Israel's Netanyahu asks U.S. Jews to oppose Iran nuclear deal

Republicans have proposed a resolution to disapprove the deal in U.S. House of Representatives

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to rally U.S. Jews on Tuesday against the Iranian nuclear deal championed by President Barack Obama and facing review by Congress, saying it risked a “catastrophic Middle East war.”

In a webcast organized by Jewish groups in North America, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's arguments that the July 14 deal was not enough to curb Iranian nuclear projects with bomb-making potential while bringing Tehran a windfall in sanctions relief that could help fund destabilizing regional conflicts.

With surveys showing American Jewish opinion mixed on a dispute that has strained the U.S. Israeli alliance, Netanyahu cast his opposition to the Iran deal as non-partisan. He also pushed back against the Obama administration's counter-argument that the deal was the only way to avoid eventual war with Iran.

"I don't oppose this deal because I want war. I oppose this deal because I want to prevent war. And this deal will bring war," he said. "This is a time to stand up and be counted. Oppose this dangerous deal."

Organisers said 10,000 people - not taking into account expected group audiences - had signed up to view the webcast.

Republican U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced on Tuesday legislation to disapprove of the nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran.

Under the Iran Nuclear Review Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in May, Congress has until September 17 to approve or disapprove of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers announced on July 14.

Royce's announcement meant that the Republican-led Congress will try to pass a disapproval resolution, which could cripple the agreement, rather than a non-binding approval resolution.

Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a co-author of the bill allowing Congress to review the nuclear deal with Iran, said on Tuesday he would support the nuclear agreement.

The agreement announced on July 14 between world powers and Tehran “is a dramatic improvement over the status quo in improving global security,” Kaine said in a Senate speech announcing he would back it.

Should Congress vote against the deal, the United States might lose out while the five other big-power signatories re-engage with Iran, including in lucrative trade deals.

With most Republicans already opposed, support from Democrats like Kaine who strongly backed Congress' demand to review the agreement will be essential to Obama’s administration’s hopes that it will survive the process.

(With Reuters)

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