with Jewish Leaders over Iran Deal
By Geoff Earle
and Kevin Fasick
New York Post
July 24, 2015
Secretary of State John Kerry had an “intense
exchange” when he tried to sell the Iran nuclear deal to skeptical Jewish
leaders in New York on Friday.
A day after GOP senators blasted him for
getting “fleeced” by Iran, Kerry faced another tough crowd in a closed-door
meeting with about 120 Jewish leaders at the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations.
“It was very intense exchange, serious
exchange,” the group’s vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, told The Post.
Kerry spoke from a podium and fielded pointed
questions from a crowd of Israel supporters concerned that the deal could allow
Iran to get relief from sanctions while still maintaining some nuclear
infrastructure that could threaten Israel.
“There was no acrimony, but there was
intensity,” at the event, held at the Stern College for Women in midtown, said
He said members asked Kerry about
“snapback provisions” if Iran cheats, a 24-day waiting period for nuclear
inspections, and the window of when Iran gets to re-start some nuclear R&D.
One critic was former Connecticut Sen. Joe
Lieberman, Kerry’s former Senate colleague, who “made some impassioned
comments,” according to Hoenlein.
The State Department called to request the
meeting as the Obama administration works to secure enough support in Congress
to fend off a motion of disapproval and prepares for a possible override of a
promised presidential veto.
“Clearly they’re concerned about where
members of Congress are at,” said Hoenlein. “That was implicit in his
The role of Sen. Charles Schumer, and a
longtime defender of Israel and a key Democratic leader, remains up in the air.
Schumer has yet to take a position on the Iran deal.
“I believe he’ll do the right thing. The
question is, will he go public and does he bring others along?” said Hoenlein.
Earlier, at the Council of Foreign Relations,
Kerry said Israel would get the blame if Congress votes down the nuclear deal.
“I fear that what could happen is if Congress
were to overturn it, our friends Israel could actually wind up being more
isolated and more blamed,” Kerry said.
That line of argument didn’t go over well
with the Jewish leaders. “They [the Obama administration] can differ with that
[Israel’s position] without isolating people or Israel,” said Hoenlein.
In his speech at the Foreign Relations group,
Kerry also went after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he
hasn’t offered a real alternative to a deal he has been denouncing for months.
“We’ve seen the Prime Minister draw a
cartoon of a bomb at the UN and so on and so forth,” Kerry said. “But
what’s happened? What has anyone done about it? Anybody got a plan to roll it
an interview earlier on NBC’s “Today” show, Kerry also warned
Israel would be making a huge mistake if it took unilateral military action
“That’d be an enormous mistake, a huge
mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don’t
think it’s necessary,” he said.