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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Robert Menendez’

Harriet Sherwood Completely Mischaracterizes Iran Sanctions Bill

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

A March 2nd Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Dan Roberts (Binyamin Netanyahu visit will test strains in US-Israel relationship) included the following claim regarding efforts in the US Senate to pass a new Iran sanctions bill:

…the failure of an Aipac-supported effort to pass legislation blocking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security.

This is a complete mischaracterization of a bill (S.1881 – Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013) which, by all accounts, is designed to put more pressure on Iran so that they’ll comply with any nuclear agreement that is reached with the six world powers.

The bill (sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, along with 58 co-sponsors) has been accurately described by multiple media sources:

Washington Post

The measure introduced Thursday, if approved, would impose harsh new sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry while also threatening U.S. allies and partners with financial restrictions unless they sharply curtail trade with Iran. The sanctions would go into effect if Iran violated the terms of the temporary accord reached last month or if it failed to reach a permanent agreement with world powers in a timely manner.

New York Times

A bipartisan group of senators, defying the White House, introduced a bill on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran if it failed to conclude a nuclear agreement, or stick to the terms of its interim deal, with the United States and other major powers.

The bill would seek to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero and penalize its engineering, mining and construction industries. But the sanctions would not take effect before the six-month term of the interim deal expires, and they could be deferred for up to another six months, at Mr. Obama’s request, if the talks looked promising.

ABC News:

A bipartisan group of 26 senators introduced new legislation today proposing potential sanctions against Iran if the country fails to uphold the P5+1 agreement made last month or if it fails to reach a final agreement to terminate its nuclear weapons program.

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., which calls for additional reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and creates more penalties for parts of the Iranian economy, including engineering, mining and construction.

The bill also provides the administration with up to one year from implementation of the agreement to try to reach a diplomatic solution that would completely end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Business Insider

The legislation proposes sanctions in the event that Iran breaches the terms of the interim agreement reached last month in Geneva — or if world powers fail to come to a comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Politico:

The sanctions legislation would impose conditional economic penalties on Iran if the country fails to follow through on an interim deal or pulls out of ongoing global negotiations to permanently curtail its nuclear ambitions in return for some sanctions relief.

CNN

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that would authorize new economic sanctions on Iran if it breaches an interim agreement to limit its nuclear program or fails to strike a final accord terminating those ambitions.

Clearly, the bill would increase sanctions against Iran only in the event negotiations with the six world powers (P5+1) fail to produce an agreement, or if Iran fails to abide by an agreement.  So, the claim made by Sherwood and Roberts that the bill would “block Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran” is untrue.

Panicky Obama Recruiting Olmert to Slam Bibi

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

How can you tell when the White House is in a panic? When they recruit a disgraced has-been Israeli politician to go after Netanyahu’s Iran message. It means they were unable to get President Shimon Peres to carry that bucket of water for them, which says a lot.

After revelations that the U.S. has been misleading two of its most loyal friends in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and conducting secret talks with Iran even before the latter picked “moderate” Hassan Rouhani – it’s not easy to find A-list Israelis to make fun of Bibi’s “hysteria.”

So Olmert agreed to do the deed, and told a conference of security experts on Sunday that Netanyahu’s public criticism of the American nuclear deal with Iran was provocative and counterproductive.

Netanyahu, you’ll recall, said the deal with Iran was an “historic mistake” and Israel is not bound by it.

This means that no matter how much good will Rouhani is getting from Obama and the EU gang – Israel could up and bomb the plants overnight, any night. And, considering the Saudis’ mood about Obama these days – the IAF could fly through Saudi airspace unmolested. Why, the royal band would be playing Hatikva as the Israelis fly above (you don’t want them to play the Saudi anthem, because it could interfere with the mission).

Olmert said he, too, had disagreements with Obama, but always made sure to voice them in private.

Bibi’s response was that in contrast to “others,” when it came to the security of Israeli citizens “I will not be silent.”

Why should the White House be in a panic? Because of the bipartisan action taking place in both houses of Congress – something which has been rare, indeed, these past few years. As always, only the Jews could get the Democrats and Republicans together, or, if you will, only a clear betrayal of an old friend by the president could do it.

Anonymous senior officials in the Obama administration have been making a point of saying that Netanyahu’s efforts to appeal to Congress won’t be effective and Netanyhau can be “managed”, saying that Netanyahu is “weak and desperate”, that Netanyahu lacks self-confidence, and and the the White House isn’t excited by Netanyahu’s opposition, according to a report on Israeli TV. The official made sure to add that they aren’t naive.

The anonymous senior official doth protest too much, methinks.

According to Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations writing for Politico, the Iran accord, freezing but not eliminating Iran’s nuclear program over the next six months, is proving “contentious,” as congressional critics are highlighting its problems. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), for instance, urged that the agreement be met “with healthy skepticism,” and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that the sanctions relief vs. Iranian concessions “does not seem proportional.”

Takeyh reminds readers that all the Iran sanctions bills to date have passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.

“Liberals and conservatives have come together to punish the Islamic Republic for its nuclear transgressions and sponsorship of terrorism. During the past three decades, while many countries have been enticed by Iranian commerce, Congress has distinguished itself by persistently holding Tehran responsible for its human rights abuses.”

And Takeyh insists this should not be attributed to pressure from AIPAC etc., since “American legislatures are perfectly capable of being offended by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s penal colony without such advocacy.”

Of course, the Iranians are not helping. President Obama wakes up every morning to discover new quotes from Iranian officials being candid about the interim deal. Last week, Hossein Shariatmadari, the voice of the Supreme Leader, according to the Washington Post, bragged to the Wall Street Journal that “if the right to enrich is accepted, which it has been, then everything that we have wanted has been realized.”

Wouldn’t you panic reading this quote? The Iranians are spilling so many beans, somebody is bound to trip and break something…

According to the Hill, the sanctions effort is led by Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who co-authored the Iran sanctions legislation that sailed through the Senate 100-0 two years ago (see: Senate Foreign Relations Chair (D) Attacks Obama ‘Fear Mongering’). And Senators Schumer and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are pushing for new sanctions, too.

It appears that the new legislation will take into consideration the general support of the American public for any deal that doesn’t require starting yet another war. What they’ll do is push for verification of Iran’s compliance. It will focus on getting Iran to dismantle its nuclear program, which the current six-month deal does not do.

Meanwhile, it appears Ehud Olmert, once Israel’s political fixer, has been reduced to doing Obama’s bidding. It’s a good job, but with an obvious sunset date: 2016. Until then, send all water carrying assignments to Yossi Olmert’s older brother.

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.

AIPAC: Intensify Sanctions if Iran Advances Nuke Program

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

AIPAC joined Israel’s government and some congressional leaders in calling on the Obama administration to intensify sanctions should Iran continue its uranium enrichment during negotiations.

“To avoid any misunderstanding in Tehran, America must clearly signal that it will consider no easing of sanctions until Iran has verifiably suspended its nuclear program,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a memo sent Monday to congressmen and released to reporters. “If Iran’s nuclear activities continue, the United States and the international community should escalate sanctions and reinforce President Obama’s message that a credible military option is on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

Top Obama administration officials have asked Congress not to consider new sanctions on Iran until after talks over the country’s suspected nuclear weapons program renew later this month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has campaigned in recent weeks for intensified sanctions should Iran continue to enrich uranium. Last week, in a meeting with the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he found a friendly ear.

“Our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged and we will not hesitate from proceeding with further sanctions and other options to protect U.S. interests and ensure regional security,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement after meeting with Netanyahu on Sept. 30. “While we welcome Iran’s diplomatic engagement, it cannot be used to buy time, avoid sanctions, and continue the march toward nuclear weapons capability.”

President Obama has said he sees an opening in the ostensible moderation of Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, who has pledged to make transparent a nuclear program he insists is peaceful. Netanyahu says he believes Rouhani is lying.

Notably, the AIPAC statement did not embrace Netanyahu’s calls for an end to all enrichment as part of a final deal. Instead it called only for a suspension of nuclear enrichment as a predicate for negotiations, not as part of a final deal.

That posture is aligned more with Western powers, which reportedly are ready to allow a degree of enrichment to continue, than with Netanyahu.

Israel Seeks UN Security Council Seat; Will Power Proffer Power?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Late last week the Jewish State publicly announced that it plans to run for one of the ten rotating positions on the Security Council of the United Nations for the 2019-2020 year. Virtually everyone agrees it will be a tough battle for Israel to land a seat on the Security Council, but this year Israel has a special weapon it has not had in the past: US power. Or, more accurately, U. S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

This past July, when Power appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her vetting in advance of being appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) bluntly asked Power whether she would assist Israel if the Jewish State seeks to fill one of the ten rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council.

“Absolutely, sir,” Power responded. “The Security Council seat is one that has eluded Israel, despite its many contributions across the years, and I commit to you wholeheartedly to go on offense, as well as playing defense on the legitimation of Israel, and we’ll make every effort to secure greater integration of Israeli public servants in the U.N. system.”

Now for a little background information: in order to win one of those ten rotating seats, two-thirds of the 193 member states of the U.N. General Assembly must vote to support a country’s bid.  In the 64 plus years during which Israel has been a member state of the U.N., it has never been approved for a seat on the U.N.’s Security Council.

Israel never has, but every one of its’ neighbors has had a seat on the Security Council several times: Egypt, four times; Jordan, twice; Syria, three times and Lebanon, twice.  Even Iraq and Iran have been voted on to the Security Council. But not Israel.

The Security Council can make policy decisions which have binding authority.  It can impose sanctions or authorize the use of the military. In contrast, the General Assembly can only pass resolutions, which are non-binding statements.

The ten rotating spots for the Security Council are chosen from within the five regional groups into which the U.N. is divided: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean, and the Western Europe and Others group (WEOG).

Although geographically – which is exactly how the groups are organized – Israel would naturally fall within the Asia Pacific group.  But the Islamic countries refused to permit Israel to be a member of that group. Sounds impossible, or at least impermissible, but it is what happened. And it was permitted.

So for years Israel was a U.N. member nation without a regional group home.  This meant that it was unable to participate in certain U.N. activities, one of which was being considered for a position on the Security Council.  But in 2000 the semi-magnanimous members of the WEOG permitted Israel to become a partial member of their regional group.

And then, in 2004, Israel was made a permanent member of WEOG. With that decision, after 55 years as a U.N. vagabond nation, Israel had a home in a regional group and became eligible for a seat on the Security Council. Israel will be running against Germany and Belgium for two seats available to members of WEOG.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor said that “We’re going all out to win” because “it’s about time.” But going “all out” may not be enough, given that 120 of the U.N.’s 193 member states belong to the “Non-Aligned Movement,” the vast majority of which are decidedly hostile to Israel.

All eyes should be on Power to see how she plays offense – and defense – on behalf of Israel. As promised.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-seeks-un-security-council-seat-will-power-proffer-power/2013/10/07/

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