Israel's ambassador to US lobbies Democrats in effort to scuttle Iran deal

Capital Hill insiders say their is not enough support amongst congressional lawmakers in either the House or the Senate that could effectively kill the agreement in Congress or override Obama's veto.

July 24, 2015 09:01
2 minute read.
Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (R),.

Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (R),.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer met with House Democrats Thursday, lobbying for their support in an effort to scuttle the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement since the president took office - the recently signed nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers which aims to curb the Islamic Republic's ambition in an attaining a nuclear weapon.

According to Politico, who spoke to multiple lawmakers about the effort, Dermer's message was clear: "don’t worry about voting against the Iran deal, because no matter what, the US will not allow the Islamic Republic to obtain a nuclear weapon."

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Dermer may have a long hill to climb, however. Capital Hill insiders say their is not enough support amongst congressional lawmakers in either the House or the Senate to override President Barack Obama's promise of a  veto should the fiercely partisan US Congress agree to kill the deal, according to Politico. 

Yet, Dermer and company will not go down without a fight. In fact, the most influential pro-Israel group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), will deploy about 300 lobbyists on Capitol Hill next week to try to convince lawmakers, especially undecided Democrats, to vote against the deal, according to officials in the pro-Israel camp.

AIPAC's plans are being coordinated with allied groups such as Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran that are sponsoring a national television advertising campaign, the pro-Israel sources said. They are expected to spend upwards of $20 million, one source said.
Republican Senators vow to kill Iran deal after Kerry briefing

Under a bill reluctantly signed into law by Obama in May, Congress has until Sept. 17 to decide whether to approve or reject the agreement between Iran and world powers to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Deal opponents in the pro-Israel camp believe more lawmakers can be swayed by detailed arguments about what they see as loopholes that Iran could use to skirt the agreement.

Pressure from AIPAC, whose members' support is widely coveted, could also worry lawmakers up for re-election. AIPAC boasts 100,000 members.

At the same time, J Street, a smaller liberal pro-Israel group, is urging supporters to lobby Congress to support the Iran deal.

Kerry told reporters before the House meeting that the deal "will make the region, our friends and allies, safer. It will make the world safer ... in the absence of any viable alternative."

Dermer held meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with Republican lawmakers. Along with the entirety of Israel’s political leadership, Dermer has been vocal in his criticism of the agreement and has publicly declared his intention to kill it using all tools at his disposal.

MIchael Wilner and JPost staff contributed to this report

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