Archive for the ‘Obama and Israel’ category

Trump-Netanyahu meeting can expose Obama collusion on Resolution 2334

February 14, 2017

Trump-Netanyahu meeting can expose Obama collusion on Resolution 2334, Israel National News, David Singer, February 14, 2017

Netanyahu issued a Press Release on 28 December 2016 declaring:

“We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. We’ll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive, it’s all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There’s plenty more; it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

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One of the intriguing aspects of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the White House on February 15th will be the evidence he can produce to President Trump to establish former President Obama’s collusion in promoting Security Council Resolution 2334.

America abstained from voting on Resolution 2334 – but the language used in that Resolution was inimical to the national interests of Israel and the Jewish people by declaring that:

  • the establishment by Israel of ‘settlements’ in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation under international law
  • Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem

This language identifies as “Palestinian territory”:

– and seeks to erase the legal rights vested in the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in these areas under the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

Such language gives credence to the PLO claim that the Mandate – a critical building block in the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict – is null and void.

Resolution 2334 contravenes article 80 of the United Nations Charter – exceeding the Security Council’s powers and condemning the hypocrisy of the Security Council which sanctimoniously professes to be concerned about “legal validity” and “international law”

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabea was the first to allege American collusion in promoting Resolution 2334 – claiming to have a transcript of a meeting in December – prior to the passage of Resolution 2334 – between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in which Kerry said the US was prepared to cooperate with the Palestinians at the Security Council.

White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price claimed no such tripartite meeting took place and that the ‘transcript’ was a total fabrication – although he admitted Erekat had met with Kerry and Rice separately.

Netanyahu issued a Press Release on 28 December 2016 declaring:

“We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. We’ll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive, it’s all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There’s plenty more; it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Netanyahu’s claim that some of the information is sensitive suggests that there has been an interception of emails or other classified American documents emanating from Obama or Kerry’s offices.

America’s cybersecurity record has been appalling – as the hacking of the Democrats web site and Hillary Clinton’s emails and private server has shown.

Netanyahu’s description of the transcript held by the Egyptian newspaper as “the tip of the iceberg” suggests Israel holds a Wiki-style treasure trove of incriminating documents.

Sensational claims of Israel-hacking will doubtless fuel the media.

There appears to be no evidence that this material has yet been given to the Trump Administration. If it had – some leak would surely have emerged by now.

Netanyahu’s visit to the White House presents the perfect opportunity to personally hand his evidence to President Trump – enabling him to decide whether to disclose such evidence publicly or not.

Netanyahu’s moment exposing Obama’s betrayal of Israel is fast approaching.

Israeli PM Netanyahu Becomes D.C. Darling as Democrats Clamor for Meetings

February 13, 2017

Israeli PM Netanyahu Becomes D.C. Darling as Democrats Clamor for Meetings, Washington Free Beacon, , February 13, 2017

(“Now that our Dear Leader is gone, we sure do love Israel.” — DM)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on February 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on February 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON

After years of tense relations with the United States under former President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is emerging as one of the most prominent international personalities, according to multiple sources who told the Washington Free Beacon that Democrats, Republicans, and high-level White House officials are clamoring for a sit down with the Israeli leader when he arrives in town on Tuesday.

Senior officials across party lines hope to let Netanyahu know that America has Israel’s back and that years of tension during the Obama administration is just water under the bridge, according to both congressional sources and those close to the Trump administration.

Netanyahu’s schedule is already packed with powwows between President Trump, senior administration officials, and a cast of leading lawmakers on Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle.

Meetings will center on U.S. lawmakers’ desire to reset relations with the Jewish state. Multiple sources told the Free Beacon that sit downs with White House officials will focus on holding Iran accountable for violations of the nuclear deal, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and combatting efforts at the United Nations to delegitimize Israel.

Netanyahu already has confirmed a 6:30 p.m. dinner Tuesday evening with newly installed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The meeting will take place inside the State Department.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with Trump and other senior officials Wednesday before heading to Capitol Hill, where he will meet with leading Democrats and Republicans.

Netanyahu is expected to take separate meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), sources told the Free Beacon.

Further meetings could take place with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before Netanyahu travels to the House side of the Capitol for an evening meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.).

There is a strong desire among all parties to show Netanyahu that after nearly a decade of chilly relations during the former administration, the United States is prepared to restore the historic relationship with the Jewish state.

“Netanyahu’s schedule is so full that he literally can’t find time for all the high level meetings people want to have with him,” said one veteran foreign policy adviser who is closely in touch with the White House on Middle East issues. “The truth of this is, it’s nature taking its course.”

Recent polling shows that support for Israel is at an all-time high among Democrats and Republicans. Democratic lawmakers in particular are no longer being pressured by the former administration to distance themselves from Netanyahu and Israel.

“Without Obama trying to force Democratic lawmakers to choose between Israel and the United States nature is taking its course and everyone wants to see how they can help bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the source said. “Voters want to see this.”

One source characterized Netanyahu as the “cool kid in town.”

On Capitol Hill, senior sources focused on the Middle East expect that lawmakers will emphasize a reset in relations with Israel. They also will seek to reassure Netanyahu that key foreign aid packages to Israel will remain robust and fully funded.

“There’s broad recognition that it’s time to turn a page on years of hostility towards Israel from the Obama administration. President Trump and the Republican Congress are focused on strengthening Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship—not condemning housing projects in disputed territories and pushing anti-Semitic U.N. resolutions,” said one senior congressional aide familiar with the Israeli leader’s travel itinerary.

“This provides a major opportunity for both the United States and Israel to stand up to Iran and all those who seek to defame and destroy the Jewish state,” the source said. “Given the warm relationship between Bibi and Trump, everyone seems upbeat and optimistic about the future of the alliance moving forward.”

Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East hand who worked for former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, told reporters on Monday that there is a strong desire to cast sour relations between the United States and Israel as a byproduct of the Obama administration.

That, Ross said during a conference call hosted by the Israel Project, is the “overriding message that emerges from this week,”

“Democrats will be anxious to show they’re close to Israel as well,” Ross said, adding that Netanyahu will convey the message that Israel’s relationship is with America as a whole, not any one administration.

White House Puts Palestinians, United Nations in Crosshairs

February 13, 2017

White House Puts Palestinians, United Nations in Crosshairs, Washington Free Beacon, February 13, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following their talks at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2017. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following their talks at the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2017. (Kyodo)

White House officials, as well as senior sources in Congress, told the Free Beacon that the move is part of a larger effort to solidify U.S. support for Israel and counter a range of last-minute moves by the former Obama administration aimed at severing U.S.-Israel ties.

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The White House is sending a strong signal that it will no longer tolerate Palestinian intransigence at the United Nations or the international body’s long record of anti-Israel action, according to White House officials and sources in Congress who told the Washington Free Beacon that the Trump administration will “unabashedly support Israel” in the months and years ahead.

The Trump administration sent shockwaves through the U.N. late last week when it took a stance against the appointment of a senior Palestinian official to serve in a top post overseeing Libya.

Senior officials at Turtle Bay expressed outrage over the Trump administration’s move to block the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as a special U.N. representative for Libya. The move was widely supported by U.N. members, and, for a time, the Trump administration.

Sources inside the White House told the Free Beacon that the move was meant to send a signal to the Palestinians that they can no longer manipulate the U.N. system in order to bolster their international clout. This type of action, the sources said, undermines Israel and the ongoing peace process.

White House officials, as well as senior sources in Congress, told the Free Beacon that the move is part of a larger effort to solidify U.S. support for Israel and counter a range of last-minute moves by the former Obama administration aimed at severing U.S.-Israel ties.

The Free Beacon first reported earlier this year that the Trump administration and Congress had already been working on a range of measures meant to boost U.S. support for Israel at the U.N.

“The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the U.N. Mission in Libya,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement opposing the selection of Fayyad. “For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

“The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution,” Haley said in a vast departure from Obama administration rhetoric. “Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

A senior White House official familiar with the move told the Free Beacon that the Palestinians will no longer get a free pass to push their anti-Israel agenda and win statehood outside the parameters of the peace process.

“It is so refreshing to have an American ambassador to the United Nations who will unabashedly support our ally Israel,” one senior member of the White House’s National Security Council told the Free Beacon. “The appointment of Salam Fayyad as the official U.N. envoy to Libya would be an incremental step towards unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood by the U.N. absent an agreement with Israel.”

“Ambassador Haley took the only appropriate action and we are looking to supporting her actions any way we can,” the source said.

One senior congressional aide who works on Middle East issues told the Free Beacon that Trump’s approach to the U.N. is centered on backing Israel from any action that could harm its interests.

“The U.N. is not a friend of Israel. After the Obama administration’s eleventh-hour attack on the Jewish state, President Trump is attempting to turn the page,”  the source said. “Our new administration is already pushing back against the U.N.’s rampant bias and reasserting America’s strong support for Israel. This is a good step in the right direction.”

Fayyad, who is widely viewed as a reformer in Palestinian society, appears to have been caught up in a larger battle between the White House and U.N. over the international body’s efforts to delegitimize Israel.

While Fayyad was seen as an acceptable pick for the Libya post, his ties to the Palestinian Authority and its rogue efforts to achieve statehood via the U.N. provoked ire in the White House, sources said.

The White House is determined to keep what it views as the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias in check, particularly after the Obama administration’s last-minute efforts to secure a resolution condemning Israel.

One senior official at a national pro-Israel organization said the Trump administration’s moves would help preserve international agreements barring the Palestinians from seeking statehood outside of the peace process.

“Pro-Palestinian officials at the U.N. thought they had found a clever way to mainstream the Palestinians as legitimate state actors, which is contrary to American policy and violates two decades of signed agreements between the Palestinians and Israel,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “They figured that the Trump White House would be too worried about optics to take a stand on behalf of our Israeli allies. The White House refused to be intimidated.”

Regional experts tracking the issue think Fayyad could become a lighting rod in a larger matter surrounding U.S. opposition to any U.N. action meant to elevate the Palestinians on the international stage.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the controversy surrounding Fayyad actually benefits Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas, who fought against Fayyad’s efforts to eradicate corruption.

“The thing people are not asking is why Fayyad was even considering working the Libya file instead of trying to reform the Palestinian Authority at home,” Schanzer said. “The answer is, Fayyad was pushed out by Mahmoud Abbas in 2013. He and Abbas were in an epic battle over corruption and clean governance and reform. Fayyad lost that battle, as Abbas went full dictator.”

The Obama administration is responsible for allowing Fayyad to be pushed out of the Palestinian Authority, Schanzer said.

“The U.S. refused to come to Fayyad’s defense. I lay this at the feet of the Obama administration,” he said. “Fayyad’s reform and clean governance program was gutted, and when Fayyad created an NGO it was raided by Abbas’ forces—and still the Obama admin refused to lift a finger to help him.”

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’

February 12, 2017

Bravo to Ambassador Haley, for Blocking UN Ploy on ‘Palestine’, PJ Media,  Claudia Rosett, February 11, 2017

(Please see also, US blocks former Palestinian prime minister from senior UN role in Libya ‘out of support for Israel’.  Thought experiment: what would the reactions, noted in the article linked in the preceding sentence, have been if a “right-wing” former Israeli cabinet minister had been named to the post?– DM)

nikkiUnited Nations, New York, USA, 27 January, 2017 – Nikki R. Haley, new United States Permanent Representative to the UN Presents Credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. (Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire) (Sipa via AP Images)

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

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On Thursday United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent the Security Council a letter nominating as the new head of the UN’s mission to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad —  who was described in the letter as “Salam Fayyad (Palestine).”

America’s new ambassador, Nikki Haley, said no. Having thus blocked Fayyad’s appointment, Haley then put out a statement explaining why:

For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.

Haley’s statement is important not only for its broad message — that President Trump’s administration will steer by his pledges of support to Israel — but also for calling out Guterres on his not-so-subtle attempt to abet the UN’s long push to confer by increments on the Palestinian Authority a legitimacy it has not earned.

The UN spokesman’s office responded by Haley’s objection by sending out a statement that:

The proposal for Salam Fayyad to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya was solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.

United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country.

This UN claim is disingenuous in the extreme, as the UN spokesman’s office itself then underscored, in the rest of the same statement quoted just above, by saying:

The Secretary-General reiterates his pledge to recruit qualified individuals, respecting regional diversity, and notes that, among others no Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts.

In other words, Secretary-General Guterres, while disavowing any interest in the origins or potential loyalties of any candidate for a UN post, is simultaneously claiming a special interest in appointing — specifically — Israelis and Palestinians. And — lo and behold — Guterres just happens to have kicked off this erstwhile neutral campaign by nominating to a high-level post not an Israeli, but a Palestinian.

On a related note, to which Haley and her colleagues in the Trump administration might want to pay serious attention, there’s some news broken by Inner-City Press and further reported by veteran UN reporter Benny Avni, writing in the New York Sun (sources that often provide a lot more insight into the UN than you’re likely to find in, say, the New York Times; with further disclosure that the New York Sun has published many of my own articles on the UN). According to both Inner-City Press and the Sun, it appears that an influential voice behind Guterres’s nomination of Fayyad was that of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Feltman is an American, a former U.S. diplomat, who was appointed to his UN post in mid-2012, during President Obama’s first term in office. The UN fiction, as in the case of Fayyad’s nomination, is that such appointments have nothing to do with where a person comes from. That’s malarkey. Behind the scenes, a U.S. administration has plenty of say in such appointments.

In Feltman’s case, the longer he remains at the UN, the more opportunity he will have to try to inveigle more ground for Obama’s pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel policies, while undermining Trump’s agenda for decent treatment of Israel. According to Inner-City Press, Feltman has plenty of incentive to stay on at the UN “until July 4 so that his UN pension vests.” I have no direct confirmation of this situation, and Inner-City attributes its information to unnamed sources. But at the very least, Haley and her team should be in a position to find out what’s going on with Feltman’s continued presence as the UN’s senior official for political affairs, and do something about it. The UN’s chronic efforts to undermine Israel and confer undeserved legitimacy on the Palestinians are quite bad enough, without being driven by qualifying dates for UN pension packages.

For the U.S. to pressure the UN to replace Feltman immediately would be an excellent move. If Guterres — with his paradoxical prerequisites for UN staff —  still wants to place not only Palestinians but Israelis in high-level UN posts, surely to replace Feltman he could find an Israeli nominee who would be entirely acceptable to the U.S., not least on grounds of his or her personal qualities and competence.

According To Iranian Officials, Obama Administration Gave Unwritten Consent In The Nuclear Talks And In The JCPOA Negotiations For Iran To Develop Ballistic Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Striking Israel But Not Europe

February 3, 2017

According To Iranian Officials, Obama Administration Gave Unwritten Consent In The Nuclear Talks And In The JCPOA Negotiations For Iran To Develop Ballistic Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Striking Israel But Not Europe, MEMRI, A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon and U. Kafash*, February 2, 2017

“Likewise, the Zionist regime is the most important enemy of Iran in the regionregion, and is less than 1,200 km away. Therefore, short- and medium-range missiles are sufficient to strike U.S. bases near Iran, and long-range missiles are sufficient to strike the occupied territories [Israel]. The diagram shows several of these American bases and [also] the missiles that are counting [down] to the moment [when they will be able to] strike them.”

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Introduction

On January 30, 2017, U.S. sources announced that Iran had conducted a failed test of a new ballistic missile, the Khorramshahr. According to reports, the missile exploded after a 965-km flight.[1] Both Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif (on January 31) and Defense Minister Dehghan (on February 1) stressed that Iran “asks permission from no one in the matter of its defense program.”[2]

It should be emphasized that contrary to statements by Iranian regime spokesmen who say that Iran’s missile program is defensive, missiles with a 2,000-km range are strictly offensive and strategic. This is why Iran has faced constant demands to stop developing them.

In the years that preceded the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks, Iran developed ballistic missiles with ranges of 2,500-5,000 km that threaten Europe and even the U.S.

Dr. Hassan Abbasi, theoretician of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and director of the IRGC Center for Borderless Security Doctrinal Analysis, said in 2004: “We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English.

“Our missiles are now ready to strike at their civilization, and as soon as the instructions arrive from Leader [Ali Khamenei], we will launch our missiles at their cities and installations… And because of Khatami’s policies and dialogue between the civilizations, we have been compelled to freeze our plan… and now we are [again] about to carry out the program… The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front, by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles.”[3]

The London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat also reported, on June 14, 2004, that the Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 long-range missile projects had been revived, on orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[4]

It should be noted that a December 14, 2013 report on Iran’s missile program published by the IRGC-affiliated Mehr news agency immediately following the Geneva Agreement provided details on the various Shihab models. According to the report, Shihab 3D missiles, with a range of 2,200-3,000 km, “can easily reach the occupied territories [Israel]… and cover their entire area.” The report also stated that the Shihab 4 has a range of 3,000 km and the ability to launch satellites into orbit, and that “very little information” has been published about the Shihab 5. The diagrams in the article also feature a Shihab 6 model.[5]

U.S. Approves Iranian Development Of Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Reaching Israel

However, after U.S.-Iran negotiations began, and at the end of their first stage, in Geneva in November 2013, Iranian officials began reporting that Iran’s missile program for missiles with ranges above 2,000 km was being restricted.

Thus, for example, immediately after the interim agreement was reached in Geneva, on December 10, 2013, and in reference to it, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Iran is capable of producing missiles with a range of over 2,000 km but that Khamenei had restricted the IRGC to a 2,000-km range: “We want to increase the range of the IRGC’s missiles, but despite this, the Leader [Khamenei] has restricted us to a range of 2,000 km. We have the capability to increase the range of our missiles, and our missiles should obviously reach Israel… The regime’s red lines were not crossed during the nuclear talks with the P5+1 [Group] and in the Geneva Agreement.”[6]

Indeed, IRGC commanders stressed that the most important thing for the regime was missiles capable of striking Israel; see, for example, comments by IRGC Aerospace and Missile Division director Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who said following a 2016 missile launch: “For us, Israel’s evil is totally clear, and the 2,000-kilometer range of our missiles [is intended] to confront the distant Zionist regime.”[7]

Extensive quotes regarding the Iranian regime’s explicit intent to target Israel with its missiles can be found in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1135, Iranian IRGC Missile Unit Commanders: We’ve Developed 2,000-km Range Missiles And Equipped Hizbullah With 300-km Range Missiles; Fars News Agency: Israel’s Illusions About Its Natural Gas Fields Will Be Buried In The Mediterranean, December 3, 2014, and Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth’, March 16, 2016.

1298aIranian missile emblazoned with the slogan ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth” (Fars, Iran, March 9, 2016)

On November 17, 2014, the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency posted a diagram explaining that Iran “makes do” with a range of 2,000 km, which it considers “desirable” and which covers all of Israel: “On the Firing Line – The commanders of the army of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] have said several times that with its attainment of long-range missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km, Iran has arrived at the range ceiling that it considers desirable, and that ‘in the meantime’ there is no need to increase this range. Although the U.S. is 11,000 km from Iran, in recent years it has approached the borders of Iran, [and therefore] its military bases, equipment, and forces are a target for Iran’s missiles.

“Likewise, the Zionist regime is the most important enemy of Iran in the region, and is less than 1,200 km away. Therefore, short- and medium-range missiles are sufficient to strike U.S. bases near Iran, and long-range missiles are sufficient to strike the occupied territories [Israel]. The diagram shows several of these American bases and [also] the missiles that are counting [down] to the moment [when they will be able to] strike them.”[8]

Additionally, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said on August 18, 2015 in response to a reporter’s question on the manufacture of missiles with a range greater than 2,000 km: “We do not produce missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km.”[9]

Is U.S. Permission For Iran To Develop Missiles With Ranges Up To 2,000 km – Which Reach Israel – A Secret Annex Of The JCPOA, Or Simply Unwritten Consent?

In statements, IRGC officials hinted that restrictions on the range of Iranian missiles so that they reach Israel but not Europe were part of the Iran deal. Thus, for instance, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari referred to the IRGC’s November 2, 2015 consent to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, saying: “One of the points in this resolution was the matter of restrictions, which some military elements feared. Therefore, we held meetings in [Iran’s] Supreme National Security Council, and also went to the Leader [Khamenei]. The [Iranian] negotiating team told the Westerners that we do not agree to these restrictions. They [the Westerners] said that these issues must be included in the resolution. Even when I met with the Leader, he said that there were no restrictions on developing defensive capabilities. The only restriction relates to nuclear missiles, which, obviously, we never wanted.”[10]

The next day, on November 3, 2015, Iranian Army chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi referred to Jafari’s remarks, saying: “I confirm statements by the IRGC commander that Iran’s missile activity is not restricted. We will follow two restrictions: The first is mentioned in the JCPOA, in the matter of no nuclear planning, and the second is the range of 2,000 km, which has already been noted previously by all elements in Iran.”[11]

It should be noted that the Hebrew version of this news, which IRIB published on November 4, 2015 explicitly mentioned, in both the headline and the text, that the JCPOA allows Iran to possess ballistic missiles of a range of 2,000 km. The Hebrew news item read:

Firouzabadi: The Nuclear Agreement Promises Iran Missiles With 2,000-km Range

“The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj.-Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, stressed that the state, under orders from the general commander [i.e. Khamenei] of the IRGC, undertakes, inter alia, to restrict nuclear planning, but that it is entitled to produce missiles with a range of 2,000 km.

“Firouzabadi made these statements yesterday (Tuesday) to a group of Islamic regime leaders and officials, and referred to [statements by] the IRGC general commander emphasizing that Iran would commit to the sections of the nuclear agreement with the West that include a restriction on nuclear planning, and that in addition, Iran is entitled to possess missiles with a range of 2,000 km.”[12]

These statements indicate that although the permission given to Iran to develop missiles capable of striking Israel is likely not a secret annex of the JCPOA, it still constitutes unwritten consent that is an integral part of the nuclear deal. It is convenient for both sides not to publish this understanding in written form – for Iran because it rejects any public reference to its missile program, which it defines as defensive but is in fact offensive; and for the Obama administration, because there would be repercussions if it were to be revealed that it had given Iran permission to develop missiles capable of striking Israel.

It should be noted that UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) constitutes an additional concession by the Obama administration to Iran, in comparison with the previous resolution 1929 (2010). This concession has two components:

One, UNSCR 1929 banned Iran from conducting any activity concerning missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, while UNSCR 2231 replaced the word “capable,” which refers to objective specifications, with the word “intended,” which concerns fluid political matters.

Two, while UNSCR 1929 banned Iran from conducting any missile activity, UNSCR 2231 rescinds this ban.

Following Iran’s May 9, 2016 missile test, which took place after the JCPOA’s Implementation Day – and which embarrassed the Obama administration – IRGC Aerospace and Missile Division director Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: “The Americans are telling [us]: ‘Don’t talk about missile affairs, and if you conduct a test or maneuver, don’t mention it.'”[13]

*A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI’s Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; U. Kafash is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

 

[1] Foxnews.com, January 30, 2017.

[2] Yjc.ir, January 31, 2017; Tasnim (Iran), February 1, 2017.

[3] Shargh (Iran), June 5, 2004; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 28, 2004. Also see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 181, The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program, June 17, 2004; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 723, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Official Threatens Suicide Operations: ‘Our Missiles Are Ready to Strike at Anglo-Saxon Culture… There Are 29 Sensitive Sites in the U.S. and the West…’, May 28, 2004; and MEMRI TV Clip No. 252, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Official In Tehran University Lecture (Part II): We Plan To Target US Nuclear Warheads On US Soil; Should Take Over England, May 22, 2004.

[4] A military source in the Iranian Defense Ministry stated: “In a meeting last week with Revolutionary Guards commanders, Khamenei said that Israel was planning to attack Iran’s nuclear installations and the Iranian military soon, and therefore defense and military preparedness should be boosted as soon as possible. Khamenei stressed that the increase in petroleum prices allowed Iran to allocate a larger budget to its military projects. [Iran’s] Ministry of Defense received $1 billion to resume its Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 project. It is known that in the past, Iran conducted an experiment with Shihab 3 missiles whose range is 1,200 kilometers [and which can reach Israel], but [President] Khatami halted the project of the Shihab 4, whose range is 2,800 [which covers Western Europe], and the Shihab 5, whose range is 4,900-5,300 km [and which can reach the U.S.], because he thought it was a project incompatible with Iran’s strategic interests and defense needs.” Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 14, 2004.

[5] Mehrnews.com, December 14, 2013.

[6] ISNA (Iran), December 10, 2013.

[7] Fars (Iran), March 9, 2016. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: ‘Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth’, March 16, 2016.

[8] Tasnim (Iran), April 17, 2014. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1135, Iranian IRGC Missile Unit Commanders: We’ve Developed 2,000-km Range Missiles And Equipped Hizbullah With 300-km Range Missiles; Fars News Agency: Israel’s Illusions About Its Natural Gas Fields Will Be Buried In The Mediterranean, December 3, 2014.

[9] Yjc.ir, August 18, 2015.

[10] Fars (Iran), November 2, 2015.

[11] Mashregh (Iran), November 3, 2015.

[12] Hebrew.irib.ir, November 4, 2015.

[13] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6430, IRGC Aerospace And Missile Force Commander: The Americans Are Telling Us ‘Don’t Talk About Missile Affairs, And If You Conduct A Test… Don’t Mention It’, May 15, 2016.

Trump Changes US Policy on Settlements, But Will Netanyahu Pick Up the Ball?

February 3, 2017

Trump Changes US Policy on Settlements, But Will Netanyahu Pick Up the Ball?, The Jewish PressStephen Leavitt, February 3, 2017

battered-bibi-syndrome-2-768x525Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

The official White House statement thoroughly rejects the JPost’s quote, craftily eliminating both concerns: Trump is not committed to a two-state solution, and he does not consider the settlements an obstacle to peace.

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For the first time in many years, the White House on Thursday released a statement regarding Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria without the adjectives “illegal” or “illegitimate” next to the word “settlements.”

While not 100 percent perfect — a policy of benign neglect would be best — it is clearly a complete turnaround from previous administration positions, particularly former-President Obama’s “not one brick anywhere” policy, including Jerusalem.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Press Secretary

“The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

In other words, what began a few months ago as a video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking why should having Jews living in Judea and Samaria be considered an impediment to peace – is now US foreign policy.

 

In addition to the biggest item of recognizing the legitimacy of the settlements, by omitting the words “illegal” and “illegitimate,” the statement actually declares, for all the world to see: “We don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace.”

It should be noted that even that one seemingly negative-note in the Trump statement against new settlements or expansion isn’t exactly that:

“the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

First of all, the statement gives implicit approval to construction within existing settlements, and not just to communities within the settlement blocs (i.e. Gush Etzion, Ariel, etc), but rather to all settlements. This is a much wider definition, and includes many smaller Jewish communities that exist outside of the blocs, representing some 80,000 Jews.

Not to name names, but that’s more settlement legitimacy than what even some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet recognize.

Furthermore, it doesn’t actually forbid or rebuke Israel if it does build a new settlement or expand beyond the borders of an existing one. The White House statement merely questions if it is helpful to achieving peace, and leaves that question open for further discussion.

The other glaring omission in the Trump White House statement is the term “two-state solution,” so beloved by every Administration since the 1993 Oslo Accords. Why, only last Wednesday, the new, relatively pro-Israel UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, had his spokesperson release a statement saying that,

“the recent announcement by the Israeli Government to advance 5,000 settlement units in the occupied West Bank could […] threaten to unravel plans for a two-State solution between Israelis and Palestinians. […] We once again warn against any unilateral actions that can be an obstacle to a negotiated two-state solution.”

Having praised the Trump statement so much, it’s also easy to realize that there must be some conflict within the Administration over the settlements issue, with one faction obviously pushing the traditional State Department line.

Rumor has it that the White House statement was released not so much as a response to Netanyahu’s recent settlement construction announcements, but in response to an unauthorized leak from within the Administration to the Jerusalem Post, which the latter reported Thursday:

“The White House warned Israel on Thursday to cease settlement announcements that are ‘unilateral’ and ‘undermining’ of President Donald Trump’s effort to forge Middle East peace, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. For the first time, the administration confirmed that Trump is committed to a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict negotiated between the parties.”

The official White House statement thoroughly rejects the JPost’s quote, craftily eliminating both concerns: Trump is not committed to a two-state solution, and he does not consider the settlements an obstacle to peace.

Indeed, the White House statement acknowledges the value and validity of the Israeli PM in forging US foreign policy:

“The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

This is tantamount to an Obama statement saying: “The Obama administration will decide on the Iran nuclear deal after continued discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits to speak to Congress on March 3, 2015.” Yes, that’s how impossibly big this statement is.

It is now entirely up to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Will Netanyahu have what it takes to change forever Israel’s future? Will he take full advantage of Trump’s invitation to help forge US foreign policy in a way that bolsters the Zionist vision? Will he step back from his Bar Ilan speech, and return to his former, maximalist positions?

From the White House statement it appears that the ball is completely in Netanyahu’s court.

Samantha Power Reinvents Obama’s Record on Russia

January 25, 2017

Samantha Power Reinvents Obama’s Record on Russia, PJ MediaClaudia Rosett, January 24, 2017

samantharussiaUnited States U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power speaks during her final press conference, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

By all means, let’s have a debate about the dangers of American presidents and their administrations purveying “alternative facts.” But could the members of the media most ostentatiously seething over President Trump — and now busy presenting their own alternative facts — please spare us the pretense that the White House is suddenly in danger of losing its credibility. What’s left to lose? We’ve just had eight years of the Obama administration beaming out  alternative facts “narratives” to the mascot-media echo chamber, on the theory that saying something makes it so (“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”; Iran’s “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program; the Benghazi “video”; etc.).

It is Trump’s job to reverse this rot, not to adapt Obama’s fiction techniques to suit himself. But if anyone’s curious about the kind of fakery that Trump and his team should strive to avoid — in the interest of integrity and good policy — Obama’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has just given us a showcase example. In her farewell speech as UN ambassador, delivered Jan. 17 to the Atlantic Council, Power conjured an entire alternate universe, less by way of presenting alternative facts than by omitting a number of vital facts altogether. The result was to erase from the picture some of the most disastrous failures of the Obama administration, while insinuating that Trump is already complicit in the resulting mess.

Let me stipulate that Power did issue a warning that is valid, important, and urgent. Her topic, as she explained at the start of her speech, was “a major threat facing our great nation: Russia.”

Yep, no question about that. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a growing threat, as some of us have been arguing for more than a decade.

But it was on Obama’s watch that Russia became a mushrooming threat to a degree that even Obama and his team could not in the end ignore — welcoming Edward Snowden, snatching Crimea from Ukraine, moving back into the Middle East, backing the Assad regime and bombing in Syria, hacking hither and yon, and frustrating Power at the UN with its veto on the Security Council.

It was Obama himself, with his policy of “engagement,” who helped lay the groundwork for this rising threat — deferring to dictators, betraying allies, downsizing the U.S. military, and sneering at those who warned there would be hell to pay. Putin drew the logical conclusions, read this U.S. retreat as an invitation, and made his moves. One might have supposed that after years of Obama apologizing for America, Samantha Power in her swan-song lecture could have summoned the strength of character to apologize for Obama, and for her own role, as one of his top envoys. (Don’t hold your breath).

For Putin, Obama offered the opportunity of a lifetime — to roll right over that old “rules-based order,” which always depended on American leadership, and which Power now warns us is threatened by Russia.  Obama began with the 2009 “reset,” including the gift to Putin of yanking missile defense plans for Eastern Europe. Obama went on to promise Putin “more flexibility” after his 2012 reelection. In the 2012 presidential campaign debates, Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s warnings about Russia, scoffing that “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

When Putin gave asylum in 2013 to American-security cyber-vandal Edward Snowden, mocking Obama as he did so, Obama’s mini-mouse response was to attend a G-20 summit in Russia regardless, but punish Putin by refraining from any bilateral meetings. About that same time, Obama erased his own “red line” on chemical weapons in Syria by way of turning over the problem to Russia. When Russia in 2014 snatched Crimea from Ukraine, Obama answered with sanctions that have done nothing to reverse Russia’s grab. Meantime, Obama’s administration celebrated Russia’s presence as one of the main parties to an Iran nuclear deal that Israel, and many American lawmakers, protested as a grave threat. When Putin sent Russian warships into the Mediterranean and Russian bombers into Syria, Obama responded by hosting international talking shops, while Power gave impotent lectures at the UN.

None of this wilting U.S. policy figured in Power’s speech as part of the problem. She justified the “reset” on grounds that “2017 is not 2009.” (Right, and 2009 was not 1991, when post-Soviet Russia looked like a friend on the ropes. By 2009, Russia had already engaged in such feats as poisoning dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko with polonium-210, meddling in Ukraine’s elections, murdering a series of journalists, and transgressing into Georgia.) Power suggested that in 2009, when Putin’s sidekick, Dmitry Medvedev, was president of Russia, there was more common ground with the U.S. (surely she is aware, as was her flexible boss, that even during that interval, Putin, not Medvedev, was the real power in the Kremlin).

Power in her speech claimed that “anyone who has seen my debates in the UN Security Council with Russia knows that I and my government have long had serious concerns about its government’s aggressive and destabilizing actions.” But in her recitation of specifics, that “long” concern seemed to extend back only to about 2014, as if the previous five years of Obama’s engagement, reset, retreat, flexibility, disappearing red line, ineffectual sanctions and feckless dialogue were irrelevant.

For good measure, Power threw in a classic Obama apology for America (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, recipient of the 2009 “reset” button, must love this routine):

Now, I acknowledge there are times when actions the United States takes in the interest of defending our security and that of our allies can be seen by other nations as offensive moves that threaten their security, and we need to be alert to this, which is why dialogue is so important.

Power then deplored Russia’s policies in which “lying is a strategic asset,” and its goal of “creating a world where all truth is relative, and where trust in the integrity of our democratic system is lost.” Correct on all counts, and an important warning. Yet somehow disingenuous coming from a senior member of the administration that unapologetically turned the National Security Council into a Ben Rhodes narrative workshop, mind-melded with President Obama. She made no mention of that.

Amid all this, Power worked around to the punch line — “we must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to determine the full extent of Russia’s interference in our recent elections… .” Here again, Russian hacking is without question a threat to be deterred, stopped, punished. But there’s that troubling administration timeline, in which Russian hacking merited merely a public warning before the 2016 presidential election. After the vote, and Trump’s victory, it suddenly emerged on the Obama administration’s twilight agenda as a threat of the first order.

Power made a number of recommendations, some worthy in their own right, but — coming from this particular speaker — staggering for the degree of hypocrisy involved. She said “we have to do a better job of informing our citizens about the seriousness of the threat the Russian government poses.” (Quite right, but where’s that apology owed to Mitt Romney?).

Most memorable was her urging that “we must reassure our allies that we have their backs, and ensure that Russia pays a price for breaking the rules.” Yes, absolutely. But that’s quite an utterance coming from Power, who just last month, as Obama’s willing envoy, betrayed one of America’s closest allies, Israel, at the UN Security Council. It was Power who raised her hand to abstain from the vote on Resolution 2334 — allowing the passage, absent a U.S. veto, of measures deeply damaging to the Jewish state, and extremely difficult for any U.S. administration to now reverse.

Having by turns revised, scrubbed, excused, fudged and recast the Obama record on Russia, Power wrapped up by quoting George Washington and prescribing — who could argue? — that we must be “clear-eyed about the threat Russia poses from the outside” and dedicated to “restoring citizens’ faith in our democracy on the inside.”

Hypocrisy, though unattractive, is not necessarily dangerous. But it becomes so when coupled with political power and employed to cover up important truths. Russia is indeed a serious and growing threat, on multiple fronts. But to confront this requires not a Potemkin facade erected to  deflect attention from years of terrible policy, but an accurate understanding of how we got here. Samantha Power and Barack Obama, with their exit warnings about Russia, owed us at least that much.

Which brings me back to alternative facts, and what we should require of Trump. He inherits a Russia that was in effect invited by the Obama administration to become the grave and growing threat we see today. Putin availed himself richly of that invitation. To remedy this will take American leadership, courage and candor. If anyone in the new Trump administration ends up giving at any stage a speech similar in its Orwellian manipulations to this farewell peroration by Samantha Power, Trump should fire that speaker forthwith. America deserves better.