Malcolm Hoenlein
Malcolm Hoenlein Hezki Baruch

The heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday expressed dismay over six European countries joining the mechanism meant to circumvent US sanctions over Iran.

“In a disgraceful move, contrary to the lofty principles they espouse, six European countries have joined the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a channel for circumventing US sanctions in order to do business with Iran,” said Arthur Stark, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents.

“By joining INSTEX, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden give tacit support to an extremist regime that in recent weeks has crushed widespread protests, brutally murdering hundreds of its citizens, as well as contributing to suppressing protests in Beirut and Baghdad against Iranian presence,” they added.

“Moreover, Iran has escalated its nuclear weapons program with repeated violations of the JCPOA. Iran continues to be the biggest state supporter of terrorist organizations and is behind efforts to destabilize regimes in the Middle East,” said Stark and Hoenlein.

“At a time when the Ayatollahs’ abuse of the Iranian people is particularly egregious and the regime’s aggression in the region is increasingly flagrant, these countries joining INSTEX will essentially be seen as a green light for further atrocities. In their effort to rescue the JCPOA, these countries are rewarding Iran’s destructive actions and enabling its quest for regional hegemony at all costs," they concluded.

INSTEX was created by Germany, France and Britain to coordinate import and export payments so European companies can do business with Iran despite US sanctions.

While Iran initially welcomed INSTEX, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif subsequently said that the mechanism "falls short of the commitments” by Europe to save the nuclear deal.

The comments from Stark and Hoenlein come a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released a video in which he slammed those European countries which joined INSTEX, saying the countries “should be ashamed of themselves” for aiding Tehran while the Islamic Republic uses deadly force to crackdown on anti-government protests.

Netanyahu urged European leaders to join the US in imposing sanctions on Tehran.

“Now is the time to change course. Now is the time to ratchet up the pressures on Iran, not to lessen them. Now is the time to join the United States and increase sanctions against Iran. To those who favor appeasement of Iran, I say this: History and your own people will judge you harshly. Change course now,” he said.