The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, arguably the most influential pro-Israel organization in the U.S., is calling on members of Congress to vote down the recently unveiled deal between the U.S. and Iran concerning the latter’s nuclear energy program.
While AIPAC has supported the negotiations that led to the finalized deal, the group is taking another stance on the issue, saying President Barack Obama and negotiators did not meet certain requirements previously outlined by AIPAC.
AIPAC said in a statement on its website:
“After more than 20 months of negotiations, the United States and its negotiating partners announced a nuclear agreement with Iran. Throughout the negotiations, AIPAC outlined five critical criteria for a good deal. Unfortunately, the proposed agreement is fundamentally flawed in each of these vital areas. Urge your senators and representative to oppose the agreement.”
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While some sections of the group’s “five criteria” were met by the deal, others were ignored. The five criteria — allowing inspectors to do their job “anytime, anywhere” without prior consent from the Iranian government; forcing Iran to detail its previous work with nuclear energy programs and how it benefited the country; not lifting economic sanctions off of Iran’s crippling economy until the nation complies with its agreements; a longer statute of limitations before Iran can begin building nuclear weapons; and Iran dismantling all nuclear warhead sites and removing its uranium stockpile — were listed again on the group’s website in advance of the deal.
The deal was arguably lenient on some aspects, for example, giving Iran 24 days notice before inspectors would be checking facilities. Iran’s sanctions will largely be removed, as well, providing the nation with billions of dollars in foreign currency.
Congress will begin debating the deal in early September, after the 60-day deadline of reviewing the legislation has passed and lawmakers return from their annually scheduled August recess.
Lawmakers will then vote on a “resolution of disapproval,” which would ban Obama from removing Iran’s sanctions, a requirement that must be met for the agreement to survive. If the resolution is approved, the president has already said he would veto it. Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds majority in each House.
While the Republican-led House of Representatives would likely be able to reach enough Democratic support, the Senate is a different story. The 54 Republicans currently in the Senate would need at least 13 Democratic votes to override the president’s veto. This puts many Democrats in a tricky situation, as they want to support the president’s deal, but also need to support a large Jewish constituency, which tends to vote heavily Democratic and largely opposes any deal with Iran.
The White House does have some unusual support on its side. J Street, a liberal pro-Israel organization, has taken an opposite stance from AIPAC, asking members of Congress to support the deal. It has launched a multimillion dollar campaign to advocate for the deal and spoken out in favor of the president’s position.
“This agreement demonstrates that a core security interest of the United States — ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon — can be achieved through diplomacy and without the use of military force,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street president, said in a statement on July 15.