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MidEast, Media, & Jewish World Wrap-up

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IRAN

Netanyahu: U.S. sanctions on Iran ineffective, more action neededIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran so far have been ineffective, and that the international community should impose tougher measures on Tehran’s oil industry and its Central Bank.

Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran was penetrating Iraq at a fast pace and that instability in the country had increased since the U.S. withdrew its forces. Netanyahu said that the situation called for a strengthening of Israel’s defenses against aerial and ground attacks.

Echoing Netanyahu’s remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogey) Ya’alon said on Sunday that the U.S. government was not advancing tough sanctions against Iran due to internal political considerations during an election year.

Ya’alon said that while the Iranian issue remains at the top of the global agenda, and European leaders in France and Britain are taking a hard line against Tehran by understanding the need for sanctions against it’s oil exports and central bank, this was not the case with the White House.

U.S.-Israel military drill postponed because of Iran

The U.S. and Israel decided to postpone a large joint military exercise scheduled to take place in May after Iran interpreted the joint drill as a threat, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Sunday night, according to Israel Hayom.

The exercise was expected to include thousands of soldiers from both countries. While an official reason was not given, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem sais that the drill was postponed to avoid any moves that could heat up the region amid already high tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein expressed concern about the postponement, saying: “President Obama has often touted strong U.S./Israeli defense ties as proof of his Administration’s strong support for Israel. If that is so, why is a vital joint military exercise dealing with the Iranian threat postponed while no efforts other than weak sanctions pursued to stop Iran?”

ZOA is also alarmed by reports that Obama demanded an explanation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the recent killing of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, with Klein noting that “even the Iranian government has not internationally claimed that Israel carried out the killing.”

Asian countries agree to reduce Iranian oil imports

The United States is urging Asian countries to reduce the amount of oil they buy from Iran in another effort to hinder Iran’s attempts to produce nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported.

Sixty percent of Iranian oil is exported to China, Japan, India and South Korea. Negotiations with these countries come in the wake of Iran’s decision to hold naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz.

South Korea and Japan have announced that they will try to accommodate America’s request while China already reduced the amount of oil it buys from Iran after a pricing dispute.

“It’s a global chess game. The major buyers are prudently beginning to make alternative plans to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil,” said Daniel Yergin, an energy historian, according to the New York Times. Saudi Arabia, a long-time rival of Iran, said it will produce more oil to make up in any decline in exports.

INTERNATIONAL

EU could help Arabs build in Judea and Samaria

A new European Union policy could mean that the EU is going to encourage and fund Arab building and development in Area C, an area in Judea and Samaria under Israeli military and political control. The EU could go forward without Israeli approval, the Israel National News reported.

Area C includes Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, and other Jewish towns in the vicinity of Ariel. Around 90 percent of Jewish residents of the entire region live in Area C, whereas as the Arab population of the area is barely six percent.

Despite this, the EU document shows a desire to work towards a future Palestinian state in the region, which would also include Area C. To that end, the EU plans to help Arabs build more homes and communities in the area. This would defy the Oslo Accords, which state Israel is in charge of area C until a final agreement is completed.

“We will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel’s planning policy,” a Western diplomat said, according to the report.

Israel slams UK settlements barb as ‘gratuitous bashing’Click photo to download. Caption: British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Credit: World Economic Forum. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused Israel on Monday of carrying out “deliberate vandalism” by continuing to build settlements on land the Palestinians hope will form part of their future state.

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