U.S. Confirms Authenticity of Secret Iran Nuclear Docs, Officials See Game Over for Deal

Trump administration officials praise Netanyahu’s ‘powerful presentation’

U.S. officials and congressional insiders view the disclosure Monday by Israel of Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear weapon as game over for the landmark nuclear deal, telling the Washington Free Beacon that new evidence of Iran’s top secret nuclear workings makes it virtually impossible for President Donald Trump to remain in the agreement.

Senior Trump administration officials confirmed the findings as authentic and praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s for disclosing thousands of secret documents proving Iran lied about its past work on a nuclear warhead, telling the Free Beacon the revelation was a “powerful presentation” by Israel outlining why the Iran deal must be fixed or killed.

U.S. officials who reviewed the secret documents confirmed their authenticity and said that Israel has shared the information fully with the United States, most likely to help build the case for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal, rather than try to fix what the White House views as a series of insurmountable flaws.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon say that Monday’s presentation by Netanyahu resulted from a recent conversation between the prime minister and Trump, who has expressed his opposition to remaining in the deal.

During his presentation, Netanyahu disclosed that Israel had obtained some 100,000 secret documents that provide “conclusive proof” Iran lied to the world about its past nuclear work. The Israeli leader further presented information from these documents purporting to show that Iran continues to build on its nuclear know-how in pursuit of a fully functioning weapon.

While Trump has not made a final decision on whether to scrap the deal, sources close to the president say he is increasingly wary of the deal itself, as well as proposed fixes to the deal currently being discussed by the Europeans.

One senior administration official, speaking only on background, confirmed to the Free Beacon that the United States assessed the secret documents obtained by Israel to be fully authentic.

“All the materials we have reviewed are in our assessment authentic,” the official said, praising Netanyahu for presenting the evidence to the world.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful presentation today of compelling new evidence documenting Iran’s determined pursuit of a nuclear weapon,” the senior official said. “It certainly would have been helpful to have this information when the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was negotiated but the Iranians decided to lock it away in a secret vault for future reference.”

The cache of documents showing that Iran has retained the infrastructure and know-how to produce a nuclear weapon has cast further doubts on U.S. efforts to broker a series of fixes to the landmark agreement.

“Only the regime knows what else they’re hiding, but the revelations today don’t give us much confidence in their protestations that they have never had interest in militarizing their nuclear program,” the official said. “They’re showing us in Syria how they plan to deploy their existing arsenal—we would be foolish to think that behavior is going to change because of a deal that was implemented two years ago that was based on a lie.”

Following Netanyahu’s remarks, Trump emphasized his opposition to the deal.

Those familiar with the president’s thinking said that he has soured on efforts to fix the deal and would prefer to see a wholly new agreement, a demand Iran has rejected in recent days.

Trump “made a clear signal today that he’s not confident in the JCPOA,” said the senior administration official. “The decision is with him and I don’t think he’s made it, but he seemed to indicate he’s more open to a new deal then to try to fix something this broken.”

A senior congressional official who has worked closely with the White House on the Iran issue told the Free Beacon the news has sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill.

“Everything the Obama administration told us about the Iranian nuclear program was a lie,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “They assured us that we knew everything about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, that it was put on ice, and that the intelligence community had full insight into what was going on.”

“Now we find out the Iranians have warehouses of nuclear weapons designs. People are in shock,” the source said. “Forget the policy implications, which get to the heart of the deal, this shows how the whole sale was built on a lie. Expect to see momentum build in Congress for just scrapping the whole thing.”

The White House National Security Council and the State Department have yet to comment formally on Netanyahu’s disclosures.

Originally Published in the Free Beacon.


Trump Admin To Grant Iran Missiles Capable of Destroying Israel

Administration insiders, congressional official outraged over concession

The Trump administration is poised to legitimize Iran’s ballistic missile program, granting the Islamic Republic the ability to produce and test a series of missiles capable of striking Israel, according to those familiar with U.S. concessions during ongoing talks over the future of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

After weeks of pressure from European countries, senior Trump administration officials handling the talks are said to have conceded to a demand that Iran only restrict ballistic missile activity to its longer range missiles, leaving untouched its mammoth arsenal of short-range and medium-range missiles that could easily hit Israel and other Middle Eastern nations.

The concession, which comes after months of wrangling over the future of the nuclear deal ahead of a May deadline, has roiled congressional officials and administration insiders who have been pressuring the White House to stand firm against these European demands.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal who has been advocating in favor of tough new restrictions on Iran, told the Free Beacon that the fixes proposed by the Europeans and supposedly endorsed by the Trump administration do not go nearly far enough in addressing Iran’s contested missile program.

“Obama’s Iran nuclear deal was fatally flawed from the beginning,” Cruz told the Free Beacon.”The deal required reckless international concessions and incentivized the international community to turn a blind eye to Iranian bad behavior. These proposed European ‘fixes’ don’t address the missiles Iran would actually build, the inspection problems that would actually arise, or the eventual sunsets as they would actually occur. They would only constrain the Iranians from doing things they never would have done. President Trump should reject these empty promises and withdraw America from this disastrous deal.”

In addition to the relaxed restrictions of Iran’s missile program, European leaders and Iran deal supporters are urging the president to accept a basket of so-called fixes to the deal that Iran deal experts and administration insiders say falls far short of President Trump’s original demands. This reversal in the negotiating position of the United States could result in Trump deciding to wholly abandon the nuclear deal.

French president Emmanuel Macron, in town this week for his first official meeting with Trump at the White House, is expected to pressure the president to remain in the deal and give in to European demands that Iran be permitted to engage in multimillion-dollar business deals across the region.

European officials have echoed these concessions, including the relaxation of restrictions on Iran’s missile program, for weeks, worrying administration insiders that Trump may cave despite his tough rhetoric.

European officials, on a recent trip to Washington, D.C., are said to have attended a dinner party where they met with former Obama administration officials and Iran deal supporters to figure out ways to preserve the accord and not give in to Trump’s demands, according to sources familiar with the ongoing talks.

“When political directors [from European allied countries] came to town, they huddled with the deal’s supporters, another sign they’re just looking to preserve the JCPOA,” said one veteran foreign policy adviser apprised of the situation.

There also has been little change in the U.S. negotiating team and its stance since former secretary of state Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump for failing to carry out his hardline stance on reforming the Iran deal, sources said.

U.S. officials confirmed to the Free Beacon in recent weeks that the negotiating team has not changed personnel since Tillerson’s exit, a disclosure that opponents of the deal have found troubling.

“The Tillerson-McMaster negotiating team is carrying water for the Europeans,” said one administration insider with knowledge of the nuclear talks, referring to H.R. McMaster, the recently fired national security adviser who also was viewed as going along with European concessions on Iran’s nuclear program.

“They have nothing real to show after months of negotiations,” the source said. “The idea that they are even close to ‘fixing’ the JCPOA is farcical.”

Among the sticking points in these talks are efforts to fully restrict Iran’s ballistic missile program, which has been endorsed by many in Congress, as well as by Trump.

Rather than focus on the totality of Iran’s program, U.S. and European officials are choosing to focus only on Iran’s long-range stockpile. Officials are pushing for a cap on Iran’s missiles that would keep them below a range of around 1,240 miles.

This distance is the same one embraced by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei when he issued a 2017 edict on the country’s missile program.

A State Department official confirmed to the Free Beacon that Iran’s long-range capabilities are currently up for discussion. The official would not comment specifically on whether distances would be capped in line with the ayatollah’s demand.

“We have discussed the areas the president identified in January where he wants to see improvements—including ensuring Iran never comes close to developing a nuclear weapon and addressing our concerns with the sunset dates, taking strong action if Iran refuses IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspections, and preventing Iran from developing or testing a long-range ballistic missile,” the official said.

The Trump administration maintains the United States will walk away from the deal if negotiations fail to produce an acceptable agreement by May.

“This is a last chance,” the official said. “In the absence of a commitment from our European allies to work with us to fix the deal’s flaws, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time the president judges that agreement is not within reach, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately.”

Recent moves to align the United States more closely with Iran’s position has roiled White House allies and congressional officials, as well as hawks in the Jewish community who believed Trump would finally crackdown on Iran’s repeated threats to destroy the Jewish state.

“I honestly don’t know how the president can sell Israel down the river like that,” said one Jewish official who routinely engaged with the White House on Iran issues. “It’s bad enough they’re trying to deal with missile threats to their north alone. Now Iran gets a green light to perfect missiles that will one day constitute an existential threat to Israel’s existence?”

Richard Goldberg, a former top aide to Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) who currently advises the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the only acceptable fix to Iran’s missile program is a complete blanket ban.

“A true fix on missiles should align with the Roskam-Cheney bill in the House—total snapback of all sanctions if Iran develops or tests any nuclear capable ballistic missile, period,” Goldberg said, referring to current legislation that would fully outlaw Iran’s missile program. “That’s the gold standard. That’s what the Security Council calls for. Otherwise you’re just negotiating a bad missile deal to supplement a bad nuclear deal.”

Josh Block, a longtime foreign policy professional who serves as the CEO and president of The Israel Project, told the Free Beacon that by only focusing on Iran’s long-range missile capability, the Trump administration is leaving Israel open to attack.

“We know that the mullah regime already has the capability to strike targets up to 1,240 miles from Iran’s borders—a range sufficient to hit the State of Israel, our Arab allies across the region, every U.S. military installation and American soldier in the region, and even parts of Europe,” said Block, a former Clinton administration official.

“Iran’s new ballistic missile cap offer is a total sham—one cooked-up by Iran’s allies in Russia, who are already supporting Tehran and Assad’s violent war to dominate the Middle East—designed to fool President Trump, with the support of greedy Europeans who care more about making money,” Block said.

Originally Published in the Washington Free Beacon.

Hamas to Swarm Israel’s Border, Sparking Fear of New ‘Passover War’

Hamas using civilian protest as cover for mass military operation against Israel

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is planning a mass demonstration along Israel’s border on Friday, prompting fears of a new war with the Jewish state ahead of the Passover holiday, according to regional experts and U.S. officials who say they are closely monitoring the situation.

On the heels of a recent military exercise that observers described as “unprecedented,” Hamas leaders have called for some 100,000 Gaza Strip resident to engage in six weeks of mass demonstrations along the Israeli border as Jewish families gear up for the Passover holiday, which begins Friday evening.

Regional experts closely tracking the situation say the demonstrations are meant as cover for a mass military campaign to swarm Israel’s border and stoke violence against the Jewish state.

The situation is being closely monitored by Trump administration officials, who outlined concerns that Hamas could use civilian protesters as human shields as cover for attacks on Israeli forces.

Tension are high ahead of the mass demonstration, dubbed the Great Return March, with the United Nations already imploring Israel to not attack children or other civilians.

Officials with the U.N. Relief Works Agency, or UNRWA, a body routinely cited for its anti-Israel bias, have already endorsed the demonstrations, stoking further concerns the U.N. is setting the stage to blame Israel for any violence that could erupt. UNRWA has offered medical facilities to any Palestinian who may be injured during the weeks of protest.

State Department officials told the Washington Free Beacon that they are aware of the upcoming protests and will be tracking the situation closely.

“We are aware of calls by Hamas asking people to march along the Israeli border over the coming weeks,” one U.S. official told the Free Beacon.” We will monitor the situation and developments closely.”

The State Department emphasized that it still considers Hamas a terror group and is aware of its routine use of human shields during terror operations.

“Our position on Hamas has not changed,” the official said. “It is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Any use of human shields is absolutely unacceptable.”

Omri Ceren, a managing director at The Israel Project, a D.C.-based organization that works on Middle East issues, warned that Hamas is using civilian protests as cover for a massive military operation that could launch another regional war.

Evidence suggests Hamas has already prepared to flood Israel with armed assets during the demonstration and has even positioned equipment such as tractors to shift the ground and erect fortifications.

“Hamas is trying to trigger a Passover War and the U.N. seems eager to help them,” Ceren said. “Hamas is preparing thousands of civilians to rush Israel’s border, tear down the defensive fence, and provide cover as Hamas fighters flood into Israel.”

While Israeli military officials have planned to use as little force as possible to control any violent eruption, things could get out of hand quickly, Ceren said.

“The Israelis will do everything possible to prevent escalation and avoid casualties, but this is the kind of thing that could go really bad really quickly,” he explained.

“Meanwhile the U.N. is supporting Hamas and setting up Israel to get blamed for anything that happens to Hamas’s human shields,” Ceren said. “American lawmakers were already inclined to view the U.N. as biased and unhelpful when it comes to Israel and this can cement that view.”

U.N. officials have moved to put the onus for preventing violence on Israel in recent days.

Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special coordinator to the Middle East peace process, urged Israel to show restraint during the demonstrations, even if violence erupts.

“The use of force by Israel must also be calibrated. Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international human rights law and humanitarian law,” Mladneov was quoted as saying. “Lethal force should only be used as a last resort, with any resulting fatalities properly investigated by the authorities. I once again urge the security forces to exercise maximum restraint to avoid casualties.”

“I call on all sides to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid a violent escalation,” he was quoted as saying. “It is imperative that civilians, in particular children, not be targeted and that all actors refrain from putting children at risk at any time.”

Observers have been warning that Hamas is not seeking a peaceful protest, but a military campaign in the guise of civilian demonstration.

“The plan is to build to a crescendo day by day until May 15, the day after Israel’s Independence Day, when Hamas hopes tens of thousands of Gazan civilians, interspersed with some military folks, will storm the security barrier, an action that could provoke a forceful response from Israeli security,” Tzippe Barrow, a Jerusalem-based correspondent for CBN News warned in a recent report.

Originally Published on Washington Free Beacon.

UN Official Gives Speech to U.S. Group That Advocates Destruction of Israel

Amid funding showdown, top official welcomed by BDS group

A top United Nations official is facing criticism following a recent speech before a well known anti-Israel organization that supports boycotts of the Jewish state, denies Israel’s right to exist, and has promoted anti-Semitic materials.

Elizabeth Campbell, director of the UN Relief Works Agency’s office in Washington, D.C., recently spoke before the Jerusalem Fund, a Washington-based pro-Palestinian activist group that promotes boycotts of Israel as part of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement, or BDS.

Campbell has appealed to the Trump administration not to cut funding to UNRWA, the Palestinian aid organization that has long been criticized for employing members of Hamas, participating in anti-Israel political activism, and allowing its facilities to be used by terrorists groups. Campbell discussed the issue in a speech earlier this month before the Jerusalem Fund.

The United States has been withholding more than $65 million in taxpayer funding to UNRWA as the Trump administration considers demanding reforms to the organization or permanently reducing funding.

White House-allied policy advisers with knowledge of the talk told the Washington Free Beacon that it is just another example of UNRWA’s biased attitude towards Israel and its efforts to legitimize groups that take a hardline stance against the Jewish state.

One foreign policy official who has worked with the Trump administration on its effort to reform UNRWA said he views the speech by UNRWA’s Washington director at a BDS group as providing the group with undue legitimacy, particularly in light of U.S. efforts to reform the UN group.

“UNRWA explains away its scandals by protesting, in essence, that you can’t expect Palestinians in Gaza not to support terrorism,” the source said. “But there’s no way to explain away the Washington-based head of a taxpayer-funded group supporting a notorious hate group. The anti-Israel culture at UNRWA is toxic—and it extends from Gaza City to Washington, D.C., as this incident shows.”

UNRWA officials did not respond multiple requests for comment on Campbell’s speech.

The Jerusalem Fund regularly holds events that suggest the group’s affinity for Hamas and make explicit its support for BDS. The title of a recent event was “Hamas: From Resistance to Government.” Another was titled, “Building the BDS Movement.” Another asked, “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State?” with the speaker endorsing the latter.

A State Department official declined to comment directly on the appearance of an UNRWA official at the Jerusalem Fund, but emphasized the administration’s efforts to see UNRWA reformed or face a further cut off in U.S. aid.

Richard Goldberg, a former senior adviser to retired Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) who helped spearhead efforts to hold UNRWA accountable for its anti-Israel advocacy, told the Free Beacon that Western nations footing the bill for the agency are growing weary of its anti-Israel activism.

“There’s a growing consensus among UNRWA’s largest donors that the time has come for fundamental changes,” said Goldberg, now a senior adviser for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The agency was established nearly 70 years ago by Arab states as a political weapon in their ongoing fight to destroy the fledgling State of Israel—a war the Arab states now understand they lost.”

“Rather than keeping Palestinians in a perpetual state of poverty and hopelessness, Palestinians deserve to see a path toward prosperity and self-sufficiency,” Goldberg explained. “Before the United States hands over its next tranche of contributions to UNRWA, at a minimum the Trump administration should get a commitment from all parties to prepare for the transition of UNRWA to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. If the Palestinians truly want an independent state, they need to show they can step up and care for their own citizens.”

A second Trump administration adviser who works on Middle East issues told the Free Beacon that appearances such as this have become routine for UNRWA.

“No one is surprised by this, least of all the Trump administration’s UN and Middle East officials,” the source said. “Ambassador Haley has spent an enormous amount of time trying to call attention to the UN’s hostility toward Israel, which exists at every level. Of course a UN official is being hosted by a group that advocates economic attacks against Israel. They’re on the same side.”

Originally Published in the Free Beacon.

Pittsburgh Jewish Federation Bans Free Beacon After Publication of Dem Candidate’s Comments on Israel

Originally Published on the Washington Free Beacon

The Washington Free Beacon has been banned from covering and reporting on all events related to the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, a Jewish communal organization, following its publication of remarks made by Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb at an event that the Federation says was off the record and closed to the press.

The Free Beacon first unearthed the comments by Lamb, who is currently running for Congress in a special election next month, in a Feb. 12 report that quoted the candidate accusing Israel of “terrorism” and the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Lamb said at the time it was “disheartening to see” support for Israel being expressed in the pages of his college newspaper.

“It was disheartening to see the add [sic] in the DP the other day which read, ‘Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel,'” Lamb wrote. “There is no doubt that both sides of this conflict have committed wrongs, but if this latest attack is not terrorism, I don’t know what is.”

When asked about those comments last week by an attendee at an event sponsored by the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation at the South Hills Jewish Community Center, Lamb claimed to have “absolutely no memory” of the remarks and seemed to suggest the comments may have been planted or forged, though he offered no evidence.

After the Free Beacon published Lamb’s response, Joshua Sayles, a top official with the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, phoned the Free Beacon to say that the publication’s reporting on Lamb’s comments was “unacceptable” and informed the outlet it is now banned from covering all Federation-related events in Pittsburgh.

Sayles, who serves as the director of Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Center, or CRC, said Lamb’s remarks were made off the record and that the event was closed to the press.

However, the event was presented as open to all community members and an invitation made no reference to it being off the record. Regardless, the Free Beacon legally obtained the video of the remarks and was neither party to, nor bound by any agreement between the Federation and Lamb.

Sayles told the Free Beacon on Tuesday that he would be contacting all area synagogues to alert them of the ban.

Lamb has come under fire following the Free Beacon’s report on his comments accusing Israel of state sanctioned terrorism.

In defending his remarks, Lamb claimed to have no recollection of writing the 2002 comment.

“I’ve looked at that several times in the last 24 hours and as a prosecutor I’ll give you the most honest and accurate thing that I can say, which is, I have absolutely no memory of ever using those words at all. In the climate we’re in, I think you all can fill in the rest, but all I can tell you is I don’t recognize it,” Lamb said, according to the tape obtained by the Free Beacon.

National pro-Israel organizations such as the Republican Jewish Coalition condemned Lamb’s initial comments, describing them as “ignorant and extreme.”

“Conor Lamb’s refusal to address his own ignorant and extreme attack against Israel is very troubling,” Former Sen. Norm Coleman, RJC’s national chairman, said in a statement. “Given that refusal and the fact that he’s running as a supporter of the anti-Israel organization J Street, it appears his views have not changed at all.”

“The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh does a disservice to their own community by working to prevent the general public from hearing about Conor Lamb’s comments on Israel and his explanation for them,” said Michael Goldfarb, chairman of the Free Beacon. “We will continue to report on such forums and events of interest to our readers with or without the Federation’s consent.”

Federation President and CEO Jeffrey Finkelstein did not respond to a request for comment on the ban.

State Department Hiding ‘Game Changer’ Report on Myth of Palestinian Refugees

Classified report could bust myth that millions of refugees need UNRWA

Originally published in Free Beacon

The State Department is hiding a classified report on Palestinian refugees that insiders say could be a game changer in how the United States approaches the situation and allocates millions in taxpayer funds to a key United Nations agency, according to multiple sources briefed on the situation.

As the United States moves forward with a decision to slash funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency responsible for providing education and support to some five million Palestinian refugees, officials on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have been pressuring the State Department to declassify a report that is believed to show the actual number of refugees is far fewer than the U.N. claims.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Washington Free Beacon that the State Department first classified the report under the Obama administration and still refuses to provide U.S. officials with the information despite laws mandating its release.

The report was described to the Free Beacon as a potential tipping point in the debate over UNRWA and its mission, which has come under increased criticism in Congress for what many claim is the agency’s anti-Israel bias and routine promotion of pro-terrorism doctrines.

Some State Department officials have acknowledged in private meetings that there is no reason the report should remain classified, according to sources who said the over classification is part of an effort to suppress this information from Congress and the public.

“I was informed that there is no justification for classifying the report. Rather, it is the officials at State Department who do not want this information out as it could and would lead to a call to reform UNRWA,” said one source briefed on the matter.

While UNRWA provides support to some 5.3 million Palestinians they claim are refugees, the actual number could be closer to 20,000. This disclosure could fundamentally shift the narrative with UNRWA and lead the United States to consider cutting even more of its funding to the agency.

Currently, any U.S. official seeking to read the little-known report’s findings must have top-secret security clearance and access to a secure facility containing the documents.

Revelations of this classified report’s existence and the potential implications come as the Trump administration announced that it would slash UNRWA’s funding by half, from $125 million to $65 million, in order to force the organization to implement a series of reforms.

UNRWA has come under fire from pro-Israel activists and some lawmakers for anti-Israel bias and complicity with radical elements of Palestinian society.

In addition to reports that UNRWA is using anti-Israel content in its classrooms, it has been caught hiding Hamas rockets in its schools on at least three separate occasions.

The U.S. report on UNRWA was first commissioned in 2015 by former senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), who was spearheading an effort to increase the organization’s transparency.

Kirk forwarded a congressional amendment to require the State Department to provide Congress with a report on the number of refugees served by UNRWA who actually lived in the territory now known as Israel between 1946 and 1948.

The State Department never acknowledged having completed the report, sources said, and instead classified it.

“State had neglected to tell Sen. Kirk’s office,” said one source with knowledge of the situation. “It seems that this was intentional.”

Once the report’s existence was confirmed, Congress, in a 2017 measure, directed the State Department to provide an unclassified version of the report. This, too, was ignored, sources said.

The report is said to confirm that, as opposed to what UNRWA and its supporters claim, the number of refugees is actually in the tens of thousands, not the millions.

Richard Goldberg, a former deputy chief of staff for Kirk, told the Free Beacon that the UNRWA effort was always about exposing the myth that there are millions of refugees who still require aid.

“This is about basic taxpayer oversight of an agency that gobbles up hundreds of millions of dollars ever year,” said Goldberg, the author of the original amendment that required the report. “Are we funding a refugee agency or are we funding a welfare agency that nurtures a culture terrorism and violence?”

“There’s a moral difference when it comes to U.S. policy and foreign assistance,” said Goldberg, now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “American aid for true refugees is one thing; American aid to subsidize a culture of welfare and terrorism is entirely different.”

Pro-Israel advocates are now urging the UNRWA report be provided to the public.

EJ Kimball, director of the Israel Victory Project, a coalition of pro-Israel lawmakers, told the Free Beacon that those under UNRWA’s care should be compelled to admit they are not actually refugees in the technical sense.

“If the State Department is interested in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the number of actual refugees from Israel’s War for Independence must be publicized,” Kimball said. “For the approximately 5 million Palestinian Arabs in need of aid, they should be helped after acknowledging they are not refugees. By doing this, we can break the yoke of victimhood and oppression and give these ‘refugees’ the human dignity they deserve. UNRWA has failed and it either needs to be drastically reformed or tossed into the dustbin of history.”

The State Department declined to comment on the report or its status when approached by the Free Beacon.

White House Deadlocked on Saving Iran Nuclear Deal As Protests Rock Islamic Republic

Originally Published in the Free Beacon

White House national security officials are focused on developing strategies to support and foster demonstrations in Iran that have gripped the country for more than a week, but are in a deadlock over whether to preserve the landmark nuclear deal and continue providing a financial lifeline to the hardline Islamic regime, according to multiple sources briefed on the Trump administration’s ongoing discussions.

The White House is facing a deadline that could force the administration to provide continuing sanctions relief to Iran—including to several key entities that bolster the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC.

Within the next week, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it will again waive economic sanctions on key Iranian entities, including its Central Bank, which provides the IRGC with a significant portion of its funding. Insiders worry this decision could solidify Iran’s hardline ruling regime at a time when protesters are coming out en masse against it.

Senior White House officials acknowledge they are in a tough position as they continue to focus on supporting the Iranian protesters through a range of measures that include efforts to foster further discontent with Iran’s ruling regime led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, multiple sources told the Free Beacon.



However, administration allies on the outside see a White House torn between backing a nascent revolution in Iran and preserving a nuclear deal that has only solidified the ruling regime’s power.


“If you’re the president and you’re seeing Iranians pouring out into the streets to protest the regime, how do you waive sanctions to keep the money flowing to the regime and the IRGC?” asked Richard Goldberg, a former top official for former senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and original architect of congressional sanctions against Iran.

“We need a comprehensive strategy to support the uprising and that should include cutting off financial lifelines for the mullahs,” said Goldberg, a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who recently criticized the White House for not doing more to sanction Iran’s financial lifelines.

In private meetings over the past week, White House officials have acknowledged that they were caught by surprise by the demonstrations in Iran, which have now led to the deaths of dozens and imprisonment of hundreds.

While the protests will “have a bearing” on the White House’s future approach to upholding the nuclear deal, senior national security officials in the White House are said to be in a deadlock over how to proceed, multiple sources said.

Many in the West Wing want to continue providing Iran with sanctions relief and preserve the nuclear agreement. But they also realize President Trump feels trapped and embarrassed by the deal, which has repeatedly forced him to publicly waive key sanctions on Iran.

“I think you have a staff that’s feeling squeezed between an obsession with what Europe thinks on one hand and a well-founded fear of walking into the Oval Office with recommendations that the president views as weak,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to the White House and has been briefed on the situation. “That can lead to paralysis until you either get your head chewed off or a pat on the back.”

A second foreign policy insider close to the White House said, “The question is whether the president will realize that his team is using disproven Obama and European arguments about ‘fixing’ a deal that is basically unfixable.”

One senior White House official familiar with internal discussions told the Free Beacon that sanctions are not the only tool the administration is using to penalize the Iranian government.

“The administration is not shying away from this in any way, and I’m sure everybody has a way we could be more perfect, but in this case, it’s important to note we have a president who has been unafraid on a series of things,” the official said.

“The assumption that if we don’t impose precisely the sanctions, [that] we’re doing nothing, that’s just not correct,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record.

The administration is still wedded to the nuclear agreement, the administration official said, meaning that some of these decisions are “out of our hands.”

“We’re not trying to tamp anything down or stop anything,” but, “it’s not entirely our call,” the official admitted.

Both the State and Treasury Departments declined to comment on whether the administration would waive sanctions on Iran in the coming week.

“The Trump administration is going to get physical with the Iranians. They’re not sure how yet, they’re not sure when. But it will need to happen,” another source close to the White House told the Free Beacon.

“Their first wave of action involved directly helping the protesters getting shot,” the source said. “Eventually they’re going to have to turn their attention to the people doing the shooting, and that will require drying up regime resources like the Central Bank,” Khamanei’s financial empire.

Jamie Fly, a former senior adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), told the Free Beacon that the protests in Iran provide a good opportunity to reassess ongoing sanctions relief to Iran, the IRGC, and other entities known for supporting regional terrorism.

“The benefits from sanctions relief have been used to line the pockets of Iran’s corrupt leaders and to murder Syrians, threaten Israel, and sow chaos in Yemen,” said Fly, now a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. “Why should we continue to give the regime a financial lifeline that we know is only going to continue to be used to fund terror and threats against us and Israel and to repress the Iranian people?”

Omri Ceren, managing director at the Israel Project, which has been vocal in its criticism of the nuclear agreement, agreed that the administration is heading towards a crossroad.

“Even doing the bare minimum against the regime will require considering measures that touch the nuclear deal,” Ceren told the Free Beacon. “There’s no way around it. The Obama administration deliberately redefined a range of non-nuclear sanctions as nuclear just so they could lift them in response to Iranian demands. So yes, by definition, considering robust human rights sanctions will bump into the deal. And that’s because the sanctions lifted by the nuclear deal went way beyond nuclear sanctions.”




Congress to Investigate Obama Scheme to Nix Investigation into Hezbollah Terrorists

Originally Published in the Free Beacon

Investigation to focus on Rhodes, senior Obama officials

Lawmakers are launching an investigation into Obama-era efforts to thwart a longstanding U.S. investigation into the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, according to multiple congressional officials and insiders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Obama administration worked behind the scenes to thwart a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah and its highly lucrative drug trade in Latin America, according to a report in Politico. These officials are believed to have run interference on the investigation in order to avoid upsetting Iran and jeopardizing the landmark nuclear accord.

Senior Obama officials in the Treasury and Justice Departments are said to have undermined the DEA’s investigation at multiple junctures in order to avoid angering Hezbollah’s patron Iran, which could have jeopardized the landmark nuclear agreement.

Congress is now taking steps to formally investigate the reports, which multiple sources described to the Free Beacon as part of a larger Obama administration effort to overlook Iran’s global terror operations in order to cement the nuclear deal.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that he and other top lawmakers are examining evidence that could implicate top former Obama officials, including National Security Council official Ben Rhodes, the architect of the former administration’s self-described pro-Iran “echo chamber.”

“I’ve long believed that the Obama administration could not have done any more to bend over backwards to appease the Iranian regime, yet news that the Obama administration killed the investigation into a billion dollar drug ring that lined the terrorist group Hezbollah’s pockets in order to save its coveted Iran deal may very well take the cake,” DeSantis said.

“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist group with American blood on its hands and it would be unconscionable for American policy to deliberately empower such a nefarious group,” he said.

Lawmakers will be paying particular attention to whether Rhodes or other senior officials accused of misleading Congress and the American public about the Iran deal played a role in thwarting the Hezbollah investigation.

“Congress will be investigating this thoroughly and my National Security subcommittee will be particularly interested in how such a decision came about and whether it was driven by key Iran deal architects such as Ben Rhodes,” DeSantis said.

Congressional investigators are already preparing letters to various U.S. government agencies in order to obtain greater information about the alleged interference, according to those with knowledge of the matter.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a chief national security voice in the House who fought against the nuclear accord, told the Washington Free Beacon that Congress must investigate the Obama administration’s actions and work to increase pressure on Hezbollah.

“The report alleging the Obama Administration turned a blind eye and allowed Hezbollah to pump drugs into the United States to fund its terror campaigns in the Middle East is not surprising,” Roskam said. “Hampering the DEA’s investigation of Hezbollah would be emblematic of the previous administration’s fixation to strike a nuclear accord with Iran at any costs.”

“This blind eye imperiled our efforts to combat Iran and its proxies’ malign behavior and left us with a cash-flush Iran on the warpath across the Middle East with a nuclear program legitimized by the JCPOA,” Roskam said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Congress needs to investigate this report and do what the Obama Administration refused to do, severely increase pressure on Hezbollah and hold the terrorist group, and its benefactor Iran, accountable for their crimes.”

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of intentionally derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million a month just in the United States, according to the report.

When U.S. authorities were ready to make the case against Hezbollah’s most senior leadership, Obama administration officials allegedly “threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way,” according inside sources who spoke to Politico about the situation.

The Obama-led effort to block the investigation was “a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” one source said. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

One senior congressional source apprised of the matter told the Free Beacon that while lawmakers have long known about the former Obama administration’s efforts to steamroll over Congress and ink the nuclear deal, the interference in the Hezbollah investigation could be a matter for law enforcement.

“Add this to the long list of concessions the Obama administration made in pursuit of the nuclear agreement with Iran,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter. “The difference here is that this wasn’t just bad policy—it was potentially criminal. Congress absolutely has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this.”

Other sources described a long list of efforts by the Obama administration to downplay Iran’s terror efforts and turn a blind eye to its illicit efforts to skirt U.S. sanctions.

“The Obama administration started sucking up to Iran from Day 1, because they thought if they showed good faith the [Iranian] Supreme Leader would let Iranian diplomats negotiate with them,” according to a longtime congressional adviser who works on Middle East issues, including Iran.

The former administration “looked the other way at sanctions busting, fought Congress against new pressure, and did everything possible to slow roll enforcement,” the source said. “Meanwhile the Ben Rhodes echo chamber went into overdrive to sell that they were aggressively—that was the word they shopped around, ‘aggressively’—dealing with Iran. Now we know they were tearing down whatever parts of the federal government where still trying to stop Iran and its terrorists.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of lawmakers on the House’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere sent a letter to President Trump Wednesday urging greater action on Hezbollah in light of the Obama administration’s behavior.

The letter pushes the Trump administration to formally designate Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) and as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpin (SDNTK). It also demands an investigation into Hezbollah’s criminal enterprises under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Hezbollah’s illicit operations in Latin America are growing and threaten the U.S homeland.

“It’s no secret that, in its pursuit of the weak and dangerous nuclear deal, the Obama administration ignored Iran’s illicit activity and the threat the state sponsor of terror-regime posed to our national security and the security and stability of our allies,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “If recent reports of the size and scope of Hezbollah’s operations in Latin America are true, we should all be alarmed as it puts the terror group right in our own hemisphere.”

Originally Published in the Free Beacon

The State Department Strikes Back Over Jerusalem

Originally Published in the Washington Free Beacon under the title:

U.S. Still Won’t List Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital on Official Docs, Passports, Maps

State Department: ‘Specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations’

The United States still will not formally recognize Jerusalem as being located in Israel on official documents, maps, and passports, despite President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this week that America is formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital, according to State Department officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

Despite Trump’s declaration, which was formally codified on Wednesday into U.S. policy, the State Department is taking a more nuanced position on the matter, drawing some ire in Congress among pro-Israel lawmakers who accuse the State Department of undermining Trump’s efforts.

State Department officials this week had difficulty stating as fact that Jerusalem is located within Israel, instead trying to parse the issue as still subject to diplomatic negotiations.

State Department officials who spoke to the Free Beacon about the situation said that while it supports Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is not yet at the point where it will list Jerusalem as part of Israel on passports, maps, and official documents. This means that official documents, such as passports, will not, at this point, list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place that exists.

The State Department’s careful parsing of the issue has already drawn outrage on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are describing this as part of an effort to undermine the Trump White House’s clear-cut declaration on the matter.

“The president is the commander-in-chief and America’s sole organ when it comes to conducting foreign policy,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Free Beacon.  “Article II of the Constitution does not vest this authority in bureaucrats in the State Department.”

“The State Department must permit Americans born in Jerusalem to list ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ on their passports and must follow the logical implications of this historic recognition in other policy areas,” DeSantis said. ” President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the right thing to do and enjoys broad support from the American people; an entrenched bureaucracy has no right to stymie this decision.”

A State Department official who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter made clear that the United States now “recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its seat of government.”

However, “the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations,” the official said, explaining that the holy city’s exact location and placement in Israel proper is still up for debate.

“While we are affirming the current and historic reality of Jerusalem’s role as Israel’s capital and seat of government, any ultimate determination of sovereignty over Jerusalem will flow from the results of negotiations between the parties,” the State Department official explained.

With regards to U.S. passports for Americans born in Jerusalem, there will be no formal change in American policy on the matter.

The issue of listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as a person’s birthplace has been a hot button issue over the years, with a case even being adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Americans born in Jerusalem still will not be able to list Israel as the birth nation on their passports.

“There is no change in policy at this time,” according to the State Department official. “We will provide any new guidance as and when appropriate.”

With regards to official maps and documentation, the State Department is still engaged in a process to figure out how exactly to classify Jerusalem.

“The president is taking a specific step in affirming that the United States believes that Jerusalem has and will continue to serve as Israel’s capital—and the U.S. is not backing off efforts towards encouraging the parties to resolve their differences over final status issues in a comprehensive peace agreement,” according to the State Department official.

However, the president’s declaration is limited in nature and is being reviewed by the State Department as it moves forward.

“The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations,” the official said. “The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders.”

When asked if official documents will bear the words, “Jerusalem, Israel,” the State Department could not provide a concrete answer.

“This is quite a complex issue that we continue to study and work through,” the official said.

One senior official at a large, national pro-Israel organization cautioned against viewing the State Department’s stance as an effort to subvert Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem.

“It’s too early to panic,” the official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon. “The administration was focused on getting the broad policy correct and meeting the president’s demand that we finally acknowledge the simple reality Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

“Now they’re going to take a month to figure out the consequences,” explained the official, who has been briefed on the situation. “Implementing pro-Israel fact-based policy is a new thing for some of our diplomats, and many others have forgotten how that works in recent years, so people are willing to give them some time. If at the end of the process nothing has changed, there will be broad criticism – to say nothing of pro-Israel voters around the county who will be bitterly let down.”


Report: Terror Attacks by Palestinian Children on the Rise, Despite U.N. Coverup

Palestinian child terrorists as young as eight years old are increasingly being radicalized and spurred to carry out terror attacks on Israeli citizens, according to a prominent human rights organization that is accusing the United Nations of covering up the recruitment of child terrorists by Palestinian militant groups.

At least 79 separate terror attacks have been carried out by Palestinian children ranging in ages from eight to 17 since 2015, when a wave of Palestinian terror attacks began, according to Human Rights Voices, or HRV, a U.N. watchdog group that has accused the international body of engaging in a “feeble cover-up” of this growing terror issue.

Palestinian leaders and other officials continue to praise the use of children in terror attacks and continue to encourage youths to take up arms against the Jewish state, according to HRV’s report, which was provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

“In violation of [its] legal obligations” to prevent such attacks, “there have been at least 79 separate terrorist attacks by Palestinian children since September13, 2015,” according to the report. “The preferred method of murder and attempted murder by Palestinian child terrorists are stabbings or knifings, the modus operandi in 66 of the 79 attacks.”

At least two of these attacks were committed by terrorists as young as eight, while another four attacks were done by children aged 12, according to the report. Thirteen-year-olds have carried out seven terror attacks, while Palestinian children 14 years of age are responsible for at least 10 of these terror incidents. The majority of these attacks were committed by children ages 16 and 17.

Palestinian leaders have celebrated the violence, even in the halls of the U.N., HRV found.

“After Palestinian child terrorists had murdered two and injured nine in sixteen attacks in the fall of 2015, Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour made this declaration in the public hall of UN Headquarters on November 23, 2015: ‘We are so proud that in this popular uprising that has started almost two months ago, that the backbone of this uprising are the youth of Palestine,'” according to the report.

“Since that time, Palestinian child terrorists have attacked Israelis at least another 60 times,” the report found.

Despite scores of public records outlining these attacks by child terrorists, the U.N. had moved to downplay and ignore this activity in official reports, prompting criticism from human rights organizations such as HRV.

The U.N. Secretary General’s 2017 annual report on children in armed conflict zones, which was published in April, claims there is little information about Palestinian children terrorists, despite publicly available data.

“Limited information is available about the recruitment or use of children,” the report states on its section about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Since the secretary-general’s claim is manifestly untrue, the United Nations is not merely engaged in a feeble cover-up,” the HRV report states. “The fact is that the U.N. is now an active enabler of the violation of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians: the basic rights to life and security of the person of the Israeli victims of Palestinian children engaged in terrorism, and the rights of Palestinian children not to be recruited or engaged in terrorism in the first place.”

Palestinian leaders continue to incite violence against Israel, despite recent promises to refrain from such activity. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denied officials engage in incitement during a recent meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump, a claim that prompted pushback from pro-Israel organizations.

“The Palestinian U.N. ambassador publicly supported child terrorism at the U.N. itself,” according to the HRV report. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas embraced and shook hands with one of the child terrorists following his attack. ”

“Videos, photographs, television programs, and social media outlets—from Palestinian and Israeli sources—provide a multitude of other evidence both of Palestinian children engaged in armed conflict and Palestinian adults (from the political sphere to the education system—run by the U.N.’s own refugee agency UNRWA—to the family unit) promoting such behavior,” according to the report.

Originally Published in the Washington Free Beacon.