Full Text Israel Political Brief March 14, 2013: US President Barack Obama’s Interview with Yonit Levy on Israel’s Channel 2 Excerpts — White House Interview Ahead of Israel Visit



Obama: Diplomatic fix with Iran would be ‘a more lasting solution’

Source: Times of Israel, 3-14-13

Channel 2 broadcasts White House interview with the president ahead of his visit next week

President describes ‘terrific, businesslike’ relationship with ‘Bibi’

US President Barack Obama is interviewed on Channel 2 News, Thursday, March 14 (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)

US President Barack Obama is interviewed on Channel 2 News, Thursday, March 14 (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)

Ahead of his first visit to Israel as president next Wednesday, Barack Obama was interviewed Wednesday by Israel’s Channel 2. The interview at the White House, with news anchor Yonit Levy, was screened on Thursday.


As president, you can’t just interact with people informally

“You can’t just slip out and interact with people without having a bunch of guys with machine-guns” hanging out with you….

Ventures Levy: There must be some compensations?

Obama: Well, there’s “a nice plane.”


Jonathan Pollard committed a very serious crime

“I recognize the emotions involved in this… My first obligation is to observe the law.”…


Coming to ‘listen’ on the Palestinian issue…


‘Terrific, businesslike’ relationship with ‘Bibi’

Levy pushes on the Obama-Netanyahu relationship.

“The bottom line is that Israel’s security is going to be at the forefront.” It’s not a factor of who’s president or prime minister.

“Any time you read something where the president allegedly said something in as private meting, I think you should … take that with a pinch of salt.”…


Israel has right ‘to be secure as a homeland of the Jewish people’

Levy asks about some Israelis’ negative perceptions of him.

“Some of this is politics… There are conservative views both here in the United States and Israel that may not jive with mine.”… “I’ve run my last election…”

“The fundamental right of Israel to be secure as a homeland of the Jewish people, and its connection to the land.”

“Resolving the Palestinian issue is good” for Israel’s security. If it can be resolved, he stresses….


On Iran, my cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies

“My cabinet is prepared for a whole range of contingencies.” Kerry and Hagel “share my fundamental view” on a nuclear Iran as a threat to US interest….


I’ve been crystal clear on Iran

“We think it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close.”…


It’s a chance to connect with the Israeli people

What took you so long to come?

Well, we’ve had some crises in the United States…. It’s a chance to connect with the Israeli people. The bonds.. are so strong. Shared values. Shared families… Unshakeable commitment… and a shared vision… I’m really looking forward to it.


The Obama interview in full


‘I’d love to sit at a cafe and just hang out’

“I’d love to sit at a cafe and just hang out. Sometimes I have this fantasy that I can put on a disguise and wear a fake mustache” and wander into Tel Aviv, go to a university and speak to some students, “in a setting that wasn’t so formal.”…


Obama: It would take Iran over a year to build the bomb

We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close. So when I am consulting with Bibi… my message to him will be the same as before: If we can resolve it diplomatically, that’s a more lasting solution.

When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table….


Obama: No plan to release Pollard

Obama: We think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon.

And: I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately….


Plenty of hype ahead of the broadcast


Channel 2 set to broadcast its Obama interview

Israel Political Brief January 25, 2013: Ehud Barak: US Could Strike Iran



Barak: U.S. Could Strike Iran

If sanctions fail to halt Tehran’s nuclear weapons development, the Pentagon has plans for a ‘surgical operation’ to end the threat, the Israeli defense minister told The Daily Beast in a wide-ranging interview at Davos….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief December 23, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Western Wall belongs to Israel despite UN pronouncements



Netanyahu: Western Wall belongs to Israel despite U.N. pronouncements

Source: JTA, 12-23-12

The Western Wall belongs to Israel, despite what the United Nations says, Israeli Prime Minister said in interviews with Israel’s three major networks….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 7, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Featured in July Vanity Fair Article ‘The Netanyahu Paradox’




Netanyahu, Man in Full — Tablet Magazine, 6-7-12

Bibi to Vanity Fair: ‘I’m Not Manipulative’ — Forward, 6-7-12

  • Netanyahu to Vanity Fair: ‘I’m not naturally manipulative’: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to intrigue the foreign media – after being crowned as ‘King Bibi’ on TIME magazine’s cover, he is profiled in Vanity Fair’s July issue, which tries to decipher ‘The Netanyahu Paradox.’…. – Haaretz, 6-8-12
  • ‘Sara Netanyahu can make or break anyone’: American Magazine Vanity Fair published in its July issue an article dedicated to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the people surrounding him, including his wife, Sara. The piece, titled “The Netanyahu Paradox,” begins with a depiction of the…. – Ynetnews, 6-8-12

The Netanyahu Paradox

Source: Vanity Fair, July 2012

A nuclear Iran threatens. The Palestinian conflict smolders. Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has largely vanquished his domestic foes—the Israeli media, the political opposition—in a battle backed by two U.S. billionaires and reportedly fueled by his wife, Sara. Interviewing the 62-year-old leader, David Margolick explores why “Bibi” is in control of his country, but not of its destiny.

Photographs by Platon

BILATERAL RELATIONS Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, photographed at his office in Jerusalem.

At one point or another for an entire week last November, most of the Israeli establishment showed up at the Bauhaus home in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem: members of the Cabinet and Knesset, security officials, rabbis, businessmen, journalists, supplicants of all stripes, “everyone who didn’t want to get in any trouble,” as one participant put it. They stood solemnly around the small stone courtyard with a tent on top, officially mourning, but also studying who else was there, who was whispering to whom. Ehud Barak, the defense minister and, by many accounts, the most vigorous proponent of an Israeli strike against Iran, was there. So was Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, who then held the key to the current government’s survival. Even an Arab member of the Knesset, Ahmad Tibi, came by later on. The guest registry also included Sheldon Adelson, the ubiquitous gambling magnate, and Ronald Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune—a pair of American billionaires who, improbably, have also become major Israeli media moguls.

The occasion was the shivah, or memorial observance, for a man named Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who had just died at the age of 97. Luminaries like this wouldn’t normally show up to honor a beloved but relatively obscure Israeli poet and educator like Ben-Artzi; few of the guests had even met him. They were there more for his son-in-law: Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. They had come to the prime minister’s official residence less out of friendship and respect—for Netanyahu is something of a loner, someone who antagonizes even his allies—than for reasons of realpolitik: even back then, before the shakeup that has left him with one of the largest majorities in Israeli history, Netanyahu was all-powerful. Attention had to be paid.

But, as is often the case in Israeli politics, it was even more complicated than that: many of the guests had come primarily for Sara Netanyahu, Ben-Artzi’s daughter and Bibi’s wife. Here, too, it was not so much out of love or respect, but fear. Even Bibi couldn’t stray very far, though he had other pressing business—like a memorial service commemorating the 1995 assassination of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. So, there he was, at his wife’s insistence, sticking around for the whole week, periodically reading her late father’s poetry aloud to the mourners in a way that elicited pity even from his detractors. “I have no choice,” lamented one tycoon about his reasons for coming. “She’s running the show here in Israel. She can make or break anyone.”

It is the paradox of Israel that in Benjamin Netanyahu, 62 years old, now entering his seventh year in office, the country has both its strongest and its weakest leader in memory—and, as things now look, will have both sides of him for many years to come.

As of early May, when his coalition suddenly and surprisingly swallowed up the largest opposition party, Kadima, Netanyahu now controls 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. An Iranian atom bomb may be some time off, but as Yossi Verter writing in Israel’s liberal daily, Haaretz, put it, an atom bomb has fallen on Israeli politics. Until elections in the fall of 2013, Netanyahu can now do pretty much what he wants. The question is just what that is, and whether even he knows, for he’s proven better at holding power than wielding it….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 11, 2012: Next Week: Acting Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz — PM Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Prague



Next Week: Acting Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz

With Binyamin Netanyahu headed for Prague next week, Shaul Mofaz will be occupying the Prime Minister’s chair.
Source: Israel National News, 5-11-12
Shaul Mofaz

Shaul Mofaz
Flash 90

Newly dubbed Vice Premier and Minister Without Portfolio Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) is wasting no time in trying out Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s chair.

Mofaz will serve as acting Prime Minister when Netanyahu flies to Prague for a two-day visit next Thursday.

The coalition agreement that ushered Kadima into Netanyahu’s Likud-run government stipulated that Mofaz fill the largely symbolic role when the Prime Minister is abroad.

The title of vice premier is has no legal status, whereas the title of vice prime minister – also symbolic – allows for succession without elections should the prime minister be incapacitated.

For Mofaz the position of vice premier means a reduced protection detail, a less prestigious car and a reduction in diplomatic precedence. As opposition leader, visiting foreign leaders were required to meet with him. As vice premier, they are not.

Mofaz explained his decision to enter the coalition as “a historic opportunity to make meaningful steps for the good of the public,” and dismissed criticism saying “there are times when the leadership must make decisions even if they seem unpopular.”

Kadima’s joining the government gives Netanyahu a 94-seat super-coalition with a stated mission of replacing the Tal Law and restructuring Israel’s electoral system and government in such a way as to “provide stability.”

“In my view, it would have been irresponsible to miss this opportunity,” Mofaz said. “The responsibility is on me, and me alone. Let me be judged by my results – I will stand the test.”

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