Announcement of Ceasefire

Remarks

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
  • Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr

November 21, 2012
Presidential Palace, Cairo, Egypt

MODERATOR:  (Via interpreter) We welcome our guests.  Yes.  We’ll begin with a talk from Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, then Her Excellency Minister Clinton will address the press.

More after the jump.

FOREIGN MINISTER AMR:  (Via interpreter) Thank you.  A press release, under the auspices of His Excellency President Mohamed Morsi and stemming from Egypt’s historic responsibility towards the Palestinian cause and Egypt’s keenness to stop the bloodshed and preserving the stability of the conditions and security in the region, Egypt has exerted efforts and conducted intensive discussions since the renewed outbreak of hostilities in the Gaza Strip with all parties:  the Palestinian leadership, the various resistance factions, the Israeli side, and the international community, most notably the United States of America.

These efforts and communications managed to reach an agreement to a ceasefire and the return of calm and halt of the violence and the bloodshed that was witnessed recently.

The ceasefire is set to start at 9 p.m. Cairo time today, Wednesday, 21st of November 2012.  Egypt affirms its commitment to the Palestinian cause and the need to achieve a comprehensive and just resolution.  The Government of Egypt will continue its efforts to achieve this noble objective through ongoing attempts to end the divisions between the various Palestinian factions and to assist them in achieving Palestinian national unity on the basis of genuine Palestinian values and interests.

Egypt appreciates the role of the Arab League, the valuable contributions of Turkey and Qatar, and those of the Secretary General of the United Nations to support the efforts of the Government of Egypt to end the violence.  At the same time, Egypt calls upon the international community to be engaged in monitoring the implementation of the Egyptian-brokered agreement and to ensure all parties adhere to these agreements.  The agreement will be distributed to you after this conference.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Amr.  I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence.  This is a critical moment for the region.  Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.  The United States welcomes the agreement today for a ceasefire in Gaza.  For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end, a broader calm return.

The people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence, and today’s agreement is a step in the right direction that we should build on.  Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity, and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike.  President Morsi and I discussed how the United States and Egypt can work together to support the next steps in that process.  In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, and provide security for the people of Israel.  Ultimately, every step must move us toward a comprehensive peace for all the people of the region.

As I discussed today with President Morsi, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, there is no substitute for a just and lasting peace.  Now that there is a ceasefire, I am looking forward to working with the Foreign Minister and others to move this process.  Thank you very much, Foreign Minister.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Travels to the Middle-East

Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.  

Details follow the jump.
Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm.  As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful.

She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security.  She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides.

 

Barry Rubin’s Fuzzy Thinking

Barry Rubin— by Steve Sheffey

A recent article by Barry Rubin provides a preview of the misleading arguments and half-truths we can expect from now until November. Rubin compresses so much nonsense into so little space that I’ll only cover some of his article today, and the rest later.

Rubin begins his article with a strawman argument, that we claim President Obama is good simply because he speaks warmly about Israel. It is true that President Obama speaks warmly about Israel, but his record is the basis for the claim that he is strong on Israel.

President Obama’s record on Israel is outstanding.

President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, taken US-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Not all presidents say “nice” things about Israel.

Rubin gets it wrong even on his own terms. Words do matter, and not all presidents say nice things about Israel. Gerald Ford threatened to reassess America’s strategic relations with Israel, Ronald Reagan condemned Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Bush I decried lobbyists for Israel (he actually attacked citizen lobbyists like you and me), and in 2003 Bush II rebuked then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by rescinding $289.5 million in loan guarantees for Israel as punishment for what Bush considered illegal settlement activity. In 2004, the Bush administration abstained rather than veto a UN resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza during a military operation aimed at stopping terrorism and weapons smuggling. If President Obama had done anything like what Ford, Reagan, Bush I or Bush II had done to Israel, then maybe Rubin would have something to write about.

It is true that President Obama speaks warmly of Israel, but Rubin leaves out to whom President Obama speaks warmly about Israel.

It’s easy to tell AIPAC how important the US-Israel relationship is. AIPAC already knows. The difference between President Obama and previous presidents is that President Obama eloquently delivers the case for Israel and a strong US-Israel relationship to those who need to hear it most.

During the 2008 campaign, I participated in a conference call with Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), one of Israel’s best friends in Congress in either party. Rothman asked us to imagine the impact of a president named Barack Hussein Obama telling the entire world, including the Arab world, that America stands with Israel.

That’s exactly what President Obama did when he went to Cairo in 2009 and told the Arab and Muslim world that America’s bond with Israel is “unbreakable.”

He told the Arab and Muslim world, a world rife with Holocaust denial, that to deny the Holocaust is “baseless, ignorant, and hateful.”  He told them that threatening Israel with destruction is “deeply wrong.” He said that “Palestinians must abandon violence” and that “it is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.” And he said that “Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Who knows where we’d be today if previous Presidents had had the courage to personally deliver this message on Arab soil.

In 2011, President Obama went to the UN, another forum not known for its love for Israel, and told the world that

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

The Israeli newspaper Yehidot Aharonot said that “An American President has never given such a pro-Israel speech at the UN.”

Isn’t that what we want from our President?

Under President Obama, the US-Israel relationship is warmer than ever.

Yet Rubin says that President Obama is “cold” toward Israel. Former Congressman Robert Wexler explained just last month that this “coldness” argument is

the argument Republican surrogates make. They say he’s cold. I hear that he doesn’t feel Israel in his kishkes. I think that’s something you say when you don’t have any factual arguments to make. What does it mean that he’s cold? Does being cold mean articulating the strongest pro-Israel argument ever at the UN – a forum not warm to Israel? Is it cold that America has engaged in the largest joint military operation between the US and Israel in Israel’s history during the Obama administration? Is it cold that more than 200 high-level Pentagon officials visited Israel during the last calendar year? Is it cold that America and Israel will likely engage in an even larger joint military exercise this year? And I’ll tell you one group who doesn’t believe the relationship is cold – that’s the current leadership in Tehran.

No wonder the vast majority of Jews vote Democratic and will continue to vote Democratic.

Aside from exceptions like Congressmen Joe Walsh and Ron Paul, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support pro-Israel positions. But only the Democratic party is good on Israel and the other values we cherish.

“Emergency Committee for Israel” Treats Truth Like a Punching Bag


A response to ads placed by the so-called “Emergency Committee for Israel” in major American newspapers today.

— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

Why does the “Emergency Committee for Israel” treat the truth like a punching bag? Why do they spread fictions and smears about President Barack Obama and his powerfully pro-Israel record? The answer is simple; because they are far-right Republican partisans. When members of their own party repeatedly suggest that foreign aid should ‘start at zero’ and then make no mention of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the U.S., they’re silent as can be. When 100 percent of House Republicans repeatedly side with business over strengthening Iran sanctions, they’re nowhere to be found. But they have plenty of cash on hand to spread myths about this President, and to shamefully turn support for Israel into a partisan football.

They have been called out by mass media for their lies and innuendo, and by non-partisan Jewish organizations trying to shame them towards a better path. But the sad truth is that they’re more committed to hurting this President than they are to helping the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that’s reprehensible.

More information on ECI’s false attacks follows the jump.

Watch live streaming video from sabanforum2011 at livestream.com

ECI: Wrong on Panetta.

Fact: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivered a staunchly pro-Israel address recently at the Saban Center. He:

  • Reaffirmed this Administration’s iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security, and detailed the many steps-such as Iron Dome-this Administration has taken;
  • Emphasized that all options remain on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran;
  • Discussed how “President Obama has stood steadfastly in the way” of efforts to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations; and
  • Expressed strong opposition to cutting foreign aid.

ECI: Wrong on the UN.

Fact: President Obama and his Administration have a perfect voting record at the United Nations, proactively defending Israel’s legitimacy at the UN. No other President since 1967 has a perfect voting record.

ECI: Wrong on Sarkozy and UNESCO.

Fact: The President used his time with Sarkozy to make the case to the world to place “unprecedented” pressure on Iran, and-behind the scenes-to argue to Sarkozy himself that he was wrong not to support the President and the Administration in firmly rejecting Palestinian efforts to gain membership in UNESCO. The President instructed the Administration to condemn UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestinian membership immediately, resulting in the withdrawal of one-fifth of UNESCO’s funding from the U.S.

ECI: Wrong on Clinton.

Fact: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an off-the-record and closed-door discussion with friends at the Saban Center, is reported to have voiced concern over Israeli legislation limiting foreign funding of Israel’s non-governmental organizations, and regarding women’s rights in Israel. In fact, leadership throughout the American Jewish community share precisely the same concern regarding pending legislation in Israel, and both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres have spoken this week about the importance of complete women’s equality in Israel.

ECI: Wrong on making Israel a partisan political football.

Fact: In truth, as NJDC Chair Marc Stanley argued in The Hill</a> last week, ECI is sadly nothing more than a GOP advocacy organization. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, two major American Jewish non-partisan organizations, recently offered a “unity pledge” to help prevent this issue from becoming partisan; ECI notably, angrily refused to sign. The Forward reported in September about the criticisms leveled at ECI from many non-partisan pro-Israel advocates after ECI’s last dangerous ad. The American Jewish Committee in particular called their previous ad “highly objectionable.” The Forward has independently editorialized that each ECI “claim is either an outright falsehood or one that irresponsibly distorts the truth.” ECI puts partisanship above the U.S.-Israel relationship, and today’s ad proves it yet again.

ECI: Wrong on President Obama.

Fact: This President has a stellar pro-Israel record; just ask Prime Minister Netanyahu. This President doesn’t start foreign aid at zero; he has lifted aid to Israel to unprecedented levels. He’s gotten the funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system that’s saving Israeli lives today. He has a perfect voting record at the UN, defending Israel’s legitimacy there and around the world. He personally intervened to save the lives of Israeli diplomats in Cairo. He has restored Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge which eroded during the previous Administration. He secretly got Israel the bunker-busting bombs it needed. He has ordered the largest-ever U.S.-Israel joint military operation (to occur in 2012). He has built a global coalition supporting withering sanctions against Iran.

The list goes on and on.  

Send Obama A Message!


— by Rabbi Avi Shafran

The Obama administration considers Israel a sponsor of terror — at least according to Dick Morris, the disgraced ex-advisor to Bill Clinton, and a host of self-styled “conservative” media. The news was shocking — well, maybe not to the clever folks who knew all along that the president is a secret Muslim, but certainly to the rest of us.

What turned out to be the case is that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency maintains a list of 36 “specially designated countries” whose immigrating citizens get extra scrutiny because their nations “promote, produce or protect terrorist organizations or their members.” Note the word “or.”

“Produce,” in this context, means that terrorists reside in the country. Thus, countries like the Philippines and Morocco, along with Israel, are on the list. Approximately a million and a half Israeli citizens are Arabs-many of whom have ties to Arab residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So no, with apologies to Mr. Morris et al, the U.S. does not consider Israel a terror sponsor.

What makes some people all too ready to misrepresent such things is that many Americans, especially in the Jewish community, have deep concerns about President Obama’s Middle East policies. My personal view is that these concerns are overblown. While I realize there are other opinions, as far as I can tell Mr. Obama’s positions on building in the settlements and on the terms of Israel-Palestinian negotiations have been American policy since long before his presidency.

Even doubters of Mr. Obama’s good will, though, should recognize the import of the administration’s declared readiness to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. That stance risks the U.S.’s international political capital and may even, G-d forbid, come to threaten Americans’ safety. Might it speak more loudly about the president than his opposition to new settlements?

Speaking equally loudly is what happened on September 9, when Mr. Obama acted swiftly to warn Egyptian authorities that they had better protect Israeli embassy guards in Cairo besieged by a mob. When Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minster Barak were unable to reach the apparently indisposed Egyptian military leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spent hours hounding the Egyptian, finally reaching him at 1 AM to let him know that if anything happened to the Israelis, there would be “very severe consequences.” Egyptian soldiers protected the hostages until an Israeli Air Force plane safely evacuated them.

Mr. Netanyahu later recounted that he had asked for Mr. Obama’s help and that the president had replied that he would do everything he could. “And so he did,” testified the Prime Minister.  

It may not be meaningful for many, but I was struck two days later on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks when the president, betraying his Islamic beliefs (joke!), chose for his reading at the New York ceremony the 46th chapter of Tehillim. The one including the words (in the White House’s translation):

“Though its waters roar and be troubled… there’s a river whose streams shall make glad the City of G-d, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High.”

And:

“The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Whatever our takes on this or that statement or position, hard facts are not up for debate.

Let’s not forget some such facts:

  • The Obama administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any American administration;
  • he has repeatedly declared (first in 2009 in Cairo during his speech to the Arab world) that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is “unbreakable”;
  • his Secretary of State lectured Al-Jazeera that “when the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon they got Hezbollah and 40,000 rockets and when they pulled out of Gaza they got Hamas and 20,000 rockets”;
  • his State Department has condemned the Palestinian Authority’s “factually incorrect” denial of the Western Wall’s connection to the Jewish people;
  • and much more.

Last week, in the lead-up to a Congressional election in Brooklyn  in which Jews had ample other reason to vote against the Democratic candidate, some ads presented the contest as an opportunity to “Send Obama a Message”-which some Jews took to mean an angry message about Israel.

Many thoughtful Jews, though, have a different message for Mr. Obama:

"Thank you."

Netanyahu on Rescue at Israeli Embassy in Cairo

— by David A. Harris

This Shabbat has been an extremely difficult time for Israel as Israel’s Embassy in Egypt was attacked by protesters, and Israel’s Ambassador and staff had to be airlifted out.

Tonight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the country and discussed in part how the Israelis made it safely home:

“I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do everything I can.’ And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. This alliance between Israel and the United States is especially important in these times of political storms and upheavals in the Middle East.”

As the crisis was escalating on Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama coordinated directly by phone. The President expressed his “great concern” about the security of the Israelis serving at the Embassy, and he pressed “the Government of Egypt to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy,” as the White House noted.

More after the jump.   .
 

This cooperation existed at many levels — not just between the President and the Prime Minister. As The Washington Post noted, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak had been in close contact with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the National Security Council’s Dennis Ross. The Post explains that Panetta pressed for and received assurances from the head of Egypt’s ruling military council that the Embassy would be secured.

The ramifications of this extremely disturbing event are significant and will be lasting — even as Prime Minister Netanyahu strives to maintain the treaty with a changing Egypt as he indicated he would tonight.

But with this strong security partnership — between countries, and between these two leaders, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and their teams — Israel’s safety and security can and will be assured.