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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Iran Sanctions’

AIPAC Rejects Report of Differences with Wasserman Schultz

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said an article describing differences between the group and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was “inaccurate.”

“I wanted to forward a statement issued by AIPAC National Board Member Ike Fisher after The Huffington Post released an inaccurate article regarding AIPAC and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” said an alert sent to AIPAC activists on Friday by Mark Kleinman, AIPAC’s Southeastern director.

The alert does not say what was inaccurate about the article, which described differences with Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) over Iran sanctions policy, but adds a comment by Fisher, a South Florida resident.

“Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has a strong record of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the statement quotes Fisher as saying. “She is a good friend of Israel and a close friend of AIPAC, and we look forward to our continued work together for many years to come.”

A query to AIPAC was unanswered. Sources close to Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, confirmed that there had been an exchange of communications between AIPAC and the congresswoman leading up to the latest statement.

The Jan. 15 Huffington Post story said Wasserman Schultz, a preeminent congressional supporter of Israel, spoke against legislation calling for new Iran sanctions at a meeting of White House staff and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

AIPAC advocates new sanctions under consideration in the Senate, saying they will strengthen the U.S. hand in talks underway between the major powers and Iran aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The White House opposes the new sanctions, saying they could scuttle the talks.

The House overwhelmingly approved similar legislation last summer, before Iran agreed to join the talks; Wasserman Schultz backed that legislation.

The Washington Free Beacon, an online conservative news site, first reported differences between AIPAC and Wasserman Schultz.

The Free Beacon reported on Jan. 14 that an AIPAC official had written to Florida Jewish leaders urging them to confront Wasserman Schultz about an earlier Free Beacon report that said Wasserman Schultz was instrumental in keeping House Democrats from backing a House resolution urging the Senate to advance that resolution.

Senators Introduce Sanctions Bill to Break Iran Deal

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties introduced a bill on Thursday that would toughen sanctions on Iran and effectively squash the interim deal between the major Western powers and Iran. The deal has been ridiculed by many as appeasement in return for a nuclear bomb.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said the bill’s proposals for a worldwide boycott on Iranian oil exports and blacklisting the country’s mining industries are “an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception.”

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said, “Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table.”

In the unlikely event that the Senate defies President Barack Obama and passes the bill, and the House of Representatives goes along for the ride, it would render the deal null and void because of the negotiators’ promise that no new sanctions would be introduced before the end of talks for a final deal in six months.

The bill also states, “If the government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States government should stand with Israel” with diplomatic, military and economic support.”

The 26 senators who introduced the deal basically made a stand against President Obama, and when the time comes that it is clear that the President and the leaders of the major powers were duped, the bill’s sponsors can say, “We told you so.”

But that won’t be of much help to Israel.

Obama Takes Aim at Israeli Positions on Iran (Full Video)

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Watch the video starting at minute 8:56



President Obama sharply criticized as not viable a number of Israeli government postures on talks with Iran, but reasserted the military option should those talks fail.

In a wide-ranging talk with Haim Saban, the entertainment mogul who funds the annual Saban Forum in Washington, Obama took aim at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that increased pressure during the interim talks would extract greater concessions from Iran, and anticipated a final deal that would grant Iran some uranium enrichment capabilities.

Alluding to the view of Netanyahu and a number of lawmakers in Congress, Obama said, “what this comes up down to is the perception that if we kept churning up the pressure, new sanctions, more sanctions, more military threats etc, that eventually Iran would cave.”

Instead, Obama said, that would likely drive away allies who have helped keep up the pressure on Iran through U.S.-led sanctions.

Obama outlined U.S. red lines in a final agreement, including the dismantling of the plutonium reactor at Arak and the underground nuclear reactor at Fordow, as well as advanced centrifuges.

However, he made clear an enrichment program would remain in place that would ensure that “as a practical matter, they don’t have a breakout capacity.”

That, Obama acknowledged, contradicted Netanyahu’s objective that “we can’t accept any enrichment on Iranian soil, full stop.”

Israel’s government believes that Iran has been allowed to advance its nuclear capability to the point where even a modest enrichment capability positions it dangerously close to weapons breakout capacity.

Demanding no enrichment, Obama said, was unrealistic, likening it to his believing Congress would pass every one of his legislative initiatives.

The Iranians needed to come to a deal that would afford them some “dignity,” he said, and alluded to broad popular support for some enrichment capacity.

Obama said that he did not trust Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly elected president, but noted that he was elected on a platform of reaching out to the West.

Again alluding to a Netanyahu claim, he said that those who say Rouhani is not different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadeinjad, a Holocaust denier and anti-Israel maximalist, “understate the shift in politics” in Iran.

Obama twice said that he would reassert the military option should talks fail with Iran.

“I’ve made clear I can avail myself of including a military option, is one we can consider and prepare for,” he said.

He emphatically rejected hard lines in dealing with other countries. “Wherever we see the impulses of a people to move away from conflict and violence and toward a diplomatic resolution of conflict we should be ready to engage them,” he said. “We have to not constantly assume that it’s not possible for Iran like any country to change over time.”

Obama said he had a good, open relationship with Netanyahu. “There are occasionally significant tactical differences, but there is a constancy in trying to reach the same goal,” he said of the relationship.

Addressing renewed Israeli-Palestinian talk,s Obama said mediation is currently focused on addressing Israeli security needs, and appeared to back away from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s insistence that the sides achieve a final status agreement next year.

An agreement, he said, need not address “every detail” but is one that “gets us to a moment that gets us to move forward than move backward.”

White House: Israel’s All-or-Nothing Proposal on Iran Means War

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Israel’s proposal that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief would likely lead to war, a top White House official said.

The official, in a conference call Wednesday with think tanks and advocacy groups sympathetic to the Obama administration’s Iran strategy, outlined the proposal that the major powers will put to Iran at a third round of negotiations in Geneva beginning Thursday.

JTA obtained a recording of the call on condition that it not name the participants or fully quote them.

A think tank participant on the call said Israel’s posture — demanding a total halt to enrichment and the dismantling of all of Iran’s centrifuges — was a path to war.

Agreeing that such reasoning was “sound,” the White House official said that given a choice between “total capitulation” and advancing toward a nuclear weapon, Iran would choose the weapon.

That posture would “close the door on diplomacy” and would “essentially lead to war,” the official said.

The official sounded notes of frustration with Israel’s pushback against the U.S. proposal for a “first step” deal that would exchange some sanctions relief for some rollback of Iran’s nuclear program, saying it would provide Israel with a six-month window to influence the shape of a final deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backed by a number of U.S. lawmakers, wants Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program and abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all its uranium enrichment.

The proposed deal outlined by the official would suspend uranium enrichment for six months at 20 percent, implying that Iran would be able to continue enrichment at 3.5 percent to 5 percent; “address” Iran’s existing stockpiles of 20 percent- and 5 percent-enriched uranium; suspend the development of a heavy water reactor that could produce plutonium; and end the installation and construction of new centrifuges.

The official emphasized that the construction — not just the installation — of new centrifuges would be halted, countering arguments by opponents of an interim deal who say it would buy Iran time to advance its weapons program.

All of this would be verified by intrusive inspections, the official said.

In exchange, the Western powers would release a “fraction” of $100 billion in Iranian frozen funds and end “ancillary” sanctions — the official did not identify them — but keep in place sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors.

The official said the administration was confident that a proposal by a group of Republican senators to attach an amendment adding intensified Iran sanctions to a must-pass defense-funding act would likely not reach the floor of the Democrat-led Senate.

The senators, led by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), agree with Netanyahu’s assessment that intensified sanctions at this stage would extract from Iran an agreement to suspend enrichment and dismantle centrifuges.

The White House official said that intensified sanctions would likely not only drive Iran away from the talks but would collapse the international sanctions regime in place by alienating a number of countries now abiding by it.

Top Senators Pledge Sanctions Legislation after Thanksgiving

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

U.S. Senate leaders pledged to revisit intensified Iran sanctions after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, told The Hill, a Capitol Hill daily, on Thursday. “I believe we must do everything possible to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability.”

Separately on Thursday, a bipartisan slate of 14 senators issued a statement saying they would work to reconcile a number of sanctions bills circulating “over the coming weeks.”

“A nuclear weapons capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security interest of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability,” said the statement signed by, among others, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), a leader in advancing sanctions, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the body’s third-ranked Democrat.

The Obama administration is opposed to intensifying sanctions while negotiations with Iran are underway to stop its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. Israel’s government and a number of lawmakers favor adding new sanctions as leverage in the talks.

However, the latest statements from senators are not inconsistent with the White House strategy; while the Obama administration has pressed the Senate not to pass new sanctions for now, it has encouraged Congress to make clear such an option is still on the table.

The third round of these talks are taking place now in Geneva.

CNN Poll Shows Majority Support for Interim Iran Deal

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

A poll showed majority support for the Obama administration strategy of easing sanctions on Iran in exchange for a partial rollback of its nuclear program.

A CNN poll released Thursday and conducted by ORC international showed 56 percent of respondents favored “an interim deal that would ease some of those economic sanctions and in exchange require Iran to accept major restrictions on its nuclear program but not end it completely and submit to greater international inspection of its nuclear facilities” and 39 percent opposed.

The poll, based on phone interviews between Nov. 18-20 of 843 respondents, has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

A Washington Post-ABC poll published Nov. 19 showed 64 percent of respondents supporting a deal “in which the United States and other countries would lift some of their economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons” and 30 percent opposed.

Unlike the CNN poll, the Post-ABC poll did not specifically address the crux of the difference between the Obama administration and Israel: Whether Iran should suspend all or some of its nuclear activities in an interim deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backed by some U.S. lawmakers, has insisted that Iran must totally dismantle its nuclear program and end all enrichment in exchange for any easing of sanctions.

A third round of talks between Iran and major powers is underway in Geneva this week.

The Post-ABC poll also showed that only 36 percent of respondents were confident that such a deal would stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, while 61 percent were not confident.

This poll was conducted Nov. 14-17 over the phone and reaching 1,006 respondents. It too had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Obama is Losing Israelis’ Back

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The Obama administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear threat has cost President Barack Obama the support of Israelis, who usually give Washington the benefit of the doubt.

A Smith survey released Thursday revealed that 55 percent of the respondents said they do not count on the United States to “take care of its [Israel’s’ security in negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue.”

Only one third of the respondents said they “count on” the Obama administration.

The distrust of Washington was further highlighted by answers to the question, “Do you think the U.S. government gave or did not give Netanyahu  a reliable and accurate picture of the negotiations with Iran?”

Only 24 percent replied in the positive and that an accurate picture was given, while 42 percent responded in the negative. The others had no opinion.

Regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the U.S. government, 40 percent said it was justified and only 9 percent said it was not justified and was excessive. Another 22 percent said it was justified but excessive.

Thursday morning, Israel’s Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan, a senior and ideological Likud member, railed against  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for complaining to senators on Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is arguing against a deal with Iran before it is concluded. Erdan, said here, “I have not heard such a claim for many years.”

Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party that is part of the Netanyahu coalition government, is in Washington to lobby against easing sanctions on Iran.

Kerry, who told senators on Wednesday to “stop listening to the Israelis,” may also have been referring to Bennett, whose presence in Washington is far from applauded by President Barack Obama.

Bennett posted on his Facebook page a letter he sent to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization and the Russian Jewish Congress.

“When Iran launches a nuclear missile at Rome or Tel Aviv, it will have happened only because a Bad Deal was made during these defining moments,” Bennett wrote. “The free world stands before a fork in the road with a clear choice: Either stand strong and insist Iran dismantles its nuclear-weapons program, or surrender, cave in and allow Iran to retain its 18,500 centrifuges.”

Even the liberal ADL has turned its back on the Obama administration, after having agreed  not to lobby for or against sanctions. AIPAC immediately refused a National Security Council request to suspend lobbying against sanctions.

ADL Director David Harris wrote in Haaretz this week that while he understands President Obama’s concern that new sanctions could disrupt talks with Iran, “It is the ever-toughening sanctions that got Iran to negotiate in the first place; there needs to be a reminder that things will get still worse for Tehran if nothing changes soon on the ground.

“Elaborate efforts on Iran’s part to buy time — with Tehran’s mastery of modulated feints, nods, winks, and hints of openness — just won’t wash.

Netanyahu Says Iran Deal Is ‘Historic Mistake’

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Amid reports that a deal is near that would ease crippling sanctions on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake.”

An agreement on what is being called a first-step deal is expected by Friday, when the current round of negotiations in Geneva between Western powers and Iran is scheduled to end.

The P5+1 world powers, comprised of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain) plus Germany, began a new round of negotiations on Thursday with Iran in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Under the reported Western proposal, Iran would receive limited sanctions relief in exchange for an agreement to curtail nuclear enrichment activities.

“This is the deal of the century, for Iran,” Netanyahu told a group of visiting U.S. congressmen on Thursday. “Because Iran is essentially giving nothing and it’s getting all the air taken out, the air begins to be taken out of the pressure cooker that it took years to build in the sanctions regime.

“What we’re having today is a situation that Iran is giving up, at best, a few days of enrichment time, but the whole international regime’s sanctions policy has the air taken out of it. That’s a big mistake. It will relieve all the pressure inside Iran; it is a historic mistake, a grievous historic error.”

Iran insists that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-says-iran-deal-is-historic-mistake/2013/11/08/

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