By B. Cohen
The Obama administration will face a serious political battle over a potential nuclear deal with Iran should Republicans win control of the Senate in tomorrow’s midterm elections, a leading pro-Israel advocate in Washington, DC told The Algemeiner.
Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI,) an advocacy group focused on strengthening the bond between American elected officials and Israel, said that in the event of a deal with Iran by the November 24 deadline, “the sanctions regime against Iran will be falling apart as the administration bypasses Congress to grant loopholes and waivers.” Although Congress would not be able to prevent that outcome, Pollak said, “the administration will put Democrats in a tough spot. Do they support the White House’s Iran sellout, or do they criticize it?”
“Congress may even pass new sanctions, or vote on opposition to the administration granting loopholes on sanctions, measures that [current Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid has protected Democrats from having to vote on,” Pollak said. “Should Republicans take the Senate, Reid, acting on behalf of Obama, will not be able to protect Democrats from having to take votes on Iran.” Polling ahead of the midterms indicates that the GOP will win a majority in the Senate.
Pollak continued: “This includes, of course, potential Democratic presidential candidates, most obviously Hillary Clinton, who will find it difficult to avoid addressing the controversy. A bad Iran deal will leave Democrats exposed and sharpen the perception that they shouldn’t be trusted on foreign policy.”
A Republican victory in tomorrow’s contest would, Pollak said, likely strengthen Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose relations with the Obama Administration have hit rock bottom. “There’s been a pattern, almost comedic, in which Obama’s outbursts against Netanyahu actually strengthen the prime minister instead of weakening him, as Obama would prefer,” Pollak said. “The average Israeli concludes that Netanyahu is the only person who can protect Israel from a hostile and deluded President.”
Much of ECI’s energy in the current midterms has been focused upon Arkansas, where Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor is facing a strong challenge from Republican Tom Cotton, a decorated veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and a stalwart supporter of Israel, in a key race. “We spent one million dollars in Arkansas in showing the difference between Cotton and Pryor. Pryor refused to even debate Tom Cotton on foreign policy,” Pollak said. “Pryor hasn’t been a leader on the issues of concern to us, whereas Cotton will be. Restoring American power, restoring the military budget, being a pro-Israel voice; these are all things that Cotton prioritizes.”
The gridlock over Obama’s domestic agenda that a Republican Senate would impose might lead to the President becoming even more vociferous on foreign policy matters. “He wants an Iran deal, he wants to foster a Palestinian state, he’s looking for a reason to throw Israel under the bus at the UN – these are all things he can do on his own,” Pollak argued. There is also potential for the U.S. to harden its language on Israeli activities beyond the “Green Line” that separates Israel from the West Bank. Currently, American rhetoric characterizes Israeli construction beyond the Green Line as “illegitimate;” in the current climate, Pollak said, the administration may seek to align itself with European governments, who depict the same activities as “illegal.”