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Top Democrat Joins Effort to Block Iran Deal as Israeli Defense Minister Cites Talmudic Passages

On Sunday, the NY Times reported some “noteworthy differences” between the details of the framework agreement as they were presented by Iran versus the U.S. version.

yaalon + Schumer

Two important things happened Monday night, which could bode the demise of the Iran deal.

One: Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) said he is “strongly” endorsing a bill giving Congress the ability to reject the Iran deal framework the White House revealed last week, as Politico reported.

Two: Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon went on television to suggest Israel is brandishing the military option regarding the same issue.

Sen. Schumer, a Jewish lawmaker with a home base in Brooklyn, is considered the leader in waiting, after minority leader Se. Harry Reid announced his retirement. His announcement Monday afternoon suggests there’s a broad bipartisan consensus that Congress should have the power to review not just the final treaty, but the current framework.

On Sunday, the NY Times reported some “noteworthy differences” between the details of the framework agreement as they were presented by Iran versus the U.S. version, suggesting the two sides were not “entirely on the same page, especially on the question of how quickly sanctions are to be removed, ” exactly what kind of research would Iran be permitted to do with its advanced centrifuges during the first 10 years of the deal.

On Monday, Sen. Schumer emailed a statement to Politico, saying, “This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration, and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur.”

Two weeks ago, Schumer signed on to the bill by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), but did not make an announcement regarding his move. His decision to go public is a signal to fellow Democrats that it’s OK to defy the president and pass a veto-proof, bipartisan version of Corker’s proposed bill.

According to Politico, a dozen Democratic senators have already either co-sponsored Corker’s legislation or said they might support it. That makes the bill one vote short of a veto-proof majority. Expectations are that Schumer would easily elicit the vote of his protégé, the junior senator from NY, Kirsten Gillibrand. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri are also strong possibilities.

Losing on that front would be an even bloodier nose to President Obama than the March 3 Bibi Speech, when at least fellow Democrats made a variety of gestures to protect the injured dignity of the White House. A veto-proof bill would not only humiliate the president—it could jeopardize the talks with Iran, which must yield a deal by June.

Surprisingly, in his Sunday interview with the NY Times’ Tom Friedman, President Obama appeared conciliatory towards the idea of some Congressional review, suggesting a compromise “that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives.”

Yes, because this is about Congress needing an outlet for its frustrations… The fact is, the Senate can give itself the power to quash the Iran deal—not improve, but kill the deal. And with both houses working under a Republican leadership, this is no longer a vague likelihood — it’s what’s going to happen.

As White House press secretary Josh Earnest put it bluntly: “It could potentially interfere with the ongoing negotiations, ”

As we mentioned at the start, Monday night, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon appeared on Channel 10 News, and called the framework an indication that the final agreement would be a bad one.

Then he added: “They say work of the righteous is done for them by others (that’s one quote from the Talmud), as it seems we are going in the direction of If I am not for myself, who is? (second Talmudic quote).”

To interpret for our readers who lack yeshiva education: the first quote means Israel hopes Congress will kill the Iran nuclear program in its behalf; the second quote strongly suggests Israel is prepared to kill that program by itself.

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