May 13, 2021

Risch Joins Rubio, Senate Republicans in Urging POTUS to Stand with Israel and Not Provide Iran with Sanctions Relief

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday joined U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 42 Republican colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to stand with our closest ally in the region, Israel. As Israel is under attack from Iranian-backed terrorists, the Biden Administration is negotiating and potentially offering sanctions relief to Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The senators called on President Biden to immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided. The senators highlighted that “[t]he United States engaging in active negotiations with Iran and potentially providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief will no doubt contribute to Iran’s support of Hamas and other terrorist organizations who attack Americans and our allies.”

“Over the past couple days, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, who are funded by Iran, have launched a series of rocket attacks into Israel,” wrote the senators. “They are targeting Israeli civilians and cities, including Israel’s capital Jerusalem. This is troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

“The United States must not do anything to enrich Israel’s enemies, such as by offering sanctions relief to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel,” continued the senators. “As a longtime friend of the Jewish state, we also urge you to unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself against any and all terrorist attacks.”

Joining Risch and Rubio were Senate Committee on Banking Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Senate Committee on Armed Services Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and SFRC Middle East Subcommittee Ranking Member Todd Young (R-Ind.), as well as U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill  Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write with regard to the ongoing rocket attacks against Israel by the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. Over the past couple days, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, who are funded by Iran, have launched a series of rocket attacks into Israel. They are targeting Israeli civilians and cities, including Israel’s capital Jerusalem. This is troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. In light of these recent attacks by Hamas against Israel, the United States should take all steps necessary to hold Tehran accountable and under no circumstances, provide sanctions relief to Iran. This is especially important as Iran is supporting terrorist activity against the United States’ closest ally in the region, Israel.

As you know, Palestinian terrorist groups launched more than 1,000 rockets targeting Israel over the last few days alone. This includes the first rockets aimed at Jerusalem since 2014. While the United States and countries around the world condemned these rocket attacks, Iran resoundingly supports this aggression.  Shortly after the attacks began, and as they continued, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that Palestinians should unite to “use the tools of their disposal” to attack Israel, which he recently called not a nation, but a “terrorist garrison.” Even the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, who currently is supervising Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna, called Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh to express Iran’s support for the group’s actions.  

The United States designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 1997 and as such, is prohibited from providing any funds to Hamas. Iran, however, is a longtime financial and material supporter of Hamas. The United States engaging in active negotiations with Iran and potentially providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief will no doubt contribute to Iran’s support of Hamas and other terrorist organizations who attack Americans and our allies. We call on you to immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided. Doing so would demonstrate a firm commitment to our closest ally in the region and to our own security interests.

The United States must not do anything to enrich Israel’s enemies, such as by offering sanctions relief to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel. As a longtime friend of the Jewish state, we also urge you to unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself against any and all terrorist attacks.

Respectfully,