The U.S. Senate voted 99-0 to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years on Thursday, two weeks after the House voted 419-1 for the measure and putting the bill before President Barack Obama. The ISA, which is set to expire at the end of the year, aims to prevent foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “Given Iran’s continued pattern of aggression and the country’s persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence across the region, preserving these sanctions is critical.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who supported the Iran nuclear deal, explained his support for the extension of the sanctions legislation: “The practical effect is the Iran nuclear agreement depends on our resolve, on our commitment to…stop a nuclear armed Iran by using sanctions and other means if necessary.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned last week, “If these sanctions are extended, it will surely constitute a violation of the [nuclear deal] and [the U.S.] should know that the Islamic Republic will definitely react to it.” Democratic Senators responded forcefully to the Iranian threat. “Iran is making this up. These problems don’t exist,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Weekly Standard. “Congress, by extending ISA, is not taking any new steps against Iran at all.” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told the magazine, “The Iranians need to know that there are consequences for their actions. Hopefully, they will change their course of actions. In the absence of that, the United States should not ultimately let them be the veto over what we decide is the appropriate foreign policy.”
Cardin and Menendez both opposed the nuclear deal. But a supporter of the deal, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), also rejected Iran’s charges. “I am convinced that Congress is well within its rights to extend the Iran Sanctions Act,” he said. “Iran has always resisted non-nuclear sanctions and tried to tie them into the nuclear deal. That’s not correct…I think it’s completely appropriate that we continue the sanctions architecture.”
The wood will be supplied free of charge and without labor costs.“I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,” said the congregation’s rabbi, Dov Hiyon. “It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them.”
“Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination,” said Walid Abu-Ahmed, one of the wood suppliers. “We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace.”
Trends show that Arab Israelis are increasingly assimilating into Israeli society—most recently in education. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Arab Israeli teachers in Israel’s state schools rose by 40 percent. The result is largely the product of a government-sponsored initiative to integrate more Arab Israeli teachers into public schools. Likewise, the number of Arab Israelis attending universities is trending upwards, and 14.4 percent of Israel’s bachelor degree students were Arab in 2015—an extremely high success rate considering the country’s population is around 20 percent Arab.
Although Abbas praised the Oslo Accords, a series of peace agreements with Israel in the 1990s, as an “important step” for the Palestinian people, he warned that he “will not recognize a Jewish state,” a key demand by Israeli leaders.
Abbas told members of his Fatah faction that recognition of Israel “will not last forever” if Israel does not recognize a Palestinian state.
He told the 1,400 delegates that 2017 will be the “year of the Palestinian state and end of the Israeli occupation” and predicted that the next Fatah congress will be held in “East Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.”
He encouraged Palestinians to use “popular peaceful resistance in all of its spheres” and hailed the influence of the PA at the United Nations, where it is recognized as a non-member observer state.
Two Iranians were charged by a Kenyan court Thursday with collecting information for a terrorist attack, whose target was the Israeli embassy in Nairobi. According to the charge sheet, the two men, Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee, were traveling in an Iranian diplomatic vehicle and “were found taking video clips of the Israeli embassy…for the use in the commission of a terrorist act.” They were arrested on Tuesday shortly after visiting two members of Iran’s Qods Force in a Nairobi prison, where they are serving 15-year sentences after being convicted in 2013 for planning terrorist attacks against Western targets.Two other Iranians, Abubakar Sadiq Gouw and Yassin Sambai Juma, confessed that they were members of the Qods Force and were plotting, along with Iranian intelligence, to attack Western targets in Kenya.
Ebrahim and Safaee’s use of an official car is not the first time Iran has leveraged diplomatic cover to hide its destabilizing behavior. The U.S. State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator testified to Congress in 1994, shortly after Iranians with diplomatic IDs were accused of planning the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Argentina, that Iranian embassies are often overstaffed with personnel, with many of them possibly intelligence agents or terrorist operatives.