Face in the News: Netanyahu speaks out on Hamas agreement; Corker takes aim at Obama on Russian sanctions

(CBS News) -- This Sunday on Face the Nation, tension in the Middle East and Ukraine took center stage. Speaking from Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the Palestinian Liberation Organization's new agreement with Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist group. Meanwhile, the Obama administration considered new sanctions against Russia, where President Vladimir Putin continued to mass troops along the Ukrainian border, raising fears around the world of an escalation in the violence there.

In an apparent move to temper criticism of the Hamas alliance, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Holocaust the most "heinous crime" in human history. Netanyahu led off the broadcast, dismissing this overture and making clear his disapproval of the P.L.O's new agreement. "I think the difficulty is to reconcile that statement that President Abbas is making a few days after he embraces Hamas that denies the Holocaust and calls for perpetuating another Holocaust against the 6 million Jews of the State of Israel," Netanyahu told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Weighing in for the Obama administration, which has made peace in the middle east a key foreign policy goal, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken offered a measured response to the latest developments in Israel. Both parties, Blinken said, have "made significant progress. But they are also at a point where each side has to make very, very tough decisions. And thus far, they're not prepared to make them." He added, "I think we need to step back, let each side consider the alternatives, and then see if there's a basis to move forward."

Netanyahu and Blinken's comments were picked up by Reuters, Politico, the Jerusalem Post, Bloomberg, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press.

As Putin continues to stoke international fears of a further Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Schieffer that the Obama administration was acting too tepidly in its efforts to put pressure on Russia. "I think these targeted sanctions against individuals just are not affecting Putin's behavior enough," Corker said, referring to the fiscal restrictions the Obama administration imposed on Russian oligarchs this month, which included a freeze on bank accounts. "I've been advocating... that we begin hitting companies within Russia to further destabilize their economy," Corker said. A more all-encompassing approach would be more effective, Corker emphasized: "To me, hitting four of the largest banks there would send shockwaves into the economy. Hitting Gazprom" - Russia's enormous natural gas firm - "would certainly send shockwaves into the economy."

Corker's comments were picked up by the Boston Herald, Fox News, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor.

Later in the broadcast, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D.-Mo., discussed the new survey she's leading to investigate sexual assault on American college campuses. The first step, she said, was to see how colleges were dealing with victims' claims. "We need to make these young people understand you don't have to have perfect judgment to be the victim of a felony," McCaskill said. "I think many times young students second-guess themselves, 'Oh, did I drink too much?' 'I shouldn't have gone to his room.' 'I didn't know him well enough.' And they do a self-blame."

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum also appeared on the broadcast to discuss his recent book, "Blue Collar Conservatives," as well as the new gun law in Georgia - which vastly increases the number of places where individuals can carry firearms. Santorum was unapologetic about his support for the law, and he made the case that many gun crimes could be prevented if more law-abiding citizens carried weapons. "I think a well-armed family is a safe family; a well-armed America is a safer America," Santorum said. "I think if you look at anything, from all of these attacks that have taken place, is if people actually had had weapons there those attacks would have been thwarted and people's lives would have been saved."

McCaskill and Santorum's comments were picked up by CNN, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and The Huffington Post.

  • Peter Fulham

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