Tags: Iran | Middle East | congress | palestinian | authority

Hill Aides: Congress Preparing to Slam Iran, PA

By    |   Monday, 05 January 2015 10:33 PM

Congress appears poised to take action to punish Iran and the Palestinian Authority in the coming weeks, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

Unlike a host of domestic initiatives that will divide Democrats and Republicans, there is broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for a tough stance against Tehran over its nuclear program and against Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to negotiate with Israel and taking his political grievances against it to the International Criminal Court.

Discussions are now under way as to whether the PA has violated U.S. law guaranteeing the flow of nearly $400 million in aid. That assistance – combined with Israel's transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinians – keeps the PA afloat financially.

Israel suspended the transfers over the weekend after Abbas acted to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an effort to prosecute Israelis for purported "war crimes."

Current U.S. law bars the PA from attempting to circumvent bilateral negotiations with Israel by taking legal action against it in the ICC. Senate aides told the Post that the Palestinian decision to go to the court would likely qualify as a violation – potentially jeopardizing continued U.S. aid.

Right now, however, Iran is an even greater concern on Capitol Hill. While it is possible that the administration could acquiesce to a suspension of assistance to the PA, President Obama will almost certainly refuse to accept new sanctions legislation against Tehran as negotiations continue over its nuclear program.

The nuclear talks between Iran and the United States and five other international powers began in late 2013 and have been extended twice. They currently face two deadlines: a political agreement is supposed to be achieved by March, with a comprehensive deal to be reached by June.

The new Republican leadership in the Senate is decidedly skeptical of the delays, which it sees as an Iranian stalling tactic to allow more time for its covert efforts to develop nuclear weapons to continue.

Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking committees are reportedly drafting legislation what would include imposition of new sanctions if the Iran nuclear talks break down. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will permit a vote on the measure, and supporters believe they will have a minimum of 65 cosponsors – just two short of the number needed to override a presidential veto.

Although it is rare for Congress to override a presidential veto on such a critical foreign policy issue, it has happened in the past. In October 1986, Congress voted to override President Reagan's veto of legislation enacting sanctions into law against South Africa's white minority government.

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Congress appears poised to take action to punish Iran and the Palestinian Authority in the coming weeks, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
congress, palestinian, authority
Monday, 05 January 2015 10:33 PM
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