Rep. Eliot Engel, new chair of Jewish legislators council, hopes group can address concerns on Iran

( U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) was recently appointed as chairman of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), an initiative of the World Jewish Congress whose stated mission is to “promote an ongoing dialogue and a sense of fraternity among Jewish legislators and ministers,” among other goals.

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). Credit: United States Congress.

Engel, one of the leading congressional skeptics on the interim Iran nuclear deal, believes that the ICJP can be a powerful resource for addressing global Jewish concerns, including Iran. 

“The [ICJP] really gives me a unique opportunity to engage with my Jewish counterparts from around the world on issues of concern in the greater Jewish community, including the current P5+1 Iran negotiations, the Syrian civil war, and anti-Semitism,” Engel told

During a recent two-day conference in New York City and Washington, DC, that Engel called “a great success,” the ICJP constructed three resolutions, on Iran and on anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America. 

On Tuesday, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged lawmakers to hold off on imposing new sanctions on Iran when testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Engel voiced “serious reservations” about the interim nuclear deal and urged the Obama administration to reconsider its opposition to new sanctions.

“Why does the administration strongly oppose congressional action on Iran sanctions legislation that makes clear new sanctions will not be imposed unless Iran violated the terms of the interim deal?” Engel asked Kerry.

Reports indicate that Congress is close to passing a bipartisan sanctions bill. The deal would give the Obama administration flexibility by not imposing the sanctions for six months, the length of the interim deal. But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Time magazine that the “entire deal is dead” if Congress passes sanctions. 

Posted on December 11, 2013 .