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Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:40AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Barack Obama

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has reportedly signaled his willingness to mount pressures against Iran in return for Tel Aviv’s consent to resume talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that Washington may implement its two-state plan for Palestine and Israel. Washington has promised to intensify embargoes against Iran, even if Israel excludes key issues such as the crisis in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian refugees in its probable talks with the PA, The Sunday Times said in a report. Two of the aides of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Washington this week as part of the scenario of compromise over the Iranian and Palestinian issues, the report said. “Barack Obama does not want be accused of presiding over the demise of what’s left of the two-state solution,” the report quoted Aaron David Miller, the Middle East advisor to six US secretaries of state as saying. Meanwhile, Obama reportedly plans to visit Israel on March 20 for the first time since taking office in 2009 amid growing skepticism between Israeli and Palestinian sides over the prospect of their stalemated talks. Observers contend that the visit will fall short of laying the groundwork for a meeting between Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu. Even some Israeli analysts and officials view US efforts to facilitate resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine as a tool to alley international fury over Israel’s aggressive policies. Palestinians, on the other hand, warn that if Obama’s visit or a resumption of negotiations derails Palestine’s recent campaign to use its new UN status to garner support for international sanctions against Israel, the repercussions will be catastrophic for Palestinians. Washington has recently imposed new sanctions against Iran's energy sector to prevent Tehran from gaining access to earnings garnered from its crude exports. The sanctions require the importing countries to keep their payments at home and only release them in return for purchases of goods from them by Iran, to effectively lock up Iranian oil revenue overseas. The mounting US pressures come as Washington boasts of its intentions to engage in direct dialogue with Tehran. At the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready to hold direct talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program. However, he noted, “There will be continued pressure and isolation.” Political analysts say the US claim of readiness to hold direct talks with Iran is utterly preposterous as America’s deep-rooted policy of anti-Iran pressures contradicts the very tenets of reciprocal interaction. In a strong response, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei lashed out at the idea of any talks with the United States under pressure and threats. “I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary and speak frankly, honestly, and firmly. An offer of talks makes sense only when the side [that makes the offer] shows its goodwill,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a Thursday meeting with the officials and commanders of Iranian Air Force. “You (the Americans) point the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we pull the trigger! You should know that pressure and negotiations don’t go together, and that the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things,” the Leader added. The Islamic Republic has categorically rejected the US and Israel’s claims that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never found any evidence during its inspections of Iran’s nuclear energy facilities to support such allegations. Moreover, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, Iran is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The Leader noted that taking Iran to the negotiating table is the trump card that the US needs, adding that Washington seeks to tell the world it has good will. “However, no one sees any goodwill,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. Following the West’s sanctions on Iran’s banking sector, the import of more than 50 types of medicines required for people who suffer from certain diseases such as cancer, children’s cancer, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as respiratory and heart diseases, has drastically declined. Data released by the US Department of Commerce on February 8 shows that exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran have decreased by half despite Washington’s claims that ‘punitive measures’ have no humanitarian consequences. ASH/HMV/MA
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