US Democrats say Israel's efforts on Iran are backfiring

A number of leading US senators remain unswayed following months of intense and controversial Israeli efforts to block a nuclear deal with Iran.

March 25, 2015 12:47
1 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech to US Congress on March 3, 2015, with US Speaker of the House John Boehner and President pro tempore of the US Senate Orrin Hatch applauding behind him. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that their opinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, speaking to Politico, said that Netanyahu did not believe in the potential for a good deal, suggesting he should rather be open to fixing certain issues. “You can agree on some of the specifics that ‘yeah, this is a matter of concern,’ without necessarily agreeing that there’s no way to address it," Kaine said. "He doesn’t see any way to address it, but I’m not sure that’s the case.”

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Another example came from a February 6 meeting between Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer. Following the meeting, which Feinstein herself arranged, she said Dermer's intention was to change her mind regarding an Iran deal, as well as to make her skeptical of US negotiation capabilities.

"It didn't work," Feinstein said, though noting that the two had "a good two-sided discussion I thought cleared the air."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, said that intelligence he has received from US and Israeli sources has been the same and that Israel is simply closed to the idea of negotiations. "They [Israeli officials] don’t like the deal.”

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, said that “They [Israeli officials] are putting on a full-court press to say it’s a bad deal."

“The deal’s not done...I’m not sure how you say it’s a bad deal. We don’t know what the deal is.”

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said the US Senate would vote on a bill to toughen sanctions on Iran if international negotiators miss a deadline on March 31 for reaching a framework nuclear agreement.

"Another heavy dose of sanctions would be an appropriate remedy if there's no agreement at all," McConnell told a weekly news briefing.

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