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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

New York State Assembly Passes Anti-BDS Resolution

Friday, June 19th, 2015

The New York State Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, becoming the latest state government to do so.

The resolution, introduced by Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley (D-Brooklyn) and co-sponsored by 74 other members, rejects BDS activities that “undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination.”

The resolution states:

This Legislative Body is concerned that the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and its agenda are damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.

The resolution also recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and says the U.S. and Israel share “a common bond rooted in the values of freedom, democracy, and equal rights.”

The New York resolution follows anti-BDS measures in several other states, most recently in Illinois, which prohibited state pension funds from including in their portfolios companies that participate in the BDS movement. State legislatures in Indiana and Tennessee also recently passed resolutions condemning BDS, but those measures were non-binding, as opposed to the Illinois bill’s specific economic action.

Obama Sends Biden to Threaten War on Iran

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden used the “W” word – war – in a speech Thursday night that is part of a new White House charm offensive to calm down Israel’s concerns that Washington is ready to sign a “bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear program.

Biden said at his speech to the conservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

A war with Iran, if required, it will happen. It is a risk we may have to take should Iran race to a bomb….

The finest military in history remains at the ready. Don’t underestimate my friend Barack Obama. He has a spine of steel and he is willing to do what it takes to keep our allies safe.

Biden also emphasized parts of the proposed deal that Iran has thoroughly rejected in public, particularly “phased sanctions relief” and a demand that Iran take off the mask off past nuclear weapons research.

President Obama sent Biden two weeks ago to placate Israel at the annual Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration in Washington, where he began his speech by declaring, “My name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.”

The White House clearly is trying to mend fences after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress in March, when he warned of a “bad deal” with Iran.

Obama lost the elections in Israel two weeks later. His aides not only have given up hope that Netanyahu won’t be able to form a new coalition government, they also have finally realized it will be much more stable and more right-wing than previous governments.

The president has no choice but to play ball with Netanyahu, and Biden is his pitcher, although he showed his ignorance of Jewish self-guilt by throwing a couple of spitballs in his Yom Ha’Atzmaut speech , bragging that two of his children married Jews.

Netanyahu is reciprocating to a certain extent and laying off high-profile attacks on the proposed Iran deal.

Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Netanyahu and former ambassador to the United States, told Bloomberg News Thursday that Israel “would like to do what we can to remove the unnecessary hindrances in our relationship with the U.S.”

“Neither side want to have an open conflict, but Netanyahu will certainly continue to criticize the Iran talks and there isn’t much he can deliver on the actual peace process,” Robbie Sabel, a Hebrew University professor and a  former Israeli diplomat, told Bloomberg.

Netanyahu last month suddenly released nearly half a billion dollars in tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority, without deducting the entire sum from a large debt Ramallah owes Israel for electricity and other services.

Israel also has allowed more permits for Arabs in Judea and Samaria to travel to Jerusalem.

Obama reiterated last month he will visit Israel, but not before June 30th, the deadline for a final deal with Iran.

Tehran already has said that the deadline is not holy, so don’t expect Obama land at Ben Gurion Airport on July 1

Khamenei Mocks Obama Officials’ Silly Bluffs’

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Ayatollah Seyed Khamenei mocked the Obama administration for “silly bluffing” and charged the United States with creating a “myth” of nuclear weapons to portray Iran as a threat.

The most “vital threat” to the Middle East really is the United States and the “Zionist regime,” declared Iran’s highest authority.

While he belittled the White House, Iran’s senior military commander insisted that there is no way that Iran ever will agree to inspections of its military facilities.

Open inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities is one the biggest holes in the framework agreement with Iran that was approved by President Barack Obama. He stated after the P5+1 concluded the framework deal with Iran:

Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards deputy-commander Gen. Hossein Salami said on Sunday:

We would not allow such demands [for inspections] even in their dreams to be realized; military centers should be protected against any such violations; a foreign inspector in our garrison would mean occupation of our soil, since it has all our defensive secrets. This would mean national humiliation as well.

So much for “robust and intrusive inspections.”

The word “humiliation” is a key, a term that you will not find in any agreement between the West and Iran because it is something that the United States simply does not understand.

The White House conveniently shoves away Iranian hate language, such as “Death to America” as nothing more than hot air for the “domestic audience.”

The Obama administration psychologists figure that if they let Iran spout off, it will please the folks back home while the Islamic regime secretly plays by Western rules and agrees to what it signs.

“Humiliation” is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – obstacle to any agreement with any Islamic country.  The obvious example is that accepting Israel as a country is humiliation.

Iran has to sell to its citizens a deal that humiliates the United States. The more Iran’s leaders scream “no inspections” and “no sanctions,” the harder it will be for it to lie to the “domestic audience.”

Khomeini’s latest rant rejects the idea that Iran even dreams of having nuclear weapons. Instead, he charged that “the most vital threat posed to the world and the region is the US and the Zionist regime which meddle and kill people anywhere they deem to be necessary without any control or commitment to conscience or religious principles.”

Khamenei’s belittling of the Obama administration works to the favor of Republicans  and makes some Democratic Congressmen feel a bit silly, to use Khamenei’s word, by backing  the president.

Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who helped initiate and draft the bill to give Congress the right to review any final deal with Iran, told CNN on Sunday that lifting sanctions will be phased, a concept that Iran has totally rejected before the ink was dry on the April 2 temporary agreement.

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio warned on Face the Nation that the United States might have to take military action if Iran does not toe the line.

“We don’t want that to happen, but risk of a nuclear Iran is so great that option must be on the table,” Rubio said.

Iran Warns US on Sanctions: ‘All or Nothing’

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Iran has threatened to scuttle the Obama administration’s “key parameters” for a deal to cover its nuclear program and said Washington’s “fact sheet”  misrepresents last week’s agreement.

Sure enough, before the ink hardly has dried on the arrangement, agreement or key parameters – depending on your spin – Iran has warned that President Barack Obama must annul all sanctions.

The State Dept. Fact sheet states:

U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.

The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.

U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.

As we have written here before, any agreement between the West and Iran or the Arab world simply is a basis for another argument.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the “fact sheet” as fiction and stated on Sunday, “During the negotiations, we have always planned for the termination of the economic, financial and banking sanctions and we have never negotiated on their suspension, otherwise, no understanding would be made.”

State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday, “We expect for the anti-Iran sanctions suspension piece to happen generally within the first year, but again, if Iran takes these steps more quickly, then the suspension can come more quickly.”

Iran’s deputy lead negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi contradicted her and said, “This is a wrong impression about the Lausanne understanding [that] explicitly states that the sanctions will be annulled; all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions will be removed in the first stage.”

Now that Iran has a temporary deal in hand, it is acting as if it has the upper hand. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is desperate for some kind of achievement on paper than can mask his countless failures. A deal might even win him a Nobel Peace Prize and give President Obama’s justification for having prematurely received it in his first term of office, before he by his own admission had not done anything to earn it.

Foreign Minister Zarif warned on Sunday Iran can walk away from the deal just as easily as Obama can threaten to do so.

He told Iranian television:

Either side in this agreement can, in the case of the other side violating the agreement, cease its own steps.

As with Palestinian Authority “negotiations” with Israel, under the iron fist of the Obama administration, it already is clear that Iran already is negotiating in public to push Obama further against the wall.

The more he pushes, the more Congress might push back and ditch the deal.

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

White House Spokesman Denies Sanctions Against Israel

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The White House denied on Monday that President Barack Obama’s administration is planning to impose economic sanctions against Israel.

Spokesperson Josh Earnest told journalists that reports that the president had been considering the sanctions due to plans by the Israeli government to build homes in Jerusalem were “completely unfounded and without merit.”

“Recent reports suggest that your administration has held classified meetings over the past several weeks to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Israel for its decision to construction homes in East Jerusalem,” 48 Congress members wrote to Obama on Friday.

“We believe that those actions are counterproductive, that they don’t serve to facilitate the kind of trust that we believe is necessary for both sides to try to hammer out their differences in a way that is consistent with the national security concerns of the Israeli people and with the broader aspirations of the Palestinian people,” Earnest said.

Last month there were echoes of frustration from the U.S. State Department over plans to build 500 housing units in the badly overcrowded Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem. The State Department called an announcement of the plans by the Jerusalem district planning and building committee “unfortunate” and “illegitimate” — a condemnation that followed a similar spat the week prior.

At the end of October, the prime minister’s office approved plans to build 600 new housing units in the same neighborhood, in addition to 400 units in Har Homa, another post-1967 neighborhood in the capital. Washington said at that point that Israel was taking steps that were “not conducive to peace in the region and a two-state solution.”

The State Department had expressed “concern” over what it called “settlement construction” — an odd choice of words for a northern Jerusalem neighborhood that is home to more than 20,000 people and has been in existence for nearly half a century.

 

 

Controversy Bubbles Up in SodaStream Bid to Leave Samaria

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

SodaStream International, an Israeli firm, has announced a deal has been finalized to close its factory in Mishor Adumim – an industrial park in the Samaria city of Maale Adumim, ten minutes north of Jerusalem – and move to southern Israel. Negotiations have been in the works for months.

The company and anyone associated has been harassed unmercifully by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement due to the location of the factory, which was built in an area developed by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War.

That includes actress Scarlett Johansson, who quit her post as a spokesperson for the far left Oxfam International nonprofit organization after being hassled for her ties to SodaStream.

But BDS activists somehow missed the point that the factory emphasizes co-existence in its even-handed approach to hiring some 500 Palestinian Authority Arabs as well as Jews.

With the closure of the factory, PA Arabs are the ones whose livelihoods will be hurt the most; many will find it difficult to replace their wages and working conditions (on-site mosque, etc) locally. Most may be unable to cross into pre-1967 Israel to replace their current jobs within a reasonable distance.

Even more ridiculous is the fact that SodaStream never should have been a target in the first place. Mishor Adumim was always seen as a place that would remain under Israeli control, according to the 1993 internationally-recognized Oslo Accords, signed both by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Nevertheless, the international BDS movement has been tracking and harassing SodaStream for quite some time and apparently, it intends to continue despite the disappearance of any reason to harass its target.

One would think activists with the group would be lifting glasses of the bubbly to celebrate SodaStreams move across the so-called “Green Line” into pre-1967 Israel.

But not so. Now the group is claiming it will continue its boycott because SodaStream will move its factory next year to Lehavim, near Be’er Sheva, in the “Naqab.”

The move will bring the company a savings of two percent, officials say.

But BDS insists the factory will displace Bedouin residents of the “Naqab” – that is, the Negev. How the construction of a factory in Lehavim, an existing town, will displace Bedouin residents in the vast expanse of a region that comprises literally 60 percent of Israels land mass, is anyone’s guess.

But somehow, the BDS people have managed to twist their logic around that pretzel.

Israel, meanwhile, is providing an incentive grant of $20 million for the new factory as part of its effort to encourage revitalization in the south.

Will SodaStream try to obtain work permits for its current Arab employees? Yes, says CEO Daniel Brinbaum, of course. He will welcome them at the new plant as well – but they will face a daily trip of up to 60 miles from the original work site.

Co-existence does not go out of style in a corporate culture simply because a factory relocates. It just may be that those PA Arabs who are unable to move south with SodaStream into pre-1967 Israel will end up being replaced by Negev Bedouin.

Jews and Bedouin in southern Israel have been living and working together for decades, BDS notwithstanding. In the south, Israelis have no reason to prove anything to anyone, least of all to activists with an agenda to stir up trouble without necessity. Survival is everyone’s main priority, first and last.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/controversy-bubbles-up-in-sodastream-bid-to-leave-samaria/2014/11/04/

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