So far, PM alone in calling for Iran sanctions

After China, Israeli delegation scheduled to visit Africa to lobby for sanctions.

February 26, 2010 05:43
2 minute read.
netanyahu please dont kill me 248 (do notpublish)

netanyahu please dont kill me 248 (do not publish again). (photo credit: Flash 90)


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High-level US and Israeli officials discussed the Iranian sanction issue in Jerusalem on Thursday, even as the US joined Russia in saying it was not in favor of crippling sanctions.

Israel, meanwhile, according to a senior government official, has not yet heard that Washington backs harsh measures targeting Iran’s energy sector.

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For the last two weeks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been publicly calling for a ban on Iranian oil exports, as well as an embargo on the import of refined petroleum products, as the only types of sanctions that “might” have an impact on Teheran. That call, however, has not been publicly echoed by anyone else.

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said Thursday that it was not the US’s intent to impose “crippling sanctions” on ordinary Iranian citizens.

“Our actual intent is to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people,” he said.

Russia said on Wednesday that it was opposed to these types of paralyzing sanctions, and although US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for crippling sanctions a few weeks ago, what she meant was never defined.

The senior Israeli official said the Russian statement must be seen within the context of movement that Moscow had made on the sanctions issue over the last few months. While unlikely to support an oil embargo or a ban on imports of refined petroleum products, Moscow – according to the source – would support other types of sanctions, something that was not the case a few months ago.

The sanctions issue – including diplomatic moves that should be made to get the international community on board – dominated the US-Israeli strategic dialogue held in Jerusalem on Thursday, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.

Israel, which currently has a delegation led by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer in China, lobbying Beijing to back sanctions, is also expected to send a delegation in the coming weeks to lobby key African countries as well.

Gabon will take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in March, and Nigeria is also currently a member of the council.

Among others who took part in the strategic dialogue were, on the Israeli side, National Security Council head Uzi Arad, Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal, and Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau. The other US participants included Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, the National Security Council’s Prem Kumar, and representatives from the US intelligence community.

Before the talks, Steinberg said that the “broad range” of US officials who arrived for the discussions, as well as the range of the talks, was “a strong reflection of the depth of the relationship between the US and Israel.”

The next strategic dialogue will be held in Washington toward the end of the year.

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