Friday, February 24, 2023

02/24 Links Pt1: Melanie Phillips: Biden’s less than ironclad commitment to Israel; Congress Wants to Defund the U.N.’s Anti-Semitic Palestinian Refugee Agency

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Biden’s less than ironclad commitment to Israel
The Bidenites’ purported belief in being even-handed inevitably means they end up punishing the victim and empowering the aggressor.

Yet suddenly a fresh double standard has arisen over America’s newly tough policy of supporting Ukraine. Speaking in Warsaw, Biden said, “Autocrats only understand one word: no, no, no. No, you will not take my country. No, you will not take my freedom. No, you will not take my future. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never.”

Yet Biden doesn’t say no to the Palestinian Arab autocrats; he doesn’t tell them they will never take the Jews’ country; he doesn’t tell them that they will never have victory over Israel. Instead, he appeases them and subsidizes their murderous incitement.

Biden went on: “If Russia stopped invading Ukraine, it would end the war. If Ukraine stopped defending itself against Russia, it would be the end of Ukraine.”

But this merely appropriated the well-known saying: “If the Palestinians stopped attacking Israel, it would end the war; but if Israel stopped defending itself against the Palestinians, it would be the end of Israel.”

Yet while America believes this about Ukraine, it clearly doesn’t believe it about Israel.

Israel unfortunately needs America, not least to deal with Iran, which is now dangerously close to a nuclear breakout thanks to America’s lethal appeasement of Tehran.

Nides talks about America’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.” After the betrayals and threats of the past few weeks, this can only elicit fury—and hollow laughter.
Melanie Phillips: Tiptoeing into Israel's judicial minefield
The proposals have ignited not just massive protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but also repeated incitement to violence. This dangerously incendiary atmosphere has been incited by hysterical and misleading reporting and commentary. It is also astonishing that the Israeli government has failed to publish a comprehensive account of the details of this highly complex package of proposals in terms the public can understand.

It’s hard not to conclude, however, that this mass hysteria is in large measure the rage of the left — who have lost political power among the public — at losing the considerable power they have been able to wield through their ideological avatars in the judiciary.

But there is also deep concern about these proposals among many who are not on the left. They may agree that there’s a problem of judicial overreach, but they are frightened that the proposals will give unbridled power instead to the government of the day.

Certainly, Israel’s political system lacks necessary checks and balances. And certainly there’s a need for compromises on details of the reform package, such as the percentage of the Knesset needed to override court rulings and the need to bring an element of non-political independence into the composition of the panel that selects the judges.

It’s therefore beyond unfortunate that opponents of the judicial reforms have refused to take up offers of compromise. The reformers have repeatedly said they want to hear such proposals, but the opposition leader Yair Lapid has equally repeatedly turned down all offers of talks. On Tuesday evening he rejected the offer by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate without preconditions. reports:
Lapid last month called on President Isaac Herzog, whose role is that of national figurehead, to set up a committee to recommend a “balanced” plan to reform the judiciary. In response, the president two weeks ago presented five principles as “a basis for immediate and decisive negotiations that will arrange the relations between the government branches.”The following day, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman urged opposition leaders to meet at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to discuss the reform program. Lapid rejected that overture as well.

However, it is for Israel alone to resolve all this. It is no-one else’s business. Lawyers and others abroad should stop interfering, lecturing and hectoring on basis of either ignorance, animus against Netanyahu or their deeply held ideological belief that the rule of law means rule by lawyers, and show some humility and respect for Israel’s right to govern itself.
Jewish Democratic Council of America Attacks Israeli Government
It’s seemingly inevitable that every Democrat Jewish operation will eventually turn into J Street.

After holding a session on democratic judicial reform in Israel that would restore vital checks and balances, and the rule of law, featuring Daniel Shapiro and Daniel Kurtzer, the messenger boys for the anti-Israel policies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Jewish Democratic Council of America has announced that while “we respect Israel’s democracy, these bills would weaken Israel’s democratic institutions, undermining the independence of Israel’s judiciary and its system of checks and balances.”

Actually it’s the definition of upholding democratic institutions, like the Knesset, over undemocratic ones, like a Supreme Court which has veto power over the selection of its members and no constitutional safeguards, and claims the power to overrule any law or measure.

The JDCA press releases states that the group urges “the Israeli government to have meaningful deliberations about the serious implications of such actions. We also support President Herzog’s call for compromise to establish a broad consensus within Israeli society and with the opposition before moving forward.”

Those deliberations are ongoing. And since when were leftist governments, like the previous one, asked to deliberate with the opposition on anything, like giving away Israel’s energy resources to Hezbollah?

Or a deal with the PLO that has claimed thousands of lives and proved deadly to the existence of Israel.

The JDCA is attacking a democratically elected Israeli government on behalf of the Left.

Congress Wants to Defund the U.N.’s Anti-Semitic Palestinian Refugee Agency
Republicans in Congress are working to defund the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency, which allows terrorist groups to store weapons in its facilities and distributes educational materials that advocate for Israel’s destruction.

Legislation circulating in the House and Senate would freeze more than half a billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer assistance to the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The legislation—spearheaded by Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member James Risch (R., Idaho) and Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas)—would block further resources to the group until the Biden administration can certify to Congress that UNRWA has implemented reforms that include cutting relations with terror groups and washing its educational materials of anti-Israel agitprop.

"UNRWA has a long history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas, promoting anti-Semitic textbooks, and using its schools to store Hamas weapons," Risch said in a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon. "It is unthinkable that U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to help fund such an organization. This legislation will cease U.S. contributions to UNRWA unless the administration certifies that the agency is not affiliated with U.S. designated foreign terrorist organizations and does not support anti-Semitic rhetoric."

The legislation, which failed to pass last Congress, is likely to receive wide Republican backing in both the House and Senate, though the Biden administration is certain to balk at efforts that would disrupt its diplomacy with the Palestinian government.

PodCast: Sen. Lankford: U.S. pivot away from Middle East risks ‘exposing that whole region to China’
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), a longtime staunch supporter of Israel, was a key member in the formation last year of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus. In mid-January, around the first anniversary of the caucus’ launch, Lankford, along with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), led a bipartisan delegation of senators to the Accords’ signatory countries: Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, Lankford joined co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein for a discussion on how the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus came into being, U.S. efforts to deter Iran, China and Russia, improving Israeli-Palestinian relations, UNRWA and bipartisanship in the Senate.

Below are excerpts from the conversation.

The creation of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus: “So the caucus itself was obviously birthed out of the Abraham Accords agreement that happened almost three years ago now. [The agreement was signed in September 2020.] The formation of that agreement was so historic…the concern was, would this current White House pick it up, would the State Department keep going, or would they say, ‘Eh, it was a Trump project.’ It really wasn’t designed to be the ‘Trump accords,’ it was an agreement made between Arab nations and between Israel to be able to start an ongoing normalization. So, it really was birthed out of, ‘we need to keep this momentum going in the region.’ The Abraham Accords were built with three nations initially, then it kept expanding, added Sudan and Morocco, but it was designed to keep going, to keep expanding. And so we wanted to basically put our foot on the gas to say this is a formula for normalization in the region, for interacting with business relationships, with commerce, with energy, with water issues, with common issues just among people on it, and to get people talking to each other. So we formed the caucus, [Sen.] Jacky Rosen and I formed the caucus, and started expanding it out to other members, and said, ‘Now let’s be practical, what can we do to keep this momentum going?’”
IAF chief wraps up first official visit to Morocco, in sign of growing defense ties
The chief of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, wrapped up a first official visit to Morocco on Friday, another sign of growing defense ties between Israel and the North African nation.

After landing on Tuesday, Bar met with his counterpart, Gen. El Abed Alaoui Bouhamid, and visited the Ben Guerir Air Force Base, near the city of the same name, as well as the Moroccan Air Force headquarters and academy, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said Bar and Bouhamid “welcomed the strengthening of the existing cooperation between the two armies and discussed key military issues, including the air defense, team exchanges, and joint aerial exercises.”

“This is an exciting moment,” Bar said in remarks provided by the IDF, hailing Morocco for having “one of the most professional and advanced air forces.”

“We will act and advance cooperation and common interests, we will strengthen partnerships in training and knowledge for the benefit of maintaining regional stability,” he added.

Israel and Morocco established low-level diplomatic relations during the 1990s following Israel’s interim peace accords with the Palestinians, but those ties were suspended after the outbreak in 2000 of the Second Intifada
Senior Zelensky adviser says Ukraine to ‘stop voting against Israel’ at UN
A senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday lamented his country's recent voting record against Israel in the United Nations and vowed that won't repeat itself.

Speaking to ultra-Orthodox journalists from Israel and the United States in Kyiv, Mykhaylo Podolyak was asked about Ukraine's recent voting record at the international body, siding with some resolutions adverse to the Jewish state, namely a resolution to request the International Court of Justice to “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “annexation.”

According to UN Watch, an NGO that monitors the world body, Ukraine has supported 78% of UN resolutions against Israel since 2015. However, Podolyak claimed that the Eastern European country's anti-Israel line was influenced by discussions with European Union member states and vowed to ameliorate its voting record and "stop voting against Israel."

The adviser also added that Kyiv officials want to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit the Ukrainian capital as they view Israel's involvement in the conflict with Russia as particularly important.

He also added that Kyiv officials see a "big difference between Netanyahu's Israel" and that of his predecessors Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, and that other changes are to come down the line.

Bernard-Henri levy talks with i24NEWS on war in Ukraine

Israel Refuses Entry to Member of EU Parliament for Terror Ties
Ana Miranda, a member of the European Parliament, returned to Spain after she was denied entry to Israel on Tuesday.

She was detained for six hours at Ben-Gurion International Airport and then returned on the first flight back to Madrid.

Miranda was part of a delegation of eight European Union lawmakers who were in Israel on a diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority, according to a statement from the European Parliament. All other members of the delegation were allowed to enter Israel without being delayed.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the European Union said that “the only reason that Miranda was not allowed to enter is because of her previous attempts to cross Israel’s border illegally.”

This referred to Miranda’s participation in a protest flotilla in 2015 that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2009 to reduce the flow of weapons being imported by Hamas.

The Israeli spokesperson further cited Israeli law barring entrance to the country to people who are publicly affiliated with the BDS movement. The law was famously enforced in 2019 to prevent Reps. Rashid Talib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from entering the country.

German Court Convicts Former Palestinian Commander for Syria War Crime
A court in Germany on Thursday convicted a former Palestinian military commander of a war crime committed in Syria during 2014.

The defendant, named only as Moafak D., was sentenced to life imprisonment with little prospect of parole.

The district court in Berlin found that on March 23, 2014, Moafak D. launched a grenade from an anti-tank weapon into the crowd in the Yarmouk district of Damascus, killing four people and seriously wounding two others. The defendant had served as a commander with a group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command (PFLP-GC), an extremist organization that backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the country’s civil war.

Yarmouk — an overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhood many of whose residents are registered with the United Nations Releif and Works Agency (UNRWA) — suffered a brutal siege that began in 2012, when Assad’s forces attacked fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who had established themselves there. The siege lasted until 2015.
Why the West Bank is in chaos
Sadly, in today’s media environment, when reporters say something is “new,” it’s often merely new to them. Especially when Israel is involved, such narratives are reinforced by completely unrelated actions taken by the government that reporters find objectionable (judicial reform or settlement expansion, for example). U.S. officials weigh in, which then adds momentum to the coverage. And so these completely unrelated actions become post hoc justifications for Palestinian violence, even though the actual motivations are no mystery.

Crucially, documenting the campaign led by Palestinian terrorist groups is not rocket science. One of this article’s authors, Joe Truzman, has been keeping a running Twitter thread, in English, of the incidents and their genesis, and he is not alone in providing a reliable and easily accessible record of events. Yet this is scarcely reflected in most media coverage. The good news: This gap can be filled somewhat easily, enabling more accurate coverage of the conflict, so long as journalists want to correct their blind spots.

It might be tempting to place blame on an Israeli coalition of right-wing parties whose leaders continue to utter statements that Palestinians find offensive. But it’s also lazy. Such statements may exacerbate the problem, but they don’t alter the fact that this round of Palestinian terrorism began long before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered office. Indeed, the bulk of those 1,120 violent incidents occurred during the brief premiership of Naftali Bennett and caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid. It would be wrong to blame them, as well.

While the Israeli government continues to sustain a barrage of criticism (much of it unrelated, focusing on controversial judicial reforms), there is remarkably little analysis of the Palestinian Authority’s inability to counter the rise of Palestinian terrorist organizations in its territory. Towns including Jenin and Nablus, even Tulkarem, are still no-go zones. The Palestinian Authority appears more interested in referring Israel to the International Criminal Court on dubious charges than tackling the terrorist threat.

The violence in the West Bank and Israel is not new. Nor is it the result of Israel’s recent elections. The current narrative misses the real story. Israel is actively working to counter the surge in terrorism, instigated by Iran-backed groups seeking to destabilize Palestinian Authority territory, with a persistently erroneous media narrative that only makes the job that much harder.
The IDF's mixed-gender unit that took down a Jericho terror cell - interview
IDF Lieutenant “K,” the commander of the 17 soldiers who killed five terrorists hiding out in Jericho in February, did not feel the two bullets that hit him (protected by a bulletproof vest) as he ordered his troops to pelt a suspicious storage area with gunfire.

In interviews this week with The Jerusalem Post, K, as well as female combat soldier “H” and male combat soldier “KE,” told of how they accidentally stumbled on the terror cell, took fire, survived the face-to-face gunfight from just centimeters away, and killed five members of the cell involved in an attempted shooting at the Almog Junction on January 28.

“All I did was do my job. In most pictures, the storage room did not exist. So it was new. I knew it was necessary to check it and then I saw seven terrorists,” said K, recounting the events in his own modest way, which lead to the operational success.

His unit’s job is to check areas for weapons and provide support to special forces units, like Maglan or Sayeret Matkal, who take on the more dangerous part of a bust.

Further, K said that the intelligence they had received indicated that the area they were probing would only hold concealed weapons and that a different area being probed by special forces was where the terror cell in question was expected to be hiding.

In other words, mistaken intelligence and stellar situational awareness of quickly realizing that the “new” storage room was out of place, was what led K and his unit to make Israeli history in terms of a mixed female and male unit taking out a terror cell.
Due to massive pressure from the Biden Administration as well as from the International community, Israel just put a freeze on all the new Jewish housing that was approved in Judea & Samaria.

Does the land of Israel come from Judea or Arabia? Joshua dives deep into this topic and how the battle lines are forming right now in Israel as the Arabs are getting bolder.

‘Fast Reprisal:’ Palestinians March in Support of Lions’ Den Terror Group
In the early morning of Friday, thousands of Palestinians enraged by the Israeli military’s most recent deadly incursion into Nablus held midnight marches throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem – calling for retribution and sparking minor altercations with security forces in some places.

In response to a call for protests by the Lions’ Den terror group, demonstrators flocked to the streets in towns around the West Bank and Gaza. This unusual display of support for the armed movement came in the face of a determined Israeli attempt to demolish it in recent months.

Israeli forces had targeted Lions’ Den members during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday morning, resulting in the deaths of over 10 Palestinians and leaving over 100 wounded. The Lions’ Den is a Palestinian Islamic Jihad affiliate created last year.

After midnight, marches took place in, among other places, Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, Tulkarm, and the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. In addition, protests were reported in east Jerusalem near the Shuafat refugee camp, the Qalandiya crossing, and the a-Tur area, where recordings showed police scuffling with demonstrators. Large-scale marches were also held throughout Gaza.

Earthquake Unveils Turkey's Many Ugly Faces
The worst disaster in modern Turkey's history, the earthquake killed, as of February 15, more than 35,000 people and injured 100,000. The death toll will likely reach 40,000 or more. According to one estimate, the quake will result in $84 billion in economic losses to Turkey, more than 10% of gross domestic product.

It was not the quake that killed tens of thousands, but politics and suicidal profit-maximization behavior on individual level.

[I]n the aftermath of the 1999 quake, Erdogan said: "What broke here is not the fault line ... It is [the state's] sense of shame. This is [the result of] poor building planning and stealing from construction materials." Now that he is in power, Erdogan explains that the loss of life in this month's earthquake was (God's) fate.

As part of his election campaign in 2018, Erdogan granted "amnesty" to 7.4 million applications for unregulated buildings in return for fees, of which his government collected more than $13 billion.

More than 10,000 buildings were destroyed in the latest earthquake.

With the amnesty, contractors were allowed to skip crucial safety regulations, increasing their profits but putting residents at risk. Few buyers and tenants could guess that those permits would be their death certificates.
Turkish Company Launders Funds for Hamas, Defies U.S. Sanctions
A Turkish company that was sanctioned by the US Treasury last year over a covert Hamas financing network is continuing its operations, posting millions of Turkish lira in profit at the end of 2022.

Real estate investment firm Trend Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ortaklığı A.Ş (Trend), run by Hamas operatives, announced it had earned 57.9 million Turkish lira in profit in 2022, according to a declaration to the Public Disclosure Forum (KAP) of the Borsa İstanbul (İstanbul Stock Exchange) on February 13, 2023.

Trend, previously known as Anda Gayrimenkul Geliştirme ve İnşaat, was designated under a sanctions regime on May 24, 2022 by the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The US officials said the company was part of Hamas's global financial assets, worth more than $500 million, and used to conceal and launder funds on behalf of the militant Palestinian organization.

The Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which has been an ardent supporter of Hamas, has not taken any action against the firm or its officials since the US designation. The company, which trades publicly on the stock exchange, continued to generate income in construction and real estate investment schemes in Istanbul.

The last trade registry filing made by Trend, on February 14, announced that the firm would hold a general assembly at its headquarters in the Kagithane district of Istanbul on March 8. Its office is located in a building owned by wealthy Turkish businessman Adnan Polat in the same Istanbul neighborhood where Turkish President Erdoğan launched his political career in his younger years.

Since the US designation, the company has made some changes to the board of directors. On November 7, 2022 Hamid Abdullah Hussein al-Ahmar, the board chair, was removed and replaced by Alaeddin Şengüler, a Turkish national who owns real estate investment firm Ala. Şengüler, born to Turkish parents in Egypt and educated in Islamic sciences in Saudi Arabia, appears to have cultivated ties with Hamas over the years.

The Danger of the Saudi Nuclear Program, and How to Stop It
Last month, the Saudi energy minister announced that his country intends to develop the capability to produce nuclear fuel from scratch—in other words, to acquire the technology to build nuclear bombs as well as nuclear reactors. Andrea Stricker notes that such a plan would defy economic sense if Riyadh had purely civilian ends in mind, and warns of the destabilizing effects of the kingdom obtaining atomic weapons, or even the capacity to build them. She outlines how the U.S. could prevent such an eventuality. (Free registration required.)

To begin, the Biden administration should renew the push for a bilateral U.S.-Saudi agreement on nuclear cooperation accord in which Riyadh forgoes uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing—provisions that constitute the “gold standard” of nonproliferation. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) committed to the gold standard in 2009. If Saudi Arabia agrees, the White House should bring both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi into an exclusive club of U.S. partners, those granted major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status.

In addition, the United States should make clear to Riyadh that we will not sit by idly as Iran advances to the nuclear threshold. It should announce a new, comprehensive strategy against Iran that uses all instruments of American power to . . . deter and severely to weaken the regime, while rolling back Iran’s aggression. This strategy should seek to limit Iran’s nuclear program, rather than encourage Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region to seek equivalence.

If the Saudis refuse a cooperative approach, the Biden administration should make clear that the bilateral relationship will be negatively impacted by Saudi enrichment.

Saudi enrichment would not only further destabilize the Middle East, it would propel other nations, such as the UAE, Turkey, and Egypt, to start their own nuclear fuel-production programs and ensure the current Iranian regime never abandons enrichment. Admittedly, the Biden administration must overcome its frequent antagonism toward Riyadh to deepen its security relationship with the Saudis. But given current geopolitical and energy security realities, a stronger relationship would benefit both sides.
A new page in the Russo-Iranian partnership
In July 2022, against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin embarked on a notable foreign trip. Amid mounting international censure and growing hostility from the outside world, Putin traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials and formally usher in a new phase in the long-running strategic partnership between the two countries.

Putin’s trip to Tehran may have been the most high-profile visit by his government, but it was hardly the only one. In preceding weeks, a range of Russian officials had all trekked to the Islamic Republic in service of a singular goal: tightening the strategic bonds between Moscow and Tehran.

These diplomatic forays reflected a monumental geopolitical shift. Practically overnight, the traditional balance of power in the long-running strategic partnership had been inverted. For decades, Russia served as a key enabler for the Islamic Republic, using its global status to soften the Iranian regime’s international isolation and reduce the effectiveness of any Western sanctions levied against Tehran. But Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine and the resulting Western pressure changed everything, transforming Russia into an international pariah—and Iran into a lifeline for Putin’s government.

A post-Soviet entente

To understand just how much the balance of power between Russia and Iran has shifted, it is necessary to trace the origins of their relationship. The contemporary entente between the two countries dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Bilateral diplomatic contacts had begun earlier, during the mid-to-late 1980s, but it was not until the Soviet collapse that ties between Moscow and Tehran can be said to have truly blossomed.
Iran paper urges kidnapping of German diplomats in Tehran
The news organization controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged on Wednesday that the Iranian authorities seize and prosecute German diplomats in Tehran in response to Berlin's expulsion of two Iranian diplomats. Kayhan, the news outlet that serves as Khamenei's mouthpiece, demanded that German embassy staff not be allowed to leave Iran in response to Berlin's eviction of two Iranian diplomats on Tuesday due to the clerical regime imposing the death penalty on the German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd, who is also a legal resident of California.

The fiercely anti-Western and antisemitic editor-in-chief of Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari, who is also Khamenei's representative, urged the prosecution of an "intelligence officer stationed at the German embassy."

Shariatmadari claimed in his article, without proof, that "Sharmahd has been tasked with carrying out terrorist operations by the German government, and the action of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in summoning the Iranian ambassador and expelling two employees of Iran’s embassy is a type of deception operation to wipe off the traces of the German government’s involvement in this terrorist operation.”

Shariatmadari added that "The next step should be filing a complaint against the German government at the International Criminal Court for sending terrorists to Iran to massacre the oppressed people of the country."
Iran to close British embassy in Tehran and hit UK with fresh sanctions
Iran is preparing to close the British embassy in Tehran as tensions rise over a plot to kill dissidents and Jews living in the UK, the JC has learnt.

The possible step was revealed by Iranian officials at a secret meeting with the ambassadors of Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, we can disclose.

According to one of those present, Iranian officials told assembled diplomats that Tehran was also due to announce a range of new sanctions to hit back at Britain.

Shuttering the UK’s embassy in Iran could prove a significant blow to Western interests in the country, curtailing important espionage operations carried out by Britain, Israel and the United States, security sources have confirmed.

As Israel and the United States do not have a presence in Iran, they depend on Britain’s embassy to conduct intelligence work, the source said.

It follows a wave of sanctions announced by Tehran on February 22 against supposed members of the “UK regime” including Jewish News trustee Alan Jacobs.

Listed alongside Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Matt Jukes and an array of military figures, the Iranian government identified Mr Jacobs as chairman of the Jewish Chronicle, a role he has not held since 2020.

The British embassy in Tehran has been a regular flashpoint in recent years. In December 2022, its walls were defaced by the Basij paramilitary militia with slogans labelling it a “terrorist centre”.
US pressures UK not to classify IRGC as a terrorist group - report
Jason Brodsky breaks down reports the US pressured the UK not to list Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

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