Have to run now.
Rivlin will be in New York this week to speak at UN Headquarters, for an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event. The President’s Residence had informed U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in early December of Rivlin’s planned visit, and the information was conveyed to the White House.
A senior Israeli official said that at first Rivlin did not want to impose himself on Obama, and that he would be happy to go to Washington if invited by the White House. The deputy spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Alistair Baskey, said that Rivlin had asked in December about the possibility of a meeting as part of his visit to New York, and that there had been contacts between the two presidential bureaus over the matter in recent weeks.
The White House did not suggest a date for the meeting for some time, but on Saturday night contacts became more concrete. The White House suggested that Rivlin come to Washington toward the end of the week, after Obama returns from his trip to India and Saudi Arabia. The White House also updated the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Journalist Chico Menashe first reported the talks regarding the visit on Sunday.
After consultations, Rivlin finally declined the American suggestion. His advisers explained to the Americans that the two leaders’ schedules do not overlap, because Rivlin is expected to return to Israel before Obama gets back to Washington.
However, beyond scheduling conflicts, it may be assumed that the high tension between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau over the latter’s planned speech to Congress contributed to Rivlin’s decision to forego a meeting at this time. Rivlin did not want a meeting to be perceived by either side as a political move.
The President’s Residence and the White House released coordinated statements last night identical in their wording, that there had been contact between the relevant parties in Israel regarding a meeting while Rivlin was in New York.
“At this stage, it has been agreed not to hold a meeting during his visit, due to the schedule constraints of both leaders, and that a meeting would be scheduled at a later date,” the statement said.In other words, the White House wasn't interested in a meeting until it became a useful tool to 'get' Netanyahu. Rivlin didn't take the bait.
.@GLZRadio: arab commentator: if herzog insists on calling his party "zionist" it will cost him votes and possible partnership w/ arabsHey - we wouldn't want to say anything controversial, would we?
— Ben Waxman (@benwaxman) January 25, 2015
The throngs attending the younger Mughniyeh’s funeral on January 19 yelled “Death to America” only once. “I counted,” says Lokman Slim, an anti-Hezbollah Shiite activist. “And they said ‘Death to Israel’ only a few times. Then they went to more religious slogans.”
According to Slim, the scaled-down rhetoric and modest size of the funeral are evidence that Hezbollah is caught in a bind. “The [Lebanese Shiites] don’t want another war with Israel,” says Slim, “but they also want to know Hezbollah can protect them like it says.”
“The Shia are supposed to side with justice against injustice,” says Slim. “Shia stand with the underdog. And now Hezbollah is fighting alongside a dictatorial regime.” Moreover, Hezbollah has also staked the Shiites to a position against the regional Sunni majority in a war whose best outcome, says Slim, can only be a political settlement. “Hezbollah will have fought this war, and at the end the Shia will ask to what purpose did we sacrifice so much?” The worst outcome, says Slim, is a war that won’t end.
“Maybe trauma,” says Slim, “is the only way back from divinity.” Maybe. We’re on the road heading south to the Shiite heartland to see.
Outside of Lebanon’s Shiite regions, it is very difficult to get a sense of how profoundly the war in Syria has injured the community. Exactly how many Lebanese Shiites have been killed there is unknown—high-end estimates are more than a thousand in the last two years—or even how many are fighting. Slim says the numbers miss the point. “Let’s say there are 3,000 Hezbollah combatants in Syria, but then take into account all the other things you need, everything from intelligence to logistics, and there are perhaps 20,000 committed to the war. For instance, a father and his two sons have a bulldozer, and Hezbollah needs them and their machine in Syria, so they pay them double to be there.”
Hezbollah is unaccustomed to waging a long war of attrition like this, far from the Lebanese villages where it fought guerrilla wars against Israel. To be sure, its fighters are becoming a battle-hardened expeditionary force, but the nature of the war is reconfiguring Shiite society.
“Boys are dropping out of school to join the fight,” says Slim. “They enjoy the benefits of manhood earlier than before, but it’s becoming a community without men, or men who are simply on leave from Syria and waiting to return. The result,” he says smiling, “is that the women will become more powerful.”
Black humor underlines how far Hezbollah has fallen from its divine status. “We have the phenomenon of the widows of the fighters killed in Syria,” says Slim, “beautiful young girls being courted by the organization’s senior officials. ‘Hey, if you need anything, just text me. And if it’s evening, you can reach me on Whatsapp, too.’ ”
The fact that Israel presumably weighed Hezbollah’s predicament before striking the Mughniyeh/Allahdadi convoy—how the scope of its deployment in Syria limited its ability to avenge its fallen—is one of several indignities Nasrallah has to swallow. There’s also the ongoing issue of treason. Not long before the strike in the Golan, Hezbollah disclosed that it had found a spy in its ranks, Mohamed Shawarba, a high-ranking official who allegedly worked for the Mossad. If Hezbollah was eager to boast of its ability to root out traitors, Israel’s operation—netting major Hezbollah and Iranian figures—suggests that its counterintelligence wing has plenty of work left to do, because the organization is still riddled with spies.
We discuss whether Nasrallah will retaliate for last week’s attack and, if so, when and how. Will there be rocket fire from Lebanon, terrorist operations abroad, an IED on the border targeting Israeli troops, or an operation from the Golan? The last, which would come from Syrian territory, seems safest to most of the Lebanese I’ve spoken with. However, it’s worth considering that Israel may have struck not because of an urgent threat near Quneitra, but rather to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from opening another front from which to attack Israel.
The Israelis have been watching the Syrian border with concern. Given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reputation for being risk averse, it’s notable that he chose to risk the possibility of war with elections only two months away. Clearly, the Israeli government will not allow Iran to use the Golan as a launching pad, and firing on Israel from there in retaliation would effectively make it a second front. Accordingly, chances are that an Israeli response, in any escalation, would target Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the south again bearing the brunt of the conflict, likely including, according to Israeli strategists, a large ground operation.
While Israel prepared for the fallout from last week's elimination of a top Hezbollah terrorist and an Iranian general on the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had a message for anyone planning to attack Israel from the direction of Syria: Israel would hold Damascus responsible for any “revenge attacks” coming from Syrian territory, to the extent that Jerusalem would side itself with forces seeking to unseat Bashar Assad from the leadership of Syria, if necessary.
Tensions remained high in northern Israel in the aftermath of the elimination of Jihad Mughniyeh, said to be Hezbollah's “commander of the Golan Heights area,” along with a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, and Iranian general Abu Ali Tabtabai. Roads in the area of the Israel-Lebanon border have been closed, and tanks and armored personnel carriers were reportedly deployed along the northern border. Lebanese media outlets are reporting Israeli jets and helicopters over the Har Dov area along the Lebanese border.
....Lebanese circles have taken into consideration Israeli warnings and informed the ambassadors of the major countries, with emphasis on the lack of responsibility of Lebanon for any action aimed at Israel or Israelis from outside Lebanese territory...Well, good luck with that!
These circles confirmed for Al-Anbaa that Hezbollah understands that officials fear of Lebanese land being used to respond to the Israeli aggression, in any place or direction, and Minister Mohammed Fneish advised the Council of Ministers on Thursday that whenever the response will come, Lebanon’s interest will be taken into account before anything....
The entire episode suggests unseemly cooperation between the White House and Senate opponents of Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation. “The idea that the Mossad would stake out a position against the prime minister is hard to fathom. The Mossad is actually an arm of the prime minister’s office. That’s why the entire episode strained credulity,” says Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But even if it were true, leaking an off-the-record statement from a foreign intelligence official strikes me as both dangerous and underhanded.” Especially suspicious is the speed with which the phony Mossad story leaped from a Senate briefing to Secretary of State John Kerry, who actively worked to fan the story. It seems the administration and weak-kneed senators have a common interest in seeking to submarine critical sanctions legislation that commanded a large bipartisan majority just a year ago.
Given this contretemps, it is laughable then that the White House will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits in March so as not to interfere with the Israeli elections. Snubbing the prime minister and trying to manipulate his own intelligence service into undercutting Israel’s elected government are far more politically inappropriate than a routine visit between two allies’ leaders. In a bit of sarcastic commentary, the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel sent out a release on Thursday announcing, “In order to do our part to make the Israeli Prime Minister feel welcome in Washington, ECI will host a reception in the Prime Minister’s honor to make clear, in case there’s any doubt, that whatever the president does or says, Americans value our friendship with our ally Israel.”Senator Menendez (D-NJ) was right when he said last week that the Obama administration is peddling talking points from Iran. Netanyahu is coming to Washington to tell the truth. The timing and who invited him are irrelevant.
Thousands of Palestinians rallied in the occupied West Bank on Saturday to protest against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Simultaneous demonstrations were held in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron less than three weeks after Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people in the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, which has repeatedly featured cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
"France is the mother of terrorism. America is the mother of terrorism," the protesters chanted. They carried black-and-white banners which read "There is only one God and Mohammad is his messenger."
The protests were called by the Islamist Tahrir Party, which advocates the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Muslim countries.
"We have taken to the streets in order to demand Muslim armies act the way France and the West deserve in response to the repeated offences against the Prophet, peace be upon him," said Baher Saleh, a member of the party.
It will be interesting to see whether the Arabs will try to build on their 'success' to bar the sale of Charlie Hebdo altogether.
Following the threats and warnings, the book seller backtracked on its decision to hold the launch event at its flagship store. "Steimatzky decisively supports in freedom of expression. The company has sold the magazine for years and will continue to do so. However, the firm has decided the sale of the specific issue will not occur at a special event in our store, but be held online starting Monday at 5 pm."
In a letter to the prime minister, [MK Masoud] Ganaim said, "Steimatzky intends to distribute images which hurt the Prophet Mohammed. This is a very serious, dangerous, and stupid step. This is not freedom of expression but a hard hit on the holiest of holies to Muslims, which will bring about unrest and anger among the Arabs and Muslims in the country… and no one can predict the results."
The Arab legislator urged the rightwing leader to stop the distribution of offending magazine. "I hereby appeal to your sense of honor; please personally intervene to prevent Steimatzky from distribution the magazine and the damaging images of the Prophet Mohammed, lest the Israeli government and Steimatzky be responsible for every consequence."
World leaders have been streaming into the country to pay their respects to the powerful kingdom, which controls one of the world's largest reserves of oil. The late King Abdullah had been a close friend of the United States, but the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is less known in the West.
The president has been on a bad streak of late. He skipped the Paris march after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, instead watching NFL playoof football. The White House later acknowledged that it should have sent someone with a "higher profile" than just the U.S. ambassador to France.
Then this week, the White House announced that Obama will not see the Israeli Prime Minister on his March visit to address Congress, calling the invitation from House Speaker John Boehner a breach of protocol. But the president did make time on Thursday to visit with a YouTube star who once took a bath in a tub filled with milk and Fruit Loops, prompting much ridicule.
Now, with the change announced Saturday by the White House, Biden will stay in Washington as Obama makes the trip to Saudi Arabia.
But once again, Obama will be a day late and a dollar short. He won't stop in Riyadh until Tuesday, while Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito will visit on Saturday and Sunday to offer condolences.Well, maybe Obama is afraid that Hollande will treat him about as well as Netanyahu does.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state.
Tuesday’s ceremony will likely be the last major anniversary where a significant number of survivors of the Nazi camp are present. About 300 are expected to attend, and most of them are in their 90s or older than 100. Nazi authorities killed 1.1 million people at the camp, mostly Jews, which was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945.
The New York Times reported on the foreign dignitaries that would be present:The White House claims that Obama will be in India on a 'long-scheduled' trip. As if they didn't know when the liberation of Auschwitz took place. At least he'll avoid Hollande there too.
A preliminary list of those attending includes President François Hollande of France, President Joachim Gauck of Germany and President Heinz Fischer of Austria, as well as King Philippe of Belgium, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The United States delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
A non-Jewish journalist dressed as a Jew and walked through Malmo, Sweden. This is what happened to him: pic.twitter.com/f7odDaU9R8What nice people those Swedes are....
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) January 23, 2015
Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections.
Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.
Rubio, 43, will gather on Friday and Saturday at the Delano Hotel in Miami with 300 supporters and major donors to his Reclaim America PAC to discuss his political future.
Aides expect Rubio will make a final decision in the comings weeks, but his schedule for the next month already looks more like the schedule of a presidential candidate than a senator.
ABC News has learned Rubio plans to skip all votes in the Senate next week and instead take a campaign fundraising swing through California with events in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Rancho Sante Fe and Costa Mesa. He also plans fundraising stops in Texas and Chicago.
Here's wishing Marco Rubio all the success in the world. If you need someone to work on your campaign among American ex-pats in Israel (there are lots of us), please call. Promise to repeal FATCA and you'll get lots of votes here.Rubio has also scheduled a book tour that will take him to all the early primary states. A senior aide to the Florida senator tells ABC News Rubio’s book tour will include stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada. The first stop is tentatively scheduled for February 13 in Des Moines.
U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop encouraging U.S. senators and congressmen to advance new sanctions legislation against Iran.
A senior American official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, said Obama gave Netanyahu this message during a telephone call on Monday, January 12.
Obama stressed to Netanyahu that he is seeking to reach an agreement with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons and assure the international community in a verifiable fashion that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, the official added. But new sanctions legislation is liable to sabotage the negotiations that Obama and five other countries are conducting with Iran, the president said. He told the Israeli leader that should such legislation pass Congress, he intends to veto it.
Obama also warned Netanyahu not to meddle in the battle he is waging against Congress over the sanctions legislation, the official said. This warning was issued more than a week before Speaker of the House John Boehner publicly invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu’s address, which will take place at the height of the battle between Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress, is expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue and what he sees as the need to ratchet up the pressure on the Iran.
At Netanyahu’s behest, both Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and members of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, have been urging members of Congress in recent weeks to advance legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu has also urged new sanctions on Iran in all his meetings with American legislators, including his meeting earlier this week with a delegation headed by Republican Senator John McCain.
"We thought we've seen everything," a senior American official said. "But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don't do. He spat in our face publicly and that's no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price."Obama is about as lame a duck as one can find. He's in the home stretch of his second and final term as President. The Republicans control both houses of Congress. He needs Netanyahu to have any kind of foreign policy legacy that's connected to the Middle East. And if he goes too far, he will drive pro-Israel donors away from the Democratic party for years to come.
Olli Heinonen, who headed the IAEA’s safeguards section during the 2003-2005 talks between Iran and three European powers (United Kingdom, France and Germany), said “it is true that 20-percent enriched uranium stocks have decreased, but Iran is still producing uranium enriched up to 5-percent uranium. The latter stocks have actually increased when you talk about stocks of UF6 [uranium hexafluoride] and other chemical compounds.”
Moreover, while there has been no installation of new centrifuges, “it appears that the production of centrifuge components continues. Same with the Arak reactor. No new nuclear components have been installed, but it does not mean that the production of those came to halt.”
As Heinonen put it, “the JPOA is just a step to create negotiation space; nothing more. It is not a viable longer term situation. The nuclear caravan of Iran continues and sets a step after a step another fait accompli.”
David Albright, who heads Institute for Science and International Security, said the president’s language was “a little bit odd.” He said that the halt in Iran’s program from 2003 to 2005 was a more substantial suspension of enrichment activities. (At the Senate hearing, Blinken acknowledged the United States and its negotiating partners had abandoned United Nations Security Council demands that Iran halt enrichment as it was clear “Iran was not going to give up as a practical matter some very limited forms of enrichment in the event of an agreement.”)
Moreover, Albright said it was not correct that the 3.5-percent enriched stock had been reduced; instead it has been converted from one form (“hexafluoride”) to another (“oxide”), a step that he said was taken largely for cosmetic (political) purposes. A significant portion of 20-percent enriched material has also been retained as scrap, rather than converted into fuel for a research reactor. A key aspect of the talks is to extend the “break out” period under which Iran could manufacture a nuclear weapon, but he said as a practical matter the conversion of 3.5 percent to oxide form would only add about two weeks to the break-out period, since Iran could reconvert it back into hexafluoride. (Here’s his report on this issue; this paragraph was updated for clarity.)
In effect, the amount of nuclear material available to Iran has gone up “about a bomb’s worth during the JPOA,” Albright said.
This is where Obama’s speechwriters went awry. Iran’s stock of low enriched uranium — a “nuclear material” by the IAEA’s definition — has gone up during the negotiations, largely as a consequence of the dilution of the near 20-percent material.Read the whole thing.
"The fraudulent claims against the Mossad Head were raised by the Americans yesterday, despite a message that had been transmitted to them on Tuesday by Intelligence Minister [Yuval] Steintz,” the senior Israeli source told Channel 2 news.
He added that Israel had gone over the minutes of the meeting between Pardo and the delegation of senators, and that Pardo had not said what was attributed to him.
"Leaking the Mossad Head's statements, even if they had not been falsified, is a serious breach of all the rules,” the senior source added. “Friends do not behave like this. Information from a secret meeting must not leak out.”
Pardo denied on Thursday the report – which was carried by Bloomberg news – claiming that the Mossad disagrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the need to press new sanctions on Iran.Wow.
The government says two key witnesses in Nisman's case against the president had been falsely presented to him as state intelligence agents.
Fernandez said the deception discredited Nisman's charges against her and points to a conspiracy to smear her name.
"They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead," she said in an open letter to the country, adding that his death was "sad and terrible".
She did not say who killed him and no one has been arrested in the case, which has shocked Argentines. Social media networks are seething with conspiracy theories, some pointing at Fernandez and her government.
Thousands took to the streets this week to protest the slow pace of justice for the victims of the bombing and demanding answers to the questions around Nisman's death.
Fernandez again defended herself in a Facebook post on Thursday.
"Nisman's accusation not only collapses, but becomes a real political and legal scandal ... That's the key. Prosecutor Nisman did not know that the men identified as intelligence agents were in fact not," she said.
"The spies who were not spies. The questions that turned into certainties. The suicide that I am now convinced was not a suicide."But there are a lot of suspicious things happening here. One of them is the fact that Nisman's apartment has a back door that was unlocked - contradicting earlier reports that Nisman's apartment was locked from the inside. The existence of a third door only rouses more suspicions.
Lead prosecutor Viviana Fein said there was no evidence of anyone else involved in the death, but said Nisman left no suicide note. A test of his hand showed no residue of gunpowder, though she said that may have been due to the small caliber of the gun. The fact that national Security Secretary Sergio Berni quickly turned up in the apartment also fed doubts.
Moreover, the locksmith who opened the back door to give investigators access to the home where Nisman was found dead said it was barely closed, raising questions about whether a killer might have entered or exited what was earlier described as a 13th-story apartment locked from the inside.
After testifying to investigators, the man who gave his name only as Walter said he was able to quickly open the door with a hook. He added, "If someone entered or not, I don't know."
Opposition politicians have denounced Kirchner's claim that Nisman was murdered to frame her.
The official news agency Telam, meanwhile, said investigators had found a third access to the home, a narrow passage holding air conditioning equipment that connects to a neighboring apartment occupied by an unidentified foreigner. They were investigating a seemingly recent footprint and fingerprint found inside.
Opposition leaders denounced Kirchner's statements as an opportunistic about-face.
"It's very serious. To go from supporting the thesis of a suicide, to an assassination, she must assume the consequences," said Senator Ernesto Sanz, a member of the opposition.
Another Kirchner opponent, deputy Francisco de Narvaez, expressed outrage that Kirchner would take a position on such a sensitive matter while an investigation was underway.
"You do not have the right to trample on the independence of the judiciary in this tragedy. I ask you to stop acting like an adolescent trying to gain influence through your Facebook account," he said.I would bet on Kirchner being involved. The question is how to prove it.
The decision, said the White House, is in line with US policy not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.
"The president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election," said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan
The date for Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress has been pushed back by a fortnight to March 3, House Speaker John Boehner announced Thursday on his Twitter feed.But an out-and-out endorsement of another country's candidate for Prime Minister is okay in Obama's book.
Boehner said that Netanyahu asked that the speech be rescheduled so that he can participate in the annual AIPAC conference as well. This means that the speech to Congress will be delivered just two weeks before the Israeli elections on March 17.
Netanyahu wrote Boehner: "I am honored by this invitation, which reflects the special friendship shared by Israel and the United States as well as the strong bipartisan support for Israel across America."Just last week I discussed with President Obama the common challenges we face from Islamist extremism, including resurgent terrorism and Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons."I look forward to being able to share with the joint session Israel's vision for working together to address these threats and to reiterate Israel's commitment to the bond that unites our two democracies."
US President Barack Obama today handed David Cameron an extraordinary pre-election endorsement, hailing the British Prime Minister as a 'great friend'.
With less than four months until voters go to the polls in the tightest UK election for years, Mr Obama used a press conference in the White House to give the strongest possible backing to a fellow world leader.
Mr Cameron has been in Washington for a high profile visit just months before the British general election. The two men dined together in the White House last night, on mushrooms, lamb and warm pear cake.
Images of Mr Cameron with the US President, who is more popular in the UK than in America, will be seen as a huge boost to Tory hopes of contrasting Mr Cameron with Labour's Ed Miliband to be PM.
But the highly unusual personal support from a Democrat President will delight Tory strategists and cause dismay for Labour, who hoped a visit to Washington last year had bolstered his image as a potential statesman.
Mr Cameron revealed in an interview this month that Mr Obama often calls him 'bro' when they meet.
'Yes, he sometimes calls me 'Bro',' the PM said.
The US President today said commentators had got into a 'tizzy' about he meant meant by it and sparked a debate about even the definition and origin of the word 'bro'.
Seeking to clear up the confusion, Mr Obama said: 'Put simply, David is a great friend. He is one of my closet and most trusted partners in the world. On many of the most pressing challenges that we face we see the world the same way.
'Great Britain is our indispensable partner, and David has been personally an outstanding partner - and I thank you for your friendship.'
In response, Mr Cameron told the President: 'You are a great friend to Britain, and me personally.'Maybe the US policy starts tomorrow?
Sources in Jerusalem told Army Radio Thursday that the story reported in Bloomberg about disagreement between Netanyahu and the Mossad regarding sanctions on Iran is US President Barack Obama administration's “revenge” for Netanyahu's invitation to address Congress.
The invitation was extended by Congress without consulting Obama.Sorry, but I don't buy this one. If the White House wanted to plant a story, it would have gone to Jeffrey Goldberg or Tom Friedman.
Reaction of the Mossad Chairman to the new crisis with Washington:Welcome to Washington Prime Minister Netanyahu.
On 19 January 2015, Mossad Chairman Tamir Pardo met with a delegation of American Senators. The meeting took place at the Senators' request, and with the Prime Minister's approval.
Contrary to the report, the Mossad Chairman did not say that he opposes additional sanctions against Iran. In the meeting, the Mossad Chairman emphasized the unusual effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran a number of years ago in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
The Mossad Chairman pointed out that the negotiations with Iran must be conducted using 'carrots and sticks,' and the 'sticks' are currently missing. The Mossad Chairman pointed out that without strong pressure, it will not be possible to bring about significant compromises on the Iranian side.
The Mossad Chairman did not relate to the use of the term 'hand grenade' with respect to the imposition of sanctions, because in his eyes, these are the 'sticks' that will help to obtain a good agreement. He used this term to describe the possibility of creating a temporary breakdown in the talks, at the end of which the negotiations will be restarted under better conditions.
The Mossad Chairman explicitly pointed out that the agreement that is being reached with Iran is bad, and may lead to a regional arms race.
Head of Mosad say he didn't say that it is wrong to put more sanctions on IranDeveloping....
— Udi Segal (@usegal) January 22, 2015
Already, the Barack Obama administration and some leading Republican senators are using the Israeli internal disagreement to undermine support for the bill, authored by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, which would enact new sanctions if current negotiations falter.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- supported by Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain -- is pushing for his own legislation on the Iran nuclear deal, which doesn't contain sanctions but would require that the Senate vote on any pact that is agreed upon in Geneva. The White House is opposed to both the Kirk-Menendez bill and the Corker bill; it doesn't want Congress to meddle at all in the delicate multilateral diplomacy with Iran.
Israeli intelligence officials have been briefing both Obama administration officials and visiting U.S. senators about their concerns on the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would increase sanctions on Iran only if the Iranian government can't strike a deal with the so-called P5+1 countries by a June 30 deadline or fails to live up to its commitments. Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister’s office has been supporting the Kirk-Menendez bill, as does the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, ahead of what will be a major foreign policy confrontation between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government in coming weeks.
Evidence of the Israeli rift surfaced Wednesday when Secretary of State John Kerry said that an unnamed Israeli intelligence official had said the new sanctions bill would be “like throwing a grenade into the process.” But an initial warning from Israeli Mossad leaders was also delivered last week in Israel to a Congressional delegation -- including Corker, Graham, McCain and fellow Republican John Barrasso; Democratic Senators Joe Donnelly and Tim Kaine; and independent Angus King -- according to lawmakers who were present and staff members who were briefed on the exchange. When Menendez (who was not on the trip) heard about the briefing, he quickly phoned Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to seek clarification.
Barrasso told us Tuesday that different parts of the Israeli government told the delegation different things. “We met with a number of government officials from many different parts of the government. There’s not a uniform view there,” he said.
In a Wednesday morning hearing on Iran at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker talked about the Israel visit and said that his bill (not the Kirk-Menendez bill) was acceptable to all the Israeli officials they spoke with. “Some of us were in Israel this weekend over this very same issue. We have heard no one, no one, say that if Congress were to weigh in on the final agreement it would in any way destabilize the negotiations,” Corker said.Note that the Mossad is not saying 'don't pass new sanctions.' It's saying 'if you do pass new sanctions, Iran is likely to walk away from the talks. If one accepts the proposition that Iran is using the talks as cover to continue its nuclear weapons development program, Iran walking away from the talks would probably not be such a bad thing.