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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘deal’

One Year in: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Alleviate Global and Israeli Fears?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

The nuclear agreement signed on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany—was a watershed event in international diplomacy and a key moment for U.S. President Barack Obama, who staked his legacy on the deal’s success. One year later, should world nations, and perhaps most notably Israel, still view the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threat?

“In terms of compliance with the deal itself, I think it is going very well,” Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation, told JNS.org. “Basically, the bargain was Iran rolling back of key elements of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—those two key aspects of the deal have been met.”

In May, U.S. Ambassador and Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull said in testimony to the U.S. Senate that the Iran nuclear deal “has been implemented by all participants.”

According to Mull, Iran has completed dozens of specific actions to “limit, freeze, or roll back its nuclear program and subject it to greater transparency by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

This includes Iran disconnecting two-thirds of its installed centrifuge capacity, terminating uranium enrichment at its secretive Fordow nuclear facility, reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and filling the core of its Arak heavy water reactor with concrete.

As such, Mull concluded that these actions have increased Iran’s so-called “breakout time”—the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—from two or three months to at least a year.

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org that while the deal is “holding for now,” the Iranians “remain within the letter of the agreement but not the spirit of it.”

“They have been a little more transparent in their nuclear processes, but it has not fundamentally changed Iranian behavior,” Berman said, alluding to Iran’s continued military buildup; support for terrorist organizations; and hostility towards Israel, the U.S., and America’s Arab allies.

Many policymakers and analysts also remain concerned about the economic ramifications of the nuclear deal. One of the principle concerns had been the estimated $100-$150 billion in sanctions relief that Iran would receive as a result of the unfreezing of foreign assets once the Islamic Republic met its obligations under the agreement.

According to Berman, the deal has set in motion a “vast sanctions give away that is far more expansive than most people understand.”

“It is not only the $100 billion or so incorporated into the deal, but also measures like the White House’s attempts to facilitate Iranian access to the U.S. dollar and pressure on state governments to roll back Iranian divestment measures,” he said.

“What they set in motion was this grand reorientation of global economics in favor of Iran,” Berman added.

Despite these concerns, there are still a number of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions in place on Iran relating to terrorism, Iran’s ballistic missile program, and human rights violations—creating financial uncertainty for Iran, and making a number of international companies and banks wary of doing business with the Islamic Republic. Those sanctions are in place in large part because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, is heavily involved in Iran’s economy.

As such, with Iran not seeing the economic windfall that it had hoped for and had promised its people, Iranian leaders have publicly complained that the U.S. has not held its end of the bargain in the nuclear deal.

“On paper, the Americans say banks can trade with Iran, but in practice they act in such an Iranophobic way that no trade can take place with Iran,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in April, while accusing the U.S. of engaging in “obstruction and deception.”

Yet Berman dismissed these complaints by Iranian leaders, saying that it is important to “separate what Iran says from what it is actually doing.”

Just weeks after the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, where both nations agreed to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Russia used the pretext of the lifting of nuclear sanctions to renew its deal to provide Iran with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

Even India, which has seen significantly warming relations with Iran’s enemy, Israel, under President Narendra Modi, signed a dozen agreements with Tehran during a visit by Modi to the Islamic Republic in May, including a $500 million deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Before the nuclear deal, Iran “didn’t lack for global ambition, but lacked resources,” said Berman. Now, he explained, “the powers of global politics are such [that] the Iranians can start thinking about what it looks like to not just be a participant in Middle East politics, but a key driver of it, [and] not just be a partner of rogue regimes like North Korea or Venezuela, but to actually be a patron of them….That’s a fundamentally new dynamic for the Iranians.”

For Israel, the nuclear agreement represented a major blow to the efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke out strongly and regularly against the pre-deal nuclear negotiations and has argued that the deal does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Yet a year after the deal was signed, there appears to be less concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions within Israel’s leadership and more of a focus on Iran’s regional ambitions, its involvement in Syria, and Iran’s support for its terror proxies.

This sentiment was clear in recent remarks by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who stated at the Herzilya Conference in June that Iran’s nuclear program “has been frozen in light of the deal signed by the world powers and does not constitute an immediate, existential threat for Israel.”

Similarly, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said during a speech in January that a current “decline” in existential threats to Israel comes due to a variety of emerging trends, including the Iran nuclear deal.

The Rand Corporation’s Kaye, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, said that “there is a wide consensus among Israeli analysts that the Iranians are likely to adhere to this agreement.”

But Israeli military officials are now more deeply concerned about the possible economic and military consequences that a richer and more emboldened Iran will bring forth, especially through its support for its terror proxy nations. Kaye cautioned that for Israel, attention “has really turned to Iran’s role in Syria and its relation with Hezbollah as well as a permanent Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border in southern Syria.”

Berman said that “even if you take away the existential question of Iran getting a nuclear weapon later, which is where they (Israeli security officials) still think Iran is headed. What you are looking at is a very negative cycle of economic attrition. [Israelis] expect all the proxies that Iran is funding —Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad—to have a greater resources in the near future as a result of the nuclear deal.”

As a consequence, Berman said, Israel will need to step up its security and deterrence, and spend more money on defensive weapons and technology such as the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems or anti-tunneling technology.

Nevertheless, Kaye contended that by taking the nuclear threat off the table for the time being, Israel might have more of a chance to act boldly against Iran’s terror proxies without the concern of potentially igniting a nuclear conflict with Iran.

“One of the motivations [of the deal] to begin with was to ensure that Iran would not be engaging in this type of behavior under a nuclear umbrella. I think in that context, there is some relief that Iran is at least hemmed in on the nuclear front,” Kaye said.

While it appears that Iran’s compliance with the letter of the deal has so far reduced the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran in the short term, there is continued concern among policymakers and analysts over Iran’s aggressive behavior moving forward.

“I think the focus will now only increase towards implementation as well as planning and preparation for what might happen once some of the key elements of this deal start to expire in 10 years,” Kaye said. “The only exception to that will be increased momentum and focus on the missile front. There won’t be a renegotiation on the existing agreement. But there may be a push to expand on the current agreement to include more restrictions on Iranian missile testing and development in exchange for further economic relief.”

Sean Savage

Iran Celebrates Anniversary of Nuclear Deal by Firing Ballistic Missile

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

One year almost to the day after the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, and in blatant violation of UN Resolution 2231, Tehran tried to launch a ballistic missile using North Korean technology, Fox News reported, citing intelligence officials.

The test failed when the missile exploded after liftoff, on July 11 at night, outside Saman, a city west of Isfahan, at a site Iran has used before to conduct ballistic missile tests. This is the latest attempt in the year since the signing of the nuclear deal.

The test rained on President Obama’s parade, who said on Thursday, the actual anniversary of the deal, that “over the last year, the Iran deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But according to The Hill, the Republicans used the one-year anniversary for several largely symbolic measures to undermine the deal. “We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.

In UN Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

According to Reuters, a confidential report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. The Security Council is due to discuss the Ban Ki-moon report on July 18. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced that “Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets regularly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said this week that “Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.”

Which means the US is content to permit the Iranians to defy the UN and the Western allies in working on long-range missiles, which should be ready to carry nuclear payloads as soon as the temporary limit on Iran’s development of a nuclear device is removed, in 2025. And with its newly thawed billions of dollars, what would stop Iran from buying the device from North Korea, its favorite shopping spot?

In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching its home-grown Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan, this after five earlier failures.


Iran Violates the Deal. Now What?

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

In the months since the Iran nuclear deal went into effect, the Obama administration has acknowledged that the behavior of the Islamist regime hasn’t changed much. The Iranians continue to act as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, test illegal ballistic missiles, threaten their neighbors, and seek regional hegemony while its leaders spewed hate at the West, the United States, and Israel. Indeed, in April, the president admitted that the Iranians were undermining “the spirit” of the pact while insisting that they were nonetheless observing the letter of the agreement. But it turns out his trust in the law-abiding nature of his negotiating partners was misplaced. A new report published by German intelligence that was backed up by a statement in the Bundestag by Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed that the Iranians have violated the letter of the deal via a clandestine effort to obtain “high-level” nuclear technology without permission from the United Nations Security Council.

The report from the German FBI—the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution spoke of Iran’s support for terrorists inside Germany including Hezbollah and Hamas. But just as alarming was the finding that Iran made at least nine recent attempts to acquire technology for nuclear arms development. Though it claimed the majority of those attempts were thwarted by German intelligence, the agency said there was no doubt the Islamist regime would continue “its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.”

The implications of this report cannot be overestimated.

This means that despite all the happy talk from the United States and its Western allies about compliance with the terms of the nuclear pact, their confidence is unfounded. Instead of merely reaping the enormous benefits that have accrued to it from the ending of sanctions and waiting patiently for the pact to expire in ten years before resuming their push for a weapon, Iran has never stopped working to achieve its nuclear ambition. President Obama made concession after concession and allowed Iran to keep its nuclear infrastructure and research programs because he believed the regime wanted to “get right with the world.” But as the Germans have made clear, critics who have said all along that the president’s trust was misplaced were correct.

The facts published by the Germans can’t be viewed in isolation. That can’t be the only country where Iran is working to cheat its way to a nuclear weapon. Iran’s overseas reach is considerable both in terms of its secret intelligence operatives as well as the vast terror network that it helps orchestrate via its Hezbollah auxiliaries.

Moreover, if the German FBI knows this, it is highly likely that American intelligence also is aware of these activities. That raises questions about whether U.S. officials in the White House and the State Department that have continued to assure us that the letter of the agreement is being observed have been lying to the American people. The revelations also put President Obama’s comments in recent months about the need to encourage Iran to be more open to the world in a different light.

What action can the West take to deal with these violations?

A year ago when the president and Secretary of State John Kerry were selling the virtues of the deal to a dubious Congress and American people, they told us that sanctions would be snapped back in the event of violations. But this is highly unlikely. As deal skeptics predicted, the administration and the West are too heavily invested in the notion of détente with Iran to respond with the sort of alacrity that might impress Tehran. America’s European allies were never enthusiastic about the Iran sanctions in the first place, and the gold rush of Western businesses to Iran has created a vast constituency for continued appeasement.

Yet that should not deter Congress from taking up the issue of Iranian cheating at its earliest opportunity.

The first order of business should be to call a halt to the deal the Boeing Company has struck with Iran to sell it commercial aircraft and related goods and services. That agreement was already raising concerns on both sides of the aisle because of the possibility that companies controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the entity that runs Tehran’s terror networks would be involved with Boeing. But, given the evidence of Iranian nuclear espionage, a strong message must be sent, and that should mean Congress putting a stop to the effort to allow Boeing to get into bed with terrorists. In addition to that Congress must also make it clear that it will not allow the administration to further relax sanctions or to let foreign companies use dollars to conduct business with Iran.

Just as important, this report should signal both Donald Trump—an avowed opponent of the nuclear deal—and Hillary Clinton—who supports it but didn’t take part in the negotiations and isn’t as invested in the myth of Iranian moderation as the president—that U.S. policies toward Iran must change in January. No matter the identity of the next president, President Obama’s successor must begin the work of clawing back the West’s leverage over a rogue regime that cannot be trusted and which presents a clear and present danger to world peace.

Jonathan S. Tobin

High Court Rejects Petitions Against Israel-Turkey Deal

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected all three petitions to stay the agreement renewing diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. The court ruled the matter was one of statecraft rather than an issue for the courts, and something that in fact did not lay within the jurisdiction of the judiciary.

Under the agreement Israel promised to allow Turkey to send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Ashdod port in Israel. In turn, Turkey promised to stop allowing terror organizations such as Hamas to plot attacks against Israel or to raise funds from Turkish territory.

The first aid shipment from Turkey to Gaza was trucked through the Kerem Shalom Crossing Monday, July 4 after arriving by ship and going through inspection at Ashdod Port.

Hana Levi Julian

‘Trump Would Never Push Deal On Israel’

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

While Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law may be the most public Jewish faces of his campaign, a softer spotlight shines on newcomer Jason Greenblatt. Named by Trump as one of his Israel advisers several months ago, Greenblatt serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer to Trump and The Trump Organization. Having worked for Trump for almost twenty years, the Orthodox father of six from Teaneck, New Jersey, is emerging as a positive and constructive force in his boss’s campaign.

I met with Greenblatt in his Trump Tower office in hopes of better understanding the Republican candidate through the lens of his trusted employee, confidant, and Jewish friend.

While Greenblatt feels “incredibly fortunate” in his role as Trump’s liaison to Israel, he does not take his job lightly. “I daven to Hashem each day,” he told me, “to give me the wisdom, skill, knowledge, and ability to be able to help Israel and the people of Israel and the United States in the best possible way.”

In the course of our interview Greenblatt pledged to “do the best job I possibly can in whatever role, large or small, Hashem may destine that I play in this historic election.”

Lehmann: Trump has resonated with many who are increasingly disenchanted with political correctness and the establishment, yet finds himself under unabated attack. What is the best way to respond to a Trump hater?

Greenblatt: What I find is that Trump haters are very surface-oriented people. They’ll grab a sound bite or something they either heard or misheard in a debate or read in a newspaper that’s already been transformed into multiple messages with a reporter’s or editor’s bias. My goal when I speak to people is not so much to convince them to vote for Donald, although of course I’d love to be able to do that, but to have an intelligent conversation about what he really means and also, where does Hillary stand on this issue.

I would like to see more unity on the Republican side. It doesn’t compute for me when staunch Republicans are saying, “Well, I’m not going to back him and I’m not going to vote.” That essentially means they’re voting for Hillary. You might not agree with everything Donald says, but either you’re going to back him or you’re going to back the other side. Certainly Jewish people need to think long and hard about where Hillary is on the issues as opposed to where Donald is. Particularly when it comes to security, because unfortunately now terrorism is also within our borders and not just in Israel.

What do you think Trump represents to Jewish voters and what would his election mean to them?

Trump is incredibly strong and supportive of Israel. He recognizes the very precarious area that Israel exists in, even more so in the past period of time because of the terror that has happened on our own shores. He recognizes that the terror is in large part caused by the preaching of hate to Palestinian children and he recognizes that Israel is doing its absolute best to keep its citizens safe. He isn’t someone who is going to undermine Israel’s ability to secure its borders and its people.

In a perfect world he would love to be able to achieve peace. He sees his skills, his knowledge, his ability to talk to people as the traits that are necessary for someone who will come into a room with both sides and see if some sort of peace deal can be worked out. But he would never impose that deal on Israel or the Palestinians for that matter. No peace deal is worth anything if some other country or countries try to impose it on them.

Would Trump agree that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state should be a precondition to any deal?

Yes. He was very clear in his AIPAC speech that Israel is a Jewish state and will always be a Jewish state. Whether you couch it as precondition or some other creative way to do it, he absolutely agrees that it has to be a Jewish state forever. If the Palestinians come to the table and say we want all of Israel and want the Jews kicked out, there’s no point in having a discussion. But if they come to the table with some other reasonably acceptable standard, reasonable to the Israelis, not just to Mr. Trump, then maybe the conversation can continue. But it’s a little hard to predict, because there is no partner right now at the table.

Can you comment on the criticism leveled at Trump for what some see as a tepid denouncement of anti-Semitic supporters?

I know that there’s been a lot of discourse in the Jewish community about how he hasn’t gone far enough to condemn some of his followers who are anti-Semitic. I think that’s very unfair criticism. Having worked here for twenty years as a frum person, I can tell you that Donald has been enormously respectful of my being Shomer Shabbos. He has bent over backward to help me succeed in the company despite my being Shomer Shabbos. That’s who he is. He respects all kinds of people for who they are because he realizes that everyone brings something to the table.

He condemned David Duke. Did he condemn him the second everyone wanted him to condemn him? Our community has this sort of focus that we want something done a certain way; we want it done right away. We’re not the only people in the country. He spoke to The New York Times, condemned Duke’s remarks, said very clearly anti-Semitism has no place in society. I think his broad condemnation of anti-Semitism is even stronger than had he merely condemned irrelevant Twitter trolls. People need to look at the whole campaign story and not a particular story, biased or unbiased, in a particular newspaper on a particular day.

As someone who has worked with Trump for almost twenty years, how do you react to people who attack his temperament?

In twenty years Donald has been nothing but extraordinarily respectful, not just to me but also my wife and my kids. He is warm, caring, and compassionate. I don’t think he’s impulsive; he’s energetic. He is excited to bring forth new ideas. That doesn’t mean he’s going to implement them without a lot of study and understanding.

He is a tough negotiator, absolutely, but that also doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of speaking thoroughly appropriately all the time. People see him on TV say something about a particular kind of person without understanding the context. Almost all those times he was attacked and was defending himself. He rarely goes on the attack but he’s definitely a counter-puncher. So if someone’s going to attack him, he’s going to attack back and attack strongly. But he’s going to do it within the bounds of what makes sense.

How do you respond to those who accuse Trump of having a vague platform or flip-flopping on issues?

Donald has tremendous intellectual capacity. There are some people who perceive his big-picture ideas as vague but you have to start with the big-picture idea. At least he’s coming to the table with a lot of change, meaning he’s saying the system doesn’t work. Take security – clearly the system isn’t working. Yes, he has some big-picture ideas and he will have teams of really smart people to help him develop them. But you have plenty of politicians who are extremely specific – and where does that get us?

Regarding his position on issues, look, he’s been a businessman all his life. He’s not been a politician. I personally don’t think there’s a problem if he learns more information and decides that his initial position on something maybe needs to be more nuanced or needs to change somewhat. I think of that as a strength, not a detriment. If somebody is going to dig in their heels and say this is the way it’s going to be, and they don’t want to change their mind after a lot of facts are given to them, that doesn’t make me feel comfortable. I think a leader does need to learn and maneuver as things come to light.

What would distinguish Trump as a president?

I think that what he brings to the table in a big way is looking at things the way I would want my president looking at things, not the way things have been done because they’ve always been done that way. That doesn’t serve our country well. Things are constantly changing. The world I’ve been raising my kids in during the last year and a half to three years is significantly less safe than even when September 11 happened. Therefore it does me no good to have a leader who has all this so-called experience in terms of being an insider in Washington. I’m not going to feel any safer for myself and my family just because someone has been in Washington for a long time. If anything, I’m a big believer in someone who thinks outside the box, somebody who looks at things with a fresh pair of eyes. And I think Donald brings that to the table.

I’m always amazed when I come to him with an issue on a deal – just how quickly he gets it and how quickly he proposes, not just one but often several possible solutions. Some of them are super creative. He is always willing to explore ideas to figure out the right approach as opposed to saying this is the way it’s done, this is the way it’s always been done, this is the way we’re going to do it.

Do you see Trump as Obama’s legacy?

Absolutely. Obama started out his presidency by apologizing left and right about who we are and who we stand for. We’re an amazing nation. I say that as a Jewish person able to live and work here and keep Shabbos. This is an incredible country for Jews and other minorities. So what is there to apologize for? We are a nation filled with incredible people.

Obama definitely put our country on the defensive very early on and we’ve lost respect around the world. I think there are other issues that he created for us, in particular regarding terrorism and security. Obama’s legacy has left a huge portion of our population dissatisfied, and I think the antidote to that is someone like Mr. Trump.

Sara Lehmann

Erdogan Rebukes Gaza Flotilla Organizers for Undermining Israel Deal

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday criticized the Turkish charity group IHH for sabotaging his reconciliation with Israel. The Turkish president insisted the deal is good for the Palestinians, for Turkey, and for Israel.

Erdoğan spoke during an iftar dinner (the meal at the end of the daily Ramadan fast) at the presidential complex in Ankara. He said that the flotilla organizers never asked his permission to sail to Gaza in 2010, when he was a prime minister, causing a needless diplomatic crisis erupted between Turkey and Israel.

Erdoğan’s frontal attack came after the Humanitarian Relief Foundation IHH on Monday criticized the deal saying it amounted to acceptance of the Israeli blockade.

“We were already delivering the same amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but without making a show of it. Now we have Israel’s promise, all aid supplies to Gaza will be permitted from now on,” Erdoğan said. He announced that a Turkish ship with 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid is ready to leave for Gaza this Friday, noting that this will become a routine from now on, no need for showboating, so to speak.

Last Monday, after months of talks between the two countries, Turkey and Israel announced that a deal normalizing their relations would be signed. Under the deal, Turkey would be allowed to send humanitarian shipments to Gaza which would be delivered to the Asdod harbor in Israel, examined for contraband and trucked to Gaza; and Israel will pay $20 million in reparations to the families of the Mavi Marmara casualties.

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is a conservative Turkish NGO, whose members are predominantly Turkish Muslims, active in more than 100 countries. Established in 1992 and officially registered in Istanbul in 1995, İHH provides humanitarian relief in areas of war, earthquake, hunger, and conflict. The İHH holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.

Two IHH employees were detained for alleged links to al-Qaida, in a Turkish anti-terrorism police raids on January 13, 2014. An IHH spokesman said that police searched its office in Kilis, near the border with Syria, and detained one of its employees. Another IHH employee was detained in Kayseri after police raided his home.

The current president of the İHH, Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, has been under investigation by specially authorized prosecutors in Istanbul and Diyarbakır for allegedly financing al-Qaeda through his organization. Yildirim also led a memorial service for Chechen leader Shamil Basayev in 2006.

Erdoğan also said that the normalization of relations with Russia and Israel is based on a “win-win” principle. “In other words, both Turkey and Russia must win, both Turkey and Israel must win,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Erdoğan had a phone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin, on the way to normalizing relations between the two countries, some seven months after Turkey had downed a Russian jet that it claimed crossed from Syrian into Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.


Liberman, Bennett, Shaked to Vote Against Turkish Deal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So far, only two government ministers, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, both from Likud, are on the record as supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay upwards of $21 million as reparations to the families of anti-Zionist Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers with metal rods, rocks and knives when they attempted to take over the ship Mavi Marmara back in 2010. The deal also included a public apology (check) and easing the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which always ends up as a wise move when dealing with Hamas.

The loud objections from both sides of the aisle which the Netanyahu deal has raised on Monday may be the reason that four ministers Netanyahu was counting on to support him are yet to say anything on the subject: Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Katz (Likud). Meanwhile, three ministers have erected a strong front against the deal: Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).

Liberman this week denied reports that he had committed to supporting the deal, as part of his entering the Netanyahu government. In closed sessions he went as far as to say that if he thins the deal is bad, he would vote against it.

Bennett said on Tuesday morning that “the State of Israel must not pay reparations to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. A rapprochement with Turkey is important for this time and for the interests of the State of Israel, but paying reparations to terrorists is a dangerous precedent the State of Israel would regret in the future.”

A Channel 10 News survey released Monday showed that 56% of Israelis object to the deal with Turkey, and 67% believe it should have been conditioned on the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers in Hamas’ possession, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/liberman-bennett-shaked-to-vote-against-turkish-deal/2016/06/28/

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