March 2, 2015
“While the prime minister won’t have a meeting at the White House, he will have a very supportive audience right here on Capitol Hill. The prime minister will receive a warm welcome from members of Congress who are concerned about Israel’s security, and the value of this very important relationship.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor previewing tomorrow’s joint address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
Excerpts of his remarks:
“During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama made a claim, and the claim was, he said, ‘I have Israel’s back.’
“Well this week, President Obama and his administration are turning their back on Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. And they’re doing it during the prime minister’s visit here to Washington.
“While the prime minister won’t have a meeting at the White House, he will have a very supportive audience right here on Capitol Hill.
“The prime minister will receive a warm welcome from members of Congress who are concerned about Israel’s security, and the value of this very important relationship.
“In his speech to Congress tomorrow, the prime minister’s going to address the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program.
“If President Obama’s past negotiations with our adversaries are any guide, Israel is right to be apprehensive.
“The Obama administration started negotiating with Iran more than five years ago.
“A series of increasingly tough sanctions have damaged the Iranian economy and have finally convinced them to discuss their nuclear program seriously.
“In 2013, the president announced a six-month interim agreement. The United States would suspend enforcement of some of the sanctions that had brought Iran to the table.
“In exchange, the Iranians would freeze and reverse specific elements of their nuclear program. This was supposed to provide time for a final agreement to be negotiated within a year.
“That six-month interim agreement has now extended to 17th months.
“President Obama mishandled these negotiations from the very beginning by conceding Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
“In my opinion, the president is compounding the problem as he chases a comprehensive agreement to maybe justify his Nobel Peace Prize.
“Information has leaked out occasionally about the negotiations.
“Each time, there seems to be another point on which the United States has given in to the Iranian position.
“Iran has gotten about $10 billion in much-needed hard currency since signing the interim agreement. It’s gotten additional income from the suspension of other sanctions.
“We have no way to stop Iran from using this money to support terrorists around the world, or to prop up Bashar Assad in Syria.
“And what I heard, and a number of other senators who went to Saudi Arabia a little over a month ago to meet with some of the Free Syrian Army, the freedom fighters from Syria who had come down to Saudi Arabia to meet with us.
“They said that’s exactly what Iran is doing with some of the money gained from the relief of sanctions. They are using it to prop up Assad and also to fund Hezbollah and Hamas.
“The Obama administration has said its goal is to keep Iran one year away from being able to construct a nuclear weapon.
“Well that’s the same level the administration said Iran was at in 2013, when sanctions were still fully in force.
“Apparently, the Obama administration is aiming for a final deal that suspends sanctions on Iran, and does not constrain its nuclear program any more than it was before the interim agreement.
“Let me be clear: if the Obama administration allows Iran to continue with its illicit nuclear program, the global community will be less safe, less stable and, less secure.
“Any treaty that we sign with Iran must be accountable, enforceable, and verifiable.
“So far, it doesn’t appear to me that the Obama administration is negotiating a deal that would meet that standard.
“The administration has also undermined Israeli security in other areas as well, specifically when it comes to Middle East peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
“The U.S. law prohibits sending any money to international organizations that admit the Palestinians as a state.
“The idea was to support the peace talks by letting the two sides work out their differences without others putting the thumb on the scale.
“So it was a problem when the Palestinians sought, and received, recognition as a full member state in the United Nations group UNESCO, this happened in 2012.
“That’s the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
“The Palestinians’ actions triggered the law, and that stopped U.S. money going to UNESCO.
“In every budget request since, President Obama has tried to restore the money, in spite of the law.
“This would excuse the Palestinians and the U.N. from the consequences of their actions.
“It sends a signal that the United States does not, in fact, have Israel’s back.
“You know, Vice President Biden said: ‘Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’
“By that standard, it’s obvious that President Obama does not value supporting Israel in the Middle East peace negotiations.
“National Security Adviser Susan Rice said just last week that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is too partisan and ‘destructive of the fabric of the relationship’ Israel has with the United States.
“The Members of Congress disagree.
“We welcome the prime minister, we are eager to show our support. And Republicans will continue to push for additional sanctions to keep the pressure on Iran.
“We intend to do all that we can to ensure that the vital alliance between the United States and Israel remains strong.”