Senators urge Obama to reevaluate aid to Palestinian Authority

Abbas meets with Obama in the Oval Office. White House photo

Twenty-seven U.S. Senators have sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to reevaluate U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. The letter asks that he consider cutting aid to the PA altogether in response to the announced unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

The letter asks the White House to reaffirm its previous stance that it would not work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. It asks that the president consider cutting aid to the PA should Hamas, which both the United States and Israel designate a terrorist group, remain in the Palestinian government.

Preconditions in U.S. law prevent aid from being provided to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless the government and all its members have publically committed to the Quartet principles.

“It is imperative for you to make clear to (Palestinian Authority) President (Mahmoud) Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid,” the letter urges the president.

“We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions,” the senators wrote.

Israel congratulates USA

Netanyahu sent congratulations to Obama. White House photo

ISRAEL TODAY

JERUSALEM – Israel on Tuesday congratulated America on finally catching up to and eliminating al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and noted that the targeted killing was very reminiscent of Israeli counter-terror operations for which Jerusalem is so often criticized.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement praising the determined American war on terror, and calling the successful assassination of bin Laden “a resounding victory for justice.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the White House phoned him two hours beforePresident Obama’s public announcement to let Israel know “we got him.”

With all of the excitement in Washington over having successfully assassinated a terrorist leader like bin Laden, Israeli lawmaker Shaul Mofaz, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, suggested the U.S. refrain from being hypocritical when Israel takes such action in the future.

Mofaz noted that the strategy of assassinating terrorist leaders had been first adopted by Israel following the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre in which nine Israeli athletes were abducted and executed by Palestinian terrorists.

Since then, Israel has repeatedly targeted and eliminated the heads of various Palestinian terror groups including Hamas in Gaza. Each time, Israel has been harshly criticized by the international community, even its allies in Washington.

Israeli media outlets said that the way Obama chose to go after bin Laden validates Israel’s policy of targeted killings, which Mofaz, a former IDF chief, wants to see increased.

While bin Laden was America’s primary target in its war on terror, there was an Israel connection.

Over the past several years, bin Laden and his top deputies had made repeated references to the Palestinian Arabs and had pledged their support to the goal of defeating Israel, along with America.

Various terrorist cells in Israel and especially in the Gaza Strip have claimed to be working under the banner of al Qaeda. According to a U.S. government document leaked by WikiLeaks earlier this year, that gesture was reciprocated by al Qaeda.

A detainee report from the American prison in Guantanamo Bay revealed that a senior al Qaeda terrorists held there had raised funds for terrorist attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets.

There are also concerns that terrorist organizations will try to retaliate for bin Laden’s death by attacking American targets in Israel. Israeli security forces have accordingly gone on high alert.

Article courtesy Israel Today Magazine.

OSAMA BIN LADEN DEAD

Osama bin Laden

Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group responsible for them, is dead.

The announcement made Sunday night by President Obama.

Bin Laden’s body is in the possession of U.S. forces the president said. U.S. personnel are responsible for his death.

“The United States has conducted an operation that has killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda” Obama said.

Obama says he had directed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make the capture or killing of bin Laden the top priority.

The president said that, last August “I was briefed on a possible lead to Osama bin Laden” hiding within a compound inside Pakistan. Last week, following an extensive intelligence gathering operation, the president said he determined that there was enough information in hand so he authorized Sunday’s attack by a small group of U.S. military.

A firefight ensued when the U.S. troops attacked the compound, but, Obama said, no Americans were harmed, and efforts were taken to prevent civilian casualties.

After the firefight, Obama said, “they killed bin Laden and took custody of his body.

“His death,” the president added, “does not mark the end of our effort.” Al Qaeda, he said, remains a threat.

Obama reiterated that the war on terror is not a war with Islam, and noted that bin Laden was not a Muslim religious leader. “He was,” the president said, ” a mass murderer of Muslims” and Muslims, he said, should be happy about his demise.

While this was a U.S. operation within Pakistan, Obama said Pakistani intelligence agents “helped lead us to bin Laden.”

U.S. and Pakistani officials have been in contact, and, Obama says, the Pakistani government agrees that “this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.”

As Obama addressed the nation inside the White House, several hundred people gathered outside, chanting “USA! USA!”

Obama recognizing Jewish American Heritage Month

U.S. was quick to recognize Israel/U.S. gov't archives

President Obama has signed a declaration recognizing May as Jewish American Heritage Month.

The president says it gives the nation opportunity  to celebrate the “vast contributions Jewish Americans” have made to the nation.

“Seeking a brighter future, a small band of Jewish refugees came to this land more than three centuries ago, to a place called New Amsterdam,” the proclamation notes.

“Hundreds of years later, as Holocaust survivors and families caught behind the Iron Curtain made their way to America, their perseverance in the face of unimaginable tragedy inspired the world and proved that the Jewish people will not be defeated.  Many endured bigotry even here, reminding us that we must continue to fight prejudice and violence at home and around the globe.”

Obama used the opportunity to, again, express his support for Israel. Polls indicate that many Israelis don’t trust the White House as attempts begin in earnest soon to work out a Middle East peace.

“President Truman recognized the small, fledgling nation of Israel within minutes of its creation,” Obama wrote.

“To this day, we continue to foster an unbreakable partnership with Israel, and we remain committed to pursuing peace in the region and ensuring Israel’s security.”

 

Fed up over lack of peace process, Abbas bites back

By Olivier Pacteau

In Israel, there is an open wariness of President Obama. The fear is that Obama will turn it’s back on Israel and force a peace proposal down its throat. One that it finds impossible to digest.

But perception is in the eye of the perceiver. as a Newsweek interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reveals.

Abbas tells Newsweek that Obama has turned his back on the Palestinians, and that’s what has hardened his view toward Israel.

Obama, Abbas insists, mislead him, telling Newsweek’s Dan Ephron that the U.S. president led him up a tree, climbed down a ladder, and then took the ladder away, stranding him like a cat.

Obama calls Bibi with Passover wishes


By Gary Baumgarten

WASHINGTON – President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday to convey his best wishes before the start of Passover.

Noting that he would host a seder at the White House, the president recalled that the story of Passover is one of liberation and freedom and expressed his hope that the Israeli people would be able to celebrate in peace, the White House said. The two leaders also discussed U.S.-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism, how best to move forward in efforts to advance Middle East peace and the recent violence near the Gaza strip the White House says.

Netanyahu expressed his deep appreciation for U.S. funding for the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which he noted has successfully intercepted several rockets aimed at Israeli communities. With the signing of the fiscal year 2011 budget appropriation, the president approved $205 million in U.S. funding for Iron Dome, which is above the annual package of Foreign Military Financing for Israel.