- Bipartisan opposition mounts against additional concessions as Kerry suggests he'll announce plan to allow Iran access to U.S. dollar
Secretary of State John Kerry suggested after a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday that he is preparing to announce new measures that would provide Iran access to the U.S. dollar. Iranian leaders have been demanding more sanctions relief, claiming that the U.S. is not fully adhering to its commitments under the nuclear deal reached last July. The Iranians have threatened to walk away from the deal if the U.S. does not grant access to the dollar.
When the news first broke that the administration was considering granting Iran such access, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that permitting dollar transactions “is clearly not required” by the nuclear deal. He warned, “This will set bad precedent, and it will not be the last time the Iranians and/or their business partners receive additional relief.” Bipartisan opposition has been steadily growing against providing Iran additional economic benefits. There are also multiple measures underway in the House and Senate designed to block Iranian access to both the U.S. financial system and the dollar. In a hearing last week, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), ranking member of a subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, affirmed his opposition to such a move, telling State Department officials: “There are real concerns that many of us on this subcommittee share about [the administration] looking for ways to provide [Iran] access to the U.S. financial system, that is not permitted nor should it be permitted since it’s not part of Iran deal, or access to the dollar.”
Over the summer the administration provided assurances that it would not grant Iran such access. Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department, said: “Iran will not be able to open bank accounts with U.S. banks, nor will Iran be able to access the U.S. banking sector, even for that momentary transaction to, what we call, dollarize a foreign payment…That is not in the cards. That is not part of the relief offered under the JCPOA.” In the face of Iranian demands, “[t]he administration reportedly believes it needs to make this additional concession to honor the spirit of the agreement,” Eric Lorber, former Treasury Department lawyer and Peter Feaver, professor of political science and public policy and Bass Fellow at Duke University wrote in Foreign Policy. Under the nuclear deal, the U.S. is only required to lift nuclear-related sanctions. Economic penalties on Iran for its terrorism, ballistic missile activity, and human rights violations are to remain in place. Szubin confirmed to an audience at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the financial restrictions in place against Iran were there for non-nuclear reasons, stating: “So, the U.S. sanctions on Iran, which, of course, had their origins long before Iran had a nuclear program, will remain in place. Moreover, our whole range of sanctions authorities targeting Iran’s support for terrorism, destabilizing regional activities, missile proliferation, and human rights abuses remains in place.”
The Iran-backed terror organization Hamas said Wednesday that the person behind the Monday bombing of a Jerusalem bus, which injured 21 people, was a Hamas operative, seeming to claim credit for the attack without declaring outright responsibility.
The terrorist who conducted the bombing, 19-year-old Abad al-Hamid Abu Srour, was publicly identified by Hamas after he died from wounds he sustained in the explosion. Hamas, along with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, praised the bus bombing, which was the first such terror attack since 2011.
Times of Israel Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote Thursday that Hamas’ claim of responsibility three days after the attack reflected an internal dilemma over whether to “explicitly declare responsibility and glory in the ensuing credit but risk being dragged into a confrontation with Israel, or keep a safe distance away and try to cover up that the bomber was a member of the group.”
By taking credit but not explicitly claiming responsibility, Issacharoff wrote, Hamas’ Gaza-based leadership is sending a message to “carry out as many attacks as possible, wherever you can, in order to perpetuate the ‘lone wolf intifada.’”
Issacharoff’s reporting squares with an analysis written last month by Shaul Bartal of the Begin-Sadat Center, who found that Hamas has actually directed much of the terror that has often been characterized as “lone wolf attacks.” Hamas, Bartal wrote, was “aware of the many advantages and the protection that deception and obscuration provides its operatives, their families and the organization’s institutions.”
Many of the terrorists who have carried out recent terror attacks have family or other connections to Hamas, Bartal wrote. Issacharoff noted that this is true of Abu Srour: Three of his relatives killed a Shin Bet agent in 1993, an operation for which Hamas has claimed credit.
Abu Srour’s father has rejected Hamas’ claim that his son was the bomber.
Smugglers of drugs and illegal migrants using tunnels along the US-Mexico border may want to keep an eye on Israel. The US government, after all, is cosponsoring the tunnel-detection technology now being developed by Israeli engineers. Described by the Hebrew media as the underground equivalent of Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, this latest innovation hit world headlines upon the announcement that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uncovered a two-kilometer-long, concrete-lined tunnel on its Gaza border. The media is awash with reports about this first-of-its kind tunnel detection system. While the Israeli government has been funding its development for five years, few details about the new system have been reported until now. News reports say that up to 100 companies – including Iron Dome’s developers, Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems — are involved in assembling this groundbreaking detection system. Military units, Shin Bet security agency officers, civilian engineering, infrastructure contractors and tunnel construction experts are also credited with helping. (via Israel21c)