Archive for April 6th, 2010

Setback for Obama’s hopes of swift Iran sanctions

Setback for Obama’s hopes of swift Iran sanctions

By Harvey Morris at the United Nations

Published: April 5 2010 21:08 | Last updated: April 5 2010 21:08

The United Nations Security Council on Monday failed to include Iran’s nuclear programme on its agenda for April, underlining the likely slow road to sanctions that Barack Obama, US president, had hoped to have in place “within weeks”.

Japan’s Yukio Takasu, this month’s president of the 15-member council, said no meeting had been scheduled because it was not yet clear “when this might be taken up. It may not be taken up”.

Mr Obama, buoyed by what Washington officials perceived as a shift in China’s attitude towards imposing fresh sanctions on Iran, said a week ago that he wanted to see a fourth round of UN measures in place within weeks.

China had insisted further time should be given for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear stand-off. But western diplomats said Beijing was now ready to engage on the sanctions issue by attending talks in New York among ambassadors of the so-called P5 plus one – the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.

Chinese officials have been circumspect and the talks, which could be a prelude to Beijing accepting increased pressure on Iran, have yet to be scheduled.

Mr Takasu said on Monday that, even if the P5 plus one eventually agreed a package of proposed sanctions, it would be “highly desirable” for the 10 non-permanent members of the council, including Japan, to also be consulted. “It’s the intention of the concerned countries to have a resolution in the Security Council,” said Mr Takasu, whose country has supported previous sanctions measures. “How soon and how we will be consulted, we will have to wait and see.”

Diplomats conceded that, assuming China agreed in principle to sanctions, it could take weeks to negotiate the text of a resolution that it, Russia and several non-permanent members of the council might find acceptable.

The council’s senior ambassadors will be on a three-country tour of Africa for the whole third week of the month and Mr Takasu said on Monday there had been no discussions of changing that plan.

There are a number of reasons the US and its western partners would like to squeeze through a binding resolution before the end of the month. Next month’s presidency will be held by Lebanon, a non-permanent member that would almost certainly abstain in a sanctions vote, given the sensitivities of a domestic political landscape that includes the Iranian-backed Hizbollah.

Much of May will also be taken up by a review conference in New York of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran is a signatory and might use the opportunity to win support from developing countries for its argument that it is being victimised by western states over what it claims is a civilian nuclear programme.

President Obama is meanwhile under pressure from members of the US Congress to move ahead with unilateral sanctions against Iran, potentially much tougher than anything the Security Council is likely to adopt.

Both Houses of Congress have passed legislation that would potentially punish foreign companies that continued to do business in the Iranian oil sector by denying them federal contracts. The White House would like to see UN sanctions in place before the Senate and House of Representatives moved to reconcile the wording of their two separate bills.

Some members, supported by influential lobbies such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are pressing for a conference to resolve the bills to take place without further delay. Howard Berman, the Democratic chairman of the House foreign affairs committee has said he hopes to see the bills voted on by May.

Senior congress members from both parties have been unsympathetic to the White House arguments that Security Council members states, including China, should be exempted from the provisions of US unilateral measures.

Kristol: ‘Better’ For US to Attack Iran (for Israel) Than if Israel Did

Kristol: ‘Better’ For US to Attack Iran Than if Israel Did

By David Edwards and Gavin Dahl
Raw Story” — The Obama administration should be seriously considering a strike on Iran, according to neoconservative Fox News contributor Bill Kristol.

April 05, 2010 ”

An Israeli Deputy Defense Minister said last week that he expected Israel would have to attack Iran within a year. Kristol believes it would be better for the US to attack first.

“I think we have to have a credible threat of force and the preparation to use force against Iran. It would be much better if we used force against — to delay the Iranian nuclear program than if Israel did and there is no evidence that the US government is being at all serious about the use force there,” Kristol told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday.

Nina Easton, also appearing on the Fox News Sunday panel, quickly rebuked Kristol. “Use of force. You say that so blithely as if use of force — what happens to next day after the use of force?” she asked. “I think it behooves us to get the international community together. You have to have sanctions and you have to have a clear threat of force.”

The narrow range of debate on Fox News varied only slightly from sanctions and threatening force to launching a US-led war on Iran. Easton said she would also like to see the Obama administration “curry dissent” in Iran.

Kristol’s trigger-finger was too itchy to keep his views in the holster.

“Look, precisely because the consequences are so serious whether we use force or Israel uses force, a serious and responsible US government must think that through and play that out,” he responded. “I would say the Obama administration is so adverse to even hinting at the use of force that we don’t have the kinds of preparations we should have if Israel were to strike.”

This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast April 4, 2010.

Keep in mind that Kristol’s Father (Irving Kristol) was a co-founder of the Neoconservatism movement. The Israeli flag was draped on his coffin during his recent funeral as such was mentioned in the Newsweek article that Steve Sniegoski discussed via the following write-up of his:

Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America’s tough love

Peace for Israelis and Palestinians? Not without America’s tough love.
An Israeli student explains why the US should act on moral outrage over Israel’s discriminatory policies before it’s too late.

By Jonathan Ben-Artzi
posted April 1, 2010 at 11:48 am EDT

Providence, R.I. —
More than 20 years ago, many Americans decided they could no longer watch as racial segregation divided South Africa. Compelled by an injustice thousands of miles away, they demanded that their communities, their colleges, their municipalities, and their government take a stand.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, a similar discussion is taking place on campuses across the United States. Increasingly, students are questioning the morality of the ties US institutions have with the unjust practices being carried out in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. Students are seeing that these practices are often more than merely “unjust.” They are racist. Humiliating. Inhumane. Savage.

Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.

A legitimate question is, Why should I care? Americans are heavily involved in the conflict: from funding (the US provides Israel with roughly $3 billion annually in military aid) to corporate investments (Microsoft has one of its major facilities in Israel) to diplomatic support (the US has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions unsavory to Israel between 1982 and 2006).

Why do I care? I am an Israeli. Both my parents were born in Israel. Both my grandmothers were born in Palestine (when there was no “Israel” yet). In fact, I am a ninth-generation native of Palestine. My ancestors were among the founders of today’s modern Jerusalem.

Both my grandfathers fled the Nazis and came to Palestine. Both were subsequently injured in the 1948 Arab-Israli War. My mother’s only brother was a paratrooper killed in combat in 1968. All of my relatives served in the Israeli military for extensive periods of time, some of them in units most people don’t even know exist.

In Israel, military service for both men and women is compulsory. When my time to serve came, I refused, because I realized I was obliged to do something about these acts of segregation. I was denied conscientious objector status, like the majority of 18-year-old males who seek this status. Because I refused to serve, I spent a year and a half in military prison.

Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns.

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2008: “We have not yet overcome the barrier of discrimination, which is a deliberate discrimination and the gap is insufferable…. Governments have denied [Arab Israelis] their rights to improve their quality of life.”

The situation in the occupied territories is even worse. Nearly 4 million Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 40 years without the most basic human and civil rights.

One example is segregation on roads in the West Bank, where settlers travel on roads that are for Jews only, while Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, and a 10-mile commute might take seven hours.

Another example is discrimination in water supply: Israel pumps drinking water from occupied territory (in violation of international law). Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply.

Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision. According to one prisoner support and human rights association, roughly 4 in 10 Palestinian males have spent some time in Israeli prisons. That’s 40 percent of all Palestinian males!

And finally, perhaps one of the greatest injustices takes place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is collectively punishing more than 1.5 million Palestinians by sealing them off in the largest open-air prison on earth.

Because of the US’s relationship with Israel, it is important for all Americans to educate themselves about the realities of the conflict. When they do, they will realize that just as much as support for South Africa decades ago was mostly damaging for South Africa itself, contemporary blind support for Israel hurts us Israelis.

We must lift the ruthless siege of Gaza, which only breeds more anger and frustration among Gazans, who respond by hurling primitive, homemade rockets at Israeli towns.

We must remove travel restrictions from West Bank Palestinians. How can we live in peace with a population where most children cannot visit their grandparents living in the neighboring village, without being stopped and harassed at military checkpoints for hours?

Finally, we must give equal rights to all. Regardless of what the final resolution will be – the so-called “one state solution,” the “two state solution,” or any other form of governance.

Israel governs the lives of 5.5 million Israeli Jews, 1.5 million Israeli Palestinians, and 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As long as Israel is responsible for all of these people, it must ensure that all have equal rights, the same access to resources, and the same opportunities in education and healthcare. Only through such a platform of basic human rights for all humans can a resolution come to the region.

If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.

Jonathan Ben-Artzi was one of the spokespeople for the Hadash party in the Israeli general elections in 2006. His parents are professors in Israel, and his extended family includes uncle Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Ben-Artzi is a PhD student at Brown University in Providence, R.I.