Friday, July 09, 2021

From Ian:

Palestinian Conflict Won’t Change Arab-Israel Normalization
Normalization is here to stay, and Israel is no longer the enemy in many strategic circles across the wider Middle East. Predictions of the Abraham Accords’ demise were premature. Hamas and Iran, and a long list of right-wing parties, leftist nationalists, and populist leaders (like President Erdogan in Turkey and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan) find few buyers in the region for their anti-normalization pitch.

Perceptions about Israel changed between 2011 and 2020 in regional national security circles. Israel’s reputation in technology, its precision strikes in Syria, the role of its weaponry in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, and its alleged covert actions on Iran’s nuclear program have had the combined effect of forcing some policy planners in the region to see a robust Israeli role in collaborative regional security.

In interviews with two security officials in two countries neighboring Iran in January and May last year, they said that they indirectly rely on Israel to counter Iran’s influence, which they believe they cannot do alone. Officials in the region will not say this openly, but journalists have heard variations of this view from government, military, and intelligence officials in background briefings within the past five years.

But a word of caution: Israel should not stretch its luck.

While the dynamics have changed, a repeat of the Gaza conflict, renewed unrest in Jerusalem, and fresh images of Palestinian women and children scuffling with strong-looking, impressively attired Israeli soldiers will strain the luck of Israel’s many good friends in the region, empower hard-liners, and could slow new ties.

But if Israel shows its new friends that it can deftly handle the conflict with the Palestinians, then it can expect help from its new support network in the region to pressure Palestinian leaders to enact necessary reforms, focus on opportunities for young Palestinians, and shun violence. The idea that Arabs should nudge Palestinians toward moderation is another brewing trend in moderate Arab countries that has the potential to change the Arab approach toward the Palestinian issue, depending again on how Israel plays its cards.
Austria joins Durban Conference boycott
Austria is the eight country to announce it will not participate in the Durban IV conference in New York in September, marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which was rife with antisemitism.

“Austria supports efforts to combat racism worldwide, while rejecting the misuse of the Durban process to unfairly single out and target Israel,” the Austrian Embassy in Israel said on Friday.

“Therefore, Austria abstained on the vote to hold a high-level conference in New York to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Durban conference. There will be no participation at the political level," the embassy stated.

Dutch Foreign Minister Steph Blok told the Dutch parliament on Tuesday that "the Netherlands does not intend to participate in the Durban-IV conference.”

"This decision was taken due to the history of the Durban-process, the risk that this platform will once again be misused for anti-Semitic expressions and because of the conference’ disproportionate, one-sided focus on Israel, as exemplified in the original Durban declaration." NGOs distributed rabidly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel material at the conference in Durban, South Africa in 2001, accusing Israel of genocide and questioning whether Hitler was right. Copies of the infamous antisemitic trope Protocols of the Elders of Zion were sold.

Jewish Groups Applaud the Netherlands for Skipping Durban IV Event ‘Tarnished by Antisemitism’
Leading Jewish groups welcomed Netherland’s decision to join the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Hungary and Israel in not attending the anniversary event. The European Jewish Congress praised the Dutch government for deciding to boycott the upcoming “antisemitic” Durban conference.

“We thank the Netherlands for announcing that it, like other key democracies, won’t participate in the UN’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Durban conference tarnished by antisemitism,” B’nai B’rith International commented. “The UN and the fight against racism must never be used as cover for hate.”

Commenting on the Dutch pullout from the conference, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that “no country should attend an event tainted by a legacy of Jew-hatred.”

Kaag also pledged that the Netherlands would remain committed to combating bigotry, in the UN and beyond.

“This month, for example, the Netherlands will make a national declaration against all forms of racism and discrimination at the Human Rights Council meeting. Also at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly, the Netherlands will focus in particular on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Kaag said.
The Caroline Glick Show: Ep13 - Israel's latest (happy-ish) political fight PLUS Iran laughs at Biden
In Episode 13 of the Caroline Glick Mideast News Hour with Gadi Taub, Caroline and Gadi discussed the fall of the government’s temporary immigration act in the early morning hours between July 5 and 6. The event exposed the anti-Zionist nature of the government and the stakes in bringing it down. Caroline and Gadi then shifted gears to discuss the Biden administration’s latest package of sanctions relief for Iran and how to look at Biden’s nuclear diplomacy in the face of Iranian dictator Khamenei’s decision to elevate Ebrahim Raisi a psychopathic mass murderer to serve as Iran’s next president beginning next month.It was all happiness and light as usual as our daring duo navigated a course in the dark world of progressive and jihadist business as usual.Watch, listen, subscribe to our channels and get the word out!

Israeli NGO urges UNICEF to probe Hamas, PIJ for using child soldiers
The Israel-based NGO International Legal Forum (ILF) has called on UNICEF to investigate allegations of Palestinian children being trained as child soldiers in Gaza, following a report by The Jerusalem Post.

The NGO, which is a network of over 3,000 lawyers and activists in over 40 nations worldwide, stated that they have "grave concern" following reports that the Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were training and recruiting children.

Arsen Ostrovsky, director of ILF, told The Post that UNICEF's ongoing failure to act on this issue is an "unconscionable dereliction of duty in its central mission to protect and defend children's rights."

As reported by the Post, Hamas announced in late June its annual summer camp, where it trains children to take up arms.

According to Post analyst Seth J. Frantzman, the terrorist group says the youth need to be ready to make “sacrifices,” which appears to be the language used to describe recruiting them to be killed. The speech by Hamas members said the camps include religious indoctrination and “security” training.

An English video was released by Hamas with an explanation that it intended to "prepare the youth," calling the summer camps "training camps" that were named after the "Sword of al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem)." This is the term they used to refer to the 11-day Hamas-Israel conflict in May, dubbed by the IDF as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

As reported by Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, around 50,000 children had registered.
The cautionary tale and the million-dollar question in Gaza
How do we go about efficiently allocating the EU aid in the extremely complex environment following the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas? Getting the answer right is worth every dollar of our aid channelled to Gaza, writes Jakub Kulhanek.

Jakub Kulhanek is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

It has been nearly two months since we witnessed yet another conflict between the State of Israel and Hamas, the EU-designated terrorist organization, which in effect controls the Gaza Strip. Although the fighting fortunately lasted “merely” 11 days, this escalation was the worst since 2014. The human losses and material costs on both sides are devastating. At the same time, no one should doubt that Israel was under vicious attack and simply had to exercise its right to self-defence. And now, in the aftermath, we are left with a cautionary tale and the million-dollar question: what is to be done in the long term in order to break the cycle and to prevent another round of conflict and how can we help the people of Gaza without empowering Hamas?

As for the cautionary tale, it boils down to following through with lessons learnt. The underlying factor behind the recent bout of violence which must be taken into consideration is the unabated replenishment of Hamas’ military arsenal prior to the escalation. The fact that Hamas has managed, despite widespread international isolation, to significantly boost its war-waging capabilities and to utilise them to launch large-scale attacks against Israel, is the critical conundrum which must be addressed in the long run.

The EU has expressed full support for Israel’s right to self-defence, and we must absolutely continue to do so. The wretched mindset of Hamas has been that of a terrorist organisation. Throughout the 11 days and nights, Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza were able to fire more than 4,000 rockets into Israel. Moreover, they did so using advanced equipment which allowed them to threaten Israel from a range previously unthinkable. All this was done as part of Hamas’ deliberate and cruel policy of using heavily populated civilian areas as a staging ground to launch indiscriminate attacks against Israel.

The commitment to alleviate the plight of the civilian population of Gaza through relief and humanitarian assistance has been at the forefront of EU’s strategic objectives in the aftermath of the conflict. I find it most encouraging that there is consensus, not just within the EU, on the fact that in pursuit of that goal, it is imperative that Hamas and any groups inciting violence and hatred be barred from reaching those resources and misusing our aid or funds for their malign objectives.
UN pans Israel’s ‘narrow’ definition of humanitarian aid for Gaza
A senior United Nations diplomat has called on Israel to ease restrictions that have been in place at its crossings into Gaza since the May war in the enclave, expressing concern of catastrophic repercussions for the Gazan economy if they continue to remain in place.

“Israel needs to open or ease the restrictions for the regular entry and exit of goods,” the senior UN official told The Times of Israel, on the condition of anonymity, in an interview Wednesday.

Since the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Gaza terror groups ended on May 20, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has maintained a policy conditioning the rehabilitation of the Strip on the return of a pair of Israeli civilians and the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers being held by Hamas.

Israel and Egypt have blockaded the coastal enclave since 2007, imposing tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods. Both countries say the blockade aims to mitigate the security threat posed by Hamas and stop the import of arms and materials to build fortifications and tunnels.

Since the war though, these restrictions have further intensified, and only a limited amount of materials have been allowed in through Israel’s Kerem Shalom goods crossing, such as food, medical supplies, fuel and animal fodder.

But other items such as frames to rebuild greenhouses destroyed by IDF bombings are still being barred, the UN official said, lamenting that Israel has a “very narrow definition of what constitutes humanitarian assistance.”
Bennett secretly met with Jordanian king in Amman — report
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met secretly with Jordanian King Abdullah II last week at his palace in Amman, the Walla news site reports.

Quoting an unnamed former Israeli official, the report says the meeting was very positive, and that Abdullah informed Bennett he would okay a proposal for Israel to sell more water to Jordan.

The ex-official also says the two agreed to open a new page in Israel-Jordan ties, after tense relations between the countries’ leaders during former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure.

The report comes after Foreign Minister Yaid Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart earlier today for their first meeting since Israel’s new government was sworn in last month.

Senior Rabbi in United Arab Emirates Denounces Continuing Imprisonment of Yemeni Jew as ‘Crime Against Humanity’
The senior rabbi in the United Arab Emirates has called for the immediate release of Levi Salem Marhabi, one of a handful of remaining Jews in Yemen who has been incarcerated by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since 2018.

“Levi has been suffering in the Houthi prison despite a court ruling ordering his release, just like the three Muslims who were imprisoned with him, yet only he remains imprisoned, because of his religion,” Elie Abadie, the UAE’s senior rabbi in residence, told the Gulf Arab newspaper The National on Wednesday.

Four years ago, Marhabi was convicted of assisting a group of fellow Jews who made aliyah to Israel in 2016 to leave the country with a rare deerskin Sefer Torah in their possession, which the Iranian-backed Houthis deemed to be a stolen “national treasure.”

Rabbi Abadie disclosed that Marhabi had been suffering from “many health problems and he has lost his teeth due to the brutal torture he has been exposed to.”

Abadie added that “Levi has been
Only Israel can crown Hamas victor
Probably more than any conflict in recent memory, Operation Guardian of the Walls was a war over the “victory” narrative.

Both sides, whether Hamas or Israel, ended the war claiming that it had won this round and defeated its enemy.

Nonetheless, according to polls undertaken in both the Israeli and Palestinian public, Hamas was the clear victor.

A comprehensive survey undertaken for The Israel Victory Project after the conflict ended demonstrated that Israelis by a large majority did not believe that the Jewish State had won. When asked if they believed Israel won the recent conflict with Hamas, only one third of the respondents, or 35%, said Israel.

A more recent survey, undertaken by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found that 77% of Palestinians believe Hamas emerged as a winner.

In other words, few believe on either side that Israel won.

In fact, the Palestinian survey also saw that in “winning” the war, it had gained significant admiration and support on the Palestinian street.

Head pollster Khalil Shikaki, who has been surveying Palestinian public opinion for more than two decades, called it a “dramatic” shift, but said it also resembles previous swings toward Hamas during times of confrontation. Those all dissipated within three to six months as Hamas failed to deliver on promises of change.

This is the key to this episode.

Hamas might be seen as a victor, but it is only Israel which can crown it thus.
Hezbollah claims it tipped off Hamas about IDF strike on Gaza 'Metro'
Hezbollah provided Hamas with intelligence "that influenced the course of the fighting," during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization's deputy secretary-general told local media Thursday.

In an interview to Al Mayadeen TV, Naim Qassem claimed that Hezbollah and Hamas "knew about the IDF's plans to destroy the metro and tunnel networks and the ground operation deception in the strip through a joint operations room."

Over a month ago, Ibrahim Al Amin, the editor-in-chief of the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar newspaper, said in an interview with Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV station that the terrorist organization had established a joint war room during Operation Guardian of the Walls together with Hamas and Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

He also said that officers from the three groups coordinated during the fighting in Gaza.

"Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani visited the joint operations room in Beirut twice during the escalations," he said, and added that "Hezbollah transferred weapons and ammunition to Gaza and helped rescue senior Palestinian officials from the area during that period."
US now to ‘prioritize’ pushing Israel to stop demolishing terrorists’ homes
The State Department will prioritize pushing Israel to end its controversial policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists, a spokesperson said Thursday, with the US’s top diplomat already bringing the issue up with senior officials in Israel.

The comments from State Department spokesman Ned Price came hours after the administration of US President Joe Biden leveled rare criticism at Israel for razing of the home of a Palestinian-American suspected in a deadly West Bank shooting attack, marking a likely point of friction amid efforts between Washington and Jerusalem to rehabilitate ties.

“We attach a good deal of priority to this, knowing that the home of an entire family shouldn’t be demolished for the action of one individual,” Price said when asked about the matter at a daily press briefing, adding that the US would continue to raise its concerns “as long as this practice continues.”

Price’s comment appeared to reflect a shift from previous administrations, which had not made as large an issue out of Israeli home demolitions.

“There is a critical need to lower the temperature in the West Bank. Punitive demolitions exacerbate tensions at a time when everyone should be focused on principally ensuring calm,” Price said.

Price said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior State Department officials had raised the issue with their Israeli counterparts ahead of the Thursday morning demolition of the West Bank family home of Muntasir Shalabi, who allegedly shot dead Israeli student Yehuda Guetta, 19, in May.

A Hebrew-language report Thursday indicated that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had not been aware of the looming demolition.

Palestinians start applying for citizenship under family unification laws
Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens but who have not been able to obtain Israeli citizenship or residency due to the Citizenship Law which the government failed to renew this week have begun filing requests for such standing with the Interior Ministry.

NGOs, including the Hamoked civil rights group, have begun filing requests for citizenship and residency on behalf of their clients, and are encouraging others to do so as well.

There are some 9,200 Palestinians married to Israeli Arab citizens who have the most basic “stay permits” allowing them to reside in the country but which have to be renewed every one or two years, and another 3,500 who due to special circumstances were able to obtain temporary residency visas.

They will all now be able to apply for citizenship, although since the Arab population of east Jerusalem generally shuns citizenship in favor of residency those with stay permits in the city will likely request residency visas.

Until now, the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prevented Palestinians who marry Israeli Arab citizens from obtaining citizenship through naturalization, as is available to other foreign national spouses of Israelis.
How serious are the recent protests against the Palestinian Authority?
Since the death of anti-corruption activist Nizar Banat, the Palestinian Authority has been facing widespread protests and criticism.

The PA believes that its political rivals are exploiting Banat's death to advance their agenda and undermine PA President Mahmoud Abbas's regime.

The PA's violent response to the protests has further exacerbated tensions, driving many Palestinians to step up the demonstrators against Abbas.

Even if the PA manages to quash the current protests, this does not mean an end to growing discontent with the PA leadership, whose credibility has been seriously harmed.

MEMRI: Palestinian Authority Introduces New System For Payment Of Allowances To Terrorists And Their Families; Recipients Will Now Withdraw Funds From Postal Bank Via ATMs In Post Offices
On July 6, 2021, the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced the introduction of a new system for disbursing the allowances it pays to terrorists and their families: Allowance recipients will receive ATM cards for withdrawing the funds from the PA postal bank via ATMs at PA post offices.

This move came against the backdrop of the severe deficit in the PA budget, which stood at $470 million in the first half of 2021.[1] It is also in line with the policy of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has declared countless times that the PA has a duty to pay these allowances to terrorists – whether in prison, released from prison, killed while carrying out terror attacks – aka "martyrs" – and wounded under the same circumstance, and to their families. This, he says, is a national and social obligation and will not be stopped despite intense Israeli and international pressure to do so.[2]

In the past, the PA would disburse the funds to the recipients via banks operating in its territory. However, in the past year Israel amended military law in the West Bank to define the recipients' bank accounts as "terrorist property" subject to expropriation, and the administration of these accounts was now defined as punishable by law.[3] In advance of May 9, 2021, the date on which the amendment was to come into force, Palestinian and Arab banks operating in the West Bank began to freeze the accounts of prisoners and families of "martyrs" for fear of prosecution by the Israeli authorities.[4] The PA attempted to resolve this issue with the banks, but they maintained their refusal to pay out the allowances even though they were still receiving the funds from the PA treasury.[5]

After the PA also tried and failed to establish a PA-controlled "government bank" separate from the banking system to administer these bank accounts and thus evade Israeli penalties, it began to disburse the allowances via the PA postal bank. However, this method turned out to be inefficient, and it was argued that the long waits in line and the crowding at the post office to withdraw funds was undignified and humiliating to the prisoners and their families. This led to the introduction of a "new system," based, as noted, on setting up ATMs in some post offices and providing recipients with ATM cards for them.

This report will review the PA's announcement of the new system for disbursing the allowances to the terrorists and their families and the families of "martyrs," and the PA's efforts in the past year to come up with this system.

PMW: What did you learn in summer camp today? Young boy erases Israel
A Palestinian boy who is participating in a Fatah summer camp in Nablus proudly holds up a drawing of “Palestine” that he drew at camp. The map erases the entire State of Israel.

The boy’s drawing shows the map used by the PA in all frameworks that presents all of Israel together with the PA areas as “Palestine.” “Palestine” is written at the top of the drawing, while to the north of “Palestine” is written “Lebanon,” to the east “Syria” and “Jordan,” to the west “the Mediterranean Sea,” and to the south “the Gulf of Aqaba.”

There is no Israel.

The boy’s “geographical knowledge” - which seems to have been reinforced at the Fatah summer camp - is consistent with the PA’s decade-long indoctrination of Palestinians to believe that Israel has no right to exist in any borders and that “Palestine” will be “liberated from the Sea to the River.”

An additional message taught by Fatah in Nablus to kids at the camp was the importance of boycotting Israeli products:
Posted text: “#The_summer_camps_of_the_lion_cubs_and_flowers_2021

[Fatah] #Nablus_branch

The Lion Cubs and Flowers Committee (i.e., Fatah youth institution for young boys and girls) at the [Fatah] Nablus branch launched the ‘Fire Mountains and Guardians of the Threshing Floor’ summer camp (“fire mountain” is a nickname for Nablus -Ed.). [Fatah Nablus] Branch Committee member Mai Qaradeh gave the summer camp a detailed explanation on Sunday [July 4, 2021] about the importance of boycotting the Israeli products.”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Nablus Branch, July 4, 2021]

MEMRI: Friday Sermon By New Jersey Imam Mohammad Abbasi: The Jews Are Mentioned So Many Times In The Quran Because Of The Extent Of The Corruption, Mischief, Tumult They Cause In The World; The Muslims Will Erase This Filth Called Israel
New Jersey imam Mohammad Abbasi said that the reason the Israelites are mentioned so many times in the Quran, despite there being only a handful of Jews in the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Prophet Muhammad was the extent of corruption, mischief, and tumult they would cause in the world according to the prophecy. He made these remarks in a Friday sermon at the Islamic Center of Union City, New Jersey, which was posted on ICUC NJ on YouTube on June 25, 2021. Abbasi added that according to the prophecy in the Quran, the Jews had the upper hand twice over the Muslims, the second time being in the 1940s and 1930s, when they came from Poland, America, Russia, and "all over" and established their "colonial project called Israel." However, he said, according to the prophecy, the Muslims will be victorious, and they will "erase this filth called Israel." According to Abbasi's social media accounts he is currently a CUNY faculty member, in the past he was a faculty member at Rutgers University.

In February, 2020, Abbasi said in a Friday sermon that the coronavirus was divine retribution against China for its treatment of the Uyghur Muslims, see MEMRI TV clip no 7803 for more details. Previously, Abbasi spoke at the November 28-30, 2019 American Muslims for Palestine conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Speakers at the conference included American-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour (see MEMRI TV clips 6808, 6935, and 6111); Temple University professor and former CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill, with whom CNN severed ties following his controversial comments about Israel (see MEMRI TV clip 6877); American Muslims for Palestine national policy director Osama Abu Irshaid (see MEMRI TV clips 5487, 5558, and 8580), and Hatem Bazian, of the Near Eastern Studies faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.

"Allah Said To The Israelites[:] You Are Going To Create Mischief, Tumult, Corruption In The Earth – Not In Arabia... Not In The Middle East – [But] Worldwide"

Imam Mohammad Abbasi: "This was at a time when the Jewish population in the Arabian Peninsula was a handful of people, and yet you see so much of the Quran about the Israelites. If we have any deduction [capabilities] we should be able to understand that there must be a reason for that.

"[The Quran said:] 'To the Children of Israel, in the Book,' in their book, so it is on ours now, 'you will certainly cause corruption in the land twice.' I wish I had enough time to explain to you how many ways the word 'cause corruption'... how it emphasizes the concept of fasad and corruption that they are going to enact in this one word.
MEMRI: Egyptian-German Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad: The Founder Of The Muslim Brotherhood Admired Hitler, Modeled It On The Nazi Party; In The West, MB Presents Itself As Moderate, Allies With Feminists, LGBT – But It Also Calls For Jihad, Shari'a Law
Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad said that the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al-Banna, admired Hitler, and modeled the Muslim Brotherhood on the Nazi Party. He made these remarks in an interview that aired on Al-Hurra TV (U.S.) on June 20, 2021. Abdel-Samad said that the ties between the Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al-Husseini and Hitler, Al-Banna spread pro-Hitler propaganda, and followed his example in forming the Muslim Brotherhood. He explained that the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Nazi Party, is a political party that relies on an armed militia, has an "ideology of an inspiring leader-savior," and the term used to describe Al-Banna, "guide" was borrowed from the German term Führer.

Abdel-Samad further said that Muslim Brotherhood institutions use Western terms such as "coexistence," "inclusion," and "tolerance," yet it maintains a financial network that supports "extremely radical mosques." Abdel-Samad added that the Muslim Brotherhood wants ISIS to carry out attacks, even in the West, from time to time, because this allows the MB to paint itself as a "moderate alternative" to ISIS that helps Muslim youth integrate in Europe.

He said that the Muslim Brotherhood is the "behind the Jihadi rhetoric" and that all extremist groups have emerged from the womb of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdel-Samad continued to say that the Muslim Brotherhood calls for Jihad and the liberation of Al-Andalus and Palestine, yet it does not do anything to that effect: "They incite and fight with words. That's their business." He said that the Muslim Brotherhood allies with secular Turkey and in the West, with feminists and gays, yet all the while, they say that they want to wage Jihad. Abdel-Samad added that they send their mujahideen to Sinai, Syria, or Iraq – but claim they have done nothing wrong.
With Lebanon in dire straits, Hezbollah seeks to cast Iran as country’s savior
Fuel prices in Lebanon rose Wednesday to new heights, with a single liter of 95-octane gasoline costing 71,600 pounds ($47) after a 45 percent price hike prompted by the ending of government subsidies. Even the price of donkeys has tripled over the past two weeks, compounding the severity of Lebanon’s economic crisis, which has brought it to the brink of complete collapse.

The disaster is seemingly being exacerbated by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, which is a central part of the government and holds significant power in the absence of a functional leadership. Hezbollah could even be forcing this paralysis in an attempt to subjugate Lebanon to Tehran.

Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis has unfolded since late 2019, spiraling out of control in this country of over 6 million, of whom more than a million are Syrian refugees. A foreign currency shortage has crippled the import-dependent economy, leaving residents struggling to find fuel, medicines and basic supplies. Daily power outages last for hours, threatening hospitals and food stores, and draping entire neighborhoods in darkness.

The World Bank called it one of the worst crises since the 1850s and described Lebanon’s economic contraction as brutal. The national currency lost nearly 95% of its value, plunging the once middle-income country into poverty. Inflation and unemployment have soared and waves of professionals have migrated abroad, seeking a better life.

The political crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by a post-civil war political class that has accumulated debt and done little to encourage local industries. Banks, once a booming sector, have imposed informal capital controls and depositors are unable to freely access their accounts.

Lebanon has been promised billions in international assistance, pending a reform plan to deal with corruption. But vying for power and trading blame, the political elite never agreed.
Richard Goldberg: Iran’s Latest Nuclear Escalation Exposes Biden’s Failed Iran Policy
Unfortunately, these developments were predictable when the E3 and the Biden administration decided to accommodate Iran’s stonewalling of the IAEA during the March 2021 IAEA Board of Governors meeting. The appropriate response would have been a resolution condemning Iran’s refusal to answer the agency’s legitimate questions. But the efforts to return to the flawed 2015 nuclear deal took precedence and, in the process, the E3 and United States signaled that the IAEA safeguards mission was a secondary priority.

These concessions weakened Grossi’s standing and made it more difficult for him to get Tehran to cooperate. Furthermore, the United States and E3 have perversely incentivized the director general to avoid disputes with Iran — instilling a fear inside the agency that a confrontation could be blamed for any failure to revive the JCPOA — which gives Iran greater latitude to extort the IAEA. Time will tell if the E3 and the United States have irreparably harmed the IAEA’s integrity, but they have likely weakened safeguards beyond the Iran case.

To address Iran’s latest violation, the E3 and United States should immediately call for a special Board of Governors meeting. The E3 statement hints that their patience is waning. However, by proposing the lifting of sanctions on Iran as a solution to this crisis rather than insisting on accountability at the IAEA board, the group signals weakness to Tehran.

A special Board of Governors meeting would be an opportunity to adopt a resolution that reinforces the board’s confidence in Grossi, condemns Iran’s nuclear escalation, and reaffirms that concerns related to Iran’s compliance with its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement remain separate from any negotiated return to the flawed 2015 deal.

The Biden administration and America’s E3 partners made a serious mistake by appeasing Iran’s nuclear extortion under the misguided notion that Tehran would moderate its behavior following concessions. JCPOA proponents now know that the Islamic Republic is determined to proceed with its nuclear program and will exploit any weakness. The Biden administration should restore its leverage and deal with the incoming Raisi administration from a position of strength.


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