Friday, February 26, 2021

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Palestinian lies, American delusions on solving the conflict - opinion
The capacity of peace-process addicts to delude themselves about the Palestinian war against Israel is as bottomless as it is peculiar. It is they, after all, whose repeated attempts at solving the conflict have failed.

The only real shift in perception and action on this issue came from former president Donald Trump.

As a businessman with no political or diplomatic background, he refused to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors in many areas, key among them the Middle East.

His approach, based on rewarding America’s allies and rejecting the appeasement of enemies, was working. His replacement in November by US President Joe Biden signaled a backslide to the tired, old, false paradigms relating to the Middle East.

Palestinian Authority leaders heaved a sigh of relief. For them, dealing with Democrats in the White House, State Department and Capitol Hill is as second nature as manipulating the European Union and United Nations.

Their satisfaction at the outcome of the US presidential election only increased with Biden’s appointment of Hady Amr – a foreign-policy wonk with a history of hostility to Israel and sympathy for Hamas – as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian affairs. Due to his role in the new administration in Washington, Amr was handed an official letter sent to the White House last Saturday by the PA.
David Singer: Will someone emerge to rescue the Palestinian Arabs from Hamas and the PLO?
The first Arab elections to be held in Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') and Gaza on 22 May in more than 15 years – to be followed by a presidential vote on 31 July – in theory give the long-suffering Arab residents in these areas the opportunity to get rid of their failed rulers – the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the 'West Bank' and Hamas in Gaza.

The remote chance of this happening however will require a citizens’ grass roots movement to contest the elections - promising a different way forward in reconciling their differences with Israel.

This seems extremely unlikely to happen.

Both the PLO and Hamas remain implacably opposed to making peace with Israel – as their respective constitutions make abundantly clear.

Article 11 of the 1988 Islamic National Resistance Movement (Hamas) is unequivocal:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day.”

Article 13 is uncompromising in attaining Hamas’s goal:
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.”

Joe Biden’s Ugly Betrayal of the Iranian People
In the short time since taking office, Biden has already snubbed Iranian dissidents who courageously wrote to him from inside Iran, some writing from prison, urging him to maintain sanctions and other pressures on the regime and to provide support and solidarity for their democratic struggle. Instead, their message was received as an inconvenience by a White House national security team staffed with some of the regime’s leading U.S.-based apologists. The administration then quickly provided other sweeteners to the regime, including the lifting of sanctions on their proxy in Yemen, the lifting of restrictions on its arms buying and selling, the lifting of U.S. opposition to an IMF loan, and the neutering of a pro-freedom public diplomacy initiative from the State Department, which went overnight from being a popular source of information on the regime’s repression and corruption to the butt of jokes among Iranian democracy activists. The initiative‘s Persian-language Twitter account has had a steep drop in followers since the U.S. election because of its canceling of real-time statements about the regime’s human rights abuses in favor of promotion of the Biden team’s appeasement measures. When angry Iranians on Twitter pushed the State Department into taking a stand about the regime’s torture and killing of Behnam Mahjoubi, it only raised their ire by saying he was “mistreated.”

Biden’s decided U-turn away from maximum pressure on the regime to a posture of maximum accommodation has been accompanied by silence about the regime’s escalation of its war against its own people, and anyone else who is unfortunate enough to fall within its reach. Biden’s policy of appeasement has been accompanied by large increases in the number of executions and deaths in custody of political prisoners, the taking of foreign hostages for ransom, and threats to kill dual nationals like Swedish Iranian researcher Ahmadreza Djalali. The new administration has, in effect, taken every opportunity to demonstrate to Iran’s thuggish theocracy that it will give in, even signaling that the regime’s holding of American hostages will not be an impediment to negotiations on the nuclear program.

The results of this policy of accommodation are clear. Khamenei has not hesitated to respond by intensifying belligerence by the Islamic Republic’s proxies, who shell American troops in Iraq. America’s other leading adversaries, particularly China and Russia, are also taking note; they do not expect to be confronted for their aggressions and can more easily plot to fill the vacuum left by the United States in the Middle East.

Repeating the recent tragic mistake of Obama’s Iran policy is not simply a foolish replay of the past. It is especially egregious because of the recent, momentous gains made toward a transformation of the region toward modern, rational friendship and cooperation between Arabs and Israelis. It is as if the new administration is closing its eyes to the realities of the region and to American security interests to instead pursue a policy whose symbolism is in fact its purpose. By using “foreign policy” to convey an ideological worldview to a U.S. domestic audience, 80 million Iranians are being treated as props by U.S. policymakers who pose as “progressives” while openly displaying their lack of interest in our common human fate.
In Response to: Why Poland Is Trying to Control Holocaust Memory byStanisław Żaryn
The Polish Government’s Holocaust ‘Truth Campaign’ Is a Weird Mix of Authoritarianism, Ignorance, and Injured Pride
In his Feb. 22 Tablet article, Stanisław Żaryn shared an astonishing perception of the history of the Holocaust in Poland and of wartime Polish-Jewish relations, as well as of the complex context of Poland’s past and current ties with Germany, Russia, and of course, the Jews. This perception, as painted by the spokesperson for the Polish Minister-Special Services Coordinator and Head of the National Security Department, calls the current international debate over the wartime involvement of Poles in the murder of Jews a supposedly dire “security threat” to the welfare of the Polish nation. This in turn seems to serve as a justification for the surprising public involvement of a high-level Polish government official in an essentially historical dispute.

The immediate catalyst for Żaryn’s stance is apparently the widespread international condemnation of the recent verdict of the Polish judiciary, finding two world-renowned Polish historians of the Holocaust, professors Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski, guilty of libel regarding a passage in a groundbreaking publication they edited. Numerous international academic and professional associations and research institutions, as well as public figures in the United States, Canada, Israel, Poland, and other countries, expressed grave concern regarding the Polish policy of dragging scholars to court. The American Historical Society, Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Polin Museum, Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and the Polish Academy of Sciences were among the many organizations and institutions that issued statements on the matter.

Repeating old anti-Semitic tropes, Żaryn and the government he represents would have us believe that this worldwide concern for academic freedom in Poland is in fact evidence of coordinated German-Russian-Jewish collusion against Polish integrity and identity. Evidentially, my own expertise in security issues can be compared with Żaryn’s apparent ignorance of contemporary history. Just as I have no business enacting laws, so, too, governments have no role in writing history; this must be left solely to historians and scholars. Therefore, I am not sure what he means by the need for Poland to “control [sic!] Holocaust memory,” a concept unheard of in a free democratic society, and certainly not in the world of academia. As an historian in this field, I fear that we are facing a further pinnacle in the current Polish regime’s attacks on history, and its attempts to revise the fact-based historical narrative of the Holocaust.

For years, Yad Vashem has fought against the misconception regarding the term “Polish Death Camps.” It supported IHRA and the Polish government’s request in 2006 to amend UNESCO’s records to refer to the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau officially as the “former Nazi German Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.” In fact, it has stated clearly that Poland is not responsible for the Holocaust despite the fact that it is the location where many atrocities were perpetrated. The facts are that no distinguished scholar nor reputable author has written differently, which is why it should be in Poland’s interest to encourage professional, well-informed research. In such research, one will find no indictment of Poland for the crimes committed by Germany and its collaborators on its land, but the discussion rests primarily on instances where Poles took part in those crimes—and sadly, such cases are well documented.
In Response to: Why Poland Is Trying to Control Holocaust Memory byStanisław Żaryn When Writing History Becomes a Crime
A factual refutation of several, but not all, of the most glaring false assertions to be found in “Why Poland Is Trying to Control Holocaust Memory,” by Stanisław Żaryn, is in order. Żaryn, as spokesperson for the Polish Minister-Coordinator of the Intelligence and Security Services, represents the political interests of the Polish state, not the interests of scholarship.

Professor Grabowski, with professor Barbara Engelking, has recently been put on trial in Poland for allegedly “disseminating false information” about a Pole during World War II. The judge found that he and Engelking must apologize to the relative of the man they have been accused of slandering. Were this an isolated case, it might be understood differently than what in fact it is: part of a much wider effort of the Polish government and active elements of Polish society to silence the legitimate work of Holocaust scholarship in favor of protecting the supposed interests of the Polish state for which the narrative of Polish innocence during the Holocaust plays an important role. The present case must be seen as part of that larger effort.

In Poland, the controversy over Polish participation in the Holocaust was sparked by the work of Jan Tomasz Gross over a decade ago and continues to dominate mainstream Polish discourse. Scholars and institutions devoted to critical thinking and the historical truth of the Holocaust and Polish-Jewish relations have come under increasing harassment by the government anxious about defending the narrative of Polish victimhood and innocence, even while conceding, as Żaryn does, that terrible acts were performed by some. The vast majority of Poles, according to this narrative, did everything possible to protect and save the Jewish population.

The so-called facts cited by Żaryn are not part of a free intellectual or scholarly debate. They are not the product of historical research but, as Żaryn himself makes clear, reflect the needs of a political reality in which Poland finds itself. They are one of the political weapons used by the Polish state in asserting the power of a self-justifying official state narrative.

Below is our response to some of the most egregious inaccuracies of Żaryn’s text.
Stanisław Żaryn: Why Poland Is Trying to Control Holocaust Memory
At the beginning of 2021, Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based institution widely credited with preserving the memory of the Holocaust, posted a tweet promoting a book available for purchase on its online store. Unfortunately, the post and the book make part of a wider effort to distort the history of World War II and the Holocaust. Both suggest that the extermination of Jews took place “in Poland,” which is utterly contradictory to historical facts. Even more unfortunately, they highlight a serious problem Poland faces—the existence and an ongoing, complex smear campaign targeting the country and its people. And the more and harder Poland is hit, the more threats for the Poles and for the truth about the Holocaust emerge.

Every single false accusation thrown at Poland can affect the quality of public debate and the level of social awareness. Following that logic, there is a high risk that the country which fell victim to the German and Soviet aggression and atrocities during WWII will one day be identified as the perpetrator. And the aforementioned tweet by Yad Vashem is hammering in such false and harmful rhetoric. The same applies to the so many Israeli, American, German, and other European media outlets that have pushed or have been pushing similar narratives of Polish collective responsibility or guilt.

The history speaks for itself: In 1939, Poland was jointly invaded by two aggressors—Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia—and partitioned between them shortly thereafter, pursuant to a secret deal between Hitler and Stalin. Therefore, a sovereign Polish state had ceased to exist before the Germans developed and implemented their devilish plan to annihilate the Jews. By the way, the Poles were the first nation the Germans had selected for extermination in the Auschwitz death camp. But it is not about bargaining who suffered first or who lost more lives. It is about historical truth, which clearly shows that during the war the Germans hated both the Poles and the Jews. Hence, there is no reason why the Poles should accept or condone false accusations of complicity in the Holocaust.
Kentucky to become first US state to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism
In a historic moment, both bodies of the Kentucky Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a state resolution to condemn antisemitism as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), calling on public officials to confront antisemitism and Jew-hatred.

The recognition comes after a series of antisemitic incidents across the Bluegrass State in the past year, including hate-filled flyers being left in various neighborhoods, vandalism at a Jewish center, a car attack and threatening phone calls made to Rabbi Shlomo Litvin of Chabad of the Bluegrass in Lexington.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, who helped craft the resolution, congratulated both houses on this moment of solidarity.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, my personal mentor and the foremost leader of world Judaism in the modern era, taught it is the duty of a leader to seek out the welfare of all particular sectors of the community and thereby ensure the flourishing of the whole.” Rabbi Litvin said.

“Today the leaders in the Kentucky Assembly showed that leadership, our entire commonwealth is uplifted by it, and the Jewish community thanks them,” he added.
Green Party continues to wage war on International Definition of Antisemitism
The Green Party is set to vote on two motions against adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism at its Spring Conference next month.

Motion D07 (an “organisational” motion), sponsored by former Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali and others, calls on the Party to “reaffirm its support for free speech on Israel and Palestine and for The Green Party to campaign against adoption of the [International] Definition of Antisemitism and in support of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.”

The suggestion that the Definition stifles free speech is as persistent as it is unfounded in both fact and law. Meanwhile, research by Campaign Against Antisemitism has shown that the overwhelming majority of Jews feel intimidated by the tactics used to boycott Israel. It is also ironic that boycotting – particularly when it impacts academia and culture – is by definition an attempt to stifle free speech.

This is not Mr Ali’s first battle against the Definition. The Green Party failed to pass a resolution adopting the Definition in 2018 following calls to oppose it by Mr Ali.

Motion E07 (E motions are “unaccredited policy motions and enabling motions”) focuses on the BDS movement but also seeks to repudiate one of the examples under the Definition, namely that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is antisemitic.

The conference is due to be held online during the first week of March 2021.
UAE’s first ambassador to Israel to take up post next week
The United Arab Emirates’ first-ever ambassador to Israel will arrive next Monday and spend several days in the country, during which time he will meet with senior officials as well as scout out suitable locations for the embassy and his home, an Emirati official confirmed to The Times of Israel.

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah will come with a small team of staffers and stay for five days at this point, the Walla news website reported, citing Israeli and Emirati senior diplomatic sources.

On Tuesday, Al Kajah, 40, will present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.

During the rest of his visit he will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Ministry Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior Israeli officials, Walla said.

Israel and the UAE normalized ties last September with the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, in a deal brokered by then-US president Donald Trump’s administration. Bahrain also joined the accords, establishing ties with Israel.
Israeli cargo ship damaged after mysterious explosion rattles Oman Gulf
An Israeli-owned cargo ship used to transport vehicles was damaged Friday afternoon in a mysterious explosion in the Gulf of Oman. The ship - Helios Ray - usually used as a vehicle carrier, was then diverted to a port in Dubai in order to asses the damage.

The ship's staff and the ship itself are reportedly in good condition, with no injuries reported.

The explosion was most likely the result of a maritime mine going off, according to estimations made by the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) which is investigating the incident. However, the company noted that it is not ruling out any option at this point.

UKMTO issued a warning for nearby vassals, advising them to stay away from the area until the incident becomes clearer.

Despite the estimations pointing to an underwater mine causing the explosion, a US defense official told Reuters that the ship was hit by a blast above the water line that ripped holes in both sides of its hull. If accurate, this means that it is highly unlikely that the a mine caused the explosion.
U.S. notified Israel in advance about Syria strike
The Biden administration notified Israel in advance about the airstrike against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia base on the Syrian-Iraqi border Thursday evening, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The airstrike was the first overt military action by the U.S. in the Middle East since Biden assumed office, and one that Israeli officials see as a positive signal about the new administration's posture toward Iran.

Driving the news: The U.S. notification to Israel took place Thursday morning ET in talks between working-level officials at the Pentagon and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

- Israeli officials told me it was a standard update that occurs every time a U.S. military operation can influence Israel and vice versa.

Behind the scenes: The strike came several weeks after a missile attack on a U.S. base in Erbil in northern Iraq. The U.S. retaliation was delayed mainly in order to coordinate it with the Iraqi government and avoid creating a crisis with Iraq.

- In recent weeks, Israeli officials were concerned by growing provocations by Iran and its proxies both in Yemen and in Iraq.
- The Israelis shared their concerns with the Biden administration. Israeli officials told me they expected that Biden would respond.

What they're saying: "The Iranians didn’t realize that Biden is not Obama, and that if they will continue down this road of miscalculation they will eventually get hit," an Israeli official told me.

Israeli faces treason charges for sharing Iron Dome locations with Hamas
An Israeli citizen is alleged to have acted as a Hamas agent inside Israel and worked for the terrorist organization's military wing inside the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet security agency and the Israel Police revealed, Friday.

The citizen, who was arrested on Feb. 3, is 43-year-old Muhammad Abu Adra. Ada's father is a Bedouin and his mother is from the Gaza Strip. Abu Adra is married to a Gaza resident and splits his time between Rafah and the central Israeli city of Rehovot, frequently using the Erez Border Crossing.

A Shin Bet investigation revealed Hamas recruited Abu Adra while he was in Gaza around a year and a half ago. From that time, he remained in covert operational contact with Hamas members, collecting and providing them with information on the location of Iron Dome batteries.

Hamas took advantage of Abu Adra's ability to move between Israel and Gaza due to his family situation and held in-person meetings with Abu Adra when he was inside the coastal enclave. According to the Shin Bet, Abu Adra provided Hamas unique and high-quality access to Israeli territory and carried out missions for the group.

According to a Shin Bet official, "This is another example of Hamas' use of the Erez Border Crossing for the benefit of its inter-regional activity, as part of its systematic and wide-ranging activity that is moving toward Judea and Samaria and demonstrated the strategy Hamas leadership continues to pursue to undermine stability in the region, despite and in parallel with the ongoing efforts toward an agreement."
'Palestinians continue to take over archeological sites in Samaria'
A Palestinian family has turned a Second Temple-era site near the Hermesh settlement in northern Samaria into a residential building, an NGO that aims to protect Israel's national lands and resources announced this week.

Over the years, several mikvehs and underground complexes dating back to the Second Temple have been discovered in the area around Hermesh, as well as buildings from the Ottoman period.

According to the group Regavim, the family took over one of the ancient structures, which had already been declared an archeological site, and turned it into a private residence.

Archeological remnants were discovered on a nearby hill as well, which experts believe to be part of the "industrial" area of the ancient city of Peresh.

Regavim was conducting infrastructure work on top of the hill when its members discovered that the family had turned the cave into their home. The IDF Civil Administration has submitted a request to remove the eviction order arrives.

"This is an ongoing case of incompetence and lack of enforcement," Regavim Spokesperson Avraham Binyamin explained.
Abbas said to veto Israeli vaccination station on Temple Mount
Israeli officials reportedly sent a request last week to the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem Muslim Waqf asking that the Israeli government be allowed to open a coronavirus vaccination station in the Temple Mount area, but the request was rejected.

The station was meant to vaccinate mainly Palestinian worshipers visiting the area. The Waqf is a Jordan-affiliated religious authority that administers Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound atop the Temple Mount in the Old City.

According to a report by the Kan public broadcaster (Hebrew) on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opposed the idea since, he claimed, the act would give Israeli officialdom a presence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area. The mosque area on Temple Mount, which is known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif, is considered one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East, holding central significance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism; al-Aqsa mosque is the third most holy shrine in Islam.

The Israeli request came following the repeated publication of photos in which over 10,000 people can be seen praying in the mosque area each Friday, in disregard of COVID-19 protocols.

After Israel’s initial proposal was refused, a second was reportedly made: that the vaccines be administered by Arab Israeli paramedics and not by Jewish ones, and that they be dressed in clothes that bear no markings of Israeli medical establishments. That offer was also turned down, the report said.
Seth Frantzman: For Israel, the Iran Threat Extends Far Beyond Nuclear Weapons
On a positive note for Israel, there are new relationships in the Gulf with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Israel views Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE as a visionary and courageous leader who played a key role in the Abraham Accords. Relations are on a promising trajectory. For instance, Israeli defense companies took part in IDEX in Abu Dhabi for the first time this year. In addition, UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba received major praise from Israel for his role in the new peace accords. “He masterfully facilitated” behind the scenes, the official said this week. Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was key to the current peace deals by giving a green light for the UAE and Bahrain to proceed. These Gulf states are all close and coordinate policy, especially in the wake of the Gulf crisis of 2017 which saw Riyadh lead allies to break relations with Qatar. Now that crisis is patched up a bit, but the larger Saudi strategic outlook and concerns remain the same.

Last year there were rumors that Riyadh could also make a peace deal with Israel. That hasn’t happened yet, but overall Saudi Arabia’s role is essential to the new peace deals. What is important to Israel today is that the region remains stable and that the United States continues its bipartisan support for Israel, as well as its support of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The larger picture with Saudi Arabia is that it is supporting reform and moderation, compared to the extremist groups like Hezbollah or Hamas. This is a seismic shift and it should be recognized, despite criticism of the kingdom on human rights, say those familiar with current Israeli concerns.

The problem is that when the United States signals it no longer supports a key regional leader, such as Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the results can affect the whole region as the Arab Spring eventually did. The continued conflict in Libya and Syria, as well as the way Iran exploited the ISIS war to grow its influence in Iraq and Syria, is partly a result of the chaos unleashed in 2011.

Israel has generally thrived when there is stability and investment in the economies of the region. Extremism has tended to eat away at states and led to threats to the West, the United States, and U.S. partners and allies in the region. “The special relationship with US is an essential part of Israel’s national security, alongside the peace with Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Bahrain,” the defense official said. It’s no surprise then that the current peace between Israel the Gulf is rapidly seeing business ties pushed by both sides. Whether at IDEX or initiatives with the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) and recent visits by Emiratis to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, the peace is underpinned by hi-tech and investment. A new UAE ambassador was sworn in this month, a symbol of the commitment. More has been accomplished in months of these rapidly growing ties with the UAE than we have done in years with Egypt and Jordan, where a kind of colder peace prevailed. However, some positive developments came in mid-February 2021 as Egypt’s energy minister visited Israel.

What might come next? Israel has warned about continued Iranian enrichment. Israel acted in the past to prevent nuclear reactors from being completed and operated in Iraq and Syria. “All of us, regardless of politics, will not allow or accept anything that endangers Israel,” said the defense official this week. Israel acted to stop the Syrian reactor in 2007 in the wake of a controversial war with Hezbollah in 2006 in Lebanon. Many Israelis thought the war was a failure at the time, but not long after the Syrian reactor was struck, quiet has prevailed mostly with Hezbollah over the last decade and a half. Recently Hezbollah launched a missile at an Israeli drone, piercing some of that quiet.
Lawmaker Demands Biden Admin Disclose Secret Iran Talks with China
In a letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, a Republican member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding the Biden administration provide Congress with answers about U.S.-Iran envoy Robert Malley's undisclosed talks earlier this month with China about rejoining the 2015 nuclear accord.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R., Tenn.) petitioned the State Department on Thursday to come clean about Malley's talks with China, which came just before the Biden administration announced it is seeking direct negotiations with Iran about rejoining the nuclear accord. Burchett says the administration's refusal to provide Congress with details about Malley's discussions indicates that it is intentionally leaving Republican lawmakers in the dark about its bid to rejoin the nuclear agreement.

Malley has yet to brief top Republican foreign policy leaders, including those on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, about the administration's diplomacy with Iran, the Free Beacon reported this week.

"I find it troubling that the Biden Department of State is reaching out to foreign governments regarding the [nuclear deal] while you yourself have said that the Department of State won't make diplomatic overtures to the Iranians until they fall back into compliance within the original parameters of the deal," Burchett wrote in his letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Republican Lawmakers Step Up Campaign Against Sanctions Relief for Iran
Republicans in both houses of Congress introduced a resolution on Wednesday opposing any move by US President Biden and his administration to lift sanctions against Iran.

Led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and supported by more than 40 lawmakers, the resolution “rejects and opposes the reapplication of sanctions relief for Iran” and expresses disapproval of giving Iran access to the US financial system, reported Bloomberg News.

In a statement, congressional members supporting the resolution said “the US must maintain sanctions on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear ambitions and ends its support for violence and terror around the region.”

The lawmakers noted that Iran “took advantage of weak policies during the Obama administration, and President Biden must not repeat those same mistakes.”

The resolution follows a letter sent on Monday by 15 Republican members of the House Committee on Homeland Security to Biden, stating, “Regime demands for sanctions relief as a prerequisite for the administration’s proposed bilateral negotiations are not made in good faith.”
Newly elected Jewish Democrat wants Biden to take tougher line on Iran nuke deal
A freshman Democratic congresswoman who sits on the key House Foreign Affairs Committee has come out against the Biden administration’s plans to return to the existing Iran nuclear agreement.

Rep. Kathy Manning (NC-7) said in a Wednesday interview with The Times of Israel that too much has changed since former president Donald Trump left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and that the accord is now “outdated.”

The Biden administration has said it is prepared to reenter the JCPOA if Iran first returns to compliance with its terms. From there, the White House says it wants to negotiate a “longer and stronger” follow-up agreement to address Iran’s “malign influence” in the region as well as its ballistic missile program.

But Manning, a former board chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, disagreed with the strategy, noting Iran’s ongoing enrichment of uranium in violation of the deal and the fact that some of the accord’s sunset provisions will soon expire.

“I don’t believe it makes sense to get back into the [JCPOA] 1.0,” she said. “There needs to be some rethinking about it, and I’m hoping that the [Foreign Affairs] Committee will study the current situation and be able to express to the Biden administration what we think should be taken into consideration before reentering the deal.”
Iran Threatens to End Deal With IAEA Over US-Led Push to Criticize It
Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the US nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency’s board endorses a US-led push to criticize Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows.

Tehran this week scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection measures introduced by its 2015 nuclear accord with major powers. It was the latest of many steps retaliating for US sanctions reimposed after the United States pulled out of that agreement in 2018.

Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration are now locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the unravelling 2015 deal. Tehran says Washington should lift sanctions first. Biden wants Iran to undo its many retaliatory breaches of the deal’s nuclear restrictions first.

In its own paper sent to other IAEA member states ahead of next week’s quarterly meeting of the US watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors, the United States said it wants a resolution to “express the Board’s deepening concern with respect to Iran‘s cooperation with the IAEA”.

The US paper obtained by Reuters said the board should call on Iran to reverse its breaches of the deal and cooperate with the IAEA to explain how uranium particles were found at old, undeclared sites — finds first reported by Reuters and confirmed in an IAEA report this week.


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