Israel and the United States have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on security assistance for the years 2019 – 2028, the Prime Minister’s office announced Tuesday night. The MOU constitutes the single largest pledge of assistance in US history. The new MOU will be signed in a ceremony at the Department of State in Washington on Wednesday, at 2 PM local time.David Israel
Posts Tagged ‘United States’
Shurat HaDin: Obama Secretly Transferred $1.7 Billion to Iran to Keep It Out of Terror Victims’ ReachTuesday, September 13th, 2016
Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, representing American the families of terror victims who have won US court judgments against the government of Iran for its support of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel, on Tuesday released a letter it sent US Congress members alleging that the Obama Administration kept secret the details of the $1.7 billion in cash payments to Tehran in January 2016 in order to evade efforts by their clients to recover those funds to satisfy outstanding court awards.
In the past, American terror victims have been successful in seizing Iranian bank accounts when those had been located.
The letter, sent by attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv and Robert Tolchin of New York, recalls that on January 17, 2016, President Obama announced the settlement of a legal dispute between the United States and Iran over $400 million held by the US in a Foreign Military Sales (“FMS”) program account since 1979. The Obama Administration agreed to pay the $400 million it finally conceded it owed Iran, plus payment of an additional $1.3 million in interest on that amount.
Then, “in recent weeks, the $1.7 billion which was secretly paid out in cash has come under severe scrutiny because the timing and circumstances of the payments appear to confirm the Iranian claim that the White House agreed to pay the money as ransom to Tehran for the release of American hostages.”
However, in light of the recent revelations in a Congressional subcommittee hearing held on Thursday, September 8, 2016, Shurat HaDin is asserting that “it is now clear that the Administration has deliberately kept numerous payments to Iran secret in order to shield Iran from having to forfeit those funds to pay terror victims amounts Iran owes under outstanding US judgments.”
The Shurat HaDin letter cites a “suspicious revelation at the Congressional subcommittee hearing that the United States and Iran did not draft a written settlement agreement or any other formal documentation of the cash transfers, and that Iran specifically directed the Iran-US Tribunal at the Hague, where the claim was to be resolved through arbitration, that it should not record the settlement of the claim for the parties.”
Shurat HaDin asserts that under a legislation passed in 2000, the US was legally entitled to apply the $400 million in the FSM account to satisfy terror victims’ judgments, and this way eliminating the $400 million balance and nearly 16 years of interest claimed by Iran.
Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said in a statement: “We believe that the secrecy in which these cash payments were made was part of an effort by the White House to conceal these payments from the terror victims and to hide the fact that it was effectively canceling Iran’s debt for its terror-related activity. This is a horrible fraud against the terror victims. It appears the secret cash transfers were specifically done as an end run around the ability of the families to attach the money and enforce their federal court judgments.”
Why didn’t the Treasury ever tell the families they were holding these funds?” Darshan-Leitner demanded to know.
Had either the settlement or an award against the United States at the Iran-US Tribunal been entered on the books, and Iran had sought to have the settlement or award confirmed in US court, then terror-victims with judgments against Iran could have legally “attached” any judgment affirming the settlement or award, so that the amount could be applied to satisfy their terror-compensation judgments, Shurat HaDin contends, explaining that “instead, the Administration went to great lengths to ensure that the $1.7 billion purported settlement was shrouded in secrecy, was never reduced to writing or even recorded with the Tribunal in Hague, and was paid to Iran in cash as quickly and directly as possible in order to head off any chance that Iran would be forced to forfeit any amount to pay legal judgments it owes to American terror victims.”
Shurat HaDin urged Congress to continue to investigate these issues, and to take action to guarantee that further payments to Iran do not take place as long as Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism and a threat to its neighbors, “and until it has paid every judgment it owes to American victims of terror.”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner addressed her letter to Senator Marco Rubio and Representatives Mike Pompeo and Ed Royce, who have each introduced legislation in response to the $1.7 billion payment to Iran, and to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Sean P. Duffy, whose subcommittee held a special hearing on the $1.7 billion payments last Thursday, September 8, 2016.JNi.Media
A Syrian mortar shell exploded Monday evening in the northern section of Israel’s Golan Heights, for the second time in less the two weeks.
No physical injuries were reported in the incident.
Just a little over a week ago, a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in an open field, also in central Golan.
No physical injuries were reported in that incident either, and the shell was presumed to have been part of the “spillover” from the fighting between factions in southern Syria.
Nevertheless, Israeli military forces attacked Syrian artillery launchers a few hours later the same day (Sept. 4) in retaliation for the shelling.
The Syrian mortar fire had struck the central area of the northern Golan Heights near Al-Furan, although the source of the shelling was not clear.
However, Israel holds the Syrian government responsible for all actions that take place within its borders, according to the IDF.
Another official ceasefire worked out between Russia and the United States was to begin Monday night with the start of the Islamic Eid al-Adha Feast of the Sacrifice holiday.
Regime forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were pledged to abide by the ceasefire. But it’s not clear whether they had yet begun their part of the deal, or whether some of the other factions to whom Russia and the United States had reached out in the past week had simply chosen not to observe the truce — or were simply testing its limits.Hana Levi Julian
U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov shook hands Friday on a deal to impose a new cease-fire in Syria after marathon talks in Geneva. More than half a million Syrians have died since the start of the savage civil war that has raged in the country since March 2011.
The truce is scheduled to begin Monday together with the start of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
But few have faith the deal will hold up for more than a few minutes.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself little more than a name on paper for a collection of secular opposition groups backed by the West, quickly dismissed the possibility that this time the deal would bring peace.
Fares al-Bayoush, head of the FSA’s Northern Division group, pointed out that Russia and Syrian government troops had not complied with the previous cease-fire. Likewise, Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, military spokesperson for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Brigades opposition group said the agreement would only give government troops the opportunity to gather forces and reinforce troops in Aleppo with more Iranian-backed military forces.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also welcomed the agreement but reminded that “broken promises” had been heard before, The Guardian reported. “I call on all parties to the Syria conflict and all countries with influence upon them to do what is needed to end violence and lift sieges,” he said. “In particular, it’s vital that the regime in Damascus now delivers on its obligations, and I call on Russia to use all its influence to ensure this happens.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Kerry by phone on Saturday that Ankara welcomes the cease-fire. Two and a half weeks ago, Turkey launched its own invasion of Syria after dealing with an endless flood of Syrian refugees through its southeastern border, and numerous “overflow” attacks from the war. Now Ankara has said it will provide humanitarian aid to Aleppo, in northern Syria, in cooperation with the United Nations, following the cease-fire.
It’s not the first time such a cease-fire has been proposed the same two parties; just six months ago, a similar truce was made, and violated repeatedly by both sides almost immediately. Before that, the two sides worked out a cease-fire deal in 2013. That one didn’t happen, either.
Kerry told reporters at a joint news conference with Lavrov, “The United States is going the extra mile here because we believe Russia and my colleague have the capability to press the Assad regime to stop this conflict and come to the table and make peace.
“Out of complexity in Syria, there is emerging a simple choice between war and peace,” he said.
The plan is for the U.S. and Russia to establish a joint operation center to coordinate military efforts against the Da’esh (ISIS) and Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations.
Russia informed President Bashar al-Assad about the agreement and, according to Lavrov, the regime agreed to comply. Although the terms were documented and agreed to by both sides, they would not be made public, he told reporters, according to the UK-based newspaper, The Telegraph.
The deal rides on Russia’s ability and willingness to stop attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and the same cooperation by the United States to halt attacks by “moderate” opposition forces who unite with Al Nusra and other radical Islamists when it suits their needs.
Other forces that have become involved in the Syrian conflict include Iran and Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the Kurds.
It’s a coin toss whether anyone will actually pay more than five minutes’ attention to the terms of the deal in Damascus this time — and some bookie is probably making good money on the estimates of how long the quiet will last, or if it will even be quiet at all by Monday night.Hana Levi Julian
One of the disturbing points few in the media discussed back in 2005, when the Israeli government was strong-arming its 8,000 or so citizens off their lands in the Gaza Strip, was the fact that no one was entertaining the possibility of letting the Jews of Gaza become citizens of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, one of the things government agents took care of early on in the process was to disarm the residents of Jewish Gush Katif, so that they, too, wouldn’t dream of staying and defending themselves on their own.
Now one of the Israeli politicians who voted 4 out of 5 times for the program to exile the Jews of Gaza, including the dead and buried, then Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), has begun to ask that very question, this time regarding the Jews of Judea and Samaria: how come no one is talking about transferring the Jewish communities, along with their people, over to Palestinian Authority rule, as a legitimate Jewish minority with equal rights? Why is everyone insisting the area must remain free from Jews?
In a video he posted this weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking why everyone around the world is convinced Jewish settlements are such a threat to peace. Because while no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel are an obstacle to peace, having close to half a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria makes peace impossible.
“It’s called ethnic cleansing,” Netanyahu says on the video, noting that while Israel’s diversity “shows its openness and readiness for peace, the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.”
On Friday, State Dept. Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau used her daily press briefing to rebut Netanyahu’s accusation, although a careful reading of her attack on the PM reveals she didn’t really answer his main argument.
The reporter who cited the Netanyahu video did a good job of digging up the key points, saying the PM is “talking about settlements and talking about the Palestinians wanting to have a state that has no Jews in it at all and saying that this is ethnic cleansing. And he also says that that demand is outrageous, that it’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find it outrageous. And then he says some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”
Trudeau responded: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.”
She explained that “settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties,” and the next line out of her mouth was: “We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace.”
So, to reiterate, 1. Shame on you, Mr. Netanyahu for using bad words; 2. We will deal with the status of those Jews in Judea and Samaria when everything else has been resolved; 3. Jews living in Judea and Samaria are a menace to peace.
Why? What if the PA and the Israelis decide that they want Jews living in a free Palestinian State, carrying Palestinian passports and enjoying equal rights? How then would today’s settlements have been a threat to peace?
Trudeau continued with the familiar, regurgitated statements about the thousands of new settlement units being built (we wish) and the vicious demolitions of illegal Arab structures in accordance with Israeli law, which the US should respect but doesn’t. She then announced that the US is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli Government on this. … We’ll have our conversation with our Israeli allies and friends and we’ll see where that goes.”
Not everyone in Israel is happy with the Netanyahu video. MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint Arab List, accused the PM of revising history. And MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) said that with one video Netanyahu managed to wipe out her accomplishments in the Sharon government, guaranteeing that the clusters of settlements would remain part of Israel as part of a two-state solution.
Israeli rightwingers will probably start drilling the PM on Sunday, after they emerge from their Shabbat rest. They won’t be happy with the fact that the PM has so openly entertained the possibility of a Palestinian State as a given fact. But the points Netanyahu made were sound and they could go a long way in stirring the presidential campaign’s foreign policy debate.
The Russian state news agency Interfax on Thursday afternoon released two short statements, one saying, “Russian Foreign Ministry confirms willingness to host Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in Moscow, preparations continue,” followed by, “Israeli, Palestinian leaders agree in principle to meet in Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry.”
Russian Foreign Ministry official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Tass on Thursday: “Responding to the appeals of the Palestinians and Israelis, we confirmed our readiness to arrange a meeting in Moscow between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
The Russian diplomat said she was concerned over the “deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement,” stressing that this could leads to the deterioration of the situation on the ground.
Zakharova said that after US mediation efforts in 2013 and 2014 had failed, direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict had come to a grinding halt. “We are convinced that there is a need to resume the negotiations, which would be a factor in normalizing the situation,” Zakharova said.
Zakharova confirmed that the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed in principle to meet in Russia. “It is most important to choose an appropriate moment for it, the intense contacts continue, including on this issue,” she said. “We are satisfied by how Russia’s role is in demand in the Middle East peace process.”JNi.Media
The Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh has fanned the flames of a 1300-year dispute between Shiites and Sunnis when he announced on Tuesday that the Iranians are the descendants of the Zoroastrians and of fire worshippers. He spoke ahead of the annual hajj, which this year starts on Saturday.
The Grand Mufti used the term “Majuws” to describe the Iranians, a term that literally means “magians,” which he cited from the Quran, Chapter 22, sūrat l-ḥajj (The Pilgrimage): “Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness.”
“We must understand they are not Muslims, for they are the descendants of Majuws, and their enmity toward Muslims, especially the Sunnis, is very old,” the Saudi Grand Mufti said, and every learned Muslim understood the reference to the pilgrimage, which has been an area of contention between Shiites and Sunnis, and now between Iranians and Saudis, for almost as long as there has been an Islam.
The Grand Mufti responded an Irate speech by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on all Muslims to “fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.” In other words, an open call to millions of pilgrims arriving in Mecca for the mid-month festival, to rebel against the Saudi royal family that owns and manages the cities of Mecca and Madīnah.
The Ayatollah attacked the Saudi regime for its failure to prevent last year’s stampede which killed more than 2,400 people, including 464 Iranians, the highest count for any single national group. The Saudis have stated that those figures are inflated and that the real death toll was “only” 769.
The Ayatollah called the Saudi royal family “disgraced and misguided people who think their survival on the throne of oppression is dependent on defending the arrogant powers of the world, on alliances with Zionism and the US, and on fulfilling their demands. And on this path, they do not shy away from any treason.”
He also said that “those who have reduced hajj to a religious-tourist trip and have hidden their enmity and malevolence towards the faithful and revolutionary people of Iran under the name of ‘politicizing hajj,’ are themselves puny Satans who tremble for fear of jeopardizing the interests of the Great Satan, the US.”
So, just for the record, Iran believes there are three Satans: the Great Satan (US), Little Satan (Israel), and Puny Satan (Saudi Arabia).
So far, the Grand Mufti’s enraged response to the Iranian leader has not gone down well even in largely Sunni countries. The Nation, a leading Pakistani newspaper, said in an editorial Wednesday that “for the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, to say that Iranians are not Muslims and use offensive words against them, is truly shocking and will haunt many Muslims, especially Shia communities living across the region, for years to come. Saudi Arabia as the custodian of the Ka’aba cannot and must not make such offensive remarks.”
According to AFP, reporting from Riyadh, Iranians will not participate in this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca for the first time in almost 30 years, after talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia on logistics and security had fallen apart. The Saudis claim the Iranians insisted on their right to stage protest demonstrations in the holy city of Mecca. Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef accused Iran of making “efforts to politicize the hajj and convert it into an occasion to violate the teachings of Islam, through shouting slogans and disturbing the security of pilgrims.”JNi.Media