Wrapping Up 2012

 

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch.

The best year in review piece I've seen came from Dave Barry. You can read it here, and you really should. Where else could you see gems like this:

In labor news, Chicago teachers go on strike over controversial proposed contract changes that would allow the school board to terminate teachers who have passed away. Meanwhile, the NFL comes under increasing pressure to settle the referee strike following a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans in which the replacement refs call four balks and three traveling violations, and ultimately declare that the winner is the Green Bay Packers. At the end of the month the strike is settled, and the replacement refs move on to their new role as Florida elections officials.

 More after the jump.

We close the year with sad health news for two famous pols. George HW Bush is 88 years old, has Parkinson's, and breathing trouble. It doesn't look good for longevity. Hillary Clinton is at NY Presbyterian with a blood clot found after her fall-induced concussion. This is not her first blood clot. Shame on those right wing wacko pundits who claimed she was faking. We wish the best for Secretary Clinton.

The 112th Congress is ending. Tom Brokaw said it best yesterday on Meet the Press when he said that the real problem is that 75% of districts have been redistricted so that they're bulletproof. I hope that America wakes up to this, and changes the system by which we redistrict to non-partisan methods, and jungle primaries, so that we have a shot at a legitimate House. 

Aside from the House, it has been a good political year. This was the year that dark money failed, that liberals won the hearts, minds, and votes of a majority of Americans across the board. My personal goal for 2013 is to turn Pennsylvania blue at the local level, and position the state (block by block, town by town, county by county) to win back Harrisburg in 2014. Tall order for one as vertically challenged as myself, but I believe I'll have lots of help! And besides, there's this from some post on Facebook:

It's impossible, said pride.
It's risky, said experience.
It's pointless, said reason.
Give it a try, whispered the heart.

Happy coming 2013. The dream endures.

Oren: “The Iron Dome Military Revolution”

In The Wall Street Journal, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren lauded the effectiveness of the Obama Administration-supported Iron Dome missile defense system. Oren wrote:

From drawing board to deployment in 2011, Israel completed the Iron Dome in a mere three years. The first two batteries-developed and financed entirely by Israel-took down dozens of Hamas rockets, making Iron Dome the first antimissile system ever to succeed in combat. The generous support of President Obama and the U.S. Congress enabled the construction of four additional batteries. Ultimately, 10 to 13 batteries and a full complement of interceptors will be needed to defend the entire country.

More after the jump.

Intercepting supersonic projectiles in midflight is literally rocket science. Israeli engineers pulled off the feat by combining cutting-edge tracking radar with electro-optic sensors and mounting them on highly mobile, all-weather air-defense systems. Iron Dome can hit multiple types of rockets and missiles at ranges of up to 75 kilometers. It can also be relocated swiftly to new sites and radically different terrain. (As part of our vast alliance with the United States, we have offered to share this pioneering technology.)

Most ingeniously, the Iron Dome determines within split seconds whether an incoming rocket is headed for an open space or a populated area-and saves its fire for the latter case. Millions of Israelis live within the terrorists’ range, with as little as 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter.

By neutralizing most rockets headed for populated areas, the Iron Dome gives decision makers invaluable time to find diplomatic solutions. If salvos of rockets were pummeling Israeli homes, hospitals and schools, Israeli leaders would be under immense pressure to order ground operations that could yield significant casualties. By denying the terrorists a decisive offensive advantage, Iron Dome will save lives and prevent wars.

Before Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense, Gaza terrorists fired some 700 rockets and mortars at southern Israel, many of which were taken out by Iron Dome. Still Israel was forced to take action, mounting precise sorties against terrorists and launch sites. In turn the terrorists fired 1,500 rockets, some aimed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These might have inflicted severe human and material loss, but Iron Dome downed nearly 85% of those headed toward populated areas.

Combined with Israel’s world-class civil-defense system, Iron Dome thwarted the terrorists’ aim to wreak intolerable damage. Consequently, Israeli leaders had the time and space needed to join with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in working out a cease-fire….

Iron Dome is thus a game-changer, but it isn’t a game-ender. Terrorists on our borders have more than 70,000 rockets, and 15 of every 100 fired can still get through the Iron Dome. The danger even of conventional warheads is unacceptable, but nuclear warheads would pose an existential threat. That is why, together with the U.S., Israel has developed the Arrow to intercept orbital and suborbital ballistic missiles, and we have successfully tested David’s Sling, a long-range rocket-defense system.

These innovations will not only protect Israel but enhance security for America and its allies world-wide.

Saban Forum Celebrates and Honors Sec. Clinton

— by Jason Berger

Over the weekend, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy honored Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. During her remarks, Clinton went into depth about her most recent experiences in the region, including the fighting between Israel and Hamas during operation Pillar of Defense. She also touched on a broad range of subjects including the deep cooperation between Israeli and American leaders, preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, and the potential for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Following the jump are some highlights of her full speech.
Clinton said regarding Operation Pillar of Defense:

I think that we have a lot to celebrate, because for years we have told you, our Israeli friends, that America has Israel’s back. And this month, we proved it again. When Israel responded to a rain of rockets, when sirens sounded and schools emptied and air raid shelters filled, America’s next move was never in question. President Obama and I stood before the international community and supported Israel’s right to defend itself from a threat no country would tolerate. The Iron Dome system – invented by Israel, underwritten by America – knocked rockets out of the sky like never before.

We supported regional and international efforts to de-escalate the conflict and then seized on a diplomatic opening when it came. Working closely with President Obama from halfway around the world, I left the East Asia Summit in Cambodia to fly to Tel Aviv, to drive to Jerusalem, to meet with the Prime Minister and members of the inner cabinet, to go the next day to Ramallah, then back to the Prime Minister’s office, and then to Cairo, and we were able to play a role in enabling the ceasefire to occur. That fragile ceasefire is holding. The skies above Israel are clear. And we are beginning to see the efforts to rebuild and resume daily life. But the world knows – and always will know – that whenever Israel is threatened, the United States will be there….

A lasting ceasefire is essential for the people of Israel, whose communities lie in the path of these rockets. The people of Gaza deserve better, too. Half the Gaza population are under the age of 18. These children, who didn’t choose where they were born, have now seen two military conflicts in the last four years. Like all children, our children, they deserve better. Just as Israel cannot accept the threat of rockets, none of us can be satisfied with a situation that condemns people on both sides to conflict every few years.

Those who fire the rockets are responsible for the violence that follows, but everyone, all parties in the region, and people of good faith outside of the region, have a role to play in keeping or making peace.

Clinton said regarding strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel:

When it comes to a region full of uncertainty, upheaval, revolution, this much is constant and clear: America and Israel are in it together. This is a friendship that comes naturally to us. Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime. We share bedrock beliefs in freedom, equality, democracy, and the right to live without fear. What threatens Israel threatens America, and what strengthens Israel strengthens us. Our two governments maintain not just the formal U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue, but a daily dialogue, sometimes an hourly dialogue, at every level.

In a season of tight budgets, U.S. assistance to Israel is at a record high. And over the past few weeks, I have heard from Israelis the gratitude they felt when, after hearing the sirens, they saw a second rocket launch, and knew that was Iron Dome, making them safer. America has helped keep Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge as strong as ever. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has described our security cooperation and overall partnership with Israel as ‘unprecedented.’

Clinton said regarding the effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran:

We see Iran bringing repression to Syria. We see Iran brutalizing their own people. So a nuclear Iran is not simply a threat to Israel. It is a threat to all nations and risks opening the floodgates on nuclear proliferation around the world. When it comes to Iran’s nuclear threat, the United States does not have a policy of containment. We have a policy of prevention, built on the dual tracks of pressure and engagement, while keeping all options on the table.

The United States is ratcheting up the pressure to sharpen the choices facing Iran’s leadership. We’ve had our own sanctions in place for many years. But we never had a coalition like the one we have built over the last four years. We convinced all 27 nations of the European Union to stop importing Iranian oil and all 20 major global importers of Iranian oil – including Japan, India, China, and Turkey – to make significant cuts. Iran today exports more than one million fewer barrels of crude each day than it did just last year. Iran’s currency is worth less than half of what it was last November. The pressure is real and it is growing.

Clinton said regarding the pursuit of peace:

We have to convince Palestinians that direct negotiations with Israel represent not just the best but the only path to the independent state they deserve. America supports the goal of a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with Israel. But this week’s vote at the UN won’t bring Palestinians any closer to that goal. It may bring new challenges to the United Nations system and for Israel.

But this week’s vote should give all of us pause. All sides need to consider carefully the path ahead. Palestinian leaders need to ask themselves what unilateral action can really accomplish for their people. President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week. We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance.

Clinton said regarding her connection to Israel:

Protecting Israel’s future is not simply a question of policy for me, it’s personal. I’ve talked with some of you I’ve know for a while about the first trip Bill and I took to Israel so many years ago, shortly after our daughter was born. And I have seen the great accomplishments, the pride of the desert blooming and the start-ups springing up. I’ve held hands with the victims of terrorism in their hospital rooms, visited a bombed-out pizzeria in Jerusalem, walked along the fence near Gilo. And I know with all my heart how important it is that our relationship go from strength to strength.

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.

Cease Fire in Israel: Something to give thanks for on Thanksgiving

Ceasefire reached
Operation Pillar of Defense Ended on It’s Eighth Day

— The Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia

As Operation Pillar of Defense — a military operation to defend Israel’s 4.5 million citizens who are under rocket fire from the Hamas terrorist organization — enters its eighth day, attacks on Israeli towns and communities continue.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces ceasefire to come into effect at 9 pm.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with US President Barack Obama and acceded to his recommendation to give the Egyptian ceasefire proposal a chance to stabilize and calm the situation before there is a need to use greater force.

The Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation to the President for his support of Israel during the operation and for his contribution to the Iron Dome system. The Prime Minister reiterated that Israel would take all necessary steps to defend its citizens.

Earlier today (Nov 21) a city bus was bombed in Tel-Aviv, injuring dozens of people. This horrific attack came at the height of international efforts to reach a cease-fire.

Since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14th more than 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israel.

Most of these rockets landed in the south and the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system was effective at intercepting these rockets. Currently, Iron Dome has prevented over 400 rockets from striking populated areas in Israel.

Throughout Operation Pillar of Defense Israel continued to supply nearly 62% of Gaza’s electricity and kept humanitarian aid arriving to Gaza. After the cease fire Israel will ensure that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains stable.

On the other hand, the terrorist organization Hamas has targeted Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Israel has gone to great lengths to minimize harm to the residents of Gaza and regrets any injury bestowed upon them.

Despite the near constant rocket attacks and now — unfortunately — bus bombings, life goes on for most Israelis. Israel’s economy remains strong with most businesses and financial markets operating as normal. Thanks to the great support Israel received, its citizen’s remained resilient and strong.

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.

 

Readout of President’s Call with Israeli Prime Minister

— by David Streeter

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke today as part of their regular consultations, and to follow up on Secretary Clinton’s meeting with the Prime Minister.  The two leaders discussed a range of security issues, and the President reaffirmed his and our country’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.  The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  The Prime Minister welcomed President Obama’s commitment before the United Nations General Assembly to do what we must to achieve that goal.  The two leaders took note of the close cooperation and coordination between the Governments of the United States and Israel regarding the threat posed by Iran – its nuclear program, proliferation, and support for terrorism – and agreed to continue their regular consultations on this issue going forward.

Official White House Photo of Obama speaking with Netanyahu. (Pete Souza)

Rabbis Bless Republican & Democratic National Conventions

Rabbis offered benedictions at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Last night Rabbi David Wolpe offered the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention, capping a night on the heels of the keynote speech by President Bill Clinton and the roll call vote which officially renominated President Barack Obama.

Rabbi David J. Wolpe is the spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles and a Philadelphia native. He teaches modern Jewish religious thought at UCLA. He was a graduate of the Akiba Hebrew Academy’s class of 1976.

Jewish day school does more than educate. It helps shape character. Its influence reaches far beyond the years we spend at school. I am glad and grateful for my knowledge, pride and passion for Jewish life and that is my legacy from Akiba Hebrew Academy, now Barrack.

Rabbi Wolpe is the author of such books as Why Faith Matters, Why Be Jewish?, Healer of Shattered Hearts and the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. He was named #1 Pulpit Rabbi in the U.S. by Newsweek magazine, and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including The Jewish Week, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, and Beliefnet.com. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning and has been featured on the History Channel’s Mysteries of the Bible.

Last week, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik offered the benediction at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Rabbi Soloveichik is the associate rabbi at Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, New York. His colleage, KJ’s spirtual leader, Rabbi Haskal Lookstein, is according to Mondoweiss “a sometime Obama ally. He [Rabbi Lookstein] delivered a prayer at the National Cathedral at the Obama Inaugural Run-up, and took heat from other Orthodox Jews for setting foot in a church. He attended the Rabin funeral with Bill Clinton. But Lookstein lately met with Obama and slammed him afterward.”

Hillary Clinton Speaks To The Press In Jerusalem

David Citadel Hotel, Jerusalem

White House Video

Video of Clinton’s press conference available at
Department of State website.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:  Well, good evening, everyone.  I’m sorry to keep you so late, but it’s been a very busy and active, productive day here in Jerusalem.  I’m happy to be back in Israel and happy to be consulting very broadly with my colleagues and counterparts.

I know that there are a lot of issues that are of concern to both of us right now, but let me start by stating the obvious.  Israel is a nation that shares a special bond with the United States.  We are friends; we are allies.  And more than that, Israel holds great personal significance for many Americans, including myself.  I’ve been coming to Israel for more than 30 years.  I count not only many friends, but many memories from those trips.

So being here today to reiterate our commitment to Israel’s security, our investment in Israel’s long-term future, making it clear that we are connected on a deep level of shared values, and that we are determined to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of this time.

Israel and the United States cooperate every single day at the highest level and across many dimensions.  We saw that this week with the U.S.- Israel Strategic Dialogue, chaired by Deputy Secretary Bill Burns; Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor’s in-depth strategic consultations; Secretary of Defense Panetta will be here later this month; and of course, my visit today.

I had a chance to cover a range of foreign policy issues with President Peres, Foreign Minister Lieberman, Defense Minister Barak, and of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his office and cabinet.

Let me start with Egypt.  This weekend, I traveled to Cairo.  I met with the new President, a number of other key stakeholders, as well as Field Marshal Tantawi.  My message in public and in private was the same:  The United States and the international community look to the new leaders of Egypt to play a constructive role in advancing regional peace and security, in particular by upholding their international agreements, including the peace treaty with Israel.  It’s obvious that both Israel and Egypt, along with the region and indeed the world, all share a strong interest and commitment to this treaty which has served as a backbone for regional stability for more than three decades.

We also discussed our commitment to bring about a comprehensive regional peace in the Middle East, peace among Israel, the Palestinian people, and Israel’s Arab neighbors. I’ve spoken many times about the forces of demography, technology, and ideology because I believe all three call for an urgent negotiated solution.  And I’ve also been clear that it is only through negotiation, not through international venues or unilateral acts, that peace can be and will be secured.  This is a point I also repeated in my meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad this afternoon and President Abbas last week in Paris and Israel’s leaders today.

We all spoke about how to build on the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to get negotiations going because we know the status quo is unsustainable.  The proof is in the security threats Israel faces – rocket attacks, terrorist threats, challenges in Gaza and on your borders.  And so our goal remains an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a secure Jewish democratic state of Israel.

As we proceed, we must keep supporting the Palestinian Authority as they work to provide security and economic growth to their people.  And in my excellent meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad today, he briefed me on the challenges the Palestinian Authority faces, and we discussed how the United States and the international community can help support them.

Another focus of today’s conversations was our joint efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  As President Obama has said, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Because of our work to rally the international community, Iran is under greater pressure now than ever before.  That pressure will continue and increase so long as Iran fails to meet its international obligations.  We all prefer a diplomatic resolution and Iran’s leaders still have the opportunity to make the right decision.  The choice is ultimately Iran’s.  Our own choice is clear:  We will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Finally, I spoke today about the historic changes sweeping the region and their implications for the stability and prosperity of Israel and her neighbors.  We consulted on the alarming events in Syria, which raise deep concerns for every country in this region and for the international community.  And more broadly, at this time of change and transformation, we discussed what Israel can do and what we can do together to support regional security and progress.

All my conversations today started from a simple premise:  America’s commitment to Israel is rock-solid; by strengthening Israel’s security, we strengthen America’s security.  We are two democracies working together to ensure that our people can live without fear and with dignity and opportunity so that men and women, boys and girls, Israelis, Americans, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, people across the region, can fulfill their own God-given potential.

So once again, I appreciate being here.  I am only sorry that I have to leave.  My traveling team is anxious to get home.  I’d like to be hanging out in Jerusalem, but I have to do my duty.  So I thank the people of Israel for their friendship with the people of the United States.  And with that, I’d be happy to take some questions.

Q&A follows the jump.
SPOKESPERSON MS. VICTORIA NULAND:  Okay.  For this evening, we’ll start with AP.  Brad Klapper, please.

QUESTION:  Yes, Madam Secretary.  In the three years since the Obama Administration made Arab-Israeli peace a top priority, there has been no progress.  To what do you attribute this failure?  And if you could do it all over again, would the Obama Administration do anything differently – maybe on the issue of settlements?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Brad, I’m looking forward because I think that’s where the future lies and where any potential agreements and solutions are waiting for us.  As I said, we remain focused on the resumption of direct negotiations, since we believe that is the only route to a lasting, stable peace.  My message to both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas was the same, namely that the international community can help – the United States, the Quartet, we stand ready to do so to help support an environment for talks, but it’s up to the parties to do the hard work for peace.

And to those who say the timing isn’t right, the other side has to move first, or the trust just isn’t there, I say peace won’t wait and the responsibility falls on all of us to keep pressing forward.  So the United States will keep showing up, as we have for many years now.  We’ll keep pushing our friends to do what they can to move the agenda forward.  And we will do everything possible to try to see this vision of peace between Israel and the Palestinians realized.

MS. NULAND:  Next question (inaudible) Channel 2, please.

QUESTION:  Madam Secretary, you said that you were very coordinated with Israel.  After your visit here in Israel, what are the chances that Israel will attack Iran eventually?  What is your assumption?  

On the matter of Jonathan Pollard, we’ve been here for a long time.  Don’t you think it’s a matter of justice and even a humanitarian issue that after almost 27 years in jail he should be released?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first with respect to Iran, my discussions today are part of a very long, in-depth, ongoing consultation.  We always compare notes on Iran, and today’s consultations were particularly timely because our two-track policy of diplomacy and pressure is in full mood here – move here, because the P-5+1 talks, with the imposition of even tougher sanctions.  We know the sanctions are biting.  Israel and the United States agree on that.

And we talked about concrete steps that we can take to continue to build the pressure.  And as to the diplomatic track, I made very, very clear that the proposals we have seen from Iran thus far within the P-5+1 negotiations are nonstarters.  Despite three rounds of talks, it appears that Iran has yet to make a strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns and fulfill their obligations under the IAEA and the UN Security Council.

So we are pressing forward in close consultation with Israel.  I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of these efforts.  I think that it’s absolutely fair to say we are on the same page at this moment trying to figure our way forward to have the maximum impact on affecting the decisions that Iran makes.

With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was, as you know, convicted of spying in 1987.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  He is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectation that that is going to change.

MS. NULAND:  Next question, AFP Jo Biddle, please.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Madam Secretary, in four days the UN’s mandate to Syria will expire.  Despite numerous diplomatic efforts, there still seems to be very sharp divisions about coming up with a new resolution.  Even today, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accused Western nations of black – or trying to blackmail Russia into getting behind a new resolution.  What is your response to his comments?  And how concerned are you that in fact diplomatic efforts at the United Nations will fail and the Syrian people will just be left to their own fate?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, as you know, we are working very hard in New York in the Security Council to obtain a Chapter 7 resolution with consequences.  Kofi Annan is in Moscow today and tomorrow to talk with President Putin and Russian officials to make the case directly to them regarding the importance of having such a UN Security Council resolution.

I spoke with UN Special Envoy Annan yesterday before he left for Moscow, made it clear that there had to be consequences.  He has said that.  We agree with that completely.  So we’re going to continue to press forward in the Security Council.  We’re going to continue to press the Russians because that is an important part of reaching a resolution in the Security Council.

But it is worrisome that the violence is increasing, that it is more prevalent in Damascus and the suburbs.  I believe – and I’ve said it before and obviously I can’t put a timeline on it – that this regime cannot survive.  I just wish that it would move out of the way sooner instead of later so that more lives could be saved and we could have the chance to achieve the kind of democratic transition that we all, including Russia, agreed to in our meeting in Geneva a few weeks ago.

MS. NULAND:  And last question before we go home, (inaudible) from (inaudible), please.

QUESTION:  Madam Secretary, two questions, if I may.  It comes from Egypt (inaudible).  And you were attacked there by protests and (inaudible).  Were you offended by the behavior of the new democratic Egypt, Egyptians?

And the other question is, were there – President Morsi said yes to the proposal to meet (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first of all, I have been around longer than I care to remember, and protests are not a uniquely Egyptian phenomenon.  I have some experience with

my own country and other vibrant societies like Israel and elsewhere where protests are part of the fabric of a democracy.

So in one way, seeing people express themselves, even though their assumptions and conclusions were absolutely wrong, is a sign of that freer environment that Egypt now enjoys.  It is also evidence that the Egyptian people are still concerned about the future.  They’re not yet sure what is the path forward.  They have an elected president.  They don’t have a parliament that is yet confirmed.  They don’t have a constitution.  They don’t have a government.  So I think it’s understandable that there are many unanswered questions and lots of anxiety about what may or may not be happening.

So the sooner that there can be a government that takes responsibility, whose actions can be judged and held accountable, then people will be able to draw decisions, because words don’t mean as much as action.  And therefore, I was not offended.  I was relieved that nobody was hurt, and I felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted.  But other than that, it was not particularly bothersome.

With respect to your second question, there is a – that is something that is up to the two leaders to determine for themselves.  I would only add that the amount of work ahead of this new Egyptian Government would be daunting for the most experienced political leaders.  The economy is in desperate need of reform.  The political system is a work in progress, a long way from being finalized.  There are serious fissures within society that have to be addressed.  As I said last night in Alexandria, the real evidence as to what a democracy in Egypt means is not the holding of an election.  It is whether the leaders who are elected respect the rights of all Egyptians, protect the rights of minorities, further the rights of women, have a view that the rule of law must be faithfully implemented, protect the independence of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and so much else, because we’ve been at the work of our democracy more than 236 years.  This is hard work, as Israel knows very well, every day.  It’s not just leaders who have to work at it; citizens have to work at it.  And never in the 5,000-year history of Egypt have they ever had this opportunity or challenge.

So we’re going to be watching.  We’re going to be doing what we can to make clear what we believe the principles and values of a democracy have to be, and we will be working with those who we believe want to ensure the kind of future for Egypt that will truly benefit the Egyptian people, one and all.

Thank you very much.