Congress will not let France ‘take over’ peace process, says Graham

In visit to Jerusalem, US Republican presidential hopeful tells Netanyahu a nuclear agreement with Tehran must be verifiable.

May 28, 2015 04:13
3 minute read.
Lindsey Graham

US Senator Lindsey Graham speaks to reporters yesterday at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Likely Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) warned in Jerusalem Wednesday of “violent” bipartisan congressional backlash if the UN tries to “take over” the peace process or the International Criminal Court indicts IDF soldiers for war crimes.

Graham, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the US funding of international organizations, said at a press conference that if the UN Security Council adopted a position to “define the terms of the peace process,” he would “lead an effort to suspend their funding.”

Graham’s comments come against the backdrop of expectations that France, together with New Zealand, will bring a proposal to the Security Council defining the parameters of a peace deal based on a two-state solution. He said he wanted to assure Israel that there will be Republican and Democratic support to stop an attempt by the French or “some other nation” from taking over the peace process.

Likewise, Graham said he would lead an effort to economically punish any country engaged in efforts to bring IDF soldiers or officers to a war crimes trial at the ICC.

“We provide 25 percent of the funding to the United Nations,” Graham said. “We have a lot of influence. We are not getting a lot for our money.”

He said he would not ask the US taxpayer to fund an organization being used to marginalize a close American ally.

Graham, one of a growing number of presidential hopefuls who have visited Israel in recent months, said he told both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog earlier in the day that there would be a bipartisan requirement in Congress that any nuclear deal signed with Iran must be verifiable.

“Without sufficient verification there will be no deal,” he said. “I think that anytime, anywhere inspections – including the military facilities in Iran – are an absolute must in terms of getting a deal through the US House and Senate.”

Graham said he walked away from his meetings in Jerusalem very concerned not only about the Iranian nuclear threat, but also their conventional military buildup. He said he was briefed about the conventional build-up, and will now follow up with the US government to see if it shares the same concerns.

If, indeed, the buildup is of the extent that he was told, Graham said, that is something that “should be considered in terms of whether or not we complete a deal with Iran.”

“The best of indication of how Iran will behave in the future is what they are doing in the past and the present,” he said. “We all know they are destabilizing the region but, if in fact they are engaged in a massive military buildup and they can internally develop weapons that can take Iran to a new level military, I think it would be a mistake for the members of the House and the Senate not to know that before we vote.”

Earlier in the day, Graham visited the Knesset and, in addition to meeting Herzog, he also met with MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), a former Ambassador to the US, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett. When asked whether, if elected president, he would honor a deal US President Barack Obama strikes with Iran, Graham told The Jerusalem Post it depended on what the deal would be.

“I wouldn’t honor any deal I thought didn’t have sufficient verification, that I thought infused a regime with cash when I thought [the regime] misused the money,” Graham stated.

“I want a diplomatic end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. A good deal would be a dream and a bad deal would be a nightmare,” he added. “I would honor what I thought would be a good deal, but would not honor a deal like the one with North Korea, where I thought [Tehran] would break out.”

Graham added that a nuclear Iran would be the biggest challenge the world would face in the coming years, “and that’s saying a lot considering the situation now.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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