GOP Conservatives Support Rubio's 'Recognize Israel' Amendment to Iran Oversight Bill

Jeb Bush opposes deal but is noncommittal on disruptive amendments.

Jacob Kornbluh
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Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 18, 2015.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 18, 2015. Credit: Reuters
Jacob Kornbluh

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Friday endorsed Senator Marco Rubio’s amendment that would make Iran recognize Israel as a condition for any deal.

Speaking at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit in DC, Jindal, a potential presidential candidate, called it a “common sense” amendment that is trying to salvage a “very bad deal” with Iran. He went a step further in conditioning the deal with Iran recognizing Israel “as a Jewish State,” something even Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not think of suggesting.

“I think the senate needs to adopt these amendments. This is an important issue,” he said. “If senators really want to go ahead and vote against it, if senators really think it’s OK for Iran to sponsor terrorism and it’s OK for Iran not to recognize the state of Israel, I want to hear them make that argument, and I want to see them take that vote. I think it’s ridiculous for the White House to threaten with a veto.”

“I wish the President would negotiate as tough with Iran as he’s on the U.S. Senate,” he added.

On Thursday, it was reported that the current Iran oversight bill might be in jeopardy, mainly due to an amendment put forth by Senator Marco Rubio, a presidential candidate in 2016, that will require Iran to recognize the existence of the State of Israel prior to the relief of any sanctions.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, opposes Rubio’s amendment. “We have two pending amendments,” he said. “We are trying to work through, Senator Corker and I, many amendments that we can clear that members have brought forward We need to make sure we have an orderly way to consider these amendments and vote on these amendments,” Cardin said. Cardin further called Rubio’s amendment a “poison bill,” stating that “the unintended consequences of this amendment would make it virtually impossible to have that agreement completed.”

Addressing the summit earlier Friday, Rubio argued that the threat of Iran being able to acquire nuclear capabilities under the current deal justifies his amendment for Iran to recognize Israel’s inherent sovereignty.

“You don’t do a deal with Iran unless you acknowledge Israel has a right to exist,” Rubio said. “The criticism of that is that a lot of countries in the Middle East don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. Not all of them are trying to get a nuclear weapon.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush appeared to be more supportive of the current wording of the bill approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 19-0 vote.

“I understand the sentiment, I don’t know if that kills the bill,” he said during an appearance at the summit Thursday evening, before explaining why the framework deal with Iran was a bad deal.

“The reason why this is a bad deal is, Iran hasn’t recognized Israel and its right to be a Jewish state,” the undeclared Republican presidential candidate said. “Iran has destabilized the region that we’re now engaged in. The net result of this is we’re likely to have proliferation in the region, you’re likely to have an emboldened Iran, not a humble Iran, and you’re likely to have our strongest ally in the region be threatened. So I think this is a horrific deal.”

But Bush made clear there needs to be a point at which Congress can oppose the deal.”The option, I think, is no congressional oversight at all — not congressional engagement at all, which would be worse than having some engagement. I think Republicans need to be on record opposing whatever happens, if there is to be an agreement, and doing it in a principled way. It sets the stage for what the next president can do,” he asserted.

He further conditioned his opposition to a final deal with Iran, if reached, only if it made sense for U.S. national security. “If it’s in the security interests of the United States, absolutely," he said, in response to a question from the audience. "Another hypothetical is that this is done by executive order. As we know, the president is proud of using authority he does and sometimes doesn’t have.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), appearing in front of Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn earlier this week, suggested the U.S. negotiation team should push Iran to “recognize the sovereign entity of other nations.”

Jacob Kornbluh is a political correspondent for

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