Jewish groups were unhappy with this week’s decision by the Clinton administration to waive trade sanctions against three companies involved in a massive $2 billion gas development project in Iran
Green Light To Iran?
Jewish groups were unhappy with this week’s decision by the Clinton administration to waive trade sanctions against three companies involved in a massive $2 billion gas development project in Iran, although none were ready to call out their troops on Capitol Hill.
On Monday, President Bill Clinton, attending a U.S.-European Union economic summit in London, waived provisions of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) applying to Total SA in France, Russia’s Gazprom and Petronas in Malaysia.
Last week's election of hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran is seen by Israel as a new opportunity to press the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran until it ends its efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.
Iran is against a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to see one state that would encompass both Israel and the Palestinian territories, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United Nations General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad, who in the past has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” suggested this could be done through a referendum of Israelis and Palestinians that would decide their future government. But he made it clear that Iran favored a Palestinian state on that land.
The U.S., Teheran and The Flatow Ruling
Last week’s ruling by a Washington court slapping a $247 million fine on Iran for its role in the death of American student Alisa Flatow in 1995 was an important first step in fighting Iranian-sponsored terrorism, said the lawyer who fought the case. It could also turn into a major headache for the Clinton administration, which is considering how to respond to recent overtures from Teheran.
New Policy On Iran?
The Clinton administration’s Iran policy, never a model of clarity or consistency, had many Jewish leaders scratching their heads this week. Despite dogged U.S. efforts to encourage Iranian moderates, new information suggests the Tehran government has increased its support for terrorists opposed to the Mideast peace talks. And a recent U.S. decision on spare parts for airplanes may make it easier for Iranian suppliers to get material to them.
The Obama administration’s point man on Iran, Dennis Ross, traveled to the Middle East this week to reassure Arab states concerned about U.S. overtures to Tehran and to stress America’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Ronen Bergman, an investigative journalist with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, is the author of “The Secret War with Iran” (Simon & Schuster, 2008). He was in New York last week to discuss the Iranian crisis at the invitation of The Israel Project, an independent nonprofit that promotes Israel.
Q: What can you tell us about Mir Hossein Mousavi, the so-called pro-reform opposition candidate who spearheaded the protests over the election returns?
As Friday’s election in Iran led to charges of voter fraud after incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the landslide winner, Israelis were divided over their preferred outcome.
“There is a debate in Israel,” said Moshe Maoz, a professor emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Jewish leaders this week feared a collapse of the international consensus for sanctions against Iran after the release Monday of a National Intelligence Estimate concluding Iran had shut its nuclear weapons program down in 2003.
Disarray was evident as Jewish groups struggled to assimilate the new report and adjust their tactics in response.
“It will have an enormous impact because people will use it as an excuse to do nothing,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, a group that has made Iran a top priority.
A majority of Americans, including Jews, now support military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program, according to a controversial new poll, reflecting what several Jewish leaders say are sharp shifts in Israel as well.
The national survey, conducted by Zogby International, shows that slightly more than half of Americans — and more than two-thirds of Jews — now favor a strike against Iran before it becomes a nuclear power.