As AIPAC hits Washington with its annual convention and lobbying campaign, Congress has taken up a bipartisan proposal to designate Israel as a “major strategic ally,” which would enshrine the special bilateral relationship in a comprehensive law, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The one-of-a-kind legislation introduced Monday by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), was timed for Tuesday’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s lobbying effort. Up to 13,000 activists were set to fan out among the nation’s lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss Iran-related and other bills, including Ros-Lehtinen- Deutch.
The “major strategic ally” bill codifies various already existing facets of the relationship, including annual defense assistance and cooperation on missile defense, energy research and cyber security.
It also calls for Israel to join the program that waives pre-arranged visas for select nationals entering the United States.
The Iran-related bills supported by AIPAC would tighten sanctions aimed at heading off Iran’s bomb building program and would call for the president to back Israel should it feel “compelled” to strike Iran.
“We need to recognize that military action against Iran may become necessary to protect America, Israel and our allies,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, said in his address Monday night to the AIPAC conference.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, echoed the sentiment:
“If there is one lesson we have learned about the Middle East in recent years, it is that nuance is not only not effective but can be dangerous,” he said. “We must speak with unambiguous clarity: the United States will not accept a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran.”