Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: US.Consulate in Jerusalem warns travelers of violence in Old City on Friday

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem warns travelers of violence

Source: JTA, 9-22-11

The U.S. Consulate has banned its personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem due to fears of violence.

In an emergency message sent to Americans registered with the consulate who are visiting or living in Israel, the consulate also urged U.S. citizens to avoid “areas of traditional conflict during this time.”

The letter, dated Sept. 21, said that the consulate would prohibit its official mission personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday.

“This prohibition is due to the potential for demonstrations and large gatherings inside the Old City that day,” the letter says.

While it does not specify why there is this potential, it is likely because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on that day is due to speak before the United Nations General Assembly and present a request to make Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations to the U.N. Security Council.

“The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful marches and demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning,” the letter warns.

“U.S. citizens in Jerusalem are encouraged to exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security, and to report any suspicious or unusual activity immediately to Israeli authorities. U.S. citizens should, as always, maintain a low profile in public.”

Advertisements

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: Reactions — US Jews give Obama mixed reviews for ‘pro-Israel’ UN speech

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

U.S. Jews give Obama mixed reviews for ‘pro-Israel’ UN speech

AIPAC lauds U.S. President for seeing Israelis deserve ‘normal relations with their neighbors’; Americans for Peace Now: U.S. position as defender of rights cannot stand as Israeli-Palestinians conflict ‘left to fester’

Source: Ha’aertz, 9-22-11
It was quite clear that U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech, which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he “would sign with both hands,” would draw mixed reactions. Its failure to go into details about the Israeli-Palestinian issue was assumed to be due to a combination of re-election concerns and those of slipping Jewish support.

But the U.S. Jewish organizations provided varying – in some cases even polar – responses to the speech.

Obama at UN - Reuters - September 21, 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 21, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), which recently launched a new website explaining Obama’s support for Israel, took the speech as an opportunity to claim that all the “political chatter” doubting the president’s support for Israel should be “put to bed once and for all.”

“As he has proven throughout his presidency, President Obama supports Israel and its people instinctively. Israel truly has no better friend in the world today,” NJDC leaders Marc Stanley and David Harris said in a joint statement Wednesday.

“On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Board of Directors and leadership, we wish to express our thanks to President Barack Obama for passionately and eloquently standing up for Israel and the Jewish State’s security needs at the United Nations today,” they said.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) welcomed the speech. “AIPAC appreciates the President’s “unshakeable” commitment to Israel’s security and his clear statements outlining the daily dangers and strategic threats facing Israel. President Obama demonstrated his understanding of Israel’s legitimate requirements when he stated that the Jewish people – in their historic homeland – deserve recognition and normal relations with their neighbors,” the Jewish lobby said.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said “President Obama’s message was crystal clear that the only path to sustainable peace is direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, not what goes on in the corridors of the UN.”

The Conference of Presidents Chairman Richard Stone and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein welcomed Obama’s comments at the opening session of the UN General Assembly in support of direct negotiations, and his rejection of solutions imposed by outside parties, unilateral moves, or one sided declarations at the United Nations.

“The President correctly and clearly identified Israel’s security needs and challenges,” said the Conference of Presidents heads.

“The President said that “the Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland” and that “Israel deserves recognition.” We specially note this formulation not only because it reaffirmed a historic truth but also because many in the hall he was addressing have sought to deny Israel’s ancient and constant connection to the land and others have refuse to recognize it as the Jewish State,” their statement continued.

“We hope that other leaders will listen to President Obama’s words and heed his warnings,” they said, adding, “Most of all, we hope that the automatic majority against Israel at the UN will come to consider the danger to that institution and to the cause of peace that results from a blanket acceptance of anti-Israel measures no matter how unjustified they may be.”

Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow praised Obama for saying the United States is dedicated to achieving peace through bilateral negotiations.

“He (Obama) understands that peace is a cooperative venture. It needs leaders, partners, supporters, witnesses, and principled advocates. No sustainable peace can be achieved alone,” said the Rabbi. “The path to peace is paved with compromise and cooperation, not unilateralism.”

But on the left side of the map, the disappointment was palpable.

Americans for Peace Now President and CEO Debra DeLee said Obama’s speech, while saying the Americans support peace, offered little hope to Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israelis want and deserve peace and security as much as anyone in the region. Palestinians want and deserve freedom and self-determination as much as Egyptians, Tunisians, or Libyans. The United States cannot maintain credibility as the standard-bearer of rights and freedoms while the Israeli-Palestinians conflict is left to fester,” said DeLee.

DeLee called upon the U.S. President to use his time at the United Nations this week as an opportunity to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations. “Only this can re-establish and re-assert U.S. credibility and re-inject hope for an end to this conflict,” she said.

The Jewish Voice for Peace issued a statement calling the speech “profoundly disappointing”, claiming that “his desire to get re-elected in 2012 has trumped not only his good sense, but his ability to act on behalf of U.S.– and in the long run– Israel’s best interests.”

The group accused Obama of catering to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demands, seen in his refusal “to even mention the words settlement or occupation”. The statement said Obama is “actively opposing Palestinian moves for statehood that are consistent with stated U.S. policy.”

J Street has rejected the Palestinian UN bid, and its President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement that Obama was right to say there is “no shortcut” to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that Obama must turn this “crisis” into “an opportunity to jumpstart meaningful diplomacy that yields results.”

In a statement, Orthodox Union president Dr. Simcha Katz and director of public policy Nathan Diament congratulated Obama “for his clear statement of opposition to the Palestinians’ effort to unilaterally seek recognition at the United Nations instead of at the negotiating table with Israel. We also commend President Obama’s strong statements of support for Israel and his Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security.”

 

 

Israel Political Brief September 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Pro-Israel Support at UN Delights Israeli Government

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Obama Backing Delights Israeli Government

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-22-11

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman praises US President Barack Obama, it is no wonder that the Palestinians and their supporters are upset. In yesterday’s speech to the UN General Assembly, Obama was actually directing his remarks at one of his most important domestic audiences – Jewish voters in the US, whose traditional support for the Democrats has been wavering in the run up for next year’s US elections.

Obama spoke at length on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but his message to the Palestinians could be summed up in one phrase: there are no shortcuts to peace.

Barack said, “One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, obama at the unand I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.”

Obama added, “Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal.”

Obama’s message to US Jews was, “But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.”

The Palestinians did not have high hopes, as the US has been lobbying heavily on UN Security Council members to vote against giving Palestine UN membership. But they had hoped that Obama would reiterate his May structure for ending the conflict, specifically that the 1967 border would be the basis for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The Palestinians also hoped to hear criticism of Israel’s settlements, which every US government since the Johnson administration has considered illegal.

Instead, Obama’s remarks were fully pro-Israel, as if written by parameters set by the Netanyahu government. The remark “there is no short cut to the end of a conflict” -i.e. forget about a UN vote – grabbed the listeners attention.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is celebrating. So is AIPAC. The Palestinians are furious. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) put his hands to his head in a gesture of despair.

For the full text of the speech, click here.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com

Israel Brief September 21, 2011: Hundreds gather for pro-Israel rally at U.N.

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Hundreds gather for pro-Israel rally at U.N.

Source: JTA, 9-21-11

Several hundred supporters of Israel gathered near the United Nations to protest the Durban III meeting and oppose the Palestinian statehood bid.

Wednesday’s rally was organized by the pro-Israel Christian group Eagles’ Wings.

Many leading Jewish groups have decided not to mount demonstrations in response to the Palestinian statehood bid or to what they see as the U.N.’s increasingly irrelevant Durban III meeting.

Some Jewish groups dropped out of Wednesday’s rally due to the involvement of the Jerusalem Institute for Justice, an organization led by messianic Jews.

Roz Rothstein, the CEO of StandWithUs, one of the few Jewish groups to co-sponsor the rally, said that Durban III was worth protesting.

“Even if its one day long, even if it is one paragraph long. We’ll fight them,” Rothstein told the JTA.

Some of the rally’s speakers criticized President Obama’s policies.

“Obama built up the reputation of Mahmoud Abbas, and as a result the Palestinian Authority now believes it no longer needs to negotiate with Israel,” said the deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, Danny Danon.

The remaining speakers were mostly Christian, although Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue also spoke.

Many of the rally attendees were evangelical Christians and messianic Jews.

Amy Liantonio, 25, a messianic Jew who came from Philadelphia for the rally, said she was disappointed that there was not more Jewish support for the event.

“I wish they were here,” she said.

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama Addresses the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood — Obama Meets with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu Deserves ‘Badge of honor’

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings and JBuzz. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish Studies at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

IN FOCUS: UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N. – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them, on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.” — President Barack Obama Speaking at the UN

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood (Transcript) WH, 9-21-11

Full Text September 21, 2011: Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly (Transcript) WH, 9-21-11

Obama: No short cut to peace in Middle East: President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that there could be no short cut to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as he sought to head off a looming diplomatic crisis for the Middle East and U.S. policy there…. – AP, 9-21-11

    • Obama seeks to save Mideast policy from U.N. debacle: Addressing world leaders at the opening of a U.N. General Assembly session, Obama — whose earlier peace initiatives accomplished little — put the onus on the two sides to break a yearlong impasse and get back to the negotiating table…. – Reuters, 9-21-11

“I want to thank you Mr. President for standing with Israel and supporting peace. We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down and negotiate. … This is the only way to get a stable and durable peace.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“The bonds between the U.S. and Israel are unbreakable. Peace cannot be imposed on the parties. It’s going to have to be negotiated. … The ultimate goal of all of us is two states side-by-side living in peace.” — President Barack Obama

    • Netanyahu to Obama: ‘Badge of honor’ on Palestinians: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama today that his opposition to United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood is “a badge of honor.”
      Obama met with Netanyahu after speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, where he urged members not to recognize a new Palestinian state so that the Palestinians and Israelis could work out difficult issues…. – USA Today, 9-21-11
    • “Standing Your Ground (On Israel) Is A Badge of Honor”: Before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning at the UN, President Obama said that “the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable.”
      The president, who has publicly clashed with Netanyahu in the past, delivered a message at the UN today that contained little to rankle the conservative Israeli leader, given their mutual opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood before any peace treaty has been worked out…. – ABC News, 9-21-11
    • Benjamin Netanyahu: President Obama deserves ‘badge of honor’: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to dissuade Palestinian leaders from pushing for a United Nations vote on statehood, calling Obama’s actions a “badge of honor” for the president. … – Politico, 9-21-11
    • Netanyahu tells Obama Palestinian UN bid doomed: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that direct negotiation was the only way to achieve a stable Middle East peace and the Palestinian effort to secure UN recognition of statehood “will not succeed.”…. – Ynetnews, 9-21-11
    • Obama, at U.N., Explains Rationale for Opposing Palestinian Statehood Bid: President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
      “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
      Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should continue to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable “final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital…. – NYT, 9-21-11
    • Obama urges U.N. to stay out of Israel-Palestinian conflict: President Obama urged world leaders Wednesday morning to stay out of the conflict over Palestinian statehood as American diplomats pushed to delay a vote on the question during this week’s general assembly of the United Nations.
      Speaking to the full assembly, Obama argued that the two sides will never live in peace unless they work it out themselves.
      Obama was scheduled to meet privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after his morning address, and then to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late in the afternoon…. – LAT, 9-21-11
    • Obama: No ‘Shortcut’ to Peace Between Israelis, Palestinians: AP President Obama speaks during the 66th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters Sept. 21. President Obama said Wednesday there is no “shortcut” to Middle East peace, as he urged the Palestinians to abandon their push for a state…. – Fox News, 9-21-11
    • Obama U.N. speech: ‘No shortcut’ to Mideast peace: President Barack Obama told a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday that Mideast peace “will not come through statements and resolutions” by the world body, arguing against a proposed resolution calling for U.N. recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state.
      “I am convinced that there is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” he told the UN General Assembly. “Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians — not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.”… – Politico, 9-21-11
    • Obama Says ‘No Shortcut’ to Palestinian Statehood: President Barack Obama appealed to a United Nations General Assembly packed with supporters of Palestinian statehood to hold off UN recognition until the Palestinians and Israelis can work out a peace deal…. – WSJ, 9-21-11
    • Obama Confronts Palestinian Bid for Statehood at UN: ‘Peace Is Hard’: In a last-ditch attempt to prevent a showdown with the Palestinian territorities over their bid for statehood at the United Nations later this week, President Obama argued his case for a two-state Middle East solution before the General Assembly today…. – ABC News, 9-21-11

“Once again it’s been proven to all the doubters, President Obama is an ally and friend of Israel. The Obama administration gives backing to Israel’s security in a wide, all-encompassing and unprecedented manner.” — Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a statement

    • Ehud Barak: Obama’s speech again proves that he is a true ally: Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday responded to US President Barack Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly, saying the address was proof of the strong relationship between the American leader and Israel…. – Jerusalem Post, 9-21-11
    • Barak: Obama Speech Proves His Friendship with Israel: Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Atzmaut) responded to United States President Barack Obama’s United Nations General Assembly address on Wednesday, saying the speech was proof of the strong relationship between the American leader and Israel.
      Barak expressed hope that Obama’s speech and developments at the UN would lead to to the resumption of talks with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority…. – Israel National News, 9-21-11

“I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands.” — Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

    • Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman praises Obama’s UN General Assembly speech: FM states that he does not resort to ‘threats’ against the Palestinians in light of their UN statehood bid; Opposition leader Livni says Obama correct to demand negotiations, emphasizing that UN speeches will not ‘change a thing’…. – Ha’aretz, 9-21-11

“Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters. Let us begin negotiations and adopt a precise timetable.” — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France

  • France Breaks With Obama on Palestinian Statehood Issue: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France broke sharply on Wednesday with the effort by the Obama administration and some Europeans to quash the effort by the Palestinians for recognition here, instead calling for enhancing their status in the General Assembly to that of an observer state.
    The French leader, speaking from the famous green marble podium of the General Assembly barely an hour after President Obama, also said it was time to change the formula in trying to negotiate an Arab-Israeli peace, taking an indirect swipe at the United States by saying the efforts so far were a complete failure…. – NYT, 9-21-11
  • Obama stands firm against Palestinian statehood plan: U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected Palestinian plans to seek UN blessing for statehood and urged a return to peace talks with Israel as he tried to head off a looming diplomatic disaster.
    Addressing the UN General Assembly, Obama — whose earlier peace efforts accomplished little — insisted Middle East peace “will not come through statements and resolutions” at the world body and put the onus on the two sides to break a yearlong impasse.
    “There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work,” Obama told an annual gathering of world leaders.
    Grappling with economic woes and low poll numbers at home and growing doubts about his leadership abroad, Obama is wading into Middle East diplomacy at a critical juncture for his presidency and America’s credibility around the globe…. – National Post, 9-21-11
  • Palestinians rally in West Bank while others clash with Israeli soldiers nearby: Palestinians take part in a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron September 21. Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of major West Bank cities on Wednesday to rally behind President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations…. – MSNBC, 9-21-11
  • Baby girl injured during violent clashes in W. Bank: Demonstrators burn tires, throw stones at security forces; IDF uses new non-lethal sonic crowd dispersal weapon; injured man treated on scene. Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank…. – Jerusalem Post, 9-21-11

UN May Not Decide on Palestinian Authority State This Week

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

UN May Not Decide on PA State This Week

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-21-11

Accounts of the big diplomatic showdown facing the United Nations when the Palestinian bid for statehood is filed Friday, Sept. 23 have been blown up and over-dramatized. Neither the Security Council nor the UN General Assembly will be making any immediate decisions this week and US President Barack Obama will not be called on as yet to veto the Palestinian application. Therefore the dispute over which side can muster the magic majority of nine members is premature.

Indeed, debkafile’s diplomatic sources are assured that UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the United States, which holds the key to the tussle, have arranged to put the Palestinian application on hold – or more diplomatically, under consideration, a process which could consume weeks if not months – before it is referred to the Security Council.

In the volatile Middle East, a couple of months are a long time; the Arab uprisings have demonstrated how much can happen in a short period.

flier in palestinian territory
Anti-US feeling runs high among Palestinians

After the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu deliver their speeches on Friday, the General Assembly is not expected to get right down to debating the Palestinian request. It will most likely be held in abeyance for the next session. A special session might be summoned in the interim, but that is the UN Secretary General’s prerogative and he normally makes these decisions in consultation with the White House.

Therefore, the real diplomatic battle over the Palestinian drive for UN acceptance will not take place this week in the GA chamber where the speeches are made, but in Washington. The Obama administration has absurdly been maneuvered, or maneuvered itself, into the lead role for defeating the Palestinian claim for an independent state within the 1967 borders.

The high point of Obama’s May 19 address on the Middle East was a call for Israel to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. He refrained from a demand to demilitarize the prospective state. Five months later, he is bending every ounce of diplomatic leverage to prevent the Security Council from approving a Palestinian state’s acceptance by the world body.

Obama’s path to this quandary was littered with missteps. His ultimatum to the Netanyahu government to halt settlement construction on the West Bank was later abandoned but it had meanwhile been hijacked by Abbas as his main pretext for rejecting direct talks with Israel and turning to the UN.

Further US weakness was displayed in the Middle East Quartet’s inability to reach a decision this week on how to deal with the diplomatic crisis posed by the Palestinian bid.
Composed of representatives from the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN, the Quartet used to be the supreme body for shaping international consensus on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This time, Washington’s lead was not strong enough to pull the parties together and, moreover, the US and Europe are discovering they are beginning to pay for their involvement through NATO in the Libyan conflict.

Russia is playing hard to get and deliberately slowing the momentum of Middle East diplomacy in protest against what Moscow sees as US and European participation in the conquest of Libya, which has gone well beyond their UN Security Council mandate. The Russians were also obstructive on the Syrian issue. They torpedoed every Security Council resolution penalizing and condemning Bashar Assad for his barbaric methods in suppressing dissent, maintaining they would not allow the West to repeat its Libya scenario in Syria.

Now, Moscow is trying to trap the United States into exercising its Security Council veto power against the Palestinian application for UN membership, in order to support its claim that Washington maintains a double standard on the Middle East – defeating Palestinian independence on the one hand and preaching the Arab peoples’ rights to oust their rulers in the name of independence, on the other.

Moscow, partnered actively by Mahmoud Abbas, would thus aim to strip the United States of its last vestiges of credibility in the Arab world.
With no exit from this predicament, Washington and Jerusalem are resorting to the language of threats.

The Palestinians are warned by White House sources that unless they withdraw their application for UN recognition, they will face severe measures. They were given to understand that the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah stood to lose all or part of the half-billion dollars of its annual aid allocation.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz also warned Tuesday, Sept. 20, that Israel would consider halting the transfer of customs revenues to the PA.

Abbas and his party are putting a brave face on these threats. They say loss of income will not deter them from their drive for UN acceptance. The Palestinians say their Arab allies have pledged to make up any shortfall sustained in consequence of their UN initiative.

But they know as well as anyone that no Arab government aside from Saudi Arabia and some of the Arab Gulf emirates will make good on those pledges because they are all wholly preoccupied with the unrest sweeping their streets and have no time or cash to spare for the Palestinians.

Once the Abbas initiative is seen to be hanging fire, the situation on Palestinian home ground could turn nasty.

Ramallah, Wednesday, Sept. 21, saw the first large Palestinian gathering of several marches and rallies scheduled for the coming days to celebrate their approaching independence.

These demonstrations of joy, financed by Abbas and his associates out of the PA’s half-empty coffers, are scheduled to climax with his speech Friday and roll on into Saturday.

However, once the penny drops and the Palestinian request is seen to be held up, these rallies may turn to violence against the security forces fielded both by Abbas and Israel to keep them within bounds and out of Israeli locations.

It is more than likely that Hamas, which rules the separate Palestinian Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad and Hizballah – both Iranian proxies – will turn the crowded streets into stages for mounting terrorist activity, without even waiting for instructions from Tehran and Damascus.

They would aim not just to punish Israel but to torpedo the Palestinian UN initiative which the rejectionists and extremists regard as a forbidden compromise on their claim to every inch of Palestinian soil and Israel’s removal. They would also seek to challenge the credibility and potency of the Palestinian leader and his US-trained security legions.
This outlook will be further exacerbated when the Palestinian Authority, deprived of aid funds, cannot pay wages to civil and security personnel. Without pay, they may well vent their frustrations on the Palestinian Authority heads, especially Abbas, and Israel. No one can tell whether Syria, where Assad is in the last stages of suppressing the uprising against his regime, and Iran – through Hizballah, Hamas and Jihad Islami – will intervene.

With these fraught prospects in mind, it is no wonder that the Israeli Prime Minister delayed his takeoff for New York by 45 minutes Wednesday morning for an urgent conference at the airport with Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.
Later Wednesday, he has an appointment at UN Center with President Obama.

via debka.com

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thanks Canadian PM Stephen Harper for Supporting Israel at UN Meeting

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israeli PM Netanyahu thanks Harper for support


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting at the United Nations Wednesday, September 21, 2011.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Source: The Canadian Press, 9-21-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support for Israel.

The two leaders met at the United Nations on Wednesday as Harper wound up a two-day New York visit.

During a brief photo op, the two men both said the solution to the Israel-Palestinian impasse lies in a resumption of two-way peace talks, not a United Nations declaration of statehood for Palestine.

Harper, an outspoken supporter of Israel, opposes efforts by the Palestinians to win United Nations recognition of statehood. He says that move won’t help the Middle East peace process….READ MORE

Full Text September 21, 2011: Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Statements by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as They Began their Meeting at the UN General Assembly

Source: Israel PMO, 9-21-11

President Obama:  As I just said in the speech that I gave before the UN General Assembly, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is unbreakable.  Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that today our security cooperation is stronger than it has ever been.  I’m  looking forward to a good discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the events not only here in the United Nations, but also of the developments that have been taking place in the region.

As I just indicated, peace cannot be imposed on the parties.  It’s going to have to be negotiated.  One-sided declarations in the United Nations will achieve neither statehood nor self-determination for the Palestinians, but

Israelis and Palestinians sitting down together and working through these very difficult issues that have kept the parties apart for decades now…  the ultimate goal of all of us, which is two states, side by side, living in peace and security.  Recent events in the region remind us of how fragile peace can be and why the pursuit of Middle East peace is more urgent than ever.  I think we need to pursue that peace, and know that the Prime Minister recognizes that America’s commitment to Israel will never waiver and that our pursuit of a just and lasting peace is one that is, not only compatible, but we think puts Israel’s security at the forefront.

So, it is a great pleasure to have the Prime Minister here.  I want to thank him for his efforts…

PM Netanyahu:  I want to thank you, Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations.  We both agree this is the only way to achieve peace.  We both agree that Palestinians and the Israelis should sit down together and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security.  I think this is the only way to get to a stable and durable peace.  You’ve also made it clear that the Palestinians deserve a state, but it’s a state that has to make that peace with Israel, and therefore their attempt to shortcut this process, not negotiate peace – that attempt to get state membership in the United Nations will not succeed.  I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state in the international community, but they’re not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return.

And my hope is that there will be other leaders in the world, as part of the UN, who will meet your call, Mr. President, and oppose this effort to shortcut peace negotiations – in fact to avoid them – because I think that avoiding these negotiations is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for peace.  I know that these leaders are under enormous pressure and I know that they are also in this house which has, from personal experience I can tell you, automatic majorities against Israel, but I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle, which is also, I think, the right position to achieve peace – I think this is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor, and also to express my hope that others will follow your example, Mr. President.  So I want to thank you.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו והנשיא אובמה בפתח פגישתם באו”ם (תרגום מאנגלית):

הנשיא אובמה: כפי שאמרתי כרגע בנאומי בפני עצרת הכללית באו”ם, הקשרים בין ארצות הברית לבין ישראל הם בלתי שבירים, והתחייבותה של ארצות הברית לביטחונה של ישראל בלתי שבירה אף היא. אכן, אני סבור שאפשר לומר שכיום שיתוף הפעולה הביטחוני בינינו איתן מתמיד. אני מצפה לשיחה טובה עם ראש הממשלה נתניהו לא רק לגבי האירועים שמתרחשים כאן בעצרת האו”ם, אלא גם לגבי ההתפתחויות האזוריות.

כפי שציינתי, אי אפשר לכפות שלום על הצדדים. חייבים לנהל משא ומתן. הצהרות חד-צדדיות באו”ם לא ישיגו מעמד של מדינה ולא הגדרה עצמית לפלסטינים. ישראלים ופלסטינים חייבים לשבת ולעבוד ביחד כדי לדון בנושאים הקשים הללו שמפרידים בין הצדדים במשך עשורים רבים. זוהי המטרה המשותפת של כולנו – שתי מדינות, זו לצד זו, החיות בשלום וביטחון אחת עם השנייה. אירועים שהתרחשו באזור לאחרונה ממחישים לנו עד כמה השלום יכול להיות שברירי ומדוע החתירה לשלום במזרח התיכון חשובה היום יותר מאי פעם. עלינו לחתור לשלום הזה. אני יודע שראש הממשלה מודע לכך שמחויבותה של ארצות הברית לישראל בלתי ניתנת לערעור וששאיפתנו לשלום צודק ובר קיימא איננה רק נכונה, אלא גם מציבה את ביטחונה של ישראל בעדיפות העליונה.

לכן, עונג רב לי לארח את ראש הממשלה כאן. ברצוני להודות לו על מאמציו.

רה”מ נתניהו: ברצוני להודות לך, אדוני הנשיא, על תמיכתך בישראל ועל תמיכתך בשלום שיושג דרך משא ומתן ישיר. שנינו מסכימים שזוהי הדרך היחידה להשיג שלום. אנחנו מסכימים שעל הפלסטינים והישראלים לשבת יחד ולנהל משא ומתן על הסכם של הכרה הדדית וביטחון. בעיניי, זוהי הדרך היחידה להשיג שלום יציב ובר קיימא. הבהרת גם שהפלסטינים זכאים למדינה, אבל על המדינה הזו לעשות שלום עם ישראל, ולכן הניסיון שלהם לקצר התהליך ולא לנהל משא ומתן, הניסיון לזכות בחברות מדינית באו”ם לא יצליח. לדעתי, הפלסטינים רוצים להשיג מדינה בקהילה הבינלאומית, אולם הם אינם מוכנים להעניק לישראל שלום בתמורה.

לכן תקוותי שיהיו מנהיגים אחרים בעולם, כחלק מהאו”ם, שיענו לקריאתך, אדוני הנשיא, ויתנגדו למאמץ זה לקצר את תהליך המשא ומתן לשלום – למעשה להתחמק ממנו. בעיניי, הימנעות ממשא ומתן מזיקה לישראל, מזיקה לפלסטינים ומזיקה לשלום. אני מבין שהמנהיגים הללו נמצאים תחת לחץ כבד ואני מבין שהם גם נמצאים בבית הזה, שמניסיוני האישי אוכל לומר שקיים כאן רוב אוטומטי נגד ישראל. אבל בעיניי עמדתך האיתנה, עמדתך העקרונית – שהיא גם לדעתי העמדה הנכונה כדי להשיג שלום – היא אות של כבוד. ברצוני להודות לך על כך שאתה ענוד אות כבוד זה. ברצוני גם להביע את תקוותי

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly About Israel & Opposing Palestinian Statehood (Transcript)

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

IN FOCUS: UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN BID FOR STATEHOOD

  • Obama, at U.N., Explains Rationale for Opposing Palestinian Statehood Bid: President Obama declared his opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood through the Security Council on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the United States directly in the path of the Arab democracy movement even as he hailed what he called the democratic aspirations that have taken hold throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
    “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
    Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should continue to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable “final status” issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: the borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes in Israel, and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital…. – NYT, 9-21-11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly

United Nations
New York, New York

10:12 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations — the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.

War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.

No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, “We have got to make, not merely peace, but a peace that will last.”

The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than just the absence of war. A lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom. It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity.

One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of the United Nations put it well: “Many people,” she said, “have talked as if all that has to be done to get peace was to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and we hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.”

The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.

I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place — Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization — remained at large. Today, we’ve set a new direction.

At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq — for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.

As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.

So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.

Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.

So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.

And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Think about it: One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms, men and women wept with joy, and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.

One year ago, the people of Côte D’Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. U.N. peacekeepers were harassed, but they did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States and Nigeria and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Côte D’Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.

One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but he ignited a movement. In a face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word, “freedom.” The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. And now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy that they deserve.

One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.

One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest-serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of the revolution and said, “Our words are free now.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain. Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi — today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.

So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.

But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.

In Iran, we’ve seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?

Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.

Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.

In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.

We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.

Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.

Now, I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.

Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied. That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.

But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.

This body — founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person — must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity. And we will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and each other’s fears. That is the project to which America is committed. There are no shortcuts. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize — we must also remind ourselves — that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace and together we’re called upon to confront them.

To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in half a century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve even deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them.

And so we have begun to move in the right direction. And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them.

The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful. It has not met its obligations and it rejects offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.

To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we’ve made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty. It’s an extraordinary achievement. And yet, three years ago, we were confronted with the worst financial crisis in eight decades. And that crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year — our fates are interconnected. In a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.

And today, we confront the challenges that have followed on the heels of that crisis. Around the world recovery is still fragile. Markets remain volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling just to get by. We acted together to avert a depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I’ve announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, at the same time as I’m committed to substantially reducing our deficits over time.

We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenges. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economy towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That’s what our commitment to prosperity demands.

To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demand.

To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease.

This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the HWO’s [sic] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.

To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.

And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.

And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down the economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.

I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations — to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.

It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this — to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other — because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people.

And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.

Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END
10:47 A.M. EDT

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama in Speech to UN: Consider Israel’s security

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Obama to UN: Consider Israel’s security

Source: JTA, 9-21-11

President Obama appealed to the United Nations to recognize Israel’s security concerns in considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day,” Obama said in his address Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly plenary.

Obama repeated his administration’s calls on the Palestinians not to use the United Nations as a vehicle for achieving statehood, and called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to talks based on the parameters he outlined May.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” he said.

“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than 8 million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, fresh memories of knowing that 6 million people were killed simply because of who they are,” he said.

“Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Obama also called for U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria. Unlike his references to insurgencies in Bahrain and Yemen, he did not repeat his earlier calls for a democratic transition in Damascus, a sign that his administration has given up on trying to broker a transition with Syria’s current ruler.

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler applaud Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Israel Position

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Dershowitz, Cotler applaud Harper on Israel

Source: The Montreal Suburban, 9-21-11
Lawyer and rights activist Alan Dershowitz said last week at Westmount’s Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue that he has been a lifelong Democrat and would never vote Republican.

And Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler is well-known as a member of the Liberal Party who has resisted urgings from members of the community to join the Conservatives.

Yet, both men cheered Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support of Israel, the topic of the event that attracted 1,000 people to the synagogue last Thursday.

“I publicly commend Prime Minister Harper for his support of Israel,” Cotler said.

Dershowitz joined the audience’s loud applause, and said: “He has truly been Israel’s best friend.”

“And on this issue, there are no differences between us,” Cotler added.

Dershowitz was the keynote speaker at the Steinberg lecture series event, in which he spoke about this week’s Palestinian attempt to unilaterally declare independence at the UN and the “irrational hate” of Israel, especially on college campuses. He blasted Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa as an “anti-Semite” and heavily criticized former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Then, in a conversation format, Dershowitz and Cotler exchanged views on several issues, including the crisis now faced by Israel.

“I have to say,” Cotler told his longtime friend Dershowitz, “I have never been as concerned as I am now. There has been a dramatic change this summer, with a critical mass of threat the likes of which Israel has not faced before.”

The MP cited threats emanating from terrorists in Egypt’s Sinai, from which a recent attack took place; Gaza becoming a base for many terrorist groups; Egypt itself, where the 1970s Camp David peace treaty is “hanging by a thread;” increased arms possessed by Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon; and tensions with Turkey.

Dershowitz said many blame Israel for the hostility emanating from Egypt and Turkey.

“That’s an absolutely false accusation,” he said. “Turkey has an agenda, and its prime minister, years ago, has been looking for excuses. The best proof they would be doing exactly the same thing, even if there had been no flotilla [in 2010]; no response by Israel in Egypt where, tragically, some Egyptian policemen had been killed — just look at Jordan. Israel hasn’t done a thing to provoke Jordan, and now there are all kinds of demonstrations and attacks on the Israeli embassy as well.”

Dershowitz said Israel should prepare its military “for the next decades in which there will be no effective peace treaty with Egypt, and no effective alliance with Turkey.

Israel Political Brief September 21, 2011: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposes Palestinian’s bid for statehood at UN — Restates Support for Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Harper opposes Palestinians’ bid for statehood at UN

Source: Canada.com, 9-21-11

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Palestinians Tuesday to get back to the negotiating table with Israel and declared that their bid for statehood at the United Nations could hamper hopes for peace in the Middle East.

Harper made his comments at a news conference at the UN, where he was attending a meeting of world leaders known as the “Friends of Libya”.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is holding its annual meeting — drawing leaders from around the globe — and this year’s session is gripped by a bid by the Palestinians for statehood recognition.

The Palestinians have been actively lobbying the international community to support their request – a move which they say would be a major step toward the actual creation of a Palestinian nation.

By achieving such official recognition, they believe they would have a greater international profile and more leverage in their negotiations with Israel.

The United States has indicated it will oppose the request at the UN – expected to come Friday when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers an address to the UN General Assembly.

Canada has already indicated it will oppose this move. On Tuesday, Harper spoke strongly about why he thinks the proposal is wrong-headed.

“I think there’s no likelihood of this initiative by the Palestinian Authority doing anything to further the peace process,” said the prime minister.

“I think its possible that it could be counter-productive. But I would say if the Palestinian Authority is serious about establishing a sovereign state, the method to do that is not a declaration here at the United Nations. It’s to get back at the negotiating table and negotiate peace with Israel.”

Those comments went further than the remarks Harper made on the subject last Friday.

At that time, he spoke more diplomatically in saying Canada will oppose the move,  which he described as a “unilateral action” that was “regrettable” and would not be “helpful” to long term peace.

Harper will not deliver an address to the General Assembly of the UN — he has done so twice, in 2006 and 2010 since taking power. Instead, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will speak to the Assembly on behalf of Canada early next week…. READ MORE

Israel Political Brief September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry Slams President Barack Obama’s Middle East Policy as a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians in Speech at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

 

Gov. Rick Perry slams President Obama’s Mideast ‘appeasement’

Source: UPI, 9-20-11

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday President Obama’s “moral equivalency” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a “dangerous insult.”

“The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult. There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction.”

“America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks’ through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.”… it is “wrong for this administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

“When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli prime minister’s visit, we see in this American administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naive.”

Perry, flanked by Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon and U.S. Rep. Dan Turner, who last week won the New York congressional seat vacated by Democrat Anthony Weiner, said Obama’s Middle East policies are “arrogant, misguided and dangerous” and amount to a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians, The Washington Post reported….READ MORE

 

Perry blasts Obama’s policies on Israel, Palestinians

Source: WaPo, 9-20-11

 

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry castigated President Obama’s handling of Israeli-Palestinian relations on Tuesday, accusing Obama of a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians that he said was undermining U.S. security interests in the Middle East.

The Texas governor charged that the Obama administration — which has been trying to head off a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood this week and relaunch peace talks — was encouraging the Palestinians to shun direct negotiations with the Israelis.

Perry, a leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said the United States should reconsider its foreign aid to the Palestinians and close the Palestinian Authority’s offices in Washington if authority President Mahmoud Abbas succeeds in his quest for formal recognition of statehood at this week’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

“We would not be here today at the very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry said in a speech in New York, where he was flanked by American Jewish and Israeli leaders….READ MORE

 

 

Full Text September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry’s Speech at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York City (Transcript)

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Gov. Perry’s Remarks at Israel-Palestine Press Conference in New York City

Source: RickPerry.org, 9-20-11

Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.

I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.

Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.

It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.

There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.

Second, it was wrong for this Administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, we see in this American Administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve.

Third, by injecting the issue of 1967 borders in addition to a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, the Obama Administration has put Israel in a position of weakness and taken away their flexibility to offer concessions as part of the negotiation process.

Indeed, bolstered by the Obama Administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East hoping to achieve their objective without concessions or direct negotiations with Israel.

The reason is simple: if they perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?

While the administration is right to finally agree to fight the Arab resolution at the U.N., it bears repeating that we wouldn’t be here today if they had stuck to some basic principles concerning Palestinian statehood:

First, Palestinian leaders must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state;

Second, President Abbas must persuade all factions including Hamas to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and;

Third, Palestinian statehood must be established only through direct negotiations between the Palestinian leadership and the nation of Israel.

By not insisting on these principles, the Obama Administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace.

Israel’s security is critical to America’s security. We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.

Today, the greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal. One thing is clear: we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions must be tightened and increased and all options must remain on the table to stop a brutally repressive regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.

To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change. As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.

Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom.

Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East. We have been complacent in encouraging revolt against hostile governments in Iran and Syria and we have been slow to recognize the risks posed by the new regime in Egypt and the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and Turkey.

It is vitally important for America to preserve alliances with moderate Muslim regimes and Muslim leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region. But today, neither adversaries nor allies alike, know where America stands.

Our muddle of a foreign policy has created greater uncertainty in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” And our policy of isolating and undermining Israel has only encouraged our adversaries in their aggression.

With the end-run on Palestinian statehood imminent before the U.N., America must act swiftly.

First, every nation within the U.N. must know America stands with Israel and the Oslo accord principle of direct negotiations without equivocation.

Second, America must make it clear that a declaration of Palestinian Statehood in violation of the spirit of the Oslo accords could jeopardize our funding of U.N. operations.

Third, the Palestinians must know their gambit comes with consequences in particular that America will have to reconsider the $4 billion in assistance we have provided to the Palestinians over the last 17 years.

Fourth, we should close the PLO office in Washington if the U.N. grants the standing of a Palestinian state.

And fifth, we must signal to the world, including nations like Turkey and Egypt whom we have considered allies in recent years, that we won’t tolerate aggression against Israel.

Israel is our friend and ally. I have traveled there several times, and met with its leaders. It is not a perfect nation, but its existence is critical to America’s security in the world.

It is time to change our policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians to strengthen our ties to the nation of Israel, and in the process establish a robust American position in the Middle East characterized by a new firmness and a new resolve.

If America does not head off the aggression of forces hostile to Israel we will only embolden them.

That would be a tragic mistake.

Israel Brief September 20, 2011: Columbia University Never Invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Dinner

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Columbia U Never Invited Ahmadinejad to Dinner

Source: JTA, Virtual Jerusalem, 9-20-11

Columbia University clarified that a Fox News report suggesting that Columbia’s president was involved in an event next week for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was false.

An Israeli group, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv, had sent a letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger condemning his alleged involvement with the event, saying the university could be liable to legal repercussions. JTA reported the sending of that letter.

The erroneous Fox News report was based on a story in the Columbia student newspaper that reported that members of Columbia’s International Relations Council and Association were invited via e-mail to a private meal Sept. 21 with Ahmadinejad. Some 15 students will attend the dinner, which is still tentative, according to the Columbia Spectator. The dinner is not a Columbia event.

Ahmadinejad is coming to New York to participate in the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly next week. His controversial address at Columbia in 2007 embroiled the campus in a debate over freedom of speech and academic freedom.

When Bollinger hosted Ahmadinejad at the university in 2007, he drew much criticism, even after he introduced the Iranian leader with a scathing rebuke of Iran’s human rights record.

Via jta.org

Israel Political Brief September 20, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry Joins New York Israeli Rally

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Rick Perry Joins Israeli Rally

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-20-11

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is joining a New York rally with a leader of the Likud party’s strongly nationalist flank Tuesday.

The Texas governor will hold a press conference in New York on Tuesday (today) with Knesset Member Danny Danon, who supports bringing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty. Danon is expected to ask Perry to back the move as a response to the Palestinian Authority’s bypassing direct talks with Israel and going to the United Nations for unilateral recognition.

Perry’s high-profile appearance comes one week after the Republican party upset in a long-time Democratic Congressional district in New York, where a special election was held for the seat vacated by Jewish Democrat Anthony Weiner. rick perryThe district is heavily populated by orthodox Jews, but the vote against a Jewish observant Democrat and for a Republican Catholic sent a clear warning to President Barack Obama and his party that he cannot count on the “Jewish vote.”
Perry wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Friday that President Obama is to blame for the Palestinian Authority’s latest tactic to avoid negotiating with Israel over a future PA state.
He argued that constant pressure for Israeli concessions, along with President Obama’s attempts to “engage” Syria and Iran, encouraged PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reject compromise.
The rally urges Jews to “join our community and stand with Governor Rick Perry against the UN vote for Palestinian statehood.” He also will address the Veterans of Foreign Wars 112th National Conference. War, and I’m not against Jews. I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass.”

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief September 19, 2011: PM Netanyahu Calls on Palestinian Authority Chairman to Open Direct Negotiations

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu Calls on Palestinian Authority Chairman to Open Direct Negotiations

Source: PMO, 9-19-11

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening said that he is interested in meeting with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, in New York.  “I call on the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority to open direct negotiations in New York, which would continue in Jerusalem and Ramallah.  I propose to President Abbas to begin peace negotiations instead of wasting time on futile unilateral measures,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that unilateral measures are not the way to advance peace between us and added that the way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations and not via declarations at the UN.

Full Text September 18, 2011: Speaker of the House John Boehner Addresses The Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention — U.S. must stand by Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Full Text: Congressman Boehner Addresses The Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention

Sep 18, 2011Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) delivered the keynote address at the Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Boehner focused his remarks on America’s longstanding commitment to having a strong U.S.-Israel partnership, saying: “We’re here to see that Israel continues to thrive – and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by her side.  Not just as a broker or observer – but as a strong partner and reliable ally.” Following are Congressman Boehner’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks to people attending a meeting of the Jewish National Fund’s 2011 national conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday Sept. 18, 2011. | AP Photo

 

Remarks by Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) Jewish National Fund’s 2011 National Conference As Prepared for Delivery September 18, 2011

“Stan, thank you … and thank you all for the warm welcome.   I’m humbled by the opportunity to be here with you this morning.  It’s a privilege to serve as a warm-up act for Larry King.

“Thank you also to Effie Stenzler … and thank you to Ron Lauder and Russell Robinson for your dedication to this truly outstanding organization.

“As I understand it, this is the first time JNF has held its national conference in Cincinnati.  What took you so long?

“Cincinnati has the oldest – and, in my view, most active – Jewish community west of the Alleghenies.  The longest-running Jewish newspaper in the country,

“The American Israelite, is based right here in the Queen City.  We not only have the right place to talk about these issues … we have the right people, too.

“Long before I was Speaker, before I was a Member of the Congress … leaders in this community were kind enough to come and talk to me about these issues.  I’m glad they did.

“I’m happy to see so many young people here.  We are fighting these fights in the hope you won’t have to.   But history and humility tell us you will have to take up this charge.

“Everyone here understands the stakes … each of you has every right to stand up and be proud of what you’re doing.   I salute you, and I thank you.

“This is certainly the right time for us to gather.

“ Like you, I have read suggestions by newspaper columnists and observers that events have overtaken Israel … that Israel is ‘isolating itself’ in the Middle East.

“That view is wrong, and always has been wrong.

“Israel is not isolating itself – Israel is leading in the Middle East.

“Israel does not stand alone – Israel stands above as the one true beacon of freedom and opportunity in the Middle East.

“We’re here to see that Israel continues to thrive – and to make clear it is America’s duty to stand by her side.  Not just as a broker or observer – but as a strong partner and reliable ally.

“That’s why I’m pleased to report that the House has ensured – in this time of fiscal responsibility – that America meets its financial commitments to Israel.

“We will continue to do so.

“I’m also pleased with the work being done by the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the leadership of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

“She led the charge to put the House on record opposing funding for the Palestinian Authority as long as it aligns itself with Hamas.

“As Ileana put it not too long ago, ‘I don’t care if there is one or five or hundreds of members of Hamas involved; no U.S. funds can go to the PA.’

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.

“I’ve been Speaker of the House more than eight months now … we’ve had some significant moments in the chamber.

“For me, one of the most powerful occurred in May when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress.

“It was my honor to invite him.  It was the least I could do for the leader of one of our closest allies in the world.

“Bibi did not disappoint.  He received nearly 30 standing ovations … bipartisan standing ovations.   All well-deserved.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress because the American people deserved to hear from him – and Washington, quite frankly, needed to hear what he had to say.

“I invite the people in this room – and anyone as concerned as I am about the future of Israel – to speak out.  Washington needs to hear from you, too.

“For this to be a truly transformational time, one thing cannot change … and that is America’s commitment to Israel’s future.

“Something the prime minister said in his speech to Congress has stuck with me.

“He was talking about how the Middle East stands at a crossroads.  And he said: ‘Like all of you, I pray that the peoples of the region choose the path less traveled, the path of liberty.’

“It is the path less traveled isn’t it?  We know freedom and democracy don’t come cheap.  They require vigilance – they rely on the tools of persuasion and progress.

“Among those tools are strategic alliances built on trust, not fear or coercion.

“Our democracies are cut from the same cloth.  Our peoples treasure the same values.

“American patriots went to Philadelphia to make a Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Franklin called the colonies ‘God’s new Israel.’

“Israel’s founders gathered in Tel Aviv to realize Herzl’s dream by issuing a Proclamation of Independence.

“Both sites, by the way, are now called Independence Hall.

“The Israeli proclamation imagined a state based on freedom, justice and peace, one that guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.

“It spoke of a country that would foster economic development for the benefit of all its inhabitants.

“There are no shortcuts or loopholes – no talk of one election, one time.  It’s about freedom and opportunity for all, and for all time.

“Freedom is a universal right – but we have learned the hard way it is an earned right.

“The United States and Israel remain prime targets of terror.

“The recent anniversary of September 11th was a reminder of our shared pain.

“There is only one place in the world outside the United States that lists the names of all the innocents who died that day.

“It is located on a hilltop at the entrance to Jerusalem.  And it was built by the Jewish National Fund.  Thank you.

“I appreciate the fact that you call it a ‘living’ memorial.

“Those who died left behind a sacred charge: to pledge to each other ‘never again’ and to confront and defeat the terrorist threat.

“Over the last ten years, not only has Israel stood with us, but it has done so from the front lines of the struggle to confront and defeat terror.

“Thinking back to the last time I was in Israel … standing at the northern border with Lebanon…

“From where I stood on that border, it’s about a hundred miles to Jerusalem, about the same distance from here to our state capital of Columbus.

“For Israel, the enemy is close … and committed.

“Why, Israel’s neighbor does not even acknowledge its right to exist.

“Just four months ago, the leader of the Hamas administration in Gaza said, and I quote, ‘The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth.’

“Recently, Hamas leaders blocked Palestinian students from studying in the United States under scholarships they legitimately earned.  Why?  ‘For social and cultural reasons.’

“This week, Israel will face a three-pronged assault when the United Nations General Assembly meets.

“There will be a ‘celebration’ of the Durban Declaration, a document that charges Israel with racism.

“The president of Iran, who has called Israel a cancer to be annihilated, will take the podium.

“And the Palestinian Authority will seek a unilateral recognition of statehood.

“Israel has demonstrated time and again it seeks nothing more than peace … a peace agreed to by the two states and only the two states.

“Like every prime minister before him, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows peace will require compromise – and he accepts that.  He welcomes that.

“Where I’m from … where we’re from … we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us.

“Supporting Israel and her people has been the policy of this nation since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office.

“Our commitment to Israel should be no less strong today.  If anything, it should be stronger than it’s ever been.  And, with your help, it will be.  It must be.

“Not far from here, near where I live in West Chester, is a place called Voice of America Park.

“It was once the site of a relay station for the Voice of America radio station, which was established during World War II.

“The station transmitted ‘truthful news’ about freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples, behind enemy lines.

“Hitler could do nothing to stop it.  VOA got to him.  He was known in his speeches to decry those ‘Cincinnati liars.’

“The lesson here is simple: words matter.  The truth can pierce even the most stubborn defenses.

“It is up to us to tell Israel’s story … to spread Israel’s truth.  The voice of America starts with the people in this room.

“I’m up for it.  And for the sake of our people, Israel’s people, and all freedom-loving peoples – I hope all of us are up for it.

“Let’s look out for one another, and keep at it.  Never quit.  Thank you.”

Featured Op-Eds Gov. Rick Perry in the Wall Street Journal: The U.S. Must Support Israel At the U.N.

FEATURED OP-EDS

Governor Rick Perry submitted this op-ed, which appears in the Wall Street Journal:

Obama policies have encouraged the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with Israel.

The historic friendship between the United States and Israel stretches from the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 to the present day. Our nations have developed vital economic and security relationships in an alliance based on shared democratic principles, deep cultural ties, and common strategic interests. Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of “civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.”

Surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and terror organizations that aim to destroy her, the Jewish state has never had an easy life. Today, the challenges are mounting. Israel faces growing hostility from Turkey. Its three-decades-old peace with Egypt hangs by a thread. Iran pursues nuclear weapons its leaders vow to use to annihilate Israel. Terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from Hezbollah and Hamas continue. And now, the Palestinian leadership is intent on destroying the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel in favor of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.

The Palestinian plan to win that one-sided endorsement from the U.N. this month in New York threatens Israel and insults the United States. The U.S. and the U.N. have long supported the idea that Israel and its neighbors should make peace through direct negotiations. The Palestinian leadership has dealt directly with Israel since 1993 but has refused to do so since March 2010. They seem to prefer theatrics in New York to the hard work of negotiation and compromise that peace will require.

Errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take backward steps away from peace. It was a mistake to call for an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had been negotiating with Israel for years, notwithstanding settlement activity. When the Obama administration demanded a settlement freeze, it led to a freeze in Palestinian negotiations. It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians’ demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the U.S., and it was an even greater mistake for President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.

Palestinian leaders have perceived this as a weakening of relations between Israel and the U.S, and they are trying to exploit it. In taking this destabilizing action in the U.N., the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership’s insistence on the so-called “right of return” of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel’s sovereign territory, thereby making Jews an ethnic minority in their own state, is a disturbing sign that the ultimate Palestinian “solution” remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

The U.S.—and the U.N—should do everything possible to discourage the Palestinian leadership from pursuing its current course.

The U.S. should oppose the statehood measure by using our veto in the Security Council, as President Obama has pledged to do, and by doing everything we can to weaken support for the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly. The U.S. must affirm that the precondition for any properly negotiated future settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.

Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, the U.S. has provided more than $4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This year alone, the Obama administration is seeking to secure $550 million in funding for Palestinians. The U.S. has an interest in the development of Palestinian civil society and institutions. We should encourage Palestinians who are more interested in building a prosperous future than in fueling the grievances of the past.

Our aid is, and must remain, predicated on the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to engage honestly and directly with the Israelis in negotiating a peace settlement. Their threatened unilateral action in the U.N. signals a failure to abide by this commitment.

We must not condone and legitimize through our assistance a regime whose actions are in direct opposition to a peace agreement and to our vital interests. The Palestinian people should understand that their leaders are now putting this much-needed support in jeopardy and act in their own best interests—which are also the interests of peace.

Israel asks its embassies to thwart PA unilateralism

Source: Jerusalem Post, 12-20-10

Foreign Ministry asks its diplomats to prevent Palestinian moves seeking recognition; tensions mount between Fayyad and PA over statehood.

The Foreign Ministry on Monday sent a cable to its embassies abroad instructing its diplomats to thwart Palestinian moves to seek unilateral recognition of statehood particularly at the UN, according to diplomatic sources.

“There is no substitute for direct negotiations,” said Foreign Ministry Hebrew spokesman Yossi Levy.

Establishing a Palestinian state is not like asking people to mark a favorite page on Facebook, he said.

He added that it was in the Palestinians best interest to talk with Israel instead of “trying to inflame” the international arena.

%d bloggers like this: