Democrats Won't Hold Bush Back on Iran

Congressmen cite concern for Israel. Olmert: No more sense of humor for Iran

Gil Ronen,

Iranian Shahab 3 Missile
Iranian Shahab 3 Missile
Top U.S. House Democrats have frozen their attempt to limit President Bush's authority to take military action against Iran.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of the leadership decided on Monday to back down from presenting a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats and other pro-Israel lawmakers had argued for the change in strategy.

The proposal had drawn opposition from numerous Congressmen in a closed-door meeting last week of conservative and moderate Democrats.  They reportedly said they feared tying the hands of the administration when dealing with an unpredictable and potentially hostile regime in Tehran.

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said in an interview that there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran. The bill, she said, "would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran."

"I didn't think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you're trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way," said Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York.
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that Israel's sense of humor had run out, as far as Iran's threats are concerned, and that from now on Israel would take Iranian President Ahmadinejad and his threats seriously.

He said Israel needed to prevent Iran from arming with nuclear bombs because this was the first time since World War Two that a UN member state threatened another with annihilation.

Olmert spoke Monday in a live video broadcast before 6,000 members of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) , Israel's strongest lobby in Washington. His words may denote a shift in the Prime Minister's mindset. They contrast sharply with a speech he gave before the Israel Policy Forum in June 2005, in which he praised the Disengagement from Gaza:

"We are tired of fighting," Olmert had said. "We are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors."

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror said on Monday that Israel lacked the ability to deal with Iran, because of the Israeli government's low ability in making decisions. The former high-ranking IDF intelligence officer was speaking before National Religious Party activists, in what may be the opening salvo of a campaign to head the party.



top