Daily Archives: March 1, 2012

UK: Anti-Israel politician quits

Lady Tonge refuses to apologize after declaring that ‘Israel will not be there forever’


An outspoken British Liberal Democrat party peer who declared that Israel would not last forever resigned from her post as the party whip on Wednesday after rejecting a call from Nick Clegg to apologize.

Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported that Lady Tonge told the party leadership that she could not accept the ultimatum from the deputy prime minister because she stood by her remarks.

Her move, which came as the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Tonge’s remarks as “sinister and abhorrent,” means she no longer holds the post of Liberal Democrat whip in Britain’s House of Lords.

In her statement she said: “The comments I made were in protest at the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the treatment of Israeli Arabs.”

She added: “I have been asked to apologize but refuse to do so and resign the whip of my party.”

Enough is enough?

Clegg said in response: “These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats.

“I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologize for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party.”

Tonge, who was fired from a party post in 2004 when she suggested she could consider becoming a suicide bomber, sparked the row after raising questions about the future of Israel.

She told a meeting at Middlesex University last week: “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving 70 billion pounds sterling a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough.”

She added: “Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”


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U.S. military draws up further Syria options


BEIRUT: Detailed plans developed to carry out military action against Syria  have been drawn up by the Pentagon and could be implemented upon orders by  President Barack Obama, CNN, quoting a senior U.S. official, has reported.

The crucial progress in military planning comes after several weeks of  initial analysis by the Pentagon of what the official says are a “full range of  options,” CNN said.

“The detailed plans for each option include more precise concepts of how a  variety of operations could be carried out, as well as estimates of the numbers  of personnel, types of units and military equipment and weapons that could  potentially be needed,” the report published Tuesday said.

Despite the planning, Pentagon officials from across the board highlighted  that it would be highly problematic to involve the U.S. army in any scenario as  long as the violence in Syria remained unchecked.

“There are lots of ideas floating around,” the official told the American  cable network.

“But all of them require heavy lifting.”

The official noted that both at the political and military levels,  involvement of U.S. troops would be difficult in such a sensitive part of the  world.

However, he added, administration and military commanders are still actively  considering what to do.

“We want to understand what is the art of the possible,” the official  said.

Should the American president consider to order any type of action, more  planning and deployment orders would be some of the further steps taken, the  report said, adding that several officials noted the Obama administration was  considering whether there was anything the U.S. military can or should do to  facilitate humanitarian assistance.

Syria, headed by President Bashar Assad since 2000, has been shaken since  mid-March 2011, when a brutal crackdown was launched against protesters calling  for reforms in the tightly controlled state.

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U.S. has military plan should Iran conflict erupt, says air force chief

According to Bloomberg, Pentagon officials say U.S. prepared options to provide aerial refueling for IDF planes, as well as plans to attack Iranian military bases.


U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said Wednesday that Washington has prepared military options to strike Iran’s nuclear sites should conflict erupt, Bloomberg reported.

Just four days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, Schwartz told reporters that military options are being prepared in the event of a conflict.

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“What we can do, you wouldn’t want to be in the area,” Bloomberg quoted Schwartz as telling reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

According to Bloomberg, which quoted Pentagon officials, some of the preparations include providing aerial refueling for Israel Air Force planes and attacking the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian military bases, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity since the plans are confidential.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. military is increasingly confident that its air force’s “bunker-buster” bombs could take out Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Fordo, which is deeply buried underground.

Haaretz reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to try to pressure U.S. President Barack Obama in their meeting next week to publicly support an attack on Iran should the latter cross certain “red lines.”

Officials in both Jerusalem and Washington acknowledge a serious lack of trust between Israel and the United States with regard to the issue of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. A senior U.S. official who is involved in preparing Netanyahu’s visit to the United States – and who asked to remain anonymous – said intensive preparations are underway to guarantee the success of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama and to bridge this lack of trust.

According to sources, the lack of trust between Israeli and U.S. officials appears to stem from, among other things, a mutual feeling that the other country is interfering in its own internal political affairs. Netanyahu suspects that the U.S. administration is attempting to turn Israeli public opinion against an attack on Iran, say sources.

Meanwhile, they say, the Obama administration suspects Netanyahu is using Congress and the Republican candidates in the presidential race to put pressure on Obama to support such a strike.

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