The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has denied that the pro-Israel lobby group is supporting the White House’s position regarding an Iran sanctions bill in the US Senate.
“I am writing today to correct some mischaracterizations in the press regarding our position on the Senate Iran bill. Some have suggested that by not calling for an immediate vote on the legislation, we have abandoned our support for the bill. Nothing could be further from the truth,” AIPAC President Michael Kassen said in a statement.
“In fact, we remain strongly committed to the passage of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act,” he added.
The statement came after the AIPAC announced that it agreed with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez “that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.”
Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk are lead sponsors of the Senate sanctions bill.
The AIPAC president praised American senators for cosponsoring the bill.
“I want to thank you for your hard work thus far in earning the support of 59 senators for the Menendez-Kirk bill. We still have much work to do over the coming months. It will be a long struggle, but one that we are committed to fighting,” Kassen said.
“We will continue to work closely with friends on both sides of the aisle, in both the House and Senate, to ensure that everything is done to prevent a nuclear weapons-capable Iran,” he wrote.
US President Barack Obama strongly opposed the efforts while the nuclear negotiations are underway, warning that he would veto the legislation if it is passed.
In his State of the Union speech, Obama said, “Let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.”
Last month, two Senate Democratic aides admitted that the sanctions legislation is already dead despite AIPAC’s efforts to derail nuclear negotiations.
“The sanctions bill is on ice while the diplomatic process plays out,” a senior Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Huffington Post.
“The fact that cosponsors of the bill are now publicly distancing themselves from the measure shows just how hasty and ill-conceived this effort has been,” the aide said.