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Washington Wrap: Give It Teeth, or Give It the Boot

Omri Nahmias

In another move that strengthened the bonds between Washington and Jerusalem, the administration last week announced that it was withdrawing from UNESCO in protest of its anti-Israel policies

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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L ast Thursday at 5:45 p.m., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, together with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, gave a closed briefing to reporters about the dramatic statement President Trump planned to deliver the next day. It was the first opportunity for the media, including this writer, to get a glimpse of the president’s new Iran strategy almost a full day before the actual speech. “The president has asked us to add teeth to this agreement, or to abandon it,” Tillerson explained.

The essence of Trump’s new approach is compromise. He didn’t turn against his advisors and allies, who are anxious to stay in the nuclear deal, but he did make it clear that he won’t come to terms with a nuclear Iran at the deal’s expiration date. In addition, he’s refusing to ignore Iran’s support of global terrorism as well as its developing ballistic missile program. To achieve all these goals, he’ll ask Congress to define specific red lines through legislation. If Iran crosses them, sanctions will automatically be restored, essentially rendering the agreement null and void.

Jerusalem is naturally gratified by this change in direction, seeing it as a vindication of its oft-mentioned warnings about Iranian hostility and aggression.

“Even the declarative level has significance,” Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said to Mishpacha, in response to whether the administration will be able to follow through on its new hard line. “A year ago, we heard the former president listing the deal’s advantages, while the current president is not afraid to report its failures.

 

This is substantial; it’s the beginning of a process. I assume Congress will carry significant weight here, and the president has transferred the decision to Congress. Compared to what we had in the past, it’s a vastly different approach, a different understanding.”

In another move that strengthened the bonds between Washington and Jerusalem, the administration last week announced that it was withdrawing from UNESCO in protest of its anti-Israel policies. “This is an important step that signals to all United Nations institutions that the United States does not only talk, it also takes action,” Danon said. “The decision to withdraw from UNESCO is a signal to other institutions. Next on the agenda will be the Human Rights Council in Geneva. If they carry on their anti-Israel stances, the United States will pull out.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 681)

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