# Biden Administration
Diplomacy
Biden officially announces appointment of Tom Mobile as US Ambassador to Israel

The US president has decided in favor of the appointment, which still needs to pass the approval of the US Senate, in a procedure that could take between two and three months.

US Record Joe Biden this evening (Tuesday) officially announced his intention to appoint Tom Nides as the US Ambassador to Israel. The appointment has yet to pass U.S. Senate approval. It is estimated that the appointment will be approved without issue, but the procedure may take between two and three months.

Niles, the former U.S. deputy secretary of state, is the most likely candidate for the job, according to a source involved in the details. Former Congressman Robert Wexler was until recently another leading candidate for the position and even won the support of many members of Congress and Jewish organizations, but did not win the nomination in the end as Biden leaned in the direction of Nides.

Niles currently serves as CEO of Morgan Stanley Bank. He served as Deputy Secretary of State for Administration and Resources under former President Barack Obama. He is very close to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein and other close advisers to Biden.

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# Biden Administration # USA Israel Cooperation # Israeli Diplomacy
USA
Biden Arrives at NATO Summit

U.S. President Joe Biden has recently arrived at a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.

# Belgium # Biden Administration # Joe Biden
US - Israeli Cooperation
Biden Welcomes New Israeli Government, Reaffirms Security Support

U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States remained committed to Israel's security and would work with its new government after Israel's parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister today.

Biden welcomed the new government coalition led by Naftali Bennett and sought to reaffirm U.S.-Israel ties.

The White House said Biden spoke with Bennett on Sunday "to offer his warm congratulations."

Biden "expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region. The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran," the White House said.

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# Biden Administration # Joe Biden # US Government # Naftali Bennett # Security # Israeli Politics
Israeli Politics
"Blue and White" Chairman Bnei Gantz at the Knesset swearing-in session

"Israel's security has never depended on one person, and will never depend on one person.

Mr. Prime Minister, we both know very well who has run the defense establishment in the past year, we both know very well who is working with the Americans in the face of the emerging agreement with Iran.

I promise the outgoing Prime Minister and all of you - we will continue to strengthen relations with the United States, which is our most important ally, and work together with the government so that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

We will continue to influence that the agreement, if signed, will push Iran back. We will oppose a bad agreement."

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# Biden Administration # Iran # Benny Gantz
Palestinian Terror
PA continues its โ€œPay-for-Slayโ€ policy in breach of the US Taylor Force Act

While the administration of United States President Biden has announced the renewal of US aid to the Palestinian Authority, the PA continues unabated its “Pay-for-Slay” in breach of the Taylor Force Act.

The PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy is divided into two broad categories – monthly salary payments to imprisoned terrorists and released terrorists; and monthly allowances to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, or so-called “Martyrs”.

In April 2020, Palestinian Media Watch sent a warning letter to all the banks operating in the PA-controlled areas, cautioning them that new Israeli anti-terror legislation prohibited the payment of the terror rewards and that if the banks continued to aid and abet the PA to reward terror they would be subject to potential criminal and civil liability. The banks heeded the warning and ordered the closure of 35,000 bank accounts of terrorists.

Since the PA could no longer pay the salaries to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners through the commercial banks, it decided to pay them through the PA postal service. The decision was met with great anger among the terrorists and their families, who complained it was “humiliating.”

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# Biden Administration # Terrorism # Palestinian Authority
Middle East analysis
Bidenโ€™s Foreign Policy: New Administration, Old Mistakes

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Three months after Joe Biden entered the White House, his administration is exhibiting symptoms of naiveté, misunderstanding, and disregard for past failures in its foreign policy. These issues are of particular concern to Israel. 

By Prof. Eytan Gilboa

To stop the Iranian race to nuclear weapons, the Obama administration made mistakes in both the negotiation process and the nuclear deal it ultimately reached with Iran in 2015. Barack Obama was overly eager to reach an agreement, and though he repeatedly warned Iran that all options were on the table, it was clear he had no intention of taking military steps. This hardened Iran’s positions and eventually yielded a compromise that worked to the advantage of the Islamic regime.

The same problems have emerged again today. President Biden is going out of his way to appease Iran in an effort to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement, which imposed restrictions on the Iranian regime’s program to develop nuclear weapons.

Biden removed the Houthis (Iran-backed Shiite forces fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government) from a list of countries and organizations supporting terrorism. He assumed this move would reduce the violence inside Yemen and against Saudi Arabia so the severe humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war could be addressed. The result was exactly the opposite. Encouraged by Tehran, the Houthis intensified their attacks, especially on Saudi Arabia.

In February, Biden gave the go-ahead for a measured attack on a pro-Iranian militia base on the Syria-Iraq border in retaliation for an attack on a US base in Iraq. He also, however, reduced American forces in the Gulf.

Biden’s spokesmen leaked a claim to the American media that Israel attacked Iranian ships smuggling oil and weapons into Syria. More recently, they leaked information on an alleged Israeli attack on the Saviz, an intelligence ship owned and operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in retaliation for Iranian attacks on two Israeli-owned commercial ships. In doing this, Biden signaled that even if negotiations fail, he will not countenance an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and opposes an Israeli military strike. As it did in 2015, the US administration is tacitly reassuring Iran that it need have no fear of a military attack. Because it has received this reassurance, Tehran will feel free to take tougher positions in the negotiations.

Democrats often tout human rights as a central value in their foreign policy decision-making, but their highly selective application of this principle raises questions. When Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented the 2020 State Department Report on Human Rights, he named countries seriously violating human rights such as Myanmar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, but omitted Iran. The report also significantly reduced the number of Iranian citizens who were murdered, wounded, and detained by the IRGC during the 2019 mass protests against the regime. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2009, when the Obama administration refrained from condemning the Iranian Islamic regime for brutally suppressing mass protests against the rigging of the presidential elections. The motivation in both cases was to avoid enraging the Islamist regime and undermining the nuclear negotiations.

All these missteps have only toughened Iran’s positions. The regime has agreed not to direct talks but to indirect pre-negotiation talks with the US in Vienna, with the other powers that signed the 2015 deal acting as mediators. This tactic is designed to prevent the US and its European allies from forming a united front. Iran has also begun enriching uranium with state-of-the-art rapid centrifuges, a move that is driving it closer toward the bomb. This is hardly a gesture in the direction of compromise and agreement; it is exactly the opposite.

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# Biden Administration # Middle East
War on Terror
Iranian military boats are days away from delivery of firearms: โ€จโ€จ

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that Iran’s largest military ship is several days away from the transfer of missiles and assault boats to the Maduro regime in Venezuela. 

He stated that “Biden’s desperate attempt to save the nuclear deal and preventing America from aggressively confronting Iran should not be allowed.” 

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# Biden Administration # Terrorism
Global News
Putin says he wants Biden summit to help establish dialogue

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he expected his summit this week with U.S. President Joe Biden to help establish dialogue between the two countries and to restore personal contacts.

Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva for a summit amid strained bilateral relations on a wide array of issues.

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# Biden Administration # Vladimir Putin
Middle East analysis
Diplomatic sources hint at a US-Turkish "deal" involving Syria

Diplomatic sources have hinted at the possibility that the United States of America and Turkey will reach an agreement on various issues, including the Syrian issue.

Informed diplomatic sources told the Arabic-language news site Ashrak al-Awsat published in England that "negotiations between the United States and Turkey are in progress."

The website stated that the negotiations "focus on concluding a multifaceted deal, not only related to the Russian missile deal (S-400), but to the role that Turkey can play in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of American and international forces."

Negotiations include the fate of the Turkish-Syrian border areas, especially those extending northeast of Euphrates.

Sources said: "The deal we are talking about also includes the future of the S-400 missiles and the situation in Syria, including in particular an attempt to reduce its concerns about the "Kurdish enclave" in areas east of Euphrates, and its active contribution to resolving the humanitarian crisis in all Syrian opposition areas."

Sources added, "Nothing is guaranteed so far, although conditions on the ground lead to the belief that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be forced to accept this deal, for reasons related to internal political and economic difficulties."

It should be noted that US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan confirmed at a press conference last Monday that Erdogan and Biden will discuss the Syrian issue during their first meeting in Brussels on the 14th of this month.

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# Biden Administration # Turkey # Syria
China Rising
G7 to counter China's belt and road with infrastructure project

The Group of Seven rich nations will announce on Saturday a new global infrastructure plan as a response to China's belt and road intiative, a senior official in U.S. President Joe Biden's administration said.

The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States would also push the other G7 leaders for "concrete action on forced labour" in China, and to include criticism of Beijing in their final communique
"This is not just about confronting or taking on China," the official said. 

"But until now we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business."

In talks, Biden will also press the other leaders to make clear that they believe forced labour practices were an affront to human dignity and "an egregious example of China’s unfair economic competition" to show that they were serious about defending human rights.

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# Biden Administration
Global News
Putin says relations with U.S. at lowest point in years

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with NBC News ahead of his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden next week, said U.S.-Russia relations are at their lowest point in recent years.

"We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years," Putin said, according to an NBC translation of the interview broadcast on Friday.

Putin and Biden will meet in Geneva on Wednesday.

In the interview, Putin praised former President Donald Trump as "an extraordinary individual, talented individual," and said Biden, as a career politician, was "radically different" from Trump.

 

Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin said he had heard dozens of such accusations. "This is not something I worry about in the least," Putin said.

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# Biden Administration # US Government # Russia
The Iranian Threat
Washington removes sanctions on Iranians and punishes new entities

Blinkan: These actions demonstrate our commitment to end sanctions in the event of a change in the status or conduct of persons subject to any sanctions.

Despite imposing sanctions on Iranian-affiliated pro-Houthi militias, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday lifted sanctions on more than a dozen senior Iranian officials and former energy companies, the Wall Street News website reported.

The newspaper reported that this action came against the backdrop of Vienna talks faltering over the Iranian nuclear deal.

U.S. officials said the move indicates Washington's commitment to easing its pressure if Tehran changes its behavior.

Post-Iranian election delay

Negotiations now appear to be moving beyond Iran's presidential election on June 18, which some Western officials saw as a deadline for concluding talks.

So far the United States has insisted on maintaining a list of terrorism-related sanctions imposed on Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

It is worth noting that the administration of former President Donald Trump imposed comprehensive sanctions on Tehran following its withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018. Iran has repeatedly demanded easing the sanctions imposed by the US before agreeing to start restricting its nuclear activities under the 2015 agreement.

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# Biden Administration # Iran Deal
Expert Opinion
"Palestinian State = Grave Danger"

Yoni Ben Menachem, Middle East and Arab World Expert:

We must object, democratically and within the boundaries of the law, to the attempts of the Biden administration and the Bennet-Lapid government to return Israel to the course of the Oslo Accords.

The establishment of a Palestinian State in the heart of Judea and Samaria is a grave danger to the security of Israel, look what happened in the Gaza Strip!

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# Biden Administration # US-Israel # Yair Lapid # Judea&Samaria # Palestinian Authority # Expert Opinion # Naftali Bennett
US - Israeli Cooperation
GOP Senators Accuse Biden of Sending 'Mixed Messages' in US Support for Israel

Many Republican senators are showing concern over changes the Biden administration is making to Middle East policies, particularly when it comes to Israel. In a letter to the President this week, lawmakers led by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) urge Biden to firmly stand with Israel. 

Lankford told CBN News when it comes to U.S. support for Israel, the Biden administration is sending mixed messages and he argues we need to reaffirm our commitment rather than distancing ourselves.

"We stand with Israel. They're an ally, and America is opposed to terrorism," said Lankford. 

One concern, in particular, is the Biden administration's decision to reopen a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.

"That's an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a recent press conference announcing the plan.

Lankford, however, argues opening the embassy in Jerusalem sends the wrong message and would reaffirm a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.  

"Our embassy is in Jerusalem, that's the focus there. Obviously, the Jewish state - their main headquarters, their Knesset, all their leadership offices are in Jerusalem, that should be a focus. So I have a real concern that sends a mixed message from the United States," the Oklahoma senator explained.

The Biden administration also has plans to reopen a Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C.  

"The flip of that is I've also worked very hard to allow Americans to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable in American courts," explained Lankford. "The connection there is if they base any of the Palestinian efforts here in the United States and have a headquarters here in the United States, American families are able to sue Palestinians for damages and for loss for the acts of terrorism that have been carried out against some of these families."

"The Biden administration is trying to find a way around that and to allow the Palestinians to base a headquarters in the United States without also honoring American victims of terrorism at the same time," he continued. "We pushed on both areas to say the Americans should not give a mixed message to the Palestinians or the Israelis about our alliance with the Israelis, and we definitely shouldn't send a mixed message to American families that are victims of terrorism that they're not going to be able to get their day in court."

Secretary Blinken also recently announced $30 million in U.S. tax dollars will go towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

"I do not believe we should've restored the funding to the U.N. organization that handles refugees," argued Lankford. "They handle refugees in the Palestinian areas different than they handle refugees anywhere else in the world."

"Every other refugee area in the world, when refugees move from one country to another, the U.N. helps integrate them into the new society so they don't live their whole lives as refugees and they're able to become citizens and they move into other places across the world except for the Palestinians," said Lankford. "The U.N. will not allow them to be able to integrate into other areas because the theory is that they're going to move back to Israel and take over Israel in the future. That's absurd."

Even Blinken recently acknowledged the U.N. group spreads anti-Semitic education materials erasing Israel from maps.

"We need to make sure the schools are not teaching hatred and bigotry to the next generation," declared Lankford.

The Biden administration, however, insists its support for Israel is strong.

"Our stalwart support, our ironclad support for Israel will remain," declared State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.  

While some Democrats recently questioned U.S. funding for Israel's Iron Dome defense system, Price says the Biden administration remains committed to it.

"It is an indispensable tool for the safety and security of Israelis," Price said. "Again, we are talking about equal measures of safety and security for Israelis and Palestinians, and on the Israeli side, the Iron Dome is an important element of that equation."

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# Biden Administration # Anti-Israel Propaganda # Antony Blinken
Iran
U.S. drops sanctions on former Iranian officials, step called routine

The United States said on Thursday it had removed sanctions on three former Iranian officials and two companies that previously traded Iranian petrochemicals, a step one U.S. official called routine but that could show U.S. readiness to ease sanctions when justified.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the U.S. official said that the moves by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were unrelated to efforts to revive Iranian and U.S. compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"Today, OFAC and the Department of State are also lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies formerly involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products," the Treasury said in a statement.

It said the delisting reflected "a verified change in behavior or status" of those sanctioned and "demonstrate the U.S. government's commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of (such) a change."

 

A Treasury spokesperson said the three individuals had established "that they are no longer in their positions within entities affiliated with the Government of Iran," adding there was no reason to maintain sanctions on them.

The oil market briefly plunged after being spooked by media reports suggesting sanctions were lifted on Iranian oil officials, showing the potential impact of additional Iranian barrels if a deal is struck and sanctions lifted.

U.S. and Iranian officials are expected to begin their sixth round of indirect talks in Vienna this weekend about how both sides might resume compliance with the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the deal, Iran limited its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain fissile material for atomic weapons in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, arguing it gave Tehran too much sanctions relief for too few nuclear restrictions, and reimposed sanctions that slashed Iran's oil exports.

Iran retaliated about a year later by violating the limits on its nuclear program.

U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to negotiate a mutual return to compliance, a task that requires defining the nuclear limits Iran will accept, the U.S. sanctions to be removed, and how to sequence these.

Asked about the talks, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: "We've made progress, but, and you've heard this before; challenges do remain, and big issues do continue to divide the sides."

 

The Treasury statement did not name the three former Iranian officials or the two companies dropped from its sanctions lists.

However, on its website, OFAC said it removed three men from one of its sanctions lists: Ahmad Ghalebani, a managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, a managing director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moinie, a commercial director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.

OFAC said it removed some sanctions on Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited and on Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai Limited.

"This is just a decision by Treasury in the normal course of business – nothing to do with JCPOA," said the U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, describing it as the "regular process of delisting when (the) facts so dictate."

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# Biden Administration # Iran # US Government
COVID-19 Alert
U.S. to donate 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses to the world

The Biden administration plans to donate 500 million Pfizer CoronaVirus vaccine doses to nearly 100 countries over the next two years, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The sources added that the United States is likely to distribute 200 million shots this year and another 300 million in the first half of next year to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union.

U.S. President Joe Biden will announce the deal on Thursday at the Group of Seven meeting of the world's wealthiest countries in Britain, one of the people said.

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# Biden Administration # CoronaVirus Vaccines # United Sates News # Coronavirus
USA
Putin and Biden Set to Meet in 18th-Century Swiss Villa for Summit

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold their June 16 summit in an 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva, a soothing setting for what promises to be heated talks.

Bitter disputes over election interference, cyber-attacks, human rights, and Ukraine hang over their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office on Jan 20.

Strategic nuclear stability and regional conflicts will be on the table. Biden, who was due to arrive in Britain on Wednesday at the start of his first trip abroad, has said he would press Putin to respect human rights.

Putin said last Friday he expected the talks to be held in a positive atmosphere, though he anticipated no breakthrough.

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# Biden Administration # Vladimir Putin
UPDATE
Bidenโ€™s first foreign tripย 

US President Joe Biden will embark today on his first foreign trip during his presidency. Biden will visit Europe to meet with the leaders of NATO and major countries, as well as Russian President Putin. 

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# Biden Administration
Middle East analysis
The incoming Israeli government and Hamas

The new government led by Naftali Bennett must stop Hamas and its attempts to create a link between the situation on the Gaza border and the situation in Jerusalem. It should not accept dictates from the Biden administration regarding Jerusalem.

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# Biden Administration # Hamas # Naftali Bennett
Diplomacy
Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi reports on normalization

The United States is expected to appoint a special envoy to promote normalization between Israel and the Arab world
In a briefing to sum up his tenure, the outgoing foreign minister said he "needed the Americans" to advance agreements with other countries, and that the Biden administration was told to act on the matter after a government was formed. He also said that a joint working group for Israel-US on the Palestinian issue met for the first time and discussed the opening of the American Consulate in the capital.

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# Biden Administration # USA Israel Cooperation # Israeli Diplomacy