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Biden’s overtures to Iran undercut US bid to end Hamas-Israel conflict

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Biden's overtures to Iran undercut US bid to end Hamas-Israel conflict

With rockets flying and violence escalating in the Gaza Strip, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it dispatched Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr to the region, in an effort to broker calm between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas. The likelihood of a successful mission is low. But that’s not Amr’s fault; it’s President Joe Biden’s. His Middle East foreign policy is simply out of sync with this mission.

In past conflicts, senior American officials often found ways to steer both sides to a ceasefire, even when Israel wasn’t quite satisfied with the results on the battlefield. But Jerusalem always acquiesced to Washington in the end, out of deference to the close ties between the two nations.

Given America’s foreign policy these days, it’s not clear how that will fly. Israeli officials are not exactly eager to hear America’s view of Iranian-backed terrorists like Hamas. Tensions are at a zenith, thanks to the Biden administration’s stubborn insistence that now is the time to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the flawed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Israeli officials are unhappy not only because they see the deal as a path for Iran to gain nuclear weapons down the road, but for another reason as well: America’s role in whatever is agreed upon is very likely to include billions of dollars in cash incentives to the Islamic Republic, in exchange for temporary nuclear concessions.

The Iranian regime is one of Hamas’ top sponsors. Thus, the Biden administration is on the cusp of indirectly providing funds to Hamas, using Iran as a pass-through.

Of course, the Biden administration will deny that this is its intention. And to be fair, it probably isn’t. But it will be a byproduct of a deeply flawed and myopic policy.

Officials may attempt to explain how US money-laundering controls and intelligence could stop this from happening. But there will be no hermetic solution to prevent Iran from sending cash to Hamas. Nor is there a way to halt the flow of weapons or weapons technology that Iran will invariably build with the funds it is about to receive.

Iran is long known to have provided Hamas with entire rocket systems, rocket parts, training in assembly, cash support and other means to enhance the terrorist organization’s military capabilities over the years. In the context of the current conflict, Iran is widely believed to have provided Palestinian Islamic Jihad with a new rocket, the Badr 3.

Israeli military officials privately note that they have observed other signs of Iranian involvement in the conflict, including possibly the Shihab drone that was thought to hit the strategic Ashkelon pipeline, but they have yet to go on the record to explain.

More important is the broader question of what exactly the Biden administration wants in the Middle East. The president and his lieutenants have repeatedly asserted that they seek to extricate America from the region. In other words, Israel is about to find itself increasingly alone in an increasingly lawless Middle East.

To make matters worse, this administration has pushed all its chips to the center of the table in its attempts to resurrect the JCPOA. This is a deal that will once again empower Iran, while weakening Israel and the Gulf Arab states. The Biden folks may not frame it this way, but this is tantamount to a total realignment of the Middle East.

Washington thus lacks credibility in its efforts to broker an end to the current fighting between Israel and Hamas. And judging by the decision to send Amr to represent the United States, that may not even be its goal.

Diplomatic protocol dictates that Amr, who is a relatively low-ranking official, would not be the right person to speak directly with Israel’s top diplomats, military officials and politicians. Biden and his secretary of state, Tony Blinken, almost certainly understood this when they dispatched Amr to the region.

Admittedly, the Biden administration policy has had occasional bright spots. The president elected to shut down condemnations of Israel at the United Nations, providing top cover as Israel struggled to fend off salvo after salvo of Hamas rockets with its Iron Dome air-defense system.

But just as Iron Dome can’t neutralize every threat, a diplomatic shield at the UN may only help for so long. Israel is fighting a brutal war against Iran and its proxies. And the White House appears to be casting its lot with the wrong side for the long term.

Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Opinion

Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

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Wuhan lab was batty and other commentary

Pandemic journal: Wuhan Lab Was Batty

Despite the insistence of Peter Daszak — a “longtime partner of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and one of the most staunch and outspoken critics of the lab-leak theory” — the lab “did indeed have live bats within its walls,” reports National Review’s Jim Geraghty. Sky News Australia found May 2017 footage showing caged bats and one “hanging off the hat of” a researcher “wearing a mask and glasses but no other protective head covering.” The lab even “filed patents for bat cages.” Daszak, whose EcoHealth Alliance funneled government grants to the Wuhan lab, deleted tweets claiming it held no live bats but hasn’t “admitted he was wrong.” That lab “had more samples of bat viruses within its walls than any other building on earth,” yet Daszak and others claim the fact COVID originated in Wuhan “is simply coincidental.”

Libertarian: Biden’s Infrastructure Backfire

President Biden is focused on “all the money he plans to spend” on ­infrastructure, rather than on getting the biggest bang for the buck — which suggests he will be buying “a lot less infrastructure” than otherwise, argues Reason’s Christian Britschgi. The prez insists, for example, that jobs go to union workers, yet that could raise costs by as much as 22 percent. His team paused a Houston highway project on civil-rights grounds, possibly opening an “avenue for activists to slow” other projects. And the Bidenites are considering a rollback of Trump-era limits on environmental reviews. In the end, his team’s commitment to “outdated red tape” will “inevitably impede whatever it ends up trying to build.”

Border watch: Migrants’ COVID Threat

President Biden should have at least “waited until the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was over before reversing Trump’s border-security measures,” but he has instead enabled migrants to bring “the virus — including potentially dangerous variants — into the interior of the US,” laments Nolan Rappaport at The Hill. Team Biden excepted unaccompanied alien children from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary order permitting “the rapid expulsion of aliens who would otherwise be held in crowded areas while being processed.” While the coronavirus is “still killing more than 200 people a day in the US,” Biden is admitting newcomers from low-vaccination countries without so much as a COVID test. The president vowed to “follow the science” in fighting the pandemic, and “politicians should keep their campaign promises.”

From the left: Manchin’s Favor to Dems

For all liberals’ rage at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) “for opposing the For the People Act and for supporting the filibuster,” he may “be doing these liberal Democrats a favor,” contends John Judis at Talking Points Memo. The voting bill is a highly controversial and thus an unpopular “Christmas tree of progressive election measures” that includes “public funding of elections, . . . support for Congress being able to declare the District of Columbia a state and a panoply of regulations that would govern state elections — elections that are supposed to be the purview of states.” Meanwhile, “the presence of the filibuster forces Democrats in the Senate and the Biden administration to focus their efforts on popular economic measures,” since it makes it impossible to pass more culturally divisive ones that would harm the party’s candidates in 2022.

Conservative: Joe’s Smart Strategic Reshoring

Global supply chains have benefited consumers in the form of cheaper prices — but they have also “created new problems,” observes John Steele Gordon at Spectator USA. So kudos to Team Biden, which has “produced an important new report” seeking to address one main downside: America’s dependence on foreign powers for security-sensitive manufacturing needs. “The United States currently relies mostly on ­imports are of particular concern: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients and critical and strategic materials.” As the early pandemic’s mask shortage showed, “great powers . . . need to be able to produce strategically important products within their own borders.” By recognizing the problem, the Biden report is an important first step.

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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Opinion

Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s reckoning a sour ending for a transformative prime minister

Benjamin Netanyahu showed the opposite of grace as he exited from power on Sunday.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — June 14, 2021

The Issue: The discussion of law and order at last week’s Democratic debate for mayor.

If any one of these five candidates becomes mayor, it will be the continuation of the de Blasio era (“Crime focus of Dem debate,” June 11).

Many of them are in favor of defunding the Police Department, which is why there is so much crime, and shootings are rising every day.

The people of this city had better wake up when they go to vote. Haven’t we had enough of this? When will it stop? These candidates will not put an end to all this.

Rob Johann

Queens

Thinking that a Republican candidate could not win the mayoral race in New York, I switched my party to Democrat so I could vote.

After listening to all the Democratic candidates during the debate last week, I want to immediately switch my party back to Republican and vote for Curtis Sliwa.

He is our only hope to live in a city that values law and order. He won’t cave to these left-wing zealots who will further destroy our city and our quality of life.

We need a mayor who can bring back the tourists, help our economy and ensure a better life for all of us.

We cannot let the city go into further decline with any of these Democratic candidates. Please, wake up and vote for someone who will lift all of us up.

Susan Green

Manhattan

The fact that Andrew Yang is slipping in the polls is the only good news in the mayoral race.

Eric Adams is talking about crime, while Yang thinks the biggest issues for the city are AI and climate change.

If Yang wins, people will be dreaming of “the good old days” under Mayor de Blasio, formerly thought to be the bottom of the barrel.

Andrew Delaney

Miami, Fla.

I am not impressed by any of the Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City.

What each of them is proposing will cause further crime, divisiveness and decay, raise taxes, make life more miserable for residents and visitors and drive more families out of the city.

What does it take to get through to the New York voter? How bad does it have to get before they abandon a party that is becoming more idiotic with every election cycle?

Take a look at cities and states that have been doing well under Republican leadership and consider voting Republican.

D.M. Diana

Greeley, Pa.

Even Adams is falling for it. He said the “solution” to city violent crime is to reach out to youth and improve mental-health services.

These chic answers are a guarantee that innocent New Yorkers will continue to be murdered, raped, thrown onto subway tracks and maimed.

Get the violent off the streets first. Whether they are criminal or mentally ill, sort that out afterward. Get them away from the rest of us first.

Paul O’Keefe

Union City, NJ

I generally agree with The Post’s endorsements, but I am baffled by its support of Adams for mayor.

His stance on the NYPD changes at his convenience. One day he’s anti-cop and a fierce critic of the NYPD (even though he was employed by the NYPD), and then he switches and comes across as pro-police.

Can New Yorkers elect a mayor who lacks common sense and leadership skills? His suggestion last summer to New Yorkers to settle disputes about illegal fireworks on their own and not call the police was deadly. Shatavia Walls, 33, died as a result.

Adams lacks the moral compass and common sense required to be a winning mayor. The people of New York deserve better.

Susan Berger

Brooklyn

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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