PM shows piece of downed Iranian UAV, warns Israel will act against Iran if it must • Zarif dismisses Netanyahu’s ‘cartoonish circus’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, brandished a piece of the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel downed a week ago after it entered Israel’s airspace and warned Iran “not to test Israel’s resolve.”

Israel, Netanyahu said at the conference that was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

Zarif, who addressed the conference later in the day, dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.”

Netanyahu, who said Zarif “lies with eloquence,” warned the conference participants that Zarif will “brazenly deny Iran’s nefarious involvement in Syria.”

“Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people,” Netanyahu said, pulling out the Iranian prop from behind the podium and holding it high up with one hand.

“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours.”

Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to have ever addressed this prestigious conference, and the overwhelming majority of his 15-minute speech and 15 minutes of Q and A, dealt with Iran.

With former US secretary of state John Kerry, one of the key architects of the Iranian nuclear deal, sitting in the front row, Netanyahu ripped into the accord as he has done many times in the past, saying that the inspection regimen is completely insufficient, and that when the sun sets on the agreement in some 10 years’ time, the Iranians will have an “open highway” to build not only one nuclear device, but an entire nuclear arsenal.

To have nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, “you need a gun, bullets, and gunpowder.”

The gun is the ballistic missiles that the Iranians are developing, unchecked by the nuclear deal and undeterred by UN Security Council resolutions, he said.

“They should be stopped and slammed with the most crippling sanctions to prevent them from continuing the development of these [nuclear] delivery systems, these guns,” he said.

Furthermore, the Iranians are hiding the “casings for the bullets” in military sites, which the nuclear deal has placed out of bounds to inspectors, he said.

And the third element – the gunpowder – is the enriched uranium, “which is the toughest thing to make for a nuclear weapon, because it is the most difficult to manufacture, requires big plants and precision engineering.” When the sun sets on the agreement, he said, Iran will be given “free rein to enrich uranium without limitations.”

Lifting Iran’s limitations on uranium enrichment should not be linked to a calendar, Netanyahu said, but rather to Iran’s behavior, which as a result of the deal has gotten worse and more aggressive in the region, not better.

Netanyahu predicted that the Iranians would “do nothing” if the nuclear deal is not either “fixed or nixed.”

FURTHERMORE, he said, the countries of the world would have to decide whether they prefer dealing with the US or with Iran, which – despite the fact that it has some 80 million people as compared to Israel’s 8.5 million – has an economy about the size of Israel’s.

“I think the time to stop them is now,” he said.

Netanyahu said that Iran, through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, is trying to change the status quo in the region.

If they do change the status quo, he said, the rule he will follow is one established by the early Zionists when dealing with problems: “They said nip things in the bud, stop them before they get big. That’s basically what our policy is.”

Netanyahu also conveyed a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, stressing that Israel’s decision to stay out of the Syrian civil war for the last six years, except to grant humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians in Israeli hospitals, could change.

Assad understands that if he invites Iran to entrench itself militarily inside his country, he is challenging Israel, he said. “If Mr. Assad invites Iran in militarily, that changes our position. So that is up to Iran and to Mr. Assad.”

Zarif, in addition to dismissing Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus,” said the recent shooting down of an Israeli F16 after it bombed an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility.”

“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Zarif said, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”

“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes, it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said.

“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility [of Israel] has crumbled.”

He accused the United States of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against Iran and denied that Tehran was seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East.

Zarif also poked at Netanyahu for his legal problems, saying, “Israel’s major problems are its years-long criminal occupation policies, and I’m not even talking about its corruption.”

Kerry, meanwhile, said at the conference that it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the scope of the deal ends.

“If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you are concerned it will light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to prevent to ever catching fire again?” he asked.

Before addressing the conference, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visited a memorial to the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes killed in Munich in 1972.

“There is [a] special meaning to the fact that we are standing at the place where 11 of our athletes were murdered just because they were Jews and Israelis. Millions were slaughtered here just because they were Jews,” he said. “The great difference is that we have a state and this state has acted, and is acting today, against terrorism and those who would destroy us.”

Netanyahu then led the members of his delegation in singing “Hatikva.”

The Article was published on The JPost

Times of Israel Persian blogger arrives safely in Israel

Neda Amin, 32, who wrote regularly from Turkey for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, faced deportation, feared she would be sent back to Iran

Neda Amin, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, arrived safely in Israel on Thursday morning, and was met at Ben-Gurion Airport by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.

Amin was being threatened with imminent deportation by Turkey. She feared that if no other country took her in, she would be sent back to Iran, where she feared for her fate.

After The Times of Israel alerted the Israeli authorities to her plight, government officials immediately responded and paved the way for her safe arrival in Israel.

“Thank you,” said Amin, over and over when she arrived, embracing Horovitz. “You saved me.”

Horovitz thanked all of the Israeli officials who had worked to ensure her well-being. “I’m proud to live in a country that responded so instinctively to help somebody who was in danger.”

“As soon as we brought Neda’s case to the attention of the Israeli authorities, everybody was helpful and professional,” he said.

Amin has blogged regularly for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, and has done some freelance work. “She feared for her life, and her work for the Times of Israel was apparently a factor, so I felt we had an obligation to ensure her well-being, and I am very grateful to all the Israeli officials to whom I turned for assistance for providing it, immediately,” said Horovitz. The officials at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, he stressed, were particularly helpful.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who issued the visa for her entry into the country, tweeted Thursday: “Welcome to Israel!”

Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her, noting that the UN previously designated her a refugee in 2015, and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.

The UN Watch NGO circulated a petition on Amin’s behalf, warning that she was “in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran.”

Amin, 32, left Iran for Turkey in 2014.

The article was published on The Times of Israel

The triumph of European pragmatism in the Middle East


The European Parliament will vote this coming Wednesday on the report concerning the EU’s strategy after Iran’s nuclear agreement. MEP Richard Howitt’s report passed through its first reading in the Foreign Affairs committee on the 6th of October 2016 with 38 votes for, 15 against, following consultations with the Trade Committee on the 14th of July 2016.

The resolution is steeped in European “pragmatism”, with a scent of European values and norms.  

Acknowledging Iran’s position in the Middle East, second largest economy, and in the world, the country with second largest gas reserves, the report is a classic example of European expediency when it comes to opening relations with Iran and reducing its energetic dependency on Russian gas reserves. The report calls for the opening of an EU delegation in Teheran that would facilitate and foster dialogue and trade relations, as well as for the appointment of an Iranian expert for accessing the Horizon2020, European research flagship program.

Under the regional security headline, the report falls short of condemning Iran sponsoring terrorist activities for actors like Hezbollah and Al Nusra. While “the principle of ensuring respect, safety and security for peoples in all countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian people” will be the best reference you will get for condemning the anti-semitic and Holocaust denial recurring statements of the Iranian religious and political leadership.

Here at EIPA we are deeply concerned with this tilting of balance towards the strategic interests at the expense our European values in a foreign policy trend that separates Iran’s destabilizing behaviour in the region and its human rights record from the nuclear file.

For further reading, please click HERE


EIPA Special Update: The Iran Deal

 High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gesture during a press conference in the course of the talks between the E3+3 (France, Germany, UK, China, Russia, US) and Iran in Vienna, Austria, 14 July 2015.   EPA/HERBERT NEUBAUER

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, 14 July 2015. EPA/HERBERT NEUBAUER

Dear friends,

As you will know, some of the world powers signed an accord with Iran after a fraught and long period of negotiations that ran long past the deadline of June 30th.

 The spin-doctors have been out in force, seeking to drive the media consensus that this is historic, unparalleled and will usher in a new period of West-Iran relations.

We ask you not to believe the hype. This is not a good deal. Putting aside the clear implications for the State of Israel that are obvious, the deal falters on a number of fronts.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has made the following points that we at EIPA feel are a rational and responsible take on the deal.

It short, the deal is bad because:

  • It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. It leaves Iran’s current capabilities almost entirely intact and allows Iran to improve those capabilities by conducting research and development on advanced centrifuges and building intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear warheads.
  • It allows Iran to continue its significant enrichment of uranium far beyond any practical civilian needs. These capabilities have been acquired by deception, concealment, and above all recurring violations of UN Security Council and IAEA resolutions.
  • The Iranian nuclear crisis began and intensified after two massive intelligence failures: Natanz and Arak,  and Fordow.  The international community learned of these major nuclear facilities only after after they were operational. There is no reason to believe that Iran will start cooperating tomorrow, but the deal all but guarantees that it will nonetheless have the nuclear infrastructure it would need to produce a nuclear arsenal.
  • The restrictions being placed on Iran’s nuclear program are only temporary, with the most important restrictions expiring in 10 years, and they are not contingent on Iran’s behavior. In 10 years, Iran could be even more aggressive toward its neighbors, sponsor even more terrorism around the globe and work even harder to destroy Israel, and the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would still be automatically removed.
  • It sparks a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Because states throughout the region know that the deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb, a number of them will race to get nuclear weapons of their own. The most dangerous region on earth would get infinitely more dangerous.
  • The deal transfers to the Iranian regime’s coffers $150 billion that is now frozen in foreign bank accounts. Tens of billions are likely to flow to the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and other Iranian terror proxies in the region. 

For all these reasons (and indeed more such as the security of the State of Israel) EIPA believes a historic and monumental miscalculation has been made that benefits Iran and nobody else.