Pro-Israel News

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Iran is “closer than ever” to the bomb, and completing it would be “easier than putting in a contact lens,” a senior Iranian official was quoted saying on Thursday.

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The claim by Hassan Karimpour, an adviser to Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, was reported Thursday in Iranian media, and quoted on the BBC’s Persian language website and Israel’sHebrew-language Channel 2 TV.

Finishing a nuclear bomb would be “easy to do, as soon as the spiritual ban on nuclear weapons were lifted,” Channel 2 quoted Karimpour as saying.

The Iranian regime has repeatedly vowed that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, and spiritual leader Ali Khamenei has issued fatwas forbidding nuclear weapons.

According to Fars news, Karimpour also said Iran has 14 missile depots, buried between 30 and 500 meters underground, equipped with automatic launchers, and that any country that dared to attack Iran would be riddled with large numbers of missiles fired from these depots.


A worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, on October 26, 2010. (AP/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour, File)

Israel and others in the West believe Iran has been pursuing a rogue nuclear weapons program, however, and the US-led P5+1 world powers signed a deal with Iran in July intended to curb the program, in exchange for sanctions relief. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the deal as a “historic mistake” that would pave Iran’s path to the bomb, and challenged US President Barack Obama’s handling of the issue in a speech to Congress in March.


In this Feb. 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician walks through the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

A former Iranian president reportedly admitted last month that the country’s nuclear program was started with the intent of building a nuclear weapon. The reportedcomments by Hashemi Rafsanjani to the state-run IRNA news agency marked the first time a top Iranian official — current or former — had said the country sought a nuclear weapon.


Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Earlier on Thursday, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said he could not guarantee that everything Iran is doing is peaceful, even as Tehran takes steps to reduce its nuclear activities under the July deal. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano spoke Thursday to the IAEA’s 35-nation board.

Amano said he is “not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” and thus cannot conclude that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Israel will not survive the next 25 years, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday, making a series of threatening remarks published online.

In a quote posted to Twitter by Khamenei’s official account, Khamenei addresses Israel, saying, “You will not see next 25 years,” and adds that the Jewish state will be hounded until it is destroyed.

The quote comes against a backdrop of a photograph apparently showing the Iranian leader walking on an Israeli flag painted on a sidewalk.

“After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: Firstly, you will not see next 25 years; God willing, there will be nothing as Zionist regime by next 25 years. Secondly, until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” the quote from Iran’s top leader reads in broken English.

The quote was apparently taken from a speech given earlier in the day.

The remarks came as US lawmakers began to debate supporting a recent nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers. Critics of the deal have pointed to fiery anti-US and anti-Zionist rhetoric as proof that the regime should not be trusted.

The White House and other deal boosters argue that the pact, meant to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, is based on verification, not trust.

Khamenei’s statements also reaffirmed his view that the US is a “Great Satan” and that there would be no detente with Washington beyond the nuclear talks.

“We approved talks with the United States about [the] nuclear issue specifically. We have not allowed talks with the US in other fields and we [do] not negotiate with them,” Khamenei said in statements published on his website.

Khamenei is quoted as saying any other talks would be “a tool for penetration and imposing their demands.”

On Twitter, Khamenei said talks with the US were a “means of infiltration and imposition of their wills.”

Quoting the founder of the Islamic Republic and his predecessor as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei tweeted: “@IRKhomeini stated “US is the Great Satan,” some insist on depicting this Great Satan as an angel.”

The Twitter handle @IRKhomeini is an Iranian government account dedicated to Khomeini’s statements.

Some have pointed to the nuclear deal as an opening for Iran to repair long-frayed ties with the West.

Several senior European officials have traveled to Iran since the nuclear deal was reached to boost economic and diplomatic ties, including Austrian President Heinz Fischer, who on Monday became the first European leader to visit Tehran in over a decade.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signaled that Iran is ready to hold talks with world powers on ways to resolve Syria’s civil war — provided such negotiations could secure peace and democracy in the conflict-torn country, he said.

Iran, together with Russia, backs the embattled regime of Bashar Assad, who is opposed by much of the West.


AP contributed to this report. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Iran’s foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated its support for Hamas and other anti-Israel terrorist groups and said that aiding those who “stand against the Zionist regime is a principle of Iran’s policy.”

The Islamic Republic’s renewed backing of Hamas comes amid reports that relations between the two have been strained in recent months. However, Iran denies that this is the case and made clear this week that it will continue to back terrorist entities that seek Israel’s destruction.

“Iran’s support for all resistance groups continues similar to the past,” said Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for Iran’s foreign ministry, to reporters in Tehran when asked whether the country’s position on Hamas had shifted.

Afkham went on to stress that “supporting members of the resistance front and those who stand against the Zionist regime is a principle of Iran’s policy,” according to Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.

These terrorist groups, with Iran’s support, will “stand on the frontline of war against the Zionist regime [and] would maintain their unity and integrity.”

Iran’s renewed interest in and public support for Hamas is a sign that the Islamic Republic has no intention of moderating its extremist views in light of the recently secured nuclear deal, which officials in the Obama administration claimed would bring Iran into the global community of nations.

“To sell the deal, supporters of the JCPOA distort the facts about the Iranian  regime’s intention and plan to annihilate Israel,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “All factions of the Islamic regime in Iran firmly believe that Israel must be destroyed, they just have different opinions about the best way to reach this goal.”

Senior Iranian officials have claimed in recent weeks that Iran will expand its global terrorism agenda as a result of the deal.

Iran will “continue providing weapons to support the Middle Eastern countries fighting terrorism,” Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, was recently quoted as saying by Iran’s state-controlled press.

Following the nuclear deal, Iran will “preserve its defensive capabilities and send weapons to its regional allies,” according to Zarif.

Meanwhile, members of Hamas have praised Iran in recent comments and thanked the Islamic Republic for its support.

Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, praised Iran for enabling his group’s war against Israel.

“Iran’s various supports for Palestine have been precious, abundant and greatly influenced the Palestinian resistance,” Marzouk is reported to have said earlier this year.

More than 70 members of the Iranian parliament recently petitioned President Hassan Rouhani to increase “Iranian support for the regional resistance front after the nuclear agreement,” according to the report.

These Iranian lawmakers “called on the president to use the ministries of defense and foreign affairs to send aid to the Palestinians in accordance with instructions from the Supreme Leader to arm the Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Another top Iranian national security official, Javad Karimi Qoddousi, demanded this month that “all the senior Iranian officials … support aid for the Palestinian people and the resistance front so that the nuclear agreement [is not] exploited to strengthen Israel’s security.”

Copyright © 2012 Washington Free Beacon. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 6/30/2015, 12:35 PM

Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda on Tuesday after they took part in the anti-Israel flotilla destined for Gaza.

"The (former) president of Tunisia and the Spanish lawmaker flew this morning. There are another 14 who have begun the expulsion process," a spokeswoman for Israel's immigration authority told AFP.

Israel had on Monday commandeered the Swedish-flagged Marianne of Gothenburg, part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III, and accompanied it to the port of Ashdod.

Sixteen foreign nationals were on board along with two Israelis, MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) and a television reporter. The two Israelis have been released, though Ghattas could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions.

The so-called “Freedom Flotilla 3”, which set sail from Crete on Friday, has been backed by the European Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza. Members of the European Parliament, journalists, athletes, artists, as well as radical leftist Israelis will be on board.

The flotilla was the latest in a series of attempts by activists to break the naval blockade on Gaza, imposed by Israel after Hamas violently took control of Gaza from rival Fatah in 2006.

The most famous of the flotillas was the 2010 one involving the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza."

The ship repeatedly defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port and ignored repeated warnings to change course, forcing IDF troops to board the vessel - only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board wielding knives and metal bars. The wounded soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of ten of Islamists on board.

After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - indicating how the true goal of the provocative move was to open Gaza to free naval access, which it has consistently used to smuggle in weapons to be targeted against Israel.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Published June 29th, 2015 at 02:38pm

Israel's security cabinet approved extending the fence along the Egyptian border to include a section along the Jordanian border north of the southern city of Eilat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday.

Israel's fence on its southern border with Egypt, also near Eilat, was erected in 2013 to keep out illegal African immigrants and while Israel and Jordan coordinate closely on the shared border, Israel is concerned about migrants and armed jihadist might try to infiltrate via the 240 kilometer-long border with Jordan.

"This is an important matter. It is part of our national security," Netanyahu said. "It is an addition security fence we built along our border in the Sinai, which prevented the entry of illegal infiltrators into Israel, and of course of the various terror organizations."

The fence will be built on Israeli territory according to Netanyahu, who said that it will not "in any way harming the sovereignty or national interests of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan".

The Israeli government was expected to allocate nearly one billion shekels (roughly $300 million) for the construction of the massive fence last year.

The extension of the fence will run 30 kilometers north from Eilat and will help to protect the Timna airport, due to open next year.

Cooperation between Israel and Jordan is growing as the Islamic State militant group continues makes additional gains in Iraq near the Jordan border, said a senior source in the Jordanian Embassy in Israel.

"There is a very good cooperation between us regarding the growing presence of the extremists in Iraq and Syria, but also on issues relating to other radical forces in the Middle East which have their sights set on Israel and Jordan," the diplomatic source said, without elaborating.

"The developments on the Jordanian-Iraqi border are still unclear, but the Jordanian army is already doing whatever it can to quell any threat from the area," the unnamed official said.

The Jewish state also has a border fence with the Gaza Strip and barriers on the frontiers with Syria and Lebanon, both countries it is technically at war with.

The huge steel fence that runs along the Syrian frontier through the Golan Heights was built after the Syrian civil war broke out, for fear of a spillover of fighting and an influx of refugees.

Israel also has a vast separation barrier that runs through the West Bank, which it began building during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted from 2000-2005.

Friday, June 26, 2015

By AFP June 26, 2015, 3:00 pm

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made her first trip to a former Nazi concentration camp Friday, visiting Bergen-Belsen just over 70 years after it was liberated by British forces, on the final day of her state visit to Germany.

The 89-year-old queen was accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, 94, as she visited the site where at least 52,000 people from across Europe died during World War II, including teenage Jewish diarist Anne Frank. She was due to see a memorial stone to the young girl, whose journal of her family’s time hidden from the Nazis during the German occupation of The Netherlands has been read by millions around the world.

In April 1945, British forces freed the camp in northern Germany where Jews, political prisoners and other persecuted groups were held, taking pictures which gave the world the first visual proof of the Holocaust.

The queen is also due to lay a wreath and meet camp survivors and liberators. At a banquet at Berlin’s presidential palace earlier in the week, the queen warned against “division” in Europe, in a speech focused on historical references to the lessons of World War II, the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. In April, on the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, German President Joachim Gauck paid tribute to Britain for restoring “humanity” to the country, saying its forces led by example during the subsequent Allied occupation.

The event wraps up the queen’s fifth state visit to Germany which included a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, a boat trip along Berlin’s Spree river and a trip to the financial capital, Frankfurt.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

06/25/2015 17:56

THE HAGUE - The Palestinian Authority made its first submission of evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court on Thursday, trying to speed up an ICC inquiry into abuses committed during last year's Gaza conflict. The move may leave Israel in a quandary since it must decide whether to cooperate with the ICC investigation or find itself isolated as one of a very few countries that have declined to work with its prosecutors. Israel denies allegations of war crimes by its forces during the 2014 Gaza war and accuses Islamist terrorists who control the Gaza Strip of atrocities in firing thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers.

Standing outside the ICC after meeting the court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said he had submitted dossiers on the Gaza conflict, Israeli settlements on land where Palestinians seek a state, and treatment of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. "Palestine is a test for the credibility of international mechanisms ... a test the world cannot afford to fail. Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance," Maliki said. A cease-fire in August ended 50 days of fighting between Hamas in Gaza and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

UN investigators said on Monday that Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups committed grave abuses of international humanitarian law during the conflict that may amount to war crimes. The Hague-based ICC, with no police force or enforcement powers of its own, is looking into alleged crimes by both sides of the conflict but cannot compel Israel to give it information.


The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, joined the court in April and Bensouda has opened a preliminary investigation related to Gaza. But Israel has substantial leverage over the course of ICC inquiries since court officials can only access sites of alleged atrocities in Gaza and Israeli settlements in the West Bank via Israel's airports. Maliki said he had agreed with prosecutors on a date for them to visit Palestinian territories, but did not say when. "It depends on their ability to enter Palestinian territory without problems," he said. ICC prosecutors told Reuters earlier they aimed to make field trips to both the Palestinian and Israeli sides but had not yet sought formal Israeli permission.

Israel disputed the UN report on possible war crimes, saying its forces had upheld the "highest international standards". Gaza's dominant Hamas group ignored the accusations against it and called for prosecutions of Israeli leaders. As a non-member of the ICC, Israel is under no obligation to cooperate, regardless of international pressure to do so. But a boycott of prosecutors could put Israel in awkward company. Even Russia, a foe of the ICC, has met court prosecutors related to their inquiry into alleged crimes in Russia's 2008 war with Georgia and over the events leading up to the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Russian president.

Israel has been an outspoken critic of the ICC, saying the Palestinian Authority is not a state and should never have been admitted as an ICC member. Israel also argues that the ICC inquiry will make it harder to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Talks on a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war collapsed last year and there is no prospect of reviving them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

As U.S. and Iranian negotiators approach the June 30 deadline to reach a nuclear deal, America's largest pro-Israel lobby is campaigning to kill such an accord in Congress.

Since last month, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has mobilized its members to press legislators to endorse five principles for a nuclear deal -- principles that are almost certain not to be reflected in a final agreement.

Parallel to this campaign, major donors to AIPAC and other pro-Israel causes are forming a new and independent 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, according to fundraisers and other lobbyists involved in the effort. The new organization will buy TV, radio and Internet ads targeting lawmakers from both parties who are on the fence about the nuclear deal, these sources say.

Officially, AIPAC is still reserving judgment on the nuclear deal being ironed out now in Vienna by the U.S., Iran and five other world powers. But it's clear that the agreement now being negotiated would be unsatisfactory to AIPAC. For example, AIPAC's principles say a deal should last "decades," while the framework for the nuclear agreement released in April would begin easing restrictions on Iran's program after a decade. Another principle says inspectors must be given "anytime, anywhere" access to suspected sites, "including all military facilities." Iran's leaders have consistently said there will be no inspections on military sites.

AIPAC is now prepared to fight the White House by pushing Democrats to vote against the president's signature second-term foreign policy initiative.

That represents a break from how AIPAC usually does business. While the lobby has pressed Congress to sanction Iran since the early 1990s, it rarely opposes a sitting president on major votes. Despite initial misgivings, the Obama White House ended up supporting major sanctions against Iran in 2010, 2011 and 2012, avoiding a fight with AIPAC. In early 2014, AIPAC backed away from its plan to push for a sanction vote during the nuclear negotiations, in the face of White House pressure on Democrats to give negotiators room to strike a deal. AIPAC supported legislation this year to give Congress a chance to review and disapprove the Iran deal; the White House initially opposed this measure. But the administration dropped its opposition after some changes were made to the bill that made it procedurally more difficult to disapprove the deal.

The campaign against the Iran deal is focused on that vote. Depending on when the White House submits the nuclear agreement to the House and Senate, Congress will have 30 or 60 days to review it, which is sure to have complex twists and turns. Then lawmakers can vote to approve or disapprove the deal. If Congress can sustain a veto-proof two-thirds majority in the House and the Senate, then Obama will not be allowed to waive the sanctions on Iran legislated by Congress. (He will still be allowed to waive sanctions imposed through executive authority.)

Getting two-thirds of the House and the Senate is no small matter. As I reported in April, House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged to a private meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition that Republicans didn't have the votes to overcome an Obama veto on a resolution disapproving the Iran deal.

But this doesn't mean that AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups will not at least make a fight out of it. Last week AIPAC's national council was in Washington for a previously scheduled meeting. But the group's national leaders also took the opportunity to make the case for the five principles to members of Congress, according to Congressional staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

For those activists who couldn't make it to Washington, AIPAC members are also reaching out through the mail. One AIPAC mailing I obtained being circulated among Florida pro-Israel activists was a letter to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. "There is still time to influence the agreement," the letter says, "and as a member of Congress who represents one of the largest pro-Israel constituencies in the country we urge you to play a role in ensuring that Congress does not accept a deal that does not eliminate the Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapon."

Josh Block, the president and chief executive officer of the Israel Project and a former spokesman for AIPAC, told me that the campaign on the Iran deal is helped by the accord itself. "The more people learn about the developing deal, the more alarmed and opposed they are to these terms." To that end, Block said his organization will be traveling to Vienna for the negotiations and will be revamping a digital social media campaign advocating against what it considers to be a bad deal through a website it created about Iran's nuclear program.

The new 501(c)(4) group funded by AIPAC donors, according to one pro-Israel lobbyist familiar with the campaign, will focus on about a dozen media markets with large Jewish populations to make the case against the Iran deal, targeting Republicans and Democrats. Other similar 501(c)(4) groups have already started these kinds of ad buys.

One such group, Secure America Now, has produced video ads featuring Maria, a woman whose father was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device supplied by Iran. In the ad, Maria tells the camera, "And now President Obama would do a deal that lets Iran get a nuclear weapon."

The Emergency Committee for Israel, another 501(c)(4), is also considering running ads against the Iran deal in several targeted media markets, according to its executive director, Noah Pollak.

Other advocacy groups are also planning to run ads in sensitive political districts. Chris Maloney, a spokesman for the American Security Initiative, whose board includes four former senators -- Norm Coleman, Saxby Chambliss, Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh -- told me his group is about to launch an ad buy tallying just under $1.4 million, to target eight Republican and Democratic senators. The ad buy will include television and digital media.

Maloney told me that one target of that campaign will be Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who is in line to be the leader of his party in the Senate after Harry Reid retires. Schumer has not yet said whether he will support the Iran nuclear deal. But he has in recent speeches to Jewish groups outlined his own criteria for evaluating it.

Schumer's criteria are not exactly the same as AIPAC's, but he shares some of their concerns. According to a recording provided to me of Schumer's remarks on June 18 before an AIPAC event in New York, Schumer said that an outright ban on inspections of military sites would be unacceptable. "Inspections have to be across the board everywhere and they have to be quick and they have to be unilateral on behalf of the United States," he said.

In the past Schumer has given the president deference to negotiate an Iran deal while other pro-Israel groups have pressed for more sanctions. So far he has not paid a political price among this constituency. But they are watching his vote and those of his colleagues very carefully. 

One of those people watching is William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and the chairman of the Emergency Committee for Israel. "Whether a deal is approved or disapproved, the fight to prevent a nuclear Iran will continue, as will the need to hold members of Congress accountable for their votes, and presidential candidates accountable for their positions," he told me. "A vote for a bad Iran deal is a vote that will live in infamy."