Yesterday, as the nation celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began monitoring Iran’s compliance with a historic deal reached Nov. 24 in Geneva between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, to diplomatically resolve the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has stated that Iran is committed to the deal and will fulfill its obligations starting immediately. According to Zarif, Tehran is ready to enter talks for a permanent accord as soon as the interim deal goes into force.
However, in response to intense lobbying by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israel’s hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a bi-partisan group of Senators is threatening to scuttle the deal by passing legislation (S. 1881) that would impose additional sanctions on Iran before giving the negotiations a chance to succeed. We have made some progress, with 20 Senators now opposing the bill in support of diplomacy. But, with 59 co-sponsors, and 19 Senators not publicly decided, we need to keep up the pressure to make the bill veto-proof. (See below.) A similar bill could be introduced in the House any time.
Good news! A New Israeli Peace Movement
In December 2012, Israel and the U.S. scuttled a United Nations-mandated conference in Helsinki to commence negotiations to establish a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East.
As recently described in the UK Guardian: “The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads… with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.”
We have been led to believe that there is no opposition in Israel to its own nuclear weapons. However, last month an unprecedented coalition of former and current members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) with Israeli peace and human rights organizations held a historic international conference in Haifa, For a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone in the Middle East. The Haifa Conference Declaration, signed by former and current members of the Knesset, members of the French and German parliaments, and leading Israeli and international anti-nuclear, peace and human rights activists, calls for prompt convening of the stalled Helsinki Conference as a permanent diplomatic solution to the ongoing threat of catastrophic war in the Middle East.
As former Knesset member Issam Makhoul, the first member to raise the question of Israel’s nuclear weapons, in 2000, declared in Haifa: “The security of Israel will not be safeguarded by disastrous war threats, but by achieving a political solution, in the framework of a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East. This is the new wind that is blowing from Geneva, this is the new wind that is blowing from the agreement reached in Syria about their Chemical weapons arsenal, and this is the wind blowing on all the peoples of the region and the world in this day and age. For this message to be realized, all sides are needed to attend the UN-sponsored Helsinki Conference on a WMD and Nuclear Weapons’ Free Zone in the Middle East.”
Please share news of this exciting new Israeli peoples’ peace initiative with your elected representatives, your fellow activists, and your friends!
Keep Up the Pressure on Congress!
Call both of your Senators, toll-free, at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927). If they are co-sponsors of S.1881, the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act” let them know you want them to withdraw their name. If they are not co-sponsors, let them know you expect a NO vote! If they have publicly taken a position in opposition to this dangerous bill, thank them. Click here to find out where your Senators stand.