Be careful in Iran talks, B’nai B’rith president urges US

Allan J. Jacobs tells 'Post' that he is particularly worried about the possibility of the sanctions regime unraveling.

B'nai Brit leaders with Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: courtesy)
B'nai Brit leaders with Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: courtesy)
The US should be “very careful” in negotiating future nuclear deals with Iran to ease international sanctions, B’nai B’rith International president Allan J. Jacobs warned on Thursday.
“If we had a message to the administration, it would be that we have to be careful in reaching any further agreements with Iran,” Jacobs told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at the capital’s Inbal Hotel.
“They will push the envelope as far as they can, and once you’ve opened the door to some of these sanctions, it’s going to be very difficult to close the door back again if Iran violates the agreements.”
Jacobs this week headed what he termed a B’nai B’rith “fact-finding visit” to Israel as the organization celebrates its 170th anniversary, and met with, among others, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith, said he believed Israel had been justified in speaking out against the landmark agreement reached between world powers and Iran in Geneva last month.
“Justified in raising the issues? Absolutely!” Mariaschin said.
“Who’s going to do it, if not the elected representatives of the people of Israel? The international community, the P5+1, has their agenda, and I wouldn’t question their deep concern about Iran’s nuclear program.
But Israel now is the only country in the cross hairs. During the negotiations, Iran’s Supreme Leader refers to Israel as a rabid dog that needs to be eradicated.
So if these questions aren’t raised in Israel, where else are they going to be raised?” Mariaschin said it is now evident that several key issues were “left out” of the Geneva agreement.
“It appears day by day that what was left out is very much at the bottom of the problems here – the issue of managed access to the inspectors, why Parchin isn’t part of the deal, why weaponization is not addressed, their ballistic missile industry, the delivery systems,” he said. “It’s troublesome.
That’s why you have the Senate now considering further sanctions.
The warning flags that were raised here, I think, were well justified. There was a lot of ‘Don’t rain on the parade, don’t get in the way here,’ but I think now the more that we know, the more questions we really need to ask as they go forward with this next round of talks.”
Representatives of the six world powers and Iran met in Vienna this week to discuss implementation of the Geneva deal. Jacobs said he was particularly worried about the possibility of the sanctions regime unraveling. “The administration says they will tighten the sanctions again, but we’re concerned that once you have some of these foreign companies doing business in Iran, it’s going to be very difficult,” he said.
“And will you be able to put together again the P5+1 and get Russia and China to tighten the sanctions again?”
Regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Jacobs said he had the impression that the Palestinians were “rejecting everything out of hand,” including the latest security plan presented to the sides by the US.
“While we hear from the Israelis that it really doesn’t address all their needs, the Palestinians reject it out of hand,” Jacobs said. “Nobody seems to be saying to the Palestinians, you gotta give something.
Everybody’s saying the Israelis have to give something, and I think they understand there would have to be concessions.
And I’ve yet to hear the Palestinians say they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which should be a primary part of the agreement.”
Jacobs reiterated his organization’s appeal for the US to free Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard after spending 28 years in jail.
“I don’t know exactly where that is as far as who is holding it up, but so far President Barack Obama has given very few pardons,” Jacobs said. “It is long overdue. He has spent way more time than any prisoner that has been put in prison for similar type of offenses by the US government.
We’re very firm on that, we believe the time has long passed, that he should be released from prison.”
Mariaschin also urged the administration to press Cuba to free American Jewish contractor Alan Gross, who has been in jail for four years.
“On a strictly humanitarian basis, Alan Gross should be released. Given his condition, given the condition of his mother, his wife, his daughter, there should be no reason why after four years this man shouldn’t be released,” he said.
“We hope any day to hear the news that he has been released.”