President Obama said in an interview that it is important for the United States to be more “honest” with Israel than in the past, and reiterated his call for a settlement freeze.
“Part of being a good friend is being honest,” Obama told National Public Radio on Monday, June 1. “And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests.”
Obama also restated that “the United States has a special relationship with Israel,” alluding to the “huge cross-cultural ties” and shared values between the two countries. The president added that with the threats directed at the Jewish state, “you can understand” why the United States “would feel it was important to back this stalwart ally.”
Obama said he did not believe that “we have to change strong U.S. support for Israel” in order to improve relations with the Muslim world but “do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace.” Those negotiations require each side to meet its “obligations,” he said, adding, “I’ve said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements, including natural growth, is part of those obligations.”
But in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of that demand, Obama said “it’s still early in the process.”
“I think we’re going to have a series of conversations,” he said.
In a Tuesday interview with the BBC, Obama again emphasized that “it’s still early in the conversation,” adding that “diplomacy is always a matter of a long, hard slog. It’s never a matter of quick results.”
Obama added that “we have not seen a set of potential gestures from other Arab states, or from the Palestinians, that might deal with some of the Israeli concerns.”
Israeli Security Forces Evacuate Outposts
Settlers and right-wing activists reportedly threw stones at Palestinian cars to protest the impending evacuation of West Bank outposts.
The protestors also reportedly blocked roads and burned tires, according to Israel Radio. Up to six Palestinians riding in a minibus were injured, one seriously.
Activists on Monday gathered at the Gilad Farm and Ramat Gilad outposts between Kedumim and Karnei Shomron following news that they would be evacuated.
Meanwhile, security forces on Monday destroyed three caravans during the evacuation of the northern West Bank outpost of Nachalat Yosef, located near the settlement of Elon Moreh.
The riots and evacuations Monday come after Israeli security forces evacuated the West Bank outpost of Shvut Ami near Nablus Saturday evening at the end of Shabbat.
Security forces evacuated about a dozen teenagers from the outpost, located near the Jewish settlement of Kedumim. They also destroyed two wooden huts, according to reports.
The evacuation was conducted without incident, though Daniella Weiss, a settler leader and former Kedumim mayor, said that the evacuation was “brutal.” The forces reportedly cut the outpost’s links to the Kedumim water system.
The teens began to rebuild the outpost on Sunday.
The evacuation comes after a week in which several smaller outposts were cleared out.
Holocaust Revisionist Toben Can Appeal
An Australian court will decide whether a Holocaust revisionist should be jailed for refusing to remove from his Web site material that vilifies Jews and denies the Holocaust.
South Australian Federal Court Justice Anthony Besanko on Tuesday gave Fredrick Toben until June 9 to submit his appeal to the finding of contempt and the accompanying three-month jail sentence.
The German-born founder of the Adelaide Institute, who turned 65 Tuesday, was last month found guilty on 24 counts of contempt by the Federal Court for defying a 2002 court order preventing him from publishing offensive material, including doubting the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and alleging that Jews are of “limited intelligence.”
Toben’s appeal is scheduled to be heard Aug. 13 before the full bench. Besanko suspended the arrest warrant until that date and ordered Toben not to leave South Australia, except to visit his lawyer in Melbourne.
The long-running case against Toben began in 1996, when Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, first filed a complaint alleging Toben had published anti-Semitic material on his Web site.
Meanwhile, his successor at the Adelaide Institute, Peter Hartung, is continuing to publish material suggesting “the Holocaust does not exist in reality.”
A current article online continues that “The ‘gas chambers of Auschwitz’ and the ‘extermination of the Jews’ began as wartime propaganda, for the reasons of ‘proving’ to the world how evil the German National Socialist system of government was, and to deflect from the real war crimes of WWII, including the mass firebombing of German cities, whose targets were defenseless women and children.”
Jones’ attorney, Robin Margo, has asked the court to consider taking action against Hartung.
— Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency