Iran, Hezbollah, Taken Off Threat Assessment List; Jewish Group Calls it ‘Beyond Shocking’

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by Richard Edmonson, via Fig Trees and Vineyards

A couple of rather striking developments in the “special relationship” between the US and Israel have emerged here recently.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has published its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report in which it assesses various threats to the United States from a variety of sources including those falling under the category of “terrorism.”

The report has raised a number of eyebrows in that the “Terrorism” section excludes any mention of Iran or Hezbollah. Instead it focuses exclusively on “Sunni violent extremists” in general, and ISIS, or ISIL, in particular.

“Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history,” the report states.

Both the Times of Israel and Newsweek have published reports on what appears to be an official delisting by the US of Hezbollah and Iran as terrorist threats, with both articles noting that the DNI report comes amidst the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and the US. Additionally, the JTA has published a report in which it notes that “the  terrorism section in the assessment no longer appears as a list” and calls the change “not insignificant.”

The delisting has apparently sent a jolt of distress through the American Jewish Committee, which has posted a tweet calling it “beyond shocking.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Israeli election two days ago, we now seem to be seeing a new tone emerging from the White House. The following report was posted today by Press TV.

The White House has raised the prospect of removing critical US diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory.

“Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday.

“What is apparent is that in the context of the campaign and while he was the sitting prime minister of Israel, he walked back from commitments Israel previously made to a two-state solution,” Earnest said at his daily press briefing.

“Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward,” he added.

Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats in parliament, against 24 for rivals in the center-left Zionist Union in Tuesday’s Israeli national election.

Netanyahu made opposition to nuclear negotiations with Iran a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. He also rejected the idea of a Palestinian state, which has been a key element of US foreign policy.

“Words matter, and that is certainly true in this instance,” Earnest said. “The president and the administration take him at his word.”

US President Barack Obama has not called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election victory.

Whether all of this is indicative of some genuine winds of change and a possible “divorce” between the US and Israel is too soon to say, and personally I doubt we’ll see anything that dramatic come to pass, at least not anytime soon. But it does seem to be a hopeful sign nonetheless.

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