Sen. Lindsey Graham pledged Saturday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Congress would "look closely" at any agreement between the United States and Iran over its nuclear arsenal.
"I have long believed and made clear that Congress should look at any Iran deal before we lift additional sanctions," the South Carolina Republican said after he talked with Netanyahu by telephone. "I strongly agree that Iran with a nuclear capability poses a direct threat to the security of Israel and the United States."
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who is considering a run for the 2016 presidential nomination, said that he also assured the prime minister of "bipartisan resistance to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"I told the prime minister it has been long held United States policy that Palestinian attempts to join the ICC, in an effort to marginalize Israel's ability to defend herself, remains, in my view, a deal-breaker in terms of our assistance to the Palestinians."
Graham's conversation follows Netanyahu's re-election victory on Tuesday and a warning that the United Nations could jeopardize its U.S. funding if its Security Council moves to lift sanctions against Tehran before Congress approved a nuclear deal.
"Twenty-two percent of the funding for the United Nations comes from the American taxpayer and I’m in charge of that account," Graham told Greta Van Susteren
Thursday on her Fox News program. "I’m not going to allow the United Nations to be used as a way to get around the United States Congress for a deal that affects the very existence of Israel and our own national security."
The senator argued that, if the UN lifted sanctions, that would "marginalize" Congress and lead to a "violent reaction" against the UN, as well as potential cuts.
The United States is expected to pay $654 million to the UN this year.
Graham also is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.
With 10 days to go before a nuclear deal framework must be reached, Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday
that the onus was on Iran to make the decisions needed to get an agreement completed.
"We have an opportunity to get this right," Kerry said after talks ended in Switzerland. He urged Tehran to make "fundamental decisions" that prove to the world it has no interest in atomic weapons.
Graham added that Netanyahu "expressed gratitude for the assistance Israel has received from the United States through the years.
"I let the prime minister know that there were many in the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, who have Israel's back."
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