by Ari Soffer
State Dept. slams 'right-wing' Israeli coalition - but what did it say when anti-US extremist was appointed to Iran's Assembly of Experts?
The US State Department has been caught employing a stunning double-standards vis-a-vis Israel and Iran, shedding a light on the antagonism towards the Jewish state by the Obama administration, even as it cozies up to the Islamic Republic.
Last week, State Department spokesman Mark Toner angered officials in Israel, after he criticized the Israeli coalition deal bringing in the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party as "rais[ing] legitimate questions" over Israel's commitment to peace.
When asked at a Wednesday press briefing if he "had any comments" about the approaching coalition deal to bring in Avigdor Liberman, Toner responded:
"We have also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel's history and we also know that many of its ministers have said they oppose a two-state solution. This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in ... and what kind of policies it may adopt."
Yet just a day earlier, Toner had this to say about the election of an extreme anti-American cleric to Iran's Assembly of Experts, the powerful committee of clerics who will select the next Supreme Leader of Iran.
"One is you’ll have seen, I’m sure, the reports that Ahmad Jannati, a 90-year-old anti-Western cleric, has been chosen as the head of Iran’s new Assembly of Experts, which is in charge of selecting the new or whomever will be the next supreme leader," Toner was asked. "Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? And does this suggest that Iran may be moving toward a more pro-Western, more open-toward-the-West stance?
"Or do you have faith in Iran’s internal democratic procedures?... And do you regard Iran as an ally in the fight against terrorism?"
Toner's noncommittal response was telling:
"We follow domestic events in Iran closely, as you know, but we don’t have any comment at this point on the outcome of the leadership elections of the Assembly of Experts."
The stark contrast was first highlighted by American Jewish journalist Yair Rosenberg, who called out the "remarkable hypocrisy" of the Obama administration.
Under President Barack Obama, the White House has pursued a warming of ties with Iran, brokering a controversial agreement with the Islamic Republic over its illegal nuclear program, while apparently making great efforts to encourage western states and banks to do business with Tehran.
At the same time, Obama has openly clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, most recently lambasting him along with other key American allies in an interview earlier this year.
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