Headlines and News clips from: Watch.org
The White House is testing out a new ambassador to Israel. His name is Joe Biden.
As the Obama administration tries to mend fences with Israeli leaders upset about the nuclear talks with Iran, the vice president has become the grinning, folksy face of a broader U.S. attempt at rapprochement with Israel after a winter of bitter arguments over Iran and Israel’s election.
Biden has become central to the administration’s outreach to pro-Israel activists, joining meetings with Jewish groups at the White House. Just last week, the vice president appeared at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration in Washington, D.C., where he began his speech by declaring, “My name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.”
“We have Israel’s back,” the vice president said in a speech that acknowledged a war with Iran “is a risk we may yet have to take.”
Vice President Joe Biden tacitly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night for his opposition to the emerging Iranian nuclear deal, saying that those who say that the deal will “pave Iran’s path to a bomb… don’t get it.”
At the same time, the vice president defended Israel’s right to be worried about its security, stressing that “the notion that Israel is too concerned is preposterous.”
Biden spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s annual gala dinner, devoting his entire address to the administration’s negotiations toward an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 member states ahead of a June 30 deadline. The sides reached a framework agreement in late March, but no text was signed or finalized, and there are major discrepancies over what was agreed, including over the process of sanctions relief.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to a series of tweets by Republican Senator Tom Cotton on Thursday, accusing the Arkansas lawmaker of employing “macho personal smear,” rather than serious diplomacy.
Cotton has been one of the loudest voices against the emerging nuclear deal with Iran and gained notoriety when he spearheaded aletter signed by 47 senators to Iran’s leaders last month, warning that an agreement reached with US President Barack Obama would not necessarily be honored by future American leaders. Zarif commented at the time that the Republican senator’s contention that Iran’s leaders did not understand the US Constitution was condescending.
Zarif called Cotton out during remarks he made at NYU University in New York on Wednesday, in which he said that the UN sanctions against Iran would be lifted with the reaching of a comprehensive nuclear deal “whether Senator Tom Cotton likes it or not.”
APRIL 30, 2015 Washington seeks ‘genuine’ Israeli commitment to 2 states
The Obama administration expects a commitment to the two-state solution from the next Israeli government and from the Palestinian Authority, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said.
“President Obama has made clear that we need to take a hard look at our approach to the conflict, and that resolving it is in the national security interest of the United States,” Rice said Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Arab American Institute.
“We look to the next Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate — through policies and actions — a genuine commitment to a two-state solution,” she said.
APRIL 30, 2015 Religious portfolio is sticking point in coalition talks
Netanyahu signed coalition agreements with Kulanu and United Torah Judaism, but conflict looms as Yisrael Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi take issue with promises made to haredi parties.
The prime minister met with Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett on Tuesday night, prior to the agreement with Kahlon and UTJ.
The Likud proposal presented to Bennett, who was Economy Minister in Netanyahu’s third government, would take him to the Education Ministry and allow him to retain his position as Diaspora Affairs Minister.
There is further disagreement regarding Bayit Yehudi’s demand that Netanyahu promise not to freeze construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem and to transfer billions of shekels to the Education Ministry – a budget Bennett seeks to use for changes in the education system. “He’s not going to join the Education Ministry to deal with deficits,” said a source in the party. “If there is no budget to develop the ministry, it’s better to pass on it.”
The United States wants India and other countries to wait for a final nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers before actively engaging with Tehran, US Under Secretary Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday.
“I would say ‘hold your horses’. We are not quite to an agreement yet,” Sherman said, referring to India and other buyers of Iranian oil that want to increase their trade ties with Tehran.
Diplomats are negotiating to fill the gaps in an April 2 framework agreement that would curb Iran’s nuclear program, allaying Western fears it could develop an atomic bomb, in return for relief from international sanctions.
APRIL 30, 2015 Iran FM says nuke deadline not ‘sacrosanct’Iran’s foreign minister says his country and world powers will meet Thursday to start bringing together the elements of a draft on a comprehensive nuclear deal, with meetings starting Monday in Europe to finalize all its elements.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at an event Wednesday in New York that even though Iran certainly wants to meet the June 30 deadline for an agreement, “no time deadline is sacrosanct.”
He met with Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.
Zarif says Iran expects UN sanctions to be lifted within a few days of a deal. And he expects President Barack Obama will have to stop implementing the US sanctions on his country. “How he does is his problem,” Zarif said.