A congressional delegation visiting Israel has voiced strong
opposition to the agreement being worked out between the US and other powers
with Iran in Geneva over its nuclear program, with Rep. Michele Bachmann
(R-Minnesota) calling it “suicidal.”
In an exclusive interview with The
Jerusalem Post at a Jerusalem hotel on Friday, at the end of the delegation’s
visit to Israel, Bachmann backed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s rejection
of the deal, and continued sanctions against Tehran.
“I think it’s a
suicidal move for the world, in particular for Israel,” Bachmann said. “We would
like to encourage the prime minister to do everything he can to stand strong for
Israel’s interest. We believe the sanctions are working exactly as they were
intended to work. This is not the time to let up on sanctions.”
up from Bachmann’s comments, Rep. Steve Scalise (RLouisiana) said this was not
the time for a nuclear deal with Tehran.
“The strong sanctions that
Congress has passed against Iran have been very big bipartisan votes in both the
House and the Senate, and so the Congress has been on the record in a very
strong way that we need to impose the toughest sanctions against Iran until they
give up their attempt to develop a nuclear weapon,” Scalise told the Post. “Now
that the sanctions are finally working and Iran is actually feeling the
pressure, the worst mistake would be to take our foot off of the
It’s actually bringing Iran to the table, in a way where they need
to now start withdrawing their program.
They need to start removing
centrifuges. They’ve got to recognize that they can’t get the sanctions released
without giving up major concessions in return.”
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)
called for even more measures to be taken against the Islamic
“The sanctions finally are working and Iran has been put in a
position in which the sanctions are hurting them economically, which will cause
instability in Iran. Iran is faced now with a choice of developing the economy
or developing nuclear weapons,” Poe said. “If we let off on the sanctions, they
will be able to develop both. Keep the heat on the sanctions; we need more
sanctions, not less sanctions.”
Poe said Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was
deceiving the West.
“We’re being had, the West is being had by the
Iranians, and the smooth-talking Rouhani,” he said.
“We ought to know
better than to try to deal with people who say one thing and continue behind
everybody’s back to continue to develop a nuclear capability.”
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “was a loudmouthed screamer and advocated
the destruction of the West.
Rouhani is a smooth snake-oil salesman. He
believes the same thing, but he’s smoother about it.
But he cannot be
trusted, in fact to me, he is more dangerous than Ahmadinejad, because he comes
and puts his arm around the West and wants to talk. But his goals are exactly
the same, because they’re coming from the supreme leader, whose goals have not
changed, and that’s the destruction of Israel and the United States. So he
should be dealt with much more carefully even than Ahmadinejad in my opinion,”
The congressional delegation spent several days touring Israel,
away from the eyes of the media, and met Netanyahu on Thursday before leaving on
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) said they fully endorsed
Netanyahu’s tough position on Iran.
“When we had a meeting with the prime
minister, we let him know that we stood behind him,” Aderholt said. “Israel has
a lot of friends in the Congress, and the administration does not always
represent the way Congress is set up. We wanted to reiterate to the prime
minister and to Israel that there’s a lot of people in the United States
Congress that don’t have the exact views of the administration.”
Palestinian issue, members of the delegation were outraged by Secretary of State
John Kerry’s warning to Israel of a third intifada if the peace talks break
Rep. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) termed Kerry’s comments an insult
to the Palestinians.
“To me, Kerry’s statement that there will be a third
intifada if Israel doesn’t come to the table is just an incredibly low view of
the Palestinians, and a great disrespect to them as well,” he said.
the same kind of statement that liberals make in America about certain
neighborhoods, saying if they don’t get what they want, they’ll riot in the
streets. It shows incredible disrespect to the Palestinians to say all that they
know is violence, and so you better appease them, or you’re going to get more
violence,” Lankford said.
Bachmann said she opposed Israel’s release of
terrorists as part of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
the prime minister know that we stand in utter opposition to the release of
terrorists. We think it’s inappropriate. With all due respect to the
administration and of course to the prime minister, to release murderers,
murderers of Americans as well as Israelis, is reprehensible, and you’re getting
nothing in return.”
She said that when it comes to the Palestinians, bad
behavior should not be rewarded.
“The world would love to see a solution
to the situation, but quite honestly, I think that if there’s anything we’ve
learned over the decades is that we should not be about rewarding bad behavior.
What we need to do is to make sure that at every turn, Israel’s national
security interests must come first,” Bachmann said.
“The Jordan Valley is
extremely important. Israel has to know that they have the confidence that we
aren’t going to see an outbreak in the West Bank, and that’s why there must be a
military presence,” she said.
Poe supported Israel’s demand to be
recognized as a Jewish state.
“The big issue is that the Palestinians and
many of Israel’s neighbors will not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and until
they step up to the plate and say we will recognize Israel’s right to exist,
then we can start talking about the details, and land and all of the other
issues. But they don’t want to talk about that, they’d rather to talk about
other things. I think that has to be the starting point, where both sides will
be willing to recognize the other’s right to exist. The Palestinians refuse to
do that, and many of the people who support the Palestinians won’t make that
statement, and there lies the problem of working out a long-term peace
negotiation,” he said.
Aderholt added: “From our meeting with the prime
minister, we feel that recognizing Israel’s to exist is crucially important.
That was something which he reiterated and that has to be something in all the
negotiations. Anybody who wants to deny Israel’s right to exist is very
disconcerting to all of us and most members of Congress.
We feel very
strongly about that issue.”
Summing up the delegation’s visit to Israel,
Bachmann said she was pleased that they had come at the same time as
“We are very thankful that we could be here during this critical
week to deliver an alternative view from that of the administration.
is, number one, that we stand with the Jewish people, and we don’t believe
Israel should make concessions to her detriment.
We want her to know that
she has a friend who will be here in good times and in bad.”
She said the
delegation was leaving Israel “with a feeling of happiness and
“There is tremendous reason for optimism, true optimism, because
Israel is a miracle nation. I was here in 1974, worked on a kibbutz down near
Beersheba, and to look at the development of Israel from 1974 until today is
nothing short of miracle. To see the level of stability Israel has while being
under virtual attack the entire time that they had to grow is another testament
to the Jewish state.
“But what happened with P5+1 is a major line of
demarcation, and that’s why I think it’s very crucial that all of us were here
this week at the same time that Secretary Kerry was in Israel. We want the
Jewish people of Israel and the Palestinian people to understand that the view
that was brought to bear by the United States administration does not
necessarily reflect the will of the American people, nor of the people’s
representatives in Congress. It certainly does not represent our view. We
believe that it will bring far greater instability if the recommendations of the
P5+1 were in fact to be enacted,” Bachmann said.
Asked if they supported
the release of Jonathan Pollard, who is starting his 29th year in a US jail for
spying for Israel, members of the delegation nodded.
“I believe Pollard
should be pardoned, I believe he should be freed,” said Bachmann.
think he should have been released a long time ago,” added Poe.” I don’t know
whether he will be or not, but that’s an issue that people who believe in
freedom should keep elevating to the top, so that we can be vocal about that