By CNN Political Unit
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made explicit the administration's renewed attempts to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Palestine Saturday as the United States begins to assume a more muscular role in talks.
At the Brookings Institution's annual Saban Forum on Middle East issues and U.S.-Israeli relations, Obama and Kerry each spoke about a budding interim deal that would work towards a two-state solution.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
The United States and Israel are "absolutely in sync" about the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.
Talk of Iran's nuclear program took center stage in close to nine hours of talks Thursday and Friday between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry met with Netanyahu for the first time since the U.S. and five other world powers reached a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
His talks aimed to convince the Israeli leader to move beyond the "first step" deal and work on a comprehensive agreement that addresses all of Israel's concerns about Iran's program.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
Jerusalem (CNN) - John Kerry’s ninth trip to Israel since becoming secretary of state could be among the most difficult.
He needs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s buy-in for the two issues U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the centerpiece of his second term foreign policy – Iran and Middle East peace.
But at a time when the Israeli leader’s confidence in the United States is shaken over the Iran deal, his trust in the administration as broker of a peace deal with the Palestinians may waver.
By Dan Merica
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday that if Israel were to strike Iran in an effort to damage the country's nuclear program, the United States would meet "some defined obligations" it has to the Middle East nation.
"I feel like we have a deep obligation to Israel," the military leader said. "That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them."
This fall, diplomats from the United States and other interested countries have met to deal with Iran's nuclear program and ways in which advancements could be halted.
By Jamie Crawford
Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will not let up its pressure on Iran over its disputed nuclear program despite recent diplomatic overtures between the two countries.
"We will pursue a diplomatic initiative with eyes wide open," Kerry said in Rome during a meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "aware it will be vital for Iran to live up to those standards other nations that have nuclear programs live up to as they prove those programs are indeed peaceful."
Despite a softening of rhetoric on some fronts by the regime in Tehran, there have been fears by other countries in the region that the United States might be too quick to offer incentives to Iran in the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the group known as the P5+1, which includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.
Netanyahu, who has said Iran's nuclear program poses an existential threat to Israel, was cautious in his assessment of the current state of play.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is clear eyed about the recent rhetoric from Iran’s leaders and dismissed the perception from the Israeli government that the U.S. is being duped.
“I didn't interpret Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments as that we are being played somehow, I understood it to be a warning that don’t be played,” Kerry told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.
At an address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes - the wool over the eyes of the international community,” and was not sincere about negotiating over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
“I can assure the Prime Minister there is nothing here that is going to be taken at face value,” Kerry said. “The president has said and I have said it is not words that will make a difference and the actions are going to have to be sufficient that not only will they not be able to get a weapon, there's no ability to suddenly break out and achieve that.”
By Jim Clancy and Tim Lister
The revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) allows Israel to see raw intelligence data it gathers has angered privacy and civil liberties activists, but surprised few security analysts.
The agreement was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has provided the newspaper with reams of classified information.
An undated Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel sets out the ground-rules by which the NSA 'routinely' provides raw intelligence data to the Israelis. It defines raw ‘Sigint’ as including “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."
The Memorandum includes provisions designed to protect the privacy of Americans whose data might be shared with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU). It opens with a preamble that the sharing of information must be “consistent with the requirements placed upon NSA by US law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of US persons under the Fourth Amendment” of the US Constitution guaranteeing individual privacy.
By Elise Labott
CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter
An Israeli web site only has one question: Has the attack happened yet? The one-word answer: No. The joke in Israel is that everyone keeps turning to the site, which has more than 17,000 likes on Facebook, to see if the answer has changed to "yes."
An Israeli dental clinic has also gotten into the game with a full-page ad for dental implants. Under a picture of President Obama, the question: "Got teeth?"
As it tries to build international support for action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its alleged chemical attack, the Obama administration must confront an increasing lack of confidence among its allies. While billed as an effort to strengthen U.S. resolve, diplomats say President Barack Obama's decision to seek authorization from Congress is playing out as weakness in a region concerned that Obama would show similar indecisiveness if faced with a nuclear Iran.
By Jill Dougherty
As Secretary of State John Kerry embraced Israeli Justice Minister Tsipi Livini and warmly shook hands with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat at the State Department on Tuesday there was a deja-vu moment.
A flashback to September 1993 when President Bill Clinton embraced Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat on the South Lawn of the White House.
This is just the beginning of a revived peace process that could easily crumble, as Clinton’s Oslo accords did and Kerry admitted: “I know the path is difficult. There is no shortage of passionate skeptics.”
The secretary of state, however, did succeed in getting two representatives together at the State Department to work out details of where this new push for peace is headed.
By Tom Cohen
Secretary of State John Kerry got the money shot he wanted on Tuesday - the chief negotiators for Israel and the Palestinians framed by his lanky embrace as they shook hands to launch "sustained, continuous and substantive" talks on a long-sought Middle East peace treaty.
Now the question is whether the negotiations expected to last nine months will bring an even more historic image, with President Barack Obama bringing together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to sign a final-status agreement that creates a sovereign Palestinian state in what is now part of Israel.
The Middle East dispute, perhaps the world's most intractable in the past six decades, entered a new phase with Kerry's announcement that the first direct talks in three years would proceed in earnest in the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian territories.
Flanked by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, Kerry said "all core issues" toward achieving a two-state solution would be on the table.FULL STORY