Congress, Israel take on Iran's terror record

Congress and Israel on Tuesday lambasted Iranian support for terrorism, an issue that has received short shrift from the Obama administration during nuclear talks.

House lawmakers held a hearing on Iran's alleged support for terrorism just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Meanwhile the Israeli Embassy in Washington unveiled a website dedicated to “The Real Iran” to coincide with Netanyahu's speech, tweeting out reminders that Iran's threat to the West has continued apace during negotiations.

ADVERTISEMENT
Spokesmen for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Israeli Embassy both denied any collusion. Still, the simultaneous effort could make it more difficult for the Obama administration to continue ignoring its own State Department's labeling of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism as it pursues a nuclear deal.

“The Administration is dealing with these talks as if Iran’s nuclear program exists in some kind of vacuum, as if the nuclear program is not somehow related to Iran’s support for terror,” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs subpanel on the Middle East, said in her opening remarks. “And the most dangerous part of these negotiations is that the Administration is willing to ignore these facts and other aspects of the regime so that it can say it reached a deal with Iran.”

Critics say the talks can go nowhere while Iran continues to support Syrian President Bashar Assad and repress its own people at home, with more than 300 people executed since President Hassan Rouhani's election last year. Netanyahu has echoed that criticism, repeatedly decrying the interim nuclear agreement as a “bad deal” because Iran is untrustworthy.

“Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide,” he told the annual policy conference of AIPAC. “And that’s why we must stand unequivocally on the right side of that moral divide.”

The White House counters that trust isn't a factor in the negotiations, and a hypothetical final deal would have verifiable concessions Iran must meet for sanctions to be lifted.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill