J Street backs Iran sanctions resolution

WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street has endorsed congressional legislation imposing sanctions on Iran’s energy industry.

The left-wing pro-Israel group announced Monday its backing for the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009, which U.S. House of Representatives leaders said last week will be brought to a vote before the end of the year. J Street had diverged previously from the wide Jewish community consensus on the legislation, not actually opposing the measure but saying it did not support additional sanctions while President Obama was trying to engage the Iranian regime.

"In the face of Iran’s continued defiance of the international community and its rejection of the most recent diplomatic offer on nuclear enrichment, we believe the time has come to pass the Iran sanctions legislation currently pending in the House of Representatives," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. "Passage of this bill by Congress will highlight for the Iranian Government the choice they must make between one path that leads to further isolation and another that leads to full integration in the international community and the ability to develop their economy to its full potential."

AIPAC, the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations and virtually every other major Jewish group has previously endorsed the legislation. The only major pro-Israel group that is not backing the sanctions legislation is Americans for Peace Now.

The legislation would strengthen the president’s authority to sanction companies that help Iran import or produce refined petroleum, which is seen as potentially having a large impact on Iran’s economy because the country imports 40 percent of its refined petroleum.

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