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Iran Ends All Restrictions under Nuclear Deal; Israel Backs US over Killing of General

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of State Pompeo. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

Iran on Sunday decided to withdraw from all remaining “key” restrictions under the Iran nuclear deal in what was described as the fifth and final such step, just days after Iran’s top spymaster general was killed in an American attack. Meanwhile, Israel reiterated their support for United States President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian Qods Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, while Iran threatened Israel if the Jews didn’t return to Europe as part of their reaction to Soleimani’s death.

The Iranian government, according to PressTV, announced that they would no longer observe any restrictions on the level or amount of uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel, a critical component of the nuclear accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Iranian statement specifically said they would end restrictions on their number of centrifuges, which can be used to make nuclear fuel for civilian and military purposes. PressTV quoted the statement as saying the move “eliminates the last key operational restriction” under the JCPOA.

The Iranian decision comes as part of their months-long process of reducing their observance of the nuclear deal in an effort to pressure European nations into providing economic benefits to Iran to counter US sanctions. However, the move also comes just two days after Soleimani’s death, an attack that received Israel’s support and led to brutal threats against Israel from Iran. … Continue Reading

Despite Iran’s Malignant Actions, China, Russia Hold Joint Naval Exercise with Tehran

Iran is conducting naval drills with China and Russia. Illustrative naval ship in the Middle East. By Joshua Spurlock

In the face of American sanctions and continuing malevolent activity by Iran, China and Russia joined the Islamic Republic starting last Friday in joint naval drills for the first time since the Islamic Revolution put Iran’s radicals in power in 1979. Fars News Agency noted the first-time nature of the exercises, done in the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman and dubbed “Marine Security Belt.”

The two world powers’ partnership with Iran doesn’t look to be ending any time soon. “The Iranian Navy’s joint drills with China and Russia is just the beginning of our cooperation and it will continue,” Iranian Rear Admiral Sayyari was quoted by Fars as saying on Sunday.

China and Russia have long supported Iran at the United Nations and elsewhere, but the joint naval exercise is a stepped up partnership even as the United States has been seeking to isolate Iran for its nuclear program and support for terrorism. In recent months, Iran has advanced their nuclear program in contravention of their nuclear deal with world powers, attacked shipping and the oil industry in the region and downed an American drone. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Lauds UAE Foreign Minister Retweet of Article Calling for Israeli-Arab ‘Alliance’

December 22, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Could more Israel-Arab peace be on the horizon? Illustrative photo of Israeli PM Netanyahu and Egyptian FM Shoukry. Photo courtesy of by Haim Zach / GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday celebrated another step towards Israel-Arab peace: the retweet of an article calling for an alliance of Israelis and Arabs by the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE’s top diplomat, reposted without commentary an article in The Spectator entitled “Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”

In the opinion piece, Ed Husain describes the warming of relations between Israel and Arab states, as well as Islam and Judaism, in the face of the threat from Iran and other concerns. Husain concludes by saying Arabs and Jews “have a shared interest in building a lasting alliance.”

Netanyahu was clearly encouraged by the public retweet of the article by such an important Arab official. In comments to the Israeli cabinet, Netanyahu called it “an additional public expression of the warming in relations between Israel and Arab countries.” … Continue Reading

Iran Backtracks after General Reportedly Threatens Israel with Attack from Lebanon

December 15, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon are a threat in Lebanon and to Israel. Sign showing the distance between Jerusalem and Lebanese capital city. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Lebanon has long been known as a proxy for Iran, but an Iranian general not only threatened to wipe out Tel Aviv if Israel threatened Iran, but said Iran could do it all from Lebanon. The Mizan website quoted Brigadier General Morteza Qorbani last Tuesday as saying, ” If the Zionist regime [Israel] makes the smallest mistake toward Iran, we will reduce Tel Aviv to ashes from Lebanon,” according to a report by Asharq al-Awsat. Furthermore, the Arab news service said that Qorbani went on to say that Iran wouldn’t need to launch any missiles at all from their own country to accomplish that feat.

Yet just one day later, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) came out and claimed the quote was misinterpreted and that the Iranian general was simply trying to say that Iran had various capabilities to counterattack against Israel, according to the Mehr News Agency. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the denial as irrelevant in making a counter threat of his own.

“In recent days we have heard a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander again threaten that Iran will destroy Tel Aviv from Lebanon. He thus reveals a simple truth: Hezbollah is simply Iran’s arm in Lebanon against Israel,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office. … Continue Reading

European Nation Wants Recognition of Palestinian State without Peace Deal

December 9, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Will Europe recognize a Palestinian state? Illustrative photo of Palestinian event. By Joshua Spurlock

The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has recently called for the rest of Europe to discuss unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state outside of a Middle East peace accord, although the new foreign policy chief of the European Union on Monday called the topic a “very much dividing” issue for the EU. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to the EU’s new top foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, in which he says it’s time to discuss the matter and claims such a move would not be a “blank check” to the Palestinians, according to The Times of Israel, citing a Channel 13 report. The report said the issue is expected to be brought up during the next meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in January.

However, despite Luxembourg being inclined in that direction, Borrell noted it’s not a position Europe even talks about very often—much less agrees upon. “Among European Member States, the recognition of the Palestinian state or the situation in Middle East is something, which is very much dividing,” said Borrell to reporters in comments posted to the EU External Affairs website. “Maybe because of that [it] is not an issue which is often taken into consideration on the agenda of the Council.”

Borrell noted that recognizing a Palestinian state is not something the EU does as an entity, rather it would be up to individual member states to determine their own approach. He confirmed that Middle East peace would be on the Foreign Affairs Council’s agenda next month. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Threatens to ‘Defeat’ Gaza Terrorists ‘Once and for All’

December 8, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu with Israeli soldiers. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (Israeli GPO).

More Gaza rockets were fired at Israel over the weekend, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a hypothetical but emphatic ultimatum. “We are dealing with the threat from Gaza, and if necessary we will carry out a major operation to defeat this terrorism once and for all,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

“They received a sample several weeks ago [in the last round of fighting]. I do not suggest that they wait for the next portion. It will come if they continue.”

The comments from Netanyahu come as Israel and Gaza have reportedly been discussing a long-term ceasefire with Egyptian mediation. The Jerusalem Post reported Egypt believes real progress to such a ceasefire has been made, while Hamas issued a statement demanding Israel take steps to improve the situation in Gaza, including lifting the Israeli blockade on the territory. Netanyahu has his own demands.

“There will be no arrangement if the firing does not stop for good,” said the Israeli leader. “If it does not stop for good, in the end there will be a decisive operation.” … Continue Reading

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