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July 21, 2015 11:54 am

Obama’s Record on Palestinians a Clue to How He’ll Handle Iran Deal Breaches

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Secretary of Energy Ernest Mofiz defend the nuclear deal with Iran on CBS Face the Nation. Photo: Screenshot.

Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz defend the nuclear deal with Iran on CBS’s Face the Nation. Photo: Screenshot. – One of the major issues in the debate over the Iran deal revolves around the question of what will happen if international inspectors want to visit a particular nuclear site, and the Iranians say no.

But an equally important consideration is: What will happen if Iranian violations are actually discovered? The Obama administration’s handling of Palestinian violations of agreements they’ve signed offers an important clue as to how it will respond to Iranian breaches.

Consider the issue of incitement to commit terror. The Oslo Accords obligated the Palestinian leadership to “abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda.” This obligation was reiterated in the 1998 Wye River agreement, which required the Palestinian Authority (PA) to “prevent incitement against the Israeli side.”

The United States government has never denied that the PA’s anti-Israel incitement is a serious problem. In fact, after the massacre of four rabbis and a policeman in a Jerusalem synagogue last November, Secretary of State John Kerry said the attack was “a pure result of incitement, of calls for ‘days of rage,’ of just irresponsibility,” and “is unacceptable.”

There is, however, a big difference between talking about incitement and actually doing something about it—as Israel has discovered. Back in 1998, when the Israelis began complaining seriously to the Bill Clinton administration about the PA’s incitement, the administration should have taken Israel’s side and insisted that the PA stop it. But it didn’t. Getting tough with the PA might “endanger the peace process,” the White House reasoned. And maintaining the appearance of a “peace process” became the administration’s priority.

So instead of siding with its ally, the U.S. created a committee. The “Trilateral U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee” met a few times from 1999-2000 and then stopped functioning.

In a Washington Post op-ed last December, Prof. Shibley Telhami, one of the American members of the committee, gave the public a glimpse of what went on during those meetings.

Telhami revealed that the committee reached an impasse because the Israeli and Palestinian representatives “could not agree how to define incitement.” He wrote that the Israelis “would present, for instance, a statement by a Muslim religious figure against Israel, and Palestinians would respond by citing settlement construction or episodes of Palestinian humiliation.”

Telhami’s self-serving description did not actually tell the whole story. The Israeli delegates didn’t present just “a statement by a Muslim religious figure.” According to one of the Israeli representatives, Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus, he and his colleagues would present statements that had been made by paid PA officials (some of whom were Muslim religious figures) as well as statements that were broadcast by the official PA news media.

Obviously, the Palestinian position was absurd. “Settlement construction” and “humiliation” do not qualify as incitement. The fact that the PA doesn’t want Jews building homes in Jerusalem or having Palestinians checked for weapons at security checkpoints doesn’t make those situations incitement.

But for Telhami and the other delegates, who were operating on instructions from the White House and the State Department, the goal was not to stop incitement. The goal was to keep the “peace process” going. Confronting the PA on incitement might cause a crisis in the “peace process.” So instead of siding with the truth, the U.S. representatives chose to be “even-handed” and not take sides.

The Anti-Incitement Committee soon fell apart. The Obama administration never revived it—because if the committee did its job, the “peace process” would be exposed as a sham. Thus, its response to Palestinian incitement is usually to ignore it. But if the incitement gets so bad that it results in a massacre, then Secretary Kerry will say a few words. But nothing more.

The Iran deal creates a similar situation. If the international inspectors are given genuine access to Iranian nuclear sites, and the Iranians have not done a sufficiently thorough job of hiding what they are doing there, the inspectors will find violations.

At that point, the Obama administration will face a choice: acknowledge the violations and tear up the agreement—or cover up the violations so that the “peace agreement” can be preserved. Based on President Barack Obama’s track record, it’s not hard to guess which path he will choose.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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  • Michael Fox

    And therein lies the problem. Once the sanctions are removed and the money starts flowing through the pipeline there will be no recapping it. Iran is fully aware of this.
    “Snap back” is a joke. This deal is not about stopping Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, this is about possibly stalling the process while getting back to “business as usual.” Translation: Making money by dealing with the devil.

  • Just another major BLUNDER, all talks but no actions.


    It is public record that the US did not report Iranian transgressions and violations of the current agreement to the UN in order not to jeopardize “progress” on the negotiations with Iran.

    The US refused to accept the evidence that the reactor under construction in Syria which had been financed by Iran and was utilizing North Korean technology was in fact a nuclear reactor until after Israel destroyed it and the exact nature of the installation could no longer be denied by US intelligence/State Department.

    Did you know this agreement has already taken those who have been found guilty of murdering Americans and have been penalized by US courts completely off the hook and has granted them complete freedom from these judgments and verdicts?

    According to DOJ interpretation of this agreement: The deal states that the US is obligated to assist and train Iran in preventing any sabotage against its nuclear facilities. This obligates the US to protect the Iranian nuclear and missile programs from cyber attack and may require the US to share cyber protection technology with the Iranians.

  • Poor America! They still believe in a peace process … or do they only pretend?

  • Geoff

    President Obama and his Secretary John Kerry are more concerned about their legacy then they are with the reality of the Iranians breaking the agreement.

    Mr. Obama guided by his delusional Utopian ideology that through caring, compassion and Social Justice in conjunction with his deep seated belief that at the heart of every crisis there is the same culprit. That culprit is the United States. He sees the response that’s comes from the Palestians, the Iranians, ISIS or any other Islamo-Fascist entity justified due to the numerous misdeeds leveled against them by the United States. It is the greed, exploitation and abuse rendered by the United States according to Mr. Obama that makes those so harmed to strike out in any manner regardless of the destruction.

    The Obama administration will lie, distort or simply misinform to not have to react to any type of breach. They whole world is centered around legacy. There never is a thought to consequences those that are intended or those that are unintended.

    It is the LEGACY, stupid!

  • steven L

    The US will not disclose anything for the next 18 months! There will always be a reason, even unreasonable, to ignore Israel legitimates complains. The Western antisemitic lobby is extremely vast (tentacular), tenacious, vicious and powerful.
    IL will be almost exclusively on her own against the rotten ME, like in the recent old days! In spite of all this, her ingenuity and Ethical character will prevail.
    The US socialists and antisemites have been teaching moral/political relativism to their Islamic friends.

  • art

    We already know how Obama will handle Iranian violations. He will lie to the US public and let the violations continue. It was seen when he lied to the public on the terms of the ageement. It was shown when Obama refused to respond when the Iranians in effect called Obama a liar and fool

    • david mccance

      I don’t think the Iranians are the only country to be less than honest about all things nuclear.

      David from Scotland

      • BonniePrinceCharlie

        Possibly. But with the exception of North Korea, they’re the only country threatening to obliterate another country, a sovereign state founded by, recognized by and a member of the United Nations.