents know about when serious initiatives for peace in the Middle East can and cannot be taken. (I know what that something is because one of them told me a few months after events had denied him a second term in office). Any American president has only two windows of opportunity to break or try to break the Zionist lobby’s stranglehold on Congress on matters to do with Israel/Palestine.

The first window is during the first nine months of his first term because after that the soliciting of funds for the mid-term elections begins. (Presidents don’t have to worry on their own account about funds for the mid-term elections, but with their approach no president can do or say anything that would cost his party seats in Congress. In Obama’s case that is going to be an extremely critical consideration because of the Democrats’ loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat, on 19 January 2010, to a Republican who had demonstrated his ability to read from Zionism’s script during the campaigning).

The second window of opportunity is the last year of his second term if he has one. In that year, because he can’t run for a third term, no president has a personal need for election campaign funds or organised votes.
And that calls to mind the words of an eminent Arab-American, actually a Palestinian-American, who knew Obama very well and, before the race for the White House entered its final, decisive stage, had private conversations with him. A few months before Obama’s victory, this gentleman said to a very dear friend of mine, “Don’t expect any real pressure on Israel from Obama until he is well into his second term.”

I am inclined to the view that after the mid-term elections of a second term, Obama could indeed be the president to do whatever is necessary to bring Zionism to heel in order to best protect America’s own real interests. But the prospects of him winning as second term don’t look very good at the moment.

Visit Alan's website http://www.alanhart.net (http://www.alanhart.net/)

Magda Hassan
03-12-2010, 07:28 AM
What Biden told Netanyahu behind closed doors: "This is starting to get dangerous for us" (http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0310/What_Biden_told_Netanyahu_behind_closed_doors_This _is_starting_to_get_dangerous_for_us.html#)

Publicly, Vice President Joe Biden tried to keep up a positive tone in his good will visit to Israel this week. But privately, the Israeli press reports, he had sharper words for Israeli decisions Biden said jeopardize the peace process and U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq, fight insurgents and stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan, and strengthen an international and regional alliance to pressure Iran.
The Israeli press has been extremely critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government's behavior during Biden's visit. See these excerpts from a piece by Shimon Shiffer in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth today, headline: "Biden: You’re Jeopardizing Regional Peace":

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel as a friend. As a matter of fact, he is considered to be the greatest friend of Israel ever to have been a member of the U.S. Senate. Legislation that he promoted over the years ensured the Israelis’ security and welfare. It is that great friend of ours who now feels betrayed.
While standing in front of the cameras, the U.S. vice president made an effort to smile at Binyamin Netanyahu even after having learned on Tuesday that the Interior Ministry had approved plans to build 1,600 housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. But in closed conversations, Joe Biden took an entirely different tone. ...
People who heard what Biden said were stunned. “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden castigated his interlocutors. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.
Beyond his desire to allay Israel’s fears about the Iranian nuclear threat, Biden asked the Israeli decision-makers to show the same degree of understanding and sensitivity to the United States’ interests in the Middle East and the military campaign that it is currently waging against radical Islamic agents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Netanyahu has gone out of his way to placate the vice president. .... Aides to the prime minister have been trying to learn the lessons from this clumsy incident ....
Last night, after Biden publicly attacked Israel during his visit to Ramallah and spoke out furiously against it behind closed doors, Netanyahu’s aides began to focus their attention on another formidable challenge: to persuade the vice president of the United States to soften his tone in the speech he delivers today at Tel Aviv University.
The problem is that U.S. administration officials didn’t buy the explanation that Netanyahu did not know in advance. Officials in both the White House and the State Department accused Israel of having set Biden up. ...
More probably, U.S. officials may believe that Netanyahu was blindsided on this announcement's timing, but hold him responsible anyhow, as in fact as head of the government he is.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0310/What_Biden_told_Netanyahu_behind_closed_doors_This _is_starting_to_get_dangerous_for_us.html

David Guyatt
03-12-2010, 10:25 AM
I get the sense that we are in the process of witnessing an Israeli Curtis LeMay Cuba moment, wherein the right in Israel entertain the thought of nuking Iran and telling the US to fook off.

If you remember your history, LeMay went out of his way to cause war with the Soviet Union over the Cuba issue and never forgave Kennedy for reaching a compromise with Russia about it. Remarking on it later he said it was "the greatest defeat in our history."

David Guyatt
03-12-2010, 11:22 AM
More LeMayian tactics perhaps? Not quite a nuclear missile test launch during high tensions but similar I should think?


Share |
Last update - 12:40 12/03/2010

IDF seals off West Bank amid Jerusalem tensions

By Haaretz Service and News Agencies

Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday ordered the Israel Defense Forces to impose a general closure on the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel.

Barak said only patients, medical staff, religious workers and teachers with special permits to pass through army roadblocks on key access roads.

On Friday, Palestinian youths attempted to break through the blockade the police set up at the entrance to the Temple Mount. Police forces managed to prevent the youths from entering, and one Palestinian was arrested after he assaulted one of the police officers.

"The IDF will continue to operate in order to protect the citizens of Israel while maintaining the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the area," it said in a statement.

The move was made in anticipation of renewed Jerusalem riots in response to a recent government decision to expand settlements in East Jerusalem.

The West Bank will be sealed off for 48 hours, and the closure will be lifted on Saturday at midnight.

Police say only men over 50 will be allowed to pray Friday at the Temple Mount, while no limitations were placed on women.

On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry announced its decision to authorize 1,600 more housing units in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem. The announcement created a diplomatic uproar and received stark condemnation from visiting United States Vice President Joe Biden.

There have been clashes after Friday prayers at mosques in Jerusalem and
elsewhere in recent weeks, sparked by deadlock in peace talks and Israel's inclusion of two West Bank shrines on a list of national heritage sites.

On Friday last week, youths hurled rocks from the Temple Mount, on which the al-Aqsa Mosque stands, at Jewish worshippers praying at the Wailing Wall beneath the elevated compound.

Police responded by storming the open-air plateau to disperse the protesting crowd and some 60 Palestinians were treated for the effects of teargas, while 15 policemen were lightly wounded by stones.

Several Palestinians have been badly wounded and dozens of protesters and
Israeli policemen have suffered light injuries.

The closure began at midnight Thursday and will end at midnight Saturday.

Jan Klimkowski
03-12-2010, 05:51 PM
More LeMayian tactics perhaps? Not quite a nuclear missile test launch during high tensions but similar I should think?


Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday ordered the Israel Defense Forces to impose a general closure on the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel.

Barak said only patients, medical staff, religious workers and teachers with special permits to pass through army roadblocks on key access roads.

On Friday, Palestinian youths attempted to break through the blockade the police set up at the entrance to the Temple Mount. Police forces managed to prevent the youths from entering, and one Palestinian was arrested after he assaulted one of the police officers.


The West Bank is run by the Israeli quisling, Abbas.

If the Israelis are shutting the border on the runt quisling part of "Palestine", then trouble, perhaps of insane LeMay proportions, is brewing.

David Guyatt
03-14-2010, 11:53 AM

Last update - 10:29 14/03/2010

U.S. finally calls Mideast diplomacy by name - crisis

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent

In retrospect, Vice-President Biden's words at Tel-Aviv University ("I should probably be used to it by now, but I'm always struck every time I come back by the hospitality of the Israeli people") sounded pretty ironic.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon ended his visit to Washington on Thursday - a visit which coincided with the current crisis between Washington and Jerusalem, saying that "it's my understanding that this incident is behind us".

Apparently, it only just began. In an interview both to NBC and CNN on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement to expand building in East Jerusalem "insulting'.
"It was not just an unfortunate incident of timing but the substance was something that is not needed, as we are attempting to move toward the resumption of negotiation", she told NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

After mentioning the U.S. support of Israel?s security and the values shared between the two countries, she resumed discussion of the diplomatic incident. "It was insulting not just to the vice president, who certainly didn't deserve that. He was there with a very clear message of commitment to the peace process and solidarity with the Israeli people. But it was an insult to the United States. The United States is deeply invested in trying to work with the parties in order to bring about this resolution. We don't get easily discouraged, so we're working toward the resumption of the negotiations. But we expect Israel and the Palestinians to do their part, and not to take any action that will undermine the chance to achieve a two state solution".

In an interview with CNN, Clinton explained that the U.S.-Israeli relations "are not at risk," but later that "it was just really a very unfortunate and difficult moment for everyone - the United States, our Vice President, who had gone to reassert America's strong support for Israeli security - and I regret deeply that that occurred and made that view known."

Secretary Clinton said she didn't have any reason to believe Netanyahu knew about it, "but he is the prime minister. It's like the President or the Secretary of State; when you have certain responsibilities, ultimately, you are responsible," she said.

One might expect that at her scheduled appearance at the AIPAC annual conference in Washington in slightly more than a week, Clinton might soften a bit to assuage the renewed bitterness that resulted from Biden's visit, which was intended to provide exactly the opposite.

"Did you mean something by 'Bibi'"?

At the State Department press briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip J.Crowley reported some of the details from Clinton?s phone conversation with Netanyahu, saying that she reiterated the administrations objection not only to the timing, but to the "substance" of the announcement as well. He added that the U.S. "considers the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship," which "had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America?s interests."

"The Secretary said she could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States' strong commitment to Israel's security. And she made clear that the Israeli Government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process," said Crowley.

The following question by one of the reporters, who asked whether Crowley meant something by addressing the Israeli prime minister merely as 'Bibi' ("Knowing that from the podium you all use your words very carefully, you referred to the prime minister as Bibi Netanyahu. Is that intentional? You're not going to quote him using his full first name? You're using a nickname, which could be seen as pejorative by some") definitely provided some comic relief. But in general, the 'c' word that both the Obama administration and the Israeli government carefully avoided since the emergence of tensions finally broke loose - it is a crisis.

The same settlements that grabbed attention when both the Obama administration and the Israeli government made their first steps, and later were swept under the rug, came back to haunt their relationship and the phantom peace process. Those in Washington dealing with the Middle East every now and then have a strong sense of dejavu, but the claim attributed to Netanyahu's aides that the U.S. "initiated" this crisis will for sure drop some jaws in utter disbelief. Attack might be the best defense, but the way this incident develops will block any potential for meaningful negotiations - direct or mediated talks - for a long time.

Here are some highlights from the discussion following the announcement:
The Anti-Defamation League was "shocked and stunned by the Administration's public dressing down of Israel by saying it had "undermined trust and confidence in the peace process, and in America's interests".

The National Jewish Democratic Council is "proud of Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel and all that it has accomplished, and we support him fully, including his frank and honest words delivered in response to the unfortunately-timed announcement of plans for new housing units made by Israel?s Interior Ministry."

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.): "I urge the Administration to spend more time working to stop Iran from building nuclear bombs and less time concerned with zoning issues in Jerusalem. As Iran accelerates its uranium enrichment, we should not be condemning one of America's strongest democratic allies in the Middle East.'

Daniel Levy from the New America Foundation: "In the absence of decisive American leadership, Israel is likely to dig itself deeper into a hole, burying the last vestiges of hope for pragmatic Zionism. And America too will not emerge unscathed. The president can give any number of Cairo speeches and appoint Sen. Mitchell as special peace envoy, Sec. Clinton can appoint Farah Pandit as representative to Muslim communities and Rashad Hussain as envoy to the O.I.C., but these officials had all better be given the cellphone number of the Israeli interior ministry, Jerusalem district planning and building department, because that office and others in Israel's bureaucracy still have the deciding vote in framing America's image in the region."

(http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/11/biden_netanyahu_and_papering_over_the_grand_canyon )

Stephen P. Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development: "This synchronicity can in no way be dismissed as happenstance or as a resoundingly bad-timing accident. It was intentional, and it was intended to deflate the significance of discussions with a man who has long been the most uncompromising pro-Israel figure in the Obama administration and one of the staunchest supporters of Israel in the Democratic Party and in the United States Congress." Israeli Ministers Yishai and Lieberman are determined to prevent a revival of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, even though Netanyahu must realize at this point that he can no longer be passive and permissive about the actions and decisions of his more extreme ministers. If he remains silent and inactive in face of these actions, he will have forfeited his leadership."

Some expert's opinions at the New York Times:

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations, currently scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center: "If you're hoping for an Israeli-American war, I wouldn't bet on it".. beyond some very tough words by America, don't expect much more?. The administration has yet to figure out how to maintain America's special relationship with Israel (which can serve U.S. interests), yet prevent that bond from becoming so exclusive that Israel acts without consequence or cost, and America has little independence of its own on peace process policies."

Amjad Atallah, director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation: "The United States has been sending its messages with carrots and great diplomatic restraint. The current Israeli government, in stark contrast, has been responding like a petulant child, outraged that it hasn't been able to get U.S. acquiescence to its own short-term political strategy.There is a great deal at stake in this public and private dispute between Israel and the United States. President Obama should consider responding in a similar manner, by creating his own facts on the ground, and ending all forms of U.S. cover and support of the settlement enterprise and other policies that sustain the occupation."

David Makovsky, the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "It would be suicidal for Netanyahu to seek to sabotage such a friendly visit given Israel's supreme interest in both of these issues. A deliberate move to undermine the Biden visit could fatally undermine Netanyahu's efforts to improve ties with the Obama administration. Even Netanyahu's biggest critics do not think he would act in a manner so counterproductive to Israel's own concept of the national interest.. Something more practical is required: namely that Israelis and Palestinians reach a baseline agreement that neither party will expand into the neighborhoods of the other in East Jerusalem. This is more attainable than a freeze, and could avoid flashpoint incidents in the future."

P.S. In a book "Myth, illusions and peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East," published last summer, which Makovsky co-authored with Dennis Ross, the two wrote: "...The U.S. at this point cannot afford to raise expectations again." At this point, however, the question is more how low can these expectations go.

Magda Hassan
03-16-2010, 12:05 AM
“This is Starting to Get Dangerous”

By Scott Horton

March 15, 2010 "Harper's (http://harpers.org/)" --- Last week, Vice President Joe Biden was publicly slapped in the face by the Netanyahu Government during his trip to Jerusalem. The Israeli Government used the occasion to announce the settlement of 1,600 Israelis in Arab East Jerusalem, in defiance of America’s calls for a freeze on settlements. According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/34300_Page2.html) Biden responded: “This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
Now in a fascinating briefing note at Foreign Policy, (http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/03/14/the_petraeus_briefing_biden_s_embarrassment_is_not _the_whole_story) Mark Perry gives us a clearer sense of what Biden was thinking:

On Jan. 16… a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow … and too late.”
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’s instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn’t finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command — or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’s reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region’s most troublesome conflict.
Perry goes on to say that the briefing “hit the White House like a bombshell.” There’s no doubt that this is what inspired Biden’s comments. Indeed, this was plain from the Yedioth Ahronoth report, which went on, after quoting Biden, to state: “The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.”
The Netanyahu Government and its supporters in the United States want the controversies relating to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip to be dealt with alone, detached from any impact they could have on the broader region and the interests the United States is pursuing there with its troop placement in two different theaters. That in fact reflects the way most American media report on these developments. But this approach is foolish, for reasons that the Petraeus briefing makes clear. Perry sees this as a struggle between two “lobbies,” namely the Israel lobby and the U.S. military. The Israel lobby is very powerful, he says, but how can it compete with the U.S. military asserting the imperative interest in the security of U.S. troops? The Netanyahu Government’s recent dealings reflect contempt for the Obama Administration and indifference at best for its position in the Middle East. These steps seem perfectly coordinated with neoconservatives in the United States, as shown in the “apology” offered on their behalf by Washington Post editorial writer Jackson Diehl (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/03/biden_stumbles_into_middle_eas.html) (“Biden flunked,” he concludes, applying typically obtuse reasoning). The question is whether a close ally can throw juvenile tantrums and abuse its protector indefinitely without consequences. So far the answer appears to be: yes it can.
Perry’s column is an essential read. I’m halfway through his new book, Talking with Terrorists, and expect to have a discussion of the book in the form of an interview with Perry up before the end of the month.

© The Harper's Magazine Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ed Encho
03-17-2010, 10:36 AM
Wow! The Petraeus intransigence towards our very special friends (and their shadow government neocon fifth-columnists) is truly a bombshell. This would seem like an indication that Obama has the military behind him and there could be a very serious confrontation brewing between the two factions. I have long suspected hard core Zionist elements aligned with the U.S. Cheneyites in the vicious American Gladio campaign being waged against Obama utilizing the idiotic Beckers, Tea Party turds and the Israeli occupied U.S. Congress. What has been occuring is a pretty transparent campaign of destabilization and de-legitimization against what now appears (Biden's shameful bootlicking aside) to be an administration that may finally be one that stands against Israeli genocide and human rights abuses.

The goal of course is to undermine Obama (as if he needs any help) at every turn (Lieberman's role in taking down health care reform) and allow for a more accomodating regime to slime back into the White House. Don't think for one second that Sarah Palin's wearing of the Israeli flag pin as well as recent comments goading Obama into attacking Iran aren't carefully orchestrated by the Cheney shadow government and their influential propagandists like Herr Kristol. By rousting the domestic rabble with their vicious smear campaign and S.A. Brownshirt Beckers out in full force it will also draw in the Rapturheads who need a Middle Eastern conflagration for Jesus to come back and for them to fly up to God dirty nasty nekkid to lovingly view the rest of us suffer. If the fascist swine RepubliKKKans are to retake Congress in November (as they likely will) look for impeachment proceedings to be launched against Obama. That is if the whole shebang doesn't blow sooner than that which is possible.

Perhaps Petraeus and Obama should strongly consider using all of those bunker buster bombs at Diego Garcia (http://news.antiwar.com/2010/03/15/report-us-sending-massive-amounts-of-weaponry-to-diego-garcia/) to launch a preemptive strike against Israeli military and nuclear sites in order to facilitate a regime change and prevent WW III.

This is going to be interesting.

Just my two cents


David Guyatt
03-17-2010, 06:50 PM
US and Israel in stand-off over settler homes


US and Israel in stand-off over settler homes

The diplomatic stand-off between the US and Israel continued on Wednesday as both sides waited for signs the other would give way in the row over plans for new settler homes in East Jerusalem.

By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
Published: 5:56PM GMT 17 Mar 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: AP
Benjamin Netanyahu delayed responding to Hillary Clinton's demands that he scrap the proposal for 1,600 buildings as the battle of wills escalated.
The Israeli prime minister had been expected to tell the US secretary of state yesterday whether he would accept a series of conditions designed to assuage American anger and revive the peace process.

Related Articles
Clinton to call Netanyahu in bid to ease tensions
But as the Obama administration appeared to soften its stance in the row, Mr Netanyahu remained silent.
Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, indicated that Israel would never countenance an end to settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
"This demand to forbid Jews from building in East Jerusalem is totally unacceptable," he said at a joint press conference with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign minister.
Mrs Clinton is expected to call Mr Netanyahu over the next 24 hours, US officials said. But with appetite for a prolonged dispute with Israel apparently waning, there seemed little prospect of a repeat of the angry lecture Mrs Clinton gave the prime minister last Friday.
In what has been interpreted as a conciliatory gesture, Mr Netanyahu did speak to Joe Biden, the US vice president whose visit to the Holy Land last week set the scene for the worst diplomatic spat between the United States and Israel in a generation. The contents of the discussion were not disclosed.
Mr Biden was in Jerusalem to announce the beginning of indirect talks between the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships, but his trip was soured with announcement of the settler homes plan.
After a series of public rebukes in which the United States made it clear that Israel had "insulted" its vice president, Mrs Clinton demanded Mr Netanyahu cancel the expansion and make a public gesture to win back Palestinian confidence in the talks.
In the past 48 hours, however, Mrs Clinton has toned down her language by stressing America's "unshakeable bond" with Israel. The change in rhetoric came after two dozen Congressmen, many of them Democrats, wrote to President Barack Obama demanding that he put an end to the vilification of Israel. :adore:$$$$
Even so, Mrs Clinton looks unlikely to let the Israeli prime minister off the hook entirely and she will seek the backing of the Quartet negotiating group – comprising the US, the United Nations, the EU and Russia – when it meets in Moscow on Friday.
Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate Palestinian leader, has said he will reverse his acceptance of indirect negotiations until all Jewish settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War, was halted.
Mr Obama himself is said to have grown increasingly convinced that further paralysis in the Middle East peace process could risk the lives of US soldiers overseas.
He was warned by Gen David Petraeus, commander of US security interests in the Middle East, last week that the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks had created a sense in the Arab world that America is incapable of standing up to Israel.

Standing up to the Israeli lobby more like it.

Keith Millea
03-17-2010, 07:14 PM
Why do I think this "family feud" is all a charade?If the US was really interested in fairness for the Palestinians,they would immediately break the blockade,and feed and provide the slaves there with medical supplies.Nope,not enough conscience for that..........

Jan Klimkowski
03-17-2010, 08:28 PM
Why do I think this "family feud" is all a charade?If the US was really interested in fairness for the Palestinians,they would immediately break the blockade,and feed and provide the slaves there with medical supplies.Nope,not enough conscience for that..........

Keith - I agree.

It's akin to the flickering oriental shadow puppets in the opium den scenes in Once Upon A Time In America.

It is an illusion of light and movement where nothing is as it seems.

Keith Millea
03-17-2010, 11:07 PM
It's akin to the flickering oriental shadow puppets in the opium den scenes in Once Upon A Time In America.

It is an illusion of light and movement where nothing is as it seems.

Damn you're good........


David Guyatt
03-18-2010, 09:18 AM
Israel Hits Back At Settlements Criticism (http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Middle-East-Israel-Hits-Back-Over-Its-Settlements-Policy-In-Jerusalem/Article/201003315575911?lpos=World_News_First_Home_Article _Teaser_Region_8&lid=ARTICLE_15575911_Middle_East%3A_Israel_Hits_Ba ck_Over_Its_Settlements_Policy_In_Jerusalem)

Israel Hits Back At Settlements Criticism

11:26pm UK, Wednesday March 17, 2010
Dominic Waghorn, Middle East correspondent

Israel has defiantly condemned international criticism of its settlements activity in Jerusalem.
Israel's foreign minister chose a press conference with one of the Jewish state's critics on the issue, Baroness Ashton, to launch his attack.
"This demand to forbid Jews from building in east Jerusalem is totally unreasonable," Avigdor Lieberman said of international calls for Israel to cancel plans for 1,600 homes in East Jerualem.
"I think that this demand, it comes, in many ways, as an opportunity for the international community to jump on Israel and apply pressure to Israel and to demand things that are unreasonable."
Baroness Ashton refused to be drawn into an exchange with her host on the matter but she smiled awkwardly during the comments.
Last week in Cairo, she issued an uncompromising criticism of Israel's announcement of 1,600 new homes in disputed East Jerusalem.
"We are absolutely clear that this kind of action prejudices the potential of the proximity talks and the opportunity to move further into negotiation. And we are very clear that we want to see this stopped".
In a joint press conference with Mr Lieberman, she called for both Israelis and Palestinians to do what they can to restart negotiations but did not repeat her criticisms.
Palestinians are refusing to renew even indirect negotiations until Israel withdraws the 1,600-home plan.
America says it wants concessions from Israel to defuse the crisis, which began during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit here last week.
But despite their differences, US President Barack Obama has insisted the row has not damaged his country's relations with Israel.

David Guyatt
03-18-2010, 09:32 AM
Why do I think this "family feud" is all a charade?If the US was really interested in fairness for the Palestinians,they would immediately break the blockade,and feed and provide the slaves there with medical supplies.Nope,not enough conscience for that..........

Keith - I agree.

It's akin to the flickering oriental shadow puppets in the opium den scenes in Once Upon A Time In America.

It is an illusion of light and movement where nothing is as it seems.

Political umbrage in Washington? (http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2010/03/201031654729763691.html)

Political umbrage in Washington?
By Robert Grenier

Despite a temporary freeze, construction on settlements, such as the one in Har Gilo, just outside of Jerusalem, has continued with little interruption [EPA]

The announcement last week by Eli Yishai, the Israeli interior minister, of plans to construct an additional 1,600 Israeli homes in East Jerusalem, appears to have generated quite the diplomatic row.

Coming as it did just before the start of a dinner offered by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in honour of Joe Biden, the US vice-president, the announcement threw the White House official into high dudgeon.

The US delegation must have burned up the proverbial phone lines between Israel and the West Wing of the White House, while Biden's Israeli host was kept waiting some 90 minutes until the vice-president and the Washington crowd could come up with suitable language to express their outrage.

"I condemn the decision by the government of Israel," Biden finally said, using a formulation virtually unknown in past US-Israeli diplomatic exchanges.

Days later, the White House was still apparently not finished. "This was an affront, it was an insult," intoned David Axelrod, chief White House political adviser on one of the Sunday political talk shows.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, appearing on yet another talk show, referred somewhat dismissively to Netanyahu's apology over the "timing" of the announcement: "A good start," he called it.

Goodness, what a fuss! Indeed, we would probably have to go all the way back to 1991, when George H Bush, the former US president, expressed his outrage over the settlement policies of Yitzhak Shamir, the then-Israeli prime minister,to find a similar level of US-Israeli discord.

Public umbrage?

But before we get carried away with all this operatic posturing and begin – God forbid – to take it seriously, we ought to stop a moment and examine what is really happening here.

First of all, why has Washington taken such public umbrage at this development?

Was East Jerusalem not clearly and specifically excluded from the agreement finally reached last November – after some five months of tortuous negotiations by US mediator George Mitchell – under which Netanyahu acceded to a 10-month "moratorium" on "most" new construction in the occupied West Bank?

The Israelis, as near as I can tell, were acting in complete conformity with the agreement when they announced the new units. So why the sudden histrionics? Had Washington neglected to read Mitchell's agreement? Had they forgotten that little squib about East Jerusalem?

The fact of the matter is that the Obama Administration feels humiliated over the November 2009 agreement on settlements – as well it might.

The statements made by Barack Obama, the US president, in Cairo in June 2009 concerning Israeli settlement policy were unprecedented in at least two generations, and could not have been more clear: "The United States," he said, "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements … It is time for these settlements to stop."

The importance of these statements went well beyond the settlements themselves. Obama's statement was a reiteration, in effect, of US support for the core principle underlying all relevant UN resolutions concerning Palestine, and all Arab-Israeli agreements to that point: The principle of "land for peace."

In denouncing Israeli settlement construction on occupied land as "illegitimate," he was underscoring his belief that such actions undermine the very possibility of a negotiated settlement.

After all, the two sides can struggle for decades, while still maintaining the possibility of a legitimate negotiated peace; but if a substantial amount of the land – including all of Jerusalem - is taken in established settlements which no Israeli government could conceivably give up, and if the security requirements of those settlements mandate that the rest of the land be divided into non-contiguous parcels which preclude a viable state, there is simply nothing left to negotiate over.

Point of no return

Grenier: The best the US could do was negotiate a temporary and partial settlement freeze
We have long since passed that point; the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution even remotely acceptable to Palestinians is gone.

If that were not clear before, the November 2009 agreement on settlements made it unmistakably so.

Consider that in the aftermath of such a clear, unequivocal statement of US policy as came in Cairo, the best the Americans could do was to negotiate a temporary – and only partial – pause in settlement construction, with East Jerusalem exempted completely.

No one expects to see a negotiated settlement in 10 months, after which it will be as though the November agreement, such as it was, had never existed.

What the negotiations which finally ended in US capitulation last November made patently obvious was that Netanyahu is committed to the long-term Israeli policy initiated by Ariel Sharon in 2005, when he decided to evacuate Gaza.

Far from being a substantial "down payment" on a land-for-peace scheme, as many claimed – some naively, some cynically – the abandonment of Gaza was a strategic move to consolidate Israel and its West Bank settlements behind efficiently defensible lines, and to prepare for a unilaterally-imposed "settlement" which Israel could sustain without Palestinian acquiescence.

Since then, the policy has moved inexorably forward, through the so-called Security Fence (which serves to unilaterally confiscate yet more land), the continuation of settlements, and the completion of Israel's cordon sanitaire around East Jerusalem.

In short, the November agreement made plain that, for all the high-minded pretensions on display in Cairo, Israel's unilateralist policy is something Obama and his administration can do nothing about.

Under the circumstances, it is small wonder that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are interested in direct negotiations.

Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the Palestinian president, has no interest in negotiating an agreement which his constituency will never accept.

For the Israelis, such negotiations are at best an irritant, and at worst a minor impediment to the achievement of their designs.

Sham proximity talks

The Obama administration, for its part, is under no illusions regarding the currently-proposed "proximity talks." They know that such talks are a sham and will lead nowhere – which is why they were reluctant to propose them for so long - but the lack of even seeming progress has become a serious political embarrassment for them.

Proximity talks, if they could get them, would at least convey the impression that the administration was doing something, no matter how substantively feckless.

All of which brings us back to last Tuesday.

As poor Joe Biden struggled gamely to initiate proximity talks (even the scope and structure of which had yet to be agreed between the parties), the Israeli allies whose unshakable closeness he had been celebrating all day, apparently not content with the substantive victory they had achieved over Obama, chose – whether with or without Netanyahu's complicity – to rub the Americans' collective nose in it, lest they fail to get the message.

As the Palestinians recoil from talks, and as tensions mount on the West Bank, the Americans are denied even the illusion of progress.

It is the insult the White House is reacting to, not the injury. When the recent diplomatic unpleasantness has faded into memory, the injury will remain. Notwithstanding his evident discomfort over the timing of Tuesday's announcement, Netanyahu clearly has no intention of reversing it.

The advice he administered to his cabinet on Sunday could as easily apply to us: "I suggest not to get carried away," he said, "and to calm down."

Robert Grenier was the CIA's chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002. He was also the director of CIA's counter-terrorism centre.

Mark Stapleton
03-18-2010, 02:27 PM
Obama obviously feels very stupid for allowing East Jerusalem to be exempted from the settlement freeze agreement negotiated last November. It makes Obama look like a dolt who doesn't understand Arab culture.

Hell hath no fury like a President duped. Humiliated really.

It's hard to keep secrets in the internet age and Israel is currently the world's worst kept secret. Time to get serious with Israel. General Petraeus is ready to go.

I would love to hear this in Obama's next speech:

Get the fuck out of East Jerusalem you assholes, or you're on your own.

David Guyatt
03-22-2010, 12:47 PM
Well now.

Netanyahu boasts of success in US row

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, boasted that he had faced down American demands to halt Jewish construction in East Jerusalem, raising the stakes in a diplomatic row with Washington.

By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
Published: 11:33AM GMT 22 Mar 2010
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu Photo: REUTERS

Mr Netanyahu avoided a much feared snub after he was formally invited to hold talks with President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday despite the worst crisis in US-Israeli relations for more than a decade.
The invitation represented a victory Mr Netanyahu a two-week standoff with the United States triggered after Israel unveiled plans to expand a Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

Despite intense pressure demands from Hillary Clinton, the US secretary, to reverse the expansion and refrain from all further building in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day war, has so far been resisted. .
Mr Netanyahu appeared emboldened at a cabinet where he proclaimed he had forced the United States to accept that East Jerusalem, seen by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state, was as Jewish as the rest of Israel.
"As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv," he said. "I wrote a letter, at my own initiative, to the secretary of state so that things would be crystal clear."
Mr Netanyahu was given additional encouragement after George Mitchell, Mr Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, arrived in Jerusalem and hailed ties between Israel and the United States as "unshakeable".
Yet Mr Netanyahu has been forced to make some concessions.
He has agreed to make "confidence building" concessions to the Palestinians that include easing a three-year Israel blockade of Gaza.
Some observers have warned that Mr Netanyahu's confidence may be misplaced, predicting that President Obama could renew his demand for a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem when the two men meet.
But Mr Obama could be left open to potentially embarrassing accusations that he has twice backed down in confrontations with Israel.
Last year he reluctantly accepted a proposal from Mr Netanyahu for a partial slowdown of Jewish construction in the West Bank despite having previously demanded a total settlement freeze.
Mr Obama's efforts to revive the Middle East peace process have also foundered.
Highlighting the volatility that has arisen in the wake of row, Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians in the West Bank over the weekend.
Israel also came under pressure from Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general, who used a visit to Gaza to warn that Israel's blockade was "empowering extremists".

Magda Hassan
03-22-2010, 12:58 PM
Well, he has.
Unless the US are going to follow through on sanctions, pull the funding or stop the military sales and intelligence sharing, and why would they as it would only hurt the US as well, I just don't see any serious consequences coming from Washington. Just a lot of hot air and going through the motions of being indignant. Sure, lots of behind the scenes whining but the US is too committed to the status quo with Israel. And Israel will do as they please. And the US will cover for them. They're too big to fail. And too useful.

Mark Stapleton
03-22-2010, 02:20 PM
It might be unwise of dear Bibi to declare victory over Obama when it's not even half-time yet.

David Guyatt
03-22-2010, 02:55 PM
I've been thinking abut this situation (and yep, I do have a headache!). Th question which keeps coming up in my mid is why the public fisticuffs? These matters are usually handled privately, rather than both parties stepping into the ring. Especially when they are supposed to be allies and friends.

And so I cogitated, ruminated, meditated and took aspirins.

And then a flash of intuition like Eureka!, but more modest.

Might it be that this squalid public cuffing that was initiated by Israel be in revenge for something the US has done to offend them? Could it be that it was US intelligence that has put together the "picture" that the Dubai police then used to publicize Israel's assassination of a top Hamas (http://www.deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3195)official less than a month before Biden got his welcoming box of chocolates stamped upon?

Is it possible that the US were engaged in brokering a secret peace negotiation between Hamas and Israel to make middle east peace process a success, and that Israel decided to assassinate a top Hamas official to sabotage that, resulting in the US providing the excellent intelligence analysis to the Dubai police to dress Israel down?

Or something like this?

Or nothing like it?

Oh dear, the headache is back...

Jan Klimkowski
03-22-2010, 08:22 PM
And then a flash of intuition like Eureka!, but more modest.

Might it be that this squalid public cuffing that was initiated by Israel be in revenge for something the US has done to offend them? Could it be that it was US intelligence that has put together the "picture" that the Dubai police then used to publicize Israel's assassination of a top Hamas (http://www.deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3195)official less than a month before Biden got his welcoming box of chocolates stamped upon?

Is it possible that the US were engaged in brokering a secret peace negotiation between Hamas and Israel to make middle east peace process a success, and that Israel decided to assassinate a top Hamas official to sabotage that, resulting in the US providing the excellent intelligence analysis to the Dubai police to dress Israel down?

Or something like this?

Or nothing like it?

Oh dear, the headache is back...

:help: :heeeelllllooooo:

My, David, that is an inspired piece of deduction.

I reckon you've been puffing on that opium pipe with Robert De Niro in Once Upon a Time in America, your face morphing with his through the gauze into a grimace of truth too difficult to bear.

Helen Reyes
03-22-2010, 09:12 PM
I'm not buying the cover story at face value either. It looks like that bit of theatrics in Red October where the captain apparently scuttles the Soviet sub with the Soviet crew looking on from the deck of the US sub, cheering the captain's great deed for the Motherland.

And just in case someone lost track of the score, Ray McGovern the intelligence estimator to the stars published the score card just before Biden's visit. McGovern notes Bibi doesn't take Obama seriously and likes to kick sand in his face etc etc.

Hits in Dubai, spy flights over Hungary, tens of thousands of "bunker buster" bobmbs sent to Diego Garcia for the Israelis to request in order to hit Iran...

The whole thing looks staged in order to convince China and Russia that we really really really are getting ready to wage real honest true genuine war on Iran, honest injun! Aren't you scared Russia and China? See how nuts we really are, we're likely to really do it, you can't discount it at this point.

Nothing is off the table, except of course the possibility of telling Israel in any way that the loans, grants, credit and foreign aid might be restricted in response to violations of international law in Jerusalem.

Stay tuned next for the staged hurling of veiled public private gossip diplomatic secret insinuations between Washington and JerUSAlem over state sponshorship of September 11, 2001.

(Also, as a thought-game, what if the Dubai hit were not what it seemed, an assassination intended to point at Mossad by the US using Abbas al Fatah Palestinians for coordination? Do Israeli responses fit that bill?)

Jan Klimkowski
03-22-2010, 09:24 PM
Helen's post above contains much astute observation.

Here is a recent Ray McGovern piece on Netanyahu, Obama and Iran.

Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran
By Ray McGovern
March 6, 2010

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his mid-February visit to Israel. Ever since, he has been worrying aloud that Israel might mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran.

This is especially worrying, because Mullen has had considerable experience in putting the brakes on such Israeli plans in the past. This time, he appears convinced that the Israeli leaders did not take his earlier warnings seriously — notwithstanding the unusually strong language he put into play.

Upon arrival in Jerusalem on Feb. 14, Mullen wasted no time in making clear why he had come. He insisted publicly that an attack on Iran would be “a big, big, big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences.”

After his return, at a Pentagon press conference on Feb. 22, Mullen drove home the same point — with some of the same language. After reciting the usual boilerplate about Iran being “on the path to achieve nuclear weaponization” and about its “desire to dominate its neighbors,” he included this in his prepared remarks:

“I worry a lot about the unintended consequences of any sort of military action. For now, the diplomatic and the economic levers of international power are and ought to be the levers first pulled. Indeed, I would hope they are always and consistently pulled. No strike, however effective, will be, in and of itself, decisive.”

In answer to a question about the “efficacy” of military strikes on Iran’s nuclear program, Mullen said such strikes “would delay it for one to three years.” Underscoring the point, he added that this is what he meant “about a military strike not being decisive.”

Unlike younger generals, such as David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, Adm. Mullen served in the Vietnam War. It seems likely that this experience prompted his philosophical aside about the war in Afghanistan:

“I would remind everyone of an essential truth: War is bloody and uneven. It’s messy and ugly and incredibly wasteful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the cost.”

Though the immediate context for that remark was Afghanistan, Mullen has underscored time and again that war with Iran would be a far larger disaster. Those with a modicum of familiarity with the military, strategic and economic equities at stake know he is right.

Firing ‘Fox’

Recall that one of Mullen’s Vietnam veteran contemporaries, Adm. William “Fox” Fallon was cashiered as CENTCOM commander in March 2008 for saying things like war with Iran "isn't going to happen on my watch.”

Fallon openly encouraged negotiations with Iran as the only sensible approach, and harshly criticized the “constant drum beat” for war.

Fallon’s attitude appears to be shared by the more politically cautious – and less rhetorically blunt – Mullen, as the same war-with-Iran drumbeat reaches a new crescendo today.

Fallon abhorred the thought of being on the receiving end of an order inspired by the likes of then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams to send American troops into what would surely be – in Mullen’s words – a “bloody, uneven, messy, ugly and incredibly wasteful” war.

How strong the pressure was within the Bush administration to attack Iran – or to give Israel “a green light” to attack Iran – can be read between the lines in a Feb. 14 exchange between ABC News’ “This Week” host Jonathan Karl and former Vice President Cheney.

Karl: “How close did the Bush administration come to taking military action against Iran?”

Cheney: “Some of that I can't talk about, obviously, still. I'm sure it's still classified. We clearly never made the decision – we never crossed over that line of saying, ‘Now we're going to mount a military operation to deal with the problem.’ …"

Karl: “David Sanger of the New York Times says that the Israelis came to you – came to the administration in the final months and asked for certain things, bunker-buster bombs, air-to-air refueling capability, over-flight rights, and that basically the administration dithered, did not give the Israelis a response. Was that a mistake?”

Cheney: “I can't get into it still. I'm sure a lot of those discussions are still very sensitive.”

Karl: “Let me ask you: Did you advocate a harder line, including in the military area, in those final months?”

Cheney: “Usually.”

Karl: “And with respect to Iran?”

Cheney: “Well, I made public statements to the effect that I felt very strongly that we had to have the military option, that it had to be on the table, that it had to be a meaningful option, and that we might well have to resort to military force in order to deal with the threat that Iran represented. … [But] we never got to the point where the President had to make a decision one way or the other.”

Renewed Pressures

Clearly, those pressures have not disappeared during the first 13 months of the Obama administration. Today, it appears that Mullen has replaced Fallon as the principal military obstacle to exercising the war option against Iran.

From his recent demeanor, as well as his many statements since he became the country’s most senior officer, it is apparent that Mullen does not believe that a “preventive war” against Iran would be worth the horrendous cost.

Washington rhetoric, echoed by the many stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media over the past eight years, has brought a veneer of respectability to the international crime of aggressive war, as long as done or sanctioned by the United States.

With nodding approval from the FCM, Bush and Cheney sold the notion that such attacks can be justified to “prevent” some future hypothetical threat to the United States or its allies, the supposed rationale for invading Iraq in 2003.

Clearly, the Obama administration has not fully backed away from such thinking.

While in Qatar on Feb. 14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over what she called “accumulating evidence” of an Iranian attempt to pursue a nuclear weapon, not because it “directly threaten[s] the United States, but [because] it directly threatens a lot of our friends” — read Israel.

Mullen, for his part, seems acutely aware that the Constitution he has sworn to defend makes no provision for the kind of war he might be sucked into to defend Israel. When he studied at the Naval Academy, his professors apparently were still teaching that the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that treaties ratified by the Senate become the “supreme law of the land.”

It would be, pure and simple, a flagrant violation of a supreme law of the land, the Senate-ratified United Nations Charter, for the United States to join in an unprovoked assault on Iran without the approval of the U.N. Security Council, which surely would not go along.

Adm. Mullen also appears to be one of the few Americans aware that there is no mutual defense treaty between the United States and Israel and, thus, the U.S. has no legal obligation to jump to Israel’s defense if it ignites war with Iran.

Now you may scoff. “Everyone knows,” you will say, that political realities in America dictate that the U.S. military must defend Israel no matter who started a conflict.

Still, there was a time – after the 1967 Israeli-Arab war when Israel first occupied the Palestinian territories – that the U.S. did take soundings regarding the possibility of a mutual defense treaty, in the expectation that this might introduce more calm into the area by giving the Israelis a greater sense of security.

But the Israelis turned the overture down cold. Such treaties, you see, require internationally recognized boundaries and Israel did not want any part of parting with the territories it had just seized militarily.

Besides, mutual defense treaties usually impose on both parties an obligation to inform the other if one decides to attack a third country. Israel wanted no part of that either.

This virtually unknown background helps to explain why the lack of a treaty of mutual defense is more than a picayune academic point.

Why Is Mullen Worried?

Yet, if Adm. Mullen is an old hand at reining in the Israelis, why is he so visibly worried at present? He’s had experience in reading the riot act to the Israelis. So what could be so different now?

Last time, in mid-2008, Cheney and Abrams were arguing for an aggressive military posture toward Iran but lost the argument to Mullen and his senior commanders, who – in the final days of the Bush administration – won the backing of President Bush.

When former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seemed intent on starting hostilities with Iran before Bush and Cheney left office, Bush ordered Adm. Mullen to Israel to tell the Israelis, in no uncertain terms, don’t do it. Mullen gladly rose to the occasion; actually, he outdid himself.

With Bush’s full support, Mullen told the Israelis to disabuse themselves of the notion that U.S. military support would be knee-jerk automatic if Israel somehow provoked open hostilities with Iran.

We also learned from the Israeli press that Mullen went so far as to warn the Israelis not to even think about another incident at sea like the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, which left 34 American crew killed and more than 170 wounded.

Never before had a senior U.S. official braced Israel so blatantly about the Liberty incident, which was covered up unconscionably by Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration, the Congress, and by the Navy itself. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack.”]

The lesson the Israelis took away from the Liberty incident was that they could get away with murder, literally, and walk free because of political realities in the United States. Never again, said Mullen. He could not have raised a more neuralgic issue.

So, again, what’s different about today? How to account for Mullen’s decision to keep expressing his worries about “unintended consequences”?

I believe the admiral fears that things are about to spin out of control. Whether there will be war does not depend on Mullen — or even Obama. It depends on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And Mullen does well to be worried.

Netanyahu’s Impression of Obama

It is altogether likely that Netanyahu has concluded that Barack Obama is — in the vernacular — a wuss. Why, for example, does the President keep sending an endless procession of the most senior U.S. officials to Tel Aviv to plead with their Israeli counterparts: Please, pretty please, don’t start a war with Iran.

Loose-cannon Vice President Joe Biden arrives on Monday, hopefully with clearer instructions than when he blithely told ABC on July 4, 2009, that Israel is a “sovereign nation” and thus “entitled” to launch a military strike against Iran, adding that Washington would make no effort to dissuade the Israeli government.

Will Biden manage to keep his foot out of his mouth this time, or will his nearly four decades of experience in the U.S. Senate – learning how to position himself politically in regards to Israel – again reassert itself?

It is a safe bet that Netanyahu is wryly amused at such obsequious buffoonery. But his impression of Obama’s backbone – or lack thereof – is key.

The Israeli Prime Minister must be drawing some lessons from Obama’s aversion to leveraging the $3 billion a year the U.S. gives to Israel. Why doesn’t he simply pick up the phone and warn me himself, Netanyahu might be asking himself.

Is Obama so deathly afraid of the powerful Likud Lobby that he cannot bring himself to call me? Is the President afraid his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, might listen in and leak it to neoconservative pundits like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank?

Netanyahu has had ample time to size up the President. Their initial encounter in May 2009 reminded me very much of the disastrous meeting in Vienna between another young American president and Nikita Khrushchev in early June 1961.

The Soviets took the measure of President John Kennedy, and a result was the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world as close as it has ever come, before or since, to nuclear destruction.

The Israeli Prime Minister has found it possible to thumb his nose at Obama’s repeated pleas for a halt in illegal construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories — without consequence. Moreover, Netanyahu has watched Obama cave in time after time — on domestic, as well as international issues.

Netanyahu styles himself as sitting in the catbird’s seat of the relationship, largely because of the Likud Lobby’s unparalleled influence with U.S. lawmakers and opinion makers — not to mention the entrée the Israelis enjoy to the chief executive himself by having one of their staunchest allies, Rahm Emanuel, in position as White House chief of staff. In the intelligence business, we might call that an “agent of influence.”

Emanuel’s father, Benjamin Emanuel, was born in Jerusalem and served in the Irgun, the pre-independence Zionist guerrilla organization. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Rahm Emanuel, then in his early 30s, traveled to Israel as a civilian volunteer to work with the Israeli Defense Forces. He served in one of the IDF’s northern bases.

Mullen’s Worries

So, Netanyahu is supremely confident of the solidity of his position with the movers and shakers in Congress, Washington opinion makers, and even within the Obama administration, and he gives off signs of being singularly underwhelmed by the President.

These factors enhance the possibility Netanyahu will opt for the kind of provocation that would confront Obama with a Hobson’s choice of either joining an Israeli attack on Iran or facing dire political consequences at home.

And so Mullen continues to worry — not only about “unintended consequences,” but about what might be accurately described as intended consequences, as well. The most immediate of these could involve mouse-trapping Obama into committing U.S. forces to war provoked with Iran.

And for those fond of saying that “everything is on the table,” be advised that this would go in spades in this context.

Very little seems outlandish these days. Remember Seymour Hersh’s report about Cheney’s office conjuring up plots as to how best to trigger a war with Iran? Hersh said:

“The one that interested me [Hersh] the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy Seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.”

In other words, another Tonkin Gulf incident, like the one that President Johnson used to justify a massive escalation in Vietnam.

Only a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin in the Strait of Hormuz could be even more problematic, given the waterway's vital role as a supply route for oil tankers necessary for maintaining the world’s economy.

The navigable part of the Strait of Hormuz is narrow, and things often go bump in the night without trying. For example:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – On the evening of Jan. 8, 2007, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine collided with a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil supplies travel, officials said. The collision between the USS Newport News and the Japanese-flagged motor vessel Mogamigawa occurred at approximately 10:15 in the evening (local time) in the Strait of Hormuz while the submarine was transiting submerged.

AP, March 20, 2009: “The USS Hartford nuclear submarine and the amphibious USS New Orleans collided in the waters between Iran and the Arabian peninsula today. Fifteen sailors were slightly injured aboard the Hartford…the New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, spilling 25,000 gallons of diesel….The ships were on routine security patrols in a busy shipping route.”

Think back also to the bizarre accounts of the incident involving swarming Iranian boats and U.S. naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz on Jan. 6, 2008.

Preventing Preventive War

The Persian Gulf would be an ideal locale for Israel to mount a provocation eliciting Iranian retaliation that could, in turn, lead to a full-scale Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear-related sites.

Painfully aware of that possible scenario, Adm. Mullen noted at a July 2, 2008, press conference, that military-to-military dialogue could “add to a better understanding” between the U.S. and Iran.

If Mullen’s worries are to be taken as genuine (and I believe they are), it would behoove him to resurrect that idea and formally propose such dialogue to the Iranians.

He is the U.S. government’s senior military officer and should not let himself be stymied by neoconservative partisans more interested in regime change in Tehran than in working out a modus vivendi and reduction of tension.

The following two modest proposals could go a long way toward avoiding an armed confrontation with Iran — whether accidental, or provoked by those who may actually wish to precipitate hostilities and involve the U.S.

1 – Establish a direct communications link between top military officials in Washington and Tehran, in order to reduce the danger of accident, miscalculation or covert attack.

2 – Launch immediate negotiations by top Iranian and American naval officers to conclude an incidents-at-sea protocol.

A communications link has historically proven its merit during times of high tension. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 underscored the need for instantaneous communications at senior levels, and a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow was established the following year.

That direct link played a crucial role, for example, in preventing the spread of war in the Middle East during the Six-Day War in early June 1967.

Another useful precedent is the "Incidents-at-Sea" agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, signed in Moscow in May 1972. That period was another time of considerable tension between the two countries, including several inadvertent naval encounters that could well have escalated. The agreement sharply reduced the likelihood of such incidents.

I believe it would be difficult for American and Iranian leaders alike to oppose measures that make such good sense. Press reports show that top U.S. commanders in the Persian Gulf have favored such steps. And, as indicated above, Adm. Mullen has already appealed for military-to-military dialogue.

In the present circumstances, it has become increasingly urgent to discuss seriously how the United States and Iran might avoid a conflict started by accident, miscalculation or provocation. Neither the U.S. nor Iran can afford to allow an avoidable incident at sea to spin out of control.

With a modicum of mutual trust, these common-sense actions might be able to win wide and prompt acceptance by leaders in both countries.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing ministry of the Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was in Moscow in 1972 during President Richard Nixon’s first visit to Russia, when the U.S.-Soviet Incidents-at-Sea agreement was signed together with several key arms control agreements. A 27-year veteran analyst at the CIA, he is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).


Helen Reyes
03-22-2010, 10:56 PM
Thanks Jan for posting it. I bring particular attn to:

It is altogether likely that Netanyahu has concluded that Barack Obama is – in the vernacular – a wuss. Why, for example, does the president keep sending an endless procession of the most senior U.S. officials to Tel Aviv to plead with their Israeli counterparts, Please, pretty please, don’t start a war with Iran?

Loose-cannon Vice President Joe Biden arrives on Monday, hopefully with clearer instructions than when he blithely told ABC on July 4, 2009, that Israel is a “sovereign nation” and thus “entitled” to launch a military strike on Iran, adding that Washington would make no effort to dissuade the Israeli government.


Mark Stapleton
03-22-2010, 10:57 PM
The whole thing looks staged in order to convince China and Russia that we really really really are getting ready to wage real honest true genuine war on Iran, honest injun! Aren't you scared Russia and China? See how nuts we really are, we're likely to really do it, you can't discount it at this point.

In order to frighten China and Russia into agreeing to a tougher round of sanctions? I doubt it. China's not keen and both they and Russia would be wise to Israel's mind games by now, imo. Brazil has also formally rejected the sanction plan as well.

I see a real falling out between Washington and Jerusalem, exacerbated by a genuine animosity which has developed between the two leaders. When he was inaugurated, Obama probably already knew Israel called the shots, but he wasn't aware that ritual humiliation was also part of the relationship, dating back to the Liberty incident in '67. Unlike invertebrates such as LBJ and Bush, Obama has major issues with this.

All speculation of course, but despite its grave seriousness, its the best show in town at the moment.

I've got my ear cocked for the next round of secret public diplomatic gossip, insinuations and bitching between Washington and Jerusalem in case anyone mentions Dealey Plaza. Someone will slip up soon.

Magda Hassan
03-22-2010, 11:49 PM
At the moment I am thinking this has a lot less to do with the US than it does with Israel. There is some sort of power struggle going on amongst the Zionists to see who is the biggest baddest meanest Zionist of them all. Certainly the military on both sides, US and Israel, will be winners.

Helen Reyes
03-23-2010, 02:45 PM
The whole thing looks staged in order to convince China and Russia that we really really really are getting ready to wage real honest true genuine war on Iran, honest injun! Aren't you scared Russia and China? See how nuts we really are, we're likely to really do it, you can't discount it at this point.

In order to frighten China and Russia into agreeing to a tougher round of sanctions? I doubt it. China's not keen and both they and Russia would be wise to Israel's mind games by now, imo. Brazil has also formally rejected the sanction plan as well.

I see a real falling out between Washington and Jerusalem, exacerbated by a genuine animosity which has developed between the two leaders. When he was inaugurated, Obama probably already knew Israel called the shots, but he wasn't aware that ritual humiliation was also part of the relationship, dating back to the Liberty incident in '67. Unlike invertebrates such as LBJ and Bush, Obama has major issues with this.

All speculation of course, but despite its grave seriousness, its the best show in town at the moment.

I've got my ear cocked for the next round of secret public diplomatic gossip, insinuations and bitching between Washington and Jerusalem in case anyone mentions Dealey Plaza. Someone will slip up soon.

Good point. I think the game is way beyond sanctions at this point. It's nuclear brinksmanship over vital resources, the US thinks they have check-mated China somehow with Iran.

I sincerely hope we do get some revelations out of this at the very least. I don't consider Obama in any way sincere, so I can't ascribe feelings to him over the USS Liberty and I'm very dubious he has any problems with that sort of "ancient history." One president they compared him to early on was LBJ (and Kennedy and FDR and Lincoln in almost the same breath). LBJ's only plus was Medicare, which Obama has just gutted. Obama publicly declares he wants to find the perpetrators of 9/11, but mouths the old line bin Laden did it. And he only mentions 9/11 when he's trying to make the case for continued warfare, in every other instance it's "let's move on toward the future" although 9/11 informs every aspect of the executive currently.

It doesn't feel real to me, although Biden might have been left out of the loop.

Ed Jewett
03-25-2010, 07:56 AM
The US' choreographed "outrage" at Israel
Stephen Maher, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March 2010

http://electronicintifada.net/artman2/uploads/2/100323-clinton-aipac.jpg US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC, 22 March 2010. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)
The speeches at AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group, on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu's subsequent meeting with US President Barack Obama are widely seen as drawing to a close what Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren called the "most severe crisis in US-Israel relations" in decades. This rapprochement comes on the heels of a series of seemingly angry statements top members of the Obama Administration released, after Israel announced construction of 1,600 new illegal housing units in occupied East Jerusalem while US Vice President Joe Biden was in the country.

In fact, the basis for the Obama Administration's criticisms of the settlement announcement -- as well as the significance of the crisis itself -- has been widely misconstrued by both supporters and critics of Israel. AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) were "shocked and stunned" that Biden and Clinton called the Israeli announcement "insulting." AIPAC urged the administration to "take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish state" and "move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel." Meanwhile, the ADL mused, "One can only wonder how far the US is prepared go in distancing itself from Israel."

Voices more critical of Israel, such as Richard Dreyfuss of The Nation, suggested that "this is not just the reaction to an insulting announcement during the visit of Vice President Biden," but rather "the Obama Administration is beginning to realize that Israeli intransigence ... is a major obstacle to US policy in the region." Dreyfuss predicted that this "might turn into the most significant confrontation between the United States and Israel" since the 1956 Suez War.

Contrary to both of these positions, the Obama Administration merely reacted to a diplomatic affront it was dealt by the Israeli government. Israel's announcement came on the same day that Biden had arrived in the country to proudly confirm the US' "absolute, total and unvarnished" commitment to its ally, and commence indirect talks with the Palestinians. Following the announcement, protests and violent clashes broke out in Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Responding to this pressure, the Arab League threatened to cancel its endorsement of the indirect negotiations, with Secretary Amr Moussa even announcing that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had decided not to participate in the talks. As the endorsement was the only political cover Abbas had to re-enter negotiations, the US administration took careful notice of these events as pressure on Abbas to abandon talks from within the territories mounted. With the Arab world outraged and Biden humiliated due to the degree of US complicity that the timing of the announcement revealed, the Obama Administration was forced to react.

Clinton said the timing of the announcement was "insulting," while top aide David Axelrod called it an "affront" that "seemed calculated" to undermine the peace talks. The Obama Administration hopes that this PR display will allow the US to fortify its farcical claim to be an "honest broker" in the peace process, provide Abbas the political cover to re-enter negotiations, and send a message to the Israeli government that American leaders are to be treated with respect. As CNN reported, Netanyahu has now set up a team to investigate why the settlement construction announcement was made during Biden's visit.

Netanyahu may well have been telling the truth when he claimed to be "surprised" by the public criticisms by the US government. The day before, one day after US envoy George Mitchell arrived to broker newly-announced "proximity talks," the State Department explicitly approved Israel's construction of 112 new apartments in an illegal settlement outside Bethlehem. The assent came despite Netanyahu's declaration of a "moratorium" on settlement building, which he has insisted cannot include such illegal construction in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, a position the US has accepted.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also chastised Israel for its "provocative actions," including record-high rates of stripping Palestinians from Jerusalem their residency rights and infringements on Palestinian religious sites that are clearly designed to incite a Palestinian response or otherwise make it impossible for Abbas to return to the negotiating table. Yet even when the administration was at its most critical of Israel, following Obama's speech in Cairo last year, Israel was reassured that the actions taken by the US would be "largely symbolic." Indeed, Obama unconditionally re-authorized the loan guarantees program and massive US aid -- conservatively estimated at $7 million per day -- has continued without threat of reduction.

Obviously, the Obama Administration is hardly concerned about Israeli violations of international law, previous agreements it has signed, or the human rights of the Palestinians. The implication throughout is that had the announcement come a week before Biden visited (or even a day before, as the Bethlehem announcement did) there would have been no problem. Indeed, just one week later, after the Israeli government announced construction on an additional 426 East Jerusalem settlement homes, Clinton "bolstered her support for the Jewish state," according to The Washington Post. The Israeli army then opened fire on peaceful protestors in Gaza twice in two days, and carried out air strikes on targets in Gaza, while Clinton issued another statement saying that the steps offered by the Israeli government to resolve the dispute were "useful and productive."

The escalating repression continued Sunday, when the Israeli army shot and killed four Palestinian youths in 24 hours in the West Bank, two aged 18 and two 16. Simultaneously, Netanyahu issued a statement proclaiming that Israel would never cease building illegally in East Jerusalem as Ban Ki-moon arrived in Israel. Clearly, recent condemnations of these projects as "illegal" by Ban and the European Union did not stop Obama from welcoming Netanyahu to Washington on Monday with a private meeting, nor Clinton from proudly sharing the stage with him at the AIPAC conference to reaffirm the US commitment to support Israel's rejection of the international consensus for resolving the conflict. Though she did say the settlements "undermine mutual trust," she did not acknowledge their illegality and mostly stressed the threat that US support for them poses to its "credibility" as an "honest broker," thus urging Israel to refrain from such flagrantly provocative behavior while reinforcing that the US-Israel relationship is "rock solid."

The US hopes that this pretended outrage will lend its role as "honest broker" enough credibility to keep the "peace process" moving, itself merely a PR facade that shields Israeli crimes from public scrutiny. If it does not, the US will undoubtedly pay little mind to the harsh words spoken this week and do as it has done before: blame the Palestinians for its failure and support Israeli repression.

Stephen Maher is an MA candidate at American University School of International Service who has lived in the West Bank, and is currently writing his masters' thesis, "The New Nakba: Oslo and the End of Palestine," on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His work has been appeared in Extra!, ZNet and other publications. His blog is www.rationalmanifesto.blogspot.com (http://www.rationalmanifesto.blogspot.com/).


Ed Jewett
03-25-2010, 08:25 AM
March 25, 2010
Silence that speaks volumes: blackout as Israel’s leader leaves White House

Two separate meetings between President Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, failed to produce so much as an official photograph as a chill settled over US-Israeli relations and secrecy shrouded any efforts to repair them.
The Israeli Prime Minister was due to fly home from Washington after three days marked by Israeli defiance on the issue of settlements and an extraordinary silence maintained by both sides after his three-and-a-half-hour visit to the White House.
The meeting was overshadowed by Israeli approval for 20 homes built for Jews in Arab east Jerusalem — a move denounced by one senior US official as “exactly what we expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to get control of”.
White House staff denied Mr Netanyahu the usual photo opportunities afforded to a visiting leader, issued only the vaguest summary of their talks — let alone a joint statement — and reversed a decision to release an official photo of their meetings.
Related Links

Wrong fight, wrong time (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article7074854.ece)

Israel fears others may follow Britain's lead (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7074925.ece)

New Israeli construction plan undermines talks (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7074115.ece)

It was speculated that the talks may have moved beyond the quarrel over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem to final status issues such as the borders of a Palestinian state, as well as Iran and its nuclear programme. However, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, would say only that Mr Obama had asked Mr Netanyahu for confidence-building gestures and clarification of his position on settlements. He described the talks as “honest and straightforward”.
Mr Obama also held telephone talks yesterday with Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and President Sarkozy on Iran, the Middle East peace process and global economic issues, Mr Gibbs said.
Before departing, Mr Netanyahu met with Mr Obama’s envoy George Mitchell, who worked for months to get the Palestinians to take part in indirect negotiations with Israel, only to see them balk when Israel revealed plans for 1,600 new homes in east Jerusalem. The announcement came on March 9, during Vice-President Joe Biden’s latest trip to Jerusalem.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she wanted peace talks to resume as soon as possible, a sentiment echoed by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, who said he will urge Arab leaders to support indirect talks.
In Jerusalem the government press office issued a terse statement saying that the talks had been held in a good atmosphere. They went on longer than expected with the leaders meeting for 90 minutes, then again for half an hour after a long private discussion between Mr Netanyahu and his advisers in the White House Roosevelt Room. The choreography of the evening suggested that the talks covered substantive proposals, possibly including an undertaking from Mr Netanyahu to prevent ill-timed announcements of Israeli construction. Yet there is little doubt that Mr Netanyahu’s stance on settlements has left him struggling to persuade a newly confident US President of his willingness to compromise for peace.
White House sources said that observers were right to infer from the news blackout that relations between the two sides were not good but later hinted that some Israeli proposals had been favourably received. Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been shelved since 2008.
Palestinian leaders have said that they will not join any peace talks unless all Israeli construction east of the 1949 armistice line is stopped. Before Tuesday’s meeting Israeli experts expected Mr Netanyahu to agree to a secret freeze on building. However, the announcement of new apartments in a development funded by Irving Moskowitz, the Jewish-American billionaire, raised tempers again.
“Israel is digging itself into a hole that it will have to climb out of if it is serious about peace,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said. “There is overwhelming international consensus on the illegality of Israel’s settlements, including in east Jerusalem, and the damage they are doing to the two-state solution.”
Mr Netanyahu’s efforts to persuade Congress that his office had no oversight of the many construction projects in east Jerusalem were greeted with scepticism even within the Prime Minister’s coalition. “Netanyahu decided to spit into Obama’s eye, this time from up close,” said Eitan Cabel, an MP from the Labour Party, a coalition ally of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party. “He and his pyromaniac ministers insist on setting the Middle East ablaze.”

David Guyatt
03-25-2010, 09:04 AM
He described the talks as “honest and straightforward”.

Oh dear. That is pol-speak for shouting, biting and kicking.

Jan Klimkowski
03-25-2010, 06:28 PM
It's akin to the flickering oriental shadow puppets in the opium den scenes in Once Upon A Time In America.

It is an illusion of light and movement where nothing is as it seems.

I see no reason to change my judgement.

Israel has continued to kill Palestinians.

Israel has announced the building of more "settlements".

Britain has expelled London's Mossad station chief. Israel has sent over a new chief, and did not expel a British diplomat from Tel Aviv (as is usual in these circumstances). Effectively, the Mossad station chief has simply been posted to a new assignment.

Obama and Bibi didn't pose for an official photo. Boo hoo hoo.....

This is most likely the creation of a faux narrative of America and Britain "talking tough" to Israel so that any hugely destructive attack on Iran by Israel or the US can be framed as "the last resort".

We're being played.

Ed Jewett
03-25-2010, 07:04 PM
[QUOTE=Jan Klimkowski;18522]

We're being played.

Does the Sabrosky claim fall under that theory?

Is there a portion of the US military that would just as soon not participate in -- and even perhaps work to prevent-- any aggressive military action toward Iran? Or are they aligned and restrained until the stage is set and proper provocation "evident"?

In my estimation, any "war" short of cyber-tweeting and the typical attempts at Gladiation-through-street-dissidence is foolhardy, perhaps even a sign of desperation, and has negative consequences which will tsunami aside any positive ones.

But then I' just a blooger in my jeans and T-shirt who watched a weekend's worth of contrails flowing south out of northern Maine -- massive military aviation fuel transfers out of Loring ? -- unlike anything I've ever seen short of similar activity in the run-up to the aerial pre-phases of both Desert Storm and the Second Gulf War.

If we take on Iran, what will they name it?

Jan Klimkowski
03-25-2010, 09:39 PM
Is there a portion of the US military that would just as soon not participate in -- and even perhaps work to prevent-- any aggressive military action toward Iran?

Quite possibly.

I'd like to hope that for every William Calley giving orders and ensuring they are carried out, there's a Good Twin, a Hugh Thompson prepared to stand up and refuse.

If we take on Iran, what will they name it?

It may need a false flag casus belli, a Gleiwitz incident, to psy op western populations into believing "There Is No Alternative":


Magda Hassan
03-29-2010, 08:06 AM
US 'may not veto UN resolution on Jerusalem'

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47548000/jpg/_47548768_009009489-1.jpg Israel considers areas within the Jerusalem municipality as its territory

The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, sources suggest to the BBC.
The possibility surfaced at talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's foreign minister.
The official said the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote, a diplomat told the BBC.
US officials in Washington have not confirmed the report.
There are no concrete plans at present to table such a resolution at the UN.
But it is likely that the US is considering how to maintain pressure, and a UN resolution would be one way, says BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas.
The US usually blocks Security Council resolutions criticising Israel.
But relations between the allies have been severely strained by the announcement of plans to build 1,600 homes in an East Jerusalem settlement during a recent visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.
The move prompted the Palestinians to pull out of the US-brokered indirect "proximity talks" that had only just been agreed in a bid to revive the peace process, which has been stalled for more than a year.
Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are held to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Guarantee sought
The reported exchange between the US official and Qatar's foreign minister came to light during a meeting at an Arab League summit in the Libyan town of Sirte.
A diplomatic source told the BBC that Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani - who is also the prime minister - had recently met an official high up in the Obama administration during a visit to France.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47549000/jpg/_47549318_thaniap226b.jpg Sheikh Hamad Al Thani was in Paris last week for an economic forum

During their talks, Sheikh Hamad asked the US official whether Washington would guarantee not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that was critical of Israel's ongoing settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
The diplomat said the US official had replied that the current feeling in Washington was that they would "seriously consider abstention".
An Egyptian official is said to have confirmed his knowledge of the US position during a meeting at the Arab League summit, which was held behind closed doors.
The US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, was in Paris last week to hold talks with Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.
The US is one of five permanent members of the Security Council with veto power and has a history of blocking any resolution condemning Israel.
The BBC's Rana Jawad, in Sirte, says that many people will see the comments as yet another sign of Washington's recent dispute with Israel.
In November, Israel announced a 10-month suspension of new building in the West Bank. But it considers areas within the Jerusalem municipality as its territory and thus not subject to the restrictions.
1 Gilo: 850 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Nov 2009
2 Pisgat Zeev: 600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Jan 2010
3 Sheikh Jarrah: Municipality approves the building of 20 new apartments on the site of an old hotel
4 Ramat Shlomo: 1,600 homes approved for publication and planning objections in Mar 2010
5 Silwan: Demolition orders on 88 Palestinian homes built without difficult-to-get permits - Israel planning controversial renewal project
6. West Bank barrier: Making Palestinian movement between West Bank and Jerusalem harder - Israel says it is for security

Magda Hassan
03-29-2010, 12:33 PM
Wow. The US is so pissed off with Israel they are going to sell them $3 billion worth of arms. That will teach them to be rude.
Exclusive / Despite row, U.S. and Israel sign massive arms deal
03.26.2010 | Haaretz (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1159155.html)
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel’s defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal. According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million.
The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel’s defense industry.
The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds. The Pentagon will issue a formal announcement on the matter on Thursday evening.
America and Israel have still not reached an agreement regarding the purchase of the Lockheed F-35 war plane. It is still not clear when that deal, which is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, will finally be sealed and carried out.
If that deal is signed in the near future, Israel will likely receive its first F-35 in 2014.