In a sweeping show of bipartisan support, on Thursday the Senate passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – a clear rebuke of the White House’s approach to the Iranian nuclear negotiations and its attempt to exclude Congress. The final count was 98 in favor and one against. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the only senator to oppose the bill, asserted that the Iran deal should be “submitted as a treaty,” requiring a two-thirds vote in the Senate. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act would provide Congress an oversight role and would give members 30 days to review a final deal, during which sanctions could not be lifted. Additionally, 65% of Americans believe that any agreement with Iran should be subject to congressional approval, according to a poll released on April 27.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-author of the legislation Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said, “I think the American people want the United States Senate and the House of the Representatives on their behalf to ensure that Iran is held accountable.” Co-author of the legislation Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), in his speech on the Senate floor, declared, “From the beginning, we fashioned language to ensure that Congress plays a critical role in judging any final agreement.” He continued, “[W]ithout the passage of this legislation, we will have missed an opportunity to send a clear message to Tehran.”
President Barack Obama originally vowed that he would veto legislation relating to the current negotiations with Iran. However, immediately prior to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on the bill on April 14, the White House signaled that the President would be willing to sign it. Following the announcement, Sen. Corker said, “The reason the administration in the last two hours has chosen the path they’re now taking is the number of senators they realized were going to support this legislation.”
Breaking the Silence, an NGO that has recently been in the news for its criticism of Israel’s actions during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, was explicitly directed by European charities to prove that Israel acted improperly, the watchdog group NGO Monitor showed in a report released Monday.
NGO Monitor’s staff translated the terms of Breaking the Silence’s agreement with OxFam and other organizations. In the case of Oxfam, the agreement called for:
[Breaking the Silence] signed an agreement with Oxfam, a British organization, to conduct interviews with “as many” soldiers as possible who will testify regarding [Israeli] “immoral actions” that violate human rights. In 2009, the British organization donated 74,595 NIS to the organization.