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30 avril 2014 3 30 /04 /avril /2014 07:02

Israeli Minister: Annex Settlements, Give Citizenship to Palestinians

 Yossi Aloni

In light of the breakdown of peace negotiations and growing tension between Israel and US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett seeks to kill the vacuum by urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement an “Israeli initiative.”   “We have witnessed the decline of the political process,” Bennett wrote in a letter to Netanyahu. “Palestinian extortion and violations are at an all-time high. After [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas refused to discuss recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and after Israel released dozens of murderers to keep the negotiations alive, the Palestinians blatantly violate the basis of negotiations by unilaterally approaching the UN.”

Consequently, Bennett stated, “It is clear that the current process has exhausted itself and we are entering a new era. For years we banged our heads against the wall… It is time for new thinking.”

To kick things off in that new direction, Bennett asked Netanyahu to “hold a hearing as soon as possible on an alternative plan to start a process of applying Israeli sovereignty over those parts of Judea and Samaria still controlled by Israel” - primarily the major settlement blocs where some 400,000 Israeli Jews live today.

Retaining these areas, said Bennett, “enjoys wide national consensus… This process will be similar to extending sovereignty over Jerusalem during the Eshkol government and over the Golan Heights during the Begin government.”

Bennett said he has had long talks with Netanyahu over continuing the policy of former prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Menachem Begin, who did not hesitate to annex those parts of the Land of Israel that similarly enjoyed national consensus."

He noted that the latest egregious Palestinian violations had created a unique opportunity. “The current approach whereby we constantly wipe the spit [from our faces] and say its raining does not work and only results in more and more pressure” on Israel, Bennet said. “It’s time to take an Israeli initiative.”

In addition to extending Israeli sovereignty over the major settlement blocs, Bennett also recommends offering Israeli citizenship to the approximately 10,000 Palestinians who live in the vicinity.

In conclusion, Bennett wrote, “The Palestinians must understand that there is a price for their constant violations, and I will not accept an approach that always puts us on the defensive. We must take the initiative.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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29 avril 2014 2 29 /04 /avril /2014 12:33
 
 
VIDEO: What Jews Endure on the Temple Mount
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff 
 
VIDEO: What Jews Endure on the Temple Mount

 

When a group of easily identifiable religious Jews is actually allowed to ascend Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the reaction of Muslim worshippers typically borders on open violence.

Jews (and Christians) are often prevented by Israeli police from entering the Temple Mount compound for fear of Muslim hostility. And even when groups are granted entry, most are not easily identifiable as Jews (most Orthodox Jews believe it is wrong to ascend the Temple Mount lest they inadvertently enter the area of the “Holy of Holies”).

But every once in a while, an Orthodox Jewish group will visit Judaism’s holiest site. And when they do, the Jews’ treatment at the hands of the adherents of the so-called “Religion of Peace” is simply disgraceful.

In the following video, one such group can be seen being harassed and even assaulted by a large Muslim mob, as Israeli police officers try desperately to maintain order. Among the group of Jewish visitors are a number of children, who are various points in the video can be seen crying and fearfully clinging to their parents.

One of the adults in the group tries to calm the children by saying, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! This is our place!”

The incident was filmed and uploaded to YouTube by a Temple Mount movement headed by Linda Olmert, the sister-in-law of recently convicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Linda recently spoke to Israel Today about the situation for Jews on the Temple Mount.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycWd1uOuJFA

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29 juillet 2013 1 29 /07 /juillet /2013 15:20

PA minister: New peace talks will help us conquer Israel later

  

Monday, July 29, 2013 |  Ryan Jones  
 

 

There are more than a few in the Palestinian Authority who are upset over the pending renewal of peace talks with Israel. Hamas in particular believes the move to be a detriment to the Palestinian cause.

But Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash reassured everyone last week that the political peace process is just a ruse, and part of a larger scheme to defeat their enemy.

In a sermon delivered in the presence of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV, Al-Habbash compared the US-driven peace negotiations to the Hudaybiyyah Peace Treaty concluded between Islam's prophet Mohammed and the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Peace talks with Israel at this time are "the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Mohammed] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah," Al-Habbash stated, noting that all of the Palestinians' achievements to date "never would have happened through Hamas' impulsive adventure."

Al-Habbash explained that, like Hamas, many of Mohammed's companions burned with anger that their leader was negotiating with the Quraish tribe rather than attacking Mecca. But Mohammed knew that only a more measured approach would lead to ultimate victory.

Two years after signing the treaty, Mohammed's forces had gained enough strength and he launched the brutal conquest of Mecca.

"This is the example and this is the model" that the Palestinian leadership is following, Al-Habbash acknowledged.

Amazingly, all of the doe-eyed Israeli commentators who believe that this round of negotiations is for some reason going to be different from all the previous fail to take the simple step of listening to what the Palestinians themselves are saying.

"Abbas is a real peace partner," they shout, while willfully ignoring what Abbas' own ministers are telling the public, in his name and in his presence, without any refutation by the "president."

[Translation of Al-Habbash's televised speech courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch]

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3 décembre 2012 1 03 /12 /décembre /2012 16:34

Palestinian leader Abbas: We'll take Jerusalem, too

Monday, December 03, 2012 |  Israel Today Staff  

 

 

 

During a victory ceremony in Ramallah following his successful bid to gain UN recognition for the "State of Palestine," Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday promised his followers that they would one day control Jerusalem, too.

Thousands gathered in Ramallah just days after the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of upgrading the Palestinian Authority to non-member state observer status, a move that implicitly recognized "Palestine" as a sovereign state.

The victorious Abbas shouted from the podium: "Raise your hands high, because you are Palestinians! You have proof that you are strong than the occupation [sic]!"

But UN recognition of Palestine is not the end of the road, Abbas vowed.

"One day, a young Palestinian will raise the Palestinian flag over Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the state of Palestine," declared Israel's ostensible peace partner.

While several Israeli leaders have been willing to divide Jerusalem in the past, a vast majority of Israelis reject the idea, and insist the city must remain united under Israeli sovereignty. For both Israelis and Palestinians, the issue has become a red line and a major stumbling block to the world's efforts to solve the Middle East conflict. Bible-believers will recognize this stumbling block as being foretold:

"In that day I will make Jerusalem a stumbling block for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth gather against it." Zechariah 12:3

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was keen to point out that Abbas' rhetoric has become increasingly hostile since the UN vote. Rather than provide a push toward final status peace talks, the stunt at the UN General Assembly is actually making peace less likely.

Netanyahu released a statement noting that the direction Abbas is taking following the UN vote is further evidence that the conflict is not about birthing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but rather birthing a Palestinian state on Israel's ashes.

"This is not a dispute over land but a denial of the existence of the State of Israel," said Netanyahu. "They are raising the younger generation to hate. They are educating for the destruction of Israel. I do not see any discourse for peace here; there is no discourse that paves the way for coexistence."

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29 novembre 2012 4 29 /11 /novembre /2012 22:21

Iran is building a big nuclear bomb, confirm inspectors

Ryan Jones

 

For the handful of people who might still believe Iran's nuclear program is benign, an Associated Press report confirmed by inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that not only is Iran building a nuclear bomb, it is building a big one.

Earlier this week, the AP reported on diagrams it had obtained showing calculations for "nuclear explosive yield." The desired payload was 50 kilotons.

IAEA officials who spoke to the news agency confirmed that the diagram was the same as the one discovered by inspectors recently at an Iranian nuclear facility.

The IAEA included the diagram in a report on Iran's nuclear program, but some in the international community continued to downplay the possibility that Iran was seeking atomic weapons.

According to the AP report, more than a few IAEA officials are frustrated by the way the Western powers are handling what is clearly a very dangerous and urgent situation.

One of the inspectors noted that the diagram could not possibly be construed as anything other than plans for a weapon, debunking all Iranian claims that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

It should also be pointed out that if all Iran wanted to achieve was a demonstration that it had nuclear capabilities, it could do so with a much smaller bomb. Fifty kilotons is three times the explosive yield of the bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

A bomb that large in likely intended for use against an enemy.

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22 novembre 2012 4 22 /11 /novembre /2012 17:55

Israelis baffled by unilateral Gaza ceasefire

Thursday, November 22, 2012 |  Ryan Jones  

 

 

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday baffled many Israelis by bringing a sudden end to the military campaign to end the Hamas missile threat against southern Israel.

To demonstrate that Israel had not met that overriding goal, Hamas and its allied terror groups continued firing missiles into southern Israel long past the 9 PM start of the ceasefire. At least 20 missiles hit southern Israel overnight, though by morning a tense calm had settled over the region.

 

Just two days earlier, Netanyahu had issued an ultimatum that Hamas either cease the rocket fire, or face a ground invasion. IDF soldiers told Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper that they were twice ordered to march on Gaza this week, only to be turned around at the last second both times.

Despite the fact that this conflict saw many red lines crossed - including the targeting of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - Netanyahu insisted that Israel does not seek violence, and would therefore give the truce a chance.

Netanyahu warned that if Hamas did not keep its end of the bargain, Israel would respond more harshly than before. (Despite Hamas continuing to fire after 9 PM, the ceasefire was purportedly bilateral, having been brokered by Egypt.)

But with Netanyahu's earlier ultimatum being so easily flaunted, most Israelis, and certainly all of Hamas, were unconvinced by the Israeli leader's new threat.

In fact, many Israelis were furious. Though Netanyahu and the IDF touted the number of terrorist missiles destroyed during the campaign, Israelis know the entire situation is going to repeat itself a few years down the road.

Seventy percent of Israelis polled by Channel 2 News said they oppose the ceasefire, and want the IDF to finish the job of removing the Hamas threat.

Residents of southern Israel were even more irate, noting that in the intermittent years between now and the next war, they will continue to sustain a steady stream of rocket attacks on their communities. Over 12,000 rockets have hit southern Israel over the past nine years.

Another concern is that the way this war ended has drastically altered the dynamics of the region. There are reports that Netanyahu agreed to the unfavorable ceasefire under pressure from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who convinced the Israeli leadership that a ground invasion of Gaza would result in a mobilization of Egypt's army.

In other words, Hamas now has its own "Iron Dome" against future destruction in the form of Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood regime.

Meanwhile, the international community lavished praise on Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for his role in brokering the ceasefire. Israel's willingness to step down before ending the threat to its people for the sake of peace and quiet was hardly mentioned.

The threat of a broader war, whether it came from Egypt or Lebanon or Syria, might have been very real. Days before the ceasefire, three US Navy amphibious assault ships were turned around on the western end of the Mediterranean and sent to Israel for a possible evacuation of American citizens.

There would be no need to evacuate Americans if the fighting was contained to Gaza and the surrounding areas.

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3 octobre 2012 3 03 /10 /octobre /2012 11:52

Palestinians cancel peace event because of Jewish participation

 

Palestinians cancel peace event because of Jewish participation

Organizers of an event promoting peace in the region were forced to cancel what they had titled the "Bethlehem Walk" after local Palestinians strongly rejected the participation of Israeli Jews.

The event, which was scheduled for Friday, was to be a quiet march through the streets of Bethlehem in an effort to encourage "change and acknowledge basic common grounds and sow the seeds of understanding and acceptance."

In their public invitation, the organizers suggested that by walking quietly through the streets of the historic city, participants would "develop calm, balance and confidence when faced with the challenges of reality."

But Palestinian activists were outraged that Israeli Jews were actually going to be part of the march, and insisted that the Jewish presence would "desecrate our holy city and sites," according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.

The Palestinian activists said the Bethlehem Walk had become a medium for "normalization" with Israel and the Jews, which they strongly oppose.

The incident is a sad reminder that while there are some on both sides who truly seek peace and coexistence, the bulk of Palestinian youth have been educated to hate Israel and to view its Jewish citizens as bloodthirsty usurpers. As those youth reach adulthood, they have formed a new generation with which reaching a genuine peace will all but impossible.

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28 septembre 2012 5 28 /09 /septembre /2012 12:50

Netanyahu, tired of waiting for Obama, draws own Iran red lines

 

Netanyahu, tired of waiting for Obama, draws own Iran red lines

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday signaled he had waited long enough for the Obama Administration to get serious about stopping Iran's drive for nuclear arms, and drew his own red line, literally.

Using a cartoonish chart depicting a bomb with lit fuse, Netanyahu dedicated his address before the UN General Assembly to trying to educate those who have had trouble understanding just how dangerously close the mullahs who rule the Islamic Republic are to attaining an atomic bomb.

Netanyahu noted that it had taken Iran's regime well over a decade to do 70 percent of the work needed to test a nuclear warhead. During all that time, the international community tried in vain to diplomatically convince Tehran to halt its nuclear program.

Now, Netanyahu cautioned, Iran is well into the second phase of the process, and is stockpiling and enriching the uranium needed to construct a weapon. This phase, said the Israeli leader ominously, will be much shorter. In other words, the time for diplomacy has passed, and the time for ultimatums has come.

Netanyahu has been trying for months to get US President Barack Obama to set clear red lines that if crossed would risk American military action against Iran. Netanyahu is certain that such a firm stand would finally have the desired influence on the mullahs. But Obama has repeatedly rebuffed the Israelis, and so Netanyahu publicly drew his own thick red line on the bomb diagram, insisting that if Iran is not stopped before the coming spring, it will be too late.

Watch Netanyahu's address (full text appears below):

Full text of Netanyahu's speech:

Thank you very much Mr. President.

It’s a pleasure to see the General Assembly presided by the Ambassador from Israel, and it’s good to see all of you, distinguished delegates.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.

Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction. It’s their ideologies that have been discarded by history.

The people of Israel live on. We say in Hebrew Am Yisrael Chai, and the Jewish state will live forever.

The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland.

Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.

We will never be uprooted again.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Every year, for over three millennia, we have come together on this day of reflection and atonement. We take stock of our past. We pray for our future. We remember the sorrows of our persecution; we remember the great travails of our dispersion; we mourn the extermination of a third of our people, six million, in the Holocaust.

But at the end of Yom Kippur, we celebrate.

We celebrate the rebirth of Israel. We celebrate the heroism of our young men and women who have defended our people with the indomitable courage of Joshua, David, and the Maccabees of old. We celebrate the marvel of the flourishing modern Jewish state.

In Israel, we walk the same paths tread by our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we blaze new trails in science, technology, medicine, agriculture.

In Israel, the past and the future find common ground.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in many other countries. For today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval.

The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred.

The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.

These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East.

Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens: men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – all are equal before the law.

Israel is also making the world a better place: our scientists win Nobel Prizes. Our know-how is in every cell-phone and computer that you’re using. We prevent hunger by irrigating arid lands in Africa and Asia.

Recently, I was deeply moved when I visited Technion, one of our technological institutes in Haifa, and I saw a man paralyzed from the waist down climb up a flight of stairs, quite easily, with the aid of an Israeli invention.

And Israel’s exceptional creativity is matched by our people’s remarkable compassion. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world – in Haiti, Japan, India, Turkey Indonesia and elsewhere – Israeli doctors are among the first on the scene, performing life-saving surgeries.

In the past year, I lost both my father and my father-in-law. In the same hospital wards where they were treated, Israeli doctors were treating Palestinian Arabs. In fact, every year, thousands of Arabs from the Palestinian territories and Arabs from throughout the Middle East come to Israel to be treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors.

I know you’re not going to hear that from speakers around this podium, but that’s the truth. It’s important that you are aware of this truth.

It’s because Israel cherishes life, that Israel cherishes peace and seeks peace.

We seek to preserve our historic ties and our historic peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We seek to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians.

President Abbas just spoke here.

I say to him and I say to you:

We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood.

We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.

Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.

Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this.

They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.

Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to Al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe.

But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed.

They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict.

I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.

We’ve seen that happen before.

Some five hundred years ago, the printing press helped pry a cloistered Europe out of a dark age. Eventually, ignorance gave way to enlightenment.

So too, a cloistered Middle East will eventually yield to the irresistible power of freedom and technology. When this happens, our region will be guided not by fanaticism and conspiracy, but by reason and curiosity.

I think the relevant question is this: it’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated. It’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated.

We’ve seen that happen before too.

Some 70 years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest. It went down in flames. But not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at an horrific cost.

My friends, we cannot let that happen again.

At stake is not merely the future of my own country. At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.

To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda.

It makes no difference whether these lethal weapons are in the hands of the world’s most dangerous terrorist regime or the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. They’re both fired by the same hatred; they’re both driven by the same lust for violence.

Just look at what the Iranian regime has done up till now, without nuclear weapons.

In 2009, they brutally put down mass protests for democracy in their own country. Today, their henchmen are participating in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, including thousands of children, directly participating in this murder.

They abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and continue to do so in Afghanistan. Before that, Iranian proxies killed hundreds of American troops in Beirut and in Saudi Arabia. They’ve turned Lebanon and Gaza into terror strongholds, embedding nearly 100,000 missiles and rockets in civilian areas. Thousands of these rockets and missiles have already been fired at Israeli communities by their terrorist proxies.

In the last year, they’ve spread their international terror networks to two dozen countries across five continents – from India and Thailand to Kenya and Bulgaria. They’ve even plotted to blow up a restaurant a few blocks from the White House in order to kill a diplomat.

And of course, Iran’s rulers repeatedly deny the Holocaust and call for Israel’s destruction almost on a daily basis, as they did again this week from the United Nations.

So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bombs.

Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?

There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union.

That’s a very dangerous assumption.

Militant Jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.

Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival.

But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.

There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Prof. Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.

Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth.

That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.

Just listen to Ayatollah Rafsanjani who said, I quote: ”The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything, however it would only harm the Islamic world.”

Rafsanjani said: “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

Not irrational…

And that’s coming from one of the so-called moderates of Iran.

Shockingly, some people have begun to peddle the absurd notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East.

Yeah, right…

That’s like saying a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda would usher in an era of universal peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’ve been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years.

I spoke about it in my first term in office as Prime Minister, and then I spoke about it when I left office. I spoke about it when it was fashionable, and I spoke about it when it wasn’t fashionable.

I speak about it now because the hour is getting late, very late. I speak about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything. I speak about it now because when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak; it’s my duty to speak. And I believe that this is the duty of every responsible leader who wants to preserve world peace.

For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy.

That hasn’t worked.

Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.

For over seven years, the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date.

I want to thank the governments represented here that have joined in this effort. It’s had an effect. Oil exports have been curbed and the Iranian economy has been hit hard.

It’s had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the last year alone, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges in its underground nuclear facility in Qom.

At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.

Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all. NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.

President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.

In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.

If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided.

In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided.

Clear red lines have also worked with Iran.

Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormouz. The United States drew a clear red line and Iran backed off.

Red lines could be drawn in different parts of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But to be credible, a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program: on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium. Now let me explain why:

Basically, any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it.

The simplest example is gunpowder and a fuse. That is, you light the fuse and set off the gunpowder.

In the case of Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon, the gunpowder is enriched uranium. The fuse is a nuclear detonator.

For Iran, amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse.

For a country like Iran, it takes many, many years to enrich uranium for a bomb. That requires thousands of centrifuges spinning in tandem in very big industrial plants. Those Iranian plants are visible and they’re still vulnerable.

In contrast, Iran could produce the nuclear detonator – the fuse – in a lot less time, maybe under a year, maybe only a few months.

The detonator can be made in a small workshop the size of a classroom. It may be very difficult to find and target that workshop, especially in Iran. That’s a country that’s bigger than France, Germany, Italy and Britain combined.

The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead or a nuclear device that could be placed in a container ship. Chances are you won’t find that facility either.

So in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

So, how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it?

Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you. Here’s the diagram.


This is a bomb; this is a fuse.

In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.

The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium.

The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.

And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.

Where’s Iran? Iran’s completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they’re 70% of the way there.

Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.

From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.

So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?

The red line should be drawn right here…

Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.

Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

Each day, that point is getting closer. That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.

Some who claim that even if Iran completes the enrichment process, even if it crosses that red line that I just drew, our intelligence agencies will know when and where Iran will make the fuse, assemble the bomb, and prepare the warhead.

Look, no one appreciats our intelligence agencies more than the Prime Minister of Israel. All these leading intelligence agencies are superb, including ours. They’ve foiled many attacks. They’ve saved many lives.

But they are not foolproof.

For over two years, our intelligence agencies didn’t know that Iran was building a huge nuclear enrichment plant under a mountain.

Do we want to risk the security of the world on the assumption that we would find in time a small workshop in a country half the size of Europe?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.

The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.

I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down.

This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.

Two days ago, from this podium, President Obama reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained.

I very much appreciate the President’s position as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel. It unites Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.

What I have said today will help ensure that this common goal is achieved.

Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition.

The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years. They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.

At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights.

We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.

We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace.

These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.

Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

Thank you.

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28 septembre 2012 5 28 /09 /septembre /2012 12:20

The Battle over Israel’s Newfound Riches - Parts III & IV

 

The Battle over Israel’s Newfound Riches - Parts III & IV

These are the final two parts of a four-part series on Israel's difficulties in developing its new-found natural resources. If you have not done so already, we recommend first reading The Battle over Israel’s Newfound Riches - Part I and The Battle over Israel’s Newfound Riches - Part II

Israeli officials' fears over Russian involvement in the Jewish state's booming natural gas and oil industry are not unfounded.

Russian natural gas giant Gazprom is facing serious allegations of anti-trust behavior with the European Commission investigating whether the company has been unfairly exploiting its dominant status, harming the free flow of gas to the EU. One example of such misconduct occurred in winter 2008-2009 when Russia cut off all gas supply to Ukraine amid disputes over transit fees and gas costs. The move left several EU member states with no energy in the midst of a bitter cold snap, prompting European leaders to reconsider their dependency on Russia’s energy and look for alternative suppliers.

Nevertheless, their attempts didn’t bear fruit, as Russia geared up the construction of the so-called Nord Stream, a pipeline that enters directly into Germany, making energy-starving Europe dependent on Gazprom even more.

Now that Jerusalem is mulling over exports that could meet Europe’s demand for the next 18 years, Russia fears loosening its grip over the European market and prefers to cooperate with the Jewish state to block Europe from all directions.

But, according to some Russian experts, these allegations are not backed by facts. Citing a number of leading analysts specializing in the field of Russia’s energy resources and politics, the Russian analytical website Expert.ru says Israel’s discoveries cannot challenge Russia.

“It’s too early to talk about Israel’s export potential,” said the website’s report, “the project is at its initial stages of exploration, meaning that the figures [Israel is currently declaring] will probably change [once the production begins]. Additionally, given Israel’s desire to put an end to its dependency on imported energy, Tel Aviv is most likely to consume most of its gas domestically, leaving insignificant amounts for export,” it summed up.

At the same time, the experts conceded that had Gazprom acquired access to Israel’s fields, it would boost cooperation between the two countries. Maryasis agreed, stressing that “ties between Jerusalem and Moscow are already excellent but they could be taken to a whole new level if such project was implemented”.

Indeed, tight economic relations could pave a way to stronger strategic cooperation with the two countries joining forces in the face of common challenges, namely radical Islam and Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ambitions. “Ankara has always tried to position itself as an energy hub, provoking the discontent of Moscow. Israeli-Russian gas project – if it does take place – will pump gas to Cyprus, then Greece and Europe, bypassing Turkey and marginalizing its importance,” added the expert.

Israel is also said to benefit from such an alliance. As the two countries jointly developing resources off Israel’s shores, belligerents, who have been trying to sabotage Israel’s drilling rigs, will now have to think twice before an assault that could provoke Russia’s ire. Additionally, the project might also help Moscow to diversify its clients by using Israeli gas and redirecting it to Middle Eastern or Asian markets (like the one in Japan, currently facing serious shortages following the Fukushima nuclear disaster).

Yet, Gazprom’s accession to the Israeli market won’t be easy. “Given the fact that there are elements inside Israel that lobby to block Gazprom’s entrance, Russia will have to come up with solid suggestions that would buy the concession of Jerusalem,” said Zvi Magen, a pundit specializing in Russia’s foreign policy at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), charging that Moscow would try to sweet talk Jerusalem into a political alliance.

Some go so far as to suggest that in exchange for gaining access to Israel’s fields, Moscow would be willing to scrap its ties with Iran. However, Idan meets this assumption with skepticism. “If we assume that they’ll deliver Iran in exchange for control of gas supplies to the Israeli market, I believe this is mistaken. This isn’t in Russia’s interests…” he said. “Over the years… we’ve been trying to convince them that it’s in their best interest to keep Iran from going nuclear…[but] they have no problem with a nuclear Iran, and they use this issue as a bargaining chip whenever they want something from the West,” he concluded.

Addressing the issue of whether he would prefer to let US companies enter the Israeli market instead of Gazprom, Idan said the former option was more optimal. “If you examine the actions of American companies over the years, I would definitely choose them over Gazprom, given the choice. Noble Energy specializes in exploration and drilling, not in laying pipelines...” he added.

But whoever is set to enter this market will face a series of significant challenges. According to Washington Institute, a think tank dedicated to advancing a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East, Israel (and its partners, whoever those might be) will have to resolve a number of diplomatic disputes that threaten its gas exploration ambitions.

“Some reserves are likely to be found near or astride maritime borders. Although Israel has reached agreement with Cyprus on such issues, its maritime boundary disagreement with Lebanon is unlikely to be resolved soon. Additionally, Israel is under international pressure to allow exploitation of a small offshore Palestinian gas field, Gaza Marine, but does not want the revenues to benefit the local Hamas administration. And Turkey, which regards parts of the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as its own, has signaled its opposition to any Israeli-Cypriot cooperation,” the report stated.

The security issue is also on the agenda. No matter how Israel is going to export its energy, be it through a pipeline (going via the hostile Turkey or the economically crippled Greece) or a floating LNG plant (the size of several aircraft carriers), these facilities will be difficult to protect, forcing the Jewish state to spend millions of dollars on various security measures. Yet, despite challenges, Israel’s gas exploration project may serve as a linking element bridging between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors.  

Last month, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau said Israel was willing to export some of the country’s natural gas to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, which is currently looking to import comparatively expensive LNG from Qatar, in a bid to improve relations between the neighbors.

Whether Israel’s gas will ever reach foreign markets and the exact size of the country’s alleged reserves are still very much an open question. Experts warn that discoveries make sense only if they are converted to production capacity, so any potential partner, including Russia, will need to watch the related developments closely.

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16 septembre 2012 7 16 /09 /septembre /2012 08:46

Massive naval buildup in Persian Gulf as Israel moves closer to war

 

Massive naval buildup in Persian Gulf as Israel moves closer to war

Western powers and several of their Middle East allies have deployed an enormous naval fleet to the Persian Gulf just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again suggested that his country may soon launch a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The fleet includes ships from 25 nations, include three full US carrier groups, each one with a compliment of more aircraft than the entire Iranian air force. Military officials cited by London's Daily Telegraph said the buildup is part of a new annual exercise, but their was no secrecy about the fact that the "enemy" in the exercise is Iran.

There is great fear among Western powers that if Israel strikes Iran's defiant nuclear program, the Islamic Republic will retaliate by trying to close the Straits of Hormuz, a narrow waterway in the Persian Gulf that that sees the daily transit of 18 million barrels of oil, or roughly 35 percent of the world's traded oil. For that oil tap to be shut off would have potentially catastrophic consequences for the economies of the US, Britain, the Euro Zone and Japan, among others.

There is also great concern that Israel is planning to strike Iran before the US presidential election in November in order to force President Barack Obama to militarily support the effort. Obama would likely lose a lot of votes among the pro-Israel American public if he did not help, and Jerusalem is worried that if it waits until after the election and Obama wins, he will be less inclined to provide assistance.

American and European officials have conducted a flurry of meetings with Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the past month, ostensibly to pressure Israel against using military force at this time. Obama and other Western leaders continue to insist that there is hope for a diplomatic solution, despite recent reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggesting that the past 10 years of diplomatic efforts have only served to accelerate Iran's nuclear program.

"The world tells Israel 'Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?’," Netanyahu said last week. "Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."

Netanyahu reiterated the urgency of the situation in a series of interviews with the American press over the weekend.

Asked on NBC's Meet the Press program about the possibility of implementing a containment strategy as was done with the Soviet Union after it went nuclear, Netanyahu said the West was underestimating the fanaticism that rules Iran.

"I think Iran is very different, they put their zealotry above survival... I wouldn't rely on their rationality," said the Israeli leader. "It's the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?"

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