Sauce for the goose is sauce for the ganderJust a reminder....
"The president has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran. If this bill is sent to the president, he will veto it," said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act would require to submit to Congress the text of any agreement within five days of concluding a final deal with Iran. The bill would also prohibit Obama from suspending or waiving sanctions on Iran passed by Congress for 60 days after a deal.
Meehan said United States "should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts."
Republican Senator Bob Corker, one of the bipartisan group of sponsors of the bill, said it was "disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country."The questions are whether the Democrats will also recognize Obama's arrogance and whether the Congress will stand up to him and override the veto. There is no compromising with this President - at least not if you're the US Congress or a putative US ally.
This cartoon on @netanyahu's speech to Congress pretty much speaks for itself #AIPAC2015 pic.twitter.com/69EJW0i5TABut yes, Susan Rice fits right into the Obama administration. That's the entire administration's attitude.
— UK Media Watch (@UKMediaWatch) March 1, 2015
The Americans for Peace Now (APN) organization published Tuesday a letter written by actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series and movies, in which the actor supports the establishment of a two-state solution.
The 80-year-old actor called upon the American people to support the peace initiative.
"I reach out to you as someone who is troubled to see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continue apparently without an end in sight," Nimoy wroe.
"In fact, there is an end in sight. It's known as the two-state solution - a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state. Even Israel's nationalist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has come to see this as the shape of the future. The problem is how to reach that end point. It's something we should be concerned about - not only as world citizens, but as Americans."There's more. Read the whole thing.
He went on to write that he supports the division of Jerusalem, mentioning 50 other prominent Israelis, including former heads of the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the military who support a two-state solution.
"There is a sizable number of influential voices in Israel saying the same thing… a call for two states for two nations. Their plan includes a Palestinian state alongside Israel with agreed-upon land swaps. The Palestinian-populated areas of Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine; the Jewish-populated areas the capital of Israel."
"I'm a strong supporter of APN and the work it does," Nimoy wrote. "Peace Now's activities and programs… keep peace on the world's agenda… Like those Israelis who issued the peace plan, the members of Peace Now have their boots on the ground. They serve in Israel's military reserves and see every day what life is like without a negotiated peace with the Palestinians."
"We condemn these ads and oppose personal attacks of every kind," Netanyahu's office said, shortly before the prime minister's scheduled flight to Washington where he was to address Congress this week. "We have no connection to these ads and we believe that the discourse on the Iranian issue must remain to the point."Netanyahu is really trying to walk a tightrope here....
The Iranians surprised the representatives of the six powers when they presented their own alternative proposal, the diplomats said.
That proposal included, for the first time, concessions regarding their stockpile of enriched uranium, as well as a bid to cut the number of old-generation centrifuges by one third.
The Iranians proposed they keep 6,000 centrifuges out of the 9,400 for the first 10 years of the agreement, and keep 500 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, or, alternatively, to operate 6,500 centrifuges and only retain 300 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, the diplomats said. After 10 years, with only five years left on the agreement, the Iranian proposal would gradually increase the number of centrifuges to the number they have today, the diplomats added.But proponents of a deal should not be celebrating just yet.
However, among the unresolved issues is the Iranian demand that all sanctions be lifted immediately upon signing the agreement, whereas the United States and the other powers want the sanctions lifted gradually if Iran is seen to be meeting its obligations.
Another stumbling block is Iran’s continuing refusal of the world powers’ demand to fully open all aspects of its military nuclear program to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Commission.
The diplomats say that, considering the issues still in dispute, it is difficult to imagine the parties coming to an agreement by March 30. If such an agreement does emerge, because of an Iranian and American need to show progress, it will be a general document of principles only and will not include details on the outstanding bones of contention.Meanwhile, Iran apparently has no intention of giving up.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday announced it has test fired a "new strategic weapon" in the final day of a large-scale naval and air defense drill, saying the system would play a key role in any future battle against the United States.
The claim was a new show of force by Iran just weeks ahead of a deadline for reaching a deal over its nuclear program with the U.S. and other global powers.
Iran announced the test on the final day of military drills it is calling "Great Prophet 9." The exercises are being held near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which about a fifth of the world's oil passes.
Iran often holds live-fire war games and frequently boasts of advances in its weaponry that cannot be independently verified. The latest drill, which included a simulated attack on an American aircraft carrier, appears to be aimed at sending a message that Iran has no intention of backing down to the U.S. in the nuclear talks.
Adm. Ali Fadavi, the Republican Guard's naval chief, said the new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.Of course, strategic weapons aren't part of the P 5+1 negotiations.
“The challenge is for those who oppose the agreement like Netanyahu. They must present an alternative that will produce better results,” a senior U.S. official said over the weekend.Really? Silly me. I thought even Obama believed that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Al-Jarida newspaper quoted "well-placed" sources as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken a decision to carry out airstrikes against Iran's nuclear program after consultations with his minister of defense Moshe Yaalon and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in the presence of top security commanders.I would take this one with a grain of salt. Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz was a known opponent of striking Iran, at least in 2012.
The decision came, according to al-Jarida, after Israel revealed that the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back.
According to the report, Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army's chief of staff Beni Gants to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran's nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel's security.
The sources added that Gants and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets even carried out experimental flights in Iran's airspace after they managed to break through radars.
However, an Israeli minister "who has good ties with the US administration revealed Netanyahu's plans to Secretary of State John Kerry" and as a result Obama then threatened to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.
“The thing to me that makes no sense is why the Congressional Black Caucus has teamed up with this current administration against Israel,” said Pastor Dexter D. Sanders of the Rock Center for Transformation in Orlando, Florida.
“And yes, black caucus, I’m saying you have gone against Israel when you decide to protest the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from coming and speaking on the behalf of the nation of Israel,” Mr. Sanders said. “That is a slap in the face to the people of Israel, and not only that, it’s a slap in the face to God. And not only that, it’s also a slap in the face of all Bible-believing African-American people in this country.”
The Christian pastors, representing churches nationwide from California to New York, delivered an often fiery defense on behalf of the speech at Thursday’s press conference at the National Press Club, organized by the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
But the American officials speaking Friday avoided directly answering some questions about important outcomes of the agreement still being negotiated.
Asked whether the accord would guarantee that Iran would remain at least a year away from being able to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear weapon, a senior official said that the agreement was still under negotiation and that it was not yet clear how long the accord might last. He noted that some “transparency measures” that might provide insight into the inner workings of Iran’s nuclear activities might be in effect for an “extended period of time.”
Several news organizations, including The New York Times, reported this week that Iran’s capacity to produce enriched uranium would be sharply limited for at least a decade under a phased accord. But Tehran would be able to build up its capacity again in the last years of an agreement. That suggested that in those final years of a deal, Iran could move closer to where it is today — two or three months away from being able to produce a bomb’s worth of material, rather than the required year that the administration says is its bottom line for the first phase of an agreement.
The officials were also vague about whether, and how quickly, Iran would have to answer a dozen questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency about research it is suspected of carrying out on nuclear designs — what the agency calls the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program. The I.A.E.A., the United Nations’ inspection agency, said again last week that Iran stonewalled inspectors on answering most of its questions, which the Iranians insist are based on fabricated evidence.
[T]he concerns voiced by Mr. Netanyahu are also shared by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that are regional rivals of Iran. Mr. Kerry plans to meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and other Arab officials over the next week to try to reassure them about the agreement.
While the United States has taken the lead in the nuclear talks with the Iranians, the negotiating partners also include France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. European officials have suggested in recent days that an agreement is closer than the “50-50” assessment by Obama administration officials.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli attack on Iran, joint session of Congress, Knesset elections 2015, New York Times, P 5+1, Saudi Arabia, US-Israel relationship
Hamas slammed the decision calling it a “stain on Egypt’s reputation.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the ruling has turned the Palestinian people into the enemy of Egypt and Israel, its friend. He accused the Egyptian court of trying to blame outside forces for the internal unrest.
Last week, state-run newspaper al-Ahram accused Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood of conspiring to overthrow the Egyptian regime within the next few years.
The newspaper quoted “informed sources” who accused Hamas’s military wing of coordinating plans with the Brotherhood to hit Egyptian military targets and vital installations and distribute footage of the attacks in order to lower national morale. They claimed that the two groups planned to spread rumors of an Islamic State presence in Egypt in order to sow panic among the population.
Hamas and the Brotherhood thus hoped to spread fear and disappointment with the Egyptian armed forces, the sources alleged, while also working behind the scenes, using agents in the government to disrupt internal services and erode trust in the regime.
On February 6 hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated outside Egypt’s diplomatic mission in Gaza City to protest the ruling outlawing Hamas’s armed wing. Protesters waved green Hamas flags and chanted in support of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades: “Qassam are the pride of the nation, not terrorists!”
[T]oday Netanyahu, the serial accommodator, is putting everything on the line. He will not accommodate. He will not be bullied. He will not be threatened, even as all the powers that have grown used to bringing him to his knees – the Obama administration, the American Jewish Left, the Israeli media, and the Labor party grow ever more shrill and threatening in their attacks against him.
As he has made clear in daily statements, Netanyahu is convinced that we have reached a juncture in our relations with the Obama administration where accommodation is no longer possible.
Obama’s one policy that Netanyahu has never acquiesced to either publicly or privately is his policy of accommodating Iran.
Since Obama’s earliest days in office, Netanyahu has warned openly and behind closed doors that Obama’s plan to forge a nuclear deal with Iran is dangerous. And as the years have passed, and the lengths Obama is willing to go to appease Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been left their marks on the region, Netanyahu’s warnings have grown stronger and more urgent.
Netanyahu has been clear since his first tenure in office in the 1990s, that Iran’s nuclear program – as well as its ballistic missile program – constitutes a threat to Israel’s very existence. He has never wavered from his position that Israel cannot accept an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.
Until Obama entered office, and to an ever escalating degree until his reelection in 2012, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons has been such an obvious imperative among both Israelis and Americans that Netanyahu’s forthright rejection of any nuclear deal in which Iran would be permitted to maintain the components of its nuclear program was uncontroversial. In some Israeli circles, his trenchant opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities was the object of derision, with critics insisting that he was standing strong on something uncontroversial while buckling on issues like negotiations with the Palestinians, where he should have stood strong.
But now we are seeing that far from being an opportunist, Netanyahu is a leader of historical dimensions. For the past two years, in the interest of reaching a deal, Obama has enabled Iran to take over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. For the first time since 1974, due to Obama’s policies, the Golan Heights is an active front in the war against Israel, with Iranian military personnel commanding Syrian and Hezbollah forces along the border.
Iran’s single-minded dedication to its goal of becoming a regional hegemon and its commitment to its ultimate goal of destroying the US is being enabled by Obama’s policies of accommodation. An Iran in possession of a nuclear arsenal is an Iran that can not only destroy Israel with just one or two warheads. It can make it impossible for Israel to respond to conventional aggression carried out by terrorist forces and others operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.
Whereas Israel can survive Obama on the Palestinian front by stalling, waiting him out and placating him where possible, and can even survive his support for Hamas by making common cause with the Egyptian military and the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the damage Obama’s intended deal with Iran will cause Israel will be irreversible. The moment that Obama grants Iran a path to a nuclear arsenal – and the terms of the agreement that Obama has offered Iran grant Iran an unimpeded path to nuclear power – a future US administration will be hard-pressed to put the genie back in the bottle.
I well remember how we in the Bush White House handled the poor personal relations between the president and French president Jacques Chirac. In 2004-2005 especially, the two men did not get along (arguing mostly about Iraq and just plain disliking each other as well) but we wanted to prevent their poor personal chemistry from damaging bilateral relations. So National Security Advisor Condi Rice in 2004, and then her successor Steve Hadley in 2005, set up a work-around. The French National Security Advisor Maurice Gourdault-Montagne traveled to Washington almost every month and came to the White House. There the French ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, joined him for meetings with key NSC, DOD, and State Department officials. In 2005, Secretary of State Rice would come over from State to join Hadley and several of us on the NSC staff, and in the course of a half-day we would review every issue facing the United States and France. It was a serious time commitment for the American and French officials, but that is because we were determined to quarantine bad personal chemistry and prevent it from infecting the entire relationship—a goal set by President Bush himself.
Quite obviously, President Obama has no such goal. Israeli officials have complained to me for several years about the lack of contacts and communications with the White House. Susan Rice has determined that her job is to make bilateral relations worse, and has established no relationship with her Israeli counterpart Yossi Cohen. So the problem is not just bad chemistry at the top; it is an administration that has decided to create a tense and negative relationship from the top down.
One reason, as noted, is the hope that tension with America can lead to Netanyahu’s defeat in the March 17 election. The second reason is Iran policy. The administration is desperately seeking a deal with Iran on terms that until recently were unacceptable to a broad swath of Democrats as well as Republicans. One after another, American demands or “red lines” have been abandoned. Clearly the administration worries that Israeli (not just Netanyahu, but Israeli) criticisms of the possible Iran nuclear deal might begin to reverberate. So it has adopted the tactic of personalizing the Israeli critique. Arguments that are shared across the Israeli political spectrum—that the likely Iran deal says nothing about Iranian ballistic missile development, says nothing about Iranian warhead development, does not require that Iran meet IAEA demands that it account for past warhead work, allows Iran thousands of centrifuges, will allow Iran to escape all monitoring and limitations after perhaps ten years—are attributed solely to Netanyahu and his election campaign. So Democrats are told they must oppose such arguments, and stiff Netanyahu, lest they contribute to his reelection. Clever, in a way, but of course completely misleading. And irresponsible when it comes to the deadly issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Read the whole thing. Unfortunately, this makes too much sense.The third Obama administration reason for building up this crisis is also deadly serious: it is to use the current tension to harm Israel’s support in the United States permanently. All opinion polls in the last several years show a partisan edge in support: overall support for Israel is steady and high, but its composition is changing. More and more Republicans support Israel, and the gap between Democratic and Republican support levels is growing. President Obama acts as if he sees this as a terrific development, one that should be enlarged as much as possible before he leaves office. That way he would leave behind not just an Iran deal, but weakened support for Israel on Iran and everything else. Support for Israel would become less of a bipartisan matter and more a divisive issue between the two parties. It is not hard to envision Obama in retirement joining Jimmy Carter as a frequent critic of Israel, pushing the Democratic party to move away from its decades of very strong support for the Jewish state.
Labels: Marie Harf
The greatest concession in the negotiations has been the abandonment of the original U.S. goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear-weapons capability. This was a consistent and firm position of the Bush administration. It was also the position of the Obama administration until November 2013, when it was given up to secure Iran’s consent to the Joint Plan of Action. Soon after that, Secretary of State Kerry described the new U.S. goal as taking Iran’s “breakout time” from two months to six to twelve months — as if we would know when the clock began, and as if we could do something effective to stop the breakout within that timeframe. The reality is that we have traded permanent concessions for temporary restrictions that will leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state able to build a nuclear weapon whenever it decides to do so. When the deal ends, Iran can openly go to the brink of nuclear weapons with the blessing of the international community.Joseph and Tobey then go on to explain why a bad deal is worse than no deal (something that even President Obama admitted a while back before he started to spin the story).
The Obama administration will almost certainly try to portray its nuclear deal with Iran as better than no deal, and will accuse those who oppose the agreement as choosing war over peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. A bad deal is far worse than no deal. A bad deal leaves Iran with a nuclear-weapons capability, which would be far more destabilizing than a return to tough sanctions. A bad deal undermines the IAEA’s attempts to get to the bottom of Iran’s covert weapons work. A bad deal undermines the Nonproliferation Treaty, leading to additional dangers around the world. A bad deal is a step toward conflict and more nuclear proliferation in a region of vital U.S. interest. Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability is the surest way to prevent war and preserve peace. To that end, the negotiators should return to the table insisting upon limits that will permanently block Iran’s paths to nuclear weapons and resolve the IAEA’s concerns about Tehran’s nuclear-weapons work as a condition of an agreement. The real choice is not between the administration’s deal and war, but between preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and capitulation.Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that the West has thrown in the towel and given up on stopping Iran.
In his remarks, Netanyahu said that the greatest challenge Israel faces is “the threat of Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons with a declared goal of annihilating us.”
“From the agreement that is forming, it appears that they (world powers) have given up on that commitment (to thwart Iran) and are accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years, develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “They might accept this but I am not willing to accept this.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — AP sources: Rice, Power to represent administration at #AIPAC conference in bid to cool #US-#Israel tensionsIt's about time.
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) February 26, 2015
We spoke with almost a dozen Democratic Senators Tuesday who said they still haven’t decided. Among them is Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein of California, who wrote a letter (with Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois) Monday to Netanyahu asking him to meet Democrats separately in their offices while he is Washington.
“I won’t make a decision on that for a while,” she told us, insisting there was no organized Democratic boycott. “But it does mean that I would like an opportunity to sit down and talk to him rather than listening to a speech of red lines. It isn’t a boycott, it's individuals making up their own minds. There is no boycott.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee that covers the Middle East, told us Tuesday he also is still weighing whether to attend the speech and he acknowledged that he is getting calls from his supporters in Connecticut encouraging him to go.
“I haven’t decided yet. This is a breach of protocol not a breach of policy, so I’m still trying to make sure I’m not making more of this than it deserves to be,” he said. “A lot of us are very angry and I think we’ve got to figure out how serious of an issue this really is.”
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia declined to say whether he would attend: “I think the speech should be postposed. I’m just going to leave it there for now.”
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey wouldn't say anything on the matter. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was “expecting to” attend but wasn’t 100 percent sure. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said he would make up his mind after meeting with the Israeli ambassador.
Nonetheless, many Democratic leaders have signaled they will attend. The list includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and, if he is physically able while recovering from surgery, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Senate Armed Services Committee member Bill Nelson of Florida will also be there.It's tough having to answer to your constituents, isn't it? Here's a prediction: In the end, other than the Congressional Black Caucus and some of the more virulent J Street recipients, every last one of the Democrats will show up. They're not going to risk their seats to satisfy an unpopular President who is in the second half of his second term.
לפיד טוען שדבריו הוצאו מהקשרם אך הקלטת הראיון למקור ראשון מוכיחה שהוא אכן אמר: ״לא תמצאו אותי ממליץ על השמאל״, ובוזי זה שמאל?, שאלנו. "כן״For the Hebrew impaired, the tweet above from Makor Rishon columnist Haggai Segal says "[Yesh Atid party leader Yair] Lapid claims that his words were taken out of context, but the recording of the interview with Makor Rishon proves that he said 'you won't find me recommending [that] the Left [form the next government].' 'And Buzi [Herzog] is the Left,' we asked. 'Yes.'
— חגי סגל (@haggai_segal) February 26, 2015
EXCLUSIVE: Abbas rejects UNSC resolution returning PA to Gaza http://t.co/CaybyRaabM @KhaledAbuToameh @BarakRavid @ElhananMiller @DannyNis(Linked article in tweet is in Hebrew. Short summary below).
— Aaron Magid (@AaronMagid) February 26, 2015
Netanyahu’s decision to speak before Congress still makes little sense. In addition to angering Obama and Democrats in Congress,
it is difficult to see what purpose the prime minister’s speech will serve since he has been sounding the same alarm now for years. His views are no secret to anyone and will have no greater impact if they are presented before Congress.
Did Netanyahu think speaking in Congress would help his reelection campaign? Perhaps, but this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Incumbents always blur the lines between policymaking and campaigning. When Obama ran for reelection his speeches were meant to help his campaign regardless of whether they were labeled as campaign events. Furthermore, the fact that Obama reacted so angrily, as did many other Democrats, may hurt Netanyahu’s chances if Israeli voters decide that they don’t want a prime minister who has worsened ties with their principal ally.So who is the statesman and who is running an election campaign?
"Israel is safer today with the added time we have given and the stoppage of the advances in the nuclear program than they were before we got that agreement, which by the way the prime minister opposed," Kerry said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. "He was wrong."
Kerry was later asked to address Netanyahu's criticism of a hypothetical deal with Iran as a threat to Israel.
"The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush," Kerry replied. "We all know what happened with that decision."Really? I thought John Kerry was in favor of the war in Iraq, and believed that Saddam had nuclear weapons.
The specifics contained in the NCRI’s report give it credibility because they make the report easy to either verify or debunk. The report pinpoints the hidden nuclear site with satellite photography, explains its internal structuring and shows the entrances as well as the location of an elevator to access a 200-meter underground tunnel. There’s even an up-close photograph of one of the shielded doors used at the site to conceal radiation.
The secret site is called Lavizan-3 and is operated by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. It is within a military compound so that the regime can declare it off-limits to IAEA inspectors. Construction of the site began in early 2004 and is believed to have finished in 2008 or around that time.
According to the group’s sources inside Iran, the site is used for enriching uranium and building, testing and installing advanced centrifuges that enable Iran to produce the uranium for a nuclear bomb more quickly. The centrifuges at this location are of the IR2, IR3 and IR4 types. These centrifuges can potentially cut the time needed to make bomb-grade uranium from low-enriched uranium in half, from 18-24 months to 9-12 months.
NCRI also listed the names of key personnel involved in the hidden site. One of them is Morteza Behzad, an engineer involved with the Fordo uranium enrichment site that is buried 300 feet underground and was exposed in 2009. The Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2012.
The Lavizan-3 site can only hold 3,000 centrifuges, making it unsuitable for an a civilian energy program but entirely suitable for nuclear weapons creation.
Four top nuclear experts said earlier this month that they now consider Iran to be a nuclear-ready state, warning that Iran poses an Electro-Magnetic Pulse threat to the U.S. and its satellite launches show that it has intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.
The IAEA confirms that Iran is still not being transparent about its nuclear activity. The agency’s September 5 report stated that Iran is still denying inspectors access to the Parchin site where the regime is believed to conducted research inarguably related to nuclear weapons. The regime also continued to deny that it has worked on nuclear warheads and has not adequately addressed the IAEA’s evidence.Read the whole thing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined on Tuesday an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.
"Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.That actually makes sense if one accepts the premise that an address to a joint session of Congress that includes both Democrats and Republicans is (or ought to be) seen as non-partisan. What Netanyahu is saying is "if I meet separately with you, I will also have to meet separately with a delegation of Republican Senators."
Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday over his plans to address a joint meeting of Congress next week, saying his actions had hurt his nation’s relationship with the United States.
Come on. Does anyone seriously believe that Netanyahu showing up on March 24 would see the Democrats having no objections? Meanwhile, Durbin said he's 'disappointed.'Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to travel to Washington to deliver the speech two weeks before the Israeli elections has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Ms. Rice said in an interview on the PBS television program “Charlie Rose.”
“We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” Mr. Durbin said in a statement. “His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”At least Durbin (effectively) admits that the Israeli elections have nothing to do with this. But since when is an invitation to address a joint session of Congress a partisan event? Since when does Congress have to ask the President's permission before inviting a foreign leader to its house? Is it not a co-equal branch of government in the United States?
Here is a list of the Democrats who are planning to skip the speech and those who are planning to go.Far more Democrats have said they will attend. Read the whole thing. Most of the Representatives on the list as not attending are Congressional Black Caucus members (who are concerned about Netanyahu's lack of 'respect' for Obama - respect that Obama has done nothing to earn) and known Leftists....
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) — Wrote a Jan. 29 column in The Huffington Post explaining his decision, saying the Constitution “vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president.”
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) — The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) focused on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement and emphasized he's not urging a boycott.
Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) — Clyburn is the highest-ranking Democratic leader to say he’ll skip the speech.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.): “After deliberation, I have decided I cannot in good conscience attend the Prime Minister’s speech. My decision not to attend is not a reflection of my support for Israel and its continued existence as a state and home for the Jewish people. I have always strongly supported Israel and I always will,” said Cohen in a statement.
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) — He is head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a member of the CBC and the first Muslim in Congress.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) — Grijalva is a co-chairman of the CPC.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) — A spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times that Gutierrez has a "strong" record on Israel but called the speech "a stunt."
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) — "The Congresswoman has no plans to attend the speech at this time," a spokeswoman said.
Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.) — A member of the CBC and former head of the CPC.
Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) — His office confirmed he’s not going but emphasized he's not organizing a formal boycott
Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.): "In my view Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is nothing more than a campaign event hosted by Speaker Boehner and paid for by the American people," McCollum said in a statement."
Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.) — “I do not intend to attend the speech of Bibi,” he said in an email to a Seattle newspaper.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) — A CBC member.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) — "I'm offended as an American," he said on MSNBC.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.) — "We know what he is going to say," the Jewish lawmaker said in a statement.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) — Leahy called it a "tawdry and high-handed stunt," according to a Vermont newspaper.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, said it’s “wrong” that Obama wasn’t consulted about the speech.
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) — “The U.S.-Israel relationship is too important to be overshadowed by partisan politics," said Schatz in a statement. "I am disappointed in the Republican leadership’s invitation of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress with the apparent purpose of undermining President Obama’s foreign policy prerogatives.”
Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein extended the invitation "to maintain Israel's dialogue with both political parties in Congress," according to a letter to the Israeli leader seen by Reuters.
"This unprecedented move threatens to undermine the important bipartisan approach towards Israel - which as long-standing supporters of Israel troubles us deeply," Durbin and Feinstein wrote.
"It sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points - something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we fear could have lasting repercussions," they said.
The two senators have not indicated publicly whether they planned to be at the Israeli leader's address, their spokesmen said.
Durbin is the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate. Feinstein, who has been in the Senate since 1992, is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.
The letter was sent on Monday evening. The Israeli Embassy did not have an immediate response to the invitation.Bloomberg adds (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
“To maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress, we invite you to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during your upcoming visit to Washington,” Durbin and Feinstein wrote Monday. “We believe such a venue would be a wholly appropriate opportunity to discuss the range of issues that face our two countries.”
Twenty-three House Democrats urged Boehner in a letter last week to postpone the speech. They said the speaker was “using a foreign leader as a political tool against” Obama.
The House Democrats’ letter questioned whether Boehner was using Netanyahu’s appearance to persuade lawmakers to back new sanctions against Iran despite a veto threat from Obama.To listen to the House Democrats, they don't believe it would ever be appropriate for Netanyahu to weigh in on Iran. That's just plain wrong. In the overall scheme of things, Israel has much more at stake in Iran (our very existence) than the United States has.