Jerusalem says move not conducive to peace, will consider ‘next steps’ after Holy See announcement ahead of weekend meeting between pope, Abbas
Top US diplomat dismisses reports that Israeli-Palestinian talks have hit roadblock; says Netanyahu and Abbas still committed to moving forward
(CNSNews.com) – President Obama’s offer in Berlin Wednesday for sweeping further cuts to the U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear weapons arsenals has raised many questions, including one that has House Republicans and the Kremlin in rare agreement on one point at least – what about China? Under the 2010 New START treaty, the U.S. and Russia agreed to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 by 2018, down from the current 2,200. Obama’s proposal of a further one-third cut would take them to around 1,000.
Published on Apr 2, 2013
The UN general assembly has overwhelmingly approved the first treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar international arms trade, a goal sought for more than a decade to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organised crime.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 154 to three with 23 abstentions. As the numbers appeared on the electronic board, loud cheers filled the assembly chamber.
A group of treaty supporters sought a vote in the 193-member world body after Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked its adoption by consensus at a negotiating conference on Thursday. The three countries voted “no” at Tuesday’s resolution.
By Chana Ya’ar
“Peace must come to the Holy Land,” proclaimed US President Barack Obama on Wednesday after stepping down on to the tarmac at Ben Gurion Int’l Airport.
“We will never lose sight of an Israel at peace with its neighbors,” Obama insisted, making clear his determination to again try to revive the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Obama’s visit to the region in this, his second term, differs from his previous tour of the Middle East when he skipped Israel altogether and instead headed to Egypt, to make a speech from Cairo that some analysts believe may have contributed to the region wide Arab Spring uprisings.
Straight and to the point, the American president told Israelis on the tarmac Wednesday morning, “Our alliance is eternal. It is forever.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded in the red-carpet welcoming ceremony by thanking Obama for standing up for Israel’s right to defend its own existence.
“This is an historic moment,” Netanyahu said. “You have chosen to come to Israel as the first foreign visit of your second term, you the leader of the United States, the world’s greatest democracy, have chosen to come to our somewhat smaller but no less vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East, the one and only Jewish state of Israel.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Israel, I come here today with a simple message for you and the American people: Thank you. Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East.
“Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat. Thank you for enhancing Israel’s’ ability to exercise that right through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for upholding the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state in our historic homeland, and for boldly defending that right at the United Nations. And thank you for strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations during your Presidency.
“The people of Israel are honored to have you visit our country. We warmly welcome you as a cherished guest. We deeply appreciate your friendship. And we share your hope that the Middle East will enjoy a future of freedom, prosperity and peace.
“Mr. President, Baruch HaBa L’Yisrael: welcome to Israel.”
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni will be Israel’s negotiator in talks with the Palestinians in the emerging coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ms Livni heads the centrist HaTnuah party Photo: AFP
11:28PM GMT 19 Feb 2013
HaTnuah, which campaigned for renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians, is the first party to join Mr Netanyahu’s new coalition.
After the government comes into place, “a ministerial team for the peace process with the Palestinians will be formed headed by the prime minister and participated by the justice minister, defence minister and foreign minister,” said the agreement.
Speaking alongside Ms Livni on Tuesday night, Mr Netanyahu said Israel faced “huge challenges.”
“The threats from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah do not stop for a moment. To deal with these threats, we need to form a broad and stable government that unifies the people,” he said.
“This is exactly what Tzipi Livni and I are doing today,” he said. “We both know we need to put aside our differences, get over old rivalries and join forces for our country.”
Ms Livni headed the opposition during most of Mr Netanyahu’s latest term as premier.
Mr Netanyahu said they would act together “to promote a process with the Palestinians aimed at reaching peace between two state-nations.
“Today Israel is reaching out its hand in peace another time,” he said. “We want to negotiate. I will insist that any process will safeguard Israel’s security and national interests.”
Ms Livni noted that “the diplomatic process is at the centre of our lives”.
“This reality is what is bringing the US president here on a visit next month,” she said.