An American-Iranian dual national and his wife were arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in July, and have been detained ever since without charge and without access to lawyers in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Niasari, before their arrest and detention, ran an art gallery in Tehran. Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), said, “Yet another case of a dual national snatched and held without charge or access to a lawyer represents an alarming continuation of a judicial system run by intelligence agencies with no respect for the law and no accountability.”
According to the ICHRI, Vafadari belongs to the Baha’i faith. In October, representatives of the Baha’i religion accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s government of “ongoing efforts to destroy the Baha’i community.” Since Rouhani took power in 2013, more than 151 Baha’i have been arrested and 388 acts of economic discrimination — including threats, intimidation and the closing of Baha’i-owned businesses — have been documented against members of the faith, according to the report. Thousands of Baha’i have also been denied entry into universities, while 28 have been expelled on the basis of their religion, which has been outlawed by the Islamic Republic.
Iran has a history of arresting dual nationals, which it does not recognize, meaning that the individuals cannot receive consular assistance; according to Reuters, as of July, the imprisoned dual nationals comprised “the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.” Many analysts believe that Iran is “seeking concessions from the West in exchange for releasing” dual nationals, the Associated Press wrote in August.
George Mitchell, the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader who served as President Obama’s Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, said in an interview Thursday that he disagreed with President Jimmy Carter’s New York Times op-ed published earlier this week, which suggested that Obama impose terms of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord through the United Nations Security Council.
Although Mitchell praised Carter’s efforts to broker a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, he told NewsMax TV’s Steve Malzberg that “on this issue I don’t agree with President Carter.” Mitchell explained that for the United States to take sides and “unilaterally decide” acceptable outcomes of key issues, or to recognize a Palestinian state, “would be a reversal of what had been American policy for several years.”
The argument is made that, well, 137 countries have done so, which is true—something which ought to and does concern Israel. But the United States is not one of 138 countries; the United States is the world’s dominant power, [and] will play a decisive role in whatever happens in that region. And so I think we should continue the policy that we had and try to encourage the parties to negotiate the two-state solution, at which time, if successful, there will be not just a nominal Palestinian state, but a real Palestinian state.
Aaron David Miller, who also served as an American peace negotiator, wrote in an analysis for CNN.com earlier this week that choosing to follow Carter’s advice would “leave Obama’s legacy in tatters.”
So far Israel has arrested 23 arsonists connected to igniting the hundreds of fires that raged across Israel last week, and they are positioned to receive financial rewards, Palestinian Media Watch President Itamar Marcus wrote in the Jerusalem Post Wednesday. The fires have burned more than 500 homes and 32,000 acres of forests and national parks.
Palestinian law stipulates anyone imprisoned for “resisting the occupation” receives a high monthly salary. A recent research paper produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs asserted these payments constitute a violation of the Oslo Accords.
The United Kingdom froze roughly $30 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in October over concerns that taxpayer money is being used to pay the salaries of Palestinian terrorists. The frozen funds amount to around one-third of the UK’s yearly aid to the PA.
Critics have long called for greater transparency in distribution of foreign aid payment to Palestinians, the largest per capita recipients of international development aid in the world. A Global Humanitarian Assistance report cited in The Wall Street Journal found that Palestinians received $793 million in international aid in 2013, amounting to $176 for each Palestinian. That same year, Syrians were given $106 in development assistance per capita, while eight of the remaining top ten recipients — Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — received an average of $15.30 per capita. Foreign aid amounted to about a quarter of the PA’s entire budget in 2012.