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Telecom Egypt   11.48        GMC GROUP FOR INDUSTRIAL COMME   1.29        Modern Company For Water Proof   1.03        Ismailia Misr Poultry   2.45        El Arabia for Investment & Dev   0.34        Pioneers Holding   2.84        Ezz Steel   7.86        Egyptian Real Estate Group   6.85        Rakta Paper Manufacturing   4.39        Orascom Telecom Holding (OT)   3.92        Egyptian Iron & Steel   6.87        Naeem Holding   0.19        Canal Shipping Agencies   7.39        Misr Chemical Industries   5.65        United Arab Shipping   0.43        Egyptians Housing Development    1.94        Universal For Paper and Packag   4.94        Northern Upper Egypt Developme   4.93        Egyptian for Tourism Resorts   0.69        Egyptian Financial Group-Herme   7.42        Orascom Construction Industrie   240.82        Modern Shorouk Printing & Pack   7        Upper Egypt Contracting   0.8        Heliopolis Housing   21.65        Raya Holding For Technology An   4.57        United Housing & Development   8.93        International Agricultural Pro   2.1        Gulf Canadian Real Estate Inve   18.08        Alexandria Pharmaceuticals   45.71        Arab Cotton Ginning   2.46        Egyptian Chemical Industries (   7.26        National Real Estate Bank for    11.84        Six of October Development & I   15.03        National Development Bank   6.72        Oriental Weavers   20.66        Arab Gathering Investment   16.29        Egyptians Abroad for Investmen   2.75        Credit Agricole Egypt   9.04        Palm Hills Development Company   1.61        Remco for Touristic Villages C   2.13        Commercial International Bank    29.87        El Ezz Porcelain (Gemma)   1.9        Egyptian Starch & Glucose   5.4        Arab Real Estate Investment (A   0.41        South Valley Cement   3.12        Citadel Capital - Common Share   2.5        Rowad Tourism (Al Rowad)   5.05        Union National Bank - Egypt "    3.25        Ceramic & Porcelain   2.88        El Nasr Transformers (El Maco)   4.78        Egyptian Media Production City   2.31        GB AUTO   27        Sharkia National Food   3.78        Egyptian Transport (EGYTRANS)   7.85        El Kahera Housing   4.97        El Shams Housing & Urbanizatio   2.45        Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding   0.7        ARAB POLVARA SPINNING & WEAVIN   2.11        Cairo Poultry   8.32        Egyptian Financial & Industria   8        T M G Holding   4.03        Asek Company for Mining - Asco   10.66        Misr Hotels   27        Egyptian Electrical Cables   0.56        Medinet Nasr Housing   22.51        Mena Touristic & Real Estate I   1.21        ELSWEDY CABLES   18        Prime Holding   0.91        Al Arafa Investment And Consul   0.17        Alexandria Spinning & Weaving    0.74        Gharbia Islamic Housing Develo   8.41        General Company For Land Recla   16.6        Alexandria Cement   8.9        Arab Valves Company   0.94        Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals   12.4        TransOceans Tours   0.09        Egyptian for Developing Buildi   6.43        Egyptian Gulf Bank   1.24        Kafr El Zayat Pesticides   18.19        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   35.1        National company for maize pro   11.86        Delta Construction & Rebuildin   4.03        Zahraa Maadi Investment & Deve   48.25        Samad Misr -EGYFERT   3.52        Egypt for Poultry   1.41        Cairo Development and Investme   11.7        Cairo Pharmaceuticals   20.1        Maridive & oil services   0.9        Suez Canal Bank   3.75        Nile Pharmaceuticals   15.81        The Arab Dairy Products Co. AR   73.85        National Housing for Professio   14.39        El Ahli Investment and Develop   4.87        Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank   10.79        Ismailia National Food Industr   5.16        National Societe Generale Bank   25.52        Acrow Misr   19.16        Alexandria Mineral Oils Compan   63.63        Paper Middle East (Simo)   5.59        Egypt Aluminum   12.31        Giza General Contracting   13.12        Middle Egypt Flour Mills   5.82        Extracted Oils   0.6        Assiut Islamic Trading   4.56        Engineering Industries (ICON)   3.95        North Cairo Mills   15.3        Arab Pharmaceuticals   11.88        Grand Capital   5.38        El Ahram Co. For Printing And    10.68        Minapharm Pharmaceuticals   25.49        El Arabia Engineering Industri   13.52        El Nasr For Manufacturing Agri   9.71        Naeem portfolio and fund Manag   1.7        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   6.76        Natural Gas & Mining Project (   68.26        Housing & Development Bank   13.95        East Delta Flour Mills   31.5        Orascom Development Holding (A   3.22        Memphis Pharmaceuticals   11.12        Abou Kir Fertilizers   134.23        Delta Insurance   5        Cairo Investment & Real Estate   12.18        Cairo Oils & Soap   12.98        Egyptian Arabian (cmar) Securi   0.36        Egyptian Real Estate Group Bea   15.56        Alexandria Containers and good   85.51        Upper Egypt Flour Mills   45.78        Development & Engineering Cons   9.94        Sinai Cement   15.18        Medical Union Pharmaceuticals   28.01        Torah Cement   24.2        Alexandria New Medical Center   46.55        Export Development Bank of Egy   5.04        Egyptian Company for Mobile Se   92.02        Middle & West Delta Flour Mill   32.7        El Kahera El Watania Investmen   4.18        Mansourah Poultry   12.41        Delta Sugar   11.04        Misr Beni Suef Cement   41.21        Egyptian Satellites (NileSat)   6.14        Cairo Educational Services   17.75        Lecico Egypt   7.55        Sharm Dreams Co. for Tourism I   5.3        General Silos & Storage   10.77        Al Moasher for Programming and   0.66        UTOPIA   5.28        Arab Ceramics (Aracemco)   25.4        Barbary Investment Group ( BIG   0.98        


News - International News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-12 08:54:12
Greece's new leftist government and its international creditors failed to agree on a way forward on the country's unpopular bailout and will try again on Monday, with time running out for a financing deal. In seven hours of crisis talks in Brussels that ended after midnight, euro zone finance ministers were unable to agree even a joint statement on the next procedural steps. Both sides played down the setback, insisting there had been no rupture. But Greek stock prices, which whipped higher after hours in New York on talk of an accord, sagged with disappointment when it emerged that Greece's laconic new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had walked away from a draft deal to extend current credit terms after conferring with fellow Greek officials. "We had an intense discussion, constructive, covering a lot of ground, also making progress, but not enough progress yet to come to joint conclusions," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of Eurogroup finance ministers, told a midnight news conference. "We didn’t actually go into detailed proposals, we didn’t enter into negotiations on content of the program or a program, we simply tried to work next steps over the next couple days. We were unable to do that." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-12 08:09:34
Brent hovered near $55 a barrel on Thursday after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles set a record for the fifth week in a row, renewing fears that supply is still far outpacing demand. March Brent futures were up 40 cents to $55.06 a barrel at 0429 GMT, following a 3-percent loss in the previous session that saw prices break below $54 at one point. U.S. March futures were trading up 56 cents at $49.40, after falling more than 2 percent. "For today, we should expect some recovery considering prices have been dropping," said Daniel Ang of Phillip Futures in Singapore in a note, adding news of industry restructuring and lower oil rig counts had been temporarily pushing up prices, but that crude production still hadn't actually declined. Brent prices have gained as much as 30 percent from a mid-January low of $45.19 a barrel, but the benchmark has been pulling back this week as evidence of a continuing glut mounts. "It is difficult to declare with conviction that oil is back in a bull market," Nomura analysts said in a note dated Feb. 11. "It will probably take a few months for the reduction in energy capex budgets to be fully reflected into business activities," the analysts said, referring to cuts in capital expenditures that would eventually reduce output. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's oil minister met with the chairman of Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, Saudi state media said, and discussed cooperation between oil producers belonging to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-members like Russia. Under Saudi guidance, OPEC decided last November not to cut output, allowing oil prices to plunge in an effort to protect its market share against higher-cost producers. Russia would prefer to see much higher prices because cheap oil has put its state finances under heavy pressure. Meanwhile, Ukrainian peace talks on Wednesday were met by a surge of fighting. Washington is now openly talking of arming Ukraine to defend itself from "Russian aggression", raising the prospect of a proxy war in the heart of Europe between Cold War foes. Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia will keep March crude supply to Asia steady, industry sources told Reuters on Thursday. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-12 07:58:18
The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France may be close to agreement following all-night talks on resolving the Ukraine conflict, diplomatic sources said on Thursday. Details remained unclear after more than 12 hours of peace talks in the Belarus capital Minsk, with one source saying there was hope agreement could reached and another saying a document would be signed. But the document, which may be a joint declaration rather than a full agreement, may be signed by lower level envoys rather than by the leaders themselves, the sources said. The sources said any agreement would however be sent to a "contact group" which includes representatives of the pro-Russian rebels, whose involvement could be crucial. The discussions came as pro-Moscow separatists tightened the pressure on Kiev by launching some of the war's worst fighting on Wednesday, killing 19 Ukrainian soldiers in assaults near the railway town of Debaltseve. Fighting has already killed more than 5,000 people, and Washington is now openly talking of arming Ukraine to defend itself from "Russian aggression", raising the prospect of a proxy war in the heart of Europe between Cold War foes. The summit was held in neighboring Belarus under a Franco-German proposal to try to halt the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande joined Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin for a longer-than-expected meeting that began early on Wednesday evening and continued well into Thursday morning. A Ukrainian presidential aide, Valeriy Chaly, had earlier described the four-way talks as "a battle of nerves". As the talks began, Poroshenko said that without a de-escalation of the conflict and a ceasefire the situation would get "out of control". The outcome of the talks is expected to influence discussions at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, when sanctions against Moscow will be on the agenda. FUND BAILOUT The talks were taking place while an International Monetary Fund mission was negotiating a bailout to save Ukraine from bankruptcy. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday he hoped for a deal in the next 48 hours and IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she would make a statement early on Thursday. Kiev and NATO accuse Russia of supplying separatists with men and weapons. Moscow denies it is involved in fighting for territory Putin calls "New Russia". If the French and German leaders hoped their peace initiative would be met by conciliatory moves on the ground, the prospect of talks appears to have encouraged the pro-Russian rebels determined to drive home their advantage. Armored columns of Russian-speaking soldiers with no insignia have been advancing for days around Debaltseve. Last week they captured the small town of Vuhlehirsk next to Debaltseve. On the Russian side of the border, Moscow announced war games on Tuesday on the eve of the talks. The United States has been openly discussing arming the Ukrainian government, a move that is opposed by European allies who say it would escalate the conflict while falling far short of giving Kiev the firepower needed to win. President Barack Obama says he has yet to make up his mind on the question of sending weapons. He spoke by phone to Putin on Tuesday, and the White House said he warned the Russian leader that the costs would rise if Moscow kept aiding the separatists. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-12 07:27:07
Greece's new leftist government and its international creditors failed to agree on a way forward on the country's unpopular bailout and will try again on Monday, with time running out for a financing deal. In seven hours of crisis talks in Brussels that ended after midnight, euro zone finance ministers were unable to agree even a joint statement on the next procedural steps. Both sides played down the setback, insisting there had been no rupture. But Greek stock prices, which whipped higher after hours in New York on talk of an accord, sagged with disappointment when it emerged that Greece's laconic new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had walked away from a draft deal to extend current credit terms after conferring with fellow Greek officials. "We had an intense discussion, constructive, covering a lot of ground, also making progress, but not enough progress yet to come to joint conclusions," Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of Eurogroup finance ministers, told a midnight news conference. "We didn’t actually go into detailed proposals, we didn’t enter into negotiations on content of the program or a program, we simply tried to work next steps over the next couple days. We were unable to do that." Greece would have no further contact with experts from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank before Monday, he said. That was the opposite of how other EU ministers understood they had left matters when they headed home an hour or so earlier. Looking as casually confident as when he had arrived at his first such talks, Varoufakis said: "Now we are proceeding to the next meeting on Monday. We hope that by the end of that one, there is going to be a conclusion in a manner that is optimal both for the perspective of Greece and our European partners." Spelling out how Greek voters had rejected the "toxic" austerity dictated by international lenders that rescued Greece after the global financial crisis, he said he hoped for a "healing deal" on Monday and stressed that, while much remained undone, "not finding a solution is not in our rationale". Diplomats said efforts to clinch a joint statement, as it went through drafts, were aborted after Varoufakis consulted government colleagues. A text seen by Reuters showed that the Eurogroup had wanted to agree on "extending" the present loan program - a phrase that is anathema to Athens. Hard-left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose close ally Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis sat beside the academic economist Varoufakis in the Eurogroup, has stuck to his guns. He knows those who voted him into office last month are insistent he end a bailout deal Greeks blame for worsening poverty. Tsipras, who will meet fellow EU leaders at a summit in Brussels later on Thursday, rejects any extension of the 240 billion euro package, which expires on Feb. 28. He refuses to cooperate with the "troika" of EU/ECB/IMF officials overseeing Greece's finances and demands a "haircut" reducing its debt. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said that if Greece is not willing to request an extension of the current bailout - the biggest in financial history - "then that's it", appearing to rule out further assistance or debt forgiveness. Financial markets have been on edge over the Greek crisis because of fears that failure to reach a deal soon could trigger a Greek default and a disorderly exit from the euro zone, possibly setting off wider market turmoil. Asked whether a so-called "Grexit" was on the cards, Varoufakis told reporters on arrival: "Absolutely not." He set out the new government's thinking on interim steps toward a negotiated debt restructuring but presented no formal document, to the surprise of some ministers, participants said. "Positions are now a bit clearer, but there is a very long way to go in the coming days," said one EU source. Keeping a close eye on a problem that could reprise some of the banking and financial market turmoil of three years ago, ECB chief Mario Draghi was present throughout the talks. Athens's partners have warned that time is short since any changes to the current bailout may require ratification by several national parliaments in creditor countries. RESPECT FOR RULES Varoufakis and his delegation had a prior meeting with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who flew to Brussels to join the talks in a sign of the IMF's concern about the Greek crisis, which is weighing on global financial markets. "They are competent, intelligent, they've thought about their issues. We have to listen to them, we are starting to work together and it is a process that is starting and is going to last a certain time," Lagarde told reporters. In Athens, a Greek official said Varoufakis had discussed with Lagarde and Dijsselbloem some form of "bridge agreement" for funding the state once the current bailout deal expires. Meeting his counterparts collectively for the first time, Varoufakis worked the room before talks started, shaking hands first with Schaeuble, then others. He looked relaxed in a designer checked scarf and his trademark open-neck shirt. Economists polled by Reuters this week estimated a one-in-four chance of Greece leaving the 19-nation single currency area this year - the highest reading since the start of the Greek debt crisis in late 2009. Most analysts believe the odds still favor an agreement between Greece and the euro zone emerging later this month after lots of sound and fury. "We think that the European community and Greek authorities will reach a compromise such that there will not be an exit of Greece from the euro zone," said James McCormack of credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings. European Union leaders will take up the issue at their first summit with Tsipras on Thursday. EU officials said they would be briefed on the Eurogroup talks but there would be no room for debt negotiation at a summit mostly devoted to the Ukraine-Russia conflict and fighting terrorism. "BANKRUPT BUT FREE" At least 10,000 Greeks took to the streets of Athens and other cities on Wednesday to demonstrate support for Tsipras's government in the Brussels negotiations. Smaller leftist satellite rallies were planned in Brussels, outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and in London. Protesters outside parliament in central Athens unfurled banners proclaiming "Bankrupt but Free" and "Stop Austerity". Tsipras tweeted a picture of the rally, with the message: "In the cities of Greece and Europe the people are fighting the negotiation battle. They are our strength." Varoufakis has proposed a six-month transition in which Greece would be allowed to issue more short-term debt, receive the proceeds of ECB holdings of Greek bonds and tap unused bank rescue funds while renegotiating its debt. Athens would swap its euro zone loans for GDP-linked bonds and its ECB-held debt for interest-bearing perpetual bonds with no reimbursement date. EU officials have said the most Greece can expect is a further extension of the repayment deadline for its euro zone loans, a lower interest rate and perhaps a prolonged moratorium on debt service payments, in return for continued reforms under some form of external supervision. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-11 09:21:25
US President Barack Obama has warned President Vladimir Putin that Russia will face greater costs if it continues its "aggressive actions" in Ukraine. Mr Obama urged his Russian counterpart to seize the opportunity of fresh talks to find a peaceful solution to the war that has raged since April last year. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-11 07:42:57
Downing Street insists it had no warning of HSBC wrongdoing, despite revelation MPs had known about ‘disc from the Swiss’ with names of potential tax dodgers. Downing Street and the Financial Conduct Authority insisted on Tuesday they had been given no warning of any wrongdoing at HSBC’s Swiss bank before the weekend – even though executives at HMRC were raising concerns in public in 2011. No 10 said it first knew of an admission of wrongdoing by HSBC at the weekend, even though stories of alleged tax evasion by the bank’s clients had appeared in the summer of 2011 and through 2012. At a morning press briefing, a Downing Street government spokeswoman said HMRC had not briefed any minister on the allegations surrounding HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary. “No government minister had any knowledge that HSBC was involved in wrongdoing in regard to its Swiss banking arm,” said the spokesperson. However, in September 2011 David Hartnett, the then head of HMRC, told MPs on the Treasury select committee: “I think the whole nation probably knows that our department has a disc from the Swiss – from the Geneva branch of a major UK bank – with 6,000 names, all ripe for investigation.” Hartnett went on: “We have hundreds under investigation, some of them under criminal investigation, and we are about to challenge another 800. Then we will industrialise the process, challenging 1,000 at a time, with a view to having all those who need challenging challenged pretty quickly.” The chief tax inspector did not name HSBC, but the bank had been identified in numerous newspaper reports at the time, and its identity was readily apparent. It was also in the public domain that HSBC had tried in the French courts to block French officials handing the disc to the UK tax authorities, pleading client confidentiality. But it was handed over, with HMRC telling MPs that it had been received in June 2010, before former chairman HSBC Stephen Green was made a Tory peer and became a trade minister. Faced with the statements made by HMRC in 2011, Downing Street sought to clarify the government position, saying: “We have no record of any government minister being made aware by HMRC of any alleged wrongdoing by HSBC employees”. The spokesman’s remarks are a more narrow denial of what Treasury ministers knew about the scale of tax evasion at the bank. They also leave open the question why if it was known that 6,000 UK names were being investigated in one UK bank, the Treasury did not challenge the bank over its activities, or ask the former chairman Lord Green what he knew. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said it “beggared belief” that HMRC did not inform the Treasury of the scale of tax evasion found amongst UK clients at the bank. Labour plans to go on the offensive over the issue at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, and in a special Commons debate in which Labour will promise to put forward a tax evasion clampdown in its first finance bill. Labour believes the public are angry that HMRC has only one prosecuted one person from the HSBC list and instead focused on recovering the lost sums. Meanwhile, Martin Wheatley the chairman of Financial Conduct Authority told a Treasury select committee hearing on Tuesday that the financial regulator had not been offered any details of wrong doing by HSBC. Labour committee member John Mann questioned how the FCA could do an effective job overseeing the banking industry if it was not informed about potential wrongdoing. Mann said: “Something very seriously is going wrong when one arm of government is investigating what appears to be a very, very major transgression and another arm, the conduct authority, isn’t able to do so, because no one has told you.” Wheatley told MPs that the FCA was “closely monitoring the banks overall ... We do have a deep programme of reform in a number of the banks regarding anti-money laundering and HSBC is one of the banks we’re working closely with”. HMRC had said under the terms of the transfer of the disc from the French banks in 2010, it was prevented from transferring the information to other UK authorities. Downing Street refused to speculate on whether HMRC should have contacted the Financial Conduct Authority over any alleged systemic wrongdoing at the bank saying the focus of HMRC was to recover lost tax. Wheatley, who took charge of the FCA in 2013 with the aim of making the regulator tougher on poor behaviour in the financial sector, said the files referred to historical claims and the bank had since cleaned up its act. “The allegations are about a Swiss unit of the bank, based on events of predominantly 2005-2007,” he told MPs on the Treasury select committee. “We are very closely monitoring the ability of the bank overall … and we think significant improvements have been made.” However, asked whether he was confident that the recent run of banking scandals was over, Wheatley said: “No, I am not, because frankly the CEOs don’t know about these skeletons in their organisations.” More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-11 08:16:17
U.S. President Barack Obama will propose to Congress on Wednesday a new three-year authorization for the use of force against Islamic State with limits on U.S. combat troops' involvement, lawmakers and congressional aides said. Obama has defended his authority to lead an international coalition against Islamic State since Aug. 8 when U.S. fighter jets began attacking the jihadists in Iraq. But he has faced criticism for failing to seek the backing of Congress, where some accuse him of breaching his constitutional authority. Facing pressure to let lawmakers weigh in on an issue as important as the deployment of troops and chastened by elections that handed power in Congress to Republicans, he said in November he would request formal authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). An outline of that request, expected to be handed to Congress on Wednesday, could stir debate over how U.S. troops should be deployed and the extent of U.S. engagement in Iraq and Syria. The proposal would allow the use of special forces and advisors for defensive purposes but bar "enduring offensive ground forces," lawmakers and aides said. It would not, however, set geographic limits for the campaign against the group. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-11 07:55:20
Rockets killed more than 10 civilians and soldiers deep in Ukrainian government-held territory on Tuesday and rebels pushed on with an assault on an army-held rail junction, setbacks that showed Kiev's position worsening on the eve of peace talks. Advances by pro-Russian rebels diminished hopes of a deal when Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany hold a summit in Belarus on Wednesday under a new Franco-German initiative to halt fighting in a war that has killed more than 5,000 people. Representatives of the "Contact Group" meeting in Belarus on the Ukraine crisis denied a report by Russia's TASS news agency that a ceasefire deal had been reached in talks in Minsk. Rebel representative Denis Pushilin told Russian channel Rossiya24 it was too early to talk of any agreements and said the sides were taking a break. European officials say it is difficult to imagine the rebels agreeing to halt and go back to earlier positions after weeks during which they have been advancing relentlessly. A Russian source quoted by the state RIA news agency said there were no plans to sign a document to resolve the conflict at the peace talks, and the main subject would be creation of a demilitarized zone. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-11 07:46:04
U.S. President Barack Obama called for "swift work" by Beijing to narrow their differences on cyber issues, the White House said, as the two sides start planning for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington in September. The world's two biggest economies have been trying to ease tensions amid mutual accusations of hacking and Internet theft. In a phone call with Xi, Obama said he looked forward to welcoming him to Washington for a state visit later this year, the statement added. Chinese state news agency Xinhua said that Xi would visit in September. "During the conversation, both sides agreed to make full preparations to ensure the success of the trip," the report said. The White House added: "The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate closely on security challenges, including by jointly encouraging Iran to seize the historic opportunity presented by P5+1 negotiations." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-02-10 09:27:45
Israeli officials are considering amending the format of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned address to the U.S. Congress next month to try to calm some of the partisan furor the Iran-focused speech has provoked. Netanyahu is due to address a joint session of Congress about Iran's nuclear program on March 3, just two weeks before Israeli elections, following an invitation from John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house. Boehner's invitation has caused consternation in both Israel and the United States, largely because it is seen as Netanyahu, a hawk on Iran, working with the Republicans to thumb their noses at President Barack Obama's policy on Iran. It is also seen as putting Netanyahu's political links to the Republicans ahead of Israel's nation-to-nation ties with the United States, its strongest and most important ally, while serving as a pre-election campaign booster. As a result, Israeli officials are considering whether Netanyahu should speak to a closed-door session of Congress, rather than in a prime-time TV address, so as to drain some of the intensity from the event, a source said. Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, said the speech was still scheduled to go ahead as planned on the appointed date but he declined to comment on the report that Israeli officials were considering amending the speech's format. Another option is for the prime minister to make his speech at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington the same week, rather than in Congress. "The issue has been under discussion for a week," said a source close to the prime minister's office. "(Netanyahu) is discussing it with Likud people. Some say he should give up on the speech, others that he should go through with it." But Netanyahu told voters from the Russian speaking community on Monday evening that he was determined to discuss Israel's objections in Washington to an emerging deal withIran but he did not say if that meant a public speech in Congress. "I am ... determined to go to Washington to present Israel's position to the members of Congress and the American people," Netanyahu said, repeating that nuclear weapons in Iran's hands would constitute an existential threat to Israel. An opinion poll by Israel's Army Radio on Monday said 47 percent of people think Netanyahu should cancel the address, while 34 percent say he should go ahead with it. Since the issue arose, there are signs it is having an impact on his poll ratings ahead of the March 17 election. Obama said his decision not to meet with Netanyahu followed basic protocol of not meeting with world leaders before an election. "Some of this just has to do with how we do business, and I think it's important for us to maintain these protocols because the U.S.-Israeli relationship is not about a particular party," Obama said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington. A poll by the Times of Israel on Monday showed Netanyahu's Likud would win 23 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, four fewer than the center-left opposition. Earlier polls showed Likud and the opposition alliance neck-and-neck on 24 seats. Speaking on radio last week, Israel's deputy foreign minister suggested Netanyahu had been "misled" about the speech, believing it to be bipartisan when the Democrats were not entirely on board. While that may have created some room for Netanyahu to get out of it if the pressure at home and from Washington becomes too great, it may be too late. If he withdraws now it may make him look weak with core voters. Furthermore, he needs an opportunity to play up his tough-on-Iran credentials before election, with national security an overriding issue for voters. More»