LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/ Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 20/26-31: "A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."
Bible Quotation For Today/
Second Letter to the Corinthians 05/11-21: "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April
Lebanese state TV has collapsed, but Lebanon is yet to/Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/April 12/15
The two Irans: Radicals vs. reformists/Yakub HalabiNews/Ynetnews/April 12/15
The Iranian “Dialogue” Ruse/Salman Aldossary /Asharq Alawsat/April 12/15
Why Khamenei prefers sanctions over an agreement/Smadar Perry/Ynetnews/April 12/15
The Obama Doctrine and its unstable ‘equilibrium’/Andrew Bowen/Al Aabiya/April 12/15
Zionist Union: Israel should seek green light to strike Iran if nuclear deal violated/J.Post/April 12/15
Netanyahu: Iran needs a nuclear deal more than anyone/J.Post/April 12/15
Lebanese Related News published on April 12-1315
Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh Urges MPs to Elect President, Calls for Revolt against Negligence
Hizbullah Rejects 'Puppet' President, Admits 'Deep Differences' with Mustaqbal
Lebanon Army distributes aid to Syrian refugees
Berri to ask Hezbollah, Future to change rhetoric
Actor Issam Breidy Passes Away After Traffic Accident
Report: Companion of Osama Mansour Seized during Hoblos' Arrest
Shehayeb: Two Drivers Stranded on Syrian-Jordanian Border are Missing
2 Lebanese men killed in a car bomb in Syria
8 Lebanese Truckers Enter Jordan, Efforts Ongoing to Unveil Fate of 9th
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Pope Francis Uses Word 'Genocide' to Describe Armenian Killings, Turkey Summons Envoy
Saudi FM Meets Fabius, Says 'Not at War with Iran' in Yemen
Netanyahu: Iran deal gives nuclear weapons to most dangerous terror state
Netanyahu: Sanctions on Iran must remain
Kerry fires back at critics over Iran deal
US Capitol locked down after shots fired
Obama optimistic about Iran nuclear deal despite Khamenei's comments
Don't interfere in Iran talks, Kerry urges Congress
Iran lawmakers demand 'fact sheet' on nuclear deal
Iranians protest in front of Saudi consulate in Tehran
A de-facto alliance between Washington and Tehran
Obama meets Castro in historic talks
2 Dead, 30 Hurt in Car Bomb at Police Station in Egypt's Sinai
UNRWA Chief 'Very Worried' about Civilians in Syria's Yarmuk
Pro-Saudi Hackers Seize Iran TV's Social Media Accounts
At least 14 killed in Sinai terror attacks
Egypt Court Confirms Death Sentence for Brotherhood Head, 13 Others
HRW: Egypt Muslim Brotherhood verdicts ‘blatantly unjust’
Egypt to punish tunnel diggers with life in jail
Saudi Arabia dismisses Iran calls for Yemen cease-fire
Pakistan Minister Hits Out at UAE over Yemen Criticism
U.N. Chief Calls for Resumption of Yemen Peace Process
Former president Saleh proposing peace initiative to end fighting in Yemen: sources
Yemeni presidency considers cutting diplomatic ties with Iran: source
ISIS destroys ancient ruins of Nimrud in video
Jihad Watch Latest News
UK: 8-month-old puppy banned from Cameron’s presence as security risk
Spanish hairdresser converts to Islam, plots to bomb Jewish bookstore
Islamic State demands $30 million for Christian hostages
Afghanistan: Jihadis murder 5 aid workers, may have poisoned 100 students
Pakistan frees mastermind of Mumbai jihad massacre
Australia: Islamic State hackers take over Hobart Airport website
Islamic State supporters hack Atlantic City casino authority website
Tunisia: Museum killer “intensely religious,” stayed up all night reciting Qur’an
Philadelphia: Friend of Muslima arrested for Islamic State plot threatens attack on jail
UK: Child sex abuse cases up 60%, arrests down 9%
Turks irked at Pope Francis’ referring to Armenian Genocide
Islamic State’s Sinai Province murders six Egyptian soldiers
Bosnian village pledges allegiance to the Islamic State
India: 80 Hindu families accept Islam to save their homes from demolition
Actor Issam Breidy Passes Away After Traffic Accident
Naharnet/Actor Issam Breidy passed away on Sunday morning after a traffic accident in Beirut's al-Dora area, reported the National News Agency. It said that his Lexus collided with the separating barrier in the middle of the highway and later flipped off the al-Dora bridge.
Born in 1980 in the town of al-Faitroun, he studied fine arts at the Lebanese University. He enjoyed a successful career in theater, cinema, and television. He also studied oriental music at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music.
Berri to ask Hezbollah, Future to change rhetoric
The Daily Star/Apr. 12, 2015/BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that he will call on Hezbollah and the Future Movement to use a less antagonistic tone in addressing disagreements between the two parties. “We will ask Hezbollah and the Future Movement to express their disagrements in a less tense and calmer way to avoid tensions,” Berri was quoted as saying by visitors, in comments published by Al-Hayat newspaper Sunday. Berri said the dialogue between the two political rivals, which he sponsors, was launched with the purpose of diffusing the sectarian grudges between Sunni and Shiites communities in Lebanon. “But the mutual campaigns are increasing this tension instead of reducing it,” he said, emphasizing that the language used in statements and speeches should be “less fierce.”Despite the ongoing dialogue between the two parties, tensions surged last week after Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah launched a verbal attack against Saudi Arabia in an interview with official Syrian TV channel Al-Ikhbariya. Future Movement leader Saad Hariri’s then issued a statement condemning Nasrallah’s speech and slamming Iran over its role in Lebanon and Yemen. A rebuttal then came from MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc, who criticized Hariri in another aggressive statement. The recent developments were seen as a possible end to the dialogue, but Berri assured Wednesday that the talks will go on despite the rhetoric. “The two parties insist on maintaining the dialogue despite the media campaigns,” Berri said Saturday, adding that he will address his request for a softer rhetoric to the two parties in the anticipated dialogue session next Tuesday. The Speaker also said that he did not discuss Nasrallah’s speech with Saudi Ambassador Ali Abdullah Asiri, who visited last week, and that the discussion was limited to the developments in Lebanon and Yemen. “Berri bids on Egypt returning to its pioneer role on the Arab level,” the visitors also told Al-Hayat, noting that neither Iran nor Hezbollah had mentioned Egypt in their media campaigns.
Pope Uses Word 'Genocide' to Describe Armenian Killings, Turkey Summons Envoy
Naharnet /Pope Francis uttered the word "genocide" on Sunday to describe the mass murder of Armenians 100 years ago in a move likely to anger Turkey. "In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies," he said during a solemn mass in Saint Peter's Basilica to mark the centenary of the Ottoman killings of Armenians. "The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the 20th century', struck your own Armenian people," he said, quoting a statement signed by Pope John Paul II and the Armenian patriarch in 2001. Turkey was swift to summon the Vatican envoy to Ankara to request an explanation. The envoy had been summoned to the foreign ministry in Ankara, the NTV and CNN-Turk channels said. There were no further details but according to Turkish media reports an official statement is to be released by the foreign ministry later in the day. Many historians describe the slaughter as the 20th century's first genocide, but Turkey hotly denies the accusation. While Francis did not use his own words to describe the murders as genocide, it was the first time the term was spoken aloud in connection with Armenia by a head of the Roman Catholic Church in Saint Peter's Basilica.
"It was a very courageous act to repeat clearly that it was a genocide," Vatican expert Marco Tosatti told AFP. "By quoting John Paul II he strengthened the Church's position, making it clear where it stands on the issue," he added.
The Argentine pope described the "immense and senseless slaughter" and spoke of the duty to "honor their memory, for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester."The 78-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church had been under pressure to use the term "genocide" publicly to describe the slaughter, despite the risk of alienating an important ally in the fight against radical Islam. Before becoming pope, Jorge Bergoglio used the word several times in events marking the mass murders, calling on Turkey to recognize the killings as such, according to religious news agency I.Media.
As pope, Francis is said to have used it once during a private audience in 2013 -- but even that sparked an outraged reaction from Turkey. Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and have long sought to win international recognition of the massacres as genocide. But Turkey rejects the claims, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.
More than 20 nations, including France and Russia, recognize the killings as genocide.
Vatican expert John Allen said ahead of the mass that the "truly bold" thing for Francis to do was "show restraint" -- something the pope may feel he has achieved by uttering the word "genocide" but only while quoting his Polish predecessor.
When Francis visited Turkey in November, President Recep Erdogan offered the pontiff a pact under which he would defend Christians in the Middle East in exchange for the Church tackling Islamophobia in the West, Allen said -- describing it as "a potential game-changer."
In 2014, Erdogan, then premier, offered condolences for the mass killings for the first time, but the country still blames unrest and famine for many of the deaths. Francis said the other two genocides of the 20th century were "perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism", before pointing to more recent mass killings in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. "It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood," he said. The pope pointed to Armenia's particular importance as "the first Christian nation", being the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. Those murdered a century ago were mainly Christian and although the killings were not openly driven by religious motives, the pontiff drew comparisons with modern Christian refugees fleeing Islamic militants.
He referred once again to the modern day as "a time of war, a third world war which is being fought piecemeal", and evoked the "muffled and forgotten cry" of those "decapitated, crucified, burned alive, or forced to leave their homeland.""Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and collective indifference," he said. Agence France Presse
Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh Urges MPs to Elect President, Calls for Revolt against Negligence
Naharnet/Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh condemned on Sunday the ongoing vacancy in the presidency, questioning the motives of lawmakers in the failure to elect a head of state following 21 electoral sessions. He said during Easter Sunday mass: “If you truly represent the people, then you should elect a president. You have a holy duty to elect a head of state as soon as possible.”“Is the election of a president so difficult?” he wondered from St. George Cathedral in Beirut. “Aren't there any more responsible individuals in Lebanon who can steer the country away from its plight? The nation is more important than interests and tutelage to foreign powers,” he continued. “The nation is more important than the pursuit of power,” Audeh declared. “I call on all sides to rebel against this reality, political feudalism, and ignorance. I call on all to return to their conscience,” he stated. “I call for adopting knowledge in the face of ignorance, light against darkness, and morality against immorality,” he added. Addressing the rise of Islamic extremism in the region, the archbishop said: “We must stand united to avert the regional unrest from reaching our country.” “Some civilizations are facing the threat of extinction due to extremism. Is the destruction of places of worship and signs of civilization a form of religion?” he wondered. “Religion is not a political ideology, but the belief in God,” Audeh emphasized. “Extremism and the persecution of the other will destroy the soul and tarnish religion,” he noted. Turning to Muslims, he said: “You should stand firmly against waves of takfiris and extremism. Only God will be my judge.”“If Christians are driven out of the region, what identity will the East have without them? Everyone knows that Christians are deep-rooted in this region. Is an East lacking in religious diversity capable of interacting with the West?” he asked in reference to the persecution of minorities at the hands of the Islamic State extremist group. He therefore emphasized the need to respect the beliefs of others and the need to safeguard this principle. “Real faith should not be a reason for division. Only those who believe in God can save the nation and a real believer cannot live isolated from other groups,” he remarked. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the polls.
Hizbullah Rejects 'Puppet' President, Admits 'Deep Differences' with Mustaqbal
Naharnet /Hizbullah announced Sunday that it does not want a president who would be a “front for foreign countries,” as it stressed that dialogue will continue with al-Mustaqbal movement despite the “deep differences.” “We want the election of a president for Lebanon and all Lebanese, a president who would should his national responsibilities and who would not be a front for any side or state or a puppet for implementing the plots of others,” head of Hizbullah juristic council Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek said at a memorial service in Bouday. The presidential seat has been vacant since May 25, 2014 due to the parliament's failure to elect a successor amid political disputes and electoral rivalry. The MPs of Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement boycotted 20 electoral sessions, preventing the formation of the needed quorum for the election of a president. Hinting at FPM leader MP Michel Aoun -- Hizbullah's declared candidate – Yazbek said “there is a figure who is capable of achieving this country's rise.” “But those who heed the instructions of foreign forces do not want the election of this president,” the senior Hizbullah official lamented. Meanwhile, MP Ali Fayyad of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc noted Sunday in the southern town of Ainata that “despite the escalation and insults in the media,” Hizbullah does not want the Lebanese arena to “plunge once again into tensions and crises.”“There is a need for pacification and we are keen on dialogue because it is a Lebanese need,” Fayyad added. A war of words had erupted between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal against the backdrop of the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels. The exchange of tirades, however, did not affect the dialogue that started on December 21 between the two parties. Dialogue “has not lost its importance despite the deep differences over the regional issues,” Fayyad underlined.
“Regardless of all this noise and the crises that are hitting the region … the eye of the resistance remains on the Israeli enemy,” the MP added.
2 Dead, 30 Hurt in Car Bomb at Police Station in Egypt's Sinai
Naharnet/A suicide car bomb targeting a police station in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula on Sunday killed two people and wounded 30 others, police and medics said. The bombing came hours after a roadside blast targeted an army vehicle killing six soldiers and wounding two in the peninsula, where security forces are battling an Islamist insurgency. One of the two killed in the suicide car bombing was a civilian, and several policemen were among those wounded, medics said. Police said the attacker drove a truck loaded with explosives but covered with straw and detonated it close to the police station in North Sinai's provincial capital of El-Arish. The facade of the police station was damaged, police said, adding that several nearby buildings also suffered damages. Agence France Presse
Saudi FM Meets Fabius, Says 'Not at War with Iran' in Yemen
Naharnet/Saudi Arabia called on Iran to stop supporting Shiite rebels in Yemen on Sunday but Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal insisted Riyadh was not at war with Tehran. "Unless Iran thinks it is suddenly become part of Yemen, we are not at war with Iran," he said at a press conference with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius. But he also called on Tehran not to "assist the criminal activities" of the Huthi rebels "against the legitimate order of Yemen and (to) stop the delivery of weapons and aid" to the militiamen. Fabius, who met with King Salman and other top Saudi officials during a visit to Riyadh, said France was ready to work on resolving the crisis in Yemen. "France has expressed its readiness to find a solution" for Yemen, he said. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of several Arab countries which since March 26 has carried out air strikes against the Huthis, who overran the capital Sanaa in September and have expanded to other parts of Yemen. Riyadh fears the rebels would take over the entire country and move it into the orbit of Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia's regional rival. Saud said the kingdom intervened at the request of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the Huthi advance for Riyadh. Iran has rejected accusations of arming the rebels and its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the coalition's efforts as "criminal acts." Turning to the Iranian nuclear file, Fabius said important questions have not been settled and "there remains work to do" before a final deal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "What has been concluded is positive," Fabius said of the framework agreement reached early this month between Tehran and six major powers including France. It marked a major breakthrough in a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West, which fears Tehran wants to build an atomic bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.In exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear capabilities the accord would lift international sanctions. A final deal is to be reached by June 30. There must be "no possible military dimension" and there remains also the question of sanctions -- their lifting, or re-establishment if Iran violates its commitments, Fabius said. "These two questions are not settled and there remains work to do," Fabius said. "France hopes for a solid and verifiable agreement." Saudi Arabia fears that if too much of Iran's nuclear program is left intact Tehran will still have the ability to obtain an atomic bomb, and there are concerns that Riyadh could seek its own nuclear capability. "We agree in saying that a final pact must be clear so that nothing is hidden and that the Gulf remains free of all weapons of mass destruction," Saud al-Faisal said. Agence France Presse
Obama optimistic about Iran nuclear deal despite Khamenei's comments
US President Barack Obama expressed optimism on Saturday that major world powers and Iran could finalize a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program despite strong words this week from the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.Obama downplayed Khamenei's demands that a final deal result in an end to all sanctions on Iran, telling reporters at the Americas summit in Panama that Khamenei and others in Iran were addressing their own internal politics. "Even a guy with the title 'Supreme Leader' has to be concerned about his own constituencies," Obama said. "There may be ways of structuring a final deal that satisfy their pride, their optics, their politics, but meet our core practical objectives," Obama said at the news conference. Iran and world powers reached a framework nuclear agreement on April 2 that would require Iran to shut down parts of its nuclear program that could be used to build a bomb, and accept intrusive inspections, in exchange for the West lifting economic sanctions. Negotiators need to finalize technical details by June 30. "What I've always said, though, is that there's the possibility of backsliding," Obama said, noting the final deal would require tough talks and may not result in a deal that he would sign. But he blasted some US Republican senators who have argued against the deal, including Arizona Senator John McCain, who told a conservative radio show this week that he found Khamenei's interpretation of the deal more credible than that of Secretary of State John Kerry, who has said sanctions would be lifted in phases and "snap back" in place if the deal is violated. "That's not how we're supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who is president or secretary of state," Obama said. Obama said he has talked to the top Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate Foreign Relations committee about the role for the US Congress in assessing the final deal. Kerry is expected to brief lawmakers this week. "What I'm concerned about is making sure that we don't prejudge it, or those who are opposed to any deal whatsoever try to use a procedural argument essentially to screw up the possibility of a deal," Obama said.
Netanyahu: Iran deal gives nuclear weapons to most dangerous terror state
By TOVAH LAZAROFF/04/11/2015
Iran would have nuclear weapons capacity under the terms of the framework deal with the six world powers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Saturday night, adding that he hopes the deal will not come to fruition.
“I truly believe that we are also talking about the security of the world,” he said, during a Mimouna celebration in Or Akiva. “The most dangerous terrorist state in the world shouldn’t receive the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Therefore, we are committed to try to avoid a bad agreement and replace it in good agreement.”
Out of the many challenges facing Israel, the greatest is Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said.
All the problematic details of the framework agreement, which he warned the international community about in advance, were indeed included in the document, Netanyahu said.
“This deal gives the world’s leading terrorist state a safe path to the bomb that threatens Israel, the Middle East and the world,” Netanyahu said.
“It leaves Israel with significant nuclear capabilities, it doesn’t dismantle them, it preserves them,” Netanyahu said.
The supervision is not serious and there is no control mechanism, Netanyahu said.
Under the framework agreement sanctions would be removed immediately even though Iran continues its aggressive policies against Israel, throughout the Middle East and the world, he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and other senior US officials are to brief Congress this week on the framework deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, reached earlier this month in Switzerland between Iran and the P5+1 world powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany). The final agreement is to be worked out by the end of June.
As an example of how far apart the sides still are, on Thursday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say for Iran on the deal, ruled out any “extraordinary supervision measures” over nuclear activities and said military sites could not be inspected.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday he would sign a deal only if sanctions were lifted.
“We will not sign any deal unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day.... We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks,” Rouhani said. “The Iranian nation has been and will be the victor in the negotiations.
“Our main gain in the talks was the fact that US President Barack Obama acknowledged that Iranians will not surrender to bullying, sanctions and threats. It is a triumph for Iran that the first military power in the world has admitted Iranians will not bow to pressure.”
Ambiguities over the lifting of sanctions must be resolved, said Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to Fars News.
“There are ambiguities which need to be made clear and we must realize that this very issue of how the sanctions will be removed can lead to a lack of agreement,” Ali Jafari said.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Friday told reporters in Panama that sanctions would be lifted only gradually and that military sites would have to be inspected.
Rhodes chalked up Tehran’s statements on sanctions and military inspections to the need to play to hard liners in Iran.
The test of the deal is not in the statements Iranians make, but what is written in the document that is expected to be finalized in June, Rhodes said.
“I think it’s very clear and understood that sanctions relief will be phased with respect to Iran; that they will have to conduct certain...take certain steps as a part of earning the continued provision of sanctions relief,” Rhodes said.
He clarified that the past UN Security Council resolutions on Iran would be replaced by a new resolution that would endorse the deal. It would freeze the sanctions, not dismantle them, so that if the deal were violated they could snap back into place, he explained. It would preserve existing sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missiles and sensitive technologies.
The final deal has to be consistent with the framework agreement, he said, adding that otherwise “there won’t be a deal. But I’m confident that there is going to be the ability to work hard and complete this work if Iran continues to show a will to get this done.”
He defended a White House tweet, posted Thursday in favor of the deal, that employed a variation of the cartoon of the Iranian bomb threat displayed by Netanyahu before the UN General Assembly. The White House graphic showed a pair of scissors cutting the bomb’s fuse.
Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium would be eliminated under the first step of the agreement and a stockpile of lower enriched uranium would be mostly eliminated as well, Rhodes said.
“Just as we’re also aiming to cut off the various other pathways to a nuclear weapon that Iran could pursue, so I don’t think anybody should be surprised that the United States and Israel, despite our very strong alliance and friendship and cooperation on many issues, are going to continue to be public in terms of expressing our views of the Iran deal,” he said.
“And we’ll be making our case, just as Prime Minister Netanyahu and his administration have regularly made their views known.”
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told CNN on Saturday morning that a military option remains on the table, should the deal fall apart. He said that bunker-busting bombs, meant to penetrate Iran’s underground facilities, are “ready to go.”
“We have the capability to shut down, sit back, and destroy the Iranian nuclear program and I believe the Iranians know that and understand that,” Carter said, indicating the US’s willingness to utilize high-powered bombs if Tehran does not abide by the deal.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
The two Irans: Radicals vs. reformists
Yakub Halabi, i24 News/Ynetnews
Published: 04.12.15, 00:45 / Israel Opinion
Analysis: The Supreme Leader and President Rouhani share almost no common ground on how to define Iran’s national security -and the nuclear deal only highlights this. For the outside world, Iran seems to be ruled by a cohesive, monolithic regime. The domestic political reality within Iran is nonetheless much more complex. Iranian politics have always been characterized by two opposite ideologies: the anti-Western and anti-Sunni set and the pragmatist, reformist one. Based on these ideologies, the Iranian authorities are split between the Revolutionary Council headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani and his ally former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. These two groups share almost no common ground on how to define Iran’s national security and interests, let alone the instruments to achieve these goals.
The agreement between Iran and the P5+1 states will only raise the tension to new heights between these two camps over Iran’s foreign policy towards the West and the Sunni world. On the one hand, the radical conservatives - headed by Khamenei, the head of the Council of the Islamic Revolution, Mohammed Jafari, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, and general Qassem Suleimani, the head of al-Quds Forces - have developed the perception that Iran is besieged by a sea of Sunni and Western states who aspire to weaken Iran and topple its conservative regime. In their view, the elimination of one of its allies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, will lead to a domino effect in which the Assad regime would fall and lead to the triumph of Sunnis over Shiites in Iraq. This domino effect would culminate in the fall of Tehran and the toppling of the Shiite revolutionary regime. In this geo-strategic game, General Suleimani was assigned the role of expanding Iran's sphere of influence and preempting the domino effect from taking place.
In this view, Saudi Arabia's attempt at increasing the glut in the oil supply, whereby the price of oil is artificially halved, is aimed at destroying Iran’s economy. The Iranian leadership thinks that a nuclear bomb in the hands of the Revolutionary Guards is the best insurance policy against any intervention of the West in the domestic affairs of Iran.
On the other hand, the reformists are convinced that Iran’s security and democracy are intertwined and that openness to the West and putting an end to the UN regime of sanctions will ensure the security and prosperity of the nation. The reformists and conservatives also differ over the role of the army, the transparency of the democratic institutions, the status of women and their equality with men, and Iran’s interference in the domestic affairs of regional states such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon and its relations with West.
The reformists oppose the conservatives’ repetitive attempts at manipulating the presidential elections, hinting at the latter's role in rigging the elections in 2009 in order to keep the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power and use the Revolutionary Guards to suppress the demonstrators who contested the results. They also oppose using the al-Quds Forces for having kept the Assad regime in power.
In Iran’s political system, the Revolutionary Council and the Supreme Leader sit above the elected parliament and president. Under these conditions, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, needed to reach an agreement that not only could be ratified by the Iranian parliament, but more importantly one that would be acceptable to Khamenei and his conservative allies. It’s not surprising that the latter condemned the agreement as being bad for Iran. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called the agreement a bad one (but for totally different reasons) and called for tougher sanctions on Iran. This policy, however, plays into the hands of the radicals in Iran. It strengthens their perception that Iran is under siege by the West, Israel and the Sunni world and that a nuclear bomb would fend off any foreign intervention in its internal affairs. Iran could not only develop a nuclear bomb under tough sanctions, but tougher sanctions would even prompt the conservatives to accelerate the process of enriching uranium. The West should therefore be guided by the principles of strengthening the reformist camp and broadening its public support by improving the economic conditions in Iran and simultaneously making sure that the conservatives do not proceed in developing the nuclear bomb once sanctions are lifted.
**Yakub Halabi is an Arab citizen of Israel, assistant professor of international relations and fellow at the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
Iranians protest in front of Saudi
consulate in Tehran
By JPOST.COM STAFF /04/11/2015/Some 500 Iranians protested in front of the Saudi consulate in Tehran on Saturday amid tensions between the two countries over influence in Yemen and reports of abuse against two Iranian pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported.Saudi officers have been accused of sexually harassing two Iranian teenage boys at at the airport in Jeddah. The demonstrators chanted anti-regime slogans as they called for the embassy to be shut down and for justice for those alleging the abuse. They also urged Iranian pilgrims to stop visiting Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Protestors, who demanded an apology from the Saudi government, clashed with police forces after trying to climb the embassy walls during the demonstration, which lasted just under four hours. The Islamic Republic's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Saudi Arabian charge d'affaires to Tehran over the incident, and has issued a formal complaint with the Saudi government. Officials in Sunni kingdom have launched an investigation into the police officers accused of indecent behavior towards the teens, aged 14 and 15, according to IRNA, Iran's official news agency. Tensions between the two regional powers have flared as Saudi Arabia continues to launch air strikes against the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen -- a military campaign Iran's leadership rejects. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia blocked an Iranian flight carrying 260 pilgrims from Saudi airspace because it had not got prior clearance.
The Iranian “Dialogue” Ruse
Salman Aldossary /Asharq Alawsat
Sunday, 12 Apr, 2015
Since March 2013 talks between Yemen’s different factions have been seesawing in tempestuous fashion, and the disparate outlooks and slogans of all these groups have resulted in a deadlock. Throughout this whole period the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been present in one way or another, supporting dialogue between all these different factions either directly through the Gulf Initiative or through sending its representatives to the country to ease this turbulent process. Even when the Houthis eventually declared their coup the Gulf states continued to support dialogue in Yemen, despite their own misgivings about the Houthi movement as a matter of principle, in order to take the country out of the dangerous impasse it had reached. But then things got even worse after the Houthis approached these talks in their customary underhanded manner and chose to ignore the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference—which had developed a new political roadmap for the country—and chose to enter into a direct armed conflict with the Yemeni people, a conflict which then led to Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launching Operation Decisive Storm against the Iran-backed Shi’ite movement.
But now, and all of a sudden, Iran is crying “dialogue!” and calling for talks between the different factions to restart—after it supported the group which led to the initial breakdown of that very process. Tehran is also calling for an end to the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. Does Tehran not ask itself where it was throughout those long years when Yemen was slowly breaking down, and whether its recent actions have helped or harmed the country? And why is it only calling for dialogue now, after the losses its Houthi ally has incurred following the strikes?
No one wants this war to continue, and all those involved in Operation Decisive Storm are aware that it is in their best interests, as well as those of the people of Yemen, that this offensive ends as soon as possible. However, ending this military offensive before it has achieved its goals and genuine dialogue restarts constitute a (rather obvious) piece of sleight-of-hand by the Islamic Republic, with the aim being for the Houthis to continue their takeover of the country. Iran’s calls for dialogue are therefore completely disingenuous; its ploy here is obvious: to put an end to the operation and return the situation in Yemen to what it was just prior to the strikes. But none of this has gone over the heads of the members of the anti-Houthi coalition. Now even the Houthis themselves have started playing this selfsame game, promising to return to the table if the strikes cease. But the Houthis do not acknowledge the legitimate and internationally recognized political authority in the country, represented by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, nor do they recognize the outcomes of the Gulf Initiative which all Yemeni political groups agreed upon. So all this latest talk about dialogue by the movement and its main sponsor in Tehran is nothing but a weak tell by which they have both exposed their hand for all to see: in reality, they simply wish to continue the current crisis through subterfuge.
Morteza Sarmadi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s special envoy, recently conducted a whistle-stop tour of a number of Arab capitals, in a bid to convince the political powers there to put a stop to the strikes against the Houthis. During his fourth stop, in Tunisia, Sarmadi said his country was keen to hold talks with Saudi Arabia over the current crisis in Yemen, insisting that Tehran was “ready for dialogue.” Would it that any of the leaders in those countries which Sarmadi visited had replied to this by saying: “Saudi Arabia neighbors Yemen, and so its concern, and that of the other Gulf countries, regarding Yemen is obvious and warranted. Where, though, does Iran fit into this equation so that Riyadh can enter into talks with it on this matter?” The reality is that Iran’s latest calls and efforts prove, without a shadow of a doubt, its interference in the internal affairs of Arab states once again—unless of course Tehran actually believes it is an Arab country, or that Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are Persian ones.
If Iran is genuine about ending the war in Yemen, all it need do is convince its Houthi ally to acknowledge the legitimate political authority in Yemen, return all weapons seized from the state back to their rightful place, and end its shameless coup. This is the only way that any real dialogue in the country can restart. As for Iran’s machinations, well, the countries of the region have had enough of them, and they are so obvious and exposed now, that it is frankly ludicrous if Tehran believes anyone is fooled any longer.
The only thing really left to say on this matter can be summarized by reprising the words of the Iranian regime itself via its special envoy Sarmadi. He says that Iran “will not waste any effort in helping put out the fires of war in Yemen.” If only Tehran would expend the same amount of effort to end the war in Syria, where its destructive involvement, through sending weapons and fighters to the country, has been ongoing for the last four years.
Why Khamenei prefers sanctions over an
Smadar Perry/Ynetnews/Published: 04.12.15/Israel Opinion
Analysis: If the economic race into Iran gets out of control, a new generation will suddenly have jobs and cash and will seek to settle the score with the ayatollah regime.
Who should we believe? US President Barack Obama, who promises the New York Times that "Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch"? Or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, who announces that, first of all, there will be no agreement unless all sanctions are lifted and, secondly, Iran will not let foreign inspectors move freely between its legs?
By June 30, we will have read and heard other troubling details. Obama will speak to his audience, while Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will play the "bad guy" and the "good guy" in front of the world. The former will threaten and the latter will make promises. These two don't have to convince the common people. They are transparent to the government, they are dreamers, and they won't get in the way.
Khamenei is not interested in an agreement which will serve Rouhani, who is already striving to secure his second term as president thanks to the agreement. The target audience of the ruler and president focuses on the ayatollahs, the religious centers of power, and the Revolutionary Guards commanders, who preserve the regime and do its dirty work in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
With or without an agreement, the economic race has already kicked off. Take note of the most courted minister in Tehran, Bijan Namdar, who is in charge of the oil fields. The keys are in his hands, the decisions are in Khamenei's bureau. Travel agencies are reporting that there are no available seats on flights from Dubai to Tehran. Businesspeople and owners of large companies in Europe are looking for contacts in the Gulf emirates to get them into the Iranian market before the great onrush. Whoever succeeds in infiltrating the market will make billions.
Because of the sanctions, oil exports fell to 700,000 barrels a day, and Iran is indicating to the oil companies that it is capable of producing 3 million barrels. Because of the sanctions, they need electrical appliances, cars and trucks, and spare parts for planes. They just need investors to come in and revive tourism: Roads, new hotels, restaurants and travel agencies.
Obama himself admits that it will be difficult to maintain the sanctions even if an agreement is not reached. In my not so wild imagination, I even see Israeli businesspeople packing their bags. They don't have to get in. They just need someone to get a foot in the opening door for them.
A major manufacturer from the Arab world, who owns luxurious offices in a big city in Europe, has made sure to maintain his business contacts in Tehran even when the United States shut down the banking activity. This manufacturer and his Israeli partner are now dreaming of reaping the fruit. A moment after an apparent gradual or full removal of the sanctions, they will wake up their partners in the Gulf and send them to Tehran.
It won't be simple. One has to know how to do business in the Persian bazaar. One also has to know who to embrace and what will be the Revolutionary Guards' part. The Guards have offices of "interests" in the Gulf emirates in order to gain a profit from every deal.
I definitely believe that Khamenei prefers to go on with the sanctions without an agreement and not to make any concessions. I don't even see a tiny sparkle of enthusiasm in him. On the contrary: Iran is demanding a full removal of the sanctions, but in the same breath it is not preparing for a real revolution. Its face may change like in an operation performed by an amateur plastic surgeon. If the gates are opened in an uncontrolled manner and the market is flooded with investors and billions, it could shake the ayatollahs' regime.
Every year, Iran throws thousands of university graduates into the unemployment circle. Suddenly they will have a job. Suddenly there will be cash. A new generation will seek to settle the score with those who oppressed and kidnapped people into prisons, who violently interrogated and tortured and executed people in the squares.
Khamenei is in no rush. As far as he is concerned, the world can run after him and sweat. He has a lot to lose on his watch if the economic push into Iran gets out of control.
Lebanese state TV has collapsed, but Lebanon is yet to
Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya
Sunday, 12 April 2015
Lebanon’s state-owned television channel Tele Liban’s act of broadcasting Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s recent interview, which had the aim of launching a campaign against Saudi Arabia, was insulting for Lebanon, the Lebanese people and every Arab who has any sense of loyalty and dignity.
Lebanon involved itself in an affair that it has nothing to do with. It broadcast an interview which Nasrallah was holding with the Syrian al-Ikhbariya television channel affiliated with the Syrian regime. Tele Liban made two mistakes. Its first was accepting to be used to settle Iranian scores with Saudi Arabia and the second mistake is accepting to be an exact copy of Syrian regime channels.
This shows that the Lebanese information minister who is supposed to supervise the television channel has nothing to do with media. It also shows that those who directly supervise the channel are mostly media amateurs. What forced those supervisors, beginning with the head of the board of directors right down to the rest of them, to make this connection with a channel which markets for a regime that slaughters its own people every day?
A need to mitigate tension
It’s well-known that Nasrallah has to appear on such Syrian television channels. There’s an Iranian need to mitigate tension, amid regime supporters in particular, especially after Syrian officers began to suspect Iranian domination in their country. This domination is militarized and political. It includes all decisions linked to Syria’s future as all major decisions are made in Tehran and not in Damascus.
Perhaps what best expresses this reality is what happened to Syrian political security chief Rustom Ghazaleh. Ghazaleh refused to turn over his villa in Qarfa, close to Daraa, to the Iranian revolutionary guards, and instead released a video of his house being blown up.
There’s more to the act of Tele Liban’s broadcast of Nasrallah’s interview with a Syrian channel as it shows the amount of Hezbollah’s control over state-institutions and it also says a lot about the party’s behavior.
Only very few supervisors at Lebanese institutions dare say “no” to Hezbollah who is at the end of the day a brigade in the Iranian revolutionary guards. He who doubts that can ask himself what is Lebanon’s interest in making the state-owned television serve Iran? Would this have been possible if Hezbollah hadn’t turned into a state while the Lebanese republic is a statelet within the state? Iran once again confirmed that it considers Lebanon as an integral part of the axis which extends from Tehran to Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon. This axis passes through Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.
Hezbollah’s concern in the past few years was to isolate Lebanon from its Arab surrounding. There are declining Arab tourists, visitors and investors in Lebanon. What’s required is to spread misery in Lebanon in order to facilitate controlling it and its institutions.
Assassinating former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was not an “incident” like Nasrallah usually says – Nasrallah also used this term again during his recent interview. The crime of assassinating Hariri was a turning point in a process aiming to control Lebanon. It was a step on the path towards emptying Lebanon of Arab influence and harming the economy in order to increase the number of unemployed Lebanese arriving in the country after having to leave the Gulf.
Nothing happens by coincidence in Lebanon and this includes the exit of the Syrian army troops from Lebanon as they were replaced by Hezbollah who quickly filled the security and military vacuum.
Is it coincidence that Hezbollah was not interested in directly being a part of the Lebanese government during the era of Syrian tutelage? It only insisted on being directly involved in the government after Hariri was assassinated. It wanted to brazenly show that the same tutelage had been transferred from the Syrians to the Iranians.
What we witnessed on Tele Liban was a new chapter from among the many coup chapters which began with assassinating Hariri who had connected the Gulf Arabs to Lebanon and vice versa. Hezbollah - with Iran behind it of course – is still working on ending this historical link and categorizing Lebanon differently.
Hezbollah’s cabinet which was headed by a Sunni figure from Tripoli – Najib Miqati – was a prominent and major chapter in this coup. During the era of this government’s rule, imposed by the power of illegitimate arms, there was official silence over all threats directed to any Gulf residents who visited Lebanon. Hezbollah’s government did not take any decisive stances towards “the military wing” of any family. It was also during the era of Miqati’s government that visas became no longer required for Iranians who desire to visit Lebanon.
The Iranian trap
Iran’s policy in Lebanon, implemented through an armed sectarian militia, was thus taken to a whole new level. Then came the phase of inciting acts which threaten the livelihood of Lebanese residents in the Gulf, beginning in Saudi Arabia. There’s great hope that Gulf countries will avoid responding to Nasrallah’s statement as excluding any Lebanese who works in the Gulf would be tantamount to falling prey to the Iranian trap. Iran has nothing to offer to the Lebanese people other than arms and perhaps some money that can compensate for destroying the economy’s chances of becoming productive.
What Tele Liban did was a major nosedive. Hezbollah may have used Tele Liban to respond to the official Lebanese stance as expressed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam during the recent Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh. Salam’s stance of course expressed that Lebanon is a country that respects itself and is a founding member of the Arab League.
Ten years ago, Hariri was martyred for the sake of Lebanon and for the sake of keeping Lebanon as an Arab civilized state on the Middle East’s map instead of turning it into an Iranian tail.
It’s clear that Lebanon still resists. The insistence to resist increased Iranian ferocity and this revealed that Hezbollah is not at all interested in the interests of Lebanon and its people. How can a Lebanese citizen refuse to admit that Saudi Arabia has never stopped helping Lebanon by all possible means? Has the Saudi kingdom ever tried to impose anything on Lebanon and its people?
Some loyalty is necessary – at least for the sake of protecting Lebanon and the Lebanese people and for the sake of self-respect and respecting the reality which facts, before anything else, confirm.
The Obama Doctrine and its unstable ‘equilibrium’
Andrew Bowen/Al Aabiya
Sunday, 12 April 2015
For a President who has shunned the ideological constraints of his predecessors, Obama’s embracement of a doctrinal vision of his Middle East policy in a wide-ranging interview with Thomas Friedman for The New York Times came at a late hour of a presidency marked more by pragmatic flexibility and restrained caution than a clear strategic vision of the U.S.’s role in the Middle East.
For an administration seeking to withdraw from the decade of costly conflict in the region and look to the East, the President’s solution has been haphazard, far ranging, and circumstantial including: from embracing the uprisings in the region as signs that the Arab world was democratically transforming; to embracing Recip Erdogan’s more assertive regional role; to “leading from behind” in the operation to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi; to seeking to contain crises in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.
Iran an anomaly
Iran though has been an anomaly in terms of sustained pro-active engagement by the White House. From the start of Obama’s presidency when he both publicly engaged the Iranian people and penned a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, the President has hoped that engagement instead of isolation could both resolve Iran’s nuclear program and incentivize Iran to be a more responsible actor in the region. Obama’s initially emphasized that such negotiations were only intended to avoid a military escalation and to counter-nuclear proliferation, but as the negotiations deepened and regional circumstances have compelled the administration to indirectly work with Iran in countering-ISIS, the President has become more and more enraptured with the idea of engagement with Iran. Globally, this engagement has been sustained by his “openings” with Cuba and Myanmar.
Obama believes that improved relations with Tehran at the cost of increased tensions with his relations with Riyadh and Israel could bring a new “equilibrium” to the region’s politics and incentivize critically regional states to focus on taking collective ownership of their common security challenges and work together, without relying on the U.S. to take ownership of the problems and thus avoid the need to work together.
In this new “Obama doctrine,” the President has betted his legacy on the idea that engagement can reset America’s relations without impacting too substantially America’s national interests. In a sense, this wager is the antithesis of President Bush’s foreign policy of unilateral confrontation. Obama believes in the long-term, these risks will reap strategic rewards even if his allies remain deeply skeptical.
However, one must ask whether such a doctrine is fundamentally sound?
An economically freer Iran
First, it’s unclear whether the administration has a clear sense of what the U.S.’s core strategic interests in the region are. A more workable region where everyone lives in peace may be a great goal, but isn’t as the President stated, the means to advancing the U.S.’s national interests in the region. Such a regional vision may indeed be in the interest of the U.S., but equally, could lead to a region that is fundamentally antithetical to the U.S.’s interests and its allies. Such risks need to be given more weight and consideration.
For an administration seeking to withdraw from the decade of costly conflict in the region and look to the East, the President’s solution has been haphazard
Second, “equilibrium” is better said than acted upon in practice. At present, with Iran meddling in four Arab capitals and with combative rhetoric and actions more focused on confrontation with the GCC and the U.S. than accommodation and cooperation, it’s hard to see how an economically freer Iran with a regime in its current ideological make up will suddenly be incentivized to act in concert with its neighbors and form a better relationship with the U.S. At no point in the U.S. negotiations with Tehran, Iran has been pressed to make substantial concessions on its regional behavior. A deal with Iran is more likely to lead instead to an increasingly unequal balance of power in the region where Iran is at a growing advantage comparatively to the GCC, Egypt, and Israel.
Third, to achieve a true balance of power that would incentivize Iran to act more responsibly in the region, Washington will have to seriously invest in strengthening its allies in the Gulf. So far these assurances have been largely symbolic, most recently with a commitment to hold a GCC summit at Camp David in the spring to enhance U.S.-GCC cooperation and some vague commitments about upgrading the U.S.’s security commitment to Gulf States and to Egypt. Obama has taken a few small steps, including releasing the remainder of U.S. defense aide to Egypt. However, as evidenced by Yemen, Syria, and Iraq where Obama’s inconsistent rhetoric and actions have weakened trust in the U.S. as a reliable strategic partner, such support will need to be more than symbolic talk to both improve the U.S.’s relations with the GCC and to achieve a real “equilibrium.”
Without then a clear concept of the U.S.’s national interests, President Obama’s doctrine lacks a clear strategic guide for what this “equilibrium” will accomplish in practice. But, even if such interests are more clearly identified, this “equilibrium” is frankly both unsound and unstable in its actual practice. Such a doctrine may be a nice rhetorical flourish to sell the Iran deal to domestic critics of the deal, but in practice, Iran more likely will use this opening as an opportunity to advance its interests at the expense of the U.S. and its allies and will leave the region even less stable. At the same time, the GCC will increasingly have to rely on their own collective defense initiatives (as evidenced by Yemen) to try to secure their interests. While it’s unlikely that the administration at this point will shift from its engagement with Iran as it did with other initiatives in the region, Obama still has an opportunity at the very least to leave a legacy of enhanced security cooperation with the GCC even if he leaves office with a region less amenable to U.S. interests as a result of an unsound doctrine.
Zionist Union: Israel should seek green light to strike Iran if nuclear deal violated
By GIL HOFFMAN, DANIEL CLINTON/J.Post/04/13/2015
Israel should seek an understanding from the US authorizing it to take military action to protect itself should Iran violate a nuclear deal and threaten Israel’s existence, Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni said on Sunday.
Herzog and Livni, in a statement released to the press, presented their “alternative plan of action” on how Israel should deal with the P5+1 group of world powers’ framework nuclear deal reached with Iran earlier this month.
They worked on the plan for 10 days with a team of experts and advisers, including MK Omer Bar- Lev and the head of the Institute for National Security Studies, Amos Yadlin, whom Herzog said he would have appointed defense minister had he been entrusted with forming the government.
Party officials said elements in the plan had been presented in recent days to the P5+1, in particular to senior figures in the Obama administration and to US congressmen.
The framework is intended to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program and allow Western inspectors better access into the country’s nuclear facilities in exchange for sanctions relief.
The party said that some of the parameters presented by the West and the Iranians in the framework are “problematic,” and hold within them “real potential dangers for the long term” that must be fixed in the comprehensive agreement to be signed by June 30.
The Zionist Union said the final agreement must hold that removal of sanctions will come only gradually and on the condition that Iran proves over time that it is rolling back its nuclear program, allowing intrusive inspection of its facilities, eliminating all of its stockpile of enriched uranium and not using its old centrifuges to enrich uranium or activating new centrifuges.
The world powers must clarify that “if Iran will break out to the bomb, all actions, including new sanctions and the military option, will continue to be on the table at all times,” the Zionist Union said.
“Israel and the US must reach a comprehensive understanding that takes into account the changing security needs of Israel as they pertain to the deal between the world powers and Iran,” the plan said.
“The understandings must include an empowering and expanding of the IDF’s defensive and offensive capabilities, a strengthening of the existing alliance and strategic cooperation that will increase Israel’s deterrence ability, in a way that will give Israel an American umbrella and the unrestricted ability to act against threats and violations both of the deal and against our regional enemies that are supported by Iran.”
Israel should be given a green light to carry out military action against Iran if its existence is endangered during the life of a final agreement, the document said. The US and Israel should reach an understanding that would “legitimize any action Israel will be forced to take in order to preserve its security in the situation that is created,” it continued.
It must be agreed with the US that the nuclear agreement will not hurt the battle against Iranian-supported terrorism and Iran’s invasive actions in the region and the world, the Zionist Union said.
Despite saying in the document that “there is no [division in Israel between] coalition or opposition” when it comes to Iran, the Zionist Union took a dig at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the issue, saying, “Instead of a policy that leaves Israel without a meaningful influence on the world powers’ decision-making process, Israel must immediately hold a comprehensive, intimate and deep strategic discussion with the US about all of the relevant issues, and complete the discussion before the completion of the final agreement.”
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett posted a statement on Facebook accusing Herzog and others on the Left for undermining the government’s efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He noted how in recent interviews to the foreign press, he had been asked about past statements by former security officials on the Left that were incorrect, including an assertion by former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy that Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran.
“This happens all the time,” Bennett lamented. “People like Herzog say they trust the world powers to reach a good agreement. Livni and others are undermining the Netanyahu government regarding Iran, and are making our task of stopping the Iranian nuclear program more difficult. My friends on the left, the election is over. The public decided. Of course this is a democratic country and you have the right to express opposite views from the government. But, with regards to Iran, we chose a course of action that is clear, and your damage is unbearable. We are not asking for your help, but please stop getting in the way.”
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Netanyahu: Iran needs a nuclear deal
more than anyone
By TOVAH LAZAROFF/J.Post/04/13/2015
The US supports dangerous concessions to Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday, after US President Barack Obama charged that Israel had a history of oppositional behavior toward a diplomatic solution with regard to Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” Obama told reporters in Panama on Saturday as he chided Israel and its prime minister. Netanyahu shot back from Jerusalem the next day. “We must not allow Iran, the foremost sponsor of global terrorism, to have an easy path to nuclear weapons which will threaten the entire world,” he said in a videotaped public statement issued from Jerusalem. The battle of words heated up over the weekend in advance of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled briefings with members of Congress on Monday and Tuesday. It will be the first such briefing since a framework agreement was worked out in Lausanne, Switzerland, earlier this month to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
A comprehensive accord between Iran and the six world powers, including the US, will be finalized only at the end of June. Like Israel, congressional Republicans have opposed the framework deal in its present form. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has flatly charged that Kerry is “delusional.”The secretary of state told CBS News’s Face the Nation that “people need to hold their fire.” He also discouraged congressional “interference.”The Senate leadership is considering action on a bill that would grant Congress oversight powers for any future nuclear deal with Tehran. Obama has warned that such action – and rhetoric similar to McCain’s – is partisan subterfuge against a diplomatic effort that, as president, is within his authority to lead. Kerry appeared on three US Sunday news interview shows, saying Iran had “proven” its willingness to enter into an agreement and live by it, with its adherence to an interim nuclear deal first signed in November 2013.
Obama told reporters in Panama the same thing on Saturday. Then, in a clear dig at Israel, he said Israel initially had opposed that deal, but now wants it to remain in place. He spoke in general about Iran during the news conference, but when referencing opponents of the deal, he immediately named Israel. Netanyahu, he said, is opposed to the framework agreement even though he has not presented an alternative. “I have repeatedly asked: What is the alternative that you [Netanyahu] present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon? And I have yet to obtain a good answer on that,” Obama stated.
Netanyahu provided an answer in Sunday’s public statement by insisting that continued sanctions might lead to a deal that would help safeguard the region and the world from Iranian aggression. He focused on two points that could transform the deal into a positive accord.
“First, instead of allowing Iran to preserve and develop its nuclear capabilities, a better deal would significantly roll back these capabilities – for example, by shutting down the illicit underground facilities that Iran concealed for years from the international community,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he took issue with the automatic lifting of restrictions on centrifuges after a decade, as well as the ability for Iran to enrich uranium after 15 years.
“Instead of lifting the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities and program at a fixed date” the prime minister stated, “a better deal would link the lifting of these restrictions to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its worldwide terrorism and its threats to annihilate Israel.”
In Panama on Saturday, Obama dismissed the idea that sanctions would continue to be an effective tool and argued that the framework deal would be more effective than a military strike in halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“It is more likely to succeed, not only than maintaining current sanctions or additional sanctions, but more likely to succeed than if we took a military approach to solving the problem,” Obama said. “A large majority of people who are experts in the field say this is actually a realistic, plausible, meaningful approach to cut off the pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon.”
It would be best if Iran lacked even a “single nut and bolt” related to nuclear power, the president said, adding, however, that it was not possible to eliminate its nuclear program.
“They are going to have some force of peaceful nuclear power and that will then pose a challenge for the international community, which is why the political agreement calls for an unprecedented framework of inspections that allows us to assure that it is not being used or diverted in ways that could be weaponized,” Obama said.
But in his response, Netanyahu said the US had misjudged the situation, saying that more concessions could be wrung from Iran because it wanted a deal more then the six powers did. “Iran needs a deal more than anyone,” he said in his statement.
“Instead of making dangerous concessions to Iran, now is the time for the international community to reassert and fortify its original demands for a better deal.”He pointed out that statements by Iranian leaders last Thursday, in which they insisted that sanctions be lifted before the deal is ratified in June and said they would not allow inspections of its military sites, indicate the unrealistic nature of the framework deal.
“In the last few days, Iran has shown again why it can’t be trusted,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran insists on maintaining its formidable nuclear capabilities with which it could produce nuclear bombs,” he continued. “Iran insists on removing all sanctions immediately. And Iran refuses to allow effective inspections of all its suspect facilities.At the same time, Iran continues its unbridled aggression in the region and its worldwide terrorism.”During his Panama news conference on Saturday, Obama urged people not to take statements out of Iran too seriously. “It is not surprising to me that the supreme leader or a whole bunch of other people are going to try characterize the deal in away that protects their political positions,” the president stated, adding that without vigorous inspections or the ability to snap back sanctions in response to violations, a deal might not take place.
“I do not understand why everyone is working so hard to anticipate failure,” he said. “The opponents of the deal do not seem focused on how do we get to a good deal as much as they are focused on how can we show that it is not possible to get a good deal. My simple point is let’s wait and see what the deal is,” he said.
“If in fact we are not satisfied that it cuts off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, then we will not sign it,” Obama said. Kerry told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday: “We believe that the outlines, the parameters that we have laid out thus far, are the outlines of that good deal. Now, is it perfect yet? No. Are there things that need to be done? Yes.” He defended the Obama administration’s interpretation of the Lausanne framework, which it detailed in a fact sheet released by the White House last week. Each provision of that document is factual, the secretary insisted, after McCain suggested that the parameters sheet could be flawed. The senator noted that after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said over the same weekend, in his first public comments on the deal, that the White House was lying about the contents of the framework agreement, the “widely divergent explanations” of a potential deal must be explained to Congress for its ultimate approval.
Kerry also told NBC: “Yesterday, the Russians released a statement saying that the statement released by the United States is both reliable and factual. So I will stand by every word that I have uttered publicly.”He added that on Monday he would have a long conversation on the matter with members of the House of Representatives, and that there would be a similar extended dialogue with members of the Senate on Tuesday.
**Michael Wilner contributed to this report.