Some in Pro-Israel Community Support Iran Agreement

Photograph by Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry walk alongside U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, as he arrives in Israel for a private meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Nov. 8, 2013.

While most of the pro-Israel community engages in watchful waiting to see whether Iran lives up to the agreement negotiated with the U.S. and its allies, J Street is already lobbying for support for the deal on Capitol Hill.

“We urge Congress to get behind this agreement and continue to give our negotiators the time and space they need to complete a comprehensive and verifiable agreement with Iran that will lift the nuclear threat from the region and the world,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

“Congress should heed President Obama’s call to hold off from enacting new sanctions now so that the international community can test Iran’s sincerity and work to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that will lift the nuclear threat from Israel and the world,” he said.

J Street, which supports a two-state solution in the Middle East and has been critical of some Israeli policies, is the No. 2 donor to federal campaigns among pro-Israel organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

Through its PAC and individual donations, J Street contributed $1.4 million during the 2012 elections, sometimes supporting candidates running against those backed by other pro-Israel PACs.

While some members of Congress, including the No. 3 Senate Democrat, Charles  Schumer of New York, still talked of increased sanctions on Iran, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged colleagues to back off for now.

“I am deeply disappointed by the negative reactions we have been hearing from some of my colleagues to the preliminary agreement,” California Democrat Barbara Boxer said. “No one should underestimate the enormity of this breakthrough, which provides for daily inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities. The administration has left every option on the table should this agreement falter, but we should work as hard as possible across party lines to support a diplomatic solution.”

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