In a major reversal, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC is now supporting President Obama's position and is urging the Senate wait to vote on the Iran sanctions bill until after seeing if the Presidents efforts at negotiating a diplomatic solution can succeed. Last night, former President Bill Clinton also urged the Senate to wait until to give the diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed.
The AIPAC announcement came after a speech by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J) that "now is not the time to move forward on a sanctions bill that both Iran and Obama have said would disrupt fragile diplomatic negotiations."
In Bill Clinton, AIPAC urge delay on Iran sanctions, Politico reports:
“We agree with the Chairman that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure. We remain committed to working with the Administration and the bipartisan leadership in Congress to ensure that the Iran nuclear program is dismantled,” AIPAC said in a statement.
Menendez did not explicitly say on the Senate floor that he did not want an immediate vote, though he did warn against the Senate’s posture toward Iran becoming a “partisan process trying to force a vote on a national security matter before its appropriate time,” referring to a fresh Republican push for a vote on Menendez’s bill on Thursday.
Making this reversal even more dramatic it comes just after 42 GOP Senator delivered a letter to Senator Majority Leader Harry Leader demanding that a vote be held on the Iran sanctions bill:
“Now we have come to a crossroads,” the Republicans wrote in the letter spearheaded by Kirk. “Will the Senate allow Iran to keep its illicit nuclear infrastructure in place, rebuild its teetering economy and ultimately develop nuclear weapons at some point in the future — or will the Senate stand firm on behalf of the American people and insist that any final agreement with Iran must dismantle the regime’s illicit nuclear infrastructure and preclude the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism from ever producing nuclear weapons?”
Senator Reid lashed back at the GOP letter accusing them of making this a "totally partisan letter" which was "wrong."
Former President Clinton attended a private Democratic retreat for Senators last night and urged Senators to allow President Obama's negotiations to play out before voting on this bill. The dozen or so Democratic Senators that had crossed over to join the GOP attempt to push this bill through have backed down and now are apparently supporting our President.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear what the GOP is saying in response to the major change.
This is great news indeed. I totally support this new direction for AIPAC, and have always fully supporting President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in the leadership of American national security and foreign policy in this matter. They both deserve great praise for their courage to stand up for their diplomatic strategy despite enormous pressure, even from many Democrats.
Progressive democrats, the many progressive American pro-Israel Jewish leaders, and others who have fought back against this Iran sanctions bill that our President claimed would undermine his efforts for peace can also be proud and happy these efforts have succeeded.
6:32 PM PT: I added an extra line to highlight my happiness and pride at President Obama's and Secretary of State Kerry's courage and persistence in this matter despite much pressure. This is real leadership at work and a substantial accomplish that is far more important than it may first appear. We may have just avoided a major new war by the courage of our President.
6:53 PM PT: The Jerusalem Post seems to be portraying this as a victory for AIPAC in AIPAC demonstrates muscle, then partially retreats on Iran.
Gak! I will leave it to readers to comment on this one. And more proof that this battle will continue:
On Monday, the New York Times declared a victory for US President Barack Obama over AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the United States. AIPAC has aggressively pushed for legislation in Congress that holds diplomats in Geneva accountable— by AIPAC's standards— in their efforts to negotiate a settlement to the longstanding nuclear crisis with Iran.
Progress has been slow— "blunted," according to the Times report. But with a strongly-worded letter from the Republican Senate caucus, and with a forceful speech from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez on the chamber floor on Thursday, AIPAC is pushing back, and reasserting its influence on Capitol Hill. ...
“The American people - Democrats and Republicans alike – overwhelmingly support this legislation,” the letter reads. “We should not allow the administration to turn one of the most bipartisan issues in America into a partisan one.”
Senor Republican Senate aides told The Jerusalem Post that Reid should expect them to exercise the gamut of subterfuge strategies in their effort to give the bill, formally known as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, a vote on the floor.