Friday, September 7, 2012

Israel Updates

Barak hints the US would join Israel in Iran strike
09/07/2012 02:03
"We share the challenge though our timetables are not the same," the defense minister says at a pre-Rosh Hashana political even.
Ehud Barak with US Adm. James A. Winnefeld


Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared to hint on Thursday night that he believed the United States would join Israel in a strike on Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Speaking at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast for activists of his Independence Party at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, Barak noted the meeting that he had earlier in the day with Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said they dealt with all the developments in the region, but especially Iran.

“The State of Israel will make its decision about its future and its security alone, but the United States is our most important partner,” Barak said at the toast.

“[America’s] cooperation, intelligence-sharing and military support for Israel is extraordinary in its depth and its comprehensiveness, and I’m convinced that it will continue to be that way in every future test,” he said.

Barak, who received an update from Winnefeld on America’s preparedness for dealing with the issues in the region, praised the steps that America had taken to deal with a possible confrontation with Iran.

Israel relents to let in 'infiltrators'

September 8, 2012

Ruth Pollard

An Israeli soldier stands near the border fence between Israel and Egypt as African would-be immigrants sit on the other side.
Left out … the Eritrean asylum seekers sit and wait by the border fence as an Israeli soldier watches from the other side. Photo: Reuters/Nir Elias
JERUSALEM: After leaving a group of about 20 Eritrean asylum seekers stranded in harsh conditions between Egypt and its border fence for seven days, Israel has softened its stance and allowed the two women and one child in the group to enter the country.

The others in the group agreed to ''go back the way they came'' to Egypt, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said.

''It is important that everyone understand that Israel is no longer a destination for infiltrators. We are determined to stop the flood of infiltrators that has been here,'' Mr Netanyahu said in a statement. ''We built this fence and it has already lowered the number of infiltrators by 90 per cent. We will intensify steps against those who employ illegal infiltrators and we will continue the effort to return infiltrators to their countries of origin.''

Government officials said the refugees agreed to the arrangement but representatives for the group could not be reached. The Israeli military has prevented aid groups from reaching the Eritreans to provide food, medical care and legal assistance.

Read more:

12:06 PM, September 7, 2012 ι Abby W. Schachter

As we survey the outcomes of the Democratic National Convention, there are multiple signs that what may have once been a major force within the Democratic party -- the pro-Israel bloc -- is receding and perhaps even disappearing.

First, the Jerusalem-is-Israel's-capital debacle : Why were the words about the Democatic Party's views on Jerusalem changed in the first place? No one knows. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who describes himself as one of the most long-standing pro-Israel Democrats in existence told Charlie Rose that he had no idea why the platform language defining Jerusalem as Israel's capital was changed. But changed it was and then it took a phony-baloney declaration of the "aye have it" to change it back. But if you listen to the audio, it really doesn't sound like the folks in the convention hall want to reinstate the language about Jerusalem and it was only because President Obama had demanded to "fix" the problem that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to go through the embarrassment and confusion of declaring the measure passed when obviously, the majority didn't want it passed.

Second, pro-Israel Democrats stayed away from the proceedings : Natalie Portman didn't appear as part of the celebrity Obama lovefest.

Third, pro-Israel liberals took notice that Israel is not a big seller among rank-and-file Democrats : Jeffrey Goldberg took to Twitter last night during President Obama's speech to observe that Israel just wasn't getting the love that he expected. And this while Obama himself made a apoor showing of his concern for Israel's security when he nearly ignore the Iranian threat.

Read more:

Israel military says it strikes Gaza militants

AP  / September 6, 2012

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military says soldiers and aircraft have hit Palestinian militants planting explosives along the border with Gaza.

The military said in a statement that it targeted a ‘‘terrorist squad’’ Thursday.

Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra says three men were killed. Gaza farmers at the scene say they wore military fatigues.

An Israeli airstrike the night before killed four Palestinian militants as they were preparing to fire rockets at nearby southern cities, the military said.
Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have observed an unwritten truce since a short war more than three years ago that Israel said aimed to stop Palestinian rocket strikes. Palestinian attacks have continued but at a much lower rate.
The rockets often trigger Israeli airstrikes. Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for the attacks.end of story marker
US-Israel duel over Iran

(Reuters) / 7 September 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blew up at the US ambassador last month because he was “at wits’ end” over what he sees as the Obama administration’s lack of clarity on Iran’s nuclear programme, a US congressman who was at the meeting said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, made his first public comments about the late August meeting in Israel in an interview with Michigan’s WJR radio on Tuesday.

“Right now the Israelis don’t believe that this administration is serious when they say all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That’s why the programme is progressing,” Rogers said. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes.

Israel is facing growing international pressure not to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the United States has made clear it opposes any such strike. Rogers said if the US does not show Israel more clarity on where it draws “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear programme, then Israel might conduct a strike. “If I were betting my house today, I would guess that they probably will do it if we don’t have a change in more clear red lines from the United States,” he said.

A spokesman for Israel’s embassy in Washington declined to comment. The State Department would not comment on private diplomatic meetings but spokesman Edgar Vasquez said: “We have a rock solid relationship and an ironclad commitment to Israel.” The spat between Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro appears to confirm a deep chasm over how to deal with Iran, which the two allies have tried to play down publicly.

Canada closes Iran embassy, set to oust diplomats

Citing nuclear program, hostility towards Israel, Canadian FM Baird calls Iran biggest threat to global peace; Netanyahu praises move.
Canada's John Baird

OTTAWA - Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and will expel all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada within five days, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Friday, denouncing Tehran as the biggest threat to global security. 

 Baird cited Iran's nuclear program, its hostility towards Israel and Iranian military assistance to the government of President Bashar Assad Syria, which is locked in civil war with rebels.

"Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," Baird said in a statement, accusing Iran of showing blatant disregard for the safety of foreign diplomats.
"Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran ... Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended," he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday  welcomed Canada's decision to expel the Iranian ambassador from Ottawa and to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran.

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