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    Benjamin Netanyahu Tag

    At least no one got hurt this time. But Gaza Flotilla III was a complete flop. Meant to break Israel's perfectly legal naval blockade of Gaza (more on legality here), designed to stop Iranian shipments of weapons, the flotilla avoided the disaster of Gaza Flotilla I, in which 9 people were killed when they attacked Israeli commandos boarding a ship. This time, when it appeared Israel would prevent the flotilla from getting to Gaza, three of the boats called it off. The main boat, from Sweden but bearing an Israeli Arab lawmaker and the former President of Tunisia, proceeded, and was boarded by Israeli commandos. The IDF posted the following announcement:

    When the Israeli elections were held in March, the result widely was seen as a huge win for Benjamin Netanyahu, because his Likud Party outperformed. But that was Part 1. The second part has taken several weeks to play out -- the formation of a governing coalition of at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament). That took time, and almost didn't happen. Late last night Israel time Netanyahu put the final piece together, as reported in The Times of Israel:
    Less than two hours before his deadline was set to expire on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered out a deal with Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, allowing him to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he had successfully cobbled together a 61-seat coalition — the narrowest of Knesset majorities.... In a meeting with Bennett in the Knesset Wednesday night, Netanyahu thanked the Jewish Home party leader for his “efforts during the negotiations and throughout these last weeks.” He also asserted that Israel would have a “strong, stable government,” which he hoped would exceed 61 seats by Wednesday. “’61 seats is a good number. 61-plus is a better number. But it starts with 61, and we will begin with that,” Netanyahu said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Good luck to us and to the Israeli nation.” “We support you,” Bennett told Netanyahu. “We will assist you with all of our strength for the sake of the country and the government, because we have no other land. This government can complete its term in office. We will work hard to make sure of that.” Bennett said that the two parties’ negotiating teams would “work all night” in order to finalize the fine points of the deal. Netanyahu was understood to have capitulated to the demands of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home, the final recalcitrant coalition partner, and agreed to appoint Bennett as education minister, MK Ayelet Shaked as justice minister, and another Jewish Home member, Uri Ariel, as agriculture minister.
    David Horvitz, Editor-in-Chief of The Times of Israel, notes the disappointment at such a thin margin:

    Back in 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the body of the United Nations with a piece of poster board and a red marker. During the two weeks prior to that moment, he had been waging a public battle with the Obama Administration over the dangerous progression of Iran's nuclear program---sound familiar---and made the decision to cut through the rhetoric in hopes that a visual aid might wake up the rest of the world. So, he picked up his marker and drew a literal red line that served as an ultimatum: “At this late hour there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs, and that is by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Remember? NATIONS-articleLarge Yesterday, the Obama paid passive-aggressive homage to Netanyahu's famous "bomb" with one of their own:

    There is no Iran nuke "deal," but whatever there is to the framework, even Obama now admits it paves Iran's path to the bomb, albeit on a delayed fuse, as AP reports, Obama says Iran could cut nuke time to near zero in 13 years:
    Defending an emerging nuclear deal, President Barack Obama said Iran would be kept a year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon for more than a decade, but conceded Tuesday that the buffer period could shrink to almost nothing after 13 or more years. Obama, whose top priority at the moment is to sell the framework deal to critics, was pushing back on the charge that the deal fails to eliminate the risk because it allows Iran to keep enriching uranium. He told NPR News that Iran will be capped for a decade at 300 kilograms — not enough to convert to a stockpile of weapons-grade material. "What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero," Obama said.
    It's not at all clear that 13 years is the correct number, as opposed to 10. But regardless, the point is that at the end of this process Iran is ready to produce a bomb. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, Netanyahu: Nuke Deal 'Paves Iran's Path to the Bomb':

    Last week's "nuke deal" with Iran has drawn criticism both at home and overseas as being less of a "deal" and more of a capitulation to a belligerent enemy of freedom. (I wouldn't argue with those criticisms one bit.) It has caused many to call into question President Obama's motives for making such a deal, and forced discussions about what a nuclear Iran would mean for the future of the Middle East as we know it. Of course, the elephant in the room is Israel, a country whose future depends on the efforts of more powerful allies to block Iran's path to a nuclear weapon. Not only have we have failed to do so, we have also set Benjamin Netanyahu up as the chief fall guy in the event of a breakdown in negotiations. CNN's Jim Acosta interviewed Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, and spent a lot of time focusing on the breakdown of the relationship between Israel and the United States.

    Well that "Framework" negotiation was fun. For the Iranians, who got a great deal at least as far as a Framework goes. As this WaPo editorial points out, the Obama administration gave up on key parameters:
    THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state. That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.
    In his speech after the announcement, Obama took care not only to repeat the false rhetorical device of the only choice being between this deal and war, he blamed that choice on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. David Horvitz at The Times of Israel writes, Defeatist Obama’s deal with the devil:

    In case you missed the latest news, the final results of the Israeli elections are in, and here are the numbers: Likud (Netanyahu): 30 Zionist Union (Yitzchak Herzog): 24 Joint Arab List: 13 Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid): 11 Kulanu (Moshe Kachlon): 10 Bayit Yehudi (Naftali Bennett): 8 Shas (Sephardi haredim): 7 Yisrael Beitenu (Avigdor Liberman): 6 United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi Haredim): 6 Meretz: 5 I'm sure many of you have been wondering what the average Israeli thinks of the general elections and the Likud's surprising win. The answer will depend on whom you ask. [caption id="attachment_120458" align="alignnone" width="480"]israeli-elections-cards [Israeli voting slips, with the parties' letter-codes rearranged to spell out: "The truth is, they're all liars.][/caption] As an avowed rightist I was both delighted and highly relieved at the result, though as a Naftali Bennett and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) voter, I admit to some disappointment that the party lost several seats, going down from 12 to 8.

    The distortion of Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election statements on a two-state solution and Arab voting was a classic Obama and media distortion. If you take the actual text of Netanyahu said, he never ruled out a two-state solution and never discouraged Arab voting. But those were the headlines and the foaming-at-the mouth hyperbole, fomented by the Obama administration in numerous anonymous statements to the media. Schmuel Rosner has the analysis, from earlier today, Is Obama getting ready to throw Israel under a UN bus?:
    Prime Minister Netanyahu has no "newly declared opposition to a Palestinian state". If the White House wants to use a badly framed statement by Netanyahu as an excuse for a change in American policy – if it wants, as the WH hinted, to "turn to the U.N. to help force a deal" with the Palestinians on Israel – it should not come as a great surprise. But Netanyahu's words are the excuse, not the reason, for the change. The reason is Netanyahu's victory and the administrations' vindictive mood toward him and toward the country that elected him.... Netanyahu said a couple of regrettable things in the last, desperate days of his brilliant campaign. ... The second statement was just a poor call for action for the right-wing voters. Netanyahu's record when it comes to policies aimed at integrating Arab Israelis into society is not bad. The first statement was merely an assessment of the situation. Netanyahu did not say that he opposes the two state solution – he said that under current circumstances he doesn't see a Palestinian State established in his coming term as Prime Minister. And he is probably right in this assessment.
    The Times of Israel reports on an interview Netanyahu gave today, in which he explained that nothing had changed:

    Last night on Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer offered a frank assessment of how Obama views Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. From National Review:
    Krauthammer’s Take: ‘It’s Clear that Obama Loathes Netanyahu More than Any Other World Leader’ “This was an election between Bibi and Obama — that was on the ballot,” he said on Wednesday’s Special Report. “He did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.” Krauthammer criticized “the pettiness and the petulance” from the Obama administration regarding Netanyahu’s victory, which included a backhanded congratulatory statement and a delayed phone call from secretary of state John Kerry rather than President Obama. “I think the reaction of the administration is now reaching levels where it’s become unseemingly,” he said... “It’s clear that Obama loathes Netanyahu more than any other world leader, meaning more than the ayatollah in Iran or Putin in Russia.”
    Watch the video:

    Since we all tend to self-select on Twitter, it wasn't a surprise that my timeline was filled with thrill for Benjamin Netanyahu's surprisingly strong victory in the Israeli elections. Sure, technically it was a win for Likud and the Israeli "right," but it was all Netanyahu's win on Twitter. Or rather, it was Obama's loss. Domestically in the U.S. among those whom Obama has beaten twice, and stuck with weak Republican opposition in Congress, Bibi standing up to Obama is about all we have these days. And so too with the Europeans. As we watch the planned decline of Western Civilization in the cradle of Western Civilization, at least Bibi is willing to stand athwart the EU bureaucracy, yelling Stop! So whatever Bibi is in real life, he has come to represent a willingness to fight that is missing from our own political structure and politicians. Yet this victory celebration will be short-lived. The storm of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that has been gathering for over a decade will not stop, and may accelerate. Last night, as Israeli results rolled in, I was moderating a presentation on Legal Complexities in Contemprorary Assymetrical Conflicts, presented by IDF Major Nadav.

    It was a big night for Likud and Netanyahu. The votes coming in are giving Likud an even bigger lead than the exit polls indicated.

    Charles Krauthammer began a 1999 column like this:
    Having failed to topple Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, Bill Clinton had to settle for Benjamin Netanyahu. In a characteristic display of partisan glee, Clinton toasted political consultant Robert Shrum on Tuesday night (reports Lloyd Grove in The Washington Post) to congratulate him (and implicitly, the administration) for helping the Israeli opposition bring down the prime minister Washington loves to hate.
    Later today, if all the votes in the Israeli election are counted and the State Department-supported anti-Netanyahu group is successful in ensuring that Netanyahu is not able to form the next government, who will President Obama be toasting? True this is hypothetical question, but there's a lesson in 1999, that is relevant today. Clinton figured that once Netanyahu was out of the way he no longer had any obstacles to Middle East peace and a Nobel Peace Prize. He worked well with Ehud Barak and a year after Barak took office hosted a summit at which Barak offered a peace deal to Yasser Arafat. Arafat rejected it and two months later launched the second or Al-Aqsa intifada in which 1,100 Israelis were killed. So yes, Clinton got his wish and hundreds of Israelis paid the price.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached peak campaign season with his latest endorsement---a short, sweet, and to-the-point video message from none other than Chuck Norris. Yid With Lid has the video:
    I watched Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, and I saw a man who loves his country with all his heart and soul. I also saw a strong leader that is absolutely crucial for the safety of the Israeli people. I have done three movies in Israel – “Delta Force” being my favorite – and I formed many friendships while there. You have an incredible country, and we want to keep it that way. That’s why it is so important that you keep a leader who has the courage and vision to stand up against the evil forces that are threatening not only Israel but also the United States. You see, we the American people need Prime Minister Netanyahu as much as you do. Weak leadership can destroy your country and then the evil forces can concentrate on America, too. So I ask you, please, for the sake of Israel and the whole Middle East, vote for Prime Minister Netanyahu on Election Day.
    He stops short of promising retaliatory karate-chops to the knees of those who vote against Netanyahu.

    On Tuesday Israel’s people will elect the 34th government of their country’s short 67 year history. PM Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s bid for reelection once looked rock solid, his Likud party guaranteed to come out ahead of the pack. Now, his political future is hanging on a thread. His main rival, the Zionist Union—a new party with a pretentious-sounding name (as if only Isaac (Buji) Herzog and Tzipi Livni are the true Zionist heirs)—now has a considerable four seat edge in final media polls released on Friday. A four day legally required moratorium on polling has kicked in, so that’ll be the best guess until the election returns start coming in on Tuesday night. Netanyahu is feeling the heat. Last Thursday he acknowledged that there’s a “real danger” he’ll be ousted if the Likud can’t close the gap. He’s already indicated that he’ll resign as party leader and withdraw from political life if the Likud ends up with less than 18 seats. This would be a tragic career finish for someone who in the last few months has done so much to advance the cause of Israel and the Jewish people, the Middle East region, and the free world.

    Benjamin Netanyahu's recent address to congress was the inspiration for the latest edition of Firewall with Bill Whittle. While some prominent Democrats skipped the speech, Netanyahu warned of the dangers faced by Israel and the west in the face of Islamist terrorists and a nuclear Iran. Partial transcript and video via Truth Revolt:
    He’s the Leader of the Free World, elected by a civilized nation: militarily powerful because of, and not in spite of, it’s cultural commitment to science and art and medicine. Although he spent much of his early life overseas, the Leader of the Free World grew up in the Northeast, and graduated from Harvard University. That he has a deep and abiding love for America is self-evident: he admires our energy, our inventiveness; our decency and kindness; our innate friendliness and charity. He loves our culture; he admires our private sector which generates so much innovation. And the Leader of the Free World admires and respects our vast military power, and the restraint which it is used – to him, it is indeed the Arsenal of Democracy. And even though he has grown up the victim of bigotry and hatred, the Leader of the Free World loves America, even though slurs are applied to him still today. In spite of all that, he loves everything she stands for.
    Watch the whole thing.

    In case you missed it, yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech before Congress eviscerating Obama's policy toward Iran and triggering a complete meltdown amongst Democrats and liberal talking heads. I included the rail-jumping from MSNBC institution Chris Matthews in a previous post, but something he said during his rant has been nagging at me ever since I blew it off and hit "publish":
    Speaking to Thomas Roberts shortly after Netanyahu’s speech ended, Matthews said definitively, “This man from a foreign government walked into the United States legislative chamber and tried to take over foreign policy.” “He said you should trust me, not your president on this,” Matthews continued, describing the tone of Netanyahu’s remarks. “I’m the man you should trust, I’m your true leader on this question of U.S. geopolitics. If you want to protect yourself, you must listen to me and not this president.” Calling the situation “startling,” Matthews said, “It’s a remarkable day when the leaders of the opposition in Congress allowed this to happen. Think it through, what country in the world would let a foreign leader come in and attempt to rest from the president control of U.S. foreign policy?” “This was a takeover attempt by Netanyahu with his complying American partners to take American foreign policy out of the hands of the president,” he concluded.
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