DNC adds Jerusalem to platform

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Update: The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday added an amendment to its 2012 platform saying Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The language, almost identical to that in the DNC 2008 platform, was added after its omission came under criticism from some Republican groups.

“President Obama personally intervened to strengthen the language,” a Democratic aide involved in the process told Al-Monitor Wednesday.

Obama campaign officials saw the issue as an unnecessary distraction, a source said, adding:. “They were and continue to be comfortable with the original language [in the DNC 2012 platform] that they feel is stridently pro-Israel.”

“The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Wednesday.

The new amendment, passed in a confusing voice vote at the DNC convention in Charlotte, North Carolina Wednesday,, states: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

The pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), praised the decision.

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DNC platform: “Window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely”

From the Democratic National 2012 platform:, released today as the Democratic convention gets underway in Charlotte, North Carolina:

… President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution. At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options – including military force – remain on the table. But we have an obligation to use the time and space that exists now to put increasing pressure on the Iranian regime to live up to its obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or face the consequences.

More at the link (page 29/40), .pdf.

(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young.)

Romney to Israeli paper: Both Obama and I say nuclear Iran unacceptable


GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has given two interviews to Israeli newspapers ahead of his arrival in Jerusalem Saturday night.

“I would treat Israel like the friend and ally it is,” Romney told Israel Hayom, the newspaper owned by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has donated millions of dollars to Republican and Israeli causes. Adelson, who owns a home in Israel, may attend a $50,000 a plate fundraiser for Romney in Israel Monday.

“I cannot imagine going to the United Nations, as Obama did, and criticizing Israel in front of the world,” Romney continued. “You don’t criticize your allies in public to achieve the applause of your foes.”

So Romney learned first-hand in London Thursday, as his perceived criticism of preparations for the London Olympics got his three-nation foreign trip off to a quite rocky start.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson–both conservatives–fiercely defended preparations for the London Olympic Games after Romney told NBC Wednesday he found some reports of some pre-Games snafus “disconcerting.”

“If Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care,” railed the headline from the conservative UK Telegraph Thursday. London mayor Boris Johnson later mocked Romney in front of a crowd of 60,000 in Hyde Park, asking: “Mitt Romney wants to know whether we’re ready! Are we ready?” .

Romney also gave an interview in London Thursday to Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper. (Being on foreign soil when the interview was conducted, he told the paper he was trying to refrain from politicizing foreign policy.)

Asked about his Iran policy, Romney said he, like President Obama, have both said that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable:The military option is the least attractive option but should not be ruled out, he said.

“President Obama has said that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. I feel a nuclear Iran is unacceptable,” Romney told Haaretz. “The term ‘unacceptable’ continues to have a meaning: It suggests that all options will be employed to prevent that outcome.”

“I am personally committed to take every step necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said.

In Israel, Romney will hold a breakfast fundraiser Monday (July 30) at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. He will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu–an old friend from their days at the Boston Consulting Group; Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who served as the Obama campaign’s chief of Jewish outreach in 2008.

But even with the personal ties and partisan sympathies Romney shares with Netanyahu, the powers of his White House incumbent challenger to make policy, sign bills, and grab headlines are hard to match.

On Friday, President Obama signed “a new U.S.-Israel security pact …a move that could steal some of the headlines there” as Romney arrives,” Yahoo’s Olivier Knox noted.  Indeed.

Israeli leaders and American Jewish groups applauded Obama’s action Friday.

“The Government and the people of Israel express profound gratitude to President Barack Obama on his signing of the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said in a statement Friday. It “sends an unequivocal message of support to the people of Israel at a time of great uncertainty throughout the entire Middle East.”

The security pact bolsters the “crucial” US-Israel security alliance “by extending loan guarantees…authorizing American military stockpiles in Israel, and improving military and intelligence cooperation, particularly in missile defense,” the Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament said in a press statement.

Meantime, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to travel to Israel, as well as Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia next week, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The bill signing, as well as the Pentagon chief’s Israel trip, come “as Mitt Romney nears a visit to Israel with no power to provide security aid, unlike the incumbent,” CBS’s Mark Knoller noted.

(Photo: U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to the press following his meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside 10 Downing Street in London, July 26, 2012.   REUTERS/Jason Reed.)

Yahoo Activist Daniel Loeb’s Next Battle

Will hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb do to Obama what he did to Yahoo?

After waging battle with Yahoo’s board for months, the activist shareholder and Third Point LLC founder has now completed what amounts to total regime change at the company. Having upended the company’s board and helped oust its last CEO, Scott Thompson, Loeb played a key behind the scenes role in recruiting Google’s Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new CEO, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reported Tuesday.

Now Loeb and his new Yahoo CEO recruit Mayer share the goal of boosting Yahoo’s fortunes. But they find themselves on opposite sides of the 2012 US presidential race.

Loeb this month co-hosted a $25,000-person Hamptons fundraiser for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va), the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mayer, 37, by contrast, “is an active Democratic fundraiser,” who hosted a 2010 fundraiser at her Palo Alto home for President Barack Obama, “and has given to Obama annually since 2007,” Politico reported Tuesday.

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Colin Kahl, Brent Scowcroft, Andrew Parasiliti, Seyed Mousavian on how to close a deal with Iran

Al Monitor‘s front page today is teeming with several high-powered original pieces and interviews with policymakers on Iran, Syria, and Egypt:

To close the deal and advance the negotiations, the P5+1 could recognize Iran’s right to enrichment in the context of Iran being a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and freeze all pending sanctions on Iran. Additionally, the P5+1 might request a good-faith strategic pause in enrichment while Iran resolves outstanding questions about its nuclear program, which would lead to the removal of those related UN sanctions. …  Third, the P5+1 could offer a roadmap for lifting US and EU sanctions in return for Iranian cooperation on its nuclear program. …

Kahl: It would be helpful to give Iran a better sense of what they would need to do to get a delay of oil sanctions. And what’s the road map for eventual resolution of the nuclear issue. It is appropriate to focus on interim steps to build confidence and make important progress on issues like 20 percent enrichment, but it would also be good to make sure these steps are nested within a broader, more explicit framework that outlines the ultimate path ahead for an agreement that addresses remaining international concerns …

We have probably reached a point where we should put more of our cards on the table, both through ongoing P5+1 talks and through a bilateral U.S.-Iran conversation. The problem is, thus far, the Iranians have not been willing to meet with the US bilaterally.

Romney advisor on Syria: First, antagonize Russia, China

What to do about the bloodshed in Syria? John Bolton, the gleefully hawkish former US ambassador to the UN and a top foreign policy adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, argues in a National Review oped Monday that President Obama’s current policy is feckless and weak. Few surprises there.

But Bolton’s proscription for what a President Romney should do–essentially antagonize Russia and China, pull out of the new START arms control treaty, threaten Iran with war, and find secular, liberal (Ahmad Chalabi) types in Syria Americans would prefer rule the country–“‘assuming they exist”)–seems to help partly explain why some say Iran may prefer a Republican victory this fall. After all, such a course of action would seemingly quickly explode the international consensus on diplomatically isolating and economically pressuring Iran over its nuclear program.

Brief excerpt from Bolton’s piece below the fold, but go read the whole piece: Continue reading