Archives For Middle East Updates

Five world powers met in Vienna Tuesday and took the first steps in a complicated dance of diplomacy to get the United States back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and vowed that Israel would “always defend ourselves.”

Representatives from the US and from Iran are attending the talks, but neither side is willing to comply with the other’s demands to meet face to face. Iran wants the United States to immediately lift the crippling economic sanctions reimposed since 2018, which would release an estimated $1 billion in funds blocked in other countries. The US wants Iran to fall back to compliance levels, despite having enriched uranium well past the prescribed limits in the deal.

You do not reward someone for bad behavior. The sanctions have crippled the economy of Iran, and yet, they still flood the rebels in Yemen, terrorists in Lebanon and the dictator of Syria with funds, taken from the Iranian people. Maybe believe that the sanctions will eventually lead to a much-needed revolution in Iran.

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Fearing what will happen after the US military’s promised pull-out from Afghanistan, Zabulon Simantov is packing his bags for Israel. Simantov has faithfully looked after the nation’s only operational synagogue for decades, but now he will close the doors for good.

“I managed to protect the synagogue in Kabul like a lion of Jews here,” he told Arab News on Sunday.

Simantov, like many Afghanistan minority populations, is concerned about what will happen after the US troops leave. It is likely that the Taliban or another similar group will move in to fill the vacancy left behind.

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Last week, the Biden administration quietly resumed sending money to the West Bank and Gaza, pledging close to $100 million in aid, as part of the President’s campaign promise to regain the “trust and goodwill” of the Palestinian community. On Monday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price dodged giving a clear answer when asked about the administration’s position on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In back-to-back moves, the administration on Thursday and Friday announced $15 million in aid to help Palestinians combat COVID-19 and possibly as much as an additional $75 million in economic support.

“We continue to believe that American support for the Palestinian people, including financial support, it is consistent with our values. It is consistent with our interests. Of course, it is consistent with the interests of the Palestinian people. It’s also consistent with the interests of our partner, Israel, and we’ll have more to say on that going forward,” Price said of the restart of funds flowing into Palestinian communities.

The Biden administration seems to be counting on the influx of assistance to entice the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with Israel and the US to establish peace in the Middle East.

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After Israel’s trip to the polls last week, no clear winner has emerged for the post of Prime Minister, yet again. In the wake of no clear path to victory, leaders of three parties are working on a plan to form a “national healing government” and boot Benjamin Netanyahu from power after twelve years.

Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, and Gideon Sa’ar and their parties have formed the so-called “change bloc.” The partnership is based on their mutual desire to oust Bibi (Netanyahu) and to address the economic and governmental instability gripping the nation in the aftermath of three years without a budget, plus the pandemic and resulting high unemployment.

The trio’s plan is to form a temporary government, where Lapid and Bennett would alternate being Prime Minister for one year, giving Israelis a break from the election cycle quagmire.

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Linoy Ashram, one of Israel’s best hopes for a medal in the upcoming Summer Olympics, won two gold medals and one bronze this past weekend at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Bulgaria.

On Saturday, with an impressive score of 98.45, Ashram took home the all-around gold for Israel by winning multiple separate events including routines with a hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon. She followed that victory with another gold on Sunday in the ball event with a 26.5 score. Ashram also placed third in the hoop event, with a score of 26.1, earning a bronze medal.

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