In a show of bipartisan support, prominent Republicans, including all three remaining presidential candidates, as well as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) expressed their strong support for the state of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship at the AIPAC Policy Conference on Tuesday. Gov. John Kasich said, “I applaud our continuing legacy of support for the Jewish state” and condemned the Palestinian “culture of hatred and death.” Republican front-runner Donald Trump stated, “When you live in a society where athletes and movie stars are heroes, little kids want to be athletes and movie stars. In Palestinian society, the heroes are those who murder Jews - we can't let this continue. You cannot achieve peace if terrorists are treated as martyrs.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made clear the strategic importance of the relationship: “Whether it is missile defense from Iron Dome to David's Sling, or whether it is intelligence and military cooperation, Israel provides an enormous benefit to keeping America safe and protecting us from radical Islamic terrorists.”
Senator Menendez, who voted against the Iran deal, thundered against the agreement which, he said, “provides Iran with a $100 billion windfall of new capital to increase its conventional forces, fortify its proxies, further destabilize the region, and find a back-door method of accelerating the timeframe for which it could breakout and build a nuclear weapon.” He said that he would “introduce legislation that fills the empty space left by the JCPOA that lets Iran continue its hegemonic behavior” and urged his listeners to speak with members of both congressional houses to authorize the Iran Sanctions Act, which he wrote. Menendez also called for sanctioning the actual banks “that help finance [Iran’s] ballistic missile program rather than play whack-a-mole with 11 [sanctioned] front men.”
In a speech from Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences for the terrorist attacks in Brussels and said, “The chain of attacks from Paris to San Bernardino to Istanbul to the Ivory Coast and now to Brussels, and the daily attacks in Israel – this is one continuous assault on all of us.” He praised the U.S.-Israel relationship, which extends to the people of those nations: “Year after year, the overwhelming majority of Americans stand with Israel…They know that Israel is an island of liberty and democracy, that Israel must never be an issue that divides Americans, but a great cause of liberty that unites Americans.” Also in his speech, Netanyahu said that he was ready to immediately begin negotiations with the Palestinians with no preconditions.
If the Security Council refuses to take action against these repeated violations, it is time for the United States to increase unilateral sanctions on Iran. More pressure is needed on those who aid and abet Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program, on the persons that facilitate the transfer of ballistic missile technology and on the entities that transfer funds for Iranian procurement.The lawmakers also called on Congress to pass the Zero Tolerance for Terror Act, a bipartisan measure which they introduced in January. “[The] bill would allow Congress to quickly consider and impose new sanctions without procedural delay if Iran commits acts of terror that threaten American interests, provides support for terrorist organizations that do the same, or acquires ballistic missile technology in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Kennedy and Deutch explained. The congressmen added that the “new sanctions would be outside the scope of the nuclear deal and would not give the Government of Iran any cause to back away from its commitments under the JCPOA.” They further pointed out that the act is backed by members of Congress who both supported and opposed the nuclear deal with Iran.
While Russia is continuing to block any efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported Thursday that the U.S. and its European allies intend to present a “technical” case to the Security Council explaining how the missiles tests violate Security Council resolutions.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R – N.H.) introduced legislation on Thursday to target the sectors of Iran’s economy that support its ballistic missile program. The measure is backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Ky.), which could ensure that it is taken up quickly. “Tough words alone will not deter the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism from continuing to develop its ballistic missile program,” said Ayotte. (via TheTower.org)