On Friday, Time reported that the United States and Israel are coordinating closely on how best to target President Bashar al Assad's chemical weapons arsenals. Earlier this month, the U.S. placed F-16s and Patriot missile batteries in Jordan. In regards to the weapons placement, an Israeli official noted, "It's a clear, purposeful presence of a strike force near the border of Syria. I think it's a message, a clear message." The U.S. also installed Patriot batteries in Turkey last year.
Most importantly, though, Israeli officials told Time that the U.S. and Israel were planning for assorted scenarios where they could conceivably search and destroy all of Assad's 18 chemical weapons arsenals.
Now that Chuck Hagel has completed his first trip to Israel as US defense secretary, it's time for the pro-Israel community to acknowledge the obvious: Secretary Hagel has demonstrated that he is following the president's lead when it comes to supporting Israel. Like his predecessors, Hagel has personally committed himself to strengthening the US-Israel defense relationship and working to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
In Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and many others enthusiastically welcomed Secretary Hagel for a series of top-level meetings. The secretary's trip was an unqualified success for the Obama administration.
Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Israel to meet with Israeli officials this week. Secretary Kerry met with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.
Before meeting with President Peres, Secretary Kerry spent Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Memorial Day — laying a wreath at Yad Vashem.
Before Secretary Kerry's meeting with President Peres he delivered remarks:
Well, Mr. President, thank you very, very much for an extraordinarily generous and warm welcome. It's really such an honor to be here today to share in Yom HaShoah and to be there at Yad Vashem to lay a wreath on behalf of the American people, but most importantly to simply share in the uniqueness of that expression of sorrow and honor for this remarkable moment in history that we marked.
Turkish and Israeli Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Binyamin Netanyahu.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder today warmly welcomed the thaw in relations between Israel and Turkey. Lauder said the news has been met by "a sigh of relief" in many Jewish communities around the world. He praised Prime Minister Netanyahu's call to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said it had been "the right thing to do in this situation", despite the "very justified reservations" Netanyahu and others in Israel had had against such a step. Lauder expressed hope that the gesture by Israel would effectively end the diplomatic crisis between the two countries:
Turkey and Israel must work together. There are so many issues in the region where these two countries can make a difference. One of them is military cooperation in order to secure geopolitical stability in the Middle East.
B'nai B'rith International's response after the jump.
Two senior administration officials addressed the issue of the phone call held today between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish PM Erdogan.
Netanyahu apologized for the Mavi Mamara flotilla incident and acknowledged "operational mistakes," said one official. Erdogan accepted the apology, according to this official.
The other SAO called this a "first step" toward normalization of relations between the two countries. They said this had been the subject of talks between Obama and Netanyahu in Jerusalem this week.
The call took place in the trailer at the airport just before Obama took off. The leaders talked for about 30 minutes. At some point, Obama got on the phone.
I welcome the call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan. The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security. I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities.
Obama and Netanyahu tease NBC's Chuck Todd for asking so many questions on the eve of Passover.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: Mr. President, Barack, it's a great pleasure for me to host you here in Jerusalem. You've graciously hosted me many times in Washington, so I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to reciprocate. I hope that the good will and warmth of the people of Israel has already made you feel at home.
US President Barack Obama: Very much so.
Transcript continues after the jump along with full video.
Following his landing in Israel, President Obama arrived in a black SUV to inspect Iron Dome and other air-defense systems lined up outside an hangar on the tarmac. They are a mix of rockets and mobile anti-missile batteries.
"I'm a young man. I'm always looking for any chance to walk," Obama said to Israeli military officials after hopping out of the SUV.
Obama listened as an officer explained the functions of an Iron Dome battery, a squat, desert-grey weapon pointed skyward. He then entered what appeared to be a control room.
Back outside, Obama shook hands with a line of Israeli officials in front of Iron Dome. He paused again in front of the battery, gesturing with his hands, as an officer spoke to him.
Video and remarks after meeting with Peres after the jump.
Update: The Government was sworn on Monday. See photo below.
As speculated after the elections in Israel last January, one-year-old center party Yesh Atid (19 Knesset seats) and rising right-wing party HaBait HaYehudi (12 seats) signed today coalitional agreements with HaLikud (31 seats in a list shared with the Israel Beytenu party), that had also reached an agreement with new center party HaTnuah (6 seats) earlier.
HaLikud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will remain Prime minister — for the third time — and will also be Foreign Minister until the end of Israel Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman's ongoing court hearing. Yesh atid Leader Yair Lapid will be Finance Minister, while Habait Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett will be "Economy and Trade" Minister. Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni will be Justice Minister and will also be responsibe for the negotiations with the Palestinians.
With 68 of the 120 Knesset seats, it will be one of the only Israeli governments to have not contained religious parties (although Bennett himself is an Orthodox), due to differences with Yesh Atid about recuiting yeshiva students to the IDF. Also due to Yair Lapid's pressure, it will be one of the smallest governments in Israel's history, with 20 Ministers, in contrast to the current one, which started out with 30.
Left to right. Sitting: Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres Standing in front row: Minister of Health Yael German, Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense Gilad Erdan, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Energy and Water Resources and Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom, Minister of Economy and Trade and Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir, Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Welfare and Social Services Meir Cohen, Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Peri, Minister of Education Shai Piron Standing back row: Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau, Minister of Environmental Protection Amir Peretz, Minister of Pensioner Affairs Uri Orbakh, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon, Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa'ar, and Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel
— by Marc R. Stanley — Originally Published on JNS.org
Later this month, President Barack Obama will take his first presidential trip to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Obama's trip "will give me and the people of Israel the opportunity to express our appreciation for what he has done for Israel." To show Israel's gratitude for Obama's support, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced that he would present Obama with Israel's Medal of Distinction during a special ceremony in Israel.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has made supporting Israel one of his highest priorities. From championing sanctions against Iran to providing Israel with expedited supplemental assistance for the Iron Dome, Obama has been Israel's most important ally. Peres said when he announced the award that Obama "is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life" and that he has "has stood with Israel in times of crisis."
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office held a preparatory meeting ahead of US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Israel. In addition to personnel from the PMO, representatives from the Israeli President's Residence, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Israel Police, the Jerusalem Municipality, Ben-Gurion International Airport and other agencies also attended the meeting. National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said:
It is very important that the visit be marked by three points: One, that it go smoothly from start to finish. It is important for us that the Prime Minister and the President have fruitful and productive talks — this is the basis for the continuation of work over the next four years. It is important to us that the President and all those who watch the visit see the beautiful Land of Israel as much as possible given the short schedule. Cooperation between all elements — among all the Israelis, and between us and the Americans — is also vital for the success of the visit.
The 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference was a huge success, with over 13,000 delegates, 339 members of the Senate and House, and lobbying appointments with every member of the Senate and House.
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Conference by live video, expressing his appreciation for President Obama's work and emphasizing three priorities: Iran, Syria, and peace with the Palestinians.
Vice President Joe Biden was amazing. His outline of the Obama administration's Middle East foreign policy was frequently interrupted by applause and standing ovations.
We lobbied for the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, the United States Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013, Senate Resolution 65, which reiterates our commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, and security assistance for Israel.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is off to a strong start. His first meeting as Secretary of Defense with a foreign counterpart was with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Barak wished Hagel well in his Policy Conference speech. When Hagel met with Barak on Tuesday, Hagel reiterated his commitment to Israel's security and to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Hagel also noted his outstanding working relationship dating back to Minister Barak's days as prime minister.
Barak said at the Policy Conference that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is the only long-term solution to secure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden welcome Shimon Peres in the Oval Office.
— by Steve Sheffey
President Obama will visit Israel in March, fulfilling a campaign promise and making him only the fifth sitting president to ever visit Israel. He previously visited in 2006 and 2008. Only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton visited Israel during their first terms; Richard Nixon and George W. Bush visited Israel in the last year of their second terms.
The goal of the President's trip is to reaffirm the strong friendship between the United States and Israel and to work with Israel on two key issues: Iran and Syria.
When it comes to the US-Israel relationship, we must stand together, regardless of partisan differences on other issues.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend. According to The Jerusalem Post:
New US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to discuss the diplomatic process, in an early sign he intends to make this a top priority on his agenda.
In both conversations he commended Netanyahu's decision last week to release some NIS 400 million in tax revenues to the PA and praised it as a positive step.
The calls followed Kerry's phone conversation Saturday with President Shimon Peres, who said the election results in Israel provided new opportunities in the diplomatic process [...]
Election Day in Israel was declared a national holiday and the weather was gorgeous. The public voted and then most of us went to the beach, to cafes, or shopping for the rest of the "day off". It was a delightful, very Israeli experience. Everyone seemed happy and up about being who and what we are.
In the morning we found that we've handed our politicians a classic Israeli post-election dilemma. It feels so very Israeli and nostalgic that I did today's cartoon in Blue and White.
— by Amir Shoam
Update: after counting all votes, including all IDF soldeirs, Habait Hayehudi got another seat and went up to 12 on the expense of Raam-Taal, that went down to 4. See full table below.
After counting 99.8% of Israel general elections votes, Yesh Atid, former journalist Yair Lapid's one-year-old party, gets 19 seats in the Knesset. The unification of HaLikud and Israel Beytenu gets 31. HaAvoda gets 15 seats, two less than expected in TV channel samples. Right party HaBait HaYehudi gets 11 seats, like orthodox party Shas. Religious party Yahaduth HaTorah gets 7 seats. Center-left party HaTnuah and left party Meretz get 6 seats each.
Ultra-left party Hadash gets 4 seats, while Arab parties Raam-Taal and Balad get 5 and 3 seats respectively.
Kadima, largest party in current Knesset that was eliminated in TV samples, eventually enters the Knesset with 2.09% of all votes (2% is required to enter), and 2 seats.
HaAvoda had announced that it will not join a coalition headed by HaLikud. Assuming Halikud leader and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will get to build a coalition, his partners are likely to be Yesh Atid, HaBait HaYehudi and Hatnuah (67 of 120 seats total). There is also a risky possibility of having a coalition with Shas, Habait HaYehudi and Yahaduth HaTorah (60 seats). Netanyahu will speak with the leaders of all mentioned parties trying to form a 85-seat coalition, but it is not likely to happen. If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition, Lapid will get the opportunity to do so, but only if he reaches agreements with all HaAvoda, Shas, Yahaduth Hatorah, Hatnuah and Meretz (64 seats total).
The big three Israeli TV channels are in agreement: the right-wing and religious parties will hold a bare majority with 61 seats in the 120 member Knesset while the Arab and left-wing parties will hold the remaining 59 seats.
Yesh Atid (There is a Future), the one-year-old party of Yair Lapid (shown on the right), former journalist and son of the late Deputy Prime Minister Tommy Lapid, gets 19 of the 120 Knesset seats after the Israel general elections held today.
The list-unification of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's HaLikud (The Unity) and Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Our Home) has weakened both parties, which got together 31 seats: by the pre-agreement of both parties, 21 will go for HaLikud (currently 27) and 10 for Yisrael Beytenu (currently 15).
HaAvoda (The Labor), traditionally Israel's biggest left party, is expected to get 17 seats.
Habait Hayehudi (The Jewish Home, currently 3 seats) gets 12 seats having gained voters from the failing Halikud-Beytenu merge.
HaTnuah (The Movement), former Kadima (Forward) leader Tzipi Livni's new party, gets 7 seats, like left party Meretz, which currently has only 3.
Yahaduth HaTorah (Torah's Judaism) gets 6 seats.
Ultra-left party Hadash gets 4 seats, like Arab party Raam-Taal.
Another Arab party, Balad, expects to enter the Knesset with 2 seats (the minimum possible as 2% of all votes is required to enter).
Meanwhile, three parties Otzma LeIsrael, Am Shalem and Kadima, largest party in current Knesset (28 seats) are all expected to be eliminated. Atzmaut (Independence) has not participated in the elections after its leader, current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, had decided to retire from the Knesset after current seat.
— by the staff of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors presented an evening devoted to exploring the historical roots of the Israeli right, from Vladimir Jabotinsky to Menachem Begin to Benjamin Netanyahu, and a discussion of its current relevance to what is happening in Israel today. Rick Richman, the editor of Jewish Current Issues, was one of the presenters. Steven M. Goldberg, the National Vice Chairman of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), spoke as well. Professor Louis Gordon, whose work has appeared in the Forward, the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, and numerous other publications, shared additional insights.
US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are both in the midst of fruitless negotiations for basically the same reason.
Obama is negotiating with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff while Netanyahu is negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The President offered Boehner huge concessions reducing stimulus spending from $425B to $175B, abandoning extension of the payroll tax holiday and slashing entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) by $725B in order to obtain a modest 2% increase in taxes for the wealthiest 0.7% of Americans which he could have obtained automatically simply by waiting for New Year's. Boehner and Obama seemed close to an agreement and much was made of the fact that neither was willing to bridge the (relatively) small gap that remained between them.
However, in the end the inability to come to agreement with Boehner was probably irrelevant since Obama was negotiating with someone who did not have to power to deliver the votes. Boehner was unable to get enough votes to pass his own so-called "Plan B" which would have raised taxes on the poorest Americans by up to $1500 by eliminating the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit while simultaneously permitting tax rates to rise for 400,000 extremely wealthy families. Boehner's failure Thursday night to win support for his plan from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party forced him to shutter Congress for the holidays without avoiding the "fiscal cliff."
Similarly, one Israeli government after another is having difficulty bringing Abbas to the negotiating table let alone coming to a peace agreement with him despite a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, economic support for the Palestinian Authority and other concessions. However, this failure is almost irrelevant since the Palestinian Authority is not really controlled by its nominal figurehead Abbas in Ramallah, but rather by Hamas in Gaza.
So why does Netanyahu waste his time talking to Abbas when it is clear that the leadership of Hamas holds all the cards?
The problem is that Hamas is a terrorist organization which by its very charter defines itself as devoted to the complete destruction of the State of Israel. By choosing essentially civilian targets and terror tactics, Hamas holds itself outside the rules of conventional warfare and maintains its status as a pariah organization with whom negotiation is anathema.
Similarly, the Tea Party has shown itself time and time again willing to hold the economy of the country hostage to its own interests. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution says that our national debt "shall not be questioned." Unlike Greece, our debt is in our own sovereign currency. If worse came to worst, our lenders should know that we can always simply print what we owe them, so they could consider United States Bonds to be completely risk-free and charge us the lowest rate available. However, by playing a game of "chicken" with the debt ceiling, the Tea Party puts the entire solvency of our country needlessly into doubt.
Now with the fiscal cliff, Grover Norquist and his Tea Party allies are unwilling to bend on the smallest tax increase for the wealthiest Americans in order to avoid across the board tax increases and automatic budget cuts will would certainly put our economic recover into jeopardy.
Since Netanyahu and Obama's real opponents (Hamas and the Tea Party) are intractable ideologues with whom there is no hope of negotiating, Netanyahu and Obama persist in hoping that negotiating with figureheads (Abbas and Boehner) will give their negotiating partners the "street-cred" necessary to make a deal.
Today, Senator Daniel Inouye will be honored at a memorial service in Washington DC before his final trip home to Hawaii where he will be buried. According to Fox News:
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were to be among those offering tributes during the ceremony Friday at Washington National Cathedral, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Biden also spoke at a ceremony Thursday at the Capitol, where Inouye was given an honored resting place: beneath the dome.
Inouye was only the 31st person to lie in state in the rotunda, the most recent being former President Gerald R. Ford nearly six years ago.
During the day, congressional staff, tourists and other Capitol Hill visitors filed past to pay their respects at Inouye's casket, draped with an American flag.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the statement below in response to the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI).
On behalf of the people of Israel, I wish to express my deepest condolences on the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye.
I was proud to call Senator Inouye a friend. He was a humble man with a towering spirit, whose exemplary bravery on the battlefield during World War II was followed by an exemplary life dedicated to serving his country and defending its most cherished values.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, our country has been blessed to have had the unwavering support of outstanding American leaders who were dedicated to strengthening the security of Israel and to deepening the unique and powerful alliance between Israel and the United States.
But even among these leaders, the contributions of Senator Inouye stand out. His friendship to the Jewish people knew no bounds, and he worked tirelessly throughout his public life to safeguard the one and only Jewish state.
The people of Israel will forever owe him a profound debt of gratitude.
My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Inouye's family at this difficult time.
Eulogy by Former Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor follows the jump.
Whatever your view of the United Nations resolution recognizing "Palestine" as a state, Mahmoud Abbas's speech revises Middle East history — to the point of being downright insulting to supporters of Israel.
"Without a Palestinian state," says Australian Prime Minister Bob Carr, as quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "there can't be peace in this region."
What "peace in this region" can there be if the leader of the so-called state of Palestine demonizes Israel in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations?
That was Bibi's response to the UN General Assembly's vote to give the Palestinians a non-member observer state status. But having the 'right' does not obligate nor does it necessitate exercising that right.
Just mere weeks after the election, no one expected that Obama's first real test on Israel would come quite so quickly and under such frightening circumstances. But it did. And throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, President Obama acted like a pro-Israel president would. He affirmed and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself and blocked efforts by the United Nations to howl their condemnations. He insisted first that Hamas stop firing rockets. He warned against, but did not outright oppose, what would have likely been a disastrous ground invasion campaign for Israel. He dispatched his most able and highest ranking diplomat to mediate the ceasefire. And perhaps most importantly of all, the Iron Dome system that he (along with bipartisan support) underwrote was instrumental in not only saving Israeli lives, but altering the shape of what could have been a much bloodier conflict.
Truman Security Partner Andrew Lachman wrote that "President Obama's conduct in support of Israel's right to defend itself from Gaza rocket attacks has gone far beyond what any predecessor has ever done in supporting Israel."
Four years ago, when Operation Cast Lead was initiated, President Bush issued a statement that the United States backed Israel's right to self defense and asked that the Israelis do all they could to avoid civilian casualties. President Obama has done far more for Israel during this crisis:
First, the Iron Dome anti-rocket system that has intercepted nearly 88% of the rockets coming out of Gaza was underwritten by American military aid under President Obama, who tripled funding to take the Israeli system from a single battery to multiple batteries protecting cities such as Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Sderot and Jerusalem (President Bush funded the David's Sling Program, but U.S. funding of Iron Dome did not begin until 2009). While U.S funding of Israeli purchase of American weapons systems may be common, funding Israeli-designed systems such as Iron Dome is not and few Presidents have chosen to expand budget expenditures like this.
Second, the Obama Administration has joined with Britain, France and Germany to block any attempts to use the United Nations to condemn Israel's acts of self defense and insisting that the reign of rocket terror from Gaza must stop. Secretary of State Clinton did not follow the lead of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had pushed Israel to leave Gaza in 2005 and had filed a complaint in the United Nations against Israel's treatment of civilians in Gaza and was a major force in pushing Israel to adopt the ceasefire with Hamas in 2008.
Third, President Obama has stated clearly and unequivocally that Hamas alone must stand down from its use of rockets against Israel in order for there to be a ceasefire. Not only did he tell Israel this, he told Egypt this as well, insisting that President Morsi play a role in reigning in Hamas and reiterating Israel's right to self-defense from Hamas' unwarranted and unprovoked attacks. The President and Vice President have been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu every day receiving briefings from Netanyahu directly and coordinating efforts to reach a ceasefire.
Will this finally help our Republican friends see the light?
Like Japanese soldiers who continued to fight World War II on deserted Pacific islands for decades after the war ended, some of our Republican friends will continue to tell us that President Obama is waiting until the moment is just right to "throw Israel under the bus."
But as Israeli reporter Barak Ravid tweeted, "if funding Iron Dome is Obama's way of throwing us under the bus, I am praying he will throw us under a train." One Israeli official close to Bibi said that Obama's response was "everything we could ever hope for." More here.
But the rest of the right-wing nonsense about President Obama is true. All of it. Gloriously true.
Ceasefire reached Operation Pillar of Defense Ended on It's Eighth Day
— The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia
As Operation Pillar of Defense — a military operation to defend Israel's 4.5 million citizens who are under rocket fire from the Hamas terrorist organization — enters its eighth day, attacks on Israeli towns and communities continue.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces ceasefire to come into effect at 9 pm. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with US President Barack Obama and acceded to his recommendation to give the Egyptian ceasefire proposal a chance to stabilize and calm the situation before there is a need to use greater force.
The Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation to the President for his support of Israel during the operation and for his contribution to the Iron Dome system. The Prime Minister reiterated that Israel would take all necessary steps to defend its citizens.
Earlier today (Nov 21) a city bus was bombed in Tel-Aviv, injuring dozens of people. This horrific attack came at the height of international efforts to reach a cease-fire.
Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14th more than 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israel.
Most of these rockets landed in the south and the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system was effective at intercepting these rockets. Currently, Iron Dome has prevented over 400 rockets from striking populated areas in Israel.
Throughout Operation Pillar of Defense Israel continued to supply nearly 62% of Gaza's electricity and kept humanitarian aid arriving to Gaza. After the cease fire Israel will ensure that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains stable.
On the other hand, the terrorist organization Hamas has targeted Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Israel has gone to great lengths to minimize harm to the residents of Gaza and regrets any injury bestowed upon them.
Despite the near constant rocket attacks and now — unfortunately — bus bombings, life goes on for most Israelis. Israel's economy remains strong with most businesses and financial markets operating as normal. Thanks to the great support Israel received, its citizen's remained resilient and strong.
(Update from US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland:
The Secretary met for more than two hours this evening in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, National Security Advisor and other officials. They briefed her on the situation in Gaza and the threat posed by continuing rocket fire to Israeli cities and towns. The Secretary offered condolences for the Israeli citizens killed and wounded in attacks today and over the past several days.
They discussed efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring about a sustainable outcome that protects Israel's security and improves the lives of civilians in Gaza. They also consulted on her impending stops in Ramallah and Cairo, including Egyptian efforts to advance de-escalation. They pledged to stay in close touch as she continues her travels.
- promoted by Publisher)
Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.
President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the rocket attacks on Israel, condemning the attacks and affirming Israel's right to defend itself. The White House released a statement, saying:
The President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi about the rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel, and the escalating violence in Gaza.
The President reiterated to Prime Minister Netanyahu the United States' support for Israel's right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians. The President urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days. Earlier today, Vice President Biden received a briefing from Prime Minister Netanyahu on the events in Gaza.
Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted:
I want to express my appreciation once again to President Obama for his unequivocal clear sided support for Israel's right to defend itself.
Yesterday, the Obama Administration "strongly condemn[ed]" the attacks on Israel in a statement from the State Department, saying that "there is no justification for the violence that Hamas... [is] employing against the people of Israel."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated President Barack Obama on his victory last night. During his remarks with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, the Prime Minister noted that the security relationship between the United States and Israel remains "rock solid" and that he looks forward to his continued cooperation with the President. Netanyahu also released a statement in which he said that "strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever."
Earlier this week, the so-called Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) released a robocall featuring a "debate" that never occurred between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In reality, it was a mash-up of speeches and phrases from different times during the last three years.
We at NJDC thought that it would be fun to follow ECI's absurd lead and create our own recording featuring ECI Board member Bill Kristol, but using an extended excerpt from a recent speech noting how he really feels about the President's policies. Click here or on the audio player below to listen. Note: unlike ECI, we're not subjecting unsuspecting Jewish households to this recording while they're trying to eat dinner. And unlike ECI's recording, Kristol said these things during the same speech. Go figure.
As an old, loyal, American Jew who cares about Israel I want to explain why I am committed to Obama for a second term as president. I am a WWII veteran and former USAF pilot. In the early 1930s I traveled to Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv to visit an uncle, an aunt, and my grandparents. I returned on many occasions.
I have watched U.S. administrations come and go in the years since the British Mandate. Never has any American president done more for Israel than has President Obama. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, The Jerusalem Post, and Ambassador Shapiro have all spoken out publicly confirming Obama's extraordinary support and unconditional commitment to Israel.
The following are some of the areas in which Obama has exceeded all other U.S. presidents in his actions to support the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel:
Obama provided Israel with the largest amount of military aid in U.S. history.
Obama has restored Israel's Qualitative Military Edge with advanced weaponry.
Obama's diplomatic support for Israel in the UN and around the world is unparalleled and unprecedented.
Obama recently personally and forcefully intervened to rescue Israel's diplomats in Cairo.
President Obama said in front of the United Nations,
"Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them... Those are facts. They cannot be denied."
...when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable." He continued, saying, "I went down to the border towns of Sderot ... I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms, and I was reminded of ... what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.
Now, let me begin by saying that I know Romney visited Yad Vashem in 2007 and traveled to Sderot in 2011. But when the details of the two men's trips to Israel as presidential candidates are contrasted and evaluated for who was more "presidential," only one individual fits the bill.
President Obama visited Israel during his 2008 presidential campaign and met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and - unlike Governor Mitt Romney - with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He traveled to Sderot, where he talked with families who faced the daily fear of Palestinian rocket fire. He visited Yad Vashem, where he laid a wreath on a tomb that contains ashes from Nazi extermination camps. Obama's trip to Israel greatly affected his actions once in office, prompting him to provide record aid to Israel, restore the country's Qualitative Military Edge, fund the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more.
Governor Romney had quite a different trip as a candidate. He did meet with Peres, Netanyahu, and various other Israeli leaders — though he opted to cancel his meeting with the Labor Party's Shelly Yachimovich. He chose to only meet with Fayyad, selecting to return to Jerusalem on the eve of Tisha B'Av to focus on his speech as well as his $50,000-a-plate fundraiser. Standing in front of his supporters, Romney spoke broadly about his stances on the Middle East, all the while dishing out subtle jabs at the President and breaking the "politics stop at the water's edge" protocol. The next day, he managed to stretch U.S.-Palestinian relations even further when he chalked up the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies to "culture." During Romney's August 2012 trip as a candidate, there was no trip to Sderot, no visit to Yad Vashem, and no conversations with average Israelis about their hopes for the future. Instead, his trip to Israel served a political purpose.
There is only one candidate in the 2012 race whose trip to Israel was presidential and whose actions afterward were presidential-President Barack Obama.
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