Obama to meet with Jewish leaders on Iran deal

Obama to meet with Jewish leaders on Iran deal
© Getty Images

President Obama will meet with Jewish leaders for the first time since finalizing the Iran nuclear agreement, the White House said.  

Leaders of major Jewish organizations both for and against the deal, and those who are undecided, will attend the meeting, according to Jewish Insider, which first reported the news.  

ADVERTISEMENT

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama will attempt to ease concerns that the deal, which curbs Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, could put Israel’s safety at risk. 

Obama will make the case that the accord “isn’t just in the best interest of the United States, it is also within the national security interest of its biggest ally in the Middle East, Israel.”

Obama’s meeting comes on the same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE, a chief critic of the deal, will address American Jews via a webcast sponsored by two major U.S. Jewish groups. 

The gathering is part of an aggressive White House effort to sell the deal, which is the most significant foreign policy initiative of Obama’s second term. 

Winning support for the deal — or tamping down opposition — among Jewish groups is critical. Many of the organizations have ties on Capitol Hill, where the administration is looking to halt an effort to vote down the deal. 

Both the White House and Jewish groups opposed to the deal are targeting Democratic lawmakers, whom Obama needs in order to uphold a potential veto of a resolution to disapprove of the agreement. 

The White House is also looking to boost public support for the deal, especially among Jewish Americans who overwhelmingly vote Democrat. 

Vice President Biden defended the deal during a call with Jewish leaders late last month, soon after it was finalized. 

A trio of senior administration officials last week reportedly had a contentious meeting with leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is lobbying against the deal. 

Obama and his allies argue the deal is the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon while averting another war in the Middle East. 

But many in the Jewish community and in Israel worry Tehran could use billions of dollars from sanctions relief to fund terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which threaten Israel.