>> our relationship will get even stronger in the years to come. >> benjamin netanyahu vows there is no strain in israel's relationship with the u.s. >> you're watching al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. also ahead. [ gunfire ] >> iraq steps up a major offensive to retapture the city of tikrit from the islamic state in iraq and the levant.
u.s. secretary of state says u.s. will implement consequences if the cease-fire is no implemented in a matter of hours. and the president of namibia is awarded the leadership price. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu insists relations with the united states are strong. he's visiting washington, where he has given a speech at a conference for a major israeli lobby. on tuesday netanyahu will address the u.s. congress, which has upset the administration of barack obama. he's expected to make his case against the nuclear deal with iran. >> israels the united states will continue to stand together because america and israel are more than friends. we're like a family.
now these agreements in the family are always uncomfortable. but we must always remember that we are family. [applause] rooted in a common heritage, up holding common values, sharing a common destiny. that's the message i came to tell you today. our alliance is sound. our friendship is strong, and with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come. >> let's speak to tom ackerman now who joins us live from washington, d.c. the alliance is strong, but there is no denying that this trip to washington, this particular trip and speech to congress has createed a lot of controversy. >> yes, and you can see some of that reflected in the actual attendance here at this conference of aipac. the american israel public
affairs committee, which has always lobbyied very effectively in congress for even among politician who is really have no relationship or interest in the middle east dispute the israeli-palestinian dispute and yet they've managed to hammer together a very strong alliance. that is what they feel might be threatened by rather by netanyahu's going around the administration by speaking to congress tomorrow at the invitation of the republicans and without any advance notification to the administration. one indication of what their upset is about secretary of state john kerry while meeting with the foreign minister in switzerland, he would be very concerned if net netanyahu
divulgeed some details of the negotiations. netanyahu's position is exactly that. he feels that it is a bad deal. he'll go into some detail. we're not sure how much before congress into explaining why he thinks it's a bad detail even though as kerry said, we don't know the exact terms, but we do know that the israelis, for one thing, do not want to see the iranians have any kind of uranium enrichment program, and they're very dubious about the length of the agreement with iran and simply whether the iranians can be trusted to abide by them. >> okay, tom we'll leave it there. live for news washington, d.c. u.s. secretary of state has threatened further consequences for russia if the cease-fire is not fully implemented within a matter of hours. he's calling for an examination
of human rights ryealations in eastern ukraine. a fragile truce is holding despite the loss of lives in debaltseve in the last few weeks alone. 6,000 people have died there since fighting began in april. >> russia's leaders and splittists that they back implementing the full measure of the commitments under the minsk agreements, and to implement them everywhere, including in debaltseve outside of mariupol, and in other key strategic areas, and i underscored this morning that if that does not happen, if there continue to be these broad swaths of non-compliance, or there continues to be a cherry picking as to where heavy equipment will be backed from without knowing where it's been moved to, and
whether the osce has been able to gain the access necessary then there would be further consequences that will place added strain on russia's troubled economy. >> sergei lavrov fired back at his american counter part saying ukraine must do more to pursue a course towards peace. >> the grave humanitarian situation should be given highest priority. the ukrainian government must immediately lift the blockade of the region, restore ties and movement between the different parts of the country. these were set out in the minsk agreement, and it's implementation must not be delayed. >> we have more now from geneva. >> we saw yet again in geneva how differently the united
states and russia interpret the conflict in eastern ukraine. really from diametriccally opposite positions. sergei lavrov spoke about tangible signs of progress and the implementation of the minsk agreement and withdraw of heavy weaponry. john kerry was more guarded and spoke about cherry picking on the part of the armed separatists. they were withdrawing from some parts of the front line, their weapons. in other areas they were not allowing osce observers to see what was going on. he reiterated the possibility of the united states imposing further economic sanctions against russia if it felt the minsk agreement was not being closely followed in the coming days. >> for more on the u.n. human rights council in geneva let's now speak to kenneth rolf. thank you very much for being on al jazeera.
we'll talk about the situation in eastern ukraine in a moment, but first i want to get your reaction on the comment made by john kerry the u.s. secretary of state today in geneva who accused the human u.n. human rights council of being obsessed with israeli abuses and saying that the u.s. would defend israel against efforts to isolated it. how much does this undermine the u.n. body? >> kerry said interesting and provocative things on ukraine syria and israel. in the case of israel, he went out of his way to talk about this clearly trying to anticipate netanyahu's speech before congress tomorrow, and apparently the obama administration is trying to portray itself as a true friend of israel, and therefore is going to stand up to criticism before the human rights council. now, the truth is that the human rights council does focus excessively on israel. 's right there. but john kerry would have a lot
more credibility if the u.s. government did not have such a blind spot for israel. if you look at this summer's conflict in gaza on israel repeatedly committing war crimes by targeting the family homes of hamas commanders. completely illegitimate target, but they repeatedly hit those. towards the end of the war they knocked down these huge apartment buildings extensively because there was the office of hopples. but clearly disproportionate target. they used explosives with wide area fact in populated areas something that they stopped doing and they resumed in this war. in several cases they hit people in or near schools that were functioning as shelters. if the u.s. were talking about these issues, then it would have credibility saying the human rights council focuses too much on israel. but instead when kerry said don't focus on israel, but i'm not going to talk about
palestinian abuses, that's not a credible statement. >> we heard a very different interpretation of the conflict from john kerry and sergei lavrov urging the u.n. rights council to look into severe abuses by separatists in the areas that they control in ukraine. what is the reality of the situation today in that region. >> the reality is not what lavrov or kerry said. in fact, most of them are focusing on the questions of aggression or territorial control. but in fact both sides are committing quite serious abuses, and you would never know this. lavrov only talks about the government abuses. and kerry talks about the separatist abuses. but both are firing indiscriminately into areas. there have been reports from both sides of arbitraryily detaining people tortureing
them and disappearing people. there is plenty of abuse for the u.n. human rights council to focus on. what we need is dispassionate reporting on those abuses and pressure on both sites to stop them. not the partisanship that both kerry and lavrov showed. >> thank you for hearing your thoughts. executive director of human rights watch via skype from new york. thank you. >> thank you. >> the iraqi army has recaptured tikrit from islamic state in iraq and the levant. but the iraqi military is not alone in this militia. the army is also backed by around 2,000 sunni tribal fighters and fighter jets and health gunships are also deployed. >> today, god willing we'll start an important military
campaign to lift those provinces from islamic state militants. i call on you our goal is to lift people from the oppression of daesh. we should protect citizens and their properties. >> we have more now from baghdad. >> this is a first battle for a major sunni city, and since isil took over large parts of the country last june. tikrit was one of the first cities they seized after that, and it's been a stronghold since then. the iraqi military has been trying to take back the city of saddam hussein's hometown, but it stopped before this major offensive. 20,000 fighters iraqi military forces along with iranian-backed sunni militias, and most
importantly sunni tribesmen about 2,000 of them. it's the sunnies that prime minister hired al abadi appeared to in the start of this operation, saying that those who had been misled and aligned themselves with isil would be pardoned it if they laid down their arms. he has reached out to the iraqi parliament going there today and talking with sunni members of parliament who ended their boycott. on the ground iraqi military approaches the city on three fronts. on the town where saddam hussein was found hiding, they have taken them back. but there are major worries. not only taking back that city, but of revenge killings which might happen in conjunction with the fighting. this city is important not just militarily but because it's near tikrit where more than 1,000 young recruits were killed by isil, a huge political issue. there is so much potential that
the u.n. has warned everyone that they must adhere to basic human rights, a difficult demand in a time like this, and in a military operation like this, many fear. >> still ahead on al jazeera, tensions ramp up between north and south korea as the north fires two missiles into the ocean. >> i'm in vietnam where high tech companies are investing billions of dollars moving their manufacturing down here from china. coming up, we'll tell you if vietnam is any closer in its goal of becoming the global smart phone hub. >> so a species could not be here in ten years. >> nasa steps in to help protect the future of the planet. >> the tropics regulate our climate. >> "techknow" heads to costa rica to see how one rainforest is fighting back. >> wow! some of these are amazing. >> "techknow's" team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> this is my selfie, what can
>> tomorrow. did the police fail misty upham? >> if somebody did something to my girl, i need to know that. >> was is a case of discrimination? >> we had no help from the police. >> a family pleads for answers. "stolen sisters", an "america tonight" special report. tomorrow, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
>> welcome back. a reminder of our top stories on al jazeera. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu has denied reports of a strained relationship with the u.s. he has addressed aipac in washington. and tuesday he'll address washington. secretary of state john kerry is warning of further consequences of russia. the u.n. said that 6,000 people have died since fighting began in april in eastern ukraine. and iraq has launched a major operation to recapture the city of tikrit from the islamic state in iraq and the levant. tikrit has been in the hands of isil since last june. more now on the conflict of eastern ukraine. secretary of state john kerry
has accused separatists not withdrawing heavy weapons, they say they're acting in line with a deal made in minsk last month. john hedron reports from the rebel-held donetsk. >> the silence is broken daily by small arms fire and mortars. that's ours, he says. in principle the cease-fire is holding but there is regular small arms fire so complete cease-fire cannot exist. before you arrived here several small shells landed on our side. so we fired back. occasional volleys continue, they found that 6,000 people have died so far. separatists say it is ukrainian forces who are violating the cease-fire.
>> the cease-fire is from our side. we're not just trying. we're holding it completely. the ukrainian fire again violates the minsk agreement and starts to open fire. a year into the conflict in eastern ukraine the death toll continues to rise on a landscape transformed by the war. with each passing day the front line continues to shift. in weekend fighting three were killed. few here at the ukrainian front line trenches expect the cease-fire to hold. >> we're strengthening in preparation for the next offensive. we're preparing toe deflect their attack. >> if that happens with operatist troops appearing wanting to expand on the gains they've already made the front line could shift again. john hedron, al jazeera, donetsk, eastern ukraine. >> islamic state in iraq and the levant has released 21 christian hostages who were abducted in northeastern in syria. but the group is still holding more than 200 christians from the minority assyrian community.
they were taken from syria's hasaka province. many were welcomed in church in hasaka city. a coalition of syrian rebels have disbanded after days of fighting with the the al-qaeda-linked al nusra front. they say it was distracting the opposition from battling the sir syrian regime. from beirut we have reports. >> reporter: they lost many men in the fight and the hazzem movement appears to have collapsed. but the syrian rebels were not killed by the syrian government. they died fighting fight al-qaeda affiliates. al nusra declared all-out war on the group accusing of it kidnapping and killing. a charge that hazzem denies.
the syrian military began to advance on several front lines in recent days because of the opposition's infighting. as long as hazzem remained, it would be a distraction for the opposition. the fighting in aleppo was not the first confrontation with al nusra. it pushed the hazzem movement out from the neighboring province of idlib. it was the first group to receive sophisticated weapons from the u.s. but it's links with the west only earned it enemies on the ground. the facts that the hazzem movement no longer exists is a setback to arm and train a rebel force but this is not the only obstacle that the obama administration faces. it is finding it hard to convince rebels that the force it wants to train will be used to fight the islamic state in iraq and the levant. for the opposition the priority should be fighting the government. syrians and opposition-controlled areas are worried. the rebel in-fighting coincides
with government efforts to control aleppo city and cut off opposition supply lines to turkey. >> we call on the rebels to stop fighting each other. al nusra should go to the front lines and fight the regime instead. they're trying to say that they're trying to lay siege to aleppo. >> hazzem was one of the few rebel groups that the obama administration trusted. if and when that force is ready it will face opposition not just from the government and isil but from within rebel ranks. al jazeera beirut. >> north korea has warned of merciless strikes against its enemies. it made the threat after launching two short-range missiles. they were fired from the city of
nampo and fired into the ocean. >> reporter: when two countries aren't technically still at war any show of force makes people nervous. every year south key's military and troops show off their firepower in joint drills. every year north korea responds. this time it fired two short- short-range missiles before the south korean drills even began. >> this is a deliberate provocation seened as an armed protest. we're ready to respond immediately. if it takes provocative action, our military will react firmly and strongly so north korea will regret bitterly. >> afraid things could escalate, a group of peace activists gathered within hours. their part of a south korean organization campaigning for both koreas to be reunited in
one country. >> we're against military action taking place. if the exercise to pressure north korea continues and if north korea retaliates, a civil war similar to 2003 will once again an reality. >> we heard all this before, and even an analyst from the international crisis group isn't worried. >> kim jong-un has told them to be ready for war. but it's all in the context of deterrent. they're trying to gauge the reaction of the south and it's allies, and to see if they can coerce the south into changing its behavior and canceling its exercises. >> in other words this may just be another case of posturing. however, history has taught us that the stand-off on on the korean peninsula is unpredictable. al jazeera. >> police in bangladesh has arrested a man in connection with the killing of an u.s.
blogger. security officials say that he had made consistent death threats against the writer. he had been killed by men with machetes last thursday in the bangladeshi capitol dhaka. the leadership award has been awarded to the outgoing president of namibia. it has only been given out four times in eight years. it recognizes democratically elected leaders who governed well. they spoke to al jazeera why the award is not given every year. >> our prize has been given four times in the last seven or eight years. now it is a prize for excellence in leadership, and we're not lowering our standards. it is people who do an
extraordinary job. that is a tough benchmark and as before our friends in europe for example, how many leaders do you think leaders would have won this prize in the last eight years. so the african leaders are doing badly in finding four leaders in eight years. this is an award of excellence. it is not common. i accept we have challenges in africa i don't have issues, but we're moving forward. 95% of african people live under better government societies than ten years ago. it's not perfect. and it's not by wide margin, but it's a movement forward. so whatso we'll move forward one step at a time. >> several new avalanches have struck in afghanistan in areas
already buried under deep snow. more than 200 people died in what's being called the worst series of avalanches to hit afghanistan in 30 years. rescue operations are continuing the eastern province of panjshir. can you teams were able to access remote villages that were cut off in element a week. challenging economic conditions in china are providing a boost of vietnam's manufacturing industry, but it's not just it's workforce that is attracting foreign investors. we have the story from hanoi. >> just 20 years ago most vietnamese earned their live from the land. but now manufacturing has taken over agriculture. this land north of hanoi used to grow tea. just a small patch of plantation remains. now smart phones roll out by the millions. this is the growing manufacturing complex built by samsung, the world's largest maker of smart offense last
year. the company has already invested over $10 billion in vietnam and it is expanding. it employs 50,000 people. with a plentiful workforce the government opened its doors to high tech companies. looking to bring them from china where workers' average salary is three times that of vietnam. >> the costs in china have increased very fast. in a sense that we try to commit the policy. >> that policy came in the form of big tax breaks. samsung won't pay any for the first four years. but the move became the global hub not limited to huge multi nationals moving here. one local manufacturer is jumping into the game, making their own smart phone. pkav will unveil its phone in the coming months. the company sees interested leaders like samsung sitting up
here as helpful to its business. >> with the manufacturing in vietnam it's an advantage for companies starting to make smart phones here. when they came the supply companies apart came, too. >> that heaps bkav gain access to the same components as the top companies in the industry. they will keep manufacturing down in vietnam enticing to its investment. >> the price of the smart phone will continue to drop. so it keeps pressure on the manufacturing company to find location, find ways to keep costs low. >> other manufacturers see vietnam as a good location, and lg and microsoft are also expanding here. with the ground in vietnam so fertile for high tech growth there will be fewer people working the fields and more punching the cotton cloths.
al jazeera, hanoi. >> the annual religious holy known as the telephone festival of color has kicked off across india. people cover each other in colored pigment and in north india people beat men with wooden sticks all in the name of fun. more at www.aljazeera.com. >> adults can buy recreational marijuana legally in colorado today, and reformers hope it's the beginning of a wave that will sweep across america. but in places like louisiana in the southern united states legalization is off the agenda. the state has the country's highest incarceration rate. >> marijuana prosecutions are very common in louisiana.