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September 21, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 PAGE 13A By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Among the red lines, the deadlines, the diplomacy and the dress downs, the vaunted cooperation between Israel and the United States on whether and when to strike Iran seems to be in a free fall. tn an unusually blunt o~tburst, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 11 blasted the "international community"--widely seen in Israeli media as code for the Obama administration for refusing to set red lines in its effort to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. "The world tells Israel. 'Wait. there's still time'." Ne- .tanyahu said in English at a ceremony in which he greeted Bulgaria's prime minister. "And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international communitywho refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel." That appeared to refer directly to th.e rejection of deadlines by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 10 in an interview with By Linda Gradstein The Media Line JERUSALEM Dressed in school uniforms andwearing small backpacks, dozens of boys walk in the street, pass- ing a gas station and an auto body shop. They turn into a narrow alleyway and walk uphill toward a residential white stone building. Inside, what should have been bedrooms have become classrooms. A school official, who asked not to be identified. said there are just three toi- lets for the 400 boys in grades I through 6. The classrooms are crowded, with up to 40 students per class. There is no cafeteria and no playground. "The Jerusalem municipal- ity rents houses like this one and tries to make it like a school but without any con- trol on the quality," Hatem Khweis, a spokesman for the Parents Committee in East Jerusalem told The Media Line. "Besides the overcrowd- ing, there is a lot of violence in the schools." Khreis himself says that without a playground, active children often start fights with each other. Due to the conditions, he made the de- cision to send his own three children to private schools despite the cost. A new report by two Israeli organizations. The Associa- tion for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Ir Amim, found a shortage of more than 1.100 classrooms in east Jerusalem. The report also found that as many as 24.000 students are not enrolled in any educa- tional framework at all. while an estimated 40 percent of students do not finish high school. A spokesman for the Jeru- salem municipality rejected many of the report's conclu- sions. "It is unfortunate that ACRI and Ir Amim Chose to ignore many positive trends in the education system Bloomberg News. "We're not setting dead- lines," Clinton said. "We're watching very carefully about what they do because it's al- ways been more about their actions than their words." The comments were made a day after Netanyahu in his weekly Cabinet meeting called on the international com- munity to "set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons." In another sign of increas- ing tension over the Iran issue, " people close to Netanyahu leaked to the Israeli media that President Obama would not meet with the prime minister when they both address the U.N. General Assembly later this month. Tommy Vietor. a spokes- man for the National Secu= rity Council, dismissed the account, noting that Obama and Netanyahu would not be in New York at the same time. "The president arrives in New York for the U.N. on Monday, Sept. 24. and departs on Tuesday, Sept. 25." Vietor said in a statement. "The prime minister doesn't arrive in New York until later in the in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem." Barak Cohen. told The Media Line. "The municipality inaugurated dozens of new classrooms in Arab neighborhoods for the current school year and 400 classrooms are under construction5 Cohen also said the per- centage of high-school drop- outs is "much lower" than the 40 percent the report is claiming and that the city is operating 15 afternoon sup- port and tutoring programs. Israel acquired east Je= rusalem in the 1967 war and almost immediately afterward annexed it, in do- ing so expanding the city's municipal borders. Palestin- zans reject Israeli control over the eastern neighborhoods, insisting that the area con- stitutes the capital of a future Palestinian state. Although the reality is that east Jerusalem and its school system are under Israeli control, the educational cur- riculum and the textbooks .are supplied by the Palestin- ian Authority. The primary language of instruction is Arabic. although students study English and Hebrew as well. But Hatem Khweis of parents committee says the city censors some of the books. "Last year. Israel interfered with our educational materi- als and erased P_alestinian flags from our textbooks." he said. "We are Palestinians. Isn't there a Palestinian flag at the United Nations and the White House? The municipality respond- ed in a statement that read in part: "The Municipality severely frowns upon any attempt to educate children to provocation and acts in coordination with school principals to make sure that the books distributed to the pupils are those that have been vetted for material that might incite or that denies week. They're simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and P.M. are in frequent contact and the P.M. will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit." Netanyahu reportedly of- fered to come to Washington to speak with the president. By that time, Obama will be deeply involved in his presidential campaign, and White House officials have said he has scheduled no bilateral meetings during the General Assembly week. when the world's leaders meet in New York.- Netanyahu wants a clear sign from Obama that he will strike if Iran is poised to acquire a nuclear bomb. The Obama administration, which has blitzed Israel in recent months with a parade of of- ficial visitors, has said that it is keeping all options on the table, includingthe possibility of a military strike. But the administration will not make clear in public or in private what the trigger for such a strike would be. Israeli anxieties are exac- erbated by reports out of Iran that the Islamic Republic's Israel's right to exist." Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim says that Israel is responsible for the educational system in east Jerusalem. "It is Israel which chose to make east Jerusalem part of Israel and to impose Israeli law here." he told The Media Line. "According to that law. the municipality is responsible for providing education to all the children who are living here and the facts show that this is just not happening." The total population of Jerusalem is 801,000, accord- ing to Israeli government statistics. Tatarski claims that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat wants to increase the Jewish population of Jerusa- lem, Which has declined to 64 percent, relative to that of the Palestinian population. "Israel wishes to see Jeru- salem as a Jewish city and having a large Palestinian population here doesn't fit in with this." he said. "If you provide for the needs of the Palestinian population, it can grow and prosper, so the municipality is doing the opposite and hoping people will leave." Responding to The Media Line's inquiry through a writ- ten statement. Barkat sharply denied the allegations. "As one who believes in a united Jerusalem. it is my duty to manage and invest in all of the city's neighborhoods and populations." he said. "In the past two years, we have taken major steps to narrow the gaps and overcome many years of neglect." The state- ment did not list the steps. Palestinians say there is still a long way to go. They say the want to see more schools built. Next to east Jerusalem. they say, is a large plot of land that could accom- modate several schools. The city, though, says it is already claimed by a Jewish military academy. suspected nuclear weapons program is accelerating. On Sept. 11, TheAssociated Press quoted unnamed dip- lomats as saying intelligence provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the de- structiv power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years. The information comes from Israel. the U.S. and at least two other Western countries, according to the diplomats. Iran denies it is working on a nuclear weapon. The IAEA would not com- ment. but four of the six diplomats who spoke to the AP on the issue said the new intelligence is alluded to in an oblique passage in the IAEA's August report on Iran saying that "the agency has obtained more information which further corroborates" its suspicions. Netanyahu last month dressed down the U.S. ambas- sador to Israel. Dan Shapiro. over the Iranian nuclear issue at a meeting between the Israeli leader and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the U.S. House'of Representatives Intelligence Committee. "There was no doubt." Rog- ers told W JR. a Michigan radio station, in astory picked up by The Atlantic magazine. "You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this administration." Israel's U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, played down the tension in an address Sept. 10 to B'nai B'rith International's annual policy conference. "Not everything you read in the newspaper is true," he said. Disagreements were nat- ural because Israel is "located in the backyard of Iran" and is threatened daily, whereas the U.S. is a "big country located far" from Iran and has "vastly better" weapons. "It was a candid, respectful and substantial" discussion, Oren said. Obama's chief of staff and his informal top liaison to the Jewish community. Jack Lew. assured pro-Israel Democrats at a recent private lunch in Charlotte N.C., where the Democratic National Con- vention was being held, that Israel was up to date on U.S. plans. "We have made it clear to otherswhatwe thinkthattime horizon will look like" regard- ing an Iran timeline. Lew said. according to an official of the Center for Middle East Peace. The Obama administration has made clear its preference to exhaust diplomacy and sanctions before considering a military strike apreference that Clinton reiterated in her Bloomberg interview. "We have always said every option was on the table, butwe believe in the negotiation, the diplomatic effort through the P-5+1. but also pressure. And we are working to increase that pressure. The sanctions. we know. are having an effect," Clinton said. "The efforts that the P-5+1 have made to pin Iran down on what exactly they are willing to do are still under way, and we will be having some meetings in the next month in New York and elsewhere to take stock of where we are." The P-5+1, the group lead- ing negotiationswith Iran, are the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States--plus Germany. Israeli and U.S. officials have emphasized the close consultations between the two countries on I 'an. which Clinton noted in her own interview. "They're more anxious about a quick response be- cause they feel that they're right in the bull's eye. so to speak, if this doesn't end up changing Iranian behavior and their nuclear weapons program," she said of the Israelis. "Butwe're convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions. to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good faith negotiation." .Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said any American strike would have broad back- ing in the U.S. Congress. Speaking Sept. 10 at B'nai B'rith International's policy conference. Lieberman said. "There will be overwhelming bipartisan support of that action in the Congress of the United States." regardless of whether Obama or Mitt Rom- ney is president at the time. Suzanne Pollak of the Washington Jewish Week contributed to this report. 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