Sen. Menendez withdraws U.S.-Israel cooperation bill over Iran amendment

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), reportedly withdrew the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 over the intention of committee member U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to include an amendment requiring Congressional oversight of the Iranian nuclear talks.

The legislation in question would have increased cooperation between Israel and the U.S. in the areas of defense, energy, security, and intelligence. The added amendment would have mandated Congressional hearings whenever the U.S. and the P5+1 powers reach a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had expressed support for the Congressional oversight amendment, reported Foreign Policy magazine. But critics say the amendment would have forced Democrats to make an uncomfortable choice between opposing Israel supporters who are skeptical of a deal with Iran, or opposing the White House in its negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

The amendment "politicizes" the strategic relationship between Israel and the U.S., one senator’s aide told Foreign Policy.

"This is the right bill for the right time as the United States and Israel continue to make advances in technology, homeland security, agriculture, and other areas. It is not the appropriate vehicle to legislate on Iran," said the aide.

The withdrawal of the legislation by Menendez is considered somewhat surprising given that the senator is known as a hawk on Iran. At the AIPAC conference in March, Menendez said he supports a diplomatic process with Iran, but that he is troubled that the international community "seems to want any deal more than it wants a good deal."

"It is hard to see how simply requiring Congressional review of any final deal with Iran is a difficult call for Democrats or Republicans, especially given this administration’s track record of obfuscation and shifting goalposts with respect to the negotiations," a different Senate aide told the Washington Free Beacon

Posted on May 20, 2014 .