Israelis, Palestinians want separation, skeptical of solutions - study
Israelis and Palestinians want to separate from one another, but the major political solutions to the conflict do not appeal to them, according to an in-depth study by the RAND Corporation released to The Jerusalem Post.Gil Troy: American Jews: Why are you AWOL on Iran? - opinion
The research found that, overall, “mistrust, broadly defined, is likely the greatest impediment to peace.”
RAND, a leading global policy think tank, conducted the peer-reviewed research via 33 focus groups from 2018 to 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, collecting detailed views of over 270 individuals. This widely used research approach combines quantitative data and qualitative insights, and is meant to complement the many random-sample polls taken on these topics.
Seeking “to assess whether there were any viable alternatives to the current status quo” between Israel and the Palestinians, the researchers found that Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, West Bank Palestinians and Gazan Palestinians were more likely to be uncertain about any of the five alternative solutions to the conflict offered – two-state solution, confederation, one-state solution, Israeli annexation of area C, or the status quo – than they were to support them.
The questions allowed for uncertainty and support at the same time, yet the only option a majority of Israeli Jews found to be acceptable was the status quo, and none were supported by a majority of any of the other populations.
“There is widespread skepticism that any alternative would be feasible,” the report states. “There was widespread distrust among Israelis and Palestinians of their own leadership, the leadership of the other side, and the people from the other side. As a consequence, there was great skepticism that a deal could be reached and that either side would abide by the terms of the deal.
“In addition, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians in our focus groups indicated that none of the alternatives would end the conflict,” the researchers wrote.
Dear Liberal American Jews,
Congratulations. Many of us democracy-loving Israelis cheered America’s political resilience as power transferred peacefully on January 20, defying Donald Trump’s rantings. And many of us join you in wishing President Joe Biden good luck. But we’re nervous too. We’re not sure Biden has Israel’s back regarding our greatest enemy: Iran. Heck – we’re not sure if you have our back regarding Iran either.
It’s confusing. Much of Biden’s foreign policy team boasts about having crafted the shameful, dangerous Iran deal Biden vows to restore. Yet he said “no” to lifting sanctions to woo Iran to negotiate. Biden’s persuadable. So why are you, our key allies, American Jews AWOL? Why are you still fighting the now-blessedly-less-relevant Trump wars, dodging this nuclear-powered battle between democracy and dictatorship, which could determine the future of the Jewish state, the Jewish people, the West itself?
Clearly, Iran isn’t on your mattering map. You refuse to acknowledge how dangerous the Iranian regime is – to America not just Israel; how urgent the issue is; and how harmful – not just useless – Barack Obama’s 2015 JCPOA agreement with Iran was.
I know I am being too Israeli; inconvenient and impolite. Trump’s polarizing presidency has made everything Obama did above criticism and any position Trump took beneath contempt. But in recovering from Trump’s assault on democracy, America needs nuanced thinking, not partisan cheerleading. Restoring a commitment to truth in all its messiness requires some self-criticism and intense debate among the “good guys” too. The Republicans have proven what constant toadying to a president does to your party, your country, your soul. Why be Biden’s lapdogs – especially when he may appreciate lobbyists demanding a hard line with the mullahs?
So ask yourself two questions: 1) Israelis are crazily polarized too – isn’t Israel’s left-to-right military and political consensus rejecting the Iran agreement striking? 2) Isn’t it even more striking that so many Middle Eastern enemies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE so feared Obama’s softness toward Iran that they buried decades-old hatchets and started cooperating?
Morocco to Arab League: Diplomacy is the way to go with Israel
Explaining Morocco's reasoning for normalization with Israel, Morocco's Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita addressed his counterparts at the Arab League on Monday. During a video conference he said his country is of the opinion “Arab common action needs a new dynamic."Elliott Abrams: Trump’s Morocco Decision Was Sound
Bourita reminded those present that his King, Mohammed VI, is the Chair of the Jerusalem Committee in the Arab League. He stressed his country’s commitment to diplomacy and a two-states solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Two members of the Arab League, Egypt and Jordan, signed a peace accord with Israel long before the North African kingdom had. However, the emergency meeting on Monday was the result of their mutual call to hold it.
In light of Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump and entering the White House as US President, it is likely the Arab League will release a statement showing its support to a two-state solution, Al-Arabiya reported.
Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League Hossam Zaki said that all Arab members, including those who enjoy relations with Israel, support an Israeli return to the 1967 borders to allow a Palestinian state to come into being. Such a move would mean the capital of Israel would need to be discussed as well.
Finally, the third thing we understood was that never in history had the Western Sahara been an independent state. There was and is no pressing historical, political, or legal reason to make it one. (For a discussion of the legal aspects, see the discussion by Antonin Scalia Law School professor Eugene Kontorovich.) If the United States must support an independence referendum for the Western Sahara, why not for Scotland and Catalonia? Why not Quebec and Wales?Israel on Golan Heights is key US Interest, Amb. Ettinger Says
With these and other considerations in mind, the United States rightly rejected the Baker Plan. But we also encouraged the Moroccan government to develop a credible autonomy plan for the Western Sahara, and it did so. In 2007, the United States publicly called the Moroccan plan “a serious and credible proposal to provide real autonomy for the Western Sahara.” Nor was the United States alone: Also in 2007, “The French foreign ministry said the plan offered a constructive step toward negotiations and the possibility of ‘a political solution endorsed by all the parties within the framework of the United Nations.’”
That was during the George W. Bush administration, but in 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the press after meeting with Morocco’s foreign minister that “our policy has not changed, and I thank you for asking the question because I think it’s important for me to reaffirm here . . . that there has been no change in policy.” Both countries reaffirmed these views again on October 30, 2020 at the United Nations (while also criticizing the Polisario blocking actions at the Mauritania border).
Previous U.S. support for the Moroccan autonomy plan did not go all the way to the step the United States took in December 2020, finally recognizing Moroccan sovereignty. But that step was surely not the complete and “astounding” break with past U.S. positions that Baker called it. It was instead a logical progression from what had for more than a decade, under administrations of both parties, been the U.S. position: that autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty was the best realistic option.
The U.N. special envoy for the region in 2005–2008, the late Peter Van Walsum, spelled out why in 2007:
As the Council had made it clear from the outset that it could only contemplate a consensual solution to the question of Western Sahara and, more specifically, had not reacted in 2004 when Morocco decided that it could not consent to any referendum in which independence was an option, I had concluded that there was no pressure on Morocco to abandon its claim of sovereignty over the Territory and, therefore, that an independent Western Sahara was not a realistic proposition. . . . . My conclusion [was] that an independent Western Sahara is not an attainable goal.
Van Walsum was right. It is worth noting how closely the White House statement from December 2020, quoted above, follows his logic: “The United States believes that an independent Sahrawi State is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution.”
There are, at bottom, two possible paths forward for the region: the endless continuation of conflict, and a negotiation aimed at securing real autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. By recognizing Moroccan sovereignty, the United States has added pressure for a serious autonomy negotiation that might bring the conflict to an end. No other path will get us there.
Rumored Biden State Dept Pick Savaged Biden’s Approach to the Middle East
The controversial Bernie Sanders aide reportedly in line for a Biden State Department posting has assailed President Joe Biden's approach to the Middle East and lambasted other Democratic leaders, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), for their support of Israel—going so far as to question whether Democrats like Schumer who opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are fit to lead the party.
Matt Duss, who is reportedly in the running for a State Department gig, is a veteran anti-Israel activist who has come under fire for criticizing the Jewish state in terms that watchdog groups have called anti-Semitic. His voluminous Twitter feed suggests he would be an odd fit for the purportedly pro-Israel Biden administration: On the platform, he has lambasted Democrats who oppose an economic boycott of Israel and accused pro-Israel Democrats of "carrying water" for Israel.
His targets have included the president himself. In January 2020, Duss accused Biden "of undermining [former president Barack] Obama's peace effort" between the Israelis and Palestinians, saying that Biden's pro-Israel approach "has been wholly discredited by the last three years, in which ‘no daylight' has only deepened the occupations, no chance of peace." His remark came just months before the Trump administration announced historic peace agreements between Israel and its longtime Arab enemies, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
This type of criticism is a hallmark of Duss's foreign policy, which opponents of his posting at the State Department have described as dangerous for U.S.-Israel relations. Duss has emerged as a flashpoint between pro-Israel Democrats and the party's left flank. Both groups see Duss's elevation as a window into the Biden administration's foreign policy approach, particularly as it relates to diplomacy with Iran and security arrangements with Israel. Duss's supporters include proponents of Israel boycotts and advocacy groups pushing for reduced cooperation between the United States and Israel.
A review of Duss's Twitter feed reveals a deep hostility toward pro-Israel Democrats, including Biden, Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), who have been vocal about their support for Israel and skepticism about the Iran nuclear accord.
Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh: Biden Administration Assured Me that It Will Restore Aid, UNRWA, PLO Office in D.C., Open Consulate in East Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/tyFlhI2HZ0— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) February 10, 2021
BEASTMODE: AP’s Matt Lee Calls Out Biden’s State Dept for Inaction
The ICC’s Decision to Investigate Israel Is Baseless but Dangerous
The decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem is baseless but still dangerous, and must be thwarted. It is baseless because only sovereign states can file complaints to the Court and Palestine is not a sovereign state. The ICC can investigate only countries that have signed the Rome Statute, which established the Court. Israel, along with the US and 70 other countries, did not join the ICC precisely because they suspected it would be another highly biased and politicized UN body. That is exactly what it turned out to be.Why Israel Should Engage with ICC Investigators
Moreover, the ICC was founded in 2002 to investigate serious crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as genocide, committed by countries that are not investigating war crimes of their own citizens. Israel is a vibrant democracy with an independent judiciary that investigates violations of the laws of war. The Israeli-Palestinian case does not meet any of these conditions. The decision to allow the investigation and prosecution of Israelis is thus a flagrant violation of the ICC’s own rules and procedures.
The ICC is a political kangaroo court. It ignores the most serious war crimes and atrocities in the world today, such as the genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Syria by the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran. It disregards Russian war crimes in Chechnya and Crimea, and those of the Houthis and the Saudis in Yemen.
The ICC’s decision is dangerous for Israel because the Court is authorized to investigate only individuals and not countries. In the wake of the decision, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, can summon Israeli prime ministers, ministers of defense, senior military officers, and other officials for questioning. If they refuse to appear, as they are likely to do, she can issue warrants for their arrest. Theoretically, any of the 122 ICC member states are obliged to obey the warrants and extradite those people to the Court. (Issuing arrest warrants requires approval of the Court, however. The decision states that this matter will be discussed separately later on and will require reasoned and well-supported requests from the prosecution.)
Prosecutor Bensouda does not come into this affair with clean hands. She served as Gambia’s justice minister and backed a tyrannical regime that systematically violated human rights. According to the testimony of Palestinian Authority officials, including late chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, she advised them on how to seek admission to the Rome Statue and how to file a lawsuit against Israel. ICC rules require the prosecutor to conduct herself professionally, objectively, and ethically. Bensouda violated these rules, but the Court failed to take any disciplinary action against her.
Members of the Israeli military, conversely, are extremely unlikely to be prosecuted, due to the IDF’s sophisticated court martial system. The ICC cannot prosecute anyone who has been investigated in good faith by a domestic criminal system (a concept known as the principle of complementarity), and so any Israelis who have been court martialed by the IDF will not face ICC prosecution.
So, why, then, have anti-Israel activists advocated so vociferously for an ICC investigation in the Palestinian territories?
There is one category of crimes that has captivated the imaginations of anti-Israel activists, chiefly because complementarity would play no role in the proceedings. The charter of the ICC criminalizes transferring, “by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Certain activists believe this law can be applied to Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. They are wrong.
First, lawyers for the State of Israel will argue that under settled principles of international law, Israel is not an occupying power. Under general principles of state formation, the West Bank has been a part of the State of Israel since 1948, notwithstanding Jordan’s short-lived military occupation there. Therefore, Israel is not an “occupying power” and cannot be charged with such a crime.
Second, the Israeli government’s financial subsidies for small villages in Judea and Samaria are far outside the intended scope of this prohibition. The drafters of this section of the ICC statute had in mind widespread and systematic war crimes and genocides during which large groups were moved about for the purpose of extinguishing minority sub-groups.
The UN has heaped an incalculable litany of injustices on the Jewish state, and the Goldstone report is a deservedly terrible memory for Israeli officials. But ICC investigators do not work for the UN. They work for a body that was set up specifically to be independent from the UN.
Indeed, an ICC investigation may be good for Israel in the long run. A thorough investigation carried out by a team of international professionals may finally alert the international community to the Palestinians’ systemic and criminal violations of international law.
Natasha Hausdorff, a Barrister, a Director of @UKLFI & a frequently sought-after lecturer on aspects of public international law, #Israel’s sovereign title to the #WestBank and the Israel-Palestinian conflict shines a spotlight on the politicisation of the #ICC's recent ruling. pic.twitter.com/XUsxgL4tFl— Zionist Federation (@ZionistFed) February 9, 2021
Germany, Hungary join states opposing ICC probe of Israel
Germany and Hungary have voiced their opposition to the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it can investigate Israel for alleged war crimes.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “Our legal view on jurisdiction of the ICC regarding alleged crimes committed in the Palestine territories remains unchanged. The court has no jurisdiction, because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law.”
Maas added that Germany supports the ICC in general, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The German foreign minister’s statement came the day after he spoke with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
On Friday, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber ruled that it has the jurisdiction to probe war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem allegedly committed since June 13, 2014. This could include possible lawsuits against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense ministers and other high-level officials, as well as soldiers and commanders. The investigation includes Operation Protective Edge and settlement activity.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit reiterated Israel’s position on the ruling in a conference on Tuesday, saying: “There is no such thing as the State of Palestine according to international law. Eight significant countries joined our position… According to the Oslo Accords, there is no State of Palestine, it doesn’t have borders… and it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to judge Israelis. This is an unfortunate and mistaken decision.”
Mandelblit added that he does not see an immediate danger to any Israelis.
“This court was established to investigate atrocities,” the attorney-general said at an event sponsored by religious right-wing pamphlet B’Sheva. “There are atrocities in this world. Israel does not commit atrocities; we have laws of war, we have a glorious judiciary of world renown.”
Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Uganda and Canada expressed their opposition to an ICC investigation of Israel before the ruling, and Jerusalem hopes to get their public support after, as well.
Ashkenazi continued calling Israel’s allies on Tuesday to bolster its case against an ICC investigation, speaking with his counterparts in Canada, Hungary and Cyprus.
Germany rightfully condemns the ICC’s abuse of its power & of international law, yet re-asserts its full support for the ICC. How can this be when the court has wilfully undermined its own credibility in such a pernicious way? https://t.co/M6t8q8RpCS— Rɪᴄʜᴀʀᴅ Kᴇᴍᴘ ⋁ (@COLRICHARDKEMP) February 9, 2021
#Hungary, denouncing @IntlCrimCourt ruling:— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 9, 2021
“During the legal procedure, we already signaled that, according to our position, Palestine does not have criminal jurisdiction over Israeli citizens. We have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself.”https://t.co/LftfDBtnqn pic.twitter.com/rhTJ7N6jUi
IDF demolishes home of terrorist who murdered Esther Horgen
IDF and Border Police forces are currently operating in the village of Tora in the Menashe Regional Brigade area to demolish the two floors where the terrorist who murdered the late Esther Horgen lived, according to the IDF Spokesperson Unit.EU calls on Israel to halt demolition of Palestinian herding village
Palestinian Mohammad Maroh Kabaha was indicted for Horgen's murder last week. He killed her while she was on a run in Reihan forest. The IDF Prosecution has said that Kabaha confessed to the crime, reenacted it, and even helped them locate Horgen’s cell phone that he had tossed aside.
At a hearing regarding Kabaha’s detention, the defense did not try to seek bail.
The European Union called on Israel to halt the demolition of the illegal Palestinian herding village of Khirbet Humsa in the Jordan Valley, after the IDF razed it for the fifth time in three months this week. "Confiscation, demolition of structures in Hamsa al-Foqa & dislocation of around 60 people confirm regrettable trend despite #COVID19 & obligations of [Israel] as occupying power under [international] humanitarian law," EU spokesperson Peter Steno tweeted on Tuesday.IDF foils Iranian scheme to spark conflict on Israel-Syria border
He called on Israel to "halt this practice."
Nine tents were removed by the Civil Administration on Monday, which according to the left-wing NGO B'Tselem, housed 61 people, including 31 minors.
It added that five tents and two shacks for livestock were removed. Three vehicles were also confiscated.
The terrorists approached under the cover of darkness. They knew the area well and assumed no one could see them. They inched to a distance just 25 yards from the security fence and placed their explosives. Their objective was clear – kill IDF soldiers and set the sector ablaze. After placing the bombs they retreated back toward Syria, tracked the entire time by IDF spotters, and now under heavy fire from Israeli troops.
The lethal ambush was exposed last November on the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights. A tranquil area with pastoral vistas, but highly volatile due to the ongoing fight between the IDF and Iran in what has come to be known as the "war between wars." Three months earlier, in August, an Iranian cell was detected and eliminated by IDF commandos while laying bombs along the fence.
Exclusive documentation obtained by Israel Hayom, sheds light on what happened that night when terrorists attempted to kill IDF troops on routine patrol along the border. For the first time, the IDF has shared how the event unfolded, step by step, along with more details about who was behind the attempted attack the could have sparked a war had it been successful.
"The area is of great strategic importance," Brig. Gen. Ze'ev Cohen told Israel Hayom, "among other reasons because there's a tremendous lack of goods on the other side and a real struggle to live, to the point of having no food. There is complete chaos there and every fighting force is trying to gain a foothold in the area. Terrorist elements are trying to recruit these poor people to act against us, which was also the case during the incident in question. In hindsight, we understand that those who placed the bombs are residents of the area, proxies of Iran. It's clear to us that Unit 840 of the Quds Force dispatched them."
A moment of empathy please as you watch #AhlamTamimi, my sweet child's killer, preening and gloating. A fugitive from US justice, she is now, thanks to obstructive government officials in 3 countries, free as a bird -- and a Jordanian idol. The frustration chokes me. https://t.co/d0ppB11ngJ— Arnold Roth (@arnoldroth) February 9, 2021
The Joshua's Mount Ebal altar site harmed by Palestinian road work
Palestinian Authority road work destroyed portions of a 3,200-year-old wall that belonged to the biblical site of Joshua's altar on Mount Ebal, according to the right-wing NGO Shomrim Al HaNetzach.
The area near the Palestinian city of Nablus, also known by the biblical name of Shechem, is located in Area B of the West Bank, according to the Civil Administration. It is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and as such, the Civil Administration has no oversight, its spokesperson explained.
Shomrim Al HaNetzach reported that Palestinian workers had ground ancient stone from the site's exterior wall into gravel to pave the road as well as made use of stones from within the site itself.
The altar remains intact, but the group Shomrim Al HaNetzach, which focuses on the preservation of Jewish archaeology said it feared additional damage to the site could still occur.
It pointed to a pledge by Strategic Affairs Minister Michael Biton (Blue and White), who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry, that no harm would come to the site as a result of the road work.
In a video obtained by N12, Arab workers can be heard saying they are destroying part of the site of Joshua’s Altar located on Mount Ebal which forms the northern side of the valley in which Shechem/Nablus is located, and using it for gravel to make the road. https://t.co/aM4PyYtGuh— ~Legacy~ נפתלי בן מתתיהו (@Immort4l_Legacy) February 10, 2021
Trying to woo US with election, Palestinians drop a hot potato in Biden’s lap
Less than a week before the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree ordering parliamentary and presidential elections to be held later this year.Fatah and Hamas agree on terms of 1st Palestinian election in 15 years
It was widely interpreted as a gesture to the new US administration, which would likely have an easier time engaging with a Palestinian leadership that has more legitimacy at home after a decade and a half without an election.
But the White House has reacted to the initiative coolly, and with near-utter silence — differing drastically from the lead-up to the last time national elections were held in 2005-2006, when the Bush administration had been one of the initiative’s loudest cheerleaders.
In its first three weeks, the administration has paid little attention publicly to what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians. Biden has yet to call either Abbas or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has signaled a go-it-slow approach to the Middle East peace process, eschewing major initiatives so far.
But experts say that the administration’s seeming cold-shoulder toward Palestinian elections is also a product of the fact that the vote will force Washington to grapple right out of the gate with the likely strengthening of the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza and is expected to make gains in the vote.
While the US supports elections in principal, putting Hamas in the picture could foil the administration’s work to reset relations with the PA, controlled by the more moderate Fatah.
A senior Palestinian official expressed a degree of frustration over the lackluster American response to the election announcement, which had partially been aimed at capitals abroad.
Fourteen Palestinian factions attending a summit in Cairo announced on Tuesday night that they have reached an agreement that would set the guidelines for the first Palestinian national elections in nearly 15 years.
Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub said in a statement that the rival Fatah and Hamas factions had reached “understandings” that would allow them to move forward with the election process.
“I tell the Palestinians, trust what we have achieved,” Rajoub, who led his movement’s delegation to the Cairo summit, told reporters after the talks concluded.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree in mid-January ordering three successive rounds of Palestinian national elections. The first round — for the currently defunct Palestinian legislature — is set to be held on May 22.
Observers are skeptical, however, that elections will actually take place. Abbas has vowed to hold elections several times since his four-year term ostensibly expired in 2009. However, repeated attempts to hold votes for president and parliament have flopped, largely due to the mistrust between rivals Fatah and terror group Hamas, and their inability to agree on terms.
Palestinian factions have ended talks in #Cairo today. One of the agreements reportedly achieved is the release all political prisoners held in the West Bank and #Gaza. The factions plan on meeting again in Cairo in March. pic.twitter.com/Y9oKMl3mj9— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) February 9, 2021
Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant Ahmad Jihad Ghoneim was recently released after serving a 15 year sentence. He was received by his family and members of Saraya al-Quds after his release. #Gaza pic.twitter.com/Hyvc1lElab— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) February 10, 2021
Iran has no interest in altering its behavior
Former Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani: Israel Seeks Normalization with Iraq in order to Fragmentize It; Iraq Will Never Accept This #Iraq #Israel #Normalization pic.twitter.com/4nMputJeQv— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) February 10, 2021
As speculation increases about the Biden administration’s intentions toward Iran and the nuclear deal, Iran’s actions belie any willingness to compromise or soften its stance against the US. On January 17, a few days before the inauguration of then-President-elect Joe Biden, reports emerged that Tehran’s Revolutionary Court had convicted Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi of espionage and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment. Originally taken into custody in December after his verdict was issued, Mr. Shargi has been held incommunicado since his arrest.Secret recording suggests Iranian official concedes truth about downing of Flight PS752 may never be revealed
A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility 250 km (155 miles) south of the Iranian capital Tehran, March 30, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo
Mr. Shargi’s detention seems to conform to a pattern in which the Iranian regime arrests and imprisons foreigners under national security-related charges in order to use them as pawns against their governments. This arrest may be part of an effort by Tehran to build up leverage and test the limits of the Biden administration. It is likely to complicate President Biden’s attempt to rejoin to the Iran nuclear deal. The obvious question is: Why would the Islamic Republic’s regime risk complications by taking another American hostage (Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Bagher Namazi have been detained by the regime for over five years) if Tehran hopes for a US return to the nuclear deal?
This paradox can be explained: The Iranian regime views Western economic engagement as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the Islamic Republic needs advocates in the West — in the US especially — who support engagement and would influence the lifting of sanctions. On the other, when advocates for engagement propose new ties with Iran, the regime regards it a threat to the existing order. According to its own propaganda machine, the regime perceives that better business relations with the West, when not supervised, could easily lead to a liberalization that would weaken the regime’s ideological foundation and its role in Iran’s economy. It would strengthen the people at the expense of the state.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and a number of prominent Iranian diaspora activists in the United States are among the most fervent advocates for a rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the United States. Enjoying close ties with the so-called “moderates” of the Iranian political spectrum — and active in Track II or backchannel diplomacy — they promote the idea that US engagement incentivizes the regime to change its malign behavior. President Obama was deeply committed to the nuclear deal in part due to this conviction.
The Canadian government and security agencies are reviewing an audio recording in which a man — identified by sources as Iran's foreign affairs minister — discusses the possibility that the destruction of Flight PS752 was an intentional act, CBC News has learned.
The individual, identified by sources as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, is heard saying on the recording that there are a "thousand possibilities" to explain the downing of the jet, including a deliberate attack involving two or three "infiltrators" — a scenario he said was "not at all unlikely."
He is also heard saying the truth will never be revealed by the highest levels of Iran's government and military.
"There are reasons that they will never be revealed," he says in Farsi. "They won't tell us, nor anyone else, because if they do it will open some doors into the defence systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say."
On Jan. 8, 2020, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in the skies over Tehran with two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 people aboard, including 138 people with ties to Canada.
CBC News has listened to the recording of the private conversation, which took place in the months immediately following the destruction of Flight PS752. CBC had three people translate the recording from Farsi to English to capture nuances in the language.