US Policy Changes Vol.40 (Foreign Policy Vol.6 – Israel-Palestine, Iran)

Here are articles on Israel-Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Excerpts are on our own.

Dump UNRWA, vote on 2008 peace agreement? (1/2/2017) | @mrubin1971 @TheNatlInterest @AEI
…declaring Israel’s settlement policies to be the chief impediment to Arab-Israel peace. “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,”…
…for example, the negotiated agreements rejected by the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to negotiate during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous settlement freeze.
…erased much off the progress made since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
He might, however, have unintentionally opened a new door to opportunity. …not by repeating past diplomatic mistakes but rather by setting them aside.
The first Intifada—Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule—occurred between 1987 and 1993. It was a largely grassroots movement. The Palestine Liberation Organization was in exile in Tunisia and had become increasingly irrelevant to events in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. …
It is time to reverse that gamble on dictatorship over democracy. Abbas, now in the 12th year of his four year presidential term, violated the basis of the Oslo Accords repeatedly by bypassing bilateral negotiations to seek unilateral redress at the United Nations. …
… If a Trump administration puts a Palestinian state to a vote, it would empower the Palestinians to achieve their dreams without being held hostage to their corrupt leadership or pressures from an Arab rejectionist block of a newly-empowered Islamic Republic of Iran.
… Today, its annual budget is $1.4 billion. If the Trump administration pushed for UNRWA’s dissolution more than six decades after its mandate was supposed to expire and channeled the US contribution instead to host the referendum among those currently living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestine could be independent in a year. …
… Palestinians have historically received more assistance per capita than any other people and, even in Gaza, they have a higher standard of living than many Turks, Brazilians, fellow Arabs, and Africans.
Money dumped on the West Bank and Gaza could be better spent on Yemenis, Syrians, Rohingya Muslims, Turkey’s Kurds, displaced Ukrainians, or others. … So if the Palestinians vote no, it is time to declare the Oslo era—and the Palestinian Authority upon which it was built—over, give Israel an open hand to secure its borders as it sees fit, and write the Palestinians off until they reconsider.

Is a peace deal possible if Israelis and Palestinians simply don’t trust each other? (1/3/2017) | @braunold & @SarahEYerkes @BrookingsFP
MIND THE GAP
… Throughout the Obama administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $10 million a year in funding reconciliation programs between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians. …
BALL IN TRUMP’S COURT
– Senior level advisors, including the new advisor for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, meeting with not just the parties, but civil society groups privately as well publically;
– Inclusion of the USAID people-to-people reconciliation grant program into the federal budget; and
– Leveraging U.S. dollars off those of the rest of the international community in the creation of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, which currently enjoys bipartisan support, that can provide the necessary bandwidth and budget for a systemic approach to the trust deficit.

Obama’s record on Israeli-Palestinian peace: The president’s disquieting silence (10/6/2016) | @elgindy_ @ForeignAffairs @BrookingsFP

What JASTA will mean for U.S.-Saudi relations (10/3/2016) | Bruce Riedel @BrookingsFP

What Jeff Sessions as attorney general will mean for the Iran Deal (12/16/2016) | @aaron_m_arnold @BulletinAtomic
While the attorney general does not have any big role to play directly in terms of the Iran deal,… …the Justice Department’s actions can carry a ripple effect.
…the attorney general decides if and when the department should undertake investigations or prosecutions related to currently existing Iran sanctions?regarding things such as Iran’s conventional missiles, its sponsoring of terrorism, its possible human rights violations…
…enforcement of the laws relating generally to export controls and sanctions regarding Iran could have an impact on the deal…
…should increase pressure on Iran’s ballistic missile program with sanctions and aggressively confront any violations of the deal…
… To be fair, however, he has remained somewhat quiet about the deal…
…the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)…
… Between the year 2000 and July of 2016, the Justice Department pursued approximately 293 IEEPA criminal violations. …
…during the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and in the months thereafter, the Obama administration took a decidedly cautious approach to seeking criminal charges against Iranian procurement agents and sanctions violators. …
…US enforcement agencies were hesitant to seek extradition requests or conduct lure operations…
… Sessions’ approach will depend on his relationship with the White House. …
…the 981(k) statute, named after the corresponding section of the USA Patriot Act. Under this rule, the attorney general can seize assets that are not technically held in US bank accounts. …
… Because these methods depend on leveraging the role of the US financial system in international banking, overuse can potentially damage business relationships and the international standing for US banks…
…any member of the agreement can bring a dispute to the Joint Commission, which then has 15 days to resolve the dispute. If not resolved by that time, the matter is referred to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and then the UN Security Council for a vote on continuing sanctions. …
… If the United States does not first use the dispute resolution mechanism, Tehran may view Washington as acting in bad faith.
… Tougher penalties for IEEPA violations, for example, could send a strong signal to Iran, China, and North Korea. …

The 2016 Iranian Parliamentary Elections and the Future of Domestic Politics under the JCPOA (w PDF; Dec 2016) | Payam Mohseni @BelferCenter
p8 Figure 1 Classification of Iranian Political Factions
p12 Figure 2 The Alliance of the Theocrats: Ahmadinejad, 2005?2013
p15 Figure 3 The Alliance of the Right: June 2013?February 2016
p17 Figure 4 Power Triangle of the Rouhani Coalition: June 2013?February 2016
p19 Figure 5 Tension of Right Alliance vs. Republican Alliance, 2016 Parliamentary Elections
p21 Figure 6 Republican Alliance vs. Theocratic Alliance: 2016 Iranian Parliamentary Lists
p26 Table 1 National Factional Seat Shares (%) by Election Rounds in the 10th Iranian Parliament
p27 Figure 7 Total Factional Seat Shares (%)
p29 Figure 8 Round Two Factional Seat Shares (%)
p34 Figure 9 Participation Rate
p34 Figure 10 Voting Population
p35 Figure 11 Qualified Candidates
p37 Figure 12 Incumbency Rate for the Iranian Parliament
p41 Table 2 Iranian Provinces by Voter Turnout (%)
p42 Table 3 Top Provinces by the Three Main Faction
p43 Table 4 Iranian Provinces by Factional Seat Share (%)
p44 Table 5 Top 10 Largest Cities by Factional Seat Share (%)
p46 Figure 13 Total Top-10 Cities by Factional Seat Share (%)
p47 Figure 14 Total Top-10 Cities by Factional Seat Share (%) – Excluding City of Tehran
p51-52 Conclusion: The Future of Iranian Politics under the JCPOA
… With theocratic forces split over the key foreign policy issue defining Iran’s relations with the international community, Rouhani was able to barely edge to victory in the first round of elections, trumping five other rivals.
… The next presidential elections, in 2017, will therefore reflect the ability of Rouhani to preserve and manage the power triangle between the republicans and the modern theocrats to hold on to the government and Majles. … If the U.S. unilaterally undertakes antagonistic actions against Iran, the entire political platform of Rouhani’s coalition will collapse and a reconfiguration aimed at reintegrating the theocratic left will likely emerge.
… At a minimum, together with the unrealized economic benefits expected to follow the JCPOA, the theocrats will gain a stronger bargaining position with Rouhani. However, it could also be an electoral strategy to highlight economic inequality under Rouhani with an eye to the 2017 presidential elections. Either way, the re-election of a weak Rouhani or a theocratic victory is a win-win scenario for the Supreme Leader. …