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31 mars 2015 2 31 /03 /mars /2015 10:57


- Nucléaire iranien : dernier jour de négociations (AFP)
- Nucléaire iranien : toujours un blocage sur trois sujets majeurs (AFP) - "qui sont la durée d'un accord, la levée des sanctions de l'ONU et un mécanisme de garantie permettant de vérifier que les engagements sont respectés".
"Les négociations sur le nucléaire iranien bloquent toujours sur trois sujets majeurs, qui sont la durée d'un accord, la levée des sanctions de l'ONU et un mécanisme de garantie permettant de vérifier que les engagements sont respectés, a affirmé lundi un diplomate occidental. "Il ne peut y avoir un accord que si on trouve des réponses à ces questions", a estimé ce diplomate. "A un moment, il faut quand même dire oui ou dire non", a-t-il ajouté, au moment où les grandes puissances et l'Iran sont censés aboutir à un accord avant mardi.
Concernant la durée de l'accord, les grandes puissances souhaitent un cadre strict de contrôle des activités nucléaires iraniennes sur au moins 15 ans, mais l'Iran ne veut pas s'engager au delà de dix ans, selon cette source.
La question de la levée des sanctions de l'ONU reste également, depuis le début, un gros point de blocage. Les Iraniens voudraient voir tomber dès la conclusion d'un accord ces sanctions économiques et diplomatiques, jugées humiliantes. Or les grandes puissances veulent une levée graduelle de ces mesures liées à la prolifération nucléaire et prises depuis 2006 par le Conseil de sécurité de l'Onu.
En cas de levée de certaines de ces sanctions, certains pays du P5+1 (USA, GB, Russie, Chine, France, Allemagne) veulent en outre un mécanisme qui permettrait de les réimposer rapidement au cas où l'Iran violerait ses engagements, selon cette source. "L'accord dépendra très largement de ces trois points là, il ne peut y avoir d'accord que si on trouve des réponses à ces questions", a-t-elle estimé. [...]"
- Négociations fiévreuses sur le nucléaire iranien avant la date butoir de mardi, Yves-Michel Riols (Le Monde)
"[...] En dépit de la persistance de ces obstacles, il paraissait néanmoins peu probable, lundi, que les discussions de Lausanne s’achèvent sur un échec total. « Nous avons accumulé tellement de travail qu’il serait impardonnable de tout perdre », a déclaré Sergueï Ryabkov, le chef des négociateurs russes. « A un moment, il faut quand même dire oui ou dire non », a ajouté, de son côté, un responsable occidental. « On est dans une situation historique », tous les chefs de la diplomatie des pays négociateurs sont présents, a-t-il fait valoir. « On a beaucoup travaillé et ce sera beaucoup plus compliqué de reprendre des négociations après » la date butoir du 31 mars, a-t-il souligné. [...]"

- Nucléaire : pour Netanyahu, un accord consacrerait l'impunité iranienne (AFP) - Nétanyahou : "L'accord qui se profile à Lausanne envoie un message selon lequel non seulement on n'a pas à payer le prix de son agressivité, mais on en est au contraire récompensé. [...] Il est impossible de comprendre comment, au moment où les forces soutenues par l'Iran conquièrent de plus en plus de territoires au Yémen, on ferme les yeux à Lausanne face à cette agression. En ce qui nous concerne, nous ne fermerons pas les yeux et nous continuerons à agir contre toute menace".

- A reward for Iran’s noncompliance (Washington Post editorial) - "An appropriate response to this blatant violation of agreements would be to insist that Iran complete the IAEA work plan before any long-term accord is signed or any further sanctions lifted"; "Remarkably, however, negotiators — including the supposedly hard-line French, who have taken the lead on the “military dimensions” issue — have reportedly agreed to let Iran’s noncompliance slide".
"As the Obama administration pushes to complete an agreement-in-principle with Iran on its nuclear program by Tuesday, it has done little to soothe concerns that it is rushing too quickly to settle, offering too many concessions and ignoring glaring warning signs that Tehran won’t abide by any accord. One story incorporates all three of those worries: Iran’s failure to deliver on multiple pledges to answer questions about its suspected research on nuclear warheads.
The United States believes that, prior to 2003, Iran conducted extensive studies and tests on building a bomb and mounting it on a long-range missile — belying its claims that it has pursued nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes. U.S. intelligence was long ago turned over to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, starting in 2006, have ordered Iran to cooperate with the IAEA in clarifying these “possible military dimensions.”
Twice, in 2007 and in 2013, Iran agreed with the IAEA on a “work plan” to clear up the military research issues. In both instances, it then stonewalled inspectors, refusing to answer questions or permit access to sites. After the agency sought access in 2011 to a military complex called Parchin, where warhead detonation tests may have been carried out, satellite surveillance revealed that Iran had demolished buildings and excavated ground in an apparent cover-up operation.
In frustration, the IAEA published an extensive report detailing what it already knew about the illicit bomb work and listed 12 outstanding issues. Two years later, in the hope of sealing an interim deal allowing the partial lifting of sanctions, the government of Hassan Rouhani agreed on a “step-by-step” plan to answer the questions.
But instead of implementing the plan, the regime went back to stonewalling. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told The Post’s Steven Mufson this week that Iran had provided information on just one of the 12 issues. On two others, Mr. Amano said, it had given “very limited” responses, and the remaining nine had not been addressed at all.
An appropriate response to this blatant violation of agreements would be to insist that Iran complete the IAEA work plan before any long-term accord is signed or any further sanctions lifted. Inspectors need their questions answered so that they will be able to determine later whether Iran has violated the controls on its nuclear research expected to be part of a deal. Furthermore, it is vital to establish that Tehran will deliver on its commitments and that it will be held accountable if it does not.
Remarkably, however, negotiators — including the supposedly hard-line French, who have taken the lead on the “military dimensions” issue — have reportedly agreed to let Iran’s noncompliance slide. The IAEA’s unanswered questions will be rolled over and rebundled into the new agreement, with a new time line. That means that Iran will have some sanctions lifted before it complies with a commitment it first made eight years ago.
The question this raises was articulated months ago in congressional testimony by nuclear weapons expert David Albright: “If Iran is able to successfully evade addressing the IAEA’s concerns now, when biting sanctions are in place, why would it address them later when these sanctions are lifted?” In its rush to complete a deal, the Obama administration appears eager to ignore the likely answer."

- What to Worry About in an Iran Nuclear Deal, Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic) - "The largest question in my mind concerns the matter of break-out time—how long it would take for Iran, once it made a decision to violate the terms of a deal and go for full nuclearization, to actually make a deliverable weapon".
"I’m in Berlin, not Lausanne, and I haven’t spoken to anyone associated with the Iran nuclear negotiations in more than a week. Though there is a lot of good journalism being produced out of the talks, it is still difficult to discern what is actually happening at this moment. Those predisposed to believe that these negotiations will bring about a non-violent solution to the Iranian challenge, and also quite possibly encourage the Iranians to be more moderate in their approach to their neighbors, seem somewhat optimistic that the West will make the necessary compromises to win Iranian approval. Those who believe that the West is about to capitulate to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, and set him on a path to the nuclear threshold seem to be praying that Iranian shortsightedness, or dumb luck on the part of the West, subvert these talks.
The more extreme positions on both sides are distasteful. The Pollyannas who not only seem to believe that Iran should be allowed to maintain an advanced nuclear infrastructure if it promises to behave nicely, but who also believe that this nuclear accord will somehow serve to convince the Iranians to moderate their approach to their neighbors and, for instance, stop sponsoring terrorism and murdering large numbers of people in Syria (among other places), are dangerous and naïve. On the other side, those who argue that no negotiated settlement will ever be good enough to keep Iran from the nuclear threshold—that only military action would guarantee an end to the Iranian nuclear program—believe that it is wise to start an actual war now in order to prevent a theoretical one later. If you believe that we are living in 1938, and that Israel, and the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are playing the role of Czechoslovakia, then I suppose this position makes sense. I don’t think we are there, however.
I’ve been making lists of questions I have about the parameters of a framework deal, and a list of experts whose judgment I would trust to evaluate the technical aspects of a deal. Here are a few questions that have, helped by various news stories about the talks, repeatedly crossed my mind in recent days. I would prefer to see a nuclear deal struck, of course, but unsatisfactory answers to these issues would be cause for real worry:
1) What will Saudi Arabia do in response to a deal? If the Saudis—who are already battling the Iranians on several fronts—actually head down the path toward nuclearization, then these negotiations will not have served the underlying purpose President Obama ascribed to them. The president has warned, in interviews with me and others, that a nuclear Iran would trigger a nuclear arms race across the Middle East, the world’s most volatile region. One goal of these talks is to assure the rest of the Middle East that Iran cannot achieve nuclear status. If Saudi Arabia (and Egypt and Turkey and the U.A.E.) does not believe that a deal will achieve this, then it will move on its own to counter the Persian nuclear threat.
2) If the underground enrichment facility at Fordow—which had been hidden from Western view for several years, and which the U.S. and Europe have repeatedly said needs to be closed—is allowed to run centrifuges, even to spin germanium and other elements that cannot be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, then doubt could legitimately be sown about the strength of this deal. Already-spinning centrifuges in a maintained, guarded, and fortified bunker can be retrofitted to handle uranium, should the Iranians choose to break their agreement. It would be better to see Fordow filled with cement, or otherwise crippled.
3) The Iranians have never answered most of the questions put to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency about the possible military dimensions—the so-called PMDs—of their nuclear program. These questions must be answered before sanctions are even partially lifted. Otherwise, the West will never get answers.
4) The proposed speed of sanctions relief is, of course, something to watch carefully. The Iranians want immediate sanctions relief, but the West should only agree to a stately pace of sanctions-removal, predicated on 100-percent Iranian compliance on intrusive inspections, among other issues.
5) The largest question in my mind concerns the matter of break-out time—how long it would take for Iran, once it made a decision to violate the terms of a deal and go for full nuclearization, to actually make a deliverable weapon. The goal of the Obama administration is to make sure that it would take Iran at least a year to cross the threshold. The assumption is that a year would give the West time to devise a response—including, if necessary, a military response. This will be among the issues of greatest controversy because this is an easily misunderstood and distorted matter, one that is both devilishly complicated and, in many ways, theoretical. On this issue, as on others, I will be listening to experts I respect. There are several, but three of the people I will be listening to carefully on this issue in particular are Gary Samore, formerly President Obama’s point man on the Iran nuclear file; David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, and Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the IAEA. If these three, and a handful of others, seem nervous about the details of a framework deal, should one be reached, then I'm going to be nervous as well."

- Iran's Nuclear Breakout Time: A Fact Sheet, Olli Heinonen (senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA) - "Iran has talented engineers and the necessary financial resources, and its nuclear infrastructure is much larger than what it actually needs. Therefore, a monitoring scheme that is merely "good enough" will not guarantee success in preventing Iran from breaking out and achieving a nuclear weapons capability".
- Former IAEA inspector details why the Iran deal is nearly worthless (Elder of Ziyon) - "This is the must-read article of this past weekend".



- Le gouvernement approuve un projet de logements pour les Arabes de Jérusalem (Times of Israel) - "2 200 nouvelles maisons seront construites et plusieurs centaines de maisons – qui ont été construites sans permis – seront légalisées de façon rétroactive. La décision a été adoptée malgré un effort important des militants d’extrême-droite pour l’empêcher".

- The Bibi election day message that no one reports (Elder of Ziyon)
"There have been countless articles about Binyamin Netanyahu's supposedly anti-Arab message on Election Day. What he said that caused all the backlash is "The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out." Joe Klein in Time takes this one sentence and concludes that "he won because he ran as a bigot."
His choice of words was definitely unfortunate, but in context he was more upset over the buses than over the Arabs voting. How do we know? Because he said so only hours after the first message, while the polls were still open. "I want to clarify: there is nothing illegitimate with citizens voting, Jewish or Arab, as they see fit. What is not legitimate is the funding, the fact that money comes from abroad from NGOs and foreign governments, brings them en masse to the ballot box in an organized fashion, in favor of the left, gives undue power to the extremist Arab list, and weakens the right bloc in such a way that we will be unable to build a government — despite the fact that most citizens of Israel support the national camp and support me as the prime minister from Likud."
Did you see any of the media report on this message, released on the exact same platform and aimed at the exact same audience as the earlier one? Besides some Israeli media and The Blaze, I don't see it anywhere. Because it doesn't fit the meme of "Bibi as racist." [...]"

Gaza & Hamas

- Cash strapped PA spent $100K at 5-star hotel in Gaza (Elder of Ziyon) - voir une vidéo de cet hôtel gazaoui de luxe (5 étoiles) ici.
"Felesteen reports that last weekend PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah spent two days in Gaza along with an entourage - and that they weren't exactly parsimonious. According to the article quoting PA sources, the delegation spent the two days in the five-star Movenpick (Al Mashtal) Hotel. It is the only five-star hotel in Gaza.
They took over 40 rooms and other parts of the hotel. The rooms cost $400-$600 a night and the suites go for up to $1400 a night, for a charge of $70,000 for room rentals. In addition, they spent $20,000 for food and $10,000 for transportation, for a total of about $100,000 for a two day stay. (I imagine that there were some additional security costs for them to visit Gaza.)
There is a bit of criticism in Arabic media from Arabs who have not been receiving their full salaries who are seeing the leaders of the PA spend money so extravagantly."


- These 230 olive trees really WERE destroyed this weekend - by Arabs (Elder of Ziyon) - "The truth is quite a bit different from what you can find reported in the international media, isn't it?"

"Processus de paix"

- In exchange for freed tax funds, PA won’t pursue Israel over settlements at ICC (JP) - "The Palestinian Authority will formally join the International Criminal Court on April 1, but – following Israel’s decision on Friday to release frozen tax revenues – is not expected at this time to take steps against Israel in the ICC regarding settlement construction"; "As a result of Israel’s decision to free up the funds, the PA also does not intend now to stop its security cooperation with Israel".
- L'AP nie s'être engagée à cesser ses démarches à la CPI pour recevoir ses taxes (i24) - "Des hauts responsables palestiniens ont nié lundi un rapport publié hier dans le journal Jerusalem Post, selon lequel Israël aurait accepté de débloquer les taxes collectées au nom de l’Autorité palestinienne en échange de la promesse de cette dernière de stopper ses efforts à la Cour pénale internationale (CPI)".
- As Palestinians join ICC Wednesday, will war crimes complaints quickly follow? (Times of Israel) - "If the Palestinians opt to seek court action against Israel right away, Jerusalem will be forced to react — probably by freezing, once more, the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA. Jerusalem agreed to release the funds it had withheld until now, but has not promised to keep on transferring it in the future, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Monday. Such diplomatic hostilities could quickly escalate and lead to violence. But this is currently in nobody’s interest".

- Sondage : la majorité des Palestiniens en faveur des méthodes du Hamas (i24)
"Un sondage effectué récemment par le Centre palestinien de Recherche politique révèle que 74% des personnes interrogées en Cisjordanie et dans la bande de Gaza soutiennent la lutte du Hamas contre Israël. Selon l'étude, 56% soutiennent le transfert des méthodes de lutte depuis la bande de Gaza vers la Cisjordanie et 68% sont en faveur de tirs de roquettes sur Israël si le blocus de Gaza n'est pas levé.
Le sondage indique également que 37% estiment que la lutte armée est la solution la plus efficace, 29% préfèrent les négociations et 30% croient à des actions populaires par des voies pacifiques. En l'absence d'un processus de paix et les négociations, 82% sont en faveur de l'adhésion de l'"Etat de Palestine" aux organisations internationales, 68% sont pour la lutte populaire pacifique, 48% pour une intifada armée et 43% pour la dissolution de l'Autorité palestinienne.
A la question pour qui voterez-vous aux prochaines élections présidentielles, la réponse dépend de l'endroit où vivent les personnes interrogées. En Cisjordanie, 48% soutiennent Mahmoud Abbas et 47% Ismaïl Haniyeh (Premier ministre du Hamas à Gaza) alors qu'à Gaza, 52% voteraient en faveur de Haniyeh et 46% pour Abbas."

- PA's top religious leader: Muslims have religious obligation to “liberate Palestine” ‎(PMW) - "The PA is increasingly adopting Hamas' ideology prohibiting recognition of Israel and demanding its destruction, not only in the name of Palestinian nationalism, but in the name of Islam".
"The Mufti of the Palestinian Authority Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, appointed in 2006 by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the position of most senior religious leader in the PA, told a conference of "Muslim scholars and delegations from over 46 countries" that Israel must be destroyed in the name of Islam: "The land of Palestine is waqf (i.e., inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law). It must not be relinquished nor must any part of it be sold... It is the duty of the leaders of the [Islamic] nation and its peoples to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 23, 2015]
This statement - that according to Islamic law "Palestine is waqf... and must not be relinquished," but should be "liberated" - imposes prohibitions and obligations on all Muslims. First, according to the PA religious leader, all Muslims are prohibited from recognizing Israel's existence or signing a genuine and permanent peace treaty with Israel that "relinquishes any part" of "Palestine," meaning all of Israel. Second, he told the world's Muslim delegations that they and all Muslims have a religious obligation to "liberate Palestine" - meaning to destroy Israel.
Palestinian Media Watch recently reported that a similar statement was made by Mahmoud Abbas' Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the second most important religious leader in the PA: "The entire land of Palestine (i.e., includes all of Israel) is waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law) and is blessed land... It is prohibited to sell, bestow ownership or facilitate the occupation of even a millimeter of it." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 22, 2014]
The PA is increasingly adopting Hamas' ideology prohibiting recognition of Israel and demanding its destruction, not only in the name of Palestinian nationalism, but in the name of Islam. The language used by both the Mufti and Abbas' advisor is almost identical to the language in Hamas' charter: "The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up." [Hamas Charter, Article Eleven]
Abbas' advisor Al-Habbash recently stated explicitly that "Palestine's" destiny is to replace all of Israel through a combination of diplomacy and violence: "All of this land will return to us, all our occupied land, all our rights in Palestine - our state, our people's heritage, our ancestors' legacy - all of it will return to us even if it takes time. Patience is the key to victory, and we are patient. In terms of resistance, all options are on the table, and in terms of diplomacy as well." [Official PA TV, Dec. 12, 2014] [...]"

Monde arabe

- La Ligue arabe crée une force anti-Téhéran, Hélène Sallon (Le Monde) - "Ce n’est pourtant pas tant l’expansion de l’organisation Etat islamique (EI) en Irak et en Syrie, voire en Libye, en Tunisie ou au Yémen, qui a fait l’unité autour de ce projet, que la crainte de voir le rival iranien chiite étendre son influence dans toute la région et notamment au Yémen" ; "cette force régionale n’est pas sans indisposer certains pays de la Ligue arabe, plus proches de l’Iran. Le ministre des affaires étrangères irakien, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, a exprimé les « réserves » de son pays, pointant l’absence d’études préliminaires pour ce projet. Téhéran est un partenaire privilégié des autorités chiites de Bagdad".
- Doutes et scepticisme sur l'annonce d'une future force arabe (AFP)
"[...] "La notion de vraie force arabe conjointe reste une aspiration plus qu'une réalité", commente Frederic Wehrey, expert à l'institut Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Elle fait face à des défis d'ordre pratique, à la méfiance politique entre Etats arabes, et surtout à un manque réel d'entraînement", selon lui. [...] "Je ne pense pas qu'il y ait quelque chose de concret dans l'annonce de cette force" car "en dépit des proclamations d'unité, il y a d'énormes divergences entre les Arabes et cela est évident dans la crise yéménite", analyse James Dorsey, spécialiste du Moyen-Orient à la S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies de Singapour. [...]
Les pays dominés par les sunnites perçoivent l'avancée des Houthis comme une nouvelle poussée intolérable de l'influence de l'Iran chiite dans la région, après l'Irak, la Syrie et le Liban. "Le problème de la force arabe est qu'elle peut-être perçue comme une force arabe sunnite. Elle doit donc prouver que ses actions se seront pas guidées par des considérations confessionnelles mais stratégiques et humanitaires", estime Mathieu Guidère, spécialiste du monde arabe à l'université de Toulouse (France). "Certains pays voient d'un mauvais oeuil toute ingérence dans leurs affaires intérieures, comme une atteinte à leur souveraineté nationale", souligne cet expert. [...]"
- Israel, Arab world find common ground over Iran, Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz) - "Amid Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries seek to halt Tehran’s influence in the Middle East".

- Yémen : un raid aérien tue 21 déplacés (Reuters) - presque aucun média ne couvre les bavures de ces frappes aériennes arabes, qui tuent un grand nombre de civils. Imaginez une minute ce qu'il en serait si ces frappes étaient israéliennes.
"Un raid aérien a fait 21 morts aujourd'hui aux abords du camp de réfugiés de Mazrak, dans le nord du Yémen, ont rapporté des membres du personnel d'une organisation humanitaire. L'opération visait une installation militaire voisine du camp, a précisé l'un d'eux. Une coalition formée à l'initiative de l'Arabie saoudite a entamé jeudi une campagne de bombardements aériens des miliciens chiites houthis qui tiennent Sanaa depuis septembre et menacent désormais Aden, la métropole du Sud, dernier du président Abd-Rabbou Mansour Hadi et de ses fidèles."
- Yémen : des dizaines de civils tués dans des frappes de la coalition arabe (AFP)
"Des dizaines de civils ont été tués lundi dans un raid aérien sur un camp de déplacés au Yémen, au cinquième jour de la campagne militaire arabe menée par l'Arabie saoudite contre des rebelles chiites soutenus par l'Iran. Une frappe sur le camp d'Al-Mazrak, dans le nord-ouest du pays, a fait au moins 40 morts et 200 blessés, selon un nouveau bilan de l'Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), qui travaille dans ce camp. Des sources médicales dans un hôpital près du camp ont confirmé ce bilan. [...]
Au nord d'Aden, un officier de l'armée loyaliste a indiqué que des bombardements de la coalition et des "tirs provenant de la mer" avaient visé des colonnes de militaires fidèles à l'ex-président Ali Abdallah Saleh, allié aux Houthis. Ces bombardements, qui ont fait 12 morts, visent à empêcher ces colonnes d'avancer sur l'aéroport international d'Aden, selon l'officier. Sept rebelles ont en outre été tués par des roquettes en tentant d'attaquer cet aéroport, tandis que huit civils ont été tués par d'autres roquettes près d'Aden. [...]"
- Yémen : des raids très violents sur Sanaa (AFP) - "De fortes explosions ont résonné tout la nuit. C'était horrible. Nous n'avons pas pu fermer l'oeil".


- Americans unhappy with Obama’s treatment of Israel, supportive of Iran deal (Times of Israel) - "Poll finds 50-38% disapproval of president’s Israel policies; while majority support accord, they’re not confident it will keep Tehran from the bomb".

- Obama’s hypocrisy with Netanyahu, Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
"It took Bibi Netanyahu nearly a week to apologize properly for his inflammatory comment on Israel’s election day warning that Arab voters were “heading to the polls in droves.” On Monday, speaking at his Jerusalem residence to a group of Israeli Arab community leaders, the newly reelected prime minister expressed his regret: “I know the things I said a few days ago wounded Israel’s Arab citizens. That was not in any way my intention, and I am sorry.”
But even after four and a half years, there has been no apology from Barack Obama for his inflammatory remarks just before the 2010 election, when he exhorted Latinos to generate an “upsurge in voting” in order to “punish our enemies and . . . reward our friends.” Nor has the president ever expressed regret for his running mate’s racially-tinged warning to a largely black audience in 2012 that the GOP was “going to put y’all back in chains” if Mitt Romney won the White House. In fact, the Obama campaign insisted no apology would be forthcoming.
Under normal circumstances, there would be no reason to link these episodes. But the White House pointedly reproached Netanyahu for his distasteful words. “This administration is deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the day after the election. The president himself declared in an interview that Netanyahu’s “rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions,” and warned that it “starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country.”
Fair enough — except for Obama’s egregious failure to meet his own standard. The candidate who captivated America with his promise to transcend partisan and racial rancor turned out to be the most consistently polarizing president in modern history. He hasn’t scrupled to inject barbed racial comments into the nation’s political discourse, but if he has ever candidly apologized for doing so, it must have been on deep background. Obama’s contempt for Netanyahu is nothing new, but before he lambastes other political leaders for their “divisive rhetoric,” the president really ought to take a good look in the mirror.
Then there is the ginned-up outrage from the White House over Netanyahu’s election-day assurance that Palestinian statehood would not happen on his watch. Netanyahu subsequently stressed that he continues to favor a two-state solution in principle, but that under current circumstances — with Islamist fanatics rampaging through the Middle East, Mahmoud Abbas refusing to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, and Gaza a Hamas-ruled terrorist base — a Palestinian state isn’t feasible.
Whichever Netanyahu position you take to be genuine, or even if you believe that his attitude toward the “peace process” is wholly driven by politics, it is astonishing to watch Team Obama going ballistic over Bibi’s purported flip-flop. “We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made,” intoned White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, in a speech to the left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street. Obama claims he took Netanyahu “at his word” when he momentarily ruled out a Palestinian state. The prime minister quickly backtracked, but the president’s fury hasn’t cooled.
When Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei declaims “Death to America!,” as he did in a speech last week, an unruffled White House brushes it off as “intended for a domestic political audience.” Doesn’t it cast doubt on Tehran’s trustworthiness? Not to worry, Obama’s press secretary assured CNN. Iranian negotiators have “demonstrate[d] a willingness to have constructive conversations.” But there is no “domestic political audience” allowance for Netanyahu. If he says one thing today and something different tomorrow, the American president’s wrath knows no bounds.
Perhaps Netanyahu should be flattered that Obama holds him to such a high standard of constancy. The president has certainly never demanded it of himself. On a whole slew of issues, Obama has adamantly taken one position, then cast it aside when it was politically advantageous to do so. He stoutly told AIPAC that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel. Then he took it back. [...]"


- EU Denounces Unfair Treatment of Israel at UN's Israel-Bashing Session, But Participates Anyway (Human Rights Voices) - "The European Union criticized Israel at a U.N. Human Rights Council session specifically devoted to condemnation of Israel, despite admitting that the session unfairly ignored human rights abuses by Palestinian groups".

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