Israel Musings October 29, 2014: US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit



US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Israel relations have gone downhill fast. At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a friendly meeting at the White House, but in four weeks, the fragile personal relationship has…READ MORE

Israel Musings September 3, 2013: Israeli-Palestinian peace talks continue this week in secrecy & little progress



Israeli-Palestinian peace talks continue this week in secrecy & little progress

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Sept. 1, 2013, Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Palestinian leader leaked to Israel Radio that Israel and the Palestinians met the evening before, Saturday Aug. 31, 2013 for the fifth peace talks meeting. The next day on Sept…


Israel Political Brief April 22, 2013: US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Announces US to provide Israel with advanced weapons



U.S. to provide Israel with advanced weapons, Hagel announces

Source: JTA, 4-22-13

The United States will make available to Israel advanced new military capabilities, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 9, 2013: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to visit Israel this month: official



Defense Secretary Hagel to visit Israel this month: official

Source: Reuters, 4-9-13

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will pay a first visit to Israel since taking office later this month to bolster the allies’ cooperation in the Middle East, an Israeli official told Reuters on Tuesday….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 5, 2013: Chuck Hagel to Ehud Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon



Hagel to Barak: I hope to visit Israel soon

Source: Jerusalem Post, 3-5-13

Hagel is working to ensure there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome, Arrow, David’s Sling rocket, says US official. Defense Minister Barak embraces US counterpart Hagel….READ MORE

Jewish Political Brief February 13, 2013: ZOA chief Morton Klein: US Jews shied away from Chuck Hagel controversy




ZOA chief: US Jews shied away from Hagel row

Source: Jerusalem Post, 2-13-13

Morton Klein tells Post that other Jewish leaders urged him to drop ‘campaign against Hagel’, accuses them of being ‘frightened group of Jews’….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 1, 2012: Statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Panetta



Statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Panetta

Source: PMO, 8-1-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:  Secretary Panetta, Leon, it’s good to welcome you again to Jerusalem,   First I want to use this opportunity to thank you, President Obama and the American Congress for enhancing the strategic relationship between our two countries.

At this time of great instability in our region, the strong bi-partisan message of support for Israel is deeply appreciated.  Today we’ll have the opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing our region and no challenge is greater than stopping Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.  Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism, and everything must be done to keep Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, from developing the world’s most dangerous weapons.  You recently said that sanctions on Iran are having a big impact on the Iranian economy and that is correct.  And I’m sure that the recent sanctions advanced by the President and the Congress will have an even greater impact on Iran’s economy.

But unfortunately, it’s also true that neither sanctions nor diplomacy have yet had any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  America and Israel have also made clear that all options are on the table.  You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act.  But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program.  However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them.  Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.  This must change and it must change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.

So I look forward to speaking to you about this challenge and about the many other challenges facing our region during this turbulent time.  God knows that there are so many of them and each day just adds new ones, but I can think of no one better to discuss all this than you, Leon, so I welcome you again to Jerusalem.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta:   Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister.  Thank you for hosting me in Jerusalem again.  It is a pleasure and I mean that sincerely, it is a pleasure to meet again for the third time and to have this opportunity to discuss the many issues that confront both Israel and the United States.  I’ve had the opportunity to do that a number of times in other capacities and now as Secretary of Defense.

Let me begin as I stated earlier today, my condolences on the attack on Israeli citizens and I want you to know that the American people deeply share your outrage on this.

Earlier today I had the opportunity, just coming from there to visit at the Iron Dome facility with Minister Barak, and I am very proud of the support that the United States has been able to provide Israel to acquire this life saving capability.  You yourself said that this is not about something to start wars with, this is designed to prevent wars and I agree with that.

I’m also proud of the defense cooperation that we’ve been able to achieve over the past few years which is really closer than at any point in our history.  My visit takes place during a time, as you pointed out, of great change and turmoil in the region. I just came from visits to Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring.  I visited Egypt, here in Israel, and then from here I will go to Jordan.

We share, Israel and the United States, shares deep concerns about the violence that’s taking place in neighboring Syria and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And I want to reassert again the position of the United States that with regards to Iran, we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period.  We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen. I want you and the people of Israel to know a few things that have not and will not change.  The United States stands firmly with Israel, and we have a rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens. And make no mistake, we will remain determined to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.

I want to thank you for your friendship, for helping to advance the US-Israeli defense relationship, which is essential to the security of our nations in the 21st century.  I look forward to continue to work with you, with Minister Barak, to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge.  And to support continuing efforts to work towards a sustainable comprehensive peace and a two-state solution.

Thank you very much

Israel Political Brief August 1, 2012: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Israel to Talk US-Israel Defense Ties, Iran



Panetta in Israel to talk U.S.-Israel defense ties, Iran

Source: JTA, 8-1-12

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Israel to discuss United States-Israel defense ties and the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 12, 2012: President Shimon Peres to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: The world must not let Iran take control of the Middle East



Peres to Panetta: Iran Striving for Islamic Middle East Empire

The world must not let Iran take control of the Middle East, Peres told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Monday. “Iran is lying.”
 Panetta welcomes Peres with military reception

Panetta welcomes Peres with military reception

The world must not let Iran take control of the Middle East, President Shimon Peres told U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Pentagon Monday.

“I respect the diplomatic process, but the clock is ticking and Iran continues to race towards manufacturing a nuclear weapon while it also continues to lie and deceive,” the president warned.  He was quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 television.

“It is a country of ayatollahs, and Iran is the only country in the Middle East that has imperialistic desires in the name of religion. No responsible country in the world can accept a situation in which the Middle East will be sacrificed for Iranian hegemony.”

While rejecting the ability of the “diplomatic process” to stop Iran, President Peres reiterated his belief in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He told the Secretary of defense that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new national unity coalition “definitely will help improve the chances for peace.” He again said that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is “a serious partner for negotiations.”…READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 16, 2012: Amid new Iran nuclear rumors, Ehud Barak and Leon Panetta to meet



Amid new Iran nuke rumors, Barak and Panetta to meet

Source: JTA, 5-16-12

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet with his U.S. counterpart, Leon Panetta, in Washington amid reports that Iran may have achieved the capability to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel has said that such a capability is a “red line” that could trigger military action.

The defense chiefs are scheduled to meet Thursday.

The Associated Press reported this week that it had obtained a drawing of an explosives containment chamber said to exist on an Iranian military site. The chamber’s only known use would be to test nuclear weapons.

Iran has denied reports that it is seeking a nuclear weapon. Western experts have said the Islamic Republic appears to be moving closer to such a capability.

The Obama administration has endeavored to keep Israel from striking while it pursues sanctions and diplomatic pressure as a means of getting Iran to retreat from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Honors Holocaust Victims at the Pentagon Ceremony



Panetta Honors Holocaust Victims at the Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, attend ceremony in honor of Yom Hashoah at the Pentagon.

Barak and Panetta at Yom Hashoah ceremony

Barak and Panetta at Yom Hashoah ceremony

The Pentagon held a ceremony on Thursday in honor of Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“Today we pause to remember and honor 6 million souls who were murdered not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were,” Panetta said during the ceremony, according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

He said he helped to establish Yom Hashoah as a U.S. observance while serving in the House of Representatives in 1980. He added that the day is He nHe aHis uiisalso an occasion to remember survivors of the Holocaust.

“They bore witness to evil and to tragedy, and in their strength we all find inspiration – inspiration to fight against the intolerance and indifference that allowed all of this to happen,” said Panetta.

The program included an appearance by guest speaker Charlotte Schiff, the sole member of her family who survived the Holocaust. Panetta said Schiff has dedicated her life to making sure those who perished in the Holocaust are never forgotten.

“It is our honor to affirm to you that we will never stop fighting in the memory of those who perished – fighting for a better future, [and] fighting for a world safe from aggression, from tyranny and from injustice,” he told Schiff.

Panetta added that Yom Hashoah is also a day to celebrate the Jewish people “who overcame this tragedy and built a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel.”…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speeches & Videos of Canada/US Trip — AIPAC Speech, President Obama White House Meeting & Press Conference with PM Stephen Harper



PM Netanyahu’s visit to Canada and the USA – March 2012

Source: PMO, 3-2-6-12

Document presented by PM Netanyahu at his AIPAC speech in Washington
PM Netanyahu writing his speech at the guest house in Ottawa, Canada
Meeting of PM Netanyahu With Canadian PM Stephen Harper in Ottawa, Canada
Meeting of PM Netanyahu with secretary of state Hillary Clinton
PM Netanyahu’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2012
PM Netanyahu and His Wife Sara on Their Way to Canada
PM Netanyahu with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
PM Netanyahu speaking to the Jewish community in Canada
Meeting of PM Netanyahu With Governor David Johnston in Ottawa, Canada
PM Netanyahu is welcomed at the airport in Washington DC by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren
Meeting of PM Netanyahu with US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington DC


Full Text Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: Secretary of Dense Leon Panetta’s Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference 2012 — US-Israel Partnership Will Become Closer



Panetta: U.S.-Israel Partnership Will Become Closer

Source: American Forces Press Service, DOD, 3-6-12

Defense cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is already close, and it will get closer as both countries face the threats of the future, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta delivers remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 6, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Panetta spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee here and said the United States and Israel will work closely together in the face of the dangers that confront both countries.

“The security bonds between Israel and the United States will only grow as America goes through a historic turning point after a decade of war,” he said.

In fact, defense cooperation will grow even with U.S. defense budget reductions. Panetta delivered “an ironclad pledge” that the United States will provide whatever support is necessary so Israel maintains military superiority over any state or coalition of states, as well as non-state actors, in the region.

“Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged wars against it,” he said. “The Israeli people have been subjected to rocket attacks, to terrorism, and they live in a world where larger nations have threatened to wipe them off the map.”

Supporting Israel is the right thing to do and isin America’s best interests, Panetta said.

“We have no better ally in this critical region of the world,” he said. “A strong Israel deters potential aggressors. A strong Israel sends a message to the region and to the world that America will not waver in defense of our allies.”

The U.S. has increased security assistance to Israel substantially. This year, the budget calls for $31 billion in assistance to the nation, up from $2.5 billion in fiscal 2009.

“This is part of a 10-year, $30 billion commitment to Israel’s security,” Panetta said. “Over and above this commitment, the President has committed more than $650 million in DOD funding for Israeli missile defense.”

The U.S. is working with Israel to develop an anti-missile system to address the threat from all levels. The system will deal with short-range defense to counter the continued threat of rocket barrages from Gaza. The United States provided more than $200 million for the Iron Dome rocket defense system.

“Iron Dome is fielded, it is operational, and this new system has already saved the lives of Israeli civilians with over 30 real world successful hit-to-kill intercepts in 2011,” Panetta said.

The two nations are also working on medium range missile defense, developing David’s Sling, and upper tier ballistic missile defense with the Arrow-3 system.

“We are also working to upgrade Israel’s Patriot missile system and batteries,” he said. “We are committed to moving forward with all of these systems and more — because as the Prime Minister told me — these missile shields do not start wars, they prevent wars.”

The secretary noted the Israeli air force will receive the world’s most sophisticated warplane — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The F-35 is the future of tactical aviation for the United States military, and providing Israel with this advanced fighter makes it the only country in the Middle East with a true fifth-generation fighter capacity, upholding Israel’s edge not just now but for many years to come,” the secretary said.

The two militaries will not only share equipment, but also operational concepts. U.S. and Israeli service members will build greater capability and improve partnership through realistic exercises, joint training and personnel exchanges, Panetta said.

“Each year, U.S. and Israeli forces take part in numerous exercises,” he said. One example is missile defense exercise Austere Challenge that this year will include more than 3,000 U.S. troops.

“This kind of cooperation is mutually beneficial to both the United States and Israel. It has made both of our militaries stronger,” Panetta said.

The secretary pointed out that cooperation is not just a one-way street. It was an Israeli company that met the call to help protect American soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan by surging production of up-armor kits for Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles.

“The kits were made in an Israeli kibbutz, and they saved the lives of our men and women in uniform,” Panetta said.

Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: Leon Panetta’s AIPAC Speech: When all else fails, the U.S. will act against Iran



Panetta: When all else fails, the U.S. will act against Iran

Speaking at the AIPAC conference in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Defense says Israel, United States are stronger when they ‘work together’ to ensure Israel’s security.

Source: Haaretz, 3-6-12

When all else fails the U.S. will “act against Iran,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said at the AIPAC conference on Tuesday, adding that Washington and Jerusalem were stronger when “working together.”

Panetta’s address to the pro-Israel U.S. lobby came following appearances by President Shimon Peres, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all of whom addressed Israel’s concerns regarding the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.

Leon Panetta - Reuters - 6/3/2012 Leon Panetta addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington, March 6, 2012.
Photo by: Reuters

On Monday, Netanyahu called on the international community to acknowledge the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, saying that, “amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons.”

“You see, Iran claims that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical research. Yeah, right,” he said, adding: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck. But this duck is a nuclear duck and it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.”

Addressing AIPAC on Tuesday, Panetta referred to the possibility of taking military action against Iran, saying that “when all else fails we will act against Iran.”

Leon Panetta - Reuters U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Photo by: Reuters

“The U.S. must always have the unshakable trust of Israel,” the defense secretary said, referring to Israeli concerns regarding the timing of an attack against Iran, saying that the two states were “stronger when we act as one and when we work together for the security of Israel.”

Panetta, however, reiterated the American stance on Iran, giving precedence to diplomatic pressure and sanctions, saying that the U.S. wanted “diplomacy to work, but we will keep all options including military ones on the table.”…READ MORE

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