End Times

June 16, 2009

Netanyahu endorses Palestinian independence

Filed under: Division of Jerusalem — Steven @ 3:40 am

 

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state beside Israel for the first time on Sunday, reversing himself under U.S. pressure but attaching conditions such as having no army that the Palestinians swiftly rejected.

A week after President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, Netanyahu said the Palestinian state would also have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state – essentially saying Palestinian refugees must give up the goal of returning to Israel.

With those conditions, he said, he could accept “a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.”

The West Bank-based Palestinian government dismissed the proposal.

(AP) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the stage after delivering a speech at Bar-Ilan…
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“Netanyahu’s speech closed the door to permanent status negotiations,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said. “We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain.”

Netanyahu, in an address seen as his response to Obama, refused to heed the U.S. call for an immediate freeze of construction on lands Palestinians claim for their future state. He also said the holy city of Jerusalem must remain under Israeli sovereignty.

The White House said Obama welcomed the speech as an “important step forward.”

Netanyahu’s address was a dramatic transformation for a man who was raised on a fiercely nationalistic ideology and has spent a two-decade political career criticizing peace efforts.

“I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions,” he said, calling on the wider Arab world to work with him. “Let’s make peace. I am willing to meet with you any time any place – in Damascus, Riyadh, Beirut and in Jerusalem.”

(AP) A Palestinian watches Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a televised speech in the…
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Since assuming office in March, Netanyahu has been caught between American demands to begin peace talks with the Palestinians and the constraints of a hardline coalition. On Sunday, he appeared to favor Israel’s all-important relationship with the U.S. at the risk of destabilizing his government.

But his call for establishing a Palestinian state was greeted with lukewarm applause among the audience at Bar-Ilan University, known as a bastion of the Israeli right-wing establishment.

As Netanyahu spoke, two small groups of protesters demonstrated at the university’s entrance.

Several dozen hard-liners held up posters showing Obama wearing an Arab headdress and shouted slogans against giving up West Bank territory. Across from them, a few dozen dovish Israelis and foreign backers chanted slogans including “two states for two peoples” and “stop the occupation.”

Police kept the two groups apart.

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The Palestinians demand all of the West Bank as part of a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Mideast war.

Netanyahu, leader of the hardline Likud Party, has always resisted withdrawing from these lands, for both security and ideological reasons. In his speech, he repeatedly made references to Judaism’s connection to the biblical Land of Israel.

“Our right to form our sovereign state here in the land of Israel stems from one simple fact. The Land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people,” he said.

But Netanyahu also said that Israel must recognize that millions of Palestinians live in the West Bank, and continued control over these people is undesirable. “In my vision, there are two free peoples living side by side each with each other, each with its own flag and national anthem,” he said.

Netanyahu has said he fears the West Bank could follow the path of the Gaza Strip – which the Palestinians also claim for their future state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants now control the area, often firing rockets into southern Israel.

(AP) A Palestinian family watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a televised speech in…
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“In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel,” he said.

“If we get this guarantee for demilitarization and necessary security arrangements for Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a real peace agreement to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state,” he said.

Netanyahu became the latest in a series of Israeli hard-liners to soften their positions after assuming office. Earlier this decade, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led Israel out of Gaza before suffering a debilitating stroke. His successor, Ehud Olmert, spoke eloquently of the need to withdraw from the West Bank, though a corruption scandal a disastrous war in Lebanon prevented him from carrying out that vision.

Netanyahu gave no indication as to how much captured land he would be willing to relinquish. However, he ruled out a division of Jerusalem, saying, “Israel’s capital will remain united.”

Netanyahu also made no mention of uprooting Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 300,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in addition to 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods built in east Jerusalem. He also said that existing settlements should be allowed to grow – a position opposed by the U.S.

(AP) An Israeli man looks at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a speech on television…
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“We have no intention to build new settlements or expropriate land for expanding existing settlements. But there is a need to allow residents to lead a normal life. Settlers are not the enemy of the nation and are not the enemy of peace – they are our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Netanyahu also said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians have refused to do so, fearing it would amount to giving up the rights of millions of refugees and their descendants and discriminate against Israel’s own Arab minority.

Although the Palestinians have agreed to demilitarization under past peace proposals, Erekat rejected it, saying it would cement Israeli rule over them.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, another Palestinian official, called on the U.S. to challenge Netanyahu “to prevent more deterioration in the region.”

“What he has said today is not enough to start a serious peace process,” he added.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the speech “racist” and called on Arab nations “form stronger opposition” toward Israel. Hamas ideology does not recognize a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and the group has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel.

Netanyahu also came under criticism from within his own government – a coalition of religious and nationalistic parties that oppose Palestinian independence.

Zevulun Orlev, a member of the Jewish Home Party, which represents Jewish settlers and other hard-liners, said Netanyahu’s speech violated agreements struck when the government was formed. “I think the coalition needs to hold a serious discussion to see where this is headed,” he told Israel Radio.


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June 13, 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu may yield to two-state solution after pressure from Obama

Filed under: Division of Jerusalem — Steven @ 5:25 am

Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to endorse a “two-state solution” in a much-heralded speech this weekend, but he may stall on American demands to freeze Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Feeling the squeeze between the US Administration, which wants a moratorium on settlement growth and a commitment to a Palestinian state, and his national-religious coalition, which favours neither, the Israeli Prime Minister appears likely to try to steer a middle course.

Israeli newspapers were full of speculation about what Mr Netanyahu — who has so far refused openly to back a Palestinian state alongside Israel — might offer to deflect pressure from Washington. Ehud Barak, his Defence Minister, urged him this week to recognise a Palestinian state, but members of Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party have cautioned him against the move.

Haaretz, the centre-left newspaper, said that the Prime Minister was likely to mention a two-state solution and pledge to adhere to the “road map” — a US-brokered document that calls for an end to Israeli settlement building and a clampdown on militant groups by the Palestinian Authority. The road map was adopted in 2003 but both sides have accused each other of failing to meet their obligations.

The Israeli media have predicted that when he speaks at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv on Sunday night, Mr Netanyahu will recommend an immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but will also set out some demands, including that the Palestinians should recognise the state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

While accepting the road map Mr Netanyahu is not thought to be planning to mention an explicit freeze on settlements, as demanded by President Obama in his keynote speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last week.

In conceding to a two-state solution, he may even try to ask the US to relax its demands that all settlement expansions should be stopped — a move that is vehemently opposed by Mr Netanyahu’s national-religious constituency.

Such a compromise would in effect take the peace process back to where it was under the previous centre-left Government of Ehud Olmert, whose resignation amid repeated corruption allegations eventually brought the Israeli Right to power this year. Mr Olmert had pledged to take action against settlements but opponents said that the Jewish communities built on land conquered by Israel in the 1967 war still enjoyed an unprecedented growth spurt while he was in office.

The dilemma faced by Mr Netanyahu will raise uncomfortable memories of his first stint as Prime Minister in the late 1990s, when his fractious right-wing coalition toppled him after he yielded to American pressure to hand over tracts of the West Bank to the control of the Palestinian Authority as part of the now defunct Oslo peace accords.

Analysts noted that Mr Netanyahu appeared to have been taken by surprise by the strength of Mr Obama’s resolve to thwart the growth of settlements.

Members of the ruling coalition, wary of their leader caving in, have cautioned the Prime Minister against giving too much away before negotiations have even resumed. “The US pressure is mainly psychological. One should not forget that the President is not the only one in the United States. There’s the Congress and the Senate, which support Israel,” Miri Regev, a Likud MP, said.

Another powerful member of Mr Netanyahu’s party, Benny Begin, the son of Israel’s first right-wing Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, said that “if the only solution is two states for two peoples, then there is no solution”.

Mr Netanyahu has in the past opposed the creation of an independent Palestinian state, arguing that such an entity would soon fall under the control of the Iranian-backed Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

June 12, 2009

Ahmadinejad Victory May Help Netanyahu in Speech on Sunday

Filed under: Endtime Prophecies — Steven @ 3:24 am

While Israel’s mass media speculate on what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will or not will say in his major policy speech Sunday, one key to his remarks may be the outcome of Iran’s presidential elections to be held on Friday.

A victory by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his relatively moderate opponent would allow the Prime Minister to focus on the Iranian nuclear threat as a larger issue than construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, speaking this week in Washington, pointed out that Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority will not improve relations between Iran and the West. “The mullahs consider the destruction of Israel as just a step on the way to changing the entire world order,” he told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The mullahs consider the destruction of Israel as just a step on the way to changing the entire world order.

Although predicting the future in Israel is tricky, Israel’s major newspaper quoted themselves and others and contradicted each other as to whether Prime Minister Netanyahu will or will not accept the “two-state solution.” However, the clearest signal came from Washington, where Strategic Affairs Minister Yaalon spoke.

He jabbed back at U.S. President Barack Obama’s insistence that Israel must accept a PA state and that a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is in the way of peace by stating, “Permanent settlement of the conflict is not easy to achieve as long as the Palestinians do not remove the main obstacle to peace – namely by accepting Israel as a Jewish state.”

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer for an immediate resumption of talks centering on the creation of a PA state. Abbas, who has said he is not setting any pre-conditions, demands that Israel recognize the principle of a PA state while rejecting Netanyahu’s demand that the PA recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”

Yaalon spelled out the Prime Minister’s general emphasis that it is premature to acknowledge a PA state before it is economically and socially stable. The Strategic Affairs Minister, formerly an IDF Chief of Staff, told his audience, “The Palestinian response to Israeli withdrawals has demonstrated time and again that the dismantling of Israeli settlements or the Israeli withdrawal from territories does not bring peace, but rather, more war.”

He called on the PA to implement political reforms, crack down on terrorists, allow more freedom of speech and cease anti-Israeli indoctrination in its school system, a condition of the American Roadmap plan.

Much Ado about Nothing?
Foreign and local media are highlighting the apparent predicament of Prime Minister Netanyahu trying to please his nationalist Likud party without straining relations with the U.S. At the same time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the government coalition Labor party, is pressing to accept the American position, stating that the Likud leader will change his stand. He made the same prediction before Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to the Washington last month for talks with President Obama.

 

However, a rare balanced analysis by New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner this week implied that the speeches may be a way to pass the time until everyone gives up on trying to untangle the PA-Israeli struggle. The writer conceded that “Oslo is now widely viewed by both sides as a failure” and that a large number of Israelis and PA Arabs “so deeply mistrusts the other that it can fight off an accord.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu may try to make the next move in what is becoming a diplomatic chess game by reiterating support for the Roadmap while pointing out that it calls for future borders of Israel and the PA to be decided by negotiations.

June 9, 2009

Obama: I Will Speak the Truth, as the Koran Says

Filed under: Division of Jerusalem — Steven @ 9:16 am
He told 3,000 guests at Cairo University that he will put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop terror and on Israel to cease a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. He did not specifically state whether Jerusalem neighborhoods are part of the “occupation” that he said must end.

Click here for Israeli responses to the speech.

His only reference to Jerusalem was a quote from the Koran that describes Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joining together in prayer, and a call for “Jerusalem [to be] a secure home for Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

President Obama opened the speech with the Islamic greeting, “Peace unto you” in Arabic and reminded his listeners of his Muslim background. He quoted the Koran several times in his Cairo speech, stating that the Muslim holy book states, “Be conscious of G-d and speak always the truth.”

The focus of his speech was a list of six sources of conflict that he said must be confronted in order to reach peace — extremism, the Palestinian Authority-Israel dispute, nuclear weapons, democracy, religious tolerance, women’s rights and economic growth and development.

Concerning Israel, he made it perfectly clear that will personally pressure for an end to the “occupation” that he said has caused displacement to the Arab population in Israel for 60 years. His speech specifically defined the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as a “Palestinian people,” and he mentioned their “suffering” immediately after referring to the Holocaust.

President Obama said that just as the Holocaust cannot be denied, Israel must recognize the right of Arabs to a PA state, which he called Palestine. “Jews have undergone thousands of years of persecution…and I will go to Buchenwald” this week to visit the Nazi death camp where Jews were butchered.

“Denying the Holocaust and threatening Israel with destruction is wrong,” he declared.

“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people have suffered in pursuit of a homeland and have suffered for 60 years of displacement.” He accused Israel of being responsible for “humiliation” of Arabs. “Let there be no doubt that the situation for the Palestinian people” is intolerable and America “will not turn its back” on the need for a PA state, he said.

“The U.S. does not accept the settlements, and they violate previous agreements,” according to the president. He was referring to the American Roadmap plan, which does not specifically call on Israel to surrender Judea, Samaria and Gaza but instead calls for negotiations on the borders of a PA state.

The president also blamed Israel for the lack of opportunity for Arabs under PA rule, despite the local Arab economy having enjoyed unprecedented economic growth following the end of Jordanian and Egyptian occupation in the 1967 Six-Day War. The socio-economic situation deteriorated with the influence of the Palestine Liberation Organization under the rule of Yasser Arafat.

President Obama insisted that “Israel must live up to its obligations” for economic opportunity for Arabs and implicitly compared the situation of Arabs with that of blacks in 19th and early 20th century America.

 

He also demanded a total halt to terrorism, warning that ”moral authority” is not claimed by rockets and bus bombings, but held out the opportunity for the Hamas terrorist organization to deny violence and recognize Israel.

While saying that the U.S. cannot impose peace, he added, “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private…. Many Muslims recognize Israel will not go away, and many Israelis see the need for a PA state.”

He also called on Arab states to contribute to the PA economy and society. The Arab world has pledged billions of dollars to help the government of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas but has fulfilled only a small fraction of its pledges.

The president preceded the issue of the PA-Israeli dispute with the need to end extremism. President Obama described the Muslim religion as one that “emphasizes the idea of religious tolerance and racial equality.” He declared that the U.S. “is not at war with Islam” but that the country will “relentlessly confront violence extremists who present a threat to our security.”

 

Concerning Iran, he asserted that it can have nuclear power if it abides by international treaties. President Obama did not spell out any specific measures to convince Tehran to end its current policy of non-cooperation with international inspectors while it continues to reach nuclear capability by enriching uranium, a key element for a nuclear weapon.

The fourth area of conflict that he addressed is democracy, which he said the U.S. cannot impose. He added that the U.S. will work with countries “that recognize the will of the people.” He specially pointed to discrimination of Copts in Egypt.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was notably absent from the speech, the official explanation being the death of his 12-year-old grandson nearly a month ago. Civil rights defenders have roundly attacked his regime as being authoritarian and suppressive.

The fifth and sixth areas of conflict that President Obama said should be address are women’s rights and economic development, both of which he stated help pave the road to peace and prosperity.

 

Earlier in his remarks, he warned that a “single speech” cannot “erase years of distrust.” He praised Islam as a force of religious tolerance and racial equality and said that Muslims “have always been a part of American sources.”

The president stated that “Muslims have enriched the U.S. and have won Nobel prizes,” although in fact less than handful of Muslims have won international Nobel prices.

June 3, 2009

Dollar declines as nations mull reserve currency alternative

Filed under: One World Goverment — Steven @ 2:58 am

June 2 (Bloomberg) — The dollar weakened beyond $1.43 against the euro for the first time in 2009 on bets record U.S. borrowing will undermine the greenback, prompting nations to consider alternatives to the world’s main reserve currency.

The euro gained for a fourth day versus the dollar as the Russian government said emerging-market leaders may discuss the idea of a supranational currency. The pound rose to the highest level since October and the Canadian dollar traded near an eight-month high on speculation signs of a recovery in U.S. and U.K. housing will spur higher-yield demand.

“There’s been a lot of talk out of Russia about a new global currency, and that’s contributing toward this latest bout of dollar weakness,” said Henrik Gullberg, a currency strategist in London at Deutsche Bank AG, the world’s largest currency trader. “These latest comments are just adding to the general dollar weakness we’ve seen recently.”

The dollar slid 1.1 percent to $1.4317 per euro at 4:21 p.m. in New York, from $1.4159 yesterday. It touched $1.4331, the weakest level since Dec. 29. The dollar depreciated 1.1 percent to 95.54 yen, from 96.59. The euro traded at 136.77 yen, compared with 136.78.

Sterling rose as much as 0.9 percent to $1.6596, the highest level since Oct. 30, while the Canadian dollar advanced 1.2 percent to C$1.0806, near the strongest level since Oct. 3.

Pending sales of existing homes in the U.S. climbed 6.7 percent in April, the National Association of Realtors said today. The median forecast of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 0.5 percent gain. Banks in the U.K. granted 43,201 home loans that month, the highest level in a year, the Bank of England said.

Russia on Currency

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev may discuss his proposal to create a new world currency when he meets counterparts from Brazil, India and China this month, Natalya Timakova, a spokeswoman for the president, told reporters by phone today. Russia’s proposals for the Group of 20 meeting in London in April included studying a supranational currency.

“We need some kind of universal means of payment, which could create the basis of a future international financial system,” Medvedev said in a June 1 interview with CNBC. “Naturally, because of the crisis in the American economy, attitude to the dollar has also changed.”

Regional reserve currencies are an “unavoidable” part of “regionalizing” the global financial system, Deputy Finance Minister Dmitry Pankin said in Moscow today.

The Dollar Index, which ICE uses to track the currency’s performance against the euro, yen, pound, Canadian dollar, Swedish krona and Swiss franc, fell as much as 1 percent to 78.33, the lowest level since Dec. 18.

‘Opportunity to Sell’

“The market is looking for the opportunity to sell the U.S. dollar,” said Jack Spitz, a managing director for foreign exchange at National Bank of Canada in Toronto. “It took decades for the euro to be established. I can only imagine how long it would take for the BRIC countries to put together a currency.”

There’s no replacement currency for the dollar in the short term, Guo Shuqing, former head of China’s foreign-exchange administrator, said in an interview with the Financial Times for an article published yesterday.

The Dollar Index reached 89.62 on March 4, the highest level since 2006, as the global recession spurred investors to take refuge in Treasuries notes and bills.

Demand for the record amount of debt the U.S. is selling will remain sufficient, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview today with state media outlets in China.

Chinese ‘Understanding’

The Chinese have a “very sophisticated understanding” of why the U.S. government is running up deficits, said Geithner in Beijing, pledging to rein in borrowing later. The U.S. will “do everything that is necessary” to preserve confidence in the nation’s financial markets, he said.

The dollar also declined on speculation “smaller” central banks started today’s selling of the greenback, said Sebastien Galy, a currency strategist at BNP Paribas SA in New York.

“If people believe that there is official pressure behind it, then obviously it puts pressure on euro-dollar on the upside,” Galy said. “Small central banks have an incentive in doing something because if they’re the first movers, they will not suffer by far as much as the big ones.” Galy predicted the euro may reach $1.4360 today, a peak last reached in December.

The euro fell earlier versus the yen as Europe’s jobless rate rose in April to the highest level in almost 10 years. Unemployment in the 16-member euro region increased to 9.2 percent from 8.9 percent in March, the European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said today.

ECB’s Rate

The European Central Bank will keep its benchmark rate unchanged at 1 percent on June 4, according to the median forecast of 54 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The ECB said last month it would buy 60 billion euros ($86 billion) of covered bonds.

The euro’s rally against the dollar may be entering its “last stage,” and investors would likely benefit from selling the euro against the greenback, according to UBS AG, the world’s second-biggest foreign-exchange trader.

Europe’s currency is poised to weaken toward $1.30, analysts led by Mansoor Mohi-uddin, Zurich-based chief currency strategist at UBS, wrote in a note to clients yesterday. The analysts reiterated forecasts for the euro to trade at $1.40 in one month’s time and then drop.

“We remain positive on the U.S. dollar and think that the greenback is likely in its final stage of weakness,” the analysts wrote. “Equity and bond flows have the potential to surprise and could lend support to the dollar.”

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