Friday, March 19, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Abdullah the Irrelevant of Jordan
This then brings us back to King Abdullah and his decision to prevent Netanyahu's trip to Abu Dhabi last week. If the raging success of Netanyahu's regional diplomacy causes ideological and political distress to Israel's rabidly political and ideological media, it presents a strategic challenge to Jordan and is a source of existential angst for the Hashemite regime.

The Hashemite royal house in Jordan is an artifact of Britain's colonial regime in the region a century ago. The Hashemites are a small minority of Jordan's population. And the country they control is poor, and resource-strapped. The principal source of the longevity of the Hashemite regime is Israel. Jordan is located between Israel and Iraq and shares a border with Israel and Syria. Its position has long made it a buffer state. And its (relative) moderation has served as a deterrent to Iraqi and Syrian aggression against Israel. As a consequence, Israelis – particularly Israeli military leaders – long viewed the Hashemite Kingdom as indispensable.

As things stand today, the threat of war between Iraq or Syria (or both) and Israel has never been lower. Both Iraq and Syria are failed states at advanced levels of decomposition. And as a result, today, Jordan's importance as a buffer state has never been lower.

So too, for many years, Jordan, which has long owed its financial survival to support from and the remittances of Jordanian workers in the Gulf states, served as a bridge between Israel and those states. It's been almost a decade since Jordan has been asked to serve in that capacity.

The Obama administration's decision to realign the US Middle East alliance structure towards Iran and away from Israel and America's traditional Arab allies spooked the Emiratis, Egyptians, and the Saudis sufficiently to convince them to develop defense ties with Israel. Once that happened, Jordan, which was close to the Obama administration, became more of a nuisance than a bridge.

Jordan's transformation into an irrelevancy was on display last Thursday. By blocking Netanyahu's flight to the UAE, Abdullah showed that far from a bridge, he is an obstacle to the Gulf States' ties with Israel. So too, Netanyahu's announcement – subsequently repeated by the UAE – that the Emirates intend to invest $10 billion in Israel showed that Abdullah's ability to serve either as a bridge or an obstacle to relations is a mirage.

No one cares what Jordan does.

This then brings us to the Palestinians. Aside from the PLO and its Palestinian Authority, the greatest Arab champion of the Palestinian veto over Arab-Israeli peace has been King Abdullah. Whereas Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi welcomed the Abraham Accords, Abdullah joined Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in condemning them. So too, whereas the UAE and Bahrain sent their ambassadors to the White House to celebrate when then-President Donald Trump presented his peace plan, which included Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, Abdullah condemned the plan.

As Israel moved forward with its plan to apply its sovereignty to those areas of Judea and Samaria in accordance with the Trump plan, Abdullah let it be known that such an Israeli-US move would cause him to abrogate Jordan's peace treaty with Israel.

One of the regional developments that keep Abdullah up at night is the still-unofficial alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Abdullah lives in fear that in exchange for Saudi Arabia's official normalization of ties, Israel will provide the Saudis with an official position in managing the mosques on the Temple Mount at Jordan's expense. For its part, as the current custodian of the mosques on the Temple Mount, Jordan has torpedoed every Israeli effort to stabilize the situation at the holy site.

Former Ambassador Friedman sifts through ‘transformative’ accords and their future success
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman came to his position as an attorney without a background in politics or diplomacy. Not being allegiant to a particular point of view, he said, “gave us an open field to chart our own course which we are very proud of.”

Friedman served for four years under the Trump administration, which delivered a number of remarkable achievements for Israel, including recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights; and launching an ambitious and game-changing peace plan known as the Abraham Accords.

The “us”—meaning Friedman and his team, including Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz among others—thought the way that the United States and the rest of the world were looking at the Palestinians was that “they were giving them a pass on egregious human-rights violations, a pass on the inability of Hamas and P.A. [Palestinian Authority] to ever coalesce on anything, a pass on terrorism, a pass on pay-for-slay, a pass on not creating any of the institutions necessary for an economy … and yet people were talking about a Palestinian state.”

“This was putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Sitting down in conversation with Martin Kramer, founding president of Jerusalem’s Shalem College, as part of this week’s Tikvah Fund’s Jewish Leadership Conference, Friedman said that when he came to office, “the Middle East was due for some unconventional thinking.”

The primary advantage of coming in without a diplomatic background, he said, was “not being wed to the past” and harnessing “problem-solving skills taken from past experience”as part of his career in the legal field.

Asked which conventional wisdom needed deflation, Friedman said “the most wrong was the indulgence of the Palestinian cause to the point where it negated the notion of accountability.”

“There would be this equivalence between building settlements and acts of terrorism. You can be pro or against settlements, but you cannot possibly equate the two,” he added.
Schrödinger's War: The Palestinian Redux
When discussing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, President of the Middle East Forum Daniel Pipes is fond of using the remarkable story of Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army as an analogy. Lt. Onada had been living on an island in the Philippines engaging in acts of a war that had, to the rest of the world, ended decades previously.

At the state level, Jonathan Schwarz in a 2006 Mother Jones piece aptly titled Schrödinger's War compared the schizophrenic nature of the Bush administration’s approach to the Iraq war to a well known physics conundrum:

“The famous “Schrödinger’s Cat” thought experiment posits a situation in which, according to quantum theory, a cat could be both alive and dead. Today, America is in much the same situation. We’re not at war, since the attorney general insists Congress has not declared it. Yet at the same time, we are at war, because the entire Bush administration says so as often as possible.”

Most people in the State of Israel and around the world believe the Israel-Palestinian conflict has ended and has been since 1993 with the signing of the Oslo Accords, but the conflict is very much alive at the same time. While there is no negotiated solution, and acts of murder and bloodshed occur sparingly, these are frequently seen as disconnected from the reality of war as Onada was from the end of the Second World War.

Unfortunately, for us, the Palestinian leadership still very much believes they are in a war that will end in Israel’s destruction.

This might be obvious for Hamas, but it also remains true for Fatah and other groups which rule or are active in Judea and Samaria.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub has announced that Fatah urges “all the national activity factions” to run together on a joint list in the upcoming elections.

“[PFLP] emphasized its firm opposition to recognizing the racist Zionist entity, and its determination to continue with all forms of the struggle, and foremost among them armed resistance, in order to liberate every grain of the soil of Palestine,” PMW quoted Ma’an, a Palestinian Arab news agency, a day earlier.

In other words, Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is happily embracing and officially calling to partner an organization dedicated to the end of the Jewish State through violence and terror.

It might be useful to try and bring a comparison to Israeli or U.S. politics, but no party exists which calls for the violent destruction of a whole nation.

On this day 2012: Jewish massacre in Toulouse, France leaves 4 dead
On this day, nine years ago, four people were killed, including three children, simply because they were Jews in France. On March 19, 2012, the Islamic terrorist Mohamed Merah targeted a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse.

The children killed were 8-year-old Myriam Monsonego, and the brothers Arié and Gabriel Sandler, 6 and 3. The fourth victim was their father, a teacher at the school, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler.

Merah, 24 at the time, was shot dead by police after he jumped, guns blazing, from the window of an apartment where he was holed up a few days after his killing spree in March 2012.

The Merah killings were the first major incident of the kind since the Paris subway bombing in the mid-1990s by Islamist militants linked to the GIA group in Algeria, a former French colony.

Since the Toulouse attack in 2012, antisemitic attacks have been on the rise in France - such as the 2014 protests in Sarcelles and the 2015 Hypercacher terrorist attack, in which four other Jews - Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Michel Saada and Philippe Braham - were killed.

Two years later, in April 2017, Sarah Halimi, a Parisian 65-year-old Jewish woman, was beaten and thrown out of her third-floor window apartment to her death by her 27-year-old Muslim neighbor. Last month, he was excused of the alleged antisemitic murder from a criminal trial because of his heavy intake of cannabis that supposedly compromised his “discernment,” or consciousness.
Almost 4.5 million fully vaccinated as positive test rate drops below 2%
Israel’s coronavirus outbreak continued to rapidly diminish Friday amid the widespread vaccination campaign which has seen almost 4.5 million people receive two doses of the inoculation while the rate of positive test results fell below two percent.

According to Health Ministry data, 5,150,505 people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and 4,480,810 have received both doses.

Meanwhile the positive test rate stood at 1.9%, continuing the steep decline since January, when it was over 10%.

The number of serious cases stood at 558. They included 244 classified as critical with 206 patients on ventilators. The number of serious cases peaked at 1,237 on January 17 and was last under 600 on December 25.

There were 21,143 active reported cases in Israel as of Friday morning, including 1,225 new confirmed infections on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 826,217.

The death toll climbed to 6,071.

The data was released after ministers on Thursday evening approved a further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures, increasing attendance at cultural and sporting events and opening up other public activities.
Scientist behind Pfizer vaccine: mRNA shots for cancer coming ‘in couple years’
The scientist who won the race to deliver the first widely used coronavirus vaccine says people can rest assured the shots are safe, and the technology behind it will soon be used to fight another global scourge — cancer.

Ozlem Tureci, who co-founded the German company BioNTech with her husband, was working on a way to harness the body’s immune system to tackle tumors when they learned last year of an unknown virus infecting people in China.

Over breakfast, the couple decided to apply the technology they’d been researching for two decades to the new threat, dubbing the effort “Project Lightspeed.”

Within 11 months, Britain had authorized the use of the mRNA vaccine BioNTech developed with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, followed a week later by the United States. Tens of millions of people worldwide have received the shot since December. Israel, the world leader in vaccinations per capita, is overwhelmingly using the Pfizer jabs.

“It pays off to make bold decisions and to trust that if you have an extraordinary team, you will be able to solve any problem and obstacle which comes your way in real-time,” Tureci told The Associated Press in an interview.

Among the biggest challenges for the small, Mainz-based company that had yet to get a product to market was how to conduct large-scale clinical trials across different regions and how to scale up the manufacturing process to meet global demand.

Along with Pfizer, the company enlisted the help of Fosun Pharma in China “to get assets, capabilities and geographical footprint on board, which we did not have,” Tureci said.
Ukraine to let in vaccinated Israeli pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah
Ukraine will let in vaccinated pilgrims from Israel for Rosh Hashanah amid negotiations on Israeli deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Ukraine, the European country’s interior minister said.

Arsen Avakov made the statement Friday following a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Aryeh Deri.

Last year, thousands of pilgrims in Israel protested being prevented from visiting the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov Hassidic sect, in the Ukrainian city of Uman due to the pandemic. Some were stranded in Belarus and Moldova for days.

Many of the pilgrims are voters of Shas, the Sephardic Orthodox party led by Deri. It’s been a key coalition partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. Israel will have a general election on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish actor who won a landslide victory in 2019, has been slipping in polls as the pandemic hurts Ukraine’s already ailing economy. His Servant of the People party failed to win in any of Ukraine’s large cities during last year’s mayoral elections.

In the statement about Ukraine allowing in vaccinated pilgrims, Avakov’s office wrote that “the key condition for the implementation of this large-scale measure will be the normalization of the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and the preliminary vaccination of newcomers.”
'Inquisition against the Jewish State at UN Human Rights Council'
The Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations and Observer to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Dr. Shimon Samuels, on Thursday sat through three excruciating hours of defamation of the State of Israel.

Twenty-nine of the slanderous member-states were Muslim, including some Abraham Accords signatories: Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan and - an otherwise friend of Israel - Azerbaijan (speaking on behalf of the non-aligned members). These states committed a blood libel against the Jewish State.

Only the United Arab Emirates made a more balanced statement: “We wish to see two states at peace, Israel and Palestine side by side.”

After the High Commissioner for Human Rights introduction, the speaking order included the following Muslim states: Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Libya, Sudan, Bahrain, Indonesia, Senegal, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, UAE, Oman, Djibouti, Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey.

The UNHRC presents, at each yearly session, “Item 7 - human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” This item is an inquisition against Israel, since it singles it out as the only country having its own “item.”

Other speakers at the session were North Korea, Russia, China, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Libya, Bahrain and Iraq called for an updated international boycott list of company names working in the settlements, also requesting the Human Rights High Commissioner to make the list public.

Report: ICC gives Israel, Palestinians 1 month to apply for probe deferral
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Thursday that it has formally notified Israel and the Palestinian Authority of its upcoming probe into alleged war crimes on the Palestinian territories.

The act gives both parties a one-month period to apply for deferring the case, the ICC said; to do so, a party must prove that it is capable of investigating the matter on their own.

According to the Associated Press, the notifications were sent to all signatories of the Rome Statute, the court's founding charter, as well as Israel and Palestinians, on March 9, with Channel 13 News confirming that Jerusalem received it and had yet to respond.

Under Article 16 of the Statute, an ICC investigation or prosecution can be deferred for up to a year on a request from the UN Security Council, which must first approve the appropriate resolution.

According to the AP report, Israel could submit an overview of its own actions taken to probe the possible violations during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in Gaza, which followed the murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas.

The murder itself does not fall under the ICC jurisdiction due when the PA joined the court.

Should the court accept the outline, Israel could potentially conduct the investigation on its own, with occasional supervision by the ICC.

HRC Prompts CBC Correction: Murder of 3 Israeli Teens Not in ICC Investigative Scope
A March 3 CBC Radio report on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) announcing that it will open up a “war crimes” investigation on Israel and Palestinians “militants” saw freelance journalist Irris Makler erroneously state the following:
She (ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda) will also investigate the Palestinians for the kidnap and murder of three Israeli soldiers in May 2014.”

This statement was patently false. The ICC statement made no mention of this at all. Instead, the statement led by saying the following:
Today, I confirm the initiation by the Office of the Prosecutor (”Office”) of the International Criminal Court (”ICC” or the ”Court”) of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office.”

Why is this date so important? As the Times of Israel observed: “The June 13, 2014, date is significant. Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank the day before. By asking for an investigation beginning on June 13, the Palestinians ensured that the ICC will not look into the killing of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel.”
StandWithUs: Outrageous INTERPOL decision, Israel aid to Equatorial Guinea & More
This week we will talk about Interpol's outrageous decision to drop its arrest warrant against convicted Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi and more.

This is 'Israel Weekly' with Tamir Oren, bringing you all the important Israel events you might have missed this week.

Khaled Abu Toameh: How Arabs Discriminate Against Palestinians
"Palestinians have effectively been stripped of their identity and travel documents by successive Iraqi governments," according to another report by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

In 2003 alone, 344 Palestinian families were forcibly expelled from their homes [in Iraq] by militias. Between 2003 and 2016, an estimated 300 Palestinian refugees were killed by these militias.... Palestinians have been demonized even in social media posts as potential 'terrorists' by accounts linked to the [Iraqi] interior ministry." — Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

In 2017, Iraqi President Fuad Masum approved a law that stripped Palestinian refugees living in Iraq of their rights and classified them as foreigners.

The international reaction would, of course, have been completely different if Israel taken such measures against Palestinians. Evidently, no one really does care about the plight of the Palestinians. They are only cared about if they can be made to appear as victims of Israel, never of an Arab country.

Palestinian leaders are much too busy attacking Israel and demanding that the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecute Israelis for alleged "war crimes" against the Palestinians to notice the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of an Arab country.

The ICC, which appears obsessed with Israel, is unlikely to launch an investigation into Iraq's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Likewise, the United Nations Security Council is unlikely to hold an emergency session to denounce Iraq for its discriminatory measures against the Palestinians. The international media, for its part, will also continue their usually venomous -- and usually unjustified -- attacks on Israel, while ignoring the horrendous treatment the Palestinians receive from their Arab brothers.
Palestinian killed by IDF during stone-throwing clashes
IDF soldiers shot dead a Palestinian on Friday during stone-throwing clashes in the West Bank, a Reuters witness said.

The man, initially identified as Sheikh Atef Yousef Hanaisheh, was shot in the head and taken to a hospital near the West Bank city of Nablus where he later died, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Asked for comment, the IDF said the incident was under examination.

Hanaisheh, who is in his forties, was involved in a weekly protest against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan, near Nablus. A group of Palestinians threw stones towards two IDF soldiers posted there, and the soldiers then opened fire, said the Reuters witness, a photographer.

A group of Palestinians carried the man away.
MEMRI: In 'Al-Quds' Article, Hamas Head Isma'il Haniya Outlines Two-Pronged Tactic: Expressing Commitment To Palestinian Unity And Popular Resistance In Order To Gain International Legitimacy, While Maintaining Commitment To Armed Resistance
Amid the Palestinian Authority's preparations to hold elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the presidency and the Palestinian National Council (PNC), and following recent talks in Cairo ahead of the elections, attended by representatives of the various Palestinian factions, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, based in East Jerusalem, published an article by Hamas Political Bureau head Isma'il Haniya aimed at "clarifying Hamas's position on and vision of" the elections.

In the article, published on March 17, 2021, Haniya states that Hamas sees the elections as a way to end the Palestinian schism; build a new political system incorporating all the Palestinian factions, both inside Palestine and in the diaspora, and unite the efforts of the Palestinians and of the entire Arab and Islamic nation to confront Israel and stop the regional process of normalization with it. Haniya stresses that Hamas is committed to the elections and to the understandings that have been reached in this context, and has no intention of reneging on these understandings.

Two essential points stand out in Haniya's article. First, he emphasizes that Hamas prefers to run for the PLC elections, scheduled for May, as part of "a joint national list encompassing the widest possible spectrum of national [forces]." Second, he stresses that after the elections the Palestinians will have to formulate a strategy for confronting Israel "using all forms of struggle that are possible for our people – chief of them military resistance, while focusing on popular resistance at the present stage."

These two statements give rise to significant questions regarding Haniya's intensions and their practical implications. The issue of a joint list has been debated for some time by Hamas and Fatah officials, but has yet to be settled. The suggestion is that Fatah and Hamas, and all other movements wishing to join the list, will agree on the number of members from each movement and on their place on the list. The advantage of a joint list for Fatah and Hamas is that it enables both movements to secure places for their members in the next PLC, and also to determine in advance the division of seats between them – so that no side will face a landslide victory by the other. A joint list can therefore serve as an effective compromise, ensuring that elections will indeed be held and will not be postponed again, and that the PLC will renew its activity – even if its makeup will not necessarily reflect the will of the voters.

For Hamas, which does not enjoy international legitimacy because it refuses to meet the demands of the Quartet – namely the demands to recognize Israel and the agreements with it and to renounce the armed struggle[1] – running in a joint list has another advantage. Entering the PLC with a Fatah seal of approval may prevent a scenario whereby the international community refuses to recognize the outcome of the elections.
FDD: The Biden Administration’s Playbook for Lifting Iran-Related Terrorism Sanctions
In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that lifting terrorism sanctions on Iran would not advance U.S. national security interests. Weeks later, however, the Biden administration established the blueprint for doing so, by weakening and then rescinding terrorism sanctions against the Iranian-supported Houthi group, officially known as Ansar Allah, and its leadership.

On January 10, 2021, the Trump administration announced it had designated Ansar Allah as both a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that if Ansar Allah “did not behave like a terrorist organization, we would not designate it as an FTO and SDGT.” Pompeo proceeded to cite Ansar Allah’s targeting of civilian infrastructure, ties to the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and seizure and imprisonment of U.S. nationals.

An FTO designation institutes a visa ban, allows U.S. banks to block the assets of the designated organization, and establishes the broad extraterritorial application of criminal prohibitions on any U.S. person who provides the FTO with material support. The SDGT authority enables the United States to target terrorist financiers who access the U.S. financial system. In 2019, the SDGT measures were strengthened and expanded by the Trump administration to include secondary sanctions on individuals or entities, including businesses, that allow SDGTs to use their services.

By contrast, Yemen-related sanctions under Executive Order (E.O.) 13611, which President Barack Obama signed in 2012, contain fewer effective measures to target those providing Ansar Allah with financial and material support. The executive order authorized sanctions against Ansar Allah’s leadership but does not impose the same extensive secondary sanctions. Indeed, the Trump administration’s primary aim in designating Ansar Allah as an FTO and SDGT was to increase the risk for Ansar Allah’s foreign facilitators beyond the restrictions in E.O. 13611.

On January 25, 2021, the Biden administration issued a general license allowing companies to conduct a wide array of business with Ansar Allah. Nearly one month later, the administration lifted the FTO and SDGT designations on Ansar Allah in their entirety. Blinken stated that while the conduct leading to Ansar Allah’s terrorism designations has not changed, the decision to delist the group is “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
Republican Pressure Mounts to Stop Biden’s Return to Iran Nuclear Deal
Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress filed two new bills on Friday that would increase economic sanctions on Iran as part of an effort to handicap the Biden administration's attempts to pursue a revamped nuclear deal, according to a copy of the new measures exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The two new bills would formally designate Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq as terror organizations and apply new sanctions on Iranian human rights abusers, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They were filed just a day after members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest conservative caucus in Congress, held a virtual strategy session with former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus and former special representative for Iran Brian Hook about "how to defend President Trump's maximum pressure campaign on Iran in Congress," according to sources familiar with the content of the meeting.

The RSC's legislative push, helmed by Reps. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) and Jim Banks (R., Ind.), comes as the Biden administration considers a range of concessions, including sanctions relief, meant to entice Iran back to the bargaining table. While the GOP legislation stands little chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled Congress, it is meant to send a message to Tehran and European powers that a significant portion of American lawmakers oppose the administration's diplomacy and stand ready to reimpose any sanctions that might be lifted in the coming weeks and months. The effort could gain steam among hawkish Democrats, at least 70 of whom recently wrote to President Joe Biden urging him not to lift sanctions on Iran as a precondition for talks about its growing nuclear program.

Congressional sources close to the RSC said the meeting with Hook and Ortagus—both of whom were key to Trump's maximum pressure campaign on Iran—persuaded GOP leaders to "push back on Biden's radical Iran policy," both by legislation and by investigating its efforts to lift sanctions without first consulting Congress. Republicans have been mostly left in the dark about the administration's diplomatic plans with the Islamic Republic. U.S.-Iran envoy Robert Malley has yet to provide them an in-depth brief about his conversations with China and other countries regarding a new nuclear deal. The Biden administration has also been secretive about a reported effort to help South Korea provide Iran with around $1 billion in ransom after Tehran seized a ship belonging to the Asian country.

"President Trump's max pressure campaign worked—it slashed Iran's defense budget by 25 percent and Joe Biden's response is to do a complete 180? Under Joe Biden's maximum concession campaign, sanctioning terrorists who've murdered Americans is beyond the pale, but policies that boost Iran's defense budget and endanger our regional allies are perfectly acceptable," Banks told the Free Beacon.
Melanie Phillips: Jared Kushner's curious change of heart
Last month, Iran attacked a US base in northern Iraq, killing an American contractor and wounding several other civilians. The American military wanted to respond by attacking Iranian assets in Iraq, but this was vetoed by Biden.

Instead, the United States launched an attack on Iran-backed Shiite militias in northern Syria, in which no Iranians were killed.

This may have been because the United States notified the Russians about their attack plans in advance and the Russians promptly tipped off the Iranians. Or it may have been because these Iran-backed militias were non-Iranian Shiites – meaning there weren't any Iranians there anyway. Either way, it was no more than a limp-wristed gesture.

As Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Ashraq Al-Awsat, has written: "In Tehran's eyes, Biden is a pushover." In addition to Iranian attacks in Yemen and Iraq, he wrote, "Lokman Slim, Iran's most prominent and vocal opponent in Beirut, was murdered and his body was found on the sidewalk."

Appallingly, Biden is turning the United States into a laughing stock in Tehran. Yet Kushner wrote: "Thanks to his policies, America holds a strong hand."

In his article, Kushner boasted about the Abraham Accords. Yet even here, his choice of words revealed an astonishing ignorance. For while he rightly observed that this agreement had destroyed the "myth" that ending the Arab-Israel "conflict" depended upon Israel and the Palestinians resolving their differences, he went on to say: "The Abraham Accords exposed the conflict as nothing more than a real-estate dispute between Israelis and Palestinians that need not hold up Israel's relations with the broader Arab world."

"A real-estate dispute"? But the "conflict" was a war by the Arab world against Israel's very existence. Its presentation as a "real-estate dispute" is what's been the actual myth.

That, indeed, was the fiction promoted by the Palestinians to gull the West into believing that a Palestinian state would solve the conflict. This propaganda achievement, which has fueled the West's animus against Israel, evilly repackaged the Arab war of extermination against Israel as a Palestinian struggle for land.
Iran has not yet recovered from Natanz explosion hit - exclusive
Iran has yet to recover from a devastating explosion at its Natanz nuclear facility last July, sources have told The Jerusalem Post, undercutting IAEA reports this week that the Islamic Republic has made progress with advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium.

On Tuesday, Reuters disclosed an IAEA report which claimed that Iran has started enriching uranium at its new underground Natanz facility using advanced IR-4 centrifuges.

This could be highly significant because until now, most of Tehran’s centrifuges were the slower IR-1 model, with a smaller number of IR-2ms. The more advanced IR-4 centrifuges could shorten the timeline for breaking out to a nuclear weapon, and having the machines underground could severely complicate or even prevent the IDF’s ability to attack them in the future.

Despite the report and these implications, sources have revealed to the Post that Iran is still far from a full recovery following the July 2 explosion at an above-ground structure at the Natanz facility. The structure was the main site for assembling advanced centrifuges like the IR-4 and the IR-6.

The explosion was attributed to the Mossad. Sources emphasized that Israel’s activities to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon never end and that there is no site, old or new, which is safe.
White House Envoy: Iranian Attacks on US Assets ‘Not Really Helping’ Prospects of Return to Nuclear Deal
The White House’s Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told the Voice of America that Iran-backed attacks against Americans stationed abroad is making it more difficult for the US to engage with Iran on a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

In an interview on Wednesday with VOA Persian, Malley said, “It’s not really helping the climate in the US to have Iranian allies take shots at Americans in Iraq or elsewhere, and the US will respond as it has responded and it will continue to respond.”

Malley said that the US is committed to resuming negotiations with Iran, but added that if the Iranian attacks are “aimed at speeding things up, it’s hard to see how that is going to work.”

He also appeared to indicate that the US may be seeking more than a return to the original 2015 deal, preferring further agreements that will address other issues as well.

The Iran deal, Malley said, “has shown that it is fragile, and we believe it can be strengthened with a follow-on deal. And we will press Iran and try to convince Iran that it’s in their interest as well to get a follow-on deal.”

“Of course, Iran will have issues that it will want to bring to the table,” he conceded.

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