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Tag Archives: Benjamin Netanyahu

PM Netanyahu: Disagreements with US ‘temporary’

PM Netanyahu and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Henri Kissinger. November 10, 2010 ( Photo by Avi Ochayon GPO )

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November 10, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down the heat Wednesday and said differences of opinion between the US and Israel were “temporary.” On Tuesday, the prime minister responded with unprecedented vigor to US declarations against renewed settlement construction but on Wednesday, during a meeting with senior figures from US media, he spoke in more conciliatory terms.

The “differences” reached a peak when US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said construction in east Jerusalem was not conducive to the negotiations. Netanyahu retorted that Jerusalem is not a settlement.

During the meeting in New York, the prime minister was asked about differences of opinion between the US and Israel. He asserted that such differences were only temporary. He added that in his dealings with the US administration, he concentrated on issues that would have long-term effects on any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu detailed the Israeli government’s position on Iran and the peace process. He is expected to meet Clinton on Thursday to discuss the need to reach wide-ranging understandings with the US about Israeli security needs in light of the significant security challenges expected in the coming decade.

He said the chances of achieving a peace deal would be much greater if security understandings could be reached with the US. He is also expected to raise the issue of peace agreements with a wider circle of Arab states in parallel to an agreement with the Palestinians.

(*)

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Indonesian volcano’s death toll rises to 191

Boys look at the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano in Manisrenggo village, in the Klaten district of Indonesia's central Java province Nov 10, 2010. Mount Merapi showed lethargic signs on Wednesday but authorities would not lower down its alert status because of its intense seismic activities, the head of the country's vulcanolology agency said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Andry Prasetyo )

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November 10, 2010 (KATAKAMI / CNN) — The toll from recent eruptions of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano has climbed to 191 dead and 145 seriously injured, government officials said Wednesday.

Scores of others have suffered less severe injuries, said Dr. Sigit Priohutomo, of the Merapi Disaster Health Team.

Recent eruptions of Merapi started on October 26, displacing 200,000 people, relief agencies such as Plan Indonesia have estimated.

On Wednesday, volcanic ash from Merapi forced airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways to cancel flights at the Yogyakarta and Jakarta airports, airport officials said.

The threat of ash also prompted the early departure of U.S. President Barack Obama from Indonesia. Obama, who was visiting on a 10-day tour of Asia, left early for South Korea, where he is to attend the G-20 summit.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called the volcano eruptions a crisis situation. On Sunday, he and several of his ministers visited Yogyakarta to oversee relief efforts.

The president has announced that residents will receive compensation for livelihoods and animals lost to the eruptions. The government will buy endangered cows on the volcano, Yudhoyono said. Many of those who live on its slopes raise cattle and risked their lives by staying or returning to feed their cows during lulls of volcanic activity.

Ash columns from Merapi’s recent eruptions have risen as high as 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), according to the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency.

An ash cloud that hit a village near the crater was about 450 to 600 degrees Celsius (842 to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Indonesian Volcanology Technology Development and Assessment Agency.

The 3,000-meter (9,800-foot) Merapi, in Central Java, is famously unpredictable. About 1,300 people died when it erupted in 1930.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu : Construction in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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November 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.  Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem, which has approximately 800,000 residents, including during the ten months in which construction was suspended in Judea and Samaria.

Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years.  All Israeli governments in the past 40 years have built in all parts of the city.  During this period, peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan, and for 17 years, diplomatic negotiations have been conducted with the Palestinians.  These are historical facts.  Construction in Jerusalem has never hindered the peace process.

The disagreements with the US over Jerusalem are well-known.  They are not new and have continued for 40 years.  We hope to overcome them and continue to advance the diplomatic negotiations.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking forward to his planned Thursday meeting with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in order to advance the peace talks.  (*)

PM Netanyahu : “Jerusalem is not a settlement, Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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In US, Netanyahu says Israel sees no connection between peace process and construction in the capital. ‘All Israeli governments have built in all parts of the city for 40 years, and we still signed peace deals with Egypt, Jordan,’ premier adds.

November 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has toughened his stance ahead his scheduled meeting with the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Thursday, rejecting any American and international criticism regarding building in east Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is not a settlement – Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Israel has never restricted itself regarding any kind of building in the city, which is home to some 800,000 people – including during the 10-month construction moratorium in the West Bank,” the PM said Tuesday.

“Israel sees no connection between the peace process and the planning and building policy in Jerusalem, something that hasn’t changed for the past 40 years. All Israeli governments have built in all parts of the city in the past 40 years.

“During this time,” he added, “We have signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and have held negotiations with the Palestinians for 17 years. Construction in Jerusalem has never obstructed the peace process.”

Netanyahu spoke just hours after US President Barack Obama told a press conference in Indonesia that Israeli construction in east Jerusalem “is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”

The Israeli premier added that “the disagreements between Israel and the US regarding Jerusalem are well-known, and I hope to overcome them and move the peace talks forward. We intend to advance the peace negotiations during Thursday’s meeting with Secretary of State Clinton.”

On Monday, the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee approved the construction of 32 housing units in the eastern part of Pisgat Ze’ev, a neighborhood located beyond the Green Line.

The construction, which has been a bone of contention in the international community, was approved during Netanyahu’s visit to the United States.(*)

 

PM Netanyahu, UN’s Ban discuss peace process, Ghajar withdrawal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at U.N. headquarters November 8, 2010 in New York City. Israeli media reported that Netanyahu will announce the Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar, a village straddling the Lebanese-Israeli border. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slams UNESCO decision to classify ancient Jewish holy site as mosque, saying ‘historical facts should not be distorted in the name of politics.’

November 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held talks late Monday on the stalled Middle East peace talks and the planned Israeli withdrawal from a site on the Lebanese border.

The two issued a readout of their meeting at UN headquarters in New York, according to which the “secretary general and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the ongoing efforts to move the Middle East peace process forward.”

“The secretary general emphasized that it was vital to break the current diplomatic stalemate, resume negotiations and produce results,” the statement said.

Peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have been stalled since September, when an Israeli moratorium on settlement activity ended. The Palestinians want the freeze extended to continue talks, and Washington has unsuccessfully tried to convince Netanyahu to do so. US President Barack Obama oversaw the relaunching of the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in early September, only to see them falter once the settlement freeze expired on the 26th of the month.

Ban said he expressed concern at the resumption of the Israeli settlement activities and recent announcements of further settlement construction in East Jerusalem.

The two leaders also discussed the “current proposals on the issue of Ghajar,” a reference to Israel’s plan to end its occupation of the village with 2,200 inhabitants on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Haaretz had reported that Netanyahu planned to announce a withdrawal from Ghajar and the return of control of the village to Lebanon. The planned withdrawal would comply with UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ordered a ceasefire in the fighting between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces in 2006.

The two leaders also reportedly “reviewed the regional situation, including Iran,” in addition to Ban’s urging that Israel “ease the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza.”

Netanyahu also referred to a recent controversial ruling by the UN’s cultural agency, according to which West Bank heritage sites holy to both Jews and Muslims, such as Rachel’s Tomb, would be considered Palestinian.

The ancient tomb, which lies between Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian-controlled city of Bethlehem, is traditionally regarded as the burial place of a biblical matriarch and is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Speaking during his meeting with the UN chief, the PM said that the “the profound link between the Jewish people and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb had existed for close to 4,000 years.”

“Over a billion people know of this bond and it is documented in the Bible,” Netanyahu said, adding that “historical facts should not be distorted in the name of politics. That would only injure the UN’s stature and the way serious people around the world regard it.”

Last week, Israel said it would reduce cooperation with the United Nations’ cultural watchdog following the classification of Rachel’s Tomb as a mosque.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Israel would not cooperate with UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – in administering five protected sites in Palestinian territory as a dispute that has escalated in recent weeks came to a head.

Speaking with journalists in Jerusalem, Ayalon blamed the Palestinians for influencing the UN to side against Israel.

“This is another attempt at de-legitimization by the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Photostream : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrives with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations Headquarters in New York November 8, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton )

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signs a guest book before meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (out of frame) November 8, 2010 at UN headquarters in New York. (Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, greets United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd-L) meets with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) at U.N. headquarters November 8, 2010 in New York City. Israeli media reported that Netanyahu will announce the Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar, a village straddling the Lebanese-Israeli border. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speech at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

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November 08, 2010 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — The story of the Jewish people is that of great destruction followed by miraculous redemption.

That same resilient spirit is exemplified by your collective efforts to help this great city rebuild itself after Hurricane Katrina.

Just as you have rallied time after time to help Israel weather the storms it has faced, you rallied to help New Orleans to get back on its feet.

You should be proud of what you have been doing for the Jewish people and the Jewish state, and for others.  I am doubly proud to be with you here today.  Thank you.

On the eve of the 20th century, Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, foresaw the great challenges that stood before the dispersed Jewish people.  He charted a clear path to direct the Jewish destiny to the safer shores of a Jewish state.  Herzl’s vision was guided by three principles: Recognize perils, seize opportunities, forge unity.

These same three principles should guide us at the dawn of the 21st century.  We must recognize the dangers facing us and work to thwart them.  We must seize the opportunity for prosperity and for peace with those of our neighbors who want peace.  And we must forge unity among our people to shoulder these monumental tasks.

The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.  Iran threatens to annihilate Israel.  It denies the Holocaust.  It sponsors terror.  It confronts America in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It dominates Lebanon and Gaza.  It establishes beachheads in Arabia and in Africa.  It even spreads its influence into this hemisphere, into South America.

Now, this is what Iran is doing without nuclear weapons.  Imagine what it would do with them.
Imagine the devastation that its terror proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas and others, would wreak under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.

This is why Israel appreciates President Obama’s successful efforts to have the UN Security Council adopt new sanctions against Iran.  It values American efforts to successfully mobilize other countries to pass tough sanctions of their own.  There is no doubt that these sanctions are putting strong economic pressures on the Iranian regime.

But we have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Tehran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons.  The only time that Iran suspended its nuclear program was for a brief period in 2003 when the regime believed it faced a credible threat of military action against it.  And the simple paradox is this: if the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action.   Containment will not work against Iran.  It won’t work with a brazen regime that accuses America of bombing its own cities on 9/11, openly calls for Israel’s annihilation, and is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.

When faced with such a regime, the only responsible policy is to prevent it from developing atomic bombs in the first place.  The bottom line is this: Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped.  Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest danger we face.  The assault on Israel’s legitimacy is another.

We know from our history that attacks on the Jews were often preceded by attempts to dehumanize the Jewish people – to paint them as vile criminals, as the scourge of humanity.   This is why the attempts by our enemies and their misguided fellow travelers to delegitimize the Jewish state must be countered.

Herzl was right about many things.   He was right about the conflagration that would soon engulf Europe.  He was right about the need for a Jewish state and for a Jewish army to defend that state.

Yet Herzl was too optimistic in believing that the rebirth of the Jewish state would gradually put an end to anti-Semitism.

The establishment of Israel did not end the hatred towards the Jews.  It merely redirected it.  The old hatred against the Jewish people is now focused against the Jewish state.  If in the past Jews were demonized, singled out or denied the rights that were automatically granted to others, today in many quarters Israel is demonized, singled out and denied the rights automatically granted to other nations, first and foremost the right of self-defense.

For too many, Israel is guilty until proven guilty.  The greatest success of our detractors is when Jews start believing that too – we’ve seen that today.

Last year, at the UN General Assembly, I spoke out against the travesty of the Goldstone Report, which falsely accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza two years ago.  The United States, led by President Obama, and Canada, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stood by Israel’s side against this blood libel.  Many countries didn’t.

Well, last week, Hamas finally admitted that over 700 of its fighters in Gaza were killed by the IDF during that war.  This is precisely what the Israeli army said all along – that roughly 50% of the casualties of the war were Hamas terrorists.   Such a high percentage of enemy combatants and such a low percentage of unintended civilian casualties is remarkable in modern urban warfare.  It is even more remarkable when fighting an enemy that deliberately and shamelessly embeds itself next to schools and inside mosques and hospitals.

The authors of the Goldstone Report owe the Israeli army an apology.  And all those who supported and helped spread this libel owe the State of Israel an apology.  The best way to counter lies is with the truth.  That is why I commend your decision to establish the Israel Action Network and dedicate resources to fight this battle for truth.   We must fight these lies and slanders together to ensure that truth prevails.

The threat from Iran and its proxies, and the continued assault on Israel’s legitimacy are great perils we must thwart.

Now let me speak about two great opportunities we must seize: peace and prosperity.

The opportunity today to achieve a broader Israeli-Arab peace derives not exclusively but mainly from the perception of a common threat.  Today, Arab governments and many throughout the Arab world understand that Iran is a great danger to them as well.  This understanding opens up new possibilities for a broader peace that could support our efforts to reach peace with our Palestinian neighbors.

Israelis want to see that the Palestinians are as committed as they are to ending the conflict once and for all.  They want to know that just as we are ready to recognize a state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people.

Israel also wants a secure peace.  We do not want to vacate more territory only to see Iran walk in and fire thousands of rockets at our cities.  That is exactly what happened after we left Lebanon and Gaza.  We don’t want to see rockets and missiles streaming into a Palestinian state and placed on the hills above Tel Aviv and the hills encircling Jerusalem.  If Israel does not maintain a credible security presence in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future, this is exactly what will happen.

I will not let that happen.

We do not want security on paper.  We want security on the ground.  Real security.  I am willing to make mutual compromises for a genuine peace with the Palestinians, but I will not gamble with the security of the Jewish state.  Palestinian leaders who say they want to live peacefully alongside Israel should sit down and negotiate peace with Israel.  They should stop placing preconditions and start negotiating peace.   The Palestinians may think they can avoid negotiations.  They may think that the world will dictate Palestinian demands to Israel.  I firmly believe that will not happen because I am confident that friends of Israel, led by the United States, will not let that happen.  There is only one path to peace – that is through a negotiated settlement.

We should spend the next year trying to reach an historic agreement for peace and not waste time arguing about marginal issues that will not affect the final peace map in any way.  I am confident that if there is goodwill on the Palestinian side, a formula can be found that will enable peace talks to continue.  I believe that if we succeed, and I always like to confound the skeptics, and I continue to do that systematically, I believe that peace would unleash tremendous economic opportunities for Israelis, Palestinians, and peoples throughout the region.

But as the last years have shown, Israel has not waited for peace to seize the opportunity to develop a strong economy.  As Prime Minister, then as finance minister and now again as Prime Minister, I have spent a great deal of time advancing economic reforms and removing obstacles to Israel’s economic growth – and I have the political scars to prove it.  The reforms that we have been enacting have changed Israel’s economy beyond recognition.  We are now building fast roads and rail lines that crisscross the country, to connect the Negev and the Galilee to the center of the country.  I intend to complete a rail line that will link the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and the Jordan River to the Port of Haifa.  This will enable Israel to take advantage of its strategic location as more and more goods are shipped from East to West.

As the world economy becomes more competitive, Israel is well placed to succeed.  We are global leaders in high technology.  Our scientists win Nobel Prizes.  Our innovations in science, medicine, water, energy, communication, agriculture and in many other fields are literally changing the world.

Israel is a wellspring of technological, artistic and cultural creativity.  Today, Israel is ranked 15th in the world in terms of quality of life – by the UN – so you knows we are at least 15th.  And if that does not impress the young people in the audience, here’s something else that might.  For those of you planning to travel world, Lonely Planet just ranked Tel Aviv the 3rd most exciting city in the world.  I don’t agree – that of course is Jerusalem.  Still, Israel’s best economic days are ahead.

If we hope to thwart and dangers and seize opportunities, we must strengthen our unity.  The best way to strengthen Jewish unity is to strengthen Jewish identity.  By deepening our connection to our shared past, we fortify our bonds to one another and to our state, and thereby strengthen our common future.  That is why this year I decided to initiate a national Heritage Plan that will restore and renovate hundreds of Jewish and Israeli sites throughout the country.

I want young people to visit the place where David Ben Gurion declared our independence just as I want them to visit the place where our patriarchs and matriarchs, the mothers and fathers of the Jewish nation, are buried.  Talk about distortions, can you imagine that UNESCO tried to deny the Jewish connection to Rachel’s Tomb next to Jerusalem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron?  This absurdity to try to erase our past will fail as we reconnect a new generation of Jews with their history.  Our young people will know that we are not foreign interlopers in our own homeland.  They will know something that our enemies and politicized international bodies cannot bring themselves to admit:  The Jewish people are not strangers in the Land of Israel.   Israel is our home.  It has always been our home and it will always be our home.

I have also decided to enhance Israel’s support for programs that strengthen Jewish identity in the Diaspora.  In my first term as Prime Minister, I decided to invest Israeli government funds in what many then thought was a preposterous idea – that we would pay for young Jews to come on short visits to Israel.  Since then, a quarter of a million Jews have come to Israel on Birthright programs, and we will continue.  I am committed to working with Birthright, Masa and Lapid to ensure that every young Jew who wants to can come to Israel.

And I am committed to working with Natan Sharansky and the Jewish Agency to strengthen Jewish identity in the Diaspora.

I know that there are controversial issues that threaten to divide us.  We need to resolve these issues in a spirit of compromise and tolerance.   As Prime Minister of Israel, I promise you that I will not permit anything to undermine the unity of our people.  Israel must always be a place that each and every one of you can call home.  Our unity is a critical foundation of our collective strength.  The more we speak with one voice, the more that voice will be heard.  And in a rapidly changing world, it needs to be heard loud and clear.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the fantastic rise of Asia challenges many nations, but it is not a danger.  It is a natural shift in global wealth and power that is lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  The great danger we face is not from the battle between East and West but from the aggressive force wedged between them that is spreading its tentacles far and wide.  That force is radical Islam, whose fanaticism and savagery knows no bounds.  If I can leave you with one message, it is that we must warn others of this peril.

History shows that the most advance weapons were usually developed by the most advanced societies.  Yet today, primitive and barbaric tyrannies that stone women, hang gays, promote terror worldwide, send bombs to synagogues, and advance the most fanatical doctrines can acquire nuclear weapons.  If not stopped, this means that the greatest nightmare of all – nuclear terrorism – can become a reality.  The civilized world must not let that happen.

As we continue to build a modern and democratic Israel and as we seek peace with all our neighbors, we must also warn the world about this formidable peril.  In standing up for modernity against medievalism, the Jewish people and the Jewish state play a vital role in securing our common civilization.  And by helping dispel the shadows of a dark despotism, we can truly fulfill our destiny to be a beacon of light and progress unto all the nations. (*)

Netanyahu – Biden meeting ends, discussed Iran, Palestinians

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

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November 8, 2010 (KATAKAMI/ YNET) — A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Joe Biden ended late Sunday night in New Orleans. The two discussed Israel’s desire to provide a credible threat against Iran.

The leaders also spoke of the direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Israeli claim being that as long as the Palestinians have recourse to an indirect route, such as the UN, they will not behave seriously in talks. (*)

PM Netanyahu tells Biden: Peace agreement must not be forced on us from above

Vice President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. VP Joe Biden on sidelines of Jewish General Assembly in New Orleans; says that Palestinians must be stopped from taking unilateral action to establish a state.

November 08, 2010. NEW ORLEANS (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday night to discuss Iran and the peace process with the Palestinians, beyond the immediate question of the settlement construction freeze, sources said Sunday.

They said the two leaders addressed what must be done so that the peace process will move forward, including security arrangements needed.

Netanyahu said there must be an agreement that is not forced on the parties from above and that the Palestinians must not attempt to circumvent negotiations by declaring statehood through the United Nations, the sources said.

Netanyahu and Biden were speaking on the sidelines of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly convention, held in New Orleans this year.

The sources said Netanyahu spoke about the need to get Arab countries involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because that will give Israel a security buffer and political backing.

Netanyahu denies that there is a rift between Israel and the United States, or between Israelis and American Jews, according to the sources.

He reportedly said that the U.S. Congress was positive toward Israel before the November 2 midterm elections and will be positive toward Israel afterward as well. He said there is also fundamental support for Israel within the United States, saying, “We may have lost Thomas Friedman, but I don’t think we lost America,” according to the sources.

As in the past, Netanyahu said that Israel has done enough to prove that it is serious, while the Palestinians have not taken any steps to demonstrate their seriousness about peace, the sources said.

Unfriendly welcome

Participants in the GA who listened to local radio in New Orleans on Sunday could have heard Scott Sekulow, a Messianic Christian who was born Jewish and calls himself a rabbi, who praised Netanyahu, enthused over Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for standing up to the Europeans, and declared that the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state shows that they don’t have peaceful intentions. Sekulow is raising money to plant 1,000 trees in the Golan Heights to replace trees that he said were destroyed by Katyusha rockets during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Amidst the conference hotels straddling Canal Street where GA sessions are being held, the 4,000 Jewish leaders and activists have also confronted a less-than-friendly welcome from a group of demonstrators holding placards accusing Jews of killing Jesus and anti-Semitic chants referring to the theft of private investor money by convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff. One demonstrator wore an apron made of a blood-stained Israeli flag. The GA participants didn’t seem overly upset by the spectacle and mounted police were on hand to maintain order.

The results of this month’s American midterm elections were the grist for hallway conversation at the GA, and there were also a number of people who asserted that Jewish life in the United States could not be reduced to the tenor of relations between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House.

(*)

Photostream : Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting on Middle East security in New Orleans, Louisiana November 7, 2010. Netanyahu will tell Biden on Sunday that only a credible military threat can deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon, Israeli political sources said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Lee Celano )

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

Incentives for settlement freeze likely on agenda as Netanyahu heads for U.S.

File photo : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a meeting in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2010. The Obama administration geared up for a bold bid to relaunch direct Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and clinch a peace deal within a year as Middle East leaders arrived in Washington. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

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Netanyahu envoy arrived in Washington earlier this week to meet chief Palestinian negotiator on ways to renew negotiations.

November 07, 2010 (KATAKAMI/ HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to leave for the United States Saturday night to address the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly in New Orleans.

Netanyahu will not be meeting President Barack Obama, who is in India, but he will meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Americans are expected to tell Netanyahu that their package of diplomatic and security incentives is still on the table if he agrees to renew the freeze on construction in the settlements.

Netanyahu’s flight to the U.S. reportedly cost the state more than $1 million, because it is a direct flight from Ben-Gurion International Airport to New Orleans. El Al was selected to fly the prime minister without a tender.

The administration’s involvement in the Middle East peace process has been almost nil in recent weeks as they attempted to shore up support at home ahead of last week’s midterm elections. However, Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho arrived in Washington three days ago for a meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on ways to renew negotiations and possibility of refreezing construction in the settlements.

Molho made no progress, but Erekat and the Americans agreed that the Palestinians would wait until the end of November before making another move, such as approaching the UN Security Council with a demand to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeina, told Agence France Presse that the Palestinians had given the Americans another three weeks to reach understandings with Israel. If no agreement was forthcoming by that time, they would approach the Security Council.

Senior American officials, who asked to remain anonymous because of the issue’s sensitivity, told Haaretz at the end of the week that during Netanyahu’s visit another attempt would be made to address the construction freeze gambit.

“Talks with Molho were serious although no solution was found, and we are still trying,” an official said.

The incentive package the Americans offered Israel two months ago includes advanced fighter planes and other security aid, as well as guarantees of a U.S. veto of any attempt at a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood in the Security Council in the coming year.

Although the Americans are reportedly angry at Netanyahu’s refusal to restart the freeze, they apparently do not want to clash with him at this time.

Both Biden and Clinton are expected to press Netanyahu into renewing the freeze and show willingness to move ahead on the issue of borders, but will not accuse him of responsibility for the impasse.

Israeli sources familiar with the U.S. position said American enthusiasm for offering incentives has cooled and that “the formulation of the letter with the guarantees has changed and Netanyahu will not be able to make do with a new two-month freeze.”

Netanyahu did not convene the forum of seven senior ministers before he left, but spoke with some of them individually.

He will be meeting this evening at 8 P.M. Israel time with Biden, who will also be addressing the general assembly.

Netanyahu will leave for New York immediately after his address to the GA tomorrow, to meet with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Netanyahu will meet with senior American economists, industrialists, Jewish leaders and with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell. He will also give a number of television interviews.

On Thursday, Netanyahu is to meet with Clinton.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman and opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima ) will also be attending the GA.

On Tuesday, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit will come to Washington, following separate visits to Ramallah and Tel Aviv over the past 10 days.

The Egyptians, who are working to help Washington restart direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, are pressuring both sides.

The Egyptian leaders will meet with Clinton a day before she meets with Netanyahu.

Washington think tanks have been discussing the best way for Obama to reach a breakthrough. David Makovsky, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in a speech last week that if Israel wants to avoid a U.S. accusation of responsibility for an impasse with the Palestinians, Netanyahu should change his coalition and include Kadima.

(MS)

Photostream : Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman visits Israel

Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, shakes hands with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman during their meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Suleiman met with Israeli officials Thursday, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss ways to boost stalled Mideast peace talks with the Palestinians. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Debbie Hill, Pool)

Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, shakes speaks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman during their meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Suleiman met with Israeli officials Thursday, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss ways to boost stalled Mideast peace talks with the Palestinians. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Debbie Hill, Pool)

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets with Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian Inteligence on November 04, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman visits Israel to meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of renewing negotiations with the Palestinians. (Photo by Moshe Milner /GPO/Getty IMages)

PM Benjamin Netanyahu: Palestinians not ready for peace

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem November 3, 2010. Netanyahu said on Wednesday he would meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a U.S. visit next week in addition to previously announced talks with Vice President Joe Biden. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Ammar Awad )

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — During debate titled ‘The world against Israel – how the Netanyahu administration isolated Israel in the international arena,’ PM says, ‘Rejecting Israel’s right to exist doesn’t advance reconciliation.’ MK Bar-On: Bold decision required.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a special Knesset debate titled “The world against Israel – how the Netanyahu administration isolated the State of Israel in the international arena.” A request to hold a discussion on the matter was signed by 40 Knesset members, including Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel and Daniel Ben-Simon.

First to speak was MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima), who slammed Netanyahu. “Before you go off to a visit in the US you should sit down and read Thomas Friedman, the most prominent US commentator.

Maybe this time the sound of danger suggested in his articles will sound clearer. In the first round he called our leadership ‘drunk drivers.’ In the second round, he claimed the cabinet was inhabited by lunatics. Friedman’s words point to bad times of changes in Israel’s relations with the US and it’s not because of any particular president.”

Bar-On repeated President Shimon Peres’ statements calling for an immediate political decision. “Do you need a clearer warning sign? You know, it’s never too late to fix things. Make a bold, uncompromising decision and go for it. We’ll be there for you and for ourselves.”

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) said, “You’ve been running the country for a year and eight months, what decision have you made except create one committee after the other. Shunning responsibility is not leadership; it’s a weak, indulgent and irresponsible government.”

 

Freeze on hold

Addressing the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, “Rejecting Israel’s right to exist certainly doesn’t advance reconciliation between the nations and our desire to bring about a peace agreement. The Palestinians made an official commitment in this regard – as part of the Wye agreement and other agreements. I promise to discuss this commitment during the process, but for now I want the process to move forward without preconditions.

“If (the process) fails, it will be because the Palestinian Authority is trying to bypass the negotiations and move the process to the international track,” he said.

As for the public uproar surrounding the yeshiva student bill, Netanyahu said, “We are doing exactly what has been done for the past 30 years. The haredim are part of our nation, and should be treated as such. This public should be encouraged to work.”

Likud MK Ofir Akonis responded to the Kadima claims and said, “Your Alzheimer’s is really advanced. You decided to take a cynical, political ride on the backs of Israeli students,” he said. “Have you no shame – to insinuate that Israel is to blame for the Marmara flotilla?”

Akonis noted that substantial stipends were given to haredim during the Kadima administration and presented a newspaper with the title: “Livni to Shas: Receive NIS 1 billion (about $280 million).” He was then escorted from the podium by security guards for violating Knesset protocol. Later, Kadima’s Yoel Hasson was also removed from the hall after verbally attacking MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).

MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) addressed the Labor MKs and said: “You can’t crush the coalition from the inside because of problems with your party chairman. I have unresolved business with the defense minister. I think he made a fool of himself, with the Galant document, with his foreign worker…they caught the most dangerous terrorist in the world – Virginia.”

Earlier this week, Netanyahu addressed the peace process during a Likud faction hearing at the Knesset. When asked about the possibility of the resumption of settlement construction freeze he replied there was no concrete US proposal and that the matter was on hold.

 

(MS)

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Clinton during U.S. visit

File photo : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton September 15, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are deadlocked in peace negotiations over Israeli settlement building. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via Getty Images)

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — PM will arrive in New Orleans on Sunday to address a conference of the U.S. Jewish community, where Joe Biden will also speak.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he would meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a U.S. visit next week in addition to previously announced talks with Vice President Joe Biden.

In a speech to parliament, Netanyahu again voiced strong criticism of the Palestinian Authority, which has suspended peace talks over his refusal to resume a partial freeze of construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“The truth is, there is great readiness in Israel for a real peace process,” he said. “The truth is, we have not found a corresponding readiness within the Palestinian Authority.”

Netanyahu has resisted U.S., Palestinian and international calls to impose a new building moratorium in settlements after a 10-month freeze expired in late September, some three weeks after the U.S.-brokered negotiations began.

Palestinian officials have accused Netanyahu of destroying prospects for peace by allowing settlement building to continue on land that Palestinians want for a future state.

Netanyahu arrives in New Orleans on Sunday to speak at a conference of U.S. Jewish leaders that Biden also will address. President Barack Obama will be visiting Asia during Netanyahu’s U.S. trip, which also includes a four-day stay in New York.

“I will, of course, meet with the senior leaders of the United States, with Vice President Biden and subsequently with Hillary Clinton,” Netanyahu told parliament.

He gave no date or venue for the meeting with Clinton, but Israeli officials said it was likely to take place in New York.

“I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Obama administration — the president and his people — to find a way to advance the peace process,” Netanyahu said in his speech, giving no sign of bending in the settlement impasse.

 

(MS)

Sources: Netanyahu expects Obama to resume Mideast efforts after midterms

U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd L) arrives with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II (L-R) to make a statement on Middle East peace in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jason Reed )

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Nov 2, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — PM Benjamin Netanyahu asks Clinton to meet with him during his visit to the U.S. next week, already planning to hold talks with Biden in New Orleans.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the Obama administration will renew its initiatives to relaunch direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after the U.S. midterm elections conclude on Tuesday, sources in Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

The sources said that Netanyahu was interested in resuming the political process and had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with him during his visit to the U.S. next week.

The premier is already planning talks in New Orleans with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Both Netanyahu and Biden are scheduled to address November 7-9 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

President Barack Obama, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled over Israeli settlement building, leaves on November 5 for a 10-day visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. As such, the two leaders will not meet during Netanyahu’s trip.

A new round of direct peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians got under way in Washington on Sept. 2 only to stop a few weeks later when Israel lifted restrictions it had imposed on a 10-month West Bank settlement building.

Polls released ahead of Tuesday’s midterms predicted hefty losses for Obama’s Democrats. Israeli ministers expect this will force him to avoid any bruising showdowns with Israel and its supporters in the coming months for fear of further undermining his shaky electoral position.

Palestinians hope that after the vote, Obama will refocus on foreign affairs and use the last two years of his presidential mandate to seek a place in history by securing an end to the decades-old conflict, regardless of obvious domestic risks.

(MS)

Netanyahu says no realistic US proposals to freeze settlements

File photo : U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) walk from the podium after delivering statements to the press from the Colonnade outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jason Reed )

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November 02, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Rantburg.Com / KUNA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday there were no American proposals to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, noting that the political situation was in a stalemate status.

“The American administration is busy with the Congress elections so they will not discuss the settlement freeze now, and until now there is no realistic American proposal to end this crisis,” Netanyahu said during a session of the Likud bloc members at the Knesset.

Netanyahu, quoted by the Yediot Ahronot website, said “The Paleostinians’ taking a unilateral step to declare the Paleostinian state will make the two parties pay high prices and these steps will not solve the dispute.” Paleostinian Authority President the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas said last Thursday the Paleostinians could submit a request to the UN and the US to recognize a Paleostinian state on the pre-1967 war borders if the direct peace talks with the Israelis failed to resume.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu instructed security forces not to allow the Palestinian Authority to hold events in Jerusalem Territory

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo : JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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November 01, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — PM’s instruction follows order signed byInternal Security Minister Aharonovitch stating PA officials forbidden from taking part in political activities within Israeli territory without permit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the security establishment on Monday to prevent the Palestinian Authority from conducting ceremonies and organizing events anywhere within the limits of the Jerusalem Municipality.

About a year-and-a-half ago police succeeded in dispersing a number of small events held in east Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian Culture Festival, meant to declare the city “the capital of Arabic culture for 2009.” More than 20 people were arrested, including Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

The instruction followed an order signed by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch stating that Israeli law prohibits Palestinian Authority officials from taking part in political activities within Israeli territory without first obtaining special permission.

Aharonovitch’s order came following reports that Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad was due to arrive in east Jerusalem on Tuesday to attend dedication ceremonies for two schools as well as a new road project.

Then-Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter signed a number of injunctions banning a series of events that were scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, Nazareth and in other parts of the country under the auspices of the PA.

Dichter instructed Israel Police to “suppress any attempts by the PA to hold events in Jerusalem and throughout the rest of the country.” According to the minister, the events would constitute a violation of the interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which includes a clause that forbids the PA from organizing events in Israeli territory.