Arms embargo against Iran must be reinstated, Ashkenazi tells Romanian FM

Romania is a member of the European Union, which is at odds with the US and Israel over how best to handle Iran’s military and nuclear threat.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi meets his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu (photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi meets his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu
(photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)
The international community must rally behind the United States in its battle to reinstate an arms embargo against Iran, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu, who is in Israel for a two-day visit.
“We spoke about the need to reimpose the arms embargo on Iran and about the need for countries around the world who want to see a greater stability in the Middle East to join the US initiative to restore sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Ashkenazi said on Wednesday while the two men spoke in Jerusalem.
Romania is a member of the European Union, which is at odds with the US and Israel over how best to handle the Iranian military and nuclear threat.
At issue for Washington and Jerusalem in particular is the scheduled lifting of the Iranian arms embargo on October 18. The UN Security Council has rejected the resolution to extend the arms embargo.
As a result, the US in August triggered a snapback mechanism, by which international sanctions can be reimposed on Iran, including an arms embargo. These were sanctions that were lifted in 2015 under Resolution 2231, which accompanied the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Two UNSC presidents – the Indonesian ambassador who held the post last month and the Niger ambassador who holds the position this month – have dismissed the US efforts.
During their conversation, Ashkenazi said he urged Romania to outlaw Hezbollah and to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
“If they want to help the Lebanese people that is the best way to do it,” he said.
The issue of Iran came up during Aurescu’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well. The conversation also dealt with Lebanon.
While at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Aurescu signed an agreement to advance projects in education, culture and sports. Work groups were also created to promote cooperation in the fields of medicine, technology and agriculture.
“This visit reflects the excellent relationship between our two countries. Romania is one of our great friends in Europe. I very much appreciate their ongoing support for the state of Israel in the EU and other International forums,” Ashkenazi said.
The two countries have had full diplomatic relations since 1948. Romania is the only former Soviet bloc country that did not break off ties while under communist rule.
“This year we celebrated 72 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations,” Aurescu said in the Foreign Ministry. Aurescu recalled that he and Ashkenazi had just met last week in Berlin at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.
In Germany and again in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Aurescu spoke of the need to improve Israel’s relationship with the European Union, including through the reconvening of the EU-Israel Association Council which last met in 2012.
The council’s work had been suspended over tensions with respect to settlement building, but in light Israel’s suspension of annexation there were calls last week in Europe, including from Romania to revive it.
“Last week in Europe and again today I reiterated the need to resume the meeting of the Israel-EU Association Council framework,”  Aurescu said.
He added that the council’s work, as well as Israel’s ties with the EU as a whole, should not be held hostage to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Romania supports the ongoing peace efforts in the Middle East, including Israel’s pending deal with the United Arab Emirates, Aurescu said.
With respect to Israel and Romania, there is an ascending trend of cooperation, said Aurescu. Trade between the two countries amonts to $660 million, an increase of over 25% compared to the previous years, as well as bilateral cooperation on defense and security, he explained.
Plans are now underway for a government-to-government meeting in 2021, Aurescu announced.
“I would like to reiterate Romania’s very strong commitment to combat anti-semitism and xenophobia. Our efforts to establish a national museum of Jewish history and holocaust in Romania are underway,’ Aurescu said.
Israel’s Ambassador to Romania David Saranga told The Jerusalem Post that when Romania held the rotating six-month post of European Council President last year, it had prioritized combating anti-semitism and promoting tolerance.
“Israel and Romania share the same values when it comes to different fields, especially when we speak of the challenges and changes that the Middle East is facing,” Saranga said.
“Since Romania is one of our close allies in Europe, out goal is to find ways to deepen and strengthen the excellent relations between the two countries,” he added.