Congress returned this week from its summer recess – coming back for a very brief session before it goes back into recess for the final period before November elections. Surprising no one, GOP leaders returned to Washington eager to score points against the Obama Administration over its Iran policy – immediately introducing 6 pieces of Iran-focused legislation (all 100% partisan), on top of a whopping 14 GOP letters sent to the Obama Administration from GOP House and Senate members (over the recess and this week) demanding answers to long and leading lists of questions about Iran-related matters
In addition, this week opened with a faux-anti-BDS event on Capitol Hill – “faux” because, consistent with the trend in Congress for more than a year, the real goal of the event was to legitimize settlements. As noted in Israel Hayom (the paper owned by Sheldon Adelson and viewed as so close to Netanyahu that it is nicknamed, “Bibiton”), the event was instigated by the Shomron Regional Council – the municipal body of settlements in the northern part of the West Bank – and featured settler leader Yossi Dagan. The opening paragraph of the article makes crystal clear the intent of the event: “U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday hosted a unique conference to support the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise and denounce anti-Israel incitement and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement's activities on American university campuses.” Also see: A7: Samarian Council takes fight against BDS to Washington (with video); Ynet: Head of Samaria Regional Council speaks at congressional BDS conference; and JPost: Republican Congressmen: BDS akin to 1930s anti-Semitism.
1. JCPOA Bday Week: Iran-Focused Bills Passed by the House
2. JCPOA Bday Week: New Iran-Focused Bills & Resolutions
3. JCPOA Bday Week: Action on Existing Iran-Focused Bills & Resolutions
4. JCPOA Bday Week: Iran-Focused Letters
5. Other Bills, Resolutions & Letters (Not Focused Solely on Iran)
6. Hearings (more Iran here, too!
7. On the Record: Slamming the JCPOA, Supporting Iran bills, etc
8. On the Record: Defending the JCPOA, Opposing Iran bills, etc
9. On the Record: About Everything Other Than Iran
As expected, last week – which marked the one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA – was for Iran deal opponents in Congress an opportunity for unremitting grandstanding, including with the introduction, promotion, and passage of various pieces of legislation designed to undermine or effectively cancel the agreement (see Washington Post 7/11: House GOP to tackle new Iran sanctions before leaving town). Those efforts were also unapologetically and overtly partisan (see Foreign Policy 7/12: House Dems Rebel Against GOP’s Iran Sanctions Push). For its part (and probably reflecting this partisan problem), AIPAC appears for now to be keeping its powder dry: it sent a memo to the Hill last week (Taking Stock: The Iran Deal One Year Later) acknowledging that the JCPOA has worked in reducing the threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon and calling on Congress to take a range of actions to get tougher on Iran (a list well worth keeping around for future reference); however, as of this writing the AIPAC “legislative agenda” page does not endorse any of the pending Iran-related measures.
Also: APN on the JCPOA at One Year: A Clear Win for Both the U.S. & Israel; APN resources on the anniversary of the JCPOA are here.
Note: On June 5, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order (EO) entitled: “Directing State Agencies and Authorities to Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel.” Americans for Peace Now (APN) opposes boycotts of Israel. APN also opposes legislation (and the equivalent, like this executive order) that seeks to outlaw boycotts or other forms of legal, non-violent activism against Israel. We believe such initiatives are the wrong way to combat BDS. Our full policy is here. Our explainer, laying out our objections to the new EO in New York (and which apply equally to similar legislation being considered/adopted elsewhere in the country) – including an explanation of the constitutional issues involved, can be found here.