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from The Great Debate:

Can Obama inspire youth vote in Israel?

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President Barack Obama's message to Israel last week was both powerful and urgent: You can't go on like this. The status quo is not a viable option.

That is a direct challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who acts like Israel can go on like this for the foreseeable future. Many Israelis are strongly tempted to believe, with Netanyahu, that the threat of terrorism and the occupation of the West Bank are manageable problems.

“It can be tempting,” Obama said when addressing an audience of Israeli students in Jerusalem, “to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers [and] there are so many other pressing issues that demand your attention.”

The president's warning: Don't be tempted. “Peace is the only path to true security,” he said. “The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”

from MacroScope:

Sen. Warren flags double-standard for criminal prosecutions of banks

Massachusetts' rookie Senator Elizabeth Warren was out making waves again at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill today. The former Harvard law professor contrasted the legal code affecting drug prosecutions with what she depicted as cushy settlements for large Wall Street firms that committed egregious crimes.

Take Standard Chartered. They were fined $667 million by U.S. regulators for breaching sanctions related to Iran and three other countries. Yet the bank posted a tenth straight year of record profits.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

New U.S. court rulings may add to costs, risks of finance industry regulatory enforcement

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By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, June 26 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Two court rulings last week may raise the enforcement burden for the financial services industry and its regulators.

A Brooklyn federal judge suggested that for regulatory targets of the Securities and Exchange Commission, forcing the agency to take them to court could end up costing less than settling before litigation is begun, depending on legal fees and other considerations, because its ability to seek compensation in court is limited.And a Supreme Court ruling may make investigating potential violations more expensive and time-consuming for prosecutors and agency lawyers as well as criminal and regulatory defense counsel and may also cut the number of jury trials.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Negligence charges gain clout in SEC enforcement arsenal

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By Julie DiMauro

BOSTON/NEW YORK, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Financial services firms may face more negligence cases brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reflecting a greater willingness by the commission to base charges on negligence findings, industry professionals were told at a Thomson Reuters forum.

“What we are seeing is a willingness to actively go out and charge negligence,” Ian Roffman, a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP, told compliance officers and others in a panel discussion on SEC enforcement hosted by the Thomson Reuters Governance, Compliance and Risk division. Negligence charges have traditionally been used as a fallback position in settlements, said Roffman, a former SEC trial attorney who now specializes in securities cases. But an SEC fraud case brought last year was founded on negligence accusations, and several other firms have received “Wells notices” of looming enforcement action or other indications that they may face possible negligence charges from the SEC, he said.

from The Great Debate:

U.S. aid, Israel and wishful thinking

In June 1980, when an American president, Jimmy Carter, objected to Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied territories, the Israeli government responded by announcing plans for new settlements. At the time, settlers numbered fewer than 50,000.

In 2010, another American president, Barack Obama, is calling for an end to settlements he considers obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli authorities responded by announcing new ones, illegal under international law. Settlers now number close to half a million.

from Tales from the Trail:

When seen from Capitol Hill, Jerusalem looks a bit different

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ISRAEL-USA/What's the U.S. policy toward Israel? It may depend on which branch of government you ask.

On Capitol Hill, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got a warm reception during his Washington visit this week. Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, says Congress is on "a different page" than the Obama administration over Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the overall U.S. relationship with Israel.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Meanwhile in the West Bank…

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While Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. leaders debated the status of settlement expansion in New York, Palestinian workers carried on building the fenced-off red-roofed suburban enclaves in the West Bank.

With the settlement issue continuing to heat up the discussions, we sent our correspondents to a settlement construction site to see it for ourselves.

from Sangwon Yoon:

The Iranian Guessing Game

After failing to reach an agreement on a settlement freeze, U.S. envoy George Mitchell extended his trip to the Middle East with hopes of arranging a tri-lateral meeting involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and U.S. President Barack Obama at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York next week. (Read more here.)

Netanyahu refused to a complete halt in building settlements in the West Bank stating the need for "inhabitants of Judea and Samaria to continue to lead normal lives" as the reason. He said the Israeli government would consider a "reduction" in scope of construction. (Read more here.)

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Settlement Freeze Still the Hot Topic

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PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/MITCHELLMonths on, and the buck still stops with the settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is now in Europe to meet in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today and US peace envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday. He will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.

According to our latest article , the settlement freeze controversy  will dominate discussions, though Netanyahu is also keen to coordinate with Britain and Germany on opposition to Iran's nuclear program.   (For more information on Netanyahu's Europe trip, check out our factbox.)

from Your View:

Palestinian boys and Israeli jeep

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Palestinian boys are seen walking past an Israeli military jeep in Hebron, the West Bank.  Your View/Inga Vaiciakauskaite

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