Posts Tagged ‘European Union’


Note: With the circus that is the Trump Administration, the threat that is being posed to the Iran Nuclear Deal is not getting the smallest fraction of the coverage it merits. Many people who have known me since before the invasion of Iraq will tell you that I am no alarmist when comes to whether there will be an attack on Iran. I believe my record shows that I have been a calming voice about hysteria when there was a lot of chest-thumping but clear and significant obstacles to an attack on Iran, but also very clear about it when pro-war forces were making real headway in pushing their policy ideas. 

On that basis, I think it is absolutely crucial that this issue be raised a much higher profile now. Voices of even a shred of reason on this issue are few in this administration and even those are still overtly hostile and reckless (albeit less so than some others) toward Iran. There was virtually no challenge to including Iran in the recent bill issuing sanctions against Russia and North Korea (which is also a locus of real concern about Trump’s warlike policies). Most concerning, Senate Democrats were completely united in voting for the bill without a comment at all about whether Iran should be included (only Independent Bernie Sanders and Republican Rand Paul voted against the sanctions bill, and only Sanders made it explicit that he would have supported it if not for the inclusion of Iran). 

Trump’s Iran policy is a serious threat to the entire Middle East, to the people of Iran and the Persian Gulf, and to US and Israeli security. A military confrontation with Iran is likely to be far costlier in terms of life and limb as well as economically than the invasion of Iraq was. But because of the hideous behavior of the US President in so many ways, the headlines about this story are relegated away from the proverbial front page. That needs to change immediately. My article, introduced below and posted in full at LobeLog, explains some of the potential consequences.


Donald Trump rarely tries to hide his intentions. When he intends to do something reckless that will seriously compromise not just US security but that of the entire world, he is not shy about sharing.

The prime example of this is Trump’s determination to destroy the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal struck between the P5+1 and Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program. He made it clear during the 2016 presidential campaign that he wanted to do away with the Iran deal, and he’s been clear that this is still his intention. But until now, his own advisors have been able to restrain him, and Trump has twice been forced to acknowledge that Iran has been complying with the deal.

Last week, however, Trump sent a clear message: the president of the United States is insisting that his staff find a way for him to de-certify the deal, even though Iran is not in material breach of the agreement and no one, even in the United States, has been able to make the case that it is. As Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIACput it, “The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal—as well as the danger of the advice of the ‘adults in the room’—became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.” Read more at LobeLog

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Last November, when the European Union announced the implementation of long-standing regulations regarding the labeling of products from Israeli settlements, the government of Prime

MoghanyahuMinister Benjamin Netanyahu played one of its biggest cards, suspending contact with the EU regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After nearly three months, which saw accusations of European anti-Semitism and Congressional condemnation of the European decision, Netanyahu backed down. The EU held to its position and refused to grant Israel any compensation for it. The episode reveals the enormous amount of untapped potential for altering the status quo with regard to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its siege on the Gaza Strip. Read more at FMEP’s blog, “Facts on the Ground”

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The recent decision by the European Union to label products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank has elicited loud cries of protest from Israel and from the Netanyahu government’s supporters in Washington. Critics have claimed that Israel is being treated unfairly, that the EU is trying to pressure Israel into concessions outside of the framework of bilateral negotiations, and that these measures are a part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement whose real aim, critics claim, is to de-legitimize Israel.

Israeli settlement wine

In fact, the EU measures simply represent an effort to more faithfully implement a longstanding policy, backed by a strong international consensus, of differentiating between the State of Israel within the pre-1967 line, often referred to as the Green Line, and Israeli settlements built in the territories occupied in the 1967 war.

The effort to oppose this differentiation is often based on partial or misleading information, which we address below. It is important to recognize, however, that the unimpeded growth of settlements will eventually foreclose the option of a two-state solution, if it hasn’t already done so, as it will eliminate any possibility of contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state. It is therefore imperative that anyone hoping for a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians understand the facts about the settlements, EU labeling and the goal of differentiation. Read more at Facts on the Ground, FMEP’s blog.

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Appearing on Walla! TV in Israel, Yuli Novak, the Executive Director of Breaking the Silence lays out, in a clear manner, the case Breaking the Silence is making. She takes on the tough questions of why the group speaks abroad and its attitude toward BDS, and shreds the opposition’s arguments about Breaking the Silence’s EU funding.

It’s worth praising Walla! as well. This is the sort of TV journalism we do not see in the United States. The interviewer asks the tough questions in a respectful manner, and neither party shies away from the issues. Yes, the voices are raised, but anyone who has been to Israel knows this is standard fare.

The interview is in Hebrew, but the accompanying English subtitles are very good. Yuli Novak, and the rest of Breaking the Silence are the best of Israel. It says a great deal not only about radical rightists like Im Tirzu, but also about the Netanyahu government itself that they are hostile toward or ashamed of Breaking the Silence. They should, instead, be treated like the patriotic heroes they are.

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Recently, the European Union implemented a procedure for enforcing existing regulations requiring the labeling of some goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has vociferously objected to any labeling of products from its settlements, and this has prompted concern in Congress, including a bi-partisan letter written by Senators Cruz and Gillibrand protesting the requirement.

The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not object to the EU’s decision. “We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott,” State DepartmentIsraeli settlement winespokesman Mark Toner said in response to a question. “And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel. We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel.” Read more at Facts on the Ground, FMEP’s blog. 

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In late October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint meeting of the Knesset foreign Affairs and Defense Committees that “at this time we need to control all of the territory (of Occupation in Jerusalemthe West Bank) for the foreseeable future.” He echoed this during his talk at the Center for American Progress on November 10, when he insisted that, despite his stated support for a two-state solution, he saw no alternative to a permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.

These remarks fall within a particular set of parameters of discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this view, Israel is being asked to make a concession by even considering an end to its now 48-year old occupation. In this view, Palestinian liberty is not a self-evident, inalienable right, but an Israeli gift. Read more at “Facts on the Ground,” FMEP’s blog. 

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Hotovely’s interview has gone largely unnoticed by Middle east analysts and reporters, hidden behind the United Nations General Assembly meeting, the deepening conflict in Syria and Russia’s involvement there, as well as the aftermath of the Iran nuclear agreement. That lack of notice, however, belies the great significance of Hotovely’s revelations about Israel’s intentions in the West Bank. Continue Reading at Talking Points Memo

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