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July 23, 2014 0

New EU “Conclusions” on Israel and Gaza

The Euro­pean Union’s For­eign Affairs Coun­cil, com­prised of the 28 EU for­eign min­is­ters, reg­u­larly issues “con­clu­sions” on a vari­ety of inter­na­tional issues.  Yesterday’s “Coun­cil con­clu­sions on the Mid­dle East Peace Process” show greater EU under­stand­ing for Israeli posi­tions and an end to the EU’s patience with Hamas in Gaza.

The most sig­nif­i­cant change from the pre­vi­ous Con­clu­sions of Decem­ber 2013 is the demand that “all ter­ror­ist groups in Gaza must dis­arm” and the call for “the Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment to take charge of the Gaza Strip.”  The EU wants Pres­i­dent Abbas’s so-called “unity” gov­ern­ment to replace Hamas and main­tain a monop­oly on the use of force.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the EU con­demned Hamas for call­ing “on the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion of Gaza to pro­vide them­selves as human shields.”  Israel has been high­light­ing this war crime by Hamas and now the EU has endorsed Israel’s position. EU Flag

The EU noted that Israeli mil­i­tary oper­a­tions “must be pro­por­tion­ate and in line with inter­na­tional human­i­tar­ian law.”  How­ever, the con­clu­sions do not assert that Israel has acted dis­pro­por­tion­ately or con­trary to inter­na­tional human­i­tar­ian law.

For the first time, the EU included a para­graph about “events in the wider Mid­dle East [which] pose seri­ous threats to the EU” and war­rant a re-statement of the EU’s “fun­da­men­tal com­mit­ment to the secu­rity of Israel.”  For too long and in too many Euro­pean cap­i­tals, diplo­mats pro­moted the fal­lacy of Israeli-Palestinian peace as the key to peace through­out the Mid­dle East.  Per­haps the inclu­sion of regional threats in “con­clu­sions on the Mid­dle East Peace Process” demon­strates a new EU con­sen­sus that the Iran­ian nuclear pro­gram, the civil war in Syria, and the grow­ing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) hin­der Israeli-Palestinian peace and not the mis­guided reverse.

The EU’s “peace para­me­ters” changed with respect to refugees.  The word “real­is­tic” was added and now states that the EU expects “A just, fair, agreed and real­is­tic solu­tion to the refugee ques­tion.”  The change seems to be a nod towards Israel and an expres­sion of frus­tra­tion with the Pales­tin­ian Authority’s nego­ti­at­ing posi­tion on refugees.

Do the new EU con­clu­sions rep­re­sent a sea change? No. But the tide may be turning.

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July 2, 2014 0

European Directives Take Position on Settlements to New Extreme

 

by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

 

 

In the past few weeks, the gov­ern­ments of Spain, Italy, Ger­many, France and the United King­dom issued direc­tives warn­ing cit­i­zens of risks involved for com­pa­nies engag­ing in eco­nomic activ­ity in Israeli West Bank set­tle­ments, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, includ­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of vio­lat­ing inter­na­tional law and human rights.

These moves have been linked to the pos­si­bil­ity of sim­i­lar action being taken by the entire Euro­pean Union.  At a moment when Hamas has abused its unity arrange­ment with Fatah to resume fir­ing rock­ets on Israeli civil­ians, and news has just been released that Hamas has viciously mur­dered the three Israeli teenagers it kid­napped eigh­teen days ago, the EU remains focused on Israeli settlements.

The EU’s bureau­cra­ti­za­tion of this pol­icy points to set­tle­ments as the key issue in the Israeli Pales­tin­ian con­flict, and the obsta­cle to a peace agreement.

In real­ity, the issue of set­tle­ments is but one of the numer­ous, con­tentious, emo­tional, issues which must be resolved through direct nego­ti­a­tions, along with the Pales­tin­ian demand for a “right of return”of refugees, the sta­tus of Jerusalem and final bor­ders and secu­rity arrangements.

The new Euro­pean direc­tives stand in stark con­trast to the real­i­ties on the ground in Israel and the region.

As has become typ­i­cal of such state­ments, the warn­ing focused solely on Israel, and made no men­tion of the Pales­tin­ian Authority-Hamas unity gov­ern­ment which con­tributed to the col­lapse of recent peace talks. Fur­ther­more, the warning’s sug­ges­tion that con­duct­ing busi­ness with pri­vate West Bank-based Israeli com­pa­nies could vio­late human rights takes the Euro­pean posi­tion on set­tle­ments to a new extreme.

Israel has a track record of dis­man­tling set­tle­ments in the name of peace, includ­ing those in the Sinai as part of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, and has repeat­edly offered to dis­man­tle many West Bank set­tle­ments as part of a two state solu­tion with the Palestinians.

If Euro­pean gov­ern­ments wish to be seen as a con­struc­tive party in help­ing resolve the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, they must cease their unfair prac­tice of solely focus­ing on Israel’s set­tle­ment activ­ity, and hold the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity respon­si­ble for their own obstruc­tion­ist actions, includ­ing directly affil­i­at­ing with ter­ror­ist groups like Hamas.

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April 9, 2014 0

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media* as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

FM: Iran’s nego­ti­a­tions with Pow­ers not related to eco­nomic pressures

(Fars News Agency – April 9, 2014)

While address­ing expa­tri­ate Iran­ian researchers and uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sors in Vienna before the resump­tion of talks with the P5+1, Iran­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Moham­mad Javad Zarif said, “The Iran­ian nation has opted for nego­ti­a­tions based on its mod­er­ate spirit and its ten­dency for mod­er­a­tion and inter­ac­tions. He also added, “If any­one thinks that the Iran­ian nation has cho­sen nego­ti­a­tions due to the eco­nomic pres­sures, he/she is def­i­nitely wrong in his/her analysis.”

Iran’s over­hauled war­ship proves suc­cess­ful in joint drills with Oman

(Fars News Agency – April 9, 2014)

Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of joint naval drills with Oman on Mon­day, Deputy Com­man­der of the Navy for Oper­a­tions Rear Admi­ral Shahram Irani said, “[The] Shamshir missile-launcher war­ship is capa­ble of fir­ing dif­fer­ent mid-range and long-range surface-to-surface mis­siles, includ­ing Nour and Qader, or any other type of mis­sile after its recent overhaul.”

Com­man­der raps West for double-standards towards human rights issues

(Fars News Agency – April 9, 2014)ali-fadavi-irgc-iran

In response to last week’s Euro­pean Union res­o­lu­tion crit­i­ciz­ing Iran’s human rights vio­la­tions, Brigadier Gen­eral and Com­man­der of the IRGC Ali Fadavi said, “The ene­mies of the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion con­sider jus­tice and Human Rights to be in their right places when they serve the inter­est of company-owners, dom­i­neer­ing power and inter­na­tional Zionism.”

Zarif ques­tions EP’s legit­i­macy to preach on human rights

(Tas­nim News Agency – April 6, 2014)

Fol­low­ing the Euro­pean Union’s res­o­lu­tion against Iran on human rights, For­eign Min­is­ter Moham­mad Javad Zarif responded with: “Given the polit­i­cal weight, laws and the recent his­tory in Europe…, it is obvi­ous that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment lacks legit­i­macy and pop­u­lar­ity to preach to the oth­ers on observ­ing the human rights.”

Aya­tol­lah Ker­mani: The peo­ple of Iran will not per­mit the Euro­peans to estab­lish a new den of spies*

(Basij News Agency – April 4, 2014)

Aya­tol­lah Moham­mad Ali Mova­hedi Ker­mani, one of Tehran’s Fri­day prayer lead­ers, responded to the EU’s human rights res­o­lu­tion against Iran by telling the faith­ful that “The peo­ple of Iran will not allow the Euro­pean Union to open a new spy den in the country.”

IRGC Com­man­der: Iran to give ‘stun­ning’ response to ene­mies’ threats

(Fars News Agency – April 3, 2014)

Com­man­der of the IRGC’s elite Qods Force Qassem Suleimani boasted of Iran’s prowess over its ene­mies. “The ene­mies do not real­ize that the Iran­ian peo­ple are able to astound them. Rely­ing on its devoted nation, our coun­try will strongly con­front any threat posed by the ene­mies,” Suleimani said in South­ern Ker­man province.

Inter­na­tional Media

 

Iran’s supreme leader: Nuclear talks should con­tinue, but with­out concessions

(Ynet – April 9, 2014)

Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khamenei con­firmed that nego­ti­a­tions will con­tinue; how­ever, he empha­sized that “all should know that nego­ti­a­tions will not stop or slow down any of Iran’s activ­i­ties in nuclear research and development.”

Spain arrests four accused of attempt­ing to export equip­ment to Iran

(CNN – April 8, 2014)

One Iran­ian and three Spaniards were arrested by Span­ish author­i­ties for secretly try­ing to export indus­trial equip­ment to Iran that could be used to make mis­sile parts or enrich uranium.

Iran’s choice for U.N. post denied entry into the U.S.

(The New York Times – April 7, 2014)

The U.S. Sen­ate voted against issu­ing a visa to Iran’s new ambas­sador to the United Nations due to charges that he was involved in the 1979 United States Embassy hostage-taking cri­sis in Tehran.

Chi­nese man, Iran firms charged in nuclear export case

(Bloomberg – April 4, 2014)

A Chi­nese national and two Iran­ian firms were charged with con­spir­ing to export devises that can be used to enrich uranium.

Iran must see ram­i­fi­ca­tions if nuclear talks fail, for­mer advi­sors say

(The Wall Street Jour­nal – April 4, 2014)

Two for­mer advis­ers to the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion call for the White House and Con­gress to increase the threat of using mil­i­tary force against Iran if talks fail.

Boe­ing, GE say get U.S. license to sell spare parts to Iran

(Reuters – April 4, 2014)

Boe­ing and Gen­eral Elec­tric Co. announced that they had received licenses from the U.S. Trea­sury Depart­ment to export some spare parts for Iran’s aging com­mer­cial aircrafts.

Ira­ni­ans avoid bad luck with out­door festival

(The Sun Her­ald – April 2, 2014)

A report on the Iran­ian fes­ti­val of “Sizdeh Bedar,” the last day of the long Per­sian New Year celebration.

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