02/26 Links Pt1: Hamas is to blame for Gaza’s terrible state; U.S., EU Fund PA Torture
Ben-Dror Yemini: Hamas is to blame for Gaza’s terrible state, not Israel
The residents of the Gaza Strip – which has a 40 percent unemployment rate, hundreds of thousands of restless youth, no electricity during most of the daylight hours, polluted water that does not always flow, and a tightening blockade that has lasted for years – are indeed a powder keg.
It’s enough to read the latest UN report, from September 2015, which says that the Strip will not be suitable for human habitation within five years. This is not propaganda. It is a realistic prediction. One should listen carefully to the head of IDF Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi, who has been warning of this grim reality. The only relief comes in the form of hundreds of supply trucks that arrive daily from Israel. This is the last barrier that prevents hunger.
Don’t say its Israel’s fault. Because the day Israel left Gaza was supposed to be a turning point. For the first time in history, the Palestinians got independence and sovereignty over territory.
Egypt and Jordan, which controlled the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively, from 1949 to 1967, never dreamed of giving the Palestinians independence. An independent Gaza Strip was an opportunity for change. They could have become a model of welfare and prosperity. They could have sent a message to the whole world – and particularly Israel – that they can be trusted, that they can take responsibility for their destiny, that they were choosing a growth industry. This did not happen. They chose the industry of death and hate.
Khaled Abu Toameh: U.S., Europe Fund Torture by Palestinian Authority
A report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor documented 1,391 cases of Palestinians arbitrarily arrested by the two Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, in 2015.
Systematic torture in Palestinian prisons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was documented in the report — at least 179 cases of torture in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons in 2015.
The PA security forces are trained and funded by several Western countries, including the US. This establishes a direct line between these Western donors and the arbitrary arrests, torture and human rights violations that have become the norm in PA-controlled prisons and detention centers.
The report also revealed that the Palestinian Authority regularly disobeys court orders by refusing to release detainees, showing contempt for its courts and judges.
Before our eyes, two police states are being built: one in the West Bank and a second in the Gaza Strip — in the face of talk by international parties of establishing an independent Palestinian state. But the last thing the Palestinians need is another police state.
JPost Editorial: Cameron’s slip
Admittedly, Cameron and his Conservatives do not have an easy time maintaining an overtly pro-Israel policy in the face of such a hostile political and international environment, which is hyper-critical of Israel while ignoring atrocities perpetrated by other countries.
But we would have expected more of Cameron.
Does the British prime minister truly hope that Jerusalem is “maintained the way it was in the past”? When the holy city was under Jordanian rule, Jewish places of worship were left in ruins; access to the Western Wall was denied to Jews; basic religious rights were trampled.
Obviously, that is not what Cameron longs for.
It is also not clear what Cameron is referring to when he talks of “what is happening in Jerusalem.” Apparently it is not the knifings, the vehicular attacks and the shootings being carried out by Palestinians. Nor is it the economic progress, the freedom and the cultural flourishing of the city since it came under Israeli control.
Jewish building, apparently, is the only obstacle to peace.
Cameron is a true friend of Israel. That’s why it is so frustrating to discover that even people like him have been affected by the unceasing campaign against Israel.
We hope the British prime minister returns to his old self soon and that his comments on east Jerusalem were just a slip.
Another day, another deadly attack in the name of Jihad. Today it was 30-year-old Eliav Gelman HY’D, an IDF Reserve Officer who was murdered waiting for a ride at the Gush Junction. Yes, that same Gush Junction where so and so was murdered.
Oh wait, wasn’t it at Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) that he was killed? Or am I confusing that attack with the one in Otniel, Beit Horon, Tel Aviv, or the one on the road? As time goes by, I’m sickened to admit, it’s hard to keep track of who was murdered, where they were murdered, the circumstances, or how long it has been since they’ve died. Has the family gotten up from shiva? Have we passed the shloshim? Are they still saying Kaddish?
But maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Perhaps, it’s so hard to keep track of the victims, because the death toll is mounting. The list of injured is mounting.When will this madness end?When do we — the communal ‘we’ represented by our elected officials say “enough is enough?” This isn’t 1929 and this isn’t 1941. I too am guilty of trying to find that silver lining rationalizing that at least we don’t live in so-and-so time period.Yes, we have a state. Yes, we have an army. This isn’t even 2002.
In 2002, it took the Park Hotel massacre to finally say “enough is enough.”
What is it going to take this time?
Police said Friday morning the hatchet attack on an Israeli security guard in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim overnight was likely a terror attack, as doctors fought for the victim’s life at a Jerusalem hospital.
The 48-year-old security guard was attacked inside the town’s mall. He was struck multiple times in his upper body. The attacker fled the scene.
A manhunt was launched to find the assailant.
The victim arrived at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem unconscious and in critical condition, and was attached to artificial respiration.
Walla news reported that the attack occurred inside the mall’s offices, and police were investigating how the armed assailant had managed to reach them unimpeded.
A would-be attacker was shot dead Friday afternoon as he tried to stab Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near a West Bank settlement.
There were no other injuries in the incident, at a checkpoint close to Beit El, in the Ramallah area.
Security forces were combing the area of the fence around Beit El in order to rule out an infiltration into the settlement.
An IDF spokesperson said the attempted attack was under investigation.
On Thursday, February 18th, while shopping for groceries in a neighborhood store, 21-year-old Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, leaving behind his beautiful, young wife, Yael, and his 4 month old daughter, Netta. That makes Tuvia the 65th American, not including two unborn babies, who has been murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accord on September 13, 1993.
How much pain can a single heart hold? In each one of these 65 cases, the pain is immeasurable and extends throughout families, friends and communities. For the survivors and their family members, it leaves an irreparable void in one of the chambers of their hearts that simply can never be filled.
As Arnold Roth, whose beautiful 15-year-old daughter, Malki was killed by a suicide bomber when she went to eat pizza at the Sbarro restaurant, had told me, “Graduations, weddings, births…even looking at the slippers next to Malki’s bed that she will never again wear….The way you look at things will never be the same.”
And, with this latest round of knifings and vehicular attacks, we all know that this can happen to any one of us at any time, while living, studying, working or vacationing in Israel.
What compounds all of this grief and pain is a lack of justice, coming from the government of the United States. According to American law, this simply should not be the case.
Video surveillance of Jerusalem’s holiest site was meant to be a quick fix to lower tensions that have driven months of Israeli-Palestinian violence, but disputes over who controls the footage and what the cameras may or may not film are holding up the project.
Underlying the seemingly technical arguments is a fundamental disagreement over who is in charge of the 37-acre Temple Mount, which is central to the competing national and religious narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims and Jews.
This rivalry is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has repeatedly sparked violence.
“There is no gimmick to solve this, full stop,” said Daniel Seidemann, an expert on Jerusalem affairs and advocate for coexistence. “No mechanism, whether it’s a procedure, a camera, a technique, whatever, can survive the bad faith of the parties.”
Where Will the Middle East Be in Five Years?
Five years after the outburst of the so-called Arab Spring, the Middle East has changed radically. Not only have nation-states crumbled, transformed or become failed-states, the moderating forces which used to hold the structures together are no longer present, have switched their allegiance allowing new factors to appear and dominate the scene. Such is the situation with the United States which is accused by almost all Arabs to be the source of the creation of ISIS, to have abandoned its traditional allies for the benefit of Iran, to have failed to assist friends in need and to have looked at the Muslim Brothers as an alternative to secular nation-states. As a result, Arab states are questioning U.S. policy and raising questions about its resolve to lead the military coalition against the Islamic State. Russia found the cracks in the geopolitical wall and easily replaced the United States with its traditional clients. Russia’s success in Syria is but another sign of the weakness of the United States in these dire times.
Five years from now, what Middle East can we expect? It would be foolish to prophesize. But it would not be adventurous to say that we will be confronted with a new map with new entities born or re-born. However, the future of the Middle East will remain conditional on the events and transformations that will affect the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. In this equation there is no room for the IS: sooner or later, the traditional forces will destroy the entity. This does not mean that the jihadist, Salafist ideology will be eradicated and that jihadist cells will stop from being established. Unless the roots of the problem are dealt with – meaning the financing of religious institutions – the jihadist movement will continue its interaction with the financial institutions receiving their funds from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and even Morocco.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The American retreat from the Middle East signals weakness, and encourages an Iranian quest for regional hegemony that was bolstered by the P5+1 nuclear deal. The most dangerous consequence of current American foreign policy in the region is the likelihood of nuclear proliferation. Moreover, the current American approach allows for Russian encroachment in the region, which enhances the power of the radical axis led by Iran. It also opens the way for the ‘Finlandization’ of the Gulf and the Caspian basin by Iran.
The US, under President Barack Obama, has signaled its intent to reduce its presence in the Middle East. The US fought two unsuccessful wars in the region – a frustrating lesson about the limits of its power. At the same time, US dependency upon Middle Eastern energy has been reduced thanks to domestic progress in fracking technology. Moreover, Washington has decided to “pivot” to China, an emerging global challenger, and also to cut defense expenditures, leaving fewer military assets available for projecting power in the Middle East. (For a while during President Obama’s tenure, the US had no aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean or in the Gulf at all, an unprecedented situation.) In addition, the American campaign against ISIS has been extremely limited, and has met with little success.
Unfortunately, this disengagement signals both fatigue and weakness.
James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, made a provocative assertion Tuesday when he said the burgeoning alliance between Iran, Russia and Syria is the primary problem facing the Middle East today.
Speaking during a panel discussion for the launch of the Atlantic Council’s new Task Force on the Future of Iraq, Jeffrey, who served as ambassador from 2010 – 2012, said that Iraq has actually been relatively successful compared to the rest of the region, but warned of a worrisome trend he had seen recently.
“We have an Iran, Syria, Russia problem right now in the Middle East, that is the number one problem in the whole region,” said Jeffrey, “considering we also have ISIS, that’s saying a lot.”
Bold a conclusion as it may be, ISIS has been at least slightly rolled back in Iraq by the U.S.-led coalition in Operation Inherent Resolve. The town of Ramadi, less than 100 miles from the capital of Baghdad, was retaken in early January. Significant damage has also been done to ISIS oil market, a prime financial source for the terrorist group. Coalition air strikes against ISIS cash reserves have cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ISIS treasury.
A new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has revealed that Gulf States have skyrocketed their weapons imports in the last four years since the 2011 “Arab Spring,” spiking the imports by over 200%.
The report, published on Monday, indicates that Saudi Arabia and Qatar significantly boosted their weapon imports from the US.
Part of that increase would seem to come as part of the fallout over the US-brokered controversial Iran nuclear deal, which the Sunni Gulf States view as a serious threat from their Shi’ite rival, and which Israel reports has set off a nuclear arms race.
Saudi Arabia was revealed by the report to be the world’s second-largest arms importer between the years of 2011 and 2015, as its imports shot up by 275% as compared to 2006-2010.
Similarly Qatar increased its imports by 279% in the same period, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) raised its own weapon imports by 35%.
The report comes after a ten-nation Saudi-led coalition was recently launched to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The campaign reportedly costs the oil-rich Saudis $200 million a day, or $6 billion per month.
Overall, the ICC prosecution itself is far away from deciding what it thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian war crimes issues and that decision is likely to be drawn out by at least a few years if not several years.
But what is already clear is that Israeli dialogue with the ICC prosecution, as opposed to the UNHRC Gaza Commission of Inquiry who Israel boycotted, is not a wasted investment.
A diplomatic showdown may still occur, much farther down the road, but it does not appear to be a foregone conclusion.
There is a clear opportunity to influence the prosecution’s decision both on individual cases and on basic legal principles about how they approach analyzing hard cases.
At the same time, the Israeli legal establishment cannot become complacent and think that the investigations ordered until now plus the comptroller’s report will be viewed as sufficient without any second-guessing.
What is most likely is the ICC prosecution will pick some individual cases and some targeting policy decisions where it will press Israel to do more and then there will be a legal game of chicken in which Israel and the ICC prosecution will need to guess how far they can push the other before drawing a line in the sand.
Even with the best of intentions, how well the sides communicate, how flexible the IDF is to some second-guessing and whether the ICC prosecution eventually becomes open to making some unique moves in how it views and treats Israel will likely be crucial in avoiding a full speed crash at the end of the track.
A Turkish foundation has launched a public photo exhibition on the Istanbul Metro in a bid to raise awareness of “Jerusalem and the plight of its Palestinian residents.”
The exhibition, entitled “Dear Passenger, Please Stand Up and Look at Jerusalem” is meant to draw the Turkish people’s attention “to the oppression and injustice that take place in Jerusalem,” said Sabah Addin Yagit, deputy director of Our Heritage Foundation. “We wish to draw attention to Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque.”
In addition to raising awareness, the foundation labors “to preserve Ottoman sites and raise money for the benefit of the city’s Palestinian residents,” said one of its leaders, Adam Harmantabe.
The exhibition was set up at the central Taksim station and is set to spread to other stations across the city.
Turkish cultural centers have been mushrooming in Jerusalem lately, including the Ottoman and Turkish language school in the city’s Sheikh Jarrah district. In addition, the Turkish Culture Center in the adjacent Shuafat district aims to strengthen the ties between Jerusalem’s Palestinians and the Turkish people.
A Hamas official said Thursday the group was hopeful an emerging deal to restore ties between Israel and Turkey will result in the construction of a port for the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Turkey has said it will not normalize ties with Israel, ruptured in 2010, without Gaza’s blockade being lifted or at least eased. Hamas hopes a seaport might be built if Israel does lift its restrictions. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent Hamas, which seeks to destroy it, from importing weapons. Egypt is also blockading its side of Gaza.
If the blockade is not lifted, “Gaza will explode,” said the official, Mushir al-Masri.
An Israeli official said defense officials have discussed the possibility of a port for Gaza but no decisions have been made. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, refused to say what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s position was on the issue.
An Egyptian parliament member’s dinner with the Israeli ambassador has angered many in the legislature, with members calling for an emergency meeting to discuss his conduct, Israel’s Army Radio reported Thursday night.
MP Tawfik Okasha, who is also a television host and was described by the state-run al-Ahram daily as “controversial,” publicly — during a broadcast — invited Ambassador Haim Koren to his house for dinner.
The ambassador was reportedly surprised by the invite from a member of the Egyptian parliament, which, as a rule, shuns meetings with Israeli diplomats. But he happily obliged, and the two met on Tuesday at Okasha’s home, discussing issues of politics, trade and agricultural cooperation between the countries. According to Army Radio, the two agreed to meet again.
“We gladly welcome any meeting with Egyptian officials who want dialogue with us on issues of culture, communications, economics, society and politics,” Koren told the radio station.
Claims that Israel is being diplomatically isolated are not true because the majority of African countries “see Israel as a very close friend,” the foreign minister of Kenya told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Amina Mohamed, who is on a visit to Israel with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, said that Israel “has more friends than not on the continent.” She pointed to the growing economic ties between African countries and Israel. Although Mohamed acknowledged that “it is very difficult to break the African bloc” that often votes against Israel at the United Nations, she noted that Kenya and other countries “actually have been quite courageous in breaking away sometimes.” Kenya sided with Israel in a vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency last September.
Mohamed stressed the importance of high-level Israeli trips to the continent, and said that her country was “obviously looking forward” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned trip to Kenya and Uganda in the summer to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Israeli rescue of hostages from the Entebbe airport. Kenya helped Israel in carrying out the Entebbe raid, and Israel rendered aid when al-Qaeda blew up the American embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Israel has also assisted Kenya in fighting al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia.
“High level visits bring their own wind with them,” she said. “They enhance their relationship, they make it clear to everybody, send a very clear signal that these two countries agree to cooperate on the highest level, speak the same language, and deal with issues in the same manner. It is an affirmation that this is a strong relationship.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Thursday blasted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for touring “illegal settlements” during his visit to Israel this past week.
Kenyatta, who met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit, visited eastern Jerusalem and an Israeli community in the Jordan Valley.
The PLO Executive Committee condemned the visit and, in a statement quoted by the Chinese Xinhua news agency, said that international treaties consider “the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967” as part of the “state of Palestine”.
As such, the PLO said, “No one has the right to visit in these territories without an in-advance coordination with the Palestinian leadership.”
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in that “such behaviors boost the Israeli occupation and create a position of collusion between Kenya and the Israeli occupation.”
Ashrawi called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity to declare their rejection to such behaviors and take measures to correct this situation.
The PLO’s Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also condemned the visit in a statement quoted by the Palestinian Authority-based WAFA news agency.
An Arab Israeli said he was attacked in East Jerusalem because he was speaking Hebrew on the phone near the home of a Palestinian teen murdered by Israeli extremists.
Muhammad Abed A-Rahman, 24, from the town of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem, said he had “dared” to speak Hebrew near the home of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, the Walla news site reported Thursday.
Abu Khdeir, 16, was kidnapped and killed on July 1, 2014, two days after it emerged that three Israeli teens who had been abducted several weeks earlier in the West Bank, had been killed by their Palestinian kidnappers shortly after they were seized.
A-Rahman said a group of hooligans attacked his car while another vehicle blocked him to prevent his escape.
“I thought I was in a murder situation, they really lynched me,” said A-Rahman, who wears an Israel Defense Forces band on his wrist.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) on Thursday decided to transfer to the Palestinian Authority half a billion shekels (roughly $128 million) in tax and customs Israel has collected for the PA and delayed its transfer for a variety of reasons, including a staggering debt the PA has accumulated for utilities, which are being paid by the Israeli taxpayer. But, apparently, the situation in the PA controlled parts of Judea and Samaria has grown near-catastrophic, and Kahlon decided to apply the kind of generosity for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas no Israeli citizen ever receives. Israel will also reduce the commission it charges the PA for serving as its tax collector and lender.
In addition, Kahlon and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have decided to issue thousands of new work permits to workers who reside in the PA. So, cover up well, Israeli civilians, the folks with the knives and scissors are coming in Sunday.
“Peace hasn’t broken out,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Yediot Aharonot Thursday night, adding, “It’s only a drop in the bucket — but it’s a crucial drop.”
Both Kahlon and Ya’alon are convinced, ostensibly based on Israeli intelligence, that the only way to calm the recent wave of terror is by improving the economic malaise over at the PA and introducing hope — supposedly because fully employed Arabs won’t go out with knives to kill Jews. The problem with this notion is that several Arab surveys have shown that the kids with the knives usually come from middle class homes, and they often leave their suicide notes on their brand new laptops and iPads.
Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed al-Qiq has reached a deal with Israeli authorities to end his 94-day fast, his representatives and family announced at a press conference Friday.
According to al-Qiq’s associates, officials have agreed to end al-Qiq’s administrative detention on May 21. He will remain at Afula’s Emek Medical Center and will not be moved to a Palestinian facility.
Mohammad Barakeh, a former lawmaker who chairs the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, and who has supported al-Qiq’s strike, called the deal a victory for the journalist.
Qiq launched his hunger strike on November 25, 2015, to win release from detention. Earlier this week, advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said he had broken medical records, and that no hunger striker had survived such a long period of time without food.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian police seek to arrest corruption-fighting legislator Abu Baker
Palestinian Authority policemen tried on Thursday to arrest a female legislator who had accused a cabinet minister of financial corruption.
Eyewitnesses said the police officers were waiting for Najat Abu Baker, an elected Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to step outside the parliament building in Ramallah.
Some of her colleagues and friends surrounded her, however, foiling the arrest attempt and whisked her back into the PLC building, the eyewitnesses said.
The PA prosecutor-general summoned Abu Baker for interrogation a few days ago following charges she made against Minister for Local Government Hussein al-A’raj, who is closely associated with President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abu Baker claimed that A’raj had illegally received a sum of NIS 800,000 from the public budget to invest in private water wells. She also claimed that the minister was selling water to residents together with other government officials.
Despite Egypt’s relentless efforts to seal off its side of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a steady if light stream of Gazans are managing to leave the Strip and join the ranks of Islamic State fighters locked in combat with Egyptian forces in the Sinai, sources in the Strip said Thursday.
The Gaza fighters are crossing mainly via the last few tunnels still connecting the Sinai Peninsula to Gaza. Egypt has closed most of the smuggling tunnels in recent years.
Some of those crossing to join IS have fought against Israel in the past, either as members of Hamas or of Salafi-jihadist terror groups, the sources said.
The fighters are crossing into Egypt with the knowledge of Hamas’s military wing, which supervises the tunnels, the sources said. The Egyptian administration is aware of the trend and trying to prevent it.
The fighters are leaving in small groups, but are gradually coming to constitute a fairly substantial number of recruits to Sinai Province, the IS affiliate that is fighting the Egyptian army in Sinai. The sources did not have a firm figure for how many fighters have crossed the border.
Two of the best-known operatives who have crossed into to Egypt are Mahmoud Za’arah and Muhammed Shahin, both of whom have played an active part in clashes with the IDF. Za’arah and Shahin are said to be among those training Sinai Province fighters.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Iran Wednesday of building an international terror network that includes “sleeper cells” that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives to be ready to strike on command in places including Europe and the US.
Ya’alon, speaking in Cyprus, said Iran is aiming to destabilize the Middle East and other parts of the world and is training, funding and arming “emissaries” to spread a revolution.
He called Tehran the anchor of a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Saana and other cities in the region.
In 2012, a Lebanese man was arrested in Cyprus and accused of plotting a Hezbollah attack against Israelis.
Israel considers Iran the biggest threat to the region, citing its support for anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as efforts to use the power vacuum in Syria to set up cells to attack Israel from the Golan Heights.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, on Wednesday sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, demanding that he condemn a statement by Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon in support of Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israelis.
“Iran is continuing to sow terror throughout the world and is fueling the flames of Palestinian terror and incitement,” said Ambassador Danon.
“If the UN is really interested in bringing calm to our region, they must cut off the flow of Iranian financial support of terrorism,” he added.
The letter comes after the Iranian ambassador to Beirut, Mohammad Fathali, that his country would pay $7,000 to the family of any terrorist killed in the recent wave of terror, and an additional $30,000 to any family whose house was destroyed in response.
Fahali, who made his statement during a press conference in Beirut, also called on Lebanon to join the fight against Israel, promising, “The martyrs’ blood will release the entire Palestine, from the river to the sea.”
Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit Thursday to the United States using its United Nations Security Council veto to stop Russia from selling fighter jets to Iran, saying he didn’t know about the specific transfer and would “stay in touch” regarding the sale.
However, the State Department said last week that the proposed sale of Sukhoi-30 warplanes would violate the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asked Kerry about the sale Thursday, pointing out the Security Council would have to approve it under UNSC Resolution 2231.
“Will we use our veto to prevent fighter planes from being sold to Iran from Russia?” Sherman asked.
“Well, I don’t think you have to use a veto. I think it’s a matter of a committee,” Kerry said. “There’s a committee and it’s in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it.”
“And would we use our veto if necessary to prevent the sale?” Sherman asked.
“I haven’t looked at the specifics of the transaction, et cetera,” Kerry said. “In principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons and so, you know, we would approach it with great skepticism. But I haven’t seen the specific transfer or what the request is. We have a committee that will analyze this thoroughly before anything happens and the committee signs off on it, I assure you. We’ll stay in touch with you.”
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