Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By Maayan Lubell 
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians but with the initial focus on identifying those Jewish settlements that Israel would keep and be allowed to expand, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

Peace talks collapsed in April 2014 over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Palestinians seek for a state, and after Abbas angered Israel by reaching a unity deal with the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

Asked about Netanyahu's position, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said settlement activity had to stop altogether before peace talks resume and that all core issues of the conflict with Israel needed to be addressed simultaneously.

In a meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Netanyahu told Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, that some of the land Israel captured in a 1967 war would remain in its hands while other parts would be left under Palestinian control, the Israeli official said.

"Therefore negotiations should be resumed in order to define those areas in which we can build," the official said, quoting Netanyahu. The remarks were first reported in the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

With the inauguration two weeks ago of his new right-wing government following March elections, Netanyahu faces U.S. and EU calls to re-engage with the Palestinians and also the threat of stronger pressure to curb construction in settlements, which most countries regard as illegal.

Western diplomats have said Netanyahu -- who raised international concern by saying on the eve of the election that no Palestinian state would be established on his watch -- will now be closely scrutinized over his settlement policy.

An understanding on settlements in peace talks would enable Israel to keep construction going without raising the wrath of its Western allies. It could also appease hardliners in Netanyahu's government who want to see more construction.

One Western diplomat familiar with what occurred at the meeting with Mogherini said Netanyahu's proposal showed some change in his position, but not enough to restart peace talks.

"Up until now, Netanyahu has refused to put any maps on the table, so in that respect it was quite substantial. He was talking about borders in one way or another, even if it was based around the acceptance of existing settlement blocs," the official said.

Another Western diplomat described Netanyahu's proposal as creating "the illusion of progress".

"Netanyahu was trying to show that he is committed to peace and ready for negotiations, but he knows the Palestinians would never agree to begin on this basis," the diplomat said.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Luke Baker; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Raissa Kasolowsky)

See video 'Netanyahu Offers to Resume Peace Talks' here:
Netanyahu Offers to Resume Peace Talks
In its biggest military accomplishment this year, the Islamic State last week took Ramadi, a key Iraqi city the U.S. fought to secure roughly a decade ago. Now that the dust has settled, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was frank in his assessment of what went wrong.

“What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said. "They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed. "The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi," he said last week. "They drove out of Ramadi."
[T] he fall of Ramadi is reviving questions about the effectiveness of the Obama administration's approach in Iraq, a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad to reconcile with the nation's Sunnis and bombing Islamic State group targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops. 
Obama's strategy is predicated on Baghdad granting political concessions to the country's alienated Sunnis, who are a source of personnel and money for the Islamic State group. But there has been little visible progress on that front. Baghdad has continued to work closely with Shiite militias backed by Iran, which have been accused of atrocities against Sunnis, a religious minority in Iraq that ruled until Saddam Hussein fell from power.
The U.S. has sought to reach out on its own to Sunni tribes and is training some Sunni fighters, but those efforts have been limited by the small number of American troops on the ground.
While Carter defended the use of airstrikes, he cautioned that they are not intended to be a replacement for the Iraqi military standing up to defend their country.

"We can participate in the defeat of ISIL," he said. "But we can't make Iraq ... a decent place for people to live — we can't sustain the victory, only the Iraqis can do that and, in particular in this case, the Sunni tribes to the West."

Iran, meanwhile, blamed the fall of Ramadi on the U.S. having “no will” to fight ISIS.

81% of respondents to Al Jazeera poll support the Islamic State

By Robert Spencer / Jihad Watch

81% of respondents to Al Jazeera poll support the Islamic State
That Tiny Minority of Extremists sure “slammed” this poll, as Bill O’Reilly said when he weaseled out of announcing results of his poll on whether our free speech event in Garland, Texas was a good idea. He claimed we had “slammed” the results and declined to release them. Al Jazeera didn’t hesitate to release this […]

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Student Vet Suspended, Labeled ‘Threat’ After Requesting Non-Muslim Counselor

Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

This is how we thank young brave Americans who risk their lives fighting for our freedom. Instead of giving them respect, we give our enemies that respect, as well as deference and submission.

Mississippi College is a Christian university located in Clinton, Mississippi, just west of the capital city of Jackson. Founded in 1826, MC is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the United States and the oldest college in Mississippi.

A former active-duty Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq and is diagnosed with combat-related PTSD was suspended from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi after he requested to meet with a non-Muslim counselor in the school’s Office of Counseling and Disability Services.