Posts Tagged ‘Israel’
William Burns, Wendy Sherman, Jake Sullivan – negotiators in secret
The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.
The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.
But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.
President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort – promised in his first inaugural address – to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.
The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.
The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran’s reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran…
The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.
The Geneva deal provides Iran with about $7 billion in relief from international sanctions in exchange for Iranian curbs on uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity. All parties pledged to work toward a final accord next year that would remove remaining suspicions in the West that Tehran is trying to assemble an atomic weapons arsenal.
Iran insists its nuclear interest is only in peaceful energy production and medical research.
The diplomatic gamble with Iran, if the interim agreement holds up and leads to a final pact preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, could avert years of threats of U.S. or Israeli military intervention. It could also prove a turning point in decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran – and become a crowning foreign policy achievement of Obama’s presidency.
First off, RTFA for the details. The AP has done a professional job outlining the chronology of this comparatively recent – and successful – effort.
The rest of the world will keep the whole history of relations between Iran and the United States in mind even though the average American hasn’t a clue. A condition perpetuated by what passes for news in our media-as-entertainment only, history in our schools.
It starts with the United States, the CIA and Iranian royalists combining to crush the first democratically-elected government in Iran back in 1953. No one in Iran, no one in the Middle East forgets how American greed for oil trumped democracy with violence. No one in the world seriously believes the United States has abandoned the imperial premises that brought about that coup.
The possibility of the detente that started during the Clinton years continuing – were abruptly halted, intentionally or otherwise – by George W. Bush announcing to the world how he demanded the Iranian people vote in elections in 2005. Only an old-fashioned fool in the mold of Colonel Blimp would expect a nation to bow their heads and say, “Yes, boss” to such arrogance. And, so, the Iranian nation ended up with a fool in charge to match the clown in the White House.
We are fortunate that one of the few promises kept by Barack Obama since his election was the one made about negotiating with Iran. No less arrogant than George W, as dedicated as ever to the premises that keep a right-wing government in power in Israel, nevertheless, through the good graces of the Sultan of Oman – communications were continued and expanded until this important first step moved forward yesterday evening.
The usual shitheads are upset. From Lindsay Graham in South Carolina to Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, from Tea Party trollops to Chuck Shumer, the senator from Tel Aviv – right-wingers and liberals alike in their dedication to imperial greed from the United States and our client state in Israel are pissed off.
That is as it should be. Another sign of positive accomplishment.
Iranians have used social media to mock Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after he suggested they were not allowed to wear jeans.
In an interview with BBC Persian TV Mr Netanyahu said that if Iranians were free they would wear blue jeans, and listen to Western music.
Hundreds of Iranians both in Iran and abroad reacted on social media sites…Many posts showed mainly young Iranians wearing jeans and listening to Western music, some in comic poses.
Others mocked up scenes from ancient Persian history with the protagonists wearing denim.
Jeans are not banned in Iran, where an Islamic dress code requires women to cover their hair and wear modest outer clothing. Some Western music or Western-style music is tolerated.
One picture on social media sites showed a young boy in jeans whispering into the ear of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Another is a doctored photograph of Mr Netanyahu’s address at the UN last year in which he drew a red line across a sketch of a bomb, to warn that Iran was moving closer to the metaphorical “red line” of gaining enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb.
In the mocked-up picture, widely-shared on Twitter, the bomb has been replaced with a picture of a female figure wearing jeans, with the Israeli prime minister appearing to draw a red line across the thighs.
One Iranian response on a Facebook page that has attracted hundreds of followers read: “He thinks he saw our bomb but he hasn’t seen our jeans.”
Most Americans probably can legitimately claim to be ignorant of the role our nation played in suppressing democracy in Iran – laying the groundwork for an Islamic revolution. Israelis really can’t. They can’t avoid a certain amount of history and knowledge. Though, obviously, their right-wing prime minister tries hard to portray himself as the theocratic village idiot.
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.
The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.
The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and Israeli intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.
But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”
According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.
NSA won’t comment for the usual security restriction, blah, blah, saying they don’t do anything wrong at their end. RTFA for the details. There are lots of details and lots more legalizing of scumbag arguments by the Obama administration.
My bowling partner
US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the European Union to postpone a planned ban on EU financial assistance to Israeli organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories…
Kerry made the request at a meeting with EU foreign ministers on Saturday at which he also called on them to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year hiatus.
The EU imposed restrictions in July, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War.
Asked about her response to Kerry’s comments about the aid guidelines, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the guidelines were simply “putting down on paper what is currently the EU position”…
The EU guidelines render Israeli entities operating in the occupied territories ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.
They angered Israel’s rightist government, which accused the Europeans of harming Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and responded by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians.
Palestinians praised the guidelines as a concrete step against illegal settlement construction, which they fear will deny them a viable state…
…Many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.
Israeli-Palestinian peace has been Kerry’s main foreign policy initiative since becoming secretary of state on February 1.
Which delineates  how little Kerry has achieved since he took up his job as substitute for Hillary and  how little anyone expects him to achieve – since the United States doesn’t wish to nudge the apartheid government of Israel into anything like justice or peace.
The issues needing to be sorted after more than six decades of phony negotiations include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the removal of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem. That’s all.
Thanks to I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists
Israel peacefully negotiating borders
The Palestinians played down on Monday the significance of an imminent meeting in Washington of their top peace envoy with his Israeli counterpart, saying formal negotiation would not begin unless their opening terms were satisfied.
The Palestinian position seemed to run counter to U.S. hopes that bringing together Saeb Erekat and Israel’s Tzipi Livni in the coming days would kick-start peacemaking stalled for almost three years over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank…
Netanyahu says the new talks must be held without “preconditions”, especially regarding the borders of the state Palestinians want to found in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Though it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Israel deems all of Jerusalem its undivided capital – a status not accepted internationally – and wants to keep swathes of West Bank settlements under any eventual peace accord.
Palestinians insist no negotiations can be held until all sides agree the pre-1967 borders would be their basis.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdaineh said Erekat had yet to be invited to Washington. When he goes, Abu Rdaineh said, it would be first to determine the framework of any future negotiations.
“If they reach an agreement over the details, in accordance to the Palestinian demands, then the launch of negotiations will be announced,” Abu Rdaineh told Reuters on Monday…
There aren’t any reasonable nations, East or West, who disagree with so-called preconditions which, after all, only require historic reality. Only the United States is ready to cave-in to mystical Israeli predestination.
Denouncing the West Bank settlements as illegal – a view shared by most world powers – Abbas told Al-Rai that Israel should “get out of Palestinian land completely“.
That the whole world is watching doesn’t mean a whole boatload to Netanyahu or Kerry. The tapdance continues with Bebe bragging the playacting is part of a “strategic process to tighten relations with the United States”.
Kerry asks Netanyahu what he must do to look as if he’s achieving anything and Netanyahu will demand a raise in the annual bailout for Israel’s economy – paid for by US taxpayers.
The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.
The move, described by an Israeli official as an “earthquake”, prompted furious criticism from the Israeli prime minister over “external diktats”.
But it was hailed by Palestinians and their supporters as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements.
The EU guidelines will prohibit the issuing of grants, funding, prizes or scholarships unless a settlement exclusion clause is included. Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line – including the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed — will be automatically ineligible.
In order to secure agreements with the EU in the future, the Israeli government will be required to concede in writing that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are outside the state of Israel.
The directive, part of the 2014-20 financial framework, covers all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia…
The directive follows a decision by EU foreign ministers last December that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967″. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
Overdue, of course. Something the United States should emulate, of course.
Sooner or later, something approaching historic justice must begin to govern the economic relationship between Israel and the countries providing a stipend for a guilty conscience.
It’s a testament to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s grit, determination and self-assurance that he refuses to give up in his quest to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But I wish that he would, during the long slog toward renewed talks, ask himself one question: Why didn’t his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, apply herself to the problem in the same manner?
Certainly, Clinton possesses the same qualities of fortitude and indefatigability. No one is more tenacious than Clinton when she identifies a goal worth pursuing. So why did she resolutely avoid this issue? The answer is simple: She saw no reasonable chance for success, even success modestly defined.
The goal Kerry has in mind — getting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas together for direct talks about the most divisive issues — won’t be achieved. Both the Palestinians and Israelis know that Kerry’s proposed negotiations won’t work, but neither party wants to upset Kerry by saying so, and neither wants to be perceived as uninterested in compromise. So they may meet, and then maybe they will meet again and maybe they will even meet after that. But peace, and a Palestinian state that would be the byproduct of peace, won’t happen, not now and not in the foreseeable future…
Bloomberg columnist, Jeffrey Goldberg, then lists some of Kerry’s delusions. RTFA if you need reminding.
He then proposes a couple of modest ideas.
If Israel were to make a limited gesture on settlements to the Palestinians, and if the Palestinian Authority would make a sincere effort to return to technocracy, then it might be worth trying to bring Netanyahu and Abbas together.
Right now, though, there’s no point. One day soon, Kerry will understand why.
One pleasant aspect of perusing any of the Bloomberg websites is that you might run into an educated comment. Rather than work out my gut reaction to the questions inherent in the opinion piece above, I think I’ll just quote a comment from the website:
…Of course it IS blindingly obvious that in the present circumstances there isn’t the slightest chance of “progress”…But for some strange reason you can’t quite muster up the honesty to state the reasons why. Even though you clearly know why.
A. The Israeli regime has no intention of ever giving the Palestinians anything, not even a set of Bantustans. See the Likud charter. Read any Israeli newspaper.
“Israel’s ruling party and the governing coalition are staunchly opposed to a two-state solution and would block the creation of a Palestinian state if such a proposal ever came to a vote, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said, contradicting statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior cabinet members who say Jerusalem is committed to the principle of two states for two peoples…”
For goodness sake this was less than a month ago! Wait, do you think Danon is lying or exaggerating? Please.
B. The US regime has no intention of ever applying the kind of pressure on Israel such as would be necessary to induce it to change its ways and abide by international law and UN resolutions. The Israel lobby in conjunction with the corrupt US Congress makes sure of that…
Our new best buddies
The United States made plans to send arms to Syrian rebels several weeks ago, Obama administration sources told The Washington Post.
This week’s announcement shipments of rifles and ammunition would be funneled to the beleaguered rebels was based on new evidence the Syrian regime had gassed civilians; however, the Post said Saturday President Obama had ordered officials to start planning the supply operation in late April.
The internal debate boiled down to State Department diplomats who feared Syria — and the entire Middle East — was descending into chaos, and military officers and Obama political aides who were concerned about the complexity of the resupply mission and the ramifications of the U.S. involvement in another regional conflict.
Officials told the Post the CIA and other agencies had used the time well. Covert bases were established in Jordan and Turkey to handle the weapons transfers, and contacts were made with rebel leaders inside Syria…
The Post said the planned peace talks in Geneva this month were derailed by Assad’s recent successes on the battlefield. Sources said the negotiations would likely not begin before fall.
In the meantime, the United States will be trying to work out a deal with Russia that will somehow lead the way to a negotiated settlement between Assad and the rebels. Sources told the Post the Obama administration preferred a deal that would preserve Syria’s infrastructure and institutions rather than an outright overthrow of the government, which would create more chaos on the ground.
And everyone involved – of course – is prepared to listen to the wisdom in the White House, State Department and Congress after all the success we’ve had in bringing peace to the region over the past 65 years, eh?
Picking the time to announce Obama’s satisfaction with military analysis from spy agencies in England, France and Foggy Bottom was easy enough. The simple need to try to get Americans talking about anything other than the forgotten piece of paper we call the Bill of Rights works just fine inside the Beltway.
Israeli military authorities have not issued travel documents to 21 men and one woman who had hoped to compete in this Sunday’s race in Bethlehem, despite an official request from the head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, Jabril Rajoub.
It means the athletes will have missed the chance to run in two marathons within weeks after the United Nations’s relief agency, UNWRA, last month cancelled its race in Gaza – scheduled for April 11 – in protest at a decision by the territory’s Hamas rulers banning women runners.
The controversy has opened the military to accusations of hypocrisy from critics who point out that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) posted a blog on its website criticising Hamas’ decision as a denial of human freedom…
Among the would-be Gaza runners are Sanaa Abu-Bahit, 29, a woman who has entered the 5km part of the race, and Nader Al-Masri, who represented Palestine in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
I wouldn’t expect anything less than hypocrisy, allegiance to Israel’s apartheid ideology.