Israel has failed to adopt sanctions against Iran

Stella Korin-Lieber

The government has only itself to blame in the Ofer-Iran affair.

Israel's role in the Ofer-Iran affair is split between Sammy and Idan Ofer and the Israeli government. Both have failed, and both are making excuses and telling stories.

The Ofer side of the story is fairly predictable: traders by birth with one goal, namely profit. Besides that they are not interested in anything, and if there is a restriction, a way around it will be found by hook or by crook, directly or indirectly, by persuasion or by threat. It is not impossible that the political activity that Idan Ofer has undertaken lately has something in it apart from Zionism, the love of the Land of Israel, and a desire for peace, and that other interests are mixed in, particularly changing the grasping image that has stuck to him here.

In the present affair, the American accusations of forbidden business with Iran, we now hear political tunes being played. The new claim is that the entire affair, which as will be recalled started with the US State Department, is designed to injure and weaken Prime Minister Netanyahu after his visit to Washington. The Ofer family is just an innocent victim, who perhaps slipped up slightly. Just a little. A tiny slip, that someone in the US administration sought to inflate and exploit for political advantage.

The larger problem relates to the Israeli government and its two faced conduct regarding sanctions on Iran. While the prime minister and cabinet ministers travel from country to country telling frightening stories about Iran and calling for the imposition and strengthening of international sanctions against Iran, back at home the Israeli government itself has not legislated or even bothered to discuss enforcing sanctions on Iran. It has not even adopted the sanctions that the US, Europeans and other countries have imposed.

And when from time to time items are published about Israelis doing business with Iran - we don't hear about any unequivocal government investigations or condemnation. Thus the Ofer-Iran affair exposes government inaction. This is one of the reasons why cabinet ministers remain silent.

It seems that for some months now, there has been a document circulating in the Prime Ministers Office and government ministries - a draft proposal formulated by Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman - who wants a government decision and legislation on the matter. Under the terms of the draft, the government would adopt all international sanctions against Iran.

In the next stage, the ministries of foreign affairs, finance, industry, trade and labor, agriculture, justice and security bodies would draft even more stringent sanctions that would be presented to the international community.

Israel would ask them to adopt these more severe sanctions. The proposal has been prepared by a committee of experts at the foreign ministry helped by government figures and academics.

Liberman's draft was shown to ministers at the end of 2010, and shortly afterwards it was passed on to the prime minister's office, probably following a decision by Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu himself passed the material on to his then national security advisor Uzi Arad who devoted most of his time to the Iranian nuclear threat.

But then their was that kind of black hole of relations between Netanyahu, Liberman and Arad. Arad was supposed to leave his post and become ambassador to the UK but Liberman torpedoed the appointment because the prime minister was meddling in the foreign ministry's domain, Arad was miffed and abandoned the stage.

Several weeks later, it became apparent that he was suspected by the General Security Services (Shin Bet) of leaking unimportant documents and was anyway forced to step down. Arad probably did not have enough time to deal with the proposal, and it has probably had to wait for his successor Yaakov Amidror who was appointed in March to get organized in his new job.

On April 17, the cabinet took decision number 3160 to "promote steps in the struggle against Iran's nuclear plan." It just remains to be enacted by the Knesset. And this is how until today, Israel has not yet enacted sanctions against Iran and is fully exposed to its naked aggression.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on May 30, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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