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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Eliot Engel’

Two More D Congressmen Against Nuclear Iran Deal (And Nadler For)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

This week, Democrat Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district  announced he will both vote against the Nuclear Iran Deal and will also vote to override President Barack Obama’s promised veto of the measure.

Boyle, a freshman in the U.S. House of Representatives, represents a district which includes northeast Philadelphia and extends north of Philly and west of Trenton, New Jersey.

A Notre Dame and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government graduate, Boyle previously served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2014.

Boyle serves on the House Committee on Foreign Services and its Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

Boyle had been listed as an “undecided” on lists various media gathered.

An Irish Catholic, Boyle just returned from his second trip to Israel, where he and his congressional colleagues met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin and an Israeli general.

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1)

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1)

And last week, New Jersey’s Rep. Donald Norcross who represents New Jersey’s first congressional district, announced last week that he will not support the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Norcross is a freshman congressman who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and its Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

The New Jersey Congressman stated in the announcement that he will vote against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that he wrote to President Obama before the finalized JCPOA was announced. What he told Obama was that he believed an acceptable deal would be “long-term and fully transparent, and would provide for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program verified by intrusive inspections in exchange for phased sanctions relief. Unfortunately, the JCPOA falls short in each of these criteria.”

With Congressmen Norcross and Boyle, there are currently 14 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who have committed to voting against the Nuclear Iran Deal.

The other 12 Democrats who have already committed to voting against the JCPOA are Grace Meng (NY), Juan Vargas (CA), Albio Sires (NJ), Ted Deutch (FL), Steve Israel (NY), Nita Lowey (NY), Kathleen Rice (NY), Elliot Engel (NY), David Scott  (GA), Alcee Hastings (FL) and Brad Sherman (CA).

A New York Jewish Congressman, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), announced he will support the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Eleventh D in Congress Opposes Nuclear Iran Deal

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

And now there are 11.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL-10) announced Thursday, Aug. 13, that he opposes and will vote against the Nuclear Iran deal when it is placed before Congress in September.

The Florida Democrat also seeks to make it clear to Iran that should that nation cheat on the Agreement if it is implemented, the military option will not only be on the table, it will be poised for immediate use.

Hastings, currently serving his 12th term in Congress, is a senior member of the House Rules Committee and co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation. He raised the same troublesome details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that have been repeatedly criticized as unacceptable by many of his colleagues.

The acronym for those primary pitfalls, NASM24, may help to remember that the deal allows Iran to become a Nuclear threshold state; it lifts bans on conventional Arms and ICBMS in eight years or fewer; that the Snapback of sanctions will be cumbersome and time-consuming, if possible at all; that it funnels into Iran, the number one supporter of global terrorism, billions of dollars (Money); and it allows Iran up to 24 days before suspected but unconfirmed nuclear weapons sites can be inspected. These concerns were all raised by Hastings as the bases for his opposition to the JCPOA.

And if the Agreement is approved, over his and his colleagues’ objections, Hastings informed the public about two acts he has taken.

First, Hastings made it known that a month ago he sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, urging him to appoint a “high-ranking military official” to oversee the implementation of the deal, should it be approved. He did this, Hastings explained, because “Iran needs to understand that our commitment to ensuring compliance with this deal would be unwavering.”

The second thing Hastings has done is to draft legislation which he will introduce on Sept. 8, “that authorizes the sitting president or his successors to use military force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.”

Hastings joins his Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives who have announced they will vote against the JCPOA: Rep. Grace Meng (NY) Rep. Juan Vargas (CA), Rep. Albio Sires(NJ), Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY), Rep. Nita Lowey (NY), Rep. Steve Israel (NY), Rep. Ted Deutch (FL), Rep. Eliot Engel (NY), Rep. Brad Sherman, (CA) and Rep. David Scott (Georgia), who came out quietly but unequivocally against the deal in mid-July.

Another Congressional Democrat Will Vote No on the Iran Deal

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

It took awhile, but California Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA-30) officially announced that he intends to vote against the Iranian nuclear deal the U.S. negotiated with its P5+1 partners and the Islamic Republic of Iran. And the announcement was not only firm, but biting.

Sherman issued a negative review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last week, calling it “the good, the bad and the ugly,” but it wasn’t until Friday, Aug. 7 that the San Fernando Valley Democrat clarified that he intended to vote against the deal.

The California Congressman explained that he has been focused on preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons for the past 19 years.

This agreement, Sherman said,

contains the good and the bad in the first year, and gets ugly in the years thereafter. The Good: Iran gives up 97% of its stockpile of enriched uranium and decommissions 2/3 of its existing centrifuges.  The Bad: Iran gets access to at least $56 billion of its own currently-frozen funds, and free access to the international oil markets.  The Ugly: In 15 years or less, Iran is permitted to have an unlimited quantity of centrifuges of unlimited quality, as well as heavy water reactors and reprocessing facilities.

And then Sherman took a step beyond the point most members of Congress have been willing to go. He wants it to be clear that “future Presidents and Congresses are not bound by this Agreement – not legally, not morally, not diplomatically.”

The Congressman went on to explain that according to “international Law and the U.S. Constitution, the Agreement is a mere ‘executive political agreement’ and is not binding on America, Europe or Iran.

However, if the Agreement is not only signed by the President but also by Congress, it may appear binding. Appearances matter. In future years, many would argue as long as Iran appears to be complying with the Agreement, America cannot insist on modifications or extensions of nuclear restrictions. A strong Congressional vote against the Agreement is the best way to make it clear that the Agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.

Sherman made three additional points in his statement. First, he said that the President and the negotiating team made incredible efforts to prevent Iran from moving forward in its nuclear program, and he thanked the President for being so focused on such an important issue.

In his second additional point, Sherman listed off the various specific problems with the deal such as the flaccid inspections regimen and the infusion of billions of dollars from sanctions relief, some significant amount of which it is likely to use to siphon to its terror proxies in the region and around the world.

The third point packed quite a punch.

President Obama has been harshly criticized for dog whistling about critics of the JCPOA, using code language to suggest that the Jews supported the Iraq war, and they are the same people who are opposing the Iran deal. Well guess who else supported the Iraq war?

As Sherman said: “The President reminds us that many prominent critics of the Agreement supported the invasion of Iraq. It should be noted that many supporters of the Agreement also supported the invasion of Iraq, including: Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry and Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.”


The nineteen year House Democrat sits on the important House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is a member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

Sherman joins the following eight (so far) other Democratic members of Congress who have committed to voting against the JCPOA: Cong. Meng (D-NY), Cong. Vargas (D-CA), Cong. Price (D-NY), Cong. Sires (D-NY), Cong. Lowey (D-NY), Cong. Deutch (D-FL), Cong. Israel (D-NY) and Cong. Engel (D-NY).

NY’s Senator Schumer and Cong. Engel Will Vote Against the Iran Nuclear Deal

Friday, August 7th, 2015

If there was one member of Congress upon whom all eyes came to rest to see which way he would vote on the Nuclear Iran Deal, it was New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer.

Schumer, a Democrat who all understand is in line for a leadership role in the Senate, was watched closely for many reasons: He is Jewish, he represents New York State, he is a senior senator, and being pro-Israel has always been a badge he proudly wore.

Still, many of those watching Schumer have been seeing him through jaundiced eyes. No matter which way he decided, he would greatly disappoint supporters who have enormous control over his political future. Would he risk angering the leadership of his party and the man at the top of his ticket? Or would he vote to support the Nuclear Iran agreement and anger many of his constituents?

Those with practiced eyes concluded that Schumer would split his decision, first voting against the agreement in the initial round, but then either not voting to override the veto if the vote was close, or voting to override, but only if the count was such that the veto could not be overridden, not matter how he voted.

But the reasoning Schumer provided in his statement announcing his decision may lock him into voting for the same outcome, both times.

Schumer broke the agreement down into three different categories: the restrictions on Iran in the first ten years of the agreement; the restrictions on Iran after ten years; and the non-nuclear components and consequences of the deal. As his guide for which way to vote, he asked himself whether we are better off with this agreement or better off without it.

The senator explained that he sees various weaknesses during the ten year lifespan of the agreement, such as insufficient inspections access, including the need to obtain a majority of the other parties to agree to an inspection, and a cumbersome snapback mechanism. Schumer said that while there were problems with this portion of the agreement, it was possible to decide either way.

During the period following the sunset clause of the agreement, however, Iran would be stronger financially and “better able to advance a robust nuclear program.” Even more importantly, at the end of the agreement and with Iran as a threshold nuclear state, it would also enjoy the blessing of the world community. In other words, its leap into nuclear weapons capability would be sanctioned by the leadership of the world’s leading nations.

Schumer concluded that we would definitely be better off without the deal than with it, given the scenario at the conclusion of the JCPOA.

Finally, the non-nuclear aspects of the deal gave Schumer the most pause. In his opinion, the infusion of billions of dollars into Iran in the wake of sanctions relief could lead to catastrophic consequences. Unless one believes that Iran will moderate and cease its support for terror across the region, the lack of restrictions on how the money will be used was a fatal flaw.

if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate and their unstated but very real goal is to get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.

Schumer does not believe that Iran is about to moderate or that it will become more moderate during the course of the agreement.

Therefore, I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.

Schumer’s decision became public just hours after the junior senator from New York, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, also a Democrat, announced that she will support the agreement.

New York Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-D-16) also announced on Thursday evening that he would oppose the JCPOA.  The reasons he gave were similar to Senator Schumer’s: the limitations on inspections capability, the influx of massive amounts of money in the wake of sanctions relief and the lifting of bans on intercontinental ballistic missiles and advanced conventional weapons.

Engel is the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

State Dept Embrace of PUG Won’t Be Group Hug

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The official word from the State Department – the latest official word, anyway – is that the U.S. government intends to work with the newly-formed “Palestinian Unity Government” (PUG).  At least some U.S. legislators are expressing a very different opinion.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at the daily briefing for reporters on Monday, the day the PUG was formed, that it would both continue to work with the new government and continue funding that government.

“At this point, it appears that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include ministers affiliated with Hamas,” Psaki told reporters.

“Moving forward, we will be judging this government by its actions. Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but we’ll be watching closely to ensure that it upholds the principles that President Abbas reiterated today,” by which Psaki meant Abbas’s commitment to honor past peace deals and peace principles.

If that’s the standard the State Department intends to use, the only thing Hamas has to alter is its truthful approach. So long as the Hamas members are able to start saying in English that they support peace, it doesn’t matter what they actually do. That must be what Psaki meant.

However, senior legislative leaders were not quite so willing to buddy up with the new PUG.

Senior U.S. lawmakers said on Monday Washington should suspend aid to the new unity government until it is sure of the Islamist group’s commitment to pursuing peace with Israel, according to Reuters.

That would be because U.S. law currently prohibits this government from providing aid to “any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on world leaders to reject the PUG. Instead, one of the first phone calls he received about the PUG was from Secretary of State Kerry, stating that the U.S. intends to treat the PUG just as it has been treating the PA government under Abbas.

The Hamas Charter calls for all Muslims to “fight and kill the Jews,” and that all of historic Palestine belongs to Islam, as does any land ever conquered by Muslims (such as Spain). This is a religious, non-negotiable imperative.

Article 13 of the Hamas Charter specifically rejects the notion of peace negotiations, conferences or initiatives.

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight.

The only path for Hamas is jihad.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

The Hamas Charter also requires every Muslim to fight to liberate the land referred to as Palestine. In Article Twenty, the Charter refers to Jews as Nazis.

At least one member of the U.S. Congress issued a statement rejecting the idea of embracing the PUG.

On the same day that the PUG was formed, June 2, Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, representative of Colorado’s fifth congressional district, released a statement. Lamborn had this to say about the new Palestinian unity government:

The United States must immediately suspend our aid to the Palestinian government following the creation of a unity government which includes the Hamas terror organization. This move would be in keeping with US law barring the transfer of US funds to a terror organization. To date, Hamas — which has carried out scores of suicide bombing against Israeli civilians resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Israelis — refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence or accept past peace agreements. A facade of bureaucrats cannot hide the fact that this is a Palestinian government that supports terrorism.

Lamborn is one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus. The other co-chairs are Cong. Brad Sherman (D)(CA-30), Cong. Eliot Engel (D)(NY-16), and Cong. Trent Franks (R)(AZ-8).

Pressure on EU to Label Hezbollah Terrorists after Bulgaria Bombing

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Following the bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last summer, the government of Bulgaria engaged in an extensive investigtation to determine how the terrorist attack took place in their country.

On July 18, 2012, as Israeli tourists vacationing in Bulgaria began to board their tour bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas on the way back to their hotel, an explosion ripped through the bus, killing 5 Israelis plus the Bulgarian bus driver, and injuring 32 other Israelis.

The results are in, and Bulgaria has officially concluded that Hezbollah was behind the bombing.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov spoke with reporters on Tuesday, February 5, after his country’s national security council met to discuss the investigation, which revealed that three people were involved in the attack, two of whom had legitimate passports, one from Australia and one from Canada.

“There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects,” Tsvetanov said.  He also revealed that based on the evidence they have reviewed, there is “a well-grounded assumption that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.”

Initial reports, based on CCTV video footage, suggested that the attack was by a long-haired Caucasian Western suicide bomber who was dressed in beach shorts and carrying a fake Michigan driver’s license.  The Bulgarian report concluded that the explosion was instead caused by a “sophisticated” bomb that was detonated by remote control. It is unclear why the bomb was activated before all the tourists boarded the bus, but there is speculation that was either a malfunction or occurred as the result of the transmitting device being jostled.

Israel, the United States and other countries are cautiously optimistic that, with the independent report produced by the Bulgarians, the European Union will finally designate Hezbollah as a terrorist enterprise.  The U.S. placed Hezbollah on its official Foreign Terrorist Organization list in the 1990s.

In order for the EU to follow suit, there needs to be a unanimous vote by all EU nation members.  If that happens, the EU would then be able to freeze Hezbollah assets in Europe, and it could also issue travel bans on Hezbollah members.

Iran, the financial, political and military sponsor of Hezbollah, denied responsibility for the attack, and instead blamed Israel for carrying out the terrorist bombing.

Top leadership of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee issued statements today, February 5, calling on the EU to officially list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Rep. Ed Royce, chairman, and Eliot Engel (NY-16), the committee’s top Democrat, both issued statements.

Engel said, “The targetting of innocents cannot be tolerated by any European Union state and must be condemned forcefully and unanimously by all member nations.

“The time is now for the EU to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization and punish these murderers.”

Cong. Royce, a California Republican, was even more pointed.  Calling the EU’s reluctance to make the designation “incomprehensible,” he said

“Recent Hezbollah plots have been uncovered in Thailand, India, Cyprus, Georgia, Kenya, and elsewhere.   Now that Hezbollah has been found responsible for an attack on a European Union member nation, the E.U. must designate it as a terrorist organization.  Failure to do so will only give these killers the opportunity to further organize, recruit, raise funds, and carry out additional terrorist attacks across the continent.

In one of his first statements as secretary of state, John Kerry added the voice of the U.S. administration in calling on the EU to respond appropriately to Bulgaria’s confirmation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization with global reach.

“We strongly urge other governments around the world – and particularly our partners in Europe – to take immediate action to crack down on Hizbollah,” Kerry said in a statement. “We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity.”

John O. Brennan, who has been named by President Barack Obama to head the Central Intelligence Agency and who is currently the president’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, said Bulgaria’s investigation had exposed Hezbollah as “a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women, and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world.”

Congress to Obama: Time to Punish Arabs for Blowing Up Oslo and Blowing Off the US

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

A bi-partisan majority of congressional members sent a letter to U.S. President Barak Obama late last week.  In the letter, the members insist that the time has come for this U.S. government to hold the Arab Palestinian leadership responsible for their bald refusal to comply with repeated requests from the United States government to refrain from seeking an enhanced status at the United Nations General Assembly, as is required of the Arabs under the Oslo Agreements under which it is bound.

The PLO pledged in the Oslo Agreements that it would take no unilateral actions to change the status of the disputed territories and Gaza.

Congressional leadership that has long been involved in working with Israel and the Arab Palestinians in attempts to resolve the Middle East conflict, such as U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee, U.S. Reps. Edward R. Royce (R-CA) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY, Chairman-designate and Ranking Member-designate, respectively, of the Committee, along with more than 230 other members of  Congress, signed and sent the letter to the President on Friday, December 21.

The letter informed the President that “we believe the United States must react strongly to the ‘Palestinian’ leadership’s failure to uphold its obligations,” and explained that in order to send a clear message of U.S. disapproval, the Arab leaders must learn that their actions are not “cost-free,” and, “at a minimum, they result in setbacks to U.S.-‘Palestinian’ relations.”

Congressional members suggested that the minimal steps the U.S. should take at this time would be to close the PLO office in Washington, D.C. and to call on the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem – who is, illogically, responsible for relations with the Arab Palestinians but not Jewish or Arab Israelis – back to Washington for consultations.

The congressional letter to President Obama points out the necessity for the U.S. government to ensure that the UNGA vote on November 29 “does not serve as a precedent for elevating the status of the PLO in other UN bodies or international forums.”

Should the PLO attempt to force its hand by seeking membership in those other UN institutions, the congressional members told President Obama that, “we should do everything possible to make sure that does not happen, including by reaffirming our commitment to maintaining and enforcing U.S. laws that require withholding U.S. contributions from any international forum that grants membership to the PLO.”

The PLO envoy in Washington, Maen Aerikat, told the Palestinian News Agency Ma’an, that the congressional letter “is an attempt by Congress to undermine the U.S. administration in any possible role it is planning to play in Palestinian affairs.”

In addition to pointing out that “punitive measures won’t pay off.  If they were effective we would have already changed our mind,” Aerikat railed at Israel, suggesting it was behind the congressional effort.  He said, “It is a political decision, a decision on the part of the Israeli government to escalate things against the Palestinian people at home and here…the U.S. is their other front.”

In a letter circulated to members of Congress by the PLO Envoy on December 14, Aerikat sought to dissuade Congress from responding to the PA provocation.  Aerikat makes several points in his letter, one of which should qualify for the Chutzpah Hall of Fame.  Perhaps he forgot that the action taken by Congress was in response to the decision by his colleagues to spurn dialogue and negotation, and instead to take unilateral action by introducing a one-sided resolution at the U.N.  This is what Aerikat wrote:

Engagement and dialogue is the only way to express the views of Congress.  Biased and one-sided resolutions cannot contribute to an atmosphere that is conducive for a political resolution to the conflict.

Not all Jews supported the congressional effort.  In the interview with Ma’an, Aerikat appreciatively listed both J Street and Americans for Peace Now as organizations that oppose the initiative to punish the Arab Palestinians for violating the Oslo Accords by seeking unilateral changes through the UN vote.  Although not mentioned by the PLO Envoy, the Union for Reform Judaism has also actively lobbied against congressional efforts to shutter the PLO Office.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/congress-to-obama-time-to-punish-arabs-for-blowing-up-oslo-and-blowing-off-the-us/2012/12/25/

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