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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

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.

News for Israel: Boeing Sells Data, Drawings to Iran

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Boeing Aerospace and Defense has made a sale to Iran.

The Chicago-based firm announced sales of some $120,000 to Iran that included aircraft manuals, drawings, navigation charts and data.

The items were sold to Iran Air, allegedly to “help improve the safety of Iran’s civil aviation industry,” according to Reuters.

The fact that any American aerospace and defense firm is being allowed to do business with Iran signals a sea change in the United States attitude that does not bode well for the Middle East.

According to the report, both Boeing and General Electric were given permission in April of this year by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to export parts for commercial aircraft to Iran, under a temporary sanctions relief deal.

Boeing did not indicate whether it had sold parts prior to the current sale, nor whether it planned to sell parts in the future, and declined further comment, the news agency said.

The firm made a net profit of approximately $12,000 in the third quarter on the sale to Iran. Boeing’s total sales for the quarter were reported at $23.7 billion.

Prior U.S. administrations worked tirelessly to persuade the international community to impose heavy sanctions on Iran to force Tehran to curtail its nuclear development activities.

There have been updated, repeated reports from Israeli intelligence warning that Iran is rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold, where a small step will take Tehran into the world of weapons of mass destruction. Alongside those warnings, the Iranian regime itself has stated firmly that it has no intention of slowing down – let alone stopping – its nuclear development program.

And in past years Iranian leaders have made it equally clear they have placed Israel squarely in the cross-hairs for future annihilation.

So what conclusions should Israel’s government draw from Boeing’s latest announcement?

SWIFT Refuses to Suspend Israel, Russia

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it will not buckle to pressure to disconnect Israel – or for that matter, Russia – from its international transaction system.

“SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” the group said in a statement released on Monday.

“SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure,” the communique said.

The international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement has been trying to pressure the system – as well as numerous corporations and other systems – to boycott Israel in an attempt to destroy its economy. BDS supporters are hoping that through economic destruction, Israel will be forced to withdraw from territory it won in the defensive war forced upon it by Arab nations in 1967 – including numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Israeli capital since that time.

Disconnecting Israel from SWIFT would isolate its economy from international trade. However, the Brussels-based SWIFT is incorporated under Belgium law, the system noted, blocking it from making such unilateral decisions.

“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law,” the statement said.

Last month, the SWIFT system transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations, in 215 countries, according to the RT news site.

Over the summer there were discussions among EU leaders on whether to consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system as means of pressuring Moscow into backing away from the Ukraine conflict.

Netanyahu Insists Military Force Needed to Stop Nuclear Iran

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

“A diplomatic solution is better than a military option but a military option is necessary for diplomacy to succeed” to prevent Iran from obtaining access to a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a Washington think tank.

Netanyahu spoke to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

He added that he agreed with President Barack Obama’s preference for a diplomatic solution but that it will not work without a “credible military threat,” according to AFP.

Although a “threat” is not direct military force, it is difficult to infer that the Prime Minister meant anything other than the use of force since the radical Muslim world’s understanding of the word is inability or fear of using force.

The United States signed on with other Western powers in Geneva last November for a six-month deal, extended until this coming November, that provides that Iran would freeze or curtail some, but not all, of its nuclear development and that international sanctions would be eased.

“Steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of the sanctions because ultimately the sanctions remain an essential element of the international effort to compel Iran to dismantle its nuclear military infrastructure, to take apart all its centrifuges,” N Netanyahu said.

Iran now is again pulling out it latest trick from up its sleeve to buy off the West.

The Islamic Republic, whose stated goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East, including Israel, will be happy to help the United States fight Islamic State insurgents in Iraq if the Obama administration simply would lift “all the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif this week.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-insists-military-force-needed-to-stop-nuclear-iran/2014/08/22/

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