Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bye Bye Mr. Pharaoh Goodbye

Reversing policy of first term, Obama says no preconditions to talksSpeaking in Ramallah, the US president says sides must stop arguing about how to start negotiations

US President Barack Obama told Palestinians on Thursday that he does not support preconditions to peace negotiations, a reversal of a policy that helped deadlock peace talks during his first administration.
Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Obama indicated that Palestinians could not expect an Israeli settlement freeze ahead of talks. He said Israeli politics were “complex,” and that this is “not an issue that will be solved overnight.”
If issues were made into preconditions to negotiations, he said, there was “no point in negotiations.”
Obama began his first term in office with a demand that Israel halt settlement construction to enable talks, a demand which the Palestinians adopted. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a partial freeze, the Palestinians said it was insufficient and refused to negotiate. US-Israel ties deteriorated over the issue, and talks have been stuck since then.
This visit appears to mark a major adjustment in Obama’s policy toward Israel. Beginning with broad smiles aimed at Netanyahu and repeated use of the Israeli prime minister’s nickname, Bibi, and continuing with references to historic Jewish ties to the land, it is seen here as a charm offensive aimed at repairing the cold ties of Obama’s first term. Among Israelis, it seems to be working. Coverage of the president has been intense and adulatory.
The warmth visible in his meetings with Israelis, however, was not evident in Ramallah on Thursday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking next to Obama, opened by criticizing Israeli actions, and followed Obama’s statement by saying that the world recognizes that Israeli settlements are illegal and that many Palestinians “do not trust the two-state solution anymore” as a result.
“Peace should not be made through violence, occupation, settlements, arrests, siege,” and the denial of the rights of refugees, Abbas said. 
Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti, speaking afterward to the BBC, criticized Obama for saying a settlement freeze is not a precondition for talks.
Barghouti said there should be an “immediate freeze of this cancer that is eating the two-state solution.” He also said the current Israeli government is the “most racist and most extreme in the history of Israel.”
But the demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition appears no longer to have US backing. In his statement, Obama said a solution to other core issues would also solve the question of settlements.
“If we can get direct negotiations started again, I believe the shape of a potential deal is there,” he said.
He also said he has “been clear” with Netanyahu that US policy has long been that settlement activity is not “constructive” or “appropriate,” or “something that can advance the cause of peace.”
In other comments in Ramallah, Obama said young Palestinians and Israelis remind him of his daughters.
“There was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunites in their own country as someone else’s daughters,” he said, suggesting that if change can happen in the US, it can happen here too.
Obama said the US wants an ”independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish state of Israel.” Palestinians, he said, deserve an end to occupation and the indignities that come with it, and deserve freedom of movement.
“Put simply,” he says, “Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”
He reminded listeners that the US is the Palestinians’ biggest donor, and blamed Hamas for “misery” in Gaza. The situation there, he said, came about “because Hamas refuses to renounce violence… because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down than building Palestine up.”
Obama also condemned the rocket fire from Gaza early Thursday, saying it was a “violation that Hamas had a responsibility to prevent.”

Kerry's Offer: You Release Terrorists, They'll Renew Talks Report: Kerry plans to offer an outline for Israeli-PA peace talks and will ask Israel to release terrorists as part of it.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Prime MinisterBinyamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, after earlier discussing ways to push a new peace plan with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. and Israeli sources said.
A radio report said Netanyahu and Kerry had a first round of private talks and were then joined by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu's personal envoy Yitzhak Molcho and his national security adviser Yaakov Amidror.
Channel 10 News reported that Kerry is planning on offering Israel and the PA an outline which would see Israel releasing terrorists from its prisons and transferring areas from Area B, which is under joint PA-Israeli control under the Oslo Accords, to Area A which is under full PA control.
Kerry’s outline would have the PA undertaking a return to the negotiating table and promising not to file lawsuits against Israel with the International Criminal Court.
Earlier on Saturday, Kerry met Abbas in the Jordanian capital, reported AFP.
"Kerry and Abbas discussed possible steps to revive a new political process for peace," the PA’s ambassador in Amman Attallah Kheiry told AFP.
"Abbas stressed that Israeli settlements endanger the peace process and that Israel should free Palestinian prisoners."
Kerry accompanied President Barack Obama on a four-day visit to the region, during which the two met top Israeli and PA leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During his visit Obama did not bring to a visible breakthrough in the impasse in the peace talks.
Kerry will be Obama's new pointman on the Middle East, as part of the renewed U.S. efforts to push the sides back to negotiations.
Abbas has continuously imposed preconditions on peace talks and has demanded that Israel freeze Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. When Israel froze construction for a ten-month period in 2010, however, he refused to come to the table.
One unverified report in Israel on Saturday claimed that Obama and Netanyahu had reached an agreement on a “silent construction freeze,” in which Israel would not promote any new construction plans but would not officially announce that there is a freeze.

An apology to Prime Minister Erdogan

This apology to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was passed around by email this morning:

An open letter to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister of Turkey

Dear Mister Prime Minister:

    On behalf of all of the people of Israel, I would like to apologize to you for the cowardice and fathomless idiocy of the Prime Minister of Israel.  As you know, this weekend Benjamin Netanyahu sent you an "apology" for Israel having defended itself against the genocidal terrorists who attacked Israeli soldiers armed only with paintguns when they boarded the terrorist "flotilla" ship that you sent out to challenge Israel's naval blockade of the Hamas enclave in Gaza.   Netanyahu spoke only for himself when he apologized to you for Israel's defending itself and its people, this two generations after the Holocaust.  He does not represent anyone at all in the country when it comes to this "apology."   No one else in the country, except for some anti-Israel radical leftists with tenure at the universities, agrees that Israel owes you an apology for defending its people.

     Actually, on behalf of all REAL Israelis, I would like to apologize to you for the fact that ONLY nine terrorists were killed by Israeli troops on the flotilla ship when Israeli soldiers were savagely attacked by Turkish and other terrorists.  I would like to apologize for the fact that Israeli did NOT torpedo and sink the terrorist ships trying to break the blockade and bring in aid to the Hamas Nazis.  I would like to apologize for the fact that Israel has a Prime Minister who is so clueless, insensitive, and divorced from Jewish history that he would consider buying a  few moments of diplomat calm with a Moslem aggressor by shaming his entire country with an "apology" to Turkey, exhibiting one of the most disgraceful acts by a Jew in all of history, and all this just hours before the Jewish holiday of national liberation, Passover.

     Beyond that, I really do think that Israel owes an apology for NOT having done much more to draw the world's attention to the illegal occupation and destruction by Turkey of the jewel of Cyprus, the city of Famagusta.  Israel sat by while Turkey conquered 40% of Cyprus and transferred tens of thousands of its own people as illegal settlers to the island.  And for that I apologize.  And since you have spent so much time in recent years denouncing Israel as an occupier, I think Israel owes an apology to the world for not helping to end the illegal Turkish occupation of the great ancient Greek capital of Constantinople, now under an illegal Saracen occupation that has continued for far too long.  It is high time that Constantinople be returned to its true heritage and its legal owners, the Greek people. It is less than a hundred years since the city, along with Smyrna and other Greek homelands, was almost liberated by the Greeks, who were only to be blocked by the Turkish military aggressors, the mass murderers of the Armenians.

    So Mister Prime Minister, as you see, I am afraid that Israelis DO owe the world quite a few apologies.

    On behalf of the non-pusillanimous citizens of Israel, I remain

Most sincerely yours,
Prof. Steven Plaut

Obama fools some Israelis

According to a poll taken just after he left, at least some Israelis were fooled by President Obama's visit. 
The symbolic aspects, including his outreach to Israelis, seemed to have already reaped benefits: a Channel 2survey found that 39% of the public said that their perceptions of Obama improved or improved greatly as a result of the visit; 34% said the visit did not change their perceptions; and only 2% said that their feelings toward the US president became more negative.
Regarding Israeli confidence that the US will not allow Iran to get nuclear arms, some 58% of the public said they believe or believe strongly that Obama will not let Iran to go nuclear, while 38% did not believe he will keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Yeah, right....

US Secretary of State John FN Kerry remains in Israel to try to find common ground to restart 'peace talks' with the 'Palestinians,' meeting with Netanyahu and his 'minister in charge of negotiations' Tzipi Livni.... What could go wrong?

"Parade Paradin" - The Great Parade Promo Video - 5773

Sunday, April 28, 2013 
770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY

NCFJE invites Jewish people from around the country to star in the greatest Jewish parade of its kind — anywhere.

What makes The Great Parade truly, incomparably great?

The full-day celebration—parade and fair—is themed on Jewish unity and pride, leaving each participant uplifted and feeling proud of who they are. The Great Parade is based on the legacy of Mesibos Shabbos and Lag B'Omer parades held on Eastern Parkway since the 1940s. 

As the Jewish population in America spreads out, let us celebrate the life and learning of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Akiva and the great Jewish men and women who brought new joy and unity to Am Yisroel!

For Palestinians, Obama’s visit was more bitter than sweetWidely seen in the West Bank to have clearly favored Israel over the Palestinians on his three-day visit, Obama may have undermined his own peace mission

If one were to ask the average Palestinian whether he would have preferred US President Barack Obama not come to the region at all, the answer would most likely be yes.
For Palestinians, Obama’s three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories was not merely disappointing, it bordered on offensive.
Diplomatically, the Palestinian gambit was for the international community to exert pressure on Israel to resume negotiations after having frozen building in the settlements, recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, and freeing pre-Oslo prisoners languishing in Israeli jails. A clear timetable for the final outcome of negotiations would also have been nice.
But Obama offered the exact opposite. Backtracking on the settlement-freeze policy of his first term, the American president told the press in Ramallah that it would be unrealistic for Palestinians to expect an Israeli settlement freeze as a precondition for negotiations.
‘Obama reminds us of uncle Tom from the famous American novel, that ‘negro’ servant who erases his humanity and dignity before his white master,’ wrote Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan
Another point of contention was the Israeli demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish” state. Here too Obama came down on the side of Israel.
“I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own,” Obama stated in his keynote Jerusalem speech. A day earlier, in his opening remarks at Ben-Gurion Airport, Obama referred to Israel as “the historic homeland of the Jewish people” dating back 3,000 years.
On the substantial issues, therefore, Obama left the Palestinians with nothing.
It was little surprise, then, that the only heckler at Obama’s Jerusalem speech was Rabia Id, an Arab Israeli student from the northern town of Eilaboun, who decided to evoke the memory of pro-Palestinian American activist Rachel Corrie, killed (accidentally, an Israeli court ruled) in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah, just as the president was speaking of the unbreakable bonds between the two countries.
“This was my only way to make my voice heard and convey the message he needed to hear, not just the message he gets from the Israeli side,” Id later told the Israeli news site Ynet.
As for Obama, he was unscathed by the heckling. “This is part of the lively debate that we talked about,” he retorted instantly, scoring another point. “This is good.”
For the Palestinians, the president’s itinerary said it all. Iron Dome, private music concerts, high-tech and innovation, the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl. On the Palestinian side, the only cultural stop was the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem — a visit that lasted less than half-an-hour and was followed by no public statements. Even that little was a bone thrown to the Christians, not the Muslims.
They say parents can’t play favorites, but that’s what the lanky dad from Washington did with his two feuding children. Just like his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it was widely noted in Ramallah, he spent most of his time here speaking to the Israelis about the Palestinians. Following his resonant 2009 Cairo speech, many Palestinians thought Obama was something else, making the disappointment this time all the more poignant.
“We were mistaken to expect the man to be different, given his skin color and the fact that he belongs to a group which suffered centuries of oppression,” wrote Palestinian publicist Abdel Bari Atwan, the frequently outspoken editor of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi, on Friday.
“We thought he would be more understanding of our suffering as Palestinians under the racist Israeli occupation. But he disappointed us, reminding us of uncle Tom from the famous American novel, that ‘negro’ servant who erases his humanity and dignity before his white master.
“I have never in my life witnessed a president who so flattered the Israelis and begged for their satisfaction, singing praise for their achievements and history,” wrote Atwan with typical hyperbole.
They say parents can’t play favorites, but that’s plainly what the lanky dad from Washington did with his two feuding children
Truth be told, the Palestinians had set themselves up for this disappointment. Obama’s optimistic vision that this bloody conflict could somehow breed a win-win outcome, a vision so quintessentially American, is foreign to most Palestinians.
Viewed rather as a zero-sum game where one side’s gain is the other’s loss, the Palestinians are increasingly regarding themselves as the losers. Such desperation may not bode well for the future.
A group of Israeli journalists covering the Palestinian beat were listening together Thursday to the superlatives piled on Israel by Obama during parts of his Jerusalem speech. “There he goes, knocking the nails into the coffin of the PA,” one of them remarked bitterly. The fact that Obama went on to challenge Israelis to internalize their strength and achievements and have the guts to push their leaders to take risks for peace, was seen by many of these reporters as unlikely to resonate widely among the Palestinians.
Unintentionally, in striving with such success to “reset” his relationship with Israelis, Obama may have undermined the mission of peace he came to advance. By so flaunting his solidarity for Israel, he may have further weakened the legitimacy of the relatively American-oriented West Bank Palestinian leadership in the eyes of its people.
“The visit divided the city [of Ramallah] in two,” claimed a video report produced Thursday by the al-Quds daily. “The fortified city of the Muqata’a [the presidential compound], and Ramallah, which turned its face away from the guest.”    

Obama in Israel: The defining words and picturesKey images and events from a whirlwind presidential exercise in rehabilitation and inspiration

President Barack Obama’s Wednesday-to-Friday visit to Israel was a meticulously choreographed exercise in rehabilitation and inspiration.
On the first, he seems to have succeeded: Not particularly well-liked, and somewhat mistrusted by many Israelis before he arrived, he “won us over,” Yedioth Ahronoth was declaring by Thursday morning. “We’re a pushover,” Channel 2′s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal echoed later that day. Twenty-four hours of presidential radiance, Segal sighed with a mixture of dismay and admiration, and Israel was captivated.
On the second, time will tell. The landmark address of his visit, to a packed Jerusalem International Conference Center, was ultimately designed to move Israelis politically. Though never so blatant as to make this explicit, the address was a direct challenge to the bleak vision and assessments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the Israeli leader he opted not to meet as recently as last September in the US; “my friend Bibi,” as Obama has now taken to calling him. It was a speech, indeed, inspired in good part by Yitzhak Rabin, as the president acknowledged Friday to Rabin’s family at the assassinated prime minister’s grave on Mount Herzl.
Where Netanyahu tells his people of dire threats and profound challenges, from Iran, Syria, Palestinian rejectionists and the rest of a hostile region, Obama assured Israel that, with America at its side, it could overcome those dangers, and dared us to dream of a better Israel, beloved internationally, beyond moral reproach, prosperous and tranquil. And why not sign up for the possibility of that miraculous transformation, and push your leaders to achieve it, he implored young Israelis? Isn’t this the country where, as he recalled our first prime minister David Ben-Gurion declaring, “in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles”?
Plainly, in a certain reversal of the political hierarchy, Obama was the warm-up act for his new secretary of state, John Kerry. The president, it turns out, ignored his mother’s advice. He didn’t just listen. He talked. But it is Kerry who will now attempt to act — to again try to chivvy Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table, with no preconditions this time, and try to help Israelis break down wider regional hostility. Back in Washington, Obama will doubtless continue to radiate empathy, solidarity, support, encouragement — and, when deemed necessary, utilize some political pressure too. Perhaps he will henceforth also battle more tenaciously to change Arab perceptions, and influence Arab actions for the better, where Israel is concerned. This, too, would seem to be a prerequisite for the transformation he seeks to inspire.
Will Netanyahu — so warmly hugged at the airport farewell, after all that extra one-on-one time earlier in the day — embrace the Obama vision, fight it, be swept aside by it, prevail over it? Will Arab intransigence shatter it? Can Israelis, should Israelis, attempt to break themselves clear of the fears, wariness and skepticism that were raised by the horrors of the second intifada, and that are continually reinforced by the abiding viciousness of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other enemies throughout the region? We are about to find out.
In the meantime, here are some of the key words and pictures from a remarkable 52-hour bid, by the leader of the free world, to prod our tiny, embattled, mighty, creative, energetic and divided Israel toward his vision of our future.

Wednesday, March 20

The airport welcome
From Obama’s speech: Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel?… We stand together because we share a common story — patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies. We stand together because we are democracies. For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man…
We stand together because it makes us more prosperous. Our trade and investment create jobs for both our peoples. Our partnerships in science and medicine and health bring us closer to new cures, harness new energy and have helped transform us into high-tech hubs of our global economy. We stand together because we share a commitment to helping our fellow human beings around the world. When the earth shakes and the floods come, our doctors and rescuers reach out to help. When people are suffering, from Africa to Asia, we partner to fight disease and overcome hunger. And we stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land. For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbors.
President to president
Talks with Netanyahu
Netanyahu: Mr. President, you have made it clear that you are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I appreciate your forthright position on this point. I also appreciate that you have noted — that you have acted to thwart the threat both through determined diplomacy and strong sanctions that are getting stronger yet. Notwithstanding our joint efforts and your great success in mobilizing the international community, diplomacy and sanctions so far have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program. And as you know, my view is that in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action. In this regard, Mr. President, I want to thank you once again for always making clear that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat… You appreciate that Israel can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends. And Israel has no better friend than the United States of America.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama end their press conference in Jerusalem on March 20, 2013. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama end their press conference in Jerusalem on March 20, 2013. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Obama: We agree that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world, and potentially an existential threat to Israel. And we agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there’s still time to do so. Iran’s leaders must understand, however, that they have to meet their international obligations. And, meanwhile, the international community will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian government. The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps. And I will repeat: All options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world’s worst weapons.

Thursday, March 21

The Israel Museum
Meeting Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah
US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference in Ramallah, on March 21, 2013. (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90).
US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference in Ramallah, on March 21, 2013. (photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90).
From Obama’s remarks at joint press conference with Abbas: The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope — that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity. Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.
The speech to the people of Israel
US President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
From Obama’s address: Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want – they’re not so different from you. The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.
That is where peace begins – not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people; not just in a carefully designed process, but in the daily connections that take place among those who live together in this land, and in this sacred city of Jerusalem. Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see…
Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward. Look to a future in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land. Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time.
There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be. Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. After all, that is a lesson that the world learned from the Jewish people.
The state dinner

Friday, March 22

Honoring Herzl and Rabin
President Obama meets with members of the family of the assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres look on, at Rabin's grave on Friday, March 22 (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)
President Obama meets with members of the family of the assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres look on, at Rabin’s grave on Friday, March 22 (photo credit: Channel 2 screenshot)
From Matti Friedman’s report: There were hugs, handshakes and laughter with Rabin’s children and grandchildren. Obama spoke to the bereaved about Rabin’s legacy, and the “strength” that is required to push for peace. He said he derived much of the inspiration for his speech yesterday from Rabin, and called him “a great man.”
Dalia Rabin Philosoph, Rabin’s daughter and a former Knesset member, said later that, for her, the most memorable moment was when she and her family were standing in line and saw the US president approaching them… “It was almost a seminal moment for me.”
President Barack Obama, right, with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the grave of Theodor Herzl during Obama's visit to Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Friday, March 22, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, right, with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the grave of Theodor Herzl during Obama’s visit to Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Friday, March 22, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Touring Yad Vashem
Protests ahead of the private presidential visit to Bethlehem
A Palestinian protester shouts at a policeman during a demonstration against President Barack Obama's visit to the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, March 22, 2013. Obama made a pilgrimage on Friday to the traditional birthplace of Jesus, receiving a subdued reception from Palestinians at the end of a Holy Land visit (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
A Palestinian protester shouts at a policeman during a demonstration against President Barack Obama’s visit to the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, March 22, 2013. Obama made a pilgrimage on Friday to the traditional birthplace of Jesus, receiving a subdued reception from Palestinians at the end of a Holy Land visit (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
The airport farewell, with a Turkish kicker
The Prime Minister’s Office issues a statement: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke today with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two men agreed to restore normalization between Israel and Turkey, including the dispatch of ambassadors and the cancellation of legal steps against IDF soldiers. Prime Minister Netanyahu told Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that he had good talks with US President Barack Obama on the issue of regional cooperation and the importance of Israeli-Turkish relations. The Prime Minister expressed regret over the deterioration in bilateral relations and noted his commitment to working out the disagreements in order to advance peace and regional stability…
The Prime Minister made it clear that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted that Israel has already lifted several restrictions on the movement of civilians and goods to all of the Palestinian territories, including Gaza, and added that this will continue as long as the quiet is maintained. The two leaders agreed to continue to work on improving the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.