Monday, December 17, 2012

Israel Uneasy Over U.S. Appointments Of Sec. Of State And Sec. Of Defense

This article from Israel Today casts some interesting light on these expected appointments:

There has been much unofficial reaction in Israel in recent days to the expected appointment of Senator John Kerry as America's next secretary of state and of former senator Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense.
In both cases, Israel is not all that thrilled by President Barack Obama's choices.
But there are indications that as secretary of state, Kerry would repeat his mistake by promoting engagement with groups like Hamas and pressing Israel to compromise its security.
Kerry also rejects the notion that Jews have a right to live in Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem, despite the fact that those areas constitute the biblical heartland of ancient Israel.
More worrisome is Republican Chuck Hagel, who has made no secret of his disdain for America's "special relationship" with Israel, and has become a poster boy for Israel's antagonists in the US.
Among those hailing the choice of Hagel is Harvard Professor Stephen Walt, who co-authored the book The Israel Lobby, which criticizes the US for so staunchly supporting Israel and blames the situation on an "all powerful" pro-Israel lobby.
Last week, Walt wrote that by choosing Hagel for secretary of defense, Obama had effectively "paid back" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for, as Walt put it, being uncooperative.

That Hagel is bad for Israel, especially at a time of such sensitivity regarding the Iran nuclear threat, is apparently widespread knowledge in Washington.
When Obama first ran for president in 2008, his Jewish outreach director, Ira Forman, stated that "if [Hagel] was taking a policy position, we'd have real concerns."
Hagel is on record as calling for engagement with Iran's current leadership, and has repeatedly downplayed the danger of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic. Threats by Iran's religious and political leadership to annihilate Israel have been all but dismissed by Hagel.

Also of interest:

Media reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is advancing a plan for confederation with Jordan have sparked a flurry of negative reactions both in Jordan and in the Palestinian territories.
London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported last Thursday that Abbas held a closed meeting with seven Fatah and PA members earlier last week to discuss the imminent possibility of a confederate union with the Hashemite Kingdom. According to the report, Abbas asked his team to prepare a report on diplomatic possibilities for negotiating the confederation plan with Jordan, which he considered “among the supreme Palestinian interests.”

A planning committee approved the construction of 1,500 apartment units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo Monday, effectively unfreezing Jewish construction in the eastern part of the capital.
The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee’s decision to approve the plans came despite United States pressure not to develop the neighborhood, and ended a freeze on the project imposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The announcement will likely anger the Palestinians and even Israeli allies who oppose settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The committee is also expected to deliberate on development plans for the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, which, including the Ramat Shlomo plan, would involve the construction of a total of 5,285 new apartment units over the Green Line in the capital, Maariv reported. Sources in Jerusalem city hall told the paper that half of the construction in Givat Hamatos is intended for Arab residents of the adjacent neighborhood of Beit Safafa.

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