President Obama. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Barack Obama

Will Obama sanction Israel for building in its capital, Jerusalem? Congress is worried and demands answers. How can the US impose sanctions against Israel while easing sanctions against Iran?

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC).

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC).

A report revealed by Ha’aretz newspaper indicates that the Obama administration is going to impose sanctions on Israel because of its building plans in Jerusalem, and Congress is demanding clarification on the issue.

Republican Congressmen came together and dispatched a harsh letter to President Barack Obama, demanding that he provide explanations regarding the report.

“We urge you and your Administration to clarify these reports immediately,” 47 republican Congressmen demanded of the Obama administration. “Israel is one of our strongest allies, and the mere notion that the Administration would unilaterally impose sanctions against Israel is not only unwise, but is extremely worrisome. Such reports send a clear message to our friends and enemies alike that such alliances with the United States government can no longer be unquestionably trusted.”

“Further, at no point in time has Congress given the Administration the authority to sanction Israel… any attempts to undermine the U.S.’s support of Israel will only further diminish the Administration’s ability to get Congressional support for any potential agreement with Iran,” the letter warned.

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), who authored the letter, tweeted,“The White House is negotiating sanctions with Iran, but is unwilling to give a definitive ‘NO’ on sanctions against Israel. Appalling.”

Meadows further stated: “What message does it send to the world for the U.S. to impose sanctions against Israel while easing sanctions against Iran—a state-sponsor of terror with an abysmal human rights record?”

Penalizing Israel for Building in its Capital

Israeli building in Jerusalem. (Photo: Flash90)

Israeli building in Jerusalem. (Photo: Flash90)

Israel’s Ha’aretz first reported that following Obama’s growing frustration with Israel the Obama administration held secret internal meetings to discuss taking action against Israel for its ongoing building in Jerusalem. The meetings were attended by officials from both the State Department and White House.

The report has since generated much controversy.

When asked about the report Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf refused to answer questions. Harf simply replied: “I’m obviously not going to comment one way or another on reported internal deliberations. We’ve made clear our position on settlement activity publicly and that hasn’t changed.”

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest failed to give a definitive yes or no answer when asked about the Administration’s position during the White House press briefing.

Tough on Israel, Weak on Iran

The Free Beacon points out that the possibility of sanctioning Israel for its ongoing construction sends a signal that the Obama administration is willing to go further in its denunciations of Israel than any previous White House. At the same time, the Obama administration is working hard to relax the existing sanctions leveled against Iran, and to stop Congress from leveling further sanctions.

One senior congressional aide expressed shock about the possibility of sanctions against Israel while talking to the Free Beacon:

“If these reports are true, this would mark a new era of unprecedented hostility from the White House against our strongest ally in the Middle East. It’s impossible not to notice the irony of the administration mulling sanctions on Israel while threatening to veto new sanctions against Iran.”

“The Obama administration is against sanctions on Iran, but for them on Israel,” reiterated Noah Pollak, executive director of the pro-Israel organization Emergency Committee for Israel, to the Free Beacon. “Is [White House deputy national security adviser] Ben Rhodes wearing a green headband to work these days?”

Author: United with Israel Staff

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