Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Skeptical of Western Sanctions & Iran Talks



Netanyahu Skeptical of Iran Talks

For the third time in recent months, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he doubts Western sanctions will halt Iran’s nuclear program

Source: Israel National News, 5-18-12

Binyamin Netanyahu

Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he is skeptical that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program.

“I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program,” he said just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran.

The P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – are set for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.

Speaking in Prague, Netanyahu called it “the paramount issue of our time.”

Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Comments Baghdad Talks on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program



PM Netanyahu Comments on Baghdad Talks

Source: PMO, 5-18-12

Photo by GPO

Following are remarks that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made about the Baghdad talks, earlier today, at a press availability in Prague:

“Obviously, nothing would be better than to see this issue resolved diplomatically.  But I have seen no evidence that Iran is serious about stopping its nuclear weapons program.  It looks as though they see these talks as another opportunity to deceive and delay just like North Korea did for years.

They may try to go from meeting to meeting with empty promises.  They may agree to something in principle but not implement it.  They might even agree to implement something that does not materially derail their nuclear weapons program.

Iran is good at playing this chess game.  They know that sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to save the king.  The goal of these negotiations should be very clear:

Freeze all enrichment inside Iran.

Remove all enriched material outside of Iran.

And dismantle Qom.

When this goal is achieved, I will be the first to applaud.  Until then, count me among the skeptics.”

Israel Brief May 18, 2012: Students Visit Jerusalem in Honor of Yom Yerushalayim — Reunification Day



Students Visit Jerusalem in Honor of Reunification Day

More than 10,000 students from all over Israel visit Jerusalem in honor of Yom Yerushalayim.
Students visit Jerusalem

Students visit Jerusalem
Haggai Huberman

More than 10,000 students from all over Israel visited Jerusalem on Thursday, in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Reunification Day) which will be celebrated on Sunday.

The students toured the city together with the Education Ministry’s director general Dalit Stauber, visited major sites and learned about the city’s history. The day ended with a youth rally held at the Sultan’s Pool.

The visit was part of a commitment by Education Minister Gideon Saar who, upon taking office, declared that one of his goals is to strengthen the Zionist and Jewish values in the education system, including strengthening the students’ connection to Jerusalem.

In accordance with Saar’s vision, the Education Ministry began this year a program called “Going Up to Jerusalem”, which takes students on tours of Jerusalem and aims to significantly increase the number of students who visit the city. Thanks to the program, the number of students who visited Jerusalem this year currently stands at 500,000.

According to Itzik Ross of the Ministry of Education’s Southern Region, visits to Jerusalem are essential, because it is the eternal city no matter what one’s political opinions may be.

“There is an increase in visitors to Jerusalem,” he told Arutz Sheva. “This is an educational process in which students learn about Jerusalem and connect themselves to the city’s history. Through the visit, the students’ connection to the eternal city becomes stronger. They learn about the settlement in Jerusalem, starting from the Old Yishuv and until the city’s unification in the 1967 Six Day War.”

Ross noted that all parents and students welcome the project and added, “Jerusalem is our eternal city no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on. We do not engage in politics; this is our capital city. I have not encountered parents or students who are opposed to the project. Everyone is excited about it.”

Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: TIME Magazine devotes its cover story this week to PM Binyamin Netanyahu, named “King Bibi”



TIME Devotes Cover Story to ‘King Bibi’

TIME Magazine devotes its cover story this week to PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who is named “King Bibi”.

TIME Magazine devoted its cover story this week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was named “King Bibi”, in a play on the name of famous blues artist B.B. King.

The article was written by TIME’s managing editor Richard Stengel and it profiles Israel’s Prime Minister, explaining why he is “the King of Israel”.

“Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel,” writes Stengel. “He has no national rival. His approval rating, roughly 50%, is at an all-time high. At a moment when incumbents around the world are being shunted aside, he is triumphant.”

Stengel adds that Netanyahu is standing on history’s cusp and adds, “The question is whether he is a prisoner of that history or he can write a new narrative.”

“Like his father,” writes Stengel, “he sees Jewish history as a succession of holocausts. Like his father, he has an almost mystical belief in the abiding power of anti-Semitism, as though it were more biological than cultural.”

Stengel wonders whether Netanyahu will choose to make historical decisions, on both Iran and the peace process, now that he has a surer command over the Knesset with the unity deal that brought Kadima into the government.

He notes that Netanyahu has “…a governing coalition that will not leak or collapse if he opens negotiations [with the Palestinian Authority]. He will no longer have to look over his shoulder. He will not have to call elections at the drop of a hat. He has not had that before, and it gives him room to maneuver and room to compromise. ‘Now he is the emperor … he can do anything,’ [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] said last week. ‘If I were him, I would do it now, now, now.’”

Netanyahu himself, who is currently on a visit to the Czech Republic, addressed the TIME cover in a press conference on Thursday and said, “Israel is a democracy and not a monarchy, and I do not forget that for even a moment.”

In April, TIME named Netanyahu one of the 100 most influential people in the world….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 18, 2012: More than 60,000 Call for Jonathan Pollard’s Freedom



More than 60,000 Call for Pollard’s Freedom

More than 60,000 call on Peres to help free Pollard before it is too late.

Western Wall rally for Pollard's release

Western Wall rally for Pollard’s release
Israel news photo: Flash 90

More than 60,000 people have signed a letter calling on President Shimon Peres to do whatever he can to free Jonathan Pollard. The campaign for Pollard’s freedom has taken on new energy as the date on which Peres will be given the Medal of Freedom approaches.

Members of Knesset, Canadian rabbis and Gilad Shalit are among those who have called on Peres to turn down the prestigious prize if Pollard is not released.

On Thursday, Israel Prize winner, Rabbi Chaim Druckman joined the call. In a speech given at the Rabbis’ Conference in Jerusalem, Rabbi Druckman appealed to his colleagues, “Please, do what you can so that Jonathan will leave jail alive.”

Activists say the campaign is just getting started. Over the next few days, volunteers will take to the streets to distribute pamphlets explaining Pollard’s plight and calling to sign the letter.

“As we get more signatures, we know that we are reaching wider circles, circles of people who may not have been sufficiently aware of the matter, who now understand that this isn’t just a matter of justice but of life and death,” campaign director Effie Yahav said.

Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for giving classified information to Israel, has become seriously ill and was recently hospitalized. He has since been released, but his condition remains poor.

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