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Netanyahu win dashes prospect for a thaw with Obama

By Julie Pace
The Times of Israel
March 19, 2015


US official says PM reversal on idea of independent Palestinian state would have consequences.

ImageWASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration signaled on Wednesday it could take a tougher stance toward Benjamin Netanyahu following his decisive Israeli election victory and campaign tack to the right, saying there will be consequences for his sudden reversal on the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

While senior American officials said the administration was still evaluating options, they suggested the US could ease its staunch opposition to Palestinians turning to the UN Security Council to create a state.

“There are policy ramifications for what he said,” one official said of Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state. “This is a position of record.”

If Netanyahu holds firm to his opposition to a two-state resolution to the Mideast conflict, it could force whoever sits in the Oval Office — now and in the next administration — to choose between the prime minister and a longstanding US policy with bipartisan support.

 
Netanyahu scores crushing victory in Israeli elections

With almost 99% of votes tallied, Likud climbs to 30-24 seat win over Zionist Union in overnight drama; PM promises new coalition with other ‘nationalist parties’; Meretz head may quit over poor showing

By Times of Israel staff and AP
March 18, 2015

ImagePrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was the clear winner in Tuesday’s election, a near-final tally showed early Wednesday morning, defeating the Zionist Union by a margin of some six seats.

That margin was far more decisive than TV exit polls had predicted when polling booths closed at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. All three TV polls had put Likud and Zionist Union neck-and-neck at 27 seats, albeit with Netanyahu better-placed to form a coalition.

On the basis of those TV polls, Netanyahu hailed a Likud victory, though Herzog initially refused to concede. As counting proceeded through the night, however, the Likud opened a growing margin of victory.

By 6 a.m., with some 99% of votes counted, the Central Elections Committee was indicating a dramatic victory for Netanyahu, with the Likud heading for 30 seats, compared to Zionist Union’s 24 seats.

ImageNext came the Joint (Arab) List on 14 seats, Yesh Atid on 11, Kulanu on 10 and the Jewish Home on 8. They were followed by Shas, 7, United Torah Judaism on 6, Yisrael Beytenu on 6, and Meretz on 4 seats.

Results of the 20th Knesset with 99 percent reporting

Meretz head Zahava Gal-on was reportedly expected to quit the party if the final result of 4 seats is confirmed, according to Channel 2. She was set to hand over the leadership to popular Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg.

ImageAccording to official results, the Likud won big in the central Israeli cities of Bat Yam and Holon and the southern towns of Beersheba, Dimona, Sderot and Arad, between 30%-42% of the votes. In towns in the Gaza periphery, which were hard-hit during the past summer war, the Zionist Union was more popular among voters. In Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the Hatnua-Labor joint list won some 56% of votes while in Kibbutz Beeri, 66% of residents voted for the party.

Results of the 20th Knesset with 99 percent reporting

Five hours earlier, at 1 a.m., Netanyahu claimed a victory “against all odds” and promised to form a new government without delay. But Herzog also said he would make “every effort” to build a coalition. Both were hoping for the support of Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party, whose campaign focused almost entirely on bread-and-butter economic issues, refused to take sides, but he is a former Likud minister.

 
US concerned by Netanyahu's 'divisive rhetoric' in election

White House says administration maintains support of two-state solution despite Likud leader's reversal of position on Palestinian independence in last days of campaign.

By Yitzhak Benhorin
Ynet News.com
March 18, 2015


WASHINGTON – The White House said on Wednesday that the United States would seek the best approach to implementing a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the re-election of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Senior officials in the US administration expressed concerns over the Israeli prime minister's statements during the final days of the campaign, when he reversed his support for a Palestinian state – the creation of which is fundamental to American policy in the Middle East.

The administration of President Barack Obama will not accept Netanyahu's policy reversal since his historic speech at Bar-Ilan University in 2009 and have handled his statements as driven by electioneering. Meanwhile, the Americans emphasized the special relationship Israel enjoys with the superpower.

White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said that President Obama continues to believe that the best solution for the conflict is an independent state for Palestinians. However, he added that the US will reevaluate its position given Netanyahu's recent statements.

Earnest said Obama would call Netanyahu "in the coming days" to congratulate him on his re-election victory. He said that US Secretary of State John Kerry had already called the prime minister to congratulate him.

But despite the diplomatic overtures, the Obama administration also criticized the Likud leader for using "divisive rhetoric" to undermine Arab Israeli voters.

Relations between the American and Israeli leaders reached a new low in March when Netanyahu accepted an invitation by Republican lawmakers – against Obama's wishes – to address a joint-session of Congress on the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.

 
The Role of the Palestinian Authority in Israel's Election Results

By Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute
March 18, 2015


ImageThose around the world who are upset with Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu electoral victory over the Zionist Camp party should put much of the responsibility for Israel's rightward turn squarely where it belongs: on the Palestinian Authority (PA).

At least twice over the last 15 years, Israel has offered the Palestinians extraordinarily generous two-state solutions. The first time was in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, with a capital in Jerusalem. Yassir Arafat turned down the offer and started an intifada, in which 4000 people were killed. This self-inflicted wound by the leader of the PA contributed greatly to the weakening of Israel's peace camp, most particularly of Ehud Barak's Labor party. The current Zionist Camp party, which is an offshoot of Labor, has continued to suffer from that weakening.

Then again, in 2007, Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even more generous resolution, to which Mahmoud Abbas failed to respond positively. This failure also contributed to the weakening of the Israeli center-left and the strengthening of the right.

Israel is a vibrant democracy, in which people vote their experience, their fear and their hope. In 2000-2001 and 2007, most Israelis had high hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict. These hopes were dashed by Arafat's rejection and Abbas' refusal to accept generous peace offers. It is not surprising therefore, that so many Israelis now vote their fear instead of their hope.

 
Hero of the Middle East: The Israeli Messenger

By Bassam Tawil
Gatestone Institute
March 18, 2015


In its evident, inexplicable eagerness to sign just about any deal with Iran to allow it nuclear weapons capability, the U.S. State Department has removed Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah -- two of the world most undisguised promoters of terror -- from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.

Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, has even openly admitted that Iran's diplomacy with the U.S. is an active "jihad." How much plainer does a message have to get?

The Islamists have nothing but contempt for Europe's weakness.

The West needs to paralyze Iran, rather than appease it.

A series of significant defeats to Islamist organizations will counter the effects of their efforts to entice young people to join them, especially ISIS.

 
Israelis prepare to vote; Palestinians prepare to fight

By Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute
March 16, 2015

For some Palestinians, the election is not about removing Netanyahu from power. Rather, it is about removing Israel from the face of the earth and replacing it with an Islamist empire.

Kerry's statement about the revival of the peace process shows that he remains oblivious to the reality in the Middle East, particularly with regards to the Palestinians.

Kerry is ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are today divided into two camps; one that wants to destroy Israel through terrorism and jihad and another that is working hard to delegitimize and isolate Israel with the hope of forcing it to its knees.

As Kerry was talking about the revival of the peace process, Hamas announced that it has completed preparations for the next confrontation with Israel.

 
Netanyahu’s ‘gevalt’ gamble

By David Horovitz
The Times of Israel
March 15, 2015

ImageOp-ed: One of the Likud leader’s foremost electoral assets was his aura of invincibility. Herzog dented it. Has the PM’s own last-minute ‘save me’ plea shattered it?

A central theme in the barrage of interviews Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delivered in recent days — including with this writer on Friday — has been “They don’t get it.” As in, a significant proportion of the Israeli electorate that really wants to keep him on as their prime minister, simply doesn’t realize that this may not happen if it votes for right-wing parties (such as Jewish Home, Yachad, Yisrael Beytenu) or right-wing-ish parties (such as Kulanu and Shas), rather than his Likud.

Netanyahu told The Times of Israel, “The public really has chosen: They really want us. They really want me and Likud to lead. But… (there are voters who)… think they have a choice to vote for those parties and still get me as prime minister. But in fact they won’t. The only way they’ll get me as prime minister is if Likud gets sufficient votes. That’s something that’s not been understood. They think that they have two votes, two ballots. But they don’t. They have one. And those that want me as prime minister have to vote for my party, Likud.”

 
BUJI AND THE BOMB

By Sarah Honig
The Jerusalem Post
March 13, 2015


ImageA victorious Hitler parades in just-occupied Prague: Does Buji’s optimism arouse howls of derision in Tehran’s halls of power?

Now that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had done the dreadful deed and sounded the alarm that President Barak Obama didn’t want heard, we can focus on the alternative point of view still cynically dangled before the Israeli voter.

All we know thus far is that Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Isaac “Buji” Herzog, told us often and with increasing shrillness that Netanyahu is destroying that special bond between America and its presumed Israeli protectorate.

In this Herzog gives voice to precisely the same claims as made by Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice (yes, the very one who won universal distrust by disseminating the deception that the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a “heinous and offensive video”). Attempting to stymie Netanyahu, she informed us that his speech would be “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the two countries.

 
What the White House Might Not See about Iran

By Denis MacEoin
Gatestone Institure
March 10, 2015

Given Iran's tendency to enrich uranium in secret, it may achieve nuclear breakout capability well before ten years from now.

Nor should we forget that current polls place Mahmoud Ahmadinejad close behind Hassan Rouhani for the 2017 presidential election.

An exhaustive list of genocidal threats by major Iranian politicians between 2009 and 2012 has been compiled by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The latest threat was made on March 1 of this year.

ImageThe Islamic State and other terrorists do not represent an idealized version of normative Islam, and a number of Muslims may not even support them. But their scriptural and historical roots frankly have plenty of precedent, and far from minimal support.

Shi'i Islam is a very different belief system from Sunni Islam. Iran today resembles a medieval European state.

 
Obama: Republicans aligning with Iranian hardliners

By AP and Times of Israel staff
March 9, 2015

President slams ‘unusual coalition’ after lawmakers warn in letter nuclear deal might not be honored in the future.

US President Barack Obama said a letter from Republican senators to Iranian leaders is ironic because, in his words, some members of Congress appear to want to align themselves with “hardliners” in Iran.

The president termed this “an unusual coalition.”

Forty-seven Republicans, including Senate leaders and several potential 2016 presidential candidates, wrote an open letter to Iran’s leader, warning any deal with Obama might not be honored in future. In the letter, Republicans said that without congressional approval, any deal between Iran and the US would be merely an agreement between Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 
Gee, Officer Obama!

By Sarah Honig
The Jerusalem Post
March 6, 2015


ImageTelling Officer Krupke “a touching good story” in the 1961 film version West Side Story

What to the more discerning observers was evident from the outset of Barack Obama’s White House tenure in 2009 is now openly touted by him as unassailable dogma. He and his mouthpieces never tire of inculcating the notion that there is nothing Islamist about the atrocities perpetrated all around this planet in Islam’s name.

The leader of the free world loses no opportunity to declare that what we see is no more than a law and order issue, a crime-fighting concern, bedevilment by individual wrongdoers. It is not, Obama claims, a global war with distinct ideological battle lines.

The democracies, he would have us believe, aren’t bullied by conquest-oriented Jihadists. At most we’re beset by a bunch of armed gangs rampaging because they are aggrieved, poor, disadvantaged and chronically unhappy. It’s a matter for police and social workers rather than for armies and statesmen.

 
The White House Must Respond to Netanyahu's Important New Proposal

By Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute
March 4, 2015

I was in the House gallery when Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a logical and compelling critique of the deal now on the table regarding Iran's ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons. He laid out a new fact-based proposal that has shifted the burden of persuasion to the White House.

His new proposal is that "If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires." His argument is that without such a precondition, the ten-year sunset provision paves, rather than blocks, the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal, even if Iran were to continue to export terrorism, to bully nations in the region and to call for the extermination of Israel.

ImageIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before the U.S. Congress, March 4, 2015. (Image source: C-SPAN video screenshot)

With logic that seems unassailable, Netanyahu has said that the alternative to this bad deal is not war, but rather "a better deal that Israel and its neighbors might not like, but which we could live with, literally." Netanyahu then outlined his condition for a better deal: namely that before the sun is allowed to set on prohibiting Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the mullahs must first meet three conditions: stop exporting terrorism, stop intruding in the affairs of other countries, and stop threatening the existence of Israel.

 
In blistering speech, PM warns ‘bad’ deal ‘paves path’ to Iranian nukes

Netanyahu evokes upcoming holiday of Purim in accusing Tehran of seeking to annihilate the Jewish people; Congress responds with enthusiastic applause

By Itamar Sharon and Marissa Newman
The Times of Israel
March 3, 2015



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday in a landmark address to the joint houses of Congress that a nuclear deal taking shape between Iran and Western powers “paves the path for Iran” to a nuclear arsenal, rather than blocking it, and urged American leaders to walk away from what he called “a very bad deal.”

The emerging agreement, he told the assembled congress people and senators, would leave Tehran with “a vast nuclear infrastructure” that placed it dangerously close to the ability to break out to a nuclear bomb. It “will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It will all but guarantee that Iran will get nuclear weapons and a lot of them.”

“Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted,” no matter what it says about permitting verification of the terms of any accord designed to prevent it from getting such weapons, he said. “This is a bad deal, it’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

 
Arabs: Why is Obama Siding with Supporters of Terrorism?

By Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute
February 26, 2015


Many Arabs and Muslims see the meeting between Obama and Qatar's al-Thani as a gift to Qatar for its continued support of Islamic radical groups across the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

On the eve of Obama's meeting, Egyptian sources revealed that Qatar was providing weapons and ammunition to members of the Islamic State in Libya. The sources said that 35 Qatari aircraft were involved in transferring munitions.

Arab political analysts are also concerned about Obama's ongoing attempts to appease Iran, which continues to expand its presence in Arab countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon -- as well as in Syria, where it is deeply involved in backing Hezbollah and operating along the border with Israel. A Reuters report revealed that Iran also has hundreds of advisors in Iraq.

Qatar is also one of the biggest funders of Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Mashaal, is based in Qatar's capital, Doha. During the past few years, Qatar has provided Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars -- money used to purchase and develop weapons to attack Israel.

 
Netanyahu ‘astonished’ over continuing nuclear talks

By Times of Israel staff and AFP
February 22, 2015

ImagePM pans US-led ongoing negotiations in light of IAEA report that Tehran is hiding military components of nuke program

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on February 22, 2015. (Photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticized the international community for negotiating with Iran while taking no steps to curb its sponsorship of global terrorism, as top American and Iranian diplomats attempted to hammer out a deal in Geneva.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister said that it was “astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks are proceeding.”

 
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MGI News is the sole U.S. incorporated news and programming organization specializing in the Middle East directed by Jay Bushinsky, founding Bureau Chief of CNN Jerusalem. Topics from President Barak Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Hizbollah and more...

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