US administration angry at Bennett's interference on Iran

Administration officials are furious at Naftali Bennett's initiative to meet members of Congress to persuade them to oppose a diplomatic deal with Iran that would ease sanctions.

The Obama administration has to deal with a new political problem: Senators and Representatives from both parties are openly rejecting US Secretary of State John Kerry's call not to impose new sanctions on Iran. A source in Washington has told ''Globes'' that administration officials are furious at Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett's initiative to meet members of Congress to persuade them to oppose a diplomatic deal with Iran that would involve the easing of sanctions.

It seems that the administration's ire was expressed in Kerry's remarks to a closed meeting of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Wednesday. "Buzzfeed" quotes a senator aide, who was familiar about the meeting, as saying every time anybody would say anything about what would the Israelis say, theyd get cut off and Kerry would say, You have to ignore what theyre telling you, stop listening to the Israelis on this.

Although Kerry did not mention Bennett by name, a Capitol Hill source told "Globes" that some administration officials consider Bennett's visit as improper. The source said that Kerry's remarks to the Senate Banking Committee reflect this position. "People in the administration are using the word 'chutzpah'," he said, "They're saying, how would [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu react if Obama would send a member of his cabinet to Jerusalem to lobby MKs against expanding the settlements?"

On Wednesday, Bennett attended a benefit for Sderot in New York. Today, he is scheduled to meet Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) for a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, and will hold other meetings in the city. A Bennett aide said that he was planning a blitz against a deal with Iran.

According to "Buzzfeed", Senator Mark Kirk (Republican, Illinois) called the presentation by Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry, and the State Departments lead Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman very unconvincing." He told reporters, It was fairly anti-Israeli. I was supposed to disbelieve everything the Israelis had just told me, and I think the Israelis probably have a pretty good intelligence service. He said the Israelis had told him that the total changes proposed set back the program by 24 days."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 14, 2013

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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