Obama holding talks with Netanyahu at White House

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Neil, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Likes Received:
    US President Barack Obama is holding talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

    President Obama gave Mr Netanyahu a frosty reception at the White House during their last encounter in March.

    They are expected to discuss a range of issues, including Iran's nuclear programme and efforts to start direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

    The meeting comes a day after Israel confirmed it would allow more consumer goods into the Gaza Strip.

    But it said materials such as steel, cement or certain fertilisers that could be used by Hamas militants would be barred or limited.

    The White House, EU and Britain have welcomed the move as a "significant step" forward. But Hamas said it was worthless and the blockade should be fully lifted.

    Meanwhile, the Israeli military said on Tuesday it would charge an army sniper with killing a person during its Operation Cast Lead offensive in Gaza. The Palestinians broke off direct peace talks after Israel launched the 22-day assault in late 2008.

    Settlement homes...::
    Last week, Mr Netanyahu said he believed that a main part of his talks in Washington would be "focused on how to start direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians right away".The beginning of indirect negotiations in March was halted after Israeli municipal authorities approved plans for the construction of new homes in a settlement in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.

    That announcement came as Vice-President Joe Biden was on an official visit to Israel, and he condemned the decision.

    When the Israeli PM last visited the White House in March, he was snubbed by President Obama, who refused even to allow a photo of their meeting to be released.

    Both sides want the atmosphere this time to be much better, the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says.

    He says Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu will have plenty to talk about: what comes next in the gathering storm over Iran's nuclear programme; the changing strategic picture in the Middle East, epitomised by Turkey's public falling out with the Israelis over its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla; and how to establish a credible peace process with the Palestinians.

    However, he adds that - unlike his predecessor - President Obama is prepared to accept that some of Israel's actions are part of the problem in the Middle East. This continues to create irritation - and nervousness - on the Israeli side.

    Ahead of the visit, the Israeli military said in a statement there were grounds for trying a staff sergeant for manslaughter for actions in Operation Cast Lead.

    It said there was evidence that the staff sergeant had opened fire as the victim walked with a group of people waving a white flag.

    The operation, which Israel said it launched to deter Hamas rocket fire over the border, left an estimated 1,400 Gazans dead, many of them civilians.

    Moratorium extension?...::
    During his three-day US visit, Mr Netanyahu is also expected to travel to New York, where he will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and address Jewish American leaders.Mr Netanyahu cancelled his last visit to the White House, which had been scheduled for 1 June, to deal with the fallout from the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

    The 31 May operation, in which nine Turkish activists were killed, sparked mounting international pressure for Israel to ease its four-year blockade of the Palestinian territory.

    During Tuesday's talks, Mr Obama is expected to press Mr Netanyahu to extend a 10-month Israeli moratorium, which ends in September, on the building of new settlements in the West Bank.

    But analysts say such a move could strain Mr Netanyahu's coalition government, which includes a key far-right party.

    Meanwhile, an Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, says Israel's Jewish settlements have now taken over more than 40% of all the land in the occupied West Bank.

    The advocacy group's report says Israel "systematically violates" and reinterprets international, as well as its own laws, to take over private Palestinian land, thus undermining peace negotiations for a two-state solution.

    Advocates of Israel's settlement policy rejected the report as politically motivated.

  3. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Israel trying to block US-S Arabia defence deal: report

    JERUSALEM (PTI): Israel is trying to scuttle a major defence deal between US and Saudi Arabia amid fears that these weapons “might turn” against the Jewish state with change in the region’s geo-strategic situation in the future.

    Ehud Barak, the hardline Israeli Defence Minister, raised the deal with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor General Jim Jones two weeks ago in Washington.

    As part of the deal, the purchase includes scores of new F-15 fighter aircraft
    and the upgrading of the 150 F-15s already in the Saudi air force, the Haaretz daily reported quoting a defence source.

    “Today these planes are against Iran, tomorrow they might turn against us,” the source said.

    Israel made its reservations clear at a meeting in Tel Aviv between top Israeli defence officials and a delegation led by US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy, the report said.

    The aircraft deal was also raised in talks between Saudi King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama last week.

    The defence source told Israeli newspaper that the Americans are interested in building up the Saudi air force vis-a-vis Iran, which would help deter the Islamic Republic.

    Israel, however, hopes that if the deal goes forward, Saudi Arabia will receive fewer advanced versions of the F-15 than those possessed by Israel, which seeks to maintain its air force's superiority.

    A senior American administration source told Haaretz that the White House has promised Israel it would have priority access to any new weapons system and, in some cases, exclusive rights to buy new weapons systems, as opposed to Arab states.

    “The administration is conducting open and completely transparent talks with Israel on the matter, and we are updating Israel on any planned deal to hear its reservations,” the official said.

    Israel has stepped up pressure on the US to check the nuclear programme of Iran amid fears that the Islamic Republic may be on track to weaponise its programme. Iran has dismissed such fears, saying its nuclear programme was peaceful in nature

  4. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Obama OKs arms sales to Arab League states on eve of Netanyahu visit

    WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has approved military sales to three Arab League states in advance of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House agreed to requests worth $500 million by Egypt, Oman and Tunisia for air defense upgrade, aircraft and naval ship support as well as helicopters.
    ''The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
    The Pentagon announcements of the Arab requests, which require approval by Congress, came hours after the White House said Obama would press for the extension of Israel's freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank and most of Jerusalem. White House aides said Obama would meet Netanyahu on July 6 amid enhanced Israeli-U.S. cooperation in intelligence, missile defense and security. The administration has not approved an Israeli request for offensive military platforms since Obama took office in January 2009. Instead, the White House endorsed nearly $13 billion worth of Arab arms requests last year, and nearly $10 billion from Turkey.

    Currently, the administration has been examining a request from Saudi Arabia for the sale of 75 F-15 fighter-jets as well as the modernization of scores of other aircraft, Middle East
    Newsline reported. Officials said the deal was worth more than $10 billion and approved during the visit to Washington by Saudi King Abdullah in late June.

    The Israeli daily Haaretz said Netanyahu was expected to express opposition to the proposed Saudi deal. The newspaper said Israel has been concerned that Riyad would acquire the same aircraft operated by the Israel Air Force.

    The Defense Department agency has reported two military requests by Egypt. In the first, Obama approved Cairo's request for U.S. equipment to help upgrade Egypt's Skyguard air defense system. In another project, the Egyptian Navy would receive support for its fleet of U.S.-origin warships.

    "This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," DSCA said.

    The biggest request was submitted by Tunisia. The North African state received administration approval to upgrade U.S.-origin helicopters in a deal estimated at $282 million.

    Under the request, Tunisia would acquire 12 U.S. military surplus SH-60F helicopters as part of the air force modernization by the North African state.

    This marked the first approval by Obama of a major military project for Tunisia.

    The administration also approved support and training for air transports sold to Oman. Under the request, the Royal Air Force of Oman would receive help in absorbing two C-130J-30 air transports, procured under a commercial sale with Lockheed Martin.

    "In the security side of things, the commitment of this administration to Israel's qualitative military edge has been — through programs such as the Iron Dome [missile defense program], and through a very close contact through our national security teams is evidence of really a deepening of cooperation," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told a briefing on July 2.

    "The administration is conducting open and completely transparent talks with Israel on the matter, and we are updating Israel on any planned deal to hear its reservations," a U.S. official told Haaretz. "We believe that there are many cases in which the Iranian threat commits us to strengthen the ability of states in the region to defend themselves."


Share This Page