web analytics
October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘administration’

Claim: Administration Secretly Transferred $1.7 Billion To Iran To Keep It Out Of Terror Victims’ Hands

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center – which represents American families of terror victims who have won U.S. court judgments against Iran for its support of terrorist attacks in Israel – alleged this week that the Obama administration kept secret the details of large cash payments made to Tehran in order to evade efforts by its clients to recover those funds to satisfy outstanding court awards.

A letter to Congress from attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv and Robert Tolchin of New York recalled that President Obama on January 17 announced the settlement of a legal dispute between the United States and Iran over $400 million held by the U.S. in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program account since 1979.

The administration agreed to pay the $400 million it conceded it owed Iran, plus payment of an additional $1.3 million in interest on that amount.

In recent weeks, the $1.7 billion, which was secretly paid out in cash, has come under scrutiny because the timing and circumstances of the payments appeared to confirm the Iranian claim that the White House agreed to pay the money as ransom to Tehran for the release of American hostages.

However, in light of revelations during a Sept. 8 Congressional subcommittee hearing, Shurat HaDin is asserting “it is now clear the administration has deliberately kept numerous payments to Iran secret in order to shield Iran from having to forfeit those funds to pay terror victims amounts Iran owes under outstanding U.S. judgments.”

Shurat HaDin says that under legislation passed in 2000, the U.S. was legally entitled to apply the $400 million in the FSM account to satisfy terror victims’ judgments, eliminating the $400 million balance and nearly 16 years of interest claimed by Iran.

The Shurat HaDin letter cites the “suspicious revelation” at the Congressional subcommittee hearing that the United States and Iran did not draft a written settlement agreement or any other formal documentation of the cash transfers, and that “Iran specifically directed the Iran-U.S. Tribunal at The Hague, where the claim was to be resolved through arbitration, that it not record the settlement of the claim for the parties.”

Shurat HaDin’s Darshan-Leitner said in a statement: “We believe that the secrecy in which these cash payments were made was part of an effort by the White House to conceal these payments from the terror victims and to hide the fact that it was effectively canceling Iran’s debt for its terror-related activity. This is a horrible fraud against the terror victims.

“It appears the secret cash transfers were specifically done as an end-run around the ability of the families to attach the money and enforce their federal court judgments. Instead, the administration went to great lengths to ensure that the $1.7 billion payment was shrouded in secrecy, never reduced to writing nor even recorded with The Hague, and was paid to Iran in cash as quickly and directly as possible.”

Shurat HaDin urged Congress “to take action to guarantee that further payments to Iran are not made as long as Tehran remains a state sponsor of terrorism and a threat to its neighbors “and until it has paid every judgment it owes to American victims of terror.”

 

(JNi.Media, Jewish Press staff)

Combined News Services

Report: Israeli Civil Administration Accelerates Mapping of State Lands in Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in 2015 re-mapped an area of 62 thousand hectares in Judea and Samaria, in a manner that may hint at plans for wide range construction there, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday. The re-mapping is carried out by a special task force dubbed the “blue line” team, within COGAT. The work involves examining state lands that were declared in the last century. The old maps are being digitally scanned to enhance their accuracy. The report notes that Israeli law demands re-mapping areas that were declared state land before 1999 before releasing them to construction.

The report, composed by Dror Etkes, founder of Kerem Navot, an NGO “monitoring the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” is based entirely on speculation over the map digitizing effort at COGAT, which may be simply an administrative move to preserve them, rather than a secret plot to populate those areas. However, since Etkes is not a newcomer to observing and reporting on the Jewish settlement enterprise, his conclusions, coming as they are from a hostile, leftwing source, may be a cause for (muted) celebration in rightwing circles.

“It’s important to understand that the mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively at the depth of Judea and Samaria and to settlements which are well outside the ‘settlement clusters,’ as well as, most emphatically, to areas declared by Israel to be ‘fire zones’ despite the fact that in reality they are part of the lands reserve which Israel gradually assigns to settlement,” Etkes told Ha’aretz.

The re-mapping effort of those 62 thousand hectares constitutes a significant increase in the rate of this work, compared with only 20 thousand hectares re-mapped in 2014 and 13 thousand in 2013.

Ha’aretz speculates that one of the goals of the new, wholesale re-mapping effort, is intended to deny Arabs living in the fire zones the right to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against infrastructure and construction work carried out near their homes. Should such appeals be filed, Israel would be within its rights to argue that the Arab homes were built after the area had been declared state land.

Etkes also suggests that the re-mapping of areas near Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria indicates planned expansions. He noted 962 hectares re-mapped near Nokdim, and 3 hectares outside Gitit.

JNi.Media

Analysis: Obama Administration Fighting Netanyahu Via AP Leak

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The Obama Administration has apparently decided on its course of action regarding Judea and Samaria until the inauguration of a new president in January: threats and attacks delivered through well placed leaks with the major news outlets, which are intended to foster anxiety in Jerusalem. A case in point is this weekend’s AP story, citing US and other diplomats who say Obama plans to endorse a “tougher tone” against Israel in the upcoming report by the so-called “Quartet” of mediators from the US, the EU, Russia and the UN. Said diplomats have promised that the US will no longer endeavor to temper the language of the report, criticizing settlements construction, demolitions and property seizures. They also promise to place the blame for the impasse in the peace negotiations squarely on Israel.

The report, due in late May or early June, will bear no intrinsic penalties against Israel, an island of violence and unrest in an otherwise peaceful and idyllic Middle East, but the diplomats who leaked the news have told AP it could be used by the UN assembly and “possibly sent to the Security Council for an endorsement.”

It is curious why the Obama White House would want to create yet another problem for the Democratic presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who would be forced to comment on such a report and run the risk of alienating either the left- or right-flank of the party. Is the Obama need for revenge against the Jewish State stronger than his support for his own party’s campaign? Time will tell.

On its face, the AP leak looks more like a taunt than a change in policy, reminiscent of the reference to the comparison by an anonymous Administration official of Netanyahu to chicken droppings in the famous October 2014 Jeffrey Goldberg article. Like that and so many other poisoned arrows, the report will probably enrage Netanyahu and his circle, and will also endorse complaints on the part of the PA, but its influence on policy changes is doubtful. Scores of anti-Israeli, pro-Arab reports cannot change the math of the 20th Knesset nor the precarious balance of Israel’s Labor party under Chairman Itzhak Herzog.

As the AP story put it soberly, “The Quartet, which is supposed to guide the two parties to peace, has been largely irrelevant for the past several years. It was created in 2002 at a low point in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and in the years since has held sporadic meetings. Most have ended with bland statements condemning violence, criticizing settlements and calling for both sides to improve security and the atmosphere for peace talks. … The new report will repeat those calls, but the diplomats said they hoped the new criticism of Israel, in particular, would jolt the parties into action.”

Not in this Knesset, apparently.

JNi.Media

What Will Happen Now with US Middle East Policy?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Turkish Reader: Haven’t you understood yet that the US does not care about whether a Muslim country is ruled by Sharia [dictatorship] or by secular [democracy] law as long as that regime is pro-American? Isn’t this U.S. interests “über alles”?

Me: Yes I do care. First, no Islamist government is really going to be pro-American or pro-Western. Second, it won’t be good for that country’s people. Why should I feel differently to handing over Czechoslovakia to Nazi rule or Hungary to Communist rule than Turkey to Islamist rule?

Already there are starting to appear evaluations of what President Barack Obama’s second term will be like. I think that even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know or have a blueprint it is clear and consistent what the Middle East policy would be. It is a coherent program though as I say it is not necessarily fully or consciously thought out. The plan would be for a comprehensive solution which will leave the Middle East situation as a successful legacy of the Obama Administration.

There are three main themes of this plan, though as I say I’m not sure it has really taken shape. By 2016 they will all fail, and leave the West weaker.

The first is with Iran policy. The goal would be to “solve” the nuclear weapons’ issue by making a deal with Iran. One thing that is possible is that the Iranians just deceitfully build nuclear arms. The other that the will go up to the point when they can get nuclear weapons very quickly and then stop for a while. Probably either result will be hailed as a brilliant diplomatic victory for Obama.

This is how the nuclear deal is interpreted by Iran, in a dispatch from Fars new agency: “It seems that the Americans have understood this fact that Iran is a powerful and stable country in the region which uses logical and wise methods in confrontation with its enemies.” In other words America is an enemy of Iran that has backed down.

One thing Iran might get in a deal for “giving up””its nuclear ambitions would be something in Syria perhaps. It would probably look like this. It is possible that this deal would be in the shape of an unofficial partition of Syria, with the Bashar Assad regime surviving in 40 percent of the country including Aleppo and Damascus; another 40 percent would be controlled by a U.S.-backed rebels, mainly Muslim Brotherhood; and 20 percent would be a Kurdish autonomous area. I want to stress that I don’t believe that this would work and would in fact be the object of another Iranian stalling technique.and effort to gain total victory..

Iran wants primacy at least in the Shia world – meaning Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. It would just require Iranian patience if Iran is willing to devote extensive resources to this enterprise until it could seize the whole country. The U.S. probably won’t provide ground troops, which is understandable. And would the U.S. provide military and economic aid to an al-Qaida-Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood regime? At any rate the Iranians would either develop nuclear weapons or simply get to the point where they could if they wanted to and then stop, knowing that they could so at any time. Of course, this would relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

And if a nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t materialize you can tell who will be blamed by an article named, “A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Within Reach, If Congress Plays Its Part,”” in the prestigious magazine, Roll Call.

The second theme would be an illusion that it would be possible to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a two-state solution but actually moving toward the Palestinian real goal which is an Arab Palestine. Period. Regarding this issue it is probably that both sides would stall. Only Secretary of State John Kerry believes otherwise.

The Israeli side would mount a strategic retreat by gradual concessions hoping that the Obama Administration would end before too much damage was done. It is clear, for example, that prisoner releases, the granting of economic benefits and the entry of more laborers would be among the concessions given.Of course, this would also relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

Barry Rubin

What the Syria Crisis Tells Us about the Israel Lobby

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Barely minutes after the news broke earlier this month that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was planning a major effort on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Obama administration’s plan for a limited military operation against the Syrian regime, the conspiracy theorists were having a field day.

As always, it’s instructive to note how the notion that American foreign policy is a prisoner of organizations like AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group in America, is an idée fixe on both the far left and the extreme right. Juan Cole, a left-wing academic with a strong online following, grabbed the opportunity to argue that AIPAC, in advocating for what he described as “attacking Syria,” is out of touch with the opinions of most American Jews, who are not evil neoconservatives but solid progressives. The anti-Zionist Jewish blogger M.J. Rosenberg ranted about how “AIPAC and its cutouts are the only lobbying forces supporting the administration’s plans for war.”

Not to be outdone, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan, wrote that in supporting military action, AIPAC was endangering the lives of Syrian Christians, whom he believes are better off under the Assad regime.

Such concern for the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East is touching, but also a tad disingenuous, as The American Conservative has never shown much sympathy for the fate of those Christian communities, from Nigeria to Pakistan, who suffer from Islamist atrocities. When you bring Israel into the equation, however, the magazine suddenly finds its voice.

The combined message here is clear: Syria is Iraq Redux, another “endless war” America is being pushed into by a shadowy Jewish cabal.

Critics of these conspiracy theories have rightly pointed out the anti-Semitic pedigree on display here. The idea that Jews are powerful enough to manipulate their governments from behind the scenes is a staple of modern anti-Semitism. Still, let’s for a moment take the Israel Lobby thesis on its own merits. Is the charge that the “Lobby” is the real authority when it comes to U.S. foreign policy empirically verifiable?

The answer to that question is a resounding no. In fact, what the latest developments on Syria demonstrate is that rather than the “Lobby” running the administration, it is the administration that runs the “Lobby.”

AIPAC, along with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations, had been largely silent on the atrocities taking place in Syria. In that sense, they were no different from the other influential groups and individuals who were either undecided on the issue of a limited military operation or firmly opposed to it. It’s no secret that Obama always faced a rough ride in Congress, especially as some of his traditional supporters, like the MoveOn.org PAC, actively opposed any intervention in Syria.

Similarly, the Jewish left is uncomfortable with the prospect of taking on the Assad regime; J Street, a group that once ludicrously claimed to be Obama’s “blocking back” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue, has deserted the president over Syria.

Rather than pushing for war, then, AIPAC and similar groups were drafted in at the last minute to boost support for a president who was looking dangerously isolated. The irony of an administration that includes Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary who famously bemoaned AIPAC’s influence, running to groups like AIPAC to secure backing shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Even so, away from the political point scoring, what this shows is that the influence of pro-Israel groups is something this administration values. Equally – and this is key – these groups will wield that influence when the administration requests that they do so.

Importantly, this is not the first time the administration has turned to the “Lobby” for support on Middle East-related matters. Part of the reason Secretary of State John Kerry was able to galvanize support and publicity for his efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was that he turned to American Jews, whose principal organizations dutifully trumpeted his message. The fact that Kerry’s diplomacy has yielded few results isn’t really his fault, nor is it the fault of American Jews. The stasis on the Israeli-Palestinian front is the consequence, as it always has been, of rejectionism among the Palestinians, whose leaders remain distinctly queasy about doing anything that might smack of accepting Israel’s legitimacy.

Any worry about all of this on the part of American Jewish organizations should relate not to accusations of outsize influence but to association with failure. So far Israel has little to show for its decision, under pressure from the Americans, to release Palestinian terrorists ahead of the talks; meanwhile, the Syrian intervention proposal is mired in confusion because of widespread concern that an American-led operation will be too little, too late.

If the Obama administration can be confident of anything, it is that its American Jewish partners will never go so far as to openly criticize the president. Far from being the war-crazed cabal depicted in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists, the “Israel Lobby” is in reality an oasis of calm reliability for a president who may just be on the cusp of his biggest foreign policy failure.

Ben Cohen

Sen. Leahy: Obama Secretly Suspended Egypt Military Aid

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.

“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.

If it’s done as required by law, why is the U.S. government keeping it a secret that it believes the regime change in Egypt was a military coup? If it is, indeed, temporarily suspending most of the military aid to Egypt, where is the public announcement that we don’t send money to governments that were installed by a coup?

After skewering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard—through the good services of the NY Times—for his attempts to preserve stability in Egypt and the integrity of the peace treaty, now the administration is attempting to punish the naughty Egyptian generals, but without making a big deal out of it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked on Monday about the suspended aid, and told reporters the aid is not officially suspended.

I suppose the Egyptians can use the officially unsuspended aid money the same way Israelis can live in the officially unfrozen homes in East Jerusalem…

“After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,” Psaki said.

I looked up “unobligated” and means funds that have been appropriated but remain uncommitted by contract at the end of a fiscal period. In other words, an I keep, you don’t get kind of relationship.

“But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding,” Psaki clarified.

In other words, I keep, you don’t get, but it’s not forever.

The Daily Beast quotes two Administration officials who explain it was the government lawyers who decided it would be more prudent to observe the law restricting military aid in case of a coup, while not making a public statement that a coup had taken place.

Bret Stephens, a deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Monday (A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi):

“What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.”

By taking the opposite approach, making it harder for the new Egyptian government to bring the internal conflict to a conclusion, the Obama Administration is promoting and prolonging chaos in yet another country. Which is why, I suspect, Senator Leahy has spoken to the Daily Beast in the first place, to stop this blind march over the cliff.

Middle East analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, told the Beast he thought the Administration was “trying to maintain maximum flexibility,” but he suggested that this horse is long out of the barn. “Egypt’s struggle has become so intense, polarized, and violent, and I worry that no matter what move the United States makes now, the competing power centers in Egypt might continue down the dangerous course they’ve headed.”

Unless, of course, the U.S. is making clear, with loud noises and a light show, that it supports stability in Egypt, and in order to hasten new elections, it will not suspend military aid to Egypt. In fact, with its financial and military might, the U.S. will do everything it can to restore stability and democracy in Egypt.

But that would require President Obama to get over the insult of the Egyptian nation ignoring his wishes and dethroning his favorite Muslim Brother president.

Yori Yanover

Supporting ‘Peace Process’ and Muslim Brotherhood via Misinformation

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s an Arab proverb that goes like this: When an enemy extends his hand to you cut it off. If you can’t, kiss it. Who do you think is being classified as the cutting or the kissing treatment today?

In contrast to the let’s-empower-our enemies approach, two of the best Middle East expert journalists in the world have just written from different perspectives on the real Middle East and the results are refreshing. But in other media the odds are fixed at four to one against sanity.

First, at one think tank, Khaled Abu Toameh has published, “Ramallah vs. the `PeaceProcess.’” He puts peace process in quotes to show his sarcasm. He tells the story of two Israeli Arab businessmen who wanted to open a Fox clothing store in the West Bank (like the one I shop at in Dizengoff Center).

Although given Palestinian Authority (PA) permission and having already made a big investment, they found themselves the target of attacks and calls for firing bombing the store. The assaults were even organized by PA journalists. So they gave up, costing 150 jobs for West Bank Palestinians. I could easily tell the same story a half-dozen times.

As Abu Toameh concludes: “This incident is an indication of the same`anti-normalization’” movement which [PA leader] Abbas supports will be the first to turn against him if he strikes a deal with Israel.” But, of course, for both the reason that this is a powerful radical movement and the factor that he is one of the leaders of the anti-peace camp, Abbas won’t make a deal ultimately.

Does John Kerry’s Peace Process Have a Chance? asks Aaron David Miller. And in subtle terms he answers: No. He writes:

“Neither Abbas nor Netanyahu wants to say no to America’s top diplomat and take the blame for the collapse of negotiations. This proved sufficient to get them back to negotiations, but more will be required to keep them there, let alone to reach an accord. Right now, neither has enough incentives, disincentives, and an urgent desire or need to move forward boldly.

“Unfortunately, right now, the U.S. owns this one more than the parties do. This is not an ideal situation. It would have been better had real urgency brought Abbas and Netanyahu together rather than John Kerry.”

In other words, Kerry wants and needs these talks; Netanyahu and Abbas don’t.

I mean it literally when I say that there are only two sensible people given regular access to the mass media on the Middle East, one is Miller the other is Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post. (If I have left someone out please remind me. But remember I said, regularly.)

If you want to know the real attitude consider this recent  exchange in Israel’s Knesset:

Jamal Zahalka of the Arab Communist Party, Balad,: “We, the Arabs, were here before you (the Jews) and we will be here after you!”

The prime minister asked permission to approach the podium and said in answer, “The first part isn’t true, and the second part won’t be!”

Remember that he Communist Party is the most moderate of the Arab parties. Fatah and  the PA are more radical and their leaders would not hesitate to repeat |Zahalka’s statement  Second, Zahalka wasn’t afraid to invoke genocide because he knew he was protected by democracy.

That’s the real situation. The Palestinian leadership’s goal of wiping out Israel has not changed. Only if it ever does will there be any chance of a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation the Washington Post has no less than four op-eds or editorials  in one week on why the  United States should support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In Robert Kagan, “American aid Makes the U.S. Complicit in the Egyptian Army’s Acts” gives the realpolitik version. This is ludicrous. Was the U.S. thus complicit in the doings of every ally, including Egypt from 1978 to 2011? Should one dump good allies because of things they do, a debate that goes back to the onset of the Cold War.

And any way U.S. support for the army would be popular. Indeed, U.S. policy was “complicit” with the army coup against Mubarak and was complicit to the Mursi Islamist regime which it helped install, too!

Then we have the liberal human rights/democracy project view in Michele Dunne: “With Morsi’s ouster, time for a new U.S. policy toward Egypt,” because a U.S. policy supporting human rights must ensure that the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood is part of the government (and no doubt would encourage stability) And we have, third, Reuel Marc Gerecht: “In Egypt, the popularity of Islamism shall endure,” which gives the conservative version for why we need the Brotherhood in power. Yet after all, just because the enemy can endure is not a reason to refuse to fight them. On the contrary, it is necessary at minimum to ensure it doesn’t become stronger.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/supporting-peace-process-and-muslim-brotherhood-via-misinformation/2013/08/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: