As Gareth Porter tweeted recently…

To be sure…

Kerry: U.S. must pursue Iran talks before considering going to war

The United States has an obligation to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran before it considers going to war with Tehran to force it to give up its nuclear activities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

“We took the initiative and led the effort to try to figure out if before we go to war there actually might be a peaceful solution,” Kerry told a group of reporters.

Iran reached a landmark preliminary agreement with six world powers, including the United States, in November to halt its most sensitive nuclear operations, winning some relief from economic sanctions in return.

U.S. President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, has said that all options are on the table with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, using diplomatic code for the possibility of military action. While U.S. officials have long held out that threat, Kerry’s comments appeared to indicate that the Obama administration would seriously consider a strike on Iran if the diplomatic talks fail.

Apparently Israel is still up to no good with the IAEA…

IAEA ‘opted against’ sensitive Iran report

The UN nuclear watchdog planned a major report on Iran that might have revealed more of its suspected atomic bomb research, but held off as Tehran’s relations with the outside world thawed, sources familiar with the matter said.

Such a report — to have been prepared last year — would almost certainly have angered Iran and complicated efforts to settle a decade-old dispute over its atomic aspirations, moves which accelerated after pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

According to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency has apparently dropped the idea of a new report, at least for the time being. There was no immediate comment from the IAEA. The sources said there was no way of knowing what information collected by the agency since it issued a landmark report on Iran in 2011 might have been incorporated in the new document, although one said it could have added to worries about Tehran’s activities. As relations rapidly improved, Iran struck an interim nuclear deal with six world powers in November which Israel denounced as a ‘historic mistake’ as it did not require Tehran to dismantle its uranium enrichment sites.

One source said probably only Israel, which is believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed state, would criticise the IAEA for not issuing a new report in the present circumstances. Iran and the world powers hope to reach a final settlement by July, when the interim accord expires, although they acknowledge this will be an uphill task. A decision not to go ahead with the new document may raise questions about information that the United Nations agency has gathered in the last two years on what it calls the ‘possible military dimensions’ to Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran says the programme is peaceful and denies Western allegations that it is seeking to develop the capability to make bombs.

The sources, refusing to be identified, suggested the more recent material concerned extra detail about alleged research and experiments that were covered in the November 2011 report.

Jim White promptly swatted that bunk down… Dahl, Reuters Grant Anonymity to “Sources” Peddling Iran Info Rejected by IAEA

Indeed… IAEA denies Israeli accusations of concealing report on Iran’s nuclear program

Moving along…

Israel imposes restrictions on Muslims praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Israeli occupation authorities imposed even stricter measures than usual regarding the entry of Palestinian Muslims wishing to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque for this Friday’s prayers. According to Israel Radio, the Jerusalem Police Department imposed the restrictions following the receipt of “intelligence” about Palestinian plans for “unrest”.

Only men over the age of 50 were allowed to perform their prayers in Al-Aqsa. No restrictions were imposed on Muslim women.

The police announced plans to deploy officers all over Jerusalem, in the Old City and in the mosque.

Amnesty International recently issued a scathing report…

Israeli troops intentionally killing Palestinians in West Bank, says Amnesty International; Israel denies claim

Amnesty International is accusing Israel of carrying out the wilful killing of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.

[...] the case of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy shot dead during a protest, is one of the worst examples.

He says the organisation’s research shows the boy was running away when he was hit.

“Medical reports, eyewitness accounts all point to Samir Awad, a 16-year-old, having been shot twice in the back as he was fleeing back to his village,” Mr Luther said. [...]

Amnesty said 45 Palestinians had been killed in the past three years – including 22 in the last year. [...]

Chief spokesman for the Israeli defence force Peter Lerner says Amnesty’s claims are inaccurate and misleading.

“The situation that we face, we use the force in a manner that is in line with the rules of engagement, enables us to utilise all of the tools of riot dispersal means we go through a whole procedure before we reach any sort of extreme measures,” he said.

“It’s a huge challenge but as I said, the Palestinian violence, whether it’s Molotov cocktails, these are fire bombs that if they hit you you’re dead.

“That’s the reality and that is a clear and present threat that you have to take it out of the equation. That is what we are facing.”

As Larry Derfner at +972 Mag points out…

The dark heart of Israel’s regional military policy

When you believe your enemies hate you more than they love their children, as Golda Meir put it, there’s no real deterrence against them; you have to keep bombing.

Most people in the West, I’d say, think that if Israel gives up the occupation, it will be healed. It will no longer be a danger to others and itself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and additional proof of this came Monday night when Israeli jet bombers again struck Hezbollah in Lebanon. The attack was another reminder that even if Israel were to get out of the West Bank and adopt a hands-off policy toward Gaza, it still believes it has the right to bomb neighboring countries to retard their military development, all the while Israel itself, of course, goes on building its arsenal to the heavens.

Ironically…

Poll: 76% of Israelis back Arab Peace Initiative

Some 76 per cent of Israelis said they were willing to support a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on the Arab Peace Initiative, the Walla website published.

Participants in the poll, by the Israeli Peace Initiative Group Yisrael Yozemet, expressed their support of the Initiative which promotes “completely peaceful relations between Israel and all of the Islamic and Arab countries after the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, including a land swap, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a conciliatory solution for the refugee issue.”

According to the Israeli Peace Initiative Group, which encourages the Israeli government to adopt the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, the more the Israelis know about the content of the Initiative the more they will accept it.

According to 72 per cent of respondents, Israelis want to reach an agreement that puts an end to the conflict. On the other hand, 77 per cent believe Palestinians do not want that. Meanwhile 63 per cent said they would support an agreement that could achieve peace between Israel and Arab and Islamic countries in exchange for Israeli concessions, but the required concessions were not mentioned.

Understanding Modern Israel: Why It Is Driving the World Towards Madness

In wrapping up… Is AIPAC trying to stop you from seeing this video?