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May 3, 2016 / 25 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘negotiations’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Arrive in Israel March 7

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden is set to visit the State of Israel on March 7.

Biden’s two-day visit is aimed at reaching an understanding before the two countries sign a defense memorandum of understanding.

The Vice President’s visit comes after a statement made two weeks ago by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he said that if the U.S. and Israel cannot reach an “understanding” on the budget, it would be better to postpone signing the memorandum until the next president is sworn in. Netanyahu has asked for a $2 billion raise to $5 billion in annual defense aid. The current budget ends in 2018; but Netanyahu is looking ahead towards the research and development time it takes to put together the various elements on the military “laundry list.”

The prime minister said that more is needed in order to buy advanced aircraft and refueling aircraft as well as to develop anti-missile systems, intelligence equipment, cyber technologies and advanced tanks.

Senior U.S. officials have reacted by warning that America’s budget is not going to improve and that Israel will not get a better deal with the next president, regardless of who that may be.

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: Turkey Toning Down Hopes for Reconciliation With Israel

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

It appears that, like Israel, Turkey’s government is working to reduce expectations of a reconciliation between Ankara and Israel, just as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has in Jerusalem.

The Ankara edition of ‘Today’s Zaman’ published an article Monday headlined: ‘Turkey FM says Israel wanted Erdogan ousted from power, put off deal.”

From the very first paragraph, the article laid the blame for any failure of reconciliation talks at Israel’s doorstep – as Turkey has consistently to this point.

“Turkey’s top diplomat has claimed that Israel has been cold to rapprochement with Turkey because of raised expectations about Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan being ousted from power,” the paper reported.

“Briefing lawmakers in Parliament last Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the framework agreement with Israel was already in place several years ago, saying his government has been in talks with the Israeli side on the same issues that were reported today. ‘In fact, there was a main agreement in place on all these issues, but why was Israel not approaching to [finalize the deal]?” he asked, adding that Israel has been waiting on the departure of Erdogan from power…’”

The foreign minister repeated Turkey’s conditions for the normalization of ties, which include the payment of compensation over the deaths of those who died in the 2010 Mavi Marmara debacle.

What is interesting and new is the position allegedly expressed by Cavusoglu, that Turkey insists on ‘lifting the Israeli embargo on Gaza (the use of language here, as with all diplomatic issues, is very important) and that “Turkey wants to help Gaza residents, including providing electricity to the strip.”

According to Today’s Zaman “the Turkish government’s priority is on lifting the embargo rather than the blockade and hopes to channel development assistance to rebuild Gaza.” (ed.-italics added)

This is the first time Turkey has changed its demand for Israel to drop its blockade of Gaza and instead moved to a request to lift the ’embargo,’ adding a suggestion that it be able to aid in supplying electricity to the enclave.

Despite Ankara’s leanings towards the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey nevertheless might prove helpful in preventing Hamas from stealing the construction supplies that now go missing to rebuild military infrastructure rather than residential neighborhoods.

On the other hand, one must question whether Turkey is hoping to play a role in Gaza in order to establish a presence in the face of another recently-demoted former ally, Egypt. Israel has in the meanwhile strengthened its relations with Cairo, which has increasingly lost patience with Turkey’s foster son, Hamas.

Cavusoglu also revealed that Israeli officials have expressed concern Turkey would continue its public criticisms after a deal is finalized.

“If Israel continues to implement these policies, including illegal settlements and attacks on Palestine, then we’ll naturally criticize; we are very clear and open about this,” the Turkish foreign minister was quoted as saying.

And herein lies one of the problems: Turkey seems to feel free to interfere in the internal domestic national security issues of other sovereign nations but takes great umbrage when others do the same.

For instance, Ankara has no problem taking on the role of advocate for Hamas, the terrorist organization spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood that rules Gaza, and which has been responsible for countless mained, wounded and dead in Israel. Turkey even welcomed Hamas to establish its international headquarters in Istanbul.

But were another sovereign nation to take the same stance on behalf of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), the internationally-recognized terrorist group located in Turkey’s southeastern sector, one wonders how Ankara would respond.

Somehow, Turkey fails to see the parallel.

Negotiators from Ankara and Jerusalem are once more trying to work out a way to regain the relationship the former allies once enjoyed. It has been mutually rewarding and is now needed by both as the region faces an impending onslaught by the hordes of Da’esh (ISIS).

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Issues New Demands on the Nuclear Deal (It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over…)

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

The Iranian government is now demanding the finished nuclear deal be re-opened for negotiation, again.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded earlier this month that sanctions be lifted entirely, rather than simply suspended as agreed in the nuclear deal signed in July.

This past weekend, the demand was repeated by a top Iranian official ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, where informal negotiations often take place on the sidelines. On September 28, Iranian officials plan to meet with the entire P5+1 delegation that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, according to Iran’s FARS news agency.

However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly plans to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in the coming days in New York over the issue. According to Fox News, a State Department official said there will be no further negotiation.

“We’ve long said that we’re not going to comment on or react to every statement attributed to the Iranian leadership,” the official told FoxNews.com. “Our focus is on implementing the deal, and verifying that Iran completes its key nuclear steps under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). There is no renegotiation, and the nuclear-related sanctions relief that Iran will receive once the IAEA verifies that it has completed its nuclear steps is clearly spelled out in the text of the [agreement].”

The ayatollah has said, however, that unless sanctions are lifted entirely, “there will be no deal.” According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Khamenei warned if sanctions are only suspended, Iran too will only “suspend” the nuclear activities listed in the agreement.

In the text of the agreement, there is a reference to “lifting” the sanctions, but the White House has promised that sanctions “will snap back into place” if Iran violates its end of the deal.

According to MEMRI, it’s not that simple. The talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly may provide a forum for new negotiations over further concessions to Iran. Outright “lifting of sanctions” would constitute a “fundamental change” to the deal, MEMRI pointed out, because “lifting the sanctions, rather than suspending them, will render impossible a ‘snapback’ in case of Iranian violations.”

Three Iran leaders announced already last July, however, that Iran intended to openly violate at least part of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

“Just as we refrained from complying with UN Security Council resolutions, we can do so with regard to 2231,” explained senior negotiator Abbas Araghchi in an interview on Iranian Channel 2 broadcast on July 20, 2015, picked up and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The three leaders, President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and Araghchi, who also serves as deputy foreign minister, emphasized in the interview that Iran has no intention of abiding by the UN resolution, which includes both the JCPOA and Annex B – the list of points with which Iran disagrees, including the issue of sanctions on the Iranian missile development project. Rather, Iran seeks to abide only by the JCPOA.

Following the passage of UNSCR 2231, the Iranian foreign ministry issued a statement noting, “Iran does not attach legitimacy to any restriction and any threat. If UNSCR 2231 will be violated by Iran, it will be a violation of the Security Council resolution and not of the JCPOA, similar to what happened 10 years ago when we violated Security Council resolutions and nothing happened.

“The text of the JCPOA notes the fact that the content of the JCPOA and of the UN Security Council resolution are two separate things,” the statement read.

During the interview, Araghchi said that there had been tough bargaining between the Iranian and American delegations over the issue of the arms embargo on Iran and the sanctions related to Iran’s missile development project.

Hana Levi Julian

Iran Standing Firm on Demands at Nuclear Talks

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

As talks wrapped up for the weekend, Iran had not budged from its refusal to allow “extraordinary” inspections at nuclear sites — in other words, its refusal to allow spot inspections of its military nuclear sites. And if sanctions are re-imposed in response to violations of the agreement – as the deal states now – Iran says it will escalate its enrichment of uranium, the nuclear fuel used to create atomic weaponry.

“We should be realistic,” said the Iranian official who spoke with journalists in Vienna on Thursday on condition of anonymity. He said the standard rules of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that govern access to government information, sites of interest and scientists should suffice in determining whether Iran is using nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

What Iran did commit to as part of the deal was the IAEA “additional protocol” for inspections and monitoring. That protocol allows the agency access “sensitive” information held by more than 120 governments that accept its provisions, and expanded access to declared and undeclared nuclear sites.

What it does not provide, however, is guaranteed free access for spot inspections by monitors at any and all sites they wish. In addition, there are no specific guidelines with regard to military sites. Moreover, the Iranian parliament specifically passed a law two weeks ago prohibiting access to military sites by outsiders – including the nuclear site where weapons research is being carried out at the Parchin base near Tehran.

On Thursday (July 2) IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano issued a statement following his visit to Tehran, saying, “I believe that both sides have a better understanding on some ways forward, though more work will be needed.” According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the sensitive issue of access by IAEA inspectors to military sites was among the issues covered during Amano’s visit.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond summed it up in a comment on the Twitter social networking site at week’s end that the delegation was “Not at breakthrough moment yet.”

The current deadline for reaching a resolution by the two sides is July 7 – but that doesn’t mean they won’t extend it again. Both sides agreed to extend the most recent deadline – June 30 – despite having said previously that it was a “final, absolutely final” date.

Hana Levi Julian

Hillary Clinton Wants US-Israel Relations on ‘Constructive Footing’

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been advocating to try and get the U.S.-Israel relationship “to a constructive footing,” according to numerous media reports this week.

The question is, “constructive” for whom?

Clinton spoke with Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called her, to discuss that and other issues. In that conversation, she reportedly reiterated her support for renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to work towards a “two-state solution.”

A statement provided by Hoenlein to the San Diego Jewish World Sunday evening read as follows: “Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue.”

Hoenlein added, “Secretary Clinton’s views are of special importance and timeliness given recent issues in the US-Israel relationship. We note her call for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which, we believe, is the only possible route to a true peace.”

Neither acknowledged similar, repeated calls for direct talks by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since he entered office in 2009.

Among American Jews, there is a growing division in opinion over the issue of the “two-state solution” as well as over who should be held responsible for “solving” it.

America’s grassroots Jewish community is beginning to become aware of the fact that it is the Palestinians – and not the Israelis – who are the reluctant wedding partners in U.S. attempts to woo partners to the table.

Some are questioning where Hillary Clinton really stands on the issue, as more and more people begin to remember her previous positions. Not many were supportive of Israel, and there’s no reason to believe she is likely to change that view once the polls close.

One calls to mind her phone call to scold Israel’s prime minister for a perceived slight to Vice President Joe Biden over a routine announcement of a step in a years-long housing process in Jerusalem that was not been cleared with Netanyahu’s office and her notable lack of response to the naming of a Palestinian Authority square for a bloodthirsty terrorist that same week.

Unfortunately, just too many generations in the Palestinian Authority have passed with deep, subliminal conditioning at the early childhood through adult levels, teaching visceral hatred and murderous, mindless rage towards Israelis and – yes! – Jews to simply wave it away.

That kind of conditioning cannot be undone in a month or even a year, nor can it be wished away at the negotiating table or at the podium. It must be reckoned with by sober planning and security checks that will take into consideration the fact that a nation of potential murderers, ticking time bombs, are located next door. To ignore that would be completely foolhardy, and Israel’s current leadership is anything but foolhardy, American pressure notwithstanding.

Frankly, in many ways, grassroots Israelis and Palestinians are both just heartily sick of the entire thing, and neither has the stomach for more posturing. Many on both sides want peace, and many on both sides want to see their children grow up, marry and make a living.

But then, there’s the reality of how to keep everyone safe from every one of those who dream of murdering us all — Israelis, Jews and “collaborating, traitorous” Arab brethren. Not to mention the reality of naive or biased U.S. leaders.

Rachel Levy

US Secy of State Kerry Says ‘Demanding Iran Capitulate is Not a Plan’

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members of the media on the progress made in talks between world powers led by the U.S. with Iranian negotiators over Tehran’s nuclear development program in Montreaux, Switzerland on Wednesday before leaving to return to the United States. Kerry responded to the speech made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Tuesday’s joint session of Congress, commenting sardonically that “simply demanding Iran capitulate is not a plan.” Not that Netanyahu said any such thing or implied it, contrary to the attempts by the Obama administration to characterize the prime minister’s remarks as such.

Regardless, here is the verbatim transcript of the Secretary’s remarks, which make it clear that Kerry is determined to complete a deal with Iran, perhaps “no matter what,” unless the Iranians themselves decide that even with all the concessions, the price is just too high.

“So good afternoon to all, and thank you very, very much for your patience. We’ve been involved in some long discussions over the past few days, and even well before that. And before I leave Montreux, I wanted to quickly share with you where we are.

“From the beginning, these negotiations have been tough and intense, and they remain so. And we’ve made some progress from where we were, but there are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made. The purpose of these negotiations is not to get any deal; it’s to get the right deal, one that can withstand scrutiny – the scrutiny of experts on nuclear affairs all around the world, the scrutiny of other governments, the scrutiny of people, the scrutiny of the Congress of the United States, people in America, and the scrutiny of countries in the region that are affected by it. And so we know that. We approach these negotiations with a full understanding of the test that will be applied to this and of the expectations that exist.

“We also want an agreement that is sustainable over time, and particularly that achieves the singular goal of proving that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain peaceful. We aren’t going to be distracted by external factors or politics. We will continue to be guided by our experts, our scientists, our national interests and those of our partners and allies.

“Now, for all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region – and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections – the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we know that absent a deal, Iran will have the ability to move ahead with its nuclear program; that we know for sure, because that’s exactly what’s happened to date. We also know that any deal that we would agree to would significantly increase the breakout time, leaving Iran further – far further than it is today – from producing enough fissile material for a weapon, while it undertakes the effort of proving to the world that the program is, in fact, peaceful.

“Clearly, increased breakout time makes any nation in the vicinity or any nation of concern safer. We also know that any deal that we reach would give us the intrusive access and verification measures necessary to confirm that Iran’s nuclear facilities are indeed on a peaceful path. And that would allow us to promptly detect any attempt to cheat or to break out, and then to respond appropriately. And contrary to some public reports, we are only contemplating a deal in which important access and verification measures will endure.

“We also know that the international sanctions, which many want to simply hang their hats on – they may have gotten Iran to the table, but to date they haven’t stopped Iran from advancing its nuclear program. In fact, the first and only thing that had stopped their program from progressing in almost a decade was the Joint Plan of Action that we negotiated and we reached in November of 2013, and that has been adhered to in every single respect since then.

“And most importantly, as President Obama said yesterday, we know that no one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. So folks, simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan, and nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position. And it’s very important to remember we have partners in this effort – France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia – all of whom have similar feelings about the importance of what must be done here.

“So we continue to be focused on reaching a good deal, the right deal, that closes off any paths that Iran could have towards fissile material for a weapon and that protects the world from the enormous threat that we all know a nuclear-armed Iran would pose.

“Now, we still don’t know whether we will get there, and it is certainly possible that we won’t. It may be that Iran simply can’t say yes to the type of deal that the international community requires. But we do know that we owe it to the American people in my case, people in the world, to try to find out. And we will return to these talks on the 15th of March, recognizing that time is of the essence, the days are ticking by, and important decisions need to be made. Thank you.”

Hana Levi Julian

Obama Says ‘Give Iran Talks a Chance; Israel Safer Than Ever

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama revealed in an exclusive interview with Reuters late Monday that American officials do not actually know how far Iran really is from “breakout” – that is, how far from reaching the ability to create a nuclear weapon.

The reason for this is because Iran is still failing to come clean about its nuclear program.

“There is a substantial disagreement in terms of how to achieve that. And what it boils down to is what’s the best way to ensure that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever. And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.

“What we’ve said from the start is by organizing a strong sanctions regime, what we can do is bring Iran to the table. And by bringing Iran to the table, force them to have a serious negotiation in which a) we are able to see exactly what’s going on inside of Iran b) we’re able to create what we call a breakout period, a timeline where we know if they were to try to get a nuclear weapon it would take them a certain amount of time.

“And the deal that we’re trying to negotiate is to make sure that there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.

“And as long as we’ve got that one-year breakout capacity, that ensures us that we can take military action to stop them if they were stop it. Now, we’re still in the midst of negotiations. What I’ve said consistently is, we should let these negotiations play out. If, in fact, Iran is agree, willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist …

REUTERS – Double digit years?

OBAMA – Double digit years. If we’ve got that and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon.

“Now, Iran may not agree to the rigorous inspection demands that we’re insisting on. They may not agree to the low levels of enrichment capabilities they would have to maintain to ensure that their breakout is at least a year. But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.

“And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.

REUTERS – Let’s talk a little bit specifically about the prime minister. Susan Rice said that what he has done by accepting the invitation to speak was destructive to the fabric of the relationship. Would you agree that it’s destructive? And if so, will there be any consequences for him or for Israel?

OBAMA – You know, I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is sincere about his concerns with respect to Iran. And given Iran’s record and given the extraordinarily disruptive and dangerous activities of this regime in the region, it’s understandable why Israel is very concerned about Iran. We are too. But what we’ve consistently said is we have to stay focused on our ultimate goal, which is preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-says-give-iran-talks-a-chance-israel-safer-than-ever/2015/03/03/

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