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Experts and lawmakers blast US consideration of additional, non-nuclear sanctions relief for Iran

Posted by Albert Gersh - March 28, 2016


Experts and lawmakers are criticizing the administration’s reported openness to grant Iran additional, non-nuclear sanctions relief and access to U.S. financial markets, arguing that it would endanger the global financial system and cause a collapse of the sanctions regime against Iran. Previously, the White House wrote that “non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.” The administration assured Congress that Iran would not receive access to the U.S. financial system or dollar transactions. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew insisted that “Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York… or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks.” However, when asked last week about these commitments, Lew appeared to leave the door open to granting Iran additional sanctions relief, including access to the U.S. financial system. The administration’s newfound willingness to consider lifting additional sanctions, beyond those that were lifted in accordance with the nuclear deal reached last July, comes amidst Iranian demands for further sanctions relief.

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Executive Director Mark Dubowitz and Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argue that providing Iran with additional sanctions relief would deprive the U.S. of leverage over Iran with regards to its support for terrorism, human rights violations, and ballistic missile development, while poisoning the global financial system. The Financial Action Task Force, a global anti-terrorism financing body, has warned that Iran's "failure to address the risk of terrorist financing" poses a "serious threat... to the integrity of the international financial system." Likewise, in 2011, the Treasury Department labeled Iran a "jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern," citing Iran's "support for terrorism" and its "illicit and deceptive financial activities."

Lawmakers have also voiced concern. Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) warned, "Further sanctions relief would mark the death knell for U.S. sanctions and would represent a boon to the Iranian regime and its Revolutionary Guard Corp.” Senator Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) argued that any administration effort to grant Iran access to U.S. financial markets and US dollars “ignores American laws and the Financial Action Task Force… Such an effort would benefit Iran’s terror financiers while fundamentally undermining the USA PATRIOT ACT 311 finding that Iran’s entire financial sector is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.”


The Palestinian Authority has continued to award lifetime payments to convicted terrorists, despite a promise to end the practice, an investigative report published Sunday by The Mail on Sunday (MoS) revealed. The report was part of a broader investigation into what the paper described as the “wasteful” use of British taxpayer money.According to MoS, the British government gives £72 million (over $102 million) to the Palestinians annually, with more than one-third of that sum directly going to the PA. While the PA said it that would no longer use aid money to pay terrorists or their families, recipients of the funds and official PA statements confirm that the practice continues.

Ahmad Musa, who admitted to shooting two Israelis dead, told MoS that he receives a monthly stipend of  £605 (over $850). Musa was jailed for life for his crimes, but was freed after five years in an Israeli effort to restart peace talks with the PA.

Amjad and Hakim Awad, two cousins who in 2011 massacred five members of the Fogel family– parents Ehud and Ruth Fogel, 11 year-old Yoav, four year-old Elad, and three month-old Hadas– in their West Bank home, have been also been paid. Amjad alone may have received more than £16,000 (nearly $23,000), according to estimates. (In 2012, PA television praised the cousins as “heroes.”)

Another terrorist on the payroll is veteran Hamas bomb-maker Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli jail over his role in numerous bombings, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002, the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and a Rishon Lezion nightclub bombing in 2002, which killed 66 people. He is believed to have received £106,000 (over $150,000) for his efforts.

“[The] cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget,” MoS reported. “Yet it gives £79 million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.” When the paper asked the UK’s Department For International Development about the payments, they defended them as “social welfare” for the families of prisoners, but denied that any British aid was involved. (In a similar vein, when asked about the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Pattersontold a congressional hearing in 2014, “they have to provide for the families.”)

The DFID claimed that the PA stopped giving the stipends in 2014, and that they are now paid by the Palestinian Liberation Organization. However, according to MoS, this assurance conflicts with the accounts given by former Palestinian prisoners and their families, as well as official PA statements.

MoS also noted that in 2015, a year after the PA officially transferred authority over Palestinian prisoners to the PLO, it also transferred an extra 444 million shekels (over $116 million) to the PLO. This was nearly the same amount that the PA allocated in the previous years to its now-defunct Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which has been documenting the ways the PA incentives terror since 2011, the transfer to the PLO was meant to evade pressure from Western governments that demanded an end to terrorist salaries. (via TheTower.org)

Israel’s $800 million widening and straightening of Highway 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is intended to make travel safer and more convenient — not only for people but also for animals. Although the abundant wildlife living in the hills west of Jerusalem will not be driving on the highway, animals need to access food and habitats on both sides of the road. And so a 70-meter-wide concrete “eco-bridge” has been built over a six-kilometer section of new roadway between Sha’ar Hagai and the Shoresh Junction. “The overpass is necessary because the route of the paved road in the Jerusalem hills goes through areas that constitute habitats for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife,” says David Landesman, head of Highway 1 project for Netivei Israel National Transport Infrastructure Company. “There are dozens of types of animals in the area, including deer, gazelles, wild boars, foxes, jackals, hyenas, porcupines and many reptiles,” Landesman tells ISRAEL21c. “Establishing this ecological bridge is designed to allow safe passage of all animals in the vicinity and it will make Route 1 into one of the greenest paved roads in the country in the coming years.” Landesman says this is not the first ecological bridge in Israel. “Animals that attempt to cross busy roads are hurt and run over by cars and sometimes cause accidents,” he says. “Netivei Israel works in collaboration with experts on ecology in order to provide safe passage for animals.”  (via Israel21c)

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