British PM Cameron on 1st state visit to Israel warns of Iran’s “despotic regime” with “nuclear intentions.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Knesset, March 12, 2014 (photo credit: Knesset spokesperson/Times of Israel)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Knesset (photo credit: Knesset spokesperson/Times of Israel)

On his first state visit to Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron today told the Knesset he has Jewish roots, including a relative who wrote the first Yiddish novel, and vowed that Britain would always stand as a friend to Israel and the Jewish people.

He spoke out strongly against international efforts to delegitimize Israel, and warned that Iran’s government is a “despotic regime” with “nuclear intentions.” He vowed to work with all in the region to help make peace while standing firmly behind Israel’s right and need for security.

“You have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock-solid,” Cameron said.

Speaking of the IDF’s intercept of an Iranian ship offensive arms to Gaza, Cameron said this was “yet another despicable attempt by the Iranians to smuggle more long-range rockets into Gaza….It gave me a renewed understanding of what it must be like to be afraid in your own home.”

The trip is brief — just 24 hours — and Cameron will also be meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

Cameron called for an end to Palestinian incitement, and also for a cessation of settlement building.

UPDATE ON CAMERON’S SPEECH AND TRIP

  • “British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an address to the Knesset Wednesday afternoon, stressed his country’s backing for Israeli efforts to achieve peace and security, and promised his support in combating international attempts to boycott and sanction the Jewish state,” reported the Times of Israel.
  • “Delegitimizing the State of Israel is wrong,” he said. “It’s abhorrent. And together we will defeat it.”
  • “You have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock-solid.”
  • The British prime minister emphasized his support for “the long and rightful search of a people for a nation. And the right for the Jewish people to live a peaceful and prosperous life in Israel.”
  • Cameron was adamant about his position against efforts to boycott Israel.
  • “Britain opposes boycotts. Whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians.”
  • Cameron also referenced his own Jewish great-great-grandfather, and another ancestor who penned the first Yiddish novel.
  • Painting a picture of a vibrant and open Middle East after a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, Cameron said he understood Israeli security concerns, and backed Jerusalem’s right to defend itself.
  • “I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens. A right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality, and in decades of common endeavor between Israel and her allies.”
  • Turning to last week’s interception of the Klos C ship carrying Iranian arms, Cameron called the incident “yet another despicable attempt by the Iranians to smuggle more long-range rockets into Gaza… It gave me a renewed understanding of what it must be like to be afraid in your own home.”….
  • Cameron directed harsh criticism at Iran. “There is no rule that says if Israel and the Palestinians make peace, Iran is somehow going to dismantle its despotic regime or abandon its nuclear intentions.
  • “That can only be done through sustained international pressure. I share your deep skepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world — not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.”…..
  • The British prime minister praised ongoing efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to forge a peace agreement between Israelis and the PA.
  • “We back the compromises needed — including the halt to settlement activity and an end to Palestinian incitement too.
  • “And we recognize the difficult and courageous decisions both sides are taking, not least with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s decision to release terrorist prisoners, with all the anguish that can bring for affected families.”
  • Cameron outlined a vision of “a proper lasting peace that allows a strong moderate Palestinian government to end the fears of a failed state on Israel’s border… A deal that means an end of all claims — and an end of all conflict.
  • “Israelis and Palestinians no longer each other’s enemy, but actually working together to maintain security against those who would seek to harm us all.”

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

With all eyes on Putin during Sochi Olympics, Russian leader builds closer ties to terror regime in Iran.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani (L) during a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, September 13, 2013. (REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani (L) during a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek last Fall. (REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

(Washington, D.C.) – In October, Forbes magazine named Russian President Vladimir Putin “the world’s most powerful person.” 

Now, with the Olympics in Sochi underway, the eyes of the world are riveted on Russia and its leader, who have invested a record $ 51 billion in creating what they hope will prove a dazzling showcase to reassert Russian power and influence.

Putin is determined to use a string of missteps by President Obama — hesitation and vacillation in the Syria crisis, the Benghazi scandal, health care rollout fiasco, sky-high budget deficits, and Mr. Obama’s sinking poll numbers, to name a few — to reposition Russia as a major world leader in hopes of eventually eclipsing American power.

“I declare the 22nd Winter Olympic Games officially open,” Putin declared to a worldwide TV and Internet audience on Friday.

A Russian news service said Putin was “raising the curtain on an Olympic Games that started as his pet project and has become the crowning moment of his third term as president,” adding that “in front of a near-capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium and millions of TV viewers worldwide, the opening show drew on Russia’s rich musical and literary heritage, with a few nods to its Soviet past.

“Tonight we are writing a new page in Olympic history — these are the first-ever Olympic Games in the new Russia,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, as he called on athletes “to live together with harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”

Amidst these themes of global peace and harmony, however, Putin is simultaneously working hard to build closer ties with Iran, the world’s most Radical Islamic terrorist regime.

“Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $ 1.5 billion a month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions that helped persuade Tehran in November to agree to a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program,” Reuters recently reported. “Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal under which Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.”

“Good progress is being made at the moment with strong chances of success,” said a Russian source. “We are discussing the details, and the date of signing a deal depends on those details.” The Kremlin declined comment.

Other signs of intensifying Russian-Iranian ties in recent years:

Iran, meanwhile, is:

Putin is also using the Olympics to strengthen ties with other world leaders. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that “Putin used the hours before the lavish opening ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games to hold court with world leaders who did attend and project an image of the globally influential chief of a resurgent Russia. Upon arrival in Sochi, where Western journalists have focused on fears of a terrorism attack and discomforts in the hastily constructed hotels and venues, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Putin on his staging of the prestigious competition as evidence that ‘Russia is heading toward strength and prosperity.’ Xi also hailed Russian-Chinese cooperation on Syria and Iran – two foreign policy challenges that have pitted the once-rivalrous eastern giants against the three Western countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, preventing the American, British and French faction from securing sanctions on Damascus or Tehran…..Putin also received Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose crackdown on political opponents and public protest over the last year have alienated Turkey from its traditional allies in Europe and Washington. Putin seemed eager to cast Russia as an alternative diplomatic partner more respectful of Ankara’s right to decide its own domestic affairs.”

As I noted in December, “Vladmir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful….Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous.”

MORE RUSSIA AND IRAN HEADLINES:


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Khamenei says “Israeli regime is doomed to failure, annihilation” as nuclear negotiations resume in Geneva.

khamenei-closeup(Jerusalem, Israel) — “Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would not step back from its nuclear rights and his negotiating team had set limits for talks over Iran’s disputed nuclear program to resume in Geneva later on Wednesday,” reported the Jerusalem Post. ” Khamenei took swipes at Israel and France during his speech to tens of thousands of volunteer Basij militiamen in Tehran, broadcast live on Iran’s Press TV.”

“Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them,” said Khamenei. “The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation,” he added.

“The ‘Zionist regime’ says things that ‘only bring humiliation on themselves,’ he said adding that it is a regime that ‘emerged through force and no phenomenon that has emerged through force has continued to exist, and this regime will not continue to exist either,’” the Iranian leader insisted….

“The leader also criticized France. French President Francois Hollande assured Israel on Sunday that France would continue to oppose an easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it was convinced Tehran had given up any pursuit of nuclear weapons,” noted the Post.

The Times of Israel reported that “President Francois Hollande believes comments by Iran’s supreme leader about Israel are ‘unacceptable’ and complicate talks between world powers and the Islamic regime over its nuclear program,” according to a French government spokesperson.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israel, Iran, Syria issues dominate President Obama’s address to the U.N.: Calls for diplomatic engagement with Iran, says US does not seek “regime change” in Iran.

The UN General Assembly hall where the leaders of the world are now meeting.

The UN General Assembly hall where the leaders of the world are now meeting.

(Washington, D.C.) — President Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly just concluded. It was scheduled to last 15 minutes. It went for at least 40 minutes. The issues in the Middle East — notably in Syria, Iran and Israel — dominated the American leader’s remarks.

I’ll post analysis later in the day.

For now, here is the full text of the speech, and initial coverage:

POLITICO: “President Barack Obama outlined an engaged role Tuesday for the United States in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and North Africa, as he signaled a new willingness to pursue diplomatic talks with Iran and called on the United  Nations Security Council to threaten consequences if Syria does not follow through on its promise to give up its chemical weapons,” reported Politico. “Iran will be a diplomatic ‘focus’ for the United States, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly, as he’s directed Secretary of State John Kerry to work with the European Union and the governments of United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China to engage in talks with Iranian President Hassan  Rouhani’s government.”

“I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,” he said,  though the path may be rocky. Given the virtually nonexistent U.S.-Iran relationship over the past three decades, “I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight,” he said, because “the suspicions run too deep….But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship – one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”

TIMES OF ISRAEL: The Israeli online news service, Times of Israel, was live-blogging the speech. Here’s part of what they reported:

  • “Iraq showed us that democracy cannot simply be achieved by force, but rather that these objectives can better be achieved when we partner with the international community,” he said.
  • In the short term, US foreign policy will focus on two issues: Iran’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Resolving these two key issues could help bring a broader peace.
  • Iran “has threatened our ally Israel with destruction.”
  • Resolving Iran’s nuclear issue could be a major step forward. America prefers to do so peacefully, but is determined to prevent the Iranian bomb. “We are not seeking regime change.” We respect Iran seeking peaceful nuclear energy. Iran must meet its obligations…..
  • On Israel and the Palestinians, Obama says he was inspired by young Israelis on his visit in March.
  • “I believe there is a growing realization in Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing the democratic fabric of their country.” But Israelis have the right to have their country recognized in bodies like the United Nations, and Israelis have the right to live in security.
  • The Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security in their own sovereign state.
  • Just as the Palestinians must not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay.
  • The entire international community must get behind the pursuit of peace.
  • Israel’s security as a Jewish democracy depends on the realization of a Palestinian state.
  • Arab world has to recognize the imperative for a two state solution.
  • A solution would help isolate and defeat extremists throughout the region.
  • “Let’s emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice.”
  • Breakthroughs on the Iran and Israeli-Palestinian issues would have a profound regional impact.

REUTERS: “U.S. President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that there should be a basis for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions but that the roadblocks will be difficult to overcome,” reported Reuters. “Obama, in closely watched remarks on Iran based on a diplomatic opening offered by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, said the United States wants to resolve the Iran nuclear issue peacefully but is determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. ’The roadblocks may prove to be too great but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested,’ Obama said. ”He urged the U.N. Security Council to approve a strong resolution aimed at ensuring Syria keeps its commitments to give up chemical weapons and said the United States will provide an additional $ 340 million in humanitarian aid.”

WASHINGTON POST: “President Obama on Tuesday challenged the United Nations and its members to respond more actively to resolve the civil war in Syria, using the conflict as an example of the wider challenges facing the world five years into his White House tenure,” reported the Washington Post.

“Our response has not matched the scale of the challenge,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly. “The crisis in Syria and the destabilization of the region goes to the heart of the broader challenges the international community must now face.”

“Obama used Syria’s crisis to highlight what he called the ‘convulsions’ reshaping the Middle East and North Africa, a tumultuous region that served as the centerpiece of his address,” the Post noted. “He said that for the remainder of his time in office, his Middle East policy efforts would focus resolving the controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace. ‘Real breakthroughs on these two issues . . . would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa,’ Obama said. ‘But the current convulsions arising out of the Arab Spring remind us that a just and lasting peace cannot be measured only by agreements between nations.’ Obama outlined specifically how he believes the world should work together on Syria, beginning with the quick passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution enforcing a still-tenuous agreement for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapon arsenal, which U.S. officials say he recently used against his own people…..”

“The U.S president issued a stern warning to Iran —  saying, ‘We will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction’ —  even as he acknowledged that his administration and a new government in Tehran are exploring the prospects of improved relations,” the Post reported. “The address — Obama’s fifth to the U.N. General Assembly took a much more  prescriptive approach to problems in the Middle East and Iran than his broader, thematic speeches of previous years. The tighter focus reflects a growing sense inside the administration that the president’s foreign policy legacy may be defined by events in the Middle East and North Africa, where secular and Islamic popular movements continue vying for political authority.”

Read President Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly (as prepared for delivery), via the Washington Post.

OTHER KEY HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING:

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>> Track the latest developments and analysis on Twitter — @JoelCRosenberg.


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