Thursday, January 13, 2022

From Ian:

It's time for Biden to keep his promises on Israel and the UN
The Biden administration should use its seat on the UNHRC to defend the legality of Israeli operations. After all, combatting the council’s anti-Israel bias is part of how the administration justified rejoining the flawed body after President Trump withdrew from it.

During a hearing with the House Foreign Affairs Committee last June, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield argued that the United States has more leverage as a member of the council. And yet, in a response to a Rep. Ted Deutch’s (D-Fla.) question on what reforms the United States is pursuing, Thomas-Greenfield offered none, except that the United States would work with its closest partners and allies to push back when the council moves in the “wrong direction.” These are the same allies and partners that voted in favor of funding the perpetual commission of inquiry.

With its biased witch hunt against Israel, the UNHRC has clearly moved in the “wrong direction.” It is past time for the Biden administration to do something about it. The administration can begin by forcefully defending Israel’s compliance with LOAC in international fora, just as it would for similar lawful U.S. military actions. It should then publicly present its plan for UNHCR reform.

Congress should hold the administration accountable for its commitments. When Secretary Anthony Blinken heads to the Hill for budget hearings, presumably next month, Congress should demand that U.S. funding for the commission of inquiry be withheld.

Finally, the Biden administration should learn from Israel’s experience. The latest Gaza conflict underscores the need for U.S. and allied militaries to prepare for operations against adversaries that ignore the laws of war while claiming to be victims. In preparation for the type of spurious accusations Israel now faces, the United States should undertake a broad campaign to communicate effectively the legality of U.S. and allied military operations.

The UNHCR’s perpetual commission of inquiry represents yet another targeted attack by the international community on the Jewish state. It is also a slap in the face to the reforms the Biden administration has pledged to advance.

Now, more than ever, President Biden must live up to his commitments to fight this deeply ingrained U.N. bias.
In Gesture to Turkey Biden Administration Drops Support for Israel-Cyprus-Greece Gas Pipeline
The US is no longer supporting the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline project, according to a statement of the State Department that suggests the Biden administration’s interest is switching to renewable energy sources. Greek news media have pointed out this week that the move benefits Turkey, which the US is courting.

The EastMed Pipeline accord was signed in Athens by the leaders of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel on January 2, 2020. On July 19, 2020, the Netanyahu government officially approved the accord, allowing the signatory countries to move forward with plans to complete the pipeline by 2025. Now it’s not clear whether any of that will materialize.

According to Reuters, the US has expressed misgivings regarding the underwater pipeline, which Greek government sources described as a U-turn from the policy of the Trump administration.

The State Department this week issued a statement saying: “We remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe. We are shifting our focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources.”

The statement added that since Europe’s energy security is more than ever a question of national security, “we are committed to deepen our regional relationships and promote clean energy technologies.”

According to the State Dept., the US is now supporting the planned EuroAfrica subsea electricity interconnector from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland, and the proposed EuroAsia interconnector to link the Israeli, Cypriot, and European electricity grids, because “such projects would not only connect vital energy markets but would also help prepare the region for the clean energy transition.”
Legal experts: Opponents of Israel to push for ‘apartheid’ designation in 2022
‘Wind in the sails of the BDS movement’

Pnina Sharvit Baruch, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and head of its program on law and national security, told JNS that Israel’s opponents have at least one practical reason for pushing apartheid charges.

She said the two reports that will be produced by the Commission of Inquiry and the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination are designed to push the new ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, to prioritize the investigation against Israel started by his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda. Khan is more pragmatic than Bensouda, she noted, and based on his own comments, “I’m not sure he would like to put our case at the top of his priorities,” she said.

“So this would be an attempt, first, to push him into pursuing the investigation and, second, to try to persuade him to include in the investigation also claims about apartheid because apartheid is one of the crimes against humanity included in the Rome Statute,” she explained, referring to the treaty that established the ICC.

“Of course, more generally, it’s part of the campaign against Israel—to try to get more countries, organizations and companies to boycott Israel, to divest from Israel under the whole idea of the BDS movement,” she said.

She doesn’t see a way to stop these U.N. bodies from condemning Israel, noting that the United Nations has appointed South African Navi Pillay, known for her hostile views to Israel, as head of the Commission of Inquiry. She said it’s a disturbing development. “Apartheid had been considered going too far, and now there’s an attempt—it might succeed, too—to put it within legitimate criticism against Israel. I think that’s very bad for Israel.”

As for Lapid’s belief that sports and cultural events would be the first target, Shany agreed that Lapid was right in pointing out that “this is going to put wind in the sails of the BDS movement and basically render cultural, educational, sports relations with Israeli counterparts as politically unacceptable in the eyes of increasing segments of the population.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Arab Racism and the 'Jewish State'
First, Mansour Abbas did not "call" on the Palestinian people to recognize Israel. He simply stated the fact that Israel was "born as a Jewish state" and that "it will remain a Jewish state."

Second, there is no connection between accepting Israel's Jewish identity and the Islamic holy sites, including the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Since 1967, in fact, Israel has allowed the Islamic religious authorities to have exclusive control over the mosque and other Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

Remarkably, since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the city has become a haven for coexistence and revitalized religious and cultural expression for all faiths. Freedom of worship at all holy sites is guaranteed for the faithful of all three monotheistic religions.

Ironically, the Palestinian leadership's false claim that Israel is seeking to "harm" the al-Aqsa Mosque came as Palestinians made two attempts to set fire to Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, only because it is frequented by Jewish worshippers. The attempts, according to reports in the Palestinian media, were foiled at the last minute by the Palestinian security forces.

Third, the Palestinian leadership's claim that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state "contradicts religion and history" should be seen in the context of the Palestinians' denial of any traces of Judaism in Jerusalem.

Notably, while the PA says that it is strongly opposed to the idea of Israel being a Jewish state, it has no problem defining itself as "Arab" and "Islamic."

There are 56 countries in which Islam plays a significant role. Many of them are countries with Islam as the state religion.

Normalizing Terrorism? Irish Times Reimagines Mahmoud Abbas as Man of Peace, Israel as Obstacle to Two-State Solution
The Irish Times has reported on Mahmoud Abbas beginning an unprecedented 17th year in office this week as president of the Palestinian Authority — a position that he maintains despite winning just a single election for a four-year term in 2005.

The article, Abbas enters his 17th year in power amid criticism and uncertainty, written by the outlet’s Middle East reporter Michael Jansen, describes how Abbas ascended to power following the death of Egyptian-born former leader Yasser Arafat:
Abbas (86) succeeded as president veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in November 2004. While Arafat employed both armed resistance and peacemaking to secure a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Abbas focused solely on negotiations.

Some of his efforts culminated in the 1993 Oslo accord, raising Palestinian, Arab and global hopes for the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Oslo initially boosted Abbas’s position within the Palestinian movement and made him a likely successor to Arafat. He was elected by a 63 per cent majority.”

Jansen’s portrayal of Abbas as an arbitrator who has worked to broker peace with Israel is an astonishing departure from the truth. Join the fight for Israel’s fair coverage in the news

The reality is that Abbas’ long reign has been characterized by a pattern of rejectionism that has seen him turn down numerous offers of comprehensive peace agreements with Israel, including proposals that would have seen the creation of an independent Palestinian state on almost all of the West Bank and the entirety of the Gaza Strip with the eastern area of Jerusalem as its capital.

In addition, he effectively spurned US-led initiatives to restart peace negotiations in 2014 and 2016 — the latter of which occurred during the Obama administration, which was widely seen as more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Abbas has also resolutely refused to stop paying “salaries” to terrorists who murder innocent Israelis under the PA’s so-called “Pay-for-Slay” scheme. This, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians suffer as a result of the scheme due to Israel’s policy of freezing tax funds it collects on behalf of the PA to offset the amounts paid out under the “martyrs’ fund” — cash that Abbas could have used to improve living conditions in the West Bank.
PMW: Convicted murderer of 5 has tourney named after him at Birzeit University
Marwan Barghouti is an imprisoned Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated three shooting attacks in which 5 people were murdered during the PA’s 5-year terror campaign (2000-2005) – the second Intifada. After his imprisonment he was elected to the PA Parliament and Palestinian Media Watch has documented that he frequently comes out in Palestinian polls as the most popular choice for president of the PA, should elections be held.

Therefore it is not surprising that Birzeit University chose to honor him by naming a basketball championship after him. The championship was organized by the Sports Education Club at Birzeit University and reportedly “the goal of this initiative” was “to honor fighter Barghouti, one of the leaders of the student movement at Birzeit University.” [Al-Ayyam, Dec. 24, 2021]

At the championship, students played in shirts with the picture of Barghouti, received medals, trophies, and plaques with the terrorist’s photo on them, inscribed with texts calling for “leader” Barghouti’s release. The terrorist’s wife Fadwa Barghouti was present to congratulate the winners and hand out trophies. (see below)

Birzeit University lists among its “external relations” the EU’s Erasmus student exchange program, which Birzeit has participated in since 2015. The university also states that it collaborates with many European countries. Would they and the EU welcome and endorse the participation of European students in a championship honoring a terrorist murderer?
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood Seek to Shake Stability on Both Sides of the Jordan River
Hamas’ attempts, led by Saleh Arouri, to infiltrate the West Bank, worry not only Israel but Ramallah and Jordan as well. Hamas’ efforts are currently the common denominator for the cooperation required of Israel and Jordan. Israeli and Palestinian Authority forces are already operating in the Jenin region of the West Bank.

This is an opportunity to examine what is happening in Jordan. Developments there should be troubling King Abdullah II. Although Jordan is currently calm domestically, and there are no violent events like in Jenin, the Jordanian parliament is giving the king stress. According to comments from journalists close to the palace, the king views the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’ umbrella organization) as the source of the unrest.

In mid-December, the Jordanian parliament challenged the government’s far-reaching water and electricity agreements with Israel.2 Then, on December 28, 2021, a brawl took place while the lawmakers discussed changing the fundamental laws to ensure gender equality. When it deliberated whether to attach the Arabic feminine form of the word “Jordanian [Jordanienne (sic)]” alongside the masculine form of “Jordanian,” an uproar erupted that included swearing and an exchange of blows.3

Eventually, a compromise was reached, under which the Arabic feminine form of the word “Jordanienne” entered the fundamental laws.

The parliament passed amendments that enabled the king to appoint top public security and judicial officials, along with the grand mufti and royal advisers. An amendment was also approved to establish a National Security Council controlled by the king, which would handle all issues related to defense and security. But it came at a price. In an unprecedented move, the parliament removed the king as the head of the parliamentary security committee.4
Assassin Dolphin Hamas Says It Caught Continues Tradition Of Wild Claims About Israel’s Animal Spies
The various rumors and conspiracy theories about weaponized marine mammals are often fueled by the misidentification of animals tagged for scientific purposes or even outright hoaxes. It's possible the recent Hamas claims fall under this umbrella, but with so little to go on, it's hard to say exactly what we're seeing in the footage that circulated online this week.

This is not the first time Hamas has made claims about militarized Israeli dolphins. In 2015, the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds claimed that Hamas had captured a dolphin that was caught wearing a camera and an underwater monitoring device capable of firing small projectiles. Conspiracy theories about Israel's alleged animal spies have been circulating for years, ranging from attack sharks being released off the coast of Egypt to migratory birds being fitted with intelligence-gathering microchips.

Iran has made similar colorful claims in the past, "arresting" over a dozen squirrels alleged to be Iranian spies in 2007 and two pigeons in 2008 with the same charges. An Iranian senior military advisor told reporters in 2018 that specialized lizards whose skin could "attract atomic waves" were being used to spy on the nation's nuclear program.

None of these theories has yet to be proven true in any way. Israeli forces have previously faced remote-controlled underwater improvised explosive devices said to be operated by Hamas, so it's not entirely impossible that the Israeli may have sought dolphins to protect naval assets. However, there appears to be no hard evidence that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has ever pursued a marine mammal program.

For their part, the state of Israel's official Twitter account seemed to poke fun at Hamas' allegations, tweeting out a string of eight dolphin emojis the day after the footage of the supposed dolphin harness surfaced.

For now, the story of the killer Israeli dolphin reportedly caught by Hamas remains possible, but that's about it. It also could be just the latest chapter in a long history of similar claims made about Israeli's supposed animal spies and assassins.

Mossad chief Barnea meets with Libyan PM in Jordan to talk normalization - report
Mossad Director David Barnea and Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Mohammed Al-Dabaiba recently met in Jordan to discuss normalization and security cooperation, Saudi Arabian and Libyan media outlets reported Wednesday night.

The reports said that Al-Dabaiba’s office denied the meeting occurred.

In November, Haaretz reported that Saddam Haftar, son of Libyan warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, flew to Ben-Gurion Airport for meetings with Israeli officials regarding potential normalization.

Besides the meeting never being officially confirmed, assuming the meeting happened, it was unclear who Haftar met with.

On one hand, the Tevel department of the Mossad has reportedly had contacts with various Libyan officials over the years.

On the other hand, former national security council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat and his messenger, known only as “Maoz,” also reportedly had such contacts, and their handling of the file has been passed on to former Shin Bet official Nimrod Gez.

Gez had strong ties to Ben-Shabbat and supported him as a potential future Shin Bet chief before former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost power and that scenario disappeared.
Two Israeli Military Officers Killed in Friendly Fire Incident
Two Israeli military officers were killed on Wednesday night in a friendly fire incident at a base in the Jordan Valley, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Thursday.

They were identified as Maj. Itamar Elharar, 26, and Maj. Ofek Aharon, 28.

The company commanders in the Oz Brigade’s Egoz Unit had just finished a drill in the firing zone of the Nabi Musa base when they identified a suspicious figure during a security patrol along the outside perimeter of the base and fired warning shots into the air as per official procedure.

The two were then shot and killed by another IDF soldier who was nearby and mistook them for possible terrorists attempting to infiltrate the base.

Medical personnel provided treatment on the ground, and they were evacuated by an Israeli Air Force (IAF) helicopter but were soon pronounced dead.

The IDF said that the “officers were killed after a mistaken identification led to a friendly fire incident.”

The military said that it was still investigating the incident that is described as a “serious event.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday morning expressed their condolences to the families of the two soldiers killed and promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
Initial IDF probe faults lack of coordination for ‘friendly fire’ that killed 2
Army chief Aviv Kohavi vowed on Thursday that the deaths of two officers on Wednesday night, in a case of so-called friendly fire apparently following a misunderstanding, would be thoroughly investigated.

Retired major general Noam Tibon would lead a probe, alongside another to be conducted by Military Police, who are required to open an investigation into every soldier’s death.

Kohavi also called for an immediate halt to all non-critical activities throughout the Israel Defense Forces in order to discuss the recent events.

According to the commander of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, on Wednesday night two patrols from the elite Egoz Unit set out from the shooting range next to the Nabi Musa base in the Jordan Valley, separately and unaware of one another, in order to find a person who had stolen night-vision equipment from the base the day before and to prevent further thefts.

One patrol consisted of three company commanders and a soldier, while the second was an officer acting alone. Other officers on the base were informed of the two patrols, but they did not know about each other, Fuchs told reporters on Thursday.

Shortly before 11 p.m., the group of four commandos, using night vision capabilities, spotted the lone officer and believed he was an armed suspect.

They approached him and as they got within close range, he noticed them as well with his own night-vision capabilities.

Believing he had come upon a group of armed suspects, the officer apparently opened fire first, killing the two officers — Maj. Ofek Aharon and Maj. Itamar Elharar — before realizing that they were fellow IDF servicemen, according to the preliminary probe.

PA Ministry of Tourism official denies Jewish history in Israel

Commanders in Exile: Gazan Faction Heads Quit the Strip
A string of prominent Palestinian leadership figures from the Gaza Strip have, over the last year, departed from the enclave and appear in no hurry to return.

Taken from the Strip’s ruling faction Hamas and its local affiliate and rival, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the eight commanders traded in residency in one of the world’s mostly densely populated locations for sometimes opulent lives in exile.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader overseas, was the first to depart Gaza — trading the Al-Shati Refugee Camp for a hotel in Doha — Ynet reported. Initially departing due to election logistics, Haniyeh remains abroad and summoned his family to join him in Qatar.

Also now residing in Doha is Khalil al-Hayya, a former lieutenant to Hamas’ head in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who moved overseas following his promotion to manage the organization’s relations with Arab and Muslim countries, Ynet reported. Al-Hayya too remains abroad after several months and has been joined by his family.

The Israeli daily noted that three other Hamas figureheads are residing in Doha: Salah al-Bardawil, Sami Abu Zuhri and Taher Al-Nunu.

Besides Qatar, Turkey is also playing host to Gazan exiles with senior commander Fathi Hamad now living in Istanbul, from where he travels frequently to Beirut, Ynet reported.
Terror organization PFLP vows to “continue on same path” as Hamas and PFLP terrorist founders

Explosion reported at Hezbollah site in southern Lebanon
A large explosion was heard between Deir El Zahrani and Houmine El Faouqa in southern Lebanon early Thursday morning, according to Lebanese media.

Video reportedly from the scene showed a blaze with smoke rising from the site. The explosion reportedly took place in an uninhabited area. The cause of the explosion is still unclear.

According to LBCI news, a series of explosions were reported at a military site belonging to Hezbollah on the banks of the Zahrani River. No injuries or deaths were reported in the incident.

Sawt Beirut International Radio (Voice of Lebanon) reported that Hezbollah members quickly cordoned off the area and prevented an ambulance from approaching the scene. An-Nahar reported that journalists were prevented from reaching the area as well. According to An-Nahar, local residents could see flames from a distance after hearing a "very loud" explosion.

Hezbollah has yet to release a statement addressing the explosion.
Syrian surface-to-surface missile site exposed, ‘threatens most of Israel’
A fortified compound north of Palmyra in eastern Syria is equipped with medium-range and long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, a new report by the Israeli Alma Research and Education Center said on Wednesday.

The site is in use by the radical Shi’ite axis led by Iran, said the report.

“In our estimation, the medium-range missiles are of the Fateh 110 type or Shahab 1 or Shahab 2, ranging from 300 kilometers to 500 kilometers (187 miles to 312 miles). The long-range missiles are Scud D (a Russian-made missile owned by Iran, the Syrian army and also by Hezbollah) or Zolfaghar (a long-range version of Fatah 110) that reach a range of up to 750 kilometers (468 miles),” assessed the Alma Center.

“It should be noted that Fatah 110 missiles (also called M600) constitute the main array of Hezbollah’s medium-range missiles and Hezbollah’s missile accuracy project focuses on them,” noted the report.

“The missiles mentioned above can threaten almost the entire territory of the State of Israel,” said the report, with ranges reaching as far south as Beersheva.

These missiles can also threaten U.S. military positions in northeast and southeast Syria.

The report identified the Palmyra area as a significant part of the land corridor within Syria used by the Iranian-Shi’ite axis, which has heavily deployed forces there.

It’s also highly likely “that air-defense systems (probably made in Iran) were installed to secure the land corridor in general and the surface-to-surface missiles stationed there in particular,” it said.
German Court Sentences Syrian to Life in Prison for Crimes Against Humanity
A German court on Thursday sentenced a former intelligence officer in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security services to life in prison after convicting him of murder, rape and crimes against humanity in a landmark trial.

Anwar R. had been charged with 58 murders, rape and sexual assault at a prison facility in Damascus that was supervised by an intelligence unit he headed. He had denied all charges.

The ruling was the second handed down at the same trial at the higher regional court in the western German city of Koblenz. It was the world’s first criminal case brought over state-led torture during Syria’s civil war, which began in 2011.

Last year Eyad A., another former member of the Syrian intelligence service, was handed a 4-1/2 year prison sentence for abetting the torture of civilians.

“The trial demonstrates that accountability for the Assad regime’s heinous atrocities is possible — that the evidence is overwhelming and will be accepted by courts of law — if national prosecutors and judges choose to act,” said Eric Witte of the Open Society Justice Initiative, which supported several witnesses in the case.

“As much as we welcome the outcome of this trial, we must not forget that the cruelty of the crimes proved in court continues to this day in Syria,” he added.
German court finds Syrian colonel guilty of crimes

Fact Check: Jen Psaki Claims Iran’s Proxy Wars, Increased Capabilites Only Started After Trump Left Nuclear Deal
“None” of Iran’s “increased capability and capacity, the aggressive actions they have taken through proxy wars around the world” would be happening if President Donald Trump had not left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

VERDICT: FALSE. Iran was expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, as well as pursuing proxy wars throughout the Middle East, even under the Iran deal and during President Barack Obama’s administration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked by a reporter Wednesday about the ongoing negotiations with Iran, made the absurd claim above that “none” of Iran’s increased nuclear capacity or proxy wars took place before Trump pulled out of the Iran deal.

It was a ridiculous claim. Before the deal was approved by the United Nations (since Obama bypassed the Senate), then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Congress warning specifically that the deal did nothing about Iran’s proxy wars and its threats to its neighbors. Obama signed the deal anyway, and Iran expanded its proxy wars in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Trump did not stop Iran’s proxy wars, but he did make them far more difficult, thanks to sanctions that made it harder for Iran’s proxies to fund their operations, and thanks to the targeted killing in 2020 of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani in Iraq — which then-candidate Joe Biden openly opposed.

As for Iran’s “increased capability and capacity,” the ink was barely dry on the deal when Iran began an aggressive program of ballistic missile tests. It turned out that these were not, in fact, against the deal; Obama had misled the American public, falsely promising that there would be missile restrictions in the deal; the terms of the restrictions were weak and non-binding.

Moreover, Netanyahu revealed in 2018 that Iran had continued pursuing its forbidden nuclear program even after the deal was implemented. His evidence: a stunning collection of files that Israel managed to steal from Iran in a covert operation.

France Demands Tehran’s Immediate Release of French-Iranian Academic Adelkhah
Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, whom Tehran has sentenced to five years in prison but was recently living under house arrest, has once again been incarcerated, France’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, demanding her immediate release.

The new move against the Adelkhah, a researcher affiliated to Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po university whose detention had triggered a rift between the two countries in the past, comes as France and other western powers are negotiating with Iran to revive a nuclear accord.

“The decision to re-incarcerate her, which we condemn, can only have negative consequences on the relationship between France and Iran and reduce the trust between our two countries”, the ministry said in a statement.

“France demands the immediate release of Ms. Adelkhah”, it added.

Adelkhah was arrested in 2019 and handed a five-year prison sentence in 2020 before being put under house arrest.

French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Tehran at the time of Adelkhah’s first incarceration, saying that she had been arrested arbitrarily, a claim dismissed as “propaganda” by Iranian officials.

The foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated France’s position that Iran’s treatment of the academic was politically motivated.
US grants Iran sanctions exemption to South Korea
The US permitted South Korea to pay damages owed to an Iranian company, in an exemption to sanctions on Tehran that can be viewed as a trust-building step in the ongoing nuclear talks.

The US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control granted South Korea a “specific license” earlier this week to pay Dayyani Holdings, which is linked to the Iranian government. The amount has not been determined, but Seoul owes the company $63 million since 2018, which was not paid due to US sanctions on Iran.

The move came days after South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun met with US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley, as well as the Iranian and European delegations to the Vienna talks.

Iran says South Korea owes about $7 billion for oil cargo, which it has not paid after then-US president Donald Trump left the Iran deal in 2018 and imposed “maximum pressure” sanctions.

The negotiations in Vienna, which are in their eighth round, are for the US and Iran to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions until 2030.

Financial Times corrects false claim about Bennett's view of Iran Deal
An op-ed by the Financial Times Editorial Board on efforts by the US and other countries to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran (“The FT View: The shadows hanging over the Middle East”, Jan. 10) erred in the following paragraph:
As we noted in an email to editors objecting to their claim that Bennett opposes “any deal”, late last month he was quoted by Associated Press as saying he didn’t automatically oppose a deal that might emerge between Iran and the world powers, and that he would certainly support a good deal.

Our complaint was promptly upheld and the sentence revised to accurately reflect the position of Israel’s prime minister:
The original mistake is telling, as it represents the tendency by some media outlets to paint Israel – and not Iran – as the more belligerent party. In fact, on Dec. 31, the Financial Times published “FT writers’ predictions for the world in 2022”, which included this by Andrew England, warning of Israeli aggression:
After 'Death to America' chant, Iranian athletes want to cancel wrestling match
An organization of Olympic and world-class Iranian athletes urged USA Wrestling to pull the plug on its slated February wrestling dual meet with the Islamic Republic's squad after Tehran's wrestling federation called for the violent death of America.

The move, made on Sunday, also follows Iran's ban on female wrestling. One of the members of the organization is including the former head coach of Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team.

The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the letter sent by the Iranian athletic and human rights organization United for Navid to the executive director of USA Wrestling, Rich Bender.

“USA Wrestling is inviting an organization [Iran’s Wrestling Federation] whose leadership rejoices in chanting ‘Death to America’ in front of TV cameras and encourages others to do the same, if not more," wrote the former head of Iran's Greco-Roman wrestling team, Sardar Pashaei and manager of the Iranian athletic NGO United for Navid.

Pashaei, who won a world championship as a Greco-Roman wrestler for Iran and has since obtained US citizenship, wrote: “On behalf of thousands of Iranian athletes we urge you to refrain from inviting Iranian government-sponsored athletes as long as the government tortures and executes athletes, deprives women of participation in competitions, and chants “Death to America” in their media. Refrain from inviting officials and athletes who are government propaganda tools that are anti-women and anti-American.”

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