EU roadmap for Iran ties ignores its anti-Semitism, terrorism

European committee to vote on draft document setting principles for normalizing Iran-EU relations following nuke deal

Illustrative. Iranian protestors set US and Israeli flags afire during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran on July 1, 2016. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
Illustrative. Iranian protestors set US and Israeli flags afire during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran on July 1, 2016. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

The European Parliament is set to vote on a roadmap for relations with Iran that critics charge sidesteps Tehran’s endorsement of anti-Semitism, terrorism and calls to destroy Israel.

Compiled by Richard Howitt, a member of the European Union’s legislative arm for Britain’s Labour Party and a close ally of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the draft report on “EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement” is scheduled to be voted on Thursday by the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

The draft document, which sets principles for normalizing Iran-EU ties following the agreement to lift sanctions from Tehran in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear program, contains one single criticism of Iran, regarding its use of the death penalty. It does not mention Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, support for Holocaust denial and threats to destroy Israel.

“Iran’s revolutionary legacy and its constitution as an Islamic state must not be an impediment for finding common ground on matters related to democracy or human rights,” the document states. Omitting reference to Iran’s support for the Hezbollah military wing, which is on the EU list of terrorist groups, the document “welcomes Iran’s contribution to the fight against ISIS.”

The report in its current form “is a serious blow to the standing of the European Parliament as a defender of human rights, justice and freedom,” Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute, said in a statement.

Iran has been accused of fueling sectarian violence that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in Syria and Iraq.

Many EU sanctions on Iran have been lifted, along with other international sanctions, under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the formal name for the deal reached last year between six major world powers, led by the United States, and Iran, exchanging sanctions relief for a rollback of nuclear development in Iran.

Israel has opposed the deal, claiming it will pave Iran’s way to nuclear offensive capabilities rather than block it, as President Barack Obama said the agreement would.

The European Parliament document devotes considerable attention to the benefits of trade between Iran and Europe following the lifting of sanctions and notes that “European investments are key” for Iran’s stated objective of achieving a yearly growth rate of 8 percent.

Iran has faced criticism over its support for terrorist groups, persecution of minorities, state-sponsored torture, persecution of dissidents and journalists, and other human rights violations. In addition, it has been condemned for hosting last year the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest in Tehran. The event was decried as anti-Semitic by UNESCO, Germany and the United States, among others.

Noting this, the Transatlantic Institute wrote in its October 3 statement that it is “deeply concerned over the European Parliament’s failure to mention let alone criticize in its draft Iran report Tehran’s anti-Semitic propaganda and repeated calls for the destruction of Israel; its support for international terrorism, and illegal ballistic missile tests.”

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