U.S.-Israel relations

Jerusalem embassy legislation: the political gift that keeps on giving

You know elections are in the offing when Congress starts playing games with the endless issue of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and sure enough, with 2012 just around the corner, the issue is back in the legislative hopper.

JTA is reporting that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and others are pitching a bill that would strip presidential waiver authority from the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

New Jerusalem Embassy Bill Circulating in House

03/16/2011

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Top Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are circulating a bill that would strip the president of his power to waive a law requiring him to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Israel, American Jews, and President Obama: Learning to Hear Each Other

03/03/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

Barely two days after returning from leading a congregational mission to Israel, I was privileged this past Tuesday to attend a special session in the White House, with President Obama and some of his closest advisors. The topic was recent developments in the Middle East, their impact on American foreign policy, and more particularly on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The session was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. As Vice-President of the Rabbinical Assembly, I was representing the rabbis of the Conservative movement.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Obama set to name new ambassador to Israel

This just in: sources here confirm a Politico report that Dan Shapiro, a top White House Middle East adviser, will be the new U.S. ambassador in Tel Aiv.

Barak Meeting Top U.S. Officials

02/09/2011

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington meeting top administration officials and Congress members.

Barak is meeting Wednesday with Dennis Ross, the top Iran policy official in the White House; Tom Donilon, the national security adviser; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee and other Congress members.

Netanyahu's Pollard letter: Israel's actions 'unacceptable'

Ha'aretz is running the full text of Benjamin Netanyahu's letter to president Obama requesting executive clemency for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard – the first such formal request from an Israel Prime Minister.

Netanyahu: Israel Was Ready to Extend Freeze

01/03/2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel was prepared to extend a West Bank construction freeze, but the United States withdrew the idea, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"The United States asked us to consider extending the freeze by three months, and the truth is that we were prepared to do so," Netanyahu reportedly told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.

Grace Meng's View Of Israelis And Americans

Grace Meng of Queens, whose press releases note that she is the only Asian American serving in the New York state Legislature, recently visited Israel on one of those JCRC missions intended to build political support among politicians who may not have had a prior chance to see the country personally and meet its leaders.

I've read or heard many such accounts from elected officials on their return from such missions, but the one below struck me as particularly interesting and insightful enough to reprint in near-entirety here.

Grace Meng at the Knesset

U.S. Military Aid to Israel Delayed

12/27/2010

(JTA) -- United States military aid to Israel for fiscal year 2011 has been delayed for three months.

The more than $3 million in military aid, among the largest amount Israel has ever received, includes grants to upgrade the Iron Dome and Arrow anti-ballistic missile systems.

The delay follows the Obama's administration's difficulty in passing the annual 2011 budget, which forced the president to sign a presidential order extending the current budget through March. Funding for the budget will be disbursed on a month-to-month basis until then.

Rice Cable Confirms Israel Destroyed Syrian Reactor

12/26/2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A confidential memo from Condoleezza Rice to State Department representatives around the world confirmed that Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor, a cable leaked to WikiLeaks says.

The cable, which has not yet been published, was reported by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Acharonot before its official publication on the website.

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