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Will Netanyahu Succeed in Nuking the Iran Deal?

Don Rose 28 July 2015 One Comment

Opinions on the impending Iran nuclear deal run the gamut from the salvation of society to apocalypse now.

If it works as the six-nations who negotiated it believe, it is the first and most important step on the long journey toward reconciliation of many conflicts in the Middle East. If it fails, views range from a moderate setback to a “catastrophic mistake” that could set off a new nuclear arms race leading even to Israel‘s annihilation.


I’m for it, though not without some trepidations, as anyone familiar with the modern history of Iran would have. But it‘s up to the Congress. Should it fail to pass, it would be the first major international treaty to be defeated in the US through the influence of an outside power–Israelgenerated by its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has long been opposed to any deal with Iran, nuclear or otherwise. He tried his best to undercut the negotiations while they were going on, taking extraordinary steps, such as accepting an invitation to address Congress without the invitation or assent of the White House. He has clearly aligned himself with one party–the GOP.

Now he is trying to kill it in Congress through his American network of power brokers and big funders under the rubric of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC holds sway not only over many Jewish members of Congress, but a wide range of Israel supporters, especially Evangelicals. The organization claims to speak for American Jewry, but it’s much closer to the Israeli right than most American Jews, who tend to be more liberal and secular. I have not seen a poll of Jewish opinion on the Iran deal, but 57 percent of the country supports it, while maintaining deep concerns about whether Iran will cheat.

After the 60 days that Congress has to deliberate–angered that the UN Security Council has already ratified it–both houses will vote it down. The President has promised to veto the action, which requires a two-thirds majority of both houses to over-ride. I suspect the House will be able to assemble that majority with Republican unanimity plus enough Democrats who are either under AIPAC’s influence or have other legitimate objections.

The Senate is different. Obama needs 17 votes to block an over-ride, which will be a tight squeeze. The 54 Republicans apparently will hang together now that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) harshly criticized it. There are 44 Democrats plus two independents who caucus with them (9 Democrats and one Independent are Jewish). Ten Democrats are up for re-election next year and may be twitchy about supporting the deal. Jewish groups aligned with Netanyahu are applying pressure not only on coreligionist senators but non-Jews from heavily Jewish states such as New York and New Jersey–

most pointedly on the oleaginous Charles Schumer of NY, who hopes to become majority leader and has not yet taken a position. He will be key.

Obama thinks he has the 17 rock-bottom votes to uphold his veto, but Netanyahu’s allies are working hard. It will be very close; without Netanyahu, no problem.

If the veto is over-ridden, how will the other five major powers who negotiated the deal with us react? We’ll all be in dangerous, uncharted waters.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

One Comment »

  • Patricia A. McKnight said:

    I too am concerned that the GOPers will sink this agreement. (You may pronounce that as you please.) How peculiar that they are so very focused on 15 years from now rather than on the immediate benefits. I am also amazed that anyone who observes either national or international politics expects anything 15 years in the future to be predicted. The odds are that various provisions of this agreement will be readjudicated from the beginning of its application.

    Netanyahu definitely has a dog in this struggle but I very much resent his extraordinary decision that it was permissible to lobby the U.S. Congress in a manner which constitutes an obscene gesture at the President. He would most certainly thunder if President Obama returned the favor in the Gnesset in the same manner. Make your case, Bibi, on the international scene. Stay out of our Congress. You really do not have a vote — and those Representatives & Senators who nest happily in your back pocket are forgetting their oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not israel.

    I particularly like the description of Charles Shumer as “oleaginous,” though often I agree with him.

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