Israel criticizes Clinton no Iran ‘deadlines’ remark

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Unnamed Israeli officials on Monday complained about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that the United States is “not setting deadlines” for negotiations with Iran.

“We’re not setting deadlines” on Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg News’ Indira Lakshmanan in an interview in Vladivostock, Russia Sunday.

“We have always said every option was on the table, but we believe in the negotiation, the diplomatic effort through the P-5+1, but also pressure …[are] by far, the best approach to take at this time,” Clinton said, according to a full transcript of the interview released by the State Department.

Clinton’s comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Canada’s CBC that the United States and Israel are jointly discussing “red lines” on Iran.

“We’re discussing it right now with the United States,” Netanyahu told the CBC Sunday, Reuters reported.

Unnamed Israeli officials were quick to blast Clinton’s disavowal of a rapidly closing timetable for Iran diplomatic efforts.

“These kinds of statements won’t stop Iran’s centrifuges, and could have the opposite effect,” one unnamed top Israeli state official told Ynet’s Attila Somfalvi Monday. “Without a clear red line, Iran won’t stop its race towards a nuclear weapon,” the Israeli official added.

But the State Department did not back away from the remarks Monday despite the grumbling from Jerusalem. Continue reading

Lawmaker recounts Bibi tirade: Never seen such ‘agitated…sharp exchange’

House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) confirmed in an interview with Michigan radio station WJR that he witnessed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going off on a tirade against the US administration at a meeting he attended with US ambassador Dan Shapiro last month, The Atlantic‘s Jeff Goldberg notes:

…Rogers, speaking to WJR radio host Frank Beckmann, painted a very different picture. He said the meeting, originally scheduled to be a discussion of intelligence and technical issues between himself and the prime minister, spun out of control when Netanyahu began lambasting Shapiro over the Administration’s Iran policy. When Beckmann asked Rogers to describe the tenor of the meeting, he said: “Very tense. Some very sharp… exchanges and it was very, very clear the Israelis had lost their patience with the (Obama) Administration.” He went on, “There was no doubt. You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this Administration.” Continue reading

Israeli paper reports on blow-up between Bibi Netanyahu, US envoy: “Sparks flew”

Shimon Shifffer, writing at Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth Friday, reports on an alleged recent heated exchange between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

According to Shiffer, the “debate not diplomatic” occurred at a meeting last week when Shapiro accompanied visiting House Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) to a meeting with Netanyahu:

 Netanyahu, according to a source who took part in the meeting, was irritable and very tense.  At the start of the meeting, he leveled a sharp attack on the Obama administration, which he said was not doing enough on the Iranian issue.  “Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his associates are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities,” he said, and went on to criticize the administration’s declarations that there was still room for diplomacy.  “Time has run out,” he said firmly.

At a certain point, an unusual event took place in the office …Ambassador Shapiro, who was appointed by President Obama and for years was one of his closest advisers, decided that he was fed up. …He asked permission to speak and replied to Netanyahu in a polite manner—but one that left no room for doubt.

The ambassador, in effect, accused Netanyahu of distorting Obama’s position.  He quoted the president, who had promised that he would not let there be a nuclear Iran and said that all options, including a military strike, were on the table. […]

Political sources who witnessed the event said that “sparks flew” in the room, and that the verbal exchange became progressively sharper.  Netanyahu charged, Shapiro replied—and so on and so forth, with Rogers observing, stunned, from the sidelines.  The meeting finally ended with a harsh atmosphere in the room. …

Susan Phalen, a spokeswoman for Rogers, contacted by Al-Monitor, declined to comment on the report, confirming only that Rogers was in Israel and met with Netanyahu.

Amb. Shapiro himself referenced Rep. Rogers’ visit to Israel on his Facebook page August 24th. “My thanks to Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for an important visit to Israel to advance cooperation between our countries on critical security matters,” Shapiro wrote.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the report, except to reiterate the United States’ “rock solid support for Israeli security” and “unbreakable bond” with Israel and the Israeli people.

The suggestion of a raised-voice argument by the US envoy is an exaggeration, a source who asked not to be identified said.

(Photo: Screen shot of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth page 2 report August 31, 2012 on alleged confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, US ambassador Dan Shapiro at a meeting last month. Al-Monitor.)