Sunday, January 4, 2009

U.S. blocks U.N. action on Gaza conflict

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The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week's council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time "would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council."

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, the current council president, announced that there was no agreement among members on a statement. But he said there were "strong convergences" among the 15 members to express serious concern about the deteriorating situation in Gaza and the need for "an immediate, permanent and fully respected cease-fire."

Arab nations demanded that the council adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire following Israel's launch of a ground offensive in Gaza earlier Saturday, a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Libya's U.N. Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi, the only Arab member of the council, said the United States objected to "any outcome" during the closed council discussions on the proposed statement.

He said efforts were made to compromise and agree on a weaker press statement but there was no consensus.

Thousands join march to protest against Israeli action

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By Tracy McVeigh and Ben Quinn

Protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza became heated last night when up to 5,000 people gathered outside the country's London embassy.

A crowd dominated by young British Muslims cheered as Israeli flags were burned and some protesters hurled missiles, including a firework, at police.

Officers sealed off roads around Kensington High Street and armed themselves with riot shields as a small number of angry protesters tried to break down barriers protecting the building.

Older members of the crowd were seen trying to calm the atmosphere, which became increasingly charged as darkness fell and news of the ground invasion began to spread.

The group had broken away from a much larger demonstration earlier in the day when thousands marched through the streets of central London and gathered at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Police said that 12,000 people had taken part in the protest, but the Stop The War Coalition, organisers of the demonstration, said the real figure was six times that at more than 60,000.

Organisers were preparing to make an official complaint to Scotland Yard after claiming that riot police charged into protesters.

Eyewitnesses claimed a number of people, including children, were thrown to the ground during a clash in an underpass at Hyde Park at the end of the demonstration.

Chris Nineham, an official of STWC who has organised dozens of national demonstrations, said: "I have never seen policing as irresponsible as this. People were being crushed inside that tunnel and they were being batoned. It was absolute pandemonium and people were falling over from the force of the police attacks.

"There were people trying to pull their children back and prevent them from being crushed. If anyone had fallen over then it would have been a very, very different story."

Stephen Hodgkins, 38, a community worker from Battersea, said people were petrified inside the tunnel. "We tried sitting down but that didn't seem to work. It was complete panic."

The mood had been more optimistic earlier in the day when speakers addressed the crowds in Trafalgar Square.

"Look at them, it warms my heart," said Tony Benn, president of the STWC, indicating the mass of demonstrators.

Earlier, protesters had thrown more than 1,000 pairs of shoes at the heavily-policed entrance to Downing Street in a mark of solidarity with the Iraqi journalist jailed for making a similar demonstration against US President George W Bush at a press conference.

The London protest was one of 18 that took place across the UK yesterday. There were also rallies in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Athens and several Asian cities.

The protest march at the Israeli embassy in Athens turned violent as demonstrators threw stones and fire bombs at riot police, and officers retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades.

Hundreds of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, with up to 10,000, largely Israeli Arabs, taking to the streets in the northern town of Sakhnin.

In London too, the crowds kept pouring in, a mix of ages, colours, and creeds.

Even a group of Orthodox Jews had braved possible hostility and broken the Sabbath to join the protest alongside anti-war campaigners, Muslim groups and ordinary citizens.

Housing officer Derek Perry, 60, and his sculptor friend Maria Smith, 47, from West Norwood, were nursing cups of coffee in cold hands. "I just wanted to be here," said Perry. "You have to make a stand," said Smith.

A group of young men from Leicester were selling copies of Palestinian football strips. "We're nearly sold out and we brought a good 100 or more - it's all for charity," said a delighted Irshad Patel, 23, bartering furiously.

The podium around Nelson's Column had been barricaded off and speakers lined up to make an address. Peace campaigner Bianca Jagger looked down towards Parliament. "I made my speech too soon; I should have waited for them to arrive," she said.

Singer Annie Lennox was there too. Formerly married to an Israeli, she told the Observer: "This is not about political sides any more, this is a sincere and earnest yearning for peace. One and a half million people are trapped inside Gaza; what will the outcome be of a ground war? The world will never be safe again."

Others found the protest upsetting. Rabbi Dr Sidney Brichto, senior vice-president of Liberal Judaism, a federation of liberal synagogues, said: "The demonstration was easy to organise because most of the demonstrators want more than a ceasefire.

"Most of these people want the end of Israel. Hamas are able to plug into latent anti-semitism in the West. It breaks my heart."

Obama sketches out recovery plan

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By Jeanne Sahadi

President-elect says he wants to double renewable energy production, rebuild roads and schools and cut taxes. Next step: Consulting with Congress.

President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday offered the most detailed statement yet of his economic recovery plan, sketching out broad-based spending proposals and tax incentives aimed at reviving an economy mired in recession.

In his weekly radio and video address describing what he called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, Obama spelled out five main goals. He said his plan proposes to:

  • double renewable energy production and make public buildings more energy efficient;
  • rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and schools;
  • computerize the health care system
  • modernize classrooms, labs and libraries;
  • and provide tax breaks to American workers.

"Economists from across the political spectrum agree that if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, we could see a much deeper economic downturn," Obama said. "That’s why we need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term."

The main goal of his plan: to create 3 million new jobs. Most would come from the private sector, he said.

As Obama prepares to take office on Jan. 20, the country faces a series of severe economic and political challenges.

Nearly 2 million jobs were lost in the first 11 months of 2008 - the final government reading on the employment picture will be released on Friday - and the economy has stagnated. Investors suffered the worst year in stocks since the Great Depression, and foreclosures are rising while housing values are declining at record paces.

Virtually every state is facing a budget shortfall, forcing many to make plans to cut back on critical services and raise taxes.

To that end, Obama’s advisers and lawmakers have said they expect his legislation to provide increased aid to states to pay for Medicaid, as well as a boost to unemployment benefits and food stamps. However, he didn’t mention it in his address on Saturday.

Obama’s video address did not attach an estimated price tag to his proposal, but his advisers have said publicly they expect the size of the spending package to range between $675 billion and $775 billion.

Many economists have called for stimulus spending to approach or even exceed $1 trillion if the government expects to successfully beat back one of the deepest downturns in more than two generations.

Next step: Making the pitch to Congress

On Saturday, the president-elect confirmed that he will meet with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders next week to sell them on the plan.

While his aides have been in talks with Capitol Hill staffers, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been calling on him to present details for what could be the most expensive spending bill in U.S. history.

Some Democrats and Republicans have already raised red flags about the proposed plan’s potential scope and the prospect of a rushed attempt to pass the bill in time for Obama to take office on Jan. 20.

A sharp debate is likely over several crucial questions. Will the proposed measures in fact boost the economy? What’s the right balance between seeding short-term stimulus versus funding long-term projects? Will money intended to yield long-term dividends for the economy as a whole end up merely serving politically motivated agendas or pet projects?

Obama attempted to assuage some of those concerns on Saturday when he called for "vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results." He stressed that his plan is not an attempt to "throw money" at the economy’s problems.

"I am optimistic that if we come together to seek solutions that advance not the interests of any party, or the agenda of any one group, but the aspirations of all Americans, then we will meet the challenges of our time just as previous generations have met the challenges of theirs," Obama said.

Chrysler gets $4 billion U.S. government loan

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Chrysler LLC on Friday received an initial $4 billion emergency loan from the U.S. government, two days after the government completed a parallel payout to its larger rival General Motors Corp.

"This initial loan will allow the company to continue an orderly restructuring," Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said in a statement.

U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin confirmed that the government had sent the $4 billion in funds to Chrysler on Friday.

General Motors Corp received $4 billion in emergency loans on Wednesday. Both Chrysler and GM have said they need the infusion of government cash to meet payouts to suppliers at a time when a plunge in auto sales has drained their cash holdings.

Officials have not spelled out why the loan to GM and a separate $6 billion funding for its affiliated finance firm GMAC were completed ahead of the Chrysler transaction.

In an email to employees, Nardelli suggested that the complexity of the deals had delayed the first payout to Chrysler, which had been expected to be completed before the end of the year.

"The Treasury Department has been working to complete the multiple, complex financial arrangements quickly and sequentially. The magnitude of these discussions was significant," Nardelli said.

When major automakers release results on Monday, December auto sales are expected to show that industry-wide sales fell to the lowest full-year level since 1992.

Under terms of the government bailout, Chrysler and GM will have to submit restructuring plans by mid-February and demonstrate that they are viable by the end of March.

Chrysler is controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, and as the only privately held of the Detroit-based automakers it faced the most scrutiny in congressional hearings on the proposed bailout for the industry.

Cerberus also owns 51 percent of GMAC.

The Bush administration approved a $17.4 billion bailout for the auto operations of GM and Chrysler in December.

Of that total, GM has been promised another $9.4 billion in government loans under that program in addition to the $4 billion payment made on Wednesday. The final $4 billion of the bailout approved for GM will require Congress to approve the funding.

Chrysler was given $4 billion by the U.S. government after asking for $7 billon.

The bailout represents the second U.S. government rescue of Chrysler in 28 years.

Rival Ford Motor Co has not sought government loans but has asked for a $9 billion line of credit it could tap if business conditions worsen beyond its projections.

Israeli troops and tanks slice deep into Gaza

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Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships surrounded Gaza's largest city and fought militants at close range on Sunday, in the first full day of an overwhelming ground offensive in the coastal territory.

Israel said it has inflicted a heavy blow against Hamas as it expands a weeklong offensive meant to stop rocket fire on southern Israel. But spiraling civilian casualties among Palestinians fueled an international outcry, even as the U.S. blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement Saturday night calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Israel's ground forces moved in after nightfall Saturday following hours of intense, fiery artillery shelling to clear the way, and Hamas warned that its fighters would turn Gaza into an Israeli "graveyard."

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers continued to fight primarily in open areas in the launching zones used by Gaza's militants to send rockets raining down on Israeli cities. As the troops in three brigade-size formations moved in, residents of those Israeli cities began emerging from bomb shelters in hopes that the rocket fire would taper off.

Backing up the troops, mobile artillery units fired shells that exploded in veils of white smoke over Gaza's urban skyline. Tanks pushed south of Gaza City as deep as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, which Israel left along with other Israeli communities when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

That effectively cut off Gaza City, the territory's largest population center with some 400,000 residents, from the rest of Gaza to the south.

Israel's military chief said Hamas fighters were trying to draw soldiers deeper into Gaza's sprawling, densely packed urban areas, where the military said Hamas was shielding itself behind civilians.

"You entered like rats," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told Israeli soldiers in a statement on Hamas' Al Aqsa TV. "Gaza will be a graveyard for you, God willing," he said.

Israeli forces have not yet entered urban areas, said Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, the chief army spokesman. He warned, however, that the operation was not a "school trip" and would be long and demanding.

The ground invasion risks turning into intense urban combat, with house-to-house fighting, sniper fire and booby-traps. Hamas is believed to have some 20,000 gunmen and has had time to prepare.

To guard against hidden explosives, Israel's ground forces moved through fields and orchards with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Gaza officials said at least 31 civilians were killed in the onslaught, which also continued from the air.

At one hospital, in the northern village of Beit Lahiya, medics carrying three injured children in their arms rushed them to treatment. One of the children had a blood-soaked bandage wrapped around his head and covering his eyes.

An Israeli airstrike close to Gaza City's main market showered the area with shrapnel, killing three children, all of them siblings, medics said. Militants were using empty land next to the Firas market to fire rockets.

Israeli forces killed dozens of armed Hamas gunmen, an army statement said, but Gaza officials could confirm only a handful of dead fighters — in part because rescue teams could not reach the battle zones.

The new deaths brought the death toll in the Gaza Strip to more than 512 since Dec. 27. The tally is based on figures from the U.N. and Palestinian health officials as well as a count by The Associated Press.

One Israeli soldier died — the first to be killed in the ground operation — and 30 others were wounded, some of them in heavy exchanges of fire near the militant stronghold of Jebaliya, a town on Gaza City's northern outskirts, the army said. Heavy Israeli casualties could undermine what has so far been overwhelming public support for the operation.

Condemnation of Israel's ground operation poured in from around the Middle East and Europe.

"It is absolutely necessary that the violence has to stop," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Support for Israel remained firm from U.S. officials, who squarely blame Hamas.

Vice President Dick Cheney said Israel "didn't seek clearance or approval from us, certainly" before thousands of soldiers pushed into Gaza after nightfall on Saturday.

Sens. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin — the top two Democrats in the chamber — and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell all described Israel's actions as understandable. "I think what the Israelis are doing is very important," Reid said. "I think this terrorist organization, Hamas, has got to be put away. They've got to come to their senses."

Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Israel had to push forward despite the calls for a halt to the ground offensive and that a cease-fire was pointless without a stop to Hamas rocket fire.

"Well, clearly, if there is somebody (who) can stop terror with a different strategy, we shall accept it," he said on ABC's "This Week."

"We shall not accept the idea that Hamas will continue to fire and we shall declare a cease-fire. It does not make any sense."

Peres said Israel is not aiming to reoccupy Gaza or even to crush Hamas, but to "crush terror." Under Israel's blistering assault, he said, Hamas was "now beginning to feel the weight of their mistakes."

The ground operation is the second phase in an offensive that began as a weeklong aerial onslaught aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire that has reached deeper and deeper into Israel, threatening major cities and one-eighth of Israel's population of 7 million people.

More than 30 rockets and mortar shells fell in Israel on Sunday morning, sending Israelis scrambling for bomb shelters. Two Israelis were lightly wounded. Four Israelis have been killed in the attacks since the offensive began.

In Gaza City, civilians cowered inside as battles raged, while terrified residents in other areas fled in fear. In the southern town of Rafah, one man loaded a donkey cart with mattresses and blankets preparing to flee.

Lubna Karam, 28, said she and the other nine members of her family spent the night huddled in the hallway of their Gaza City home. The windows of the house were blown out days earlier in an Israeli airstrike, and the family has been without electricity for a week, surviving without heat and eating cold food.

"We keep hearing the sounds of airplanes and we don't know if we'll live until tomorrow or not," she said.

Severe damage to Gaza's phone network was pushing the strip closer to complete isolation. The Palestinian phone company Paltel Group said 90 percent of Gaza's cellular service was down, as well as many landlines, because of frequent power cuts and the inability of technicians to reach work sites.

In his first public comments on the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that Israel could not allow its civilians to continue to be targeted by rockets from Gaza.

"This morning I can look every one you in the eyes and say the government did everything before deciding to go ahead with the operation. This operation was unavoidable," he said.

The Israeli chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, told a meeting of Cabinet ministers that most of Sunday's fighting was at close range, with Hamas preferring to fight in built-up areas rather than on open ground. Ashkenazi said the operation aimed to take over areas militants use to launch rockets.

Military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet that Hamas was using mosques, public institutions and private houses as ammunition stores.

Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, told the ministers there was a "weakening" in Hamas' desire to keep fighting. Still, he said, while the Hamas political leadership has been hit hard, its military organization has "yet to be dealt the harsh blow Israel expects it to be dealt." The security officials' comments were relayed to the press by the Cabinet secretary, Oved Yehezkel.

Israel on Sunday approved the mobilization of thousands of reservists, in addition to tens of thousands called up on Saturday. Defense officials said the extra forces could enable a far broader ground offensive.

The troops could also be used in the event Palestinian militants in the West Bank or Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon decide to launch attacks, as Hezbollah did in 2006 when Israel was in the midst of a large operation in Gaza.

The true story behind this war is not the one Israel is telling

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By Johann Hari

The world isn't just watching the Israeli government commit a crime in Gaza; we are watching it self-harm. This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide vests or rockets. Israeli leaders have convinced themselves that the harder you beat the Palestinians, the softer they will become. But when this is over, the rage against Israelis will have hardened, and the same old compromises will still be waiting by the roadside of history, untended and unmade.

To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other, jobless and hungry, in vast, sagging tower blocks. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean, and Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall – as they are doing now with more deadly force than at any time since 1967 – there is nowhere to hide.

There will now be a war over the story of this war. The Israeli government says, "We withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and in return we got Hamas and Qassam rockets being rained on our cities. Sixteen civilians have been murdered. How many more are we supposed to sacrifice?" It is a plausible narrative, and there are shards of truth in it, but it is also filled with holes. If we want to understand the reality and really stop the rockets, we need to rewind a few years and view the run-up to this war dispassionately.

The Israeli government did indeed withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – in order to be able to intensify control of the West Bank. Ariel Sharon's senior adviser, Dov Weisglass, was unequivocal about this, explaining: "The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians... this whole package that is called the Palestinian state has been removed from our agenda indefinitely."

Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders, so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn't have been my choice – an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions - but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 per cent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 per cent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long, long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.

Rather than seize this opportunity and test Hamas's sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. It announced that it was blockading the Gaza Strip in order to "pressure" its people to reverse the democratic process. The Israelis surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine – but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped that the Gazans were being "put on a diet". According to Oxfam, only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza last month to feed 1.5 million people. The United Nations says poverty has reached an "unprecedented level." When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food.

It was in this context – under a collective punishment designed to topple a democracy – that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when it has been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.

The American and European governments are responding with a lop-sidedness that ignores these realities. They say that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate while under rocket fire, but they demand that the Palestinians do so under siege in Gaza and violent military occupation in the West Bank.

Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don't take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, "told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms." Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, "they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future." Instead, "they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967." They are aware that this means they "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: "Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas."

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on "their" side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: "Israel's war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth... If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas's court – it is in ours."

Why Obama Is Silent On Gaza?

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By Gibbwake

Obama speaks of his unquestioning support of IsraelIf you look a few months back to when Obama was speaking at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you’ll find your reasons why he is silent on the current Gaza situation. As of right now, the Israeli government is invading and pillaging Gaza and not a word from Obama. His spokesman David Axelrod claims that he isn’t commenting because “..There is only one president at a time,” yet that didnt stop him with nearly every other issue such as the Mumbai attacks, and the Russia/Georgia conflict. Here is why:

At the AIPAC in mid 2008, Obama speaks of a “strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever.” Implying that no matter what war crimes and atrocities the government of israel commits, the United States run by Obama will always lend support. “We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs..”

Here are other quotes from Obamas AIPAC speech, illustrating exactly why he is not saying anything about the Gaza attack. Read the full speech by Obama at AIPAC here.

“..As president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.”

“I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. That starts with ensuring Israel’s qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat — from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As president, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade — investments to Israel’s security that will not be tied to any other nation.”

“I will strongly urge Arab governments to take steps to normalize relations with Israel, and to fulfill their responsibility to pressure extremists and provide real support for President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. Egypt must cut off the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.”

“Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper — but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

“We must never force Israel to the negotiating table, but neither should we ever block negotiations when Israel’s leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests. As president, I will do whatever I can to help Israel succeed in these negotiations.”

“Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.”

That change Obama said he was bringing? Here what he tells his AIPAC audience what it really means: “That is the change we need in our foreign policy. Change that restores American power and influence. Change accompanied by a pledge that I will make known to allies and adversaries alike: that America maintains an unwavering friendship with Israel, and an unshakeable commitment to its security.”

Then you look at Obamas first appointment: Rahm Emanuel, a dual Israeli citizen and son of a zionist terrorist. Rahm is known for sending rotten fish to his enemies. He is also well known for standing up during a party and shouting a list of his enemies and yelling “DEAD! .. DEAD! .. DEAD!” while stabbing a knife into the table after every name. Source:

Rahms father was “a member of the Zionist terrorist group Irgun, which was responsible for bombing hotels, marketplaces as well as the infamous Deir Yassin massacre, in which hundreds of Palestinian villagers were slaughtered.” Rahms finger was also cut off like something you would see in a mobster movie for disappointing the mob boss.

Joe Biden, VP pick and admitted zionist is flagrantly pro Israel and was even jokingly accused of running for VP of Israel after a speech he gave in Florida. There he said he would help secure Israel, and that “I would not have given up that job to be Barack Obama’s vice president if I didn’t in my gut and in my heart and in my head know that Barack Obama is exactly where I am on Israel. And he is.”

The other members of Obamas cabinet are warhawks, globalists, and bilderbergers who support Israel unquestionably.

With the Gaza silence explained in Obama’s own words and with his staff picks, maybe it can begin to sink in to the people who once supported Obama: He is nothing but more of the same, especially on Israel. Lets hope the good people of Israel can rid themselves of the taint their corrupt government is giving them and the region, as it will undoubtably lead to the destruction of both sides.

Depleted uranium found in Gaza victims

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Medics tell Press TV they have found traces of depleted uranium in some Gaza residents wounded in Israel's ground offensive on the strip.

Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.

The report comes after Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground operation after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on the impoverished region.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that the wide-ranging ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be "full of surprises."

A ground offensive in the densely-populated Gaza is expected to drastically increase the death toll of the civilian population.

The latest assaults bring the number of Palestinians killed to over 488 with 2790 others wounded. The UN says that about 25 percent of the casualties were civilian deaths - including at least 34 children.

According to Israeli army officials, at least 30 of its soldiers have been wounded since the start of the ground campaign.

Amid global condemnation of the ongoing violence in the region, the UN Security Council failed to agree on a united approach to resolve the crisis.

"Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunctionality of the Security Council," UN General Assembly chief Miguel d'Escoto said Sunday.

According to diplomatic sources, the US blocked a Security Council resolution, with US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff arguing that an official statement that criticizes both Israel and Hamas would not be helpful.

The White House has so far declined to comment on whether an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza is a justified measure.