Menu JTA Search

J Street backs Iran sanctions resolution (CORRECTED)

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

One of the issues that has divided J Street from other pro-Israel groups has been its refusal to back additional sanctions on Iran. That changed Monday, when J Street announced its support for congressional pasage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Act.

"J Street has consistently supported President Obama in his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically and to resolve issues relating to its nuclear program through negotiations," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami in a statement.  "However, 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.

"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," Ben-Ami continued.

The statement does add that J Street remains "strongly opposed to the use of military force by Israel or the United States against Iran."

With J Street’s endorsement of IRPSA, that means Americans for Peace Now is the only major organization opposing IRPSA.

House leaders said last week that they intended to bring IRPSA to the floor for a vote before the end of the year, and the Conference of Presidents, already long on record as a backer of the legislation, strongly urged its passage in a statement over the weekend.

“The timing for this vote is especially significant,” said Conference chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. “Should the IRPSA legislation pass the House, it has the potential to seriously impact the Iranian economy. The prospect of the sanctions in this bill and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in October, are essential to pressing Iran, the leading violator of human rights and state sponsor of terrorism globally, against pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity."

The full statements from both J Street and the Conference of Presidents after the jump:[[READMORE]]

First, J Street:

J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby, today announced its support for Congressional passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.

"J Street has consistently supported President Obama in his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically and to resolve issues relating to its nuclear program through negotiations," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s Executive Director.  "However, 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.

"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," Ben-Ami added.

It is vital to the interests of the United States, Israel, and the entire Middle East that Iran not obtain nuclear weapons. While the President’s approach – emphasizing diplomacy and international engagement – has not yet yielded the desired response from Iran, the past year of tireless American statesmanship has made the international community more united than ever in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This support was evident in last month’s IAEA resolution that censured Iran and received support from 27 countries, including Russia and China.

As Iran continues to flout its international obligations and announce provocative expansions of its nuclear enrichment program, J Street believes that the administration should pursue strong multilateral action in the form of economic sanctions through the United Nations Security Council.  Any action taken against Iran should have the broadest possible support in the international community.

Nothing in IRPSA should be taken as authorizing or encouraging the use of military force against Iran, and J Street remains strongly opposed to the use of military force by Israel or the United States against Iran.

And the COP:

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194) before the December break.

“The timing for this vote is especially significant. After serious attempts by the United States and
other world powers to engage Iran and negotiate an end to its nuclear weapons program, Iran refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program and also announced they would suspend cooperation with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran continues to race toward nuclear weapons capability and escalate tensions, most recently with its announcement of plans to build 10 additional uranium enrichment plants in response to the IAEA Board of Governors’ November 27 resolution calling on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

“Should the IRPSA legislation pass the House, it has the potential to seriously impact the Iranian economy. The prospect of the sanctions in this bill and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House in October, are essential to pressing Iran, the leading violator of human rights and state sponsor of terrorism globally, against pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity. We thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and all the co-sponsors for introducing this bill and for moving it through the committee. We urge all the members of the House to maintain the momentum and pass the bill this month. We hope the Senate will act on the sanctions bill before it during December as well. We recognize that Congress is focused on other issues of importance, but we should not allow this critical issue that affects the security of our country and the world to be delayed,” the leaders said. 

NEXT STORY