Bipartisan opposition mounts in response to rumored White House plan circumventing Congress on Iran deal


Lawmakers from both Congressional chambers and both parties continued on Wednesday and Thursday to blast the Obama administration over reports - explicitly outlined on Sunday by the New York Times - that the White House will seek to freeze out lawmakers from helping to shape a nuclear deal with Iran. The scoop had come amid a new wave of stories indicating that the P5+1 global powers have either abandoned or significantly watered down a range of long-standing demands on core issues related to Iran's nuclear program. A recent proposal would reportedly allow Iran to keep roughly 300% more centrifuges operating than under a previous scenario capping operating machines at 1,300 centrifuges - which was itself a fallback from long-standing international demands, codified in half a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions, that Tehran halt its enrichment activities. It is unlikely that Congress, where bipartisan majorities have long demanded that Iran live up to its international obligations as a hedge against Iranian weaponization efforts, would find such that or similar deals acceptable. Reaction to the New York Times story was swift. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were quoted in the article blasting the administration over the rumored maneuver. The next day saw prominent Democrats from the House side - including Eliot Engel (D-NY), the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Steve Israel (D-NY) - emphasize that lawmakers would seek to preserve their perogatives in helping to determine the conditions of any final deal. The subsequent day and half saw statements from the GOP leadership reinforcing the point. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn declared that "[t]he American people will not tolerate a president who wheels and deals with a radical regime behind their backs and dodges congressional oversight every chance he gets." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for his part issued a statement linking what he described as the President's "distressing" unilateralism to "additional reports that the Administration may be willing to yet again make significant concessions to the Iranians in the nuclear negotiations." The Washington Post on Wednesday described the emerging consensus as "bipartisan, bicameral[,] and boisterous," while the Jerusalem Post settled for a more muted headline describing how "across party lines, Congress seeks more details on Iran talks." The Israeli outlet also quoted a Senate Republican aide blasting the White House for having "deliberately" sought to "shut out" lawmakers.

Inc. magazine chose Israel’s Wix as one of “7 of the Hottest Middle Eastern Startups You Can Learn From.” The Tel Aviv-based cloud based website builder is the only Israeli company on the New York publication’s prestigious list. “Wix’s platform made an often complicated task into a simple and enjoyable activity, which has been the key to their overwhelming success over the years–a lesson any entrepreneur can appreciate,” the magazine writes. The other six hot Middle Eastern startups cited include Jordan’s BeeLabs and Alhodhud, Dokkan Afkar from Saudia Arabia, Egyptian-based Kngine, Omani-based Genesis International, and Lebanon’s Sohati. “While Silicon Valley remains the go-to hotspot for entrepreneurs from around the world, other corners of the globe are fast catching up and providing just as many interesting and useful products for consumers,” writes the magazine. “If we can learn anything from these companies, it’s that cultural relevance and solving region-specific problems often trumps the value of an internationally recognized brand name. If you’re able to provide effective solutions to local problems, your startup is potentially much more likely to become a success.” (via Israel21c)

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