Israel headlines tell a story. They tell you the news. But sometimes, they reveal some underlying truths.
Return to this blog every Tuesday and Friday after Noon. You’ll see a sampling of headlines from Israel’s press—and some comments about those headlines.
Today’s headlines—and those comments--come from November 19 - 21, 2013.
The Arab-Israel conflict
-Liberman: Israel Needs Allies, Not 'Painful Concessions'
-UN Official: 'Settlements' Are Holding Back Peace
-Arab Ministers: No Peace Progress? It's Israel's Fault
- Katz: Abbas Won’t Back Down from ‘Law of Return’ in Talks.
-Lieberman: 20 years since Oslo Accords and we are just deteriorating
-Erekat: We'll Take Israel to Court over Arafat Death
- PA Leader Claims US Helped Israel Kill Arafat
-BDS Fail: Anti-Israel Groups Use Israeli Technology
-Gaza Suffering under Siege – but Not Israel's
-Israel hits Gaza weapons plant, terror tunnels in retaliation for mortars
America and Israel
-US, Israel 'Unable to Agree' on Kerry Visit Date
-Drifting from US, Liberman calls to diversify foreign policy
-Lieberman: Ties with US deteriorating, more allies needed
-Op-Ed: How the United States fans the flames of Mideast conflict
-Israeli Officials: Kerry unfamiliar with substance of talks
-Iranian Supreme Leader: Israel 'Doomed to Collapse'
-Elkin: Israel Can Act Alone Against Iran…Deputy Foreign Minister
-On eve on nuclear talks, Khamenei says Israel ‘doomed to extinction’
-France says Iran comments on Israel complicate nuke talks
-France Says Iran’s Khamenei Comments Unacceptable
-As Israel's allies soften stance on Iran, Netanyahu scrambles to regain
-Netanyahu visits Russia to lobby against Iran deal
-Bennett: Bad Deal with Iran Will 'Lead to War'
-Top U.S. lawmakers urge Obama to take tougher line on Iran
-Obama urges Senators to hold off Iran sanctions
-Despite Israeli efforts to thwart nuclear deal, US says resolution near
-US official says 'very hard' to get Iran nuclear deal
- Iran and world powers close to agreement as nuclear talks resume
-Sorry, the French won’t save us from Iran
- Kerry: Iran's Uranium Enrichment Will be Decided Later
-Iran Still Insisting on Right to Enrich Uranium
-[Thomas] Friedman Slams 'Israel Lobby' for Preventing Iran Deal
-Israel ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by US quiet on Khamenei’s vicious speech
Life in Israel
-Ceragon to raise $39m in Nasdaq secondary offering
-Evogene raising $83m on NYSE
-Likud: Trying to Rein in Netanyahu
The Arab Middle East
-Report: Egypt to Receive $4 Billion in Russian Arms
-2,200 Syrian refugees flee to Lebanon in 5 days, according to UNHCR
-Palestinian journalists say freedom of speech in danger [in the PA]
-Libyan MP Carried Hand Grenade in Her Handbag 'For Self Defense'
The Temple Mount
-Long Wait for Brief Jewish Access to Temple Mount
The war of the Left against Israel
-MK Stern: Some Things More Important than Torah Study
-Shai Nitzan Recommended for State Prosecutor
-Are Ministers Afraid to Oppose Nitzan Appointment
-Nitzan Appointment: Nationalist MKs Come Out Swinging
-Livni and Yechimovich Voice Support for Shai Nitzan
-MK Calls to Fund Reform/Conservative Religious Services
-Court: Respond to Attempt to Block Nitzan by Friday
-Britain's Hague says believes Iran nuclear deal within reach
China- China tells Iran to seize opportunity before nuclear talks
-'Pro-Israel' France Supports anti-Israel Groups, Too
- France Rejects Harsh Iranian Criticism Regarding Israel
-France's Fabius says West must show firmness in Iran nuclear talks
-Netanyahu Takes Off for Moscow
-Report: Egypt to Receive $4 Billion in Russian Arms
-Putin Upbeat About Chances of Deal with Iran
Jews around the world
-Yaalon to Arrive in Canada for Working Visit
In today’s news cycle, we have watched the Iran story widen. Now, for Israel, this story is no longer about the US and Iran; now, it includes France, England, China and Russia.
Last week, France nixed the plan the US had wanted. Now, as new talks start again, US officials send a confused message. Some unnamed official said an agreement is close; another said it’ll be tough to agree with Iran on anything.
What does this say about the US? Is this a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing—or is it an attempt to keep someone off balance?
Who, exactly, is the US attempting to confuse—and why? No one had answers. But, as you’ll see below, an answer did appear by November 21st.
France, meanwhile, doesn’t look confused at all. It holds firm. It resists any plan that will get Iran ‘off the hook’.
As France held firm, so did Iran. It announced that it would accept no deal that would require it to stop enriching uranium.
US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that he knew how the US would complete an agreement with Iran when Iran was being so stubborn: the US would push off any discussion of Iran stopping uranium enrichment until ‘later’.
That would be a great deal for Iran. They would get billions of dollars released to them from a partial lifting of sanctions—and little damage to their A-bomb ambitions.
That would be a lousy deal for Israel.
France may be alone in its resistance to such a deal. The ‘fix’ may be in. France may cave in the face of opposition: England wants a deal. Russia wants a deal. Kerry wants a deal.
Is there a surprise on the horizon? These talks in Geneva center around something called, P5+1. That refers to the six countries ‘in charge of’ nuclear talks--the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus the additional ‘1’, Germany. As you see in the headlines above, all of these countries have had something to say about these talks. All have spoken out, mostly—we infer—in favour of a deal. But where is Germany? Have any of you heard from Germany?
Why does Germany remain silent?
Keep your eyes open for France and Germany. Any Iran deal may depend on them. Maybe.
A related story-line focuses on how these talks affect US-Israel relations. These relations have been souring since Obama became US President. Now, CNN reports that relations between the US and Israel have so soured that Kerry ‘can’t find’ the time to revisit Israel. We saw a measure of exactly how cold this relationship is when, on November 20, 2013, Iranian leader Khamenei—in a speech to tens of thousands--characterized ‘the Zionist regime’ as the “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region.” To Israel’s dismay, The Times of Israel wrote, the speech did not prompt an immediate condemnation by the United States. By the next afternoon, the US still hadn’t condemned the speech. The best it could say was, the speech ‘wasn’t helpful.’ By contrast, France condemned the speech almost immediately as ‘unacceptable’.
In the diplomatic world, it doesn’t get any worse than that.
By late Thursday (Israel time), the US still hadn’t condemned Khamenei’s speech. Meanwhile, an Israeli news outlet wrote that some (unnamed) diplomats were now saying that Kerry appeared to be working towards an agreement without understanding the issues involved.
Perhaps that was the answer to the question above about possible confusion within the US negotiations team. Yes, this latest report could be just another head-slap in the hand-to-hand battling that goes on in the international ‘trenches’. But it could also mean that Kerry is either incompetent or so dismissive of Israel’s concerns that he doesn’t give a damn about details. Either way, Israel stands to lose.
There were other stories in the headlines above—some of them important. But this apparent ice between the US and Israel dominates the picture right now.
What could happen next?