April 5, 2022 — Washington, D.C. —American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) inter-parliamentary group convened a virtual roundtable discussion on transatlantic responses to Iran’s nuclear ambition. Introduced by new American TFI co-chairs Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), the discussion brought together 22 members of Congress, members of the Knesset, and lawmakers from Europe and Canada. The event was moderated by AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer Jason Isaacson.
As negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program continue in Vienna, the lawmakers from across the political spectrum and from both sides of the Atlantic consulted yesterday on the challenges in addressing Tehran‘s quest for nuclear weapons, its regional aggression, and its support for global terrorism.
“It is in the interest of the world that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. Period, stop. And we need to do everything to ensure that that never happens. The only way to peacefully end Iran's nuclear ambitions and activities is through diplomacy. But we need to make sure all options are on the table,” said TFI co-chair Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) who, alongside Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), leads the 25-member congressional delegation of TFI.
TFI co-chair Rep. Andrew Garbarino said: “There needs to be bipartisan buy-in from Congress to make sure that whatever is done will last - and the rules won't change. I think you will get a stronger deal that way and it is something that everyone can come out together and say they support. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) continues to actively support - both financially and with weapons - terrorist organizations that want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We can’t allow that to continue. Taking them off the terrorist watch list is a reward that they don’t deserve.”
Members of Knesset from both the coalition and the opposition shared their concerns about Iran’s nuclear escalation. MK Yuval Steinitz of Likud, previously Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations, said: “The world must prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The scenario of what happened with North Korea will repeat itself in the Middle East. Israel will have to prevent it - but I hope that won’t be necessary. But we have to be prepared for any scenario. In the past, Israel already twice - in Iraq and Syria - destroyed nuclear military projects after the world refused to do anything. I hope this time it’s different.”
MK Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid), who serves on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said: “In the last seven years, Iran has launched more terror and now has much more extreme leadership than it had in 2015. Because of this we cannot look at Iran in an optimistic way. Israel won’t stand alone against Iran.”
TFI President Anna Michelle Asimakopoulou, a Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the European People’s Party (EPP), said: “We’re seeing right now the degree to which Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons is curtailing our room for maneuver in pushing back against its invasion of Ukraine. The idea that we could end up in a similar position when it comes to Iran is pretty terrifying.”
TFI Chair in the European Parliament, MEP Lukas Mandl of Austria, added that also Iran’s non-nuclear malign activities must be addressed: “The EU must finally end the artificial distinction between a so-called military and political wing. Hezbollah is one organization and its 'political' operations make it only more dangerous. We must designate it in its entirety.”
Canadian MP James Bezan (Conservative Party) underlined that “all efforts must be made to make it impossible for Iran to achieve their nuclear aspirations and spread their terror around the world and ultimate goal of attacking Israel.”
The Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) was founded in July 2019 in the European Parliament by the AJC EU office in Brussels, the Transatlantic Institute. TFI is the first cross-party, interparliamentary group of its kind that connects lawmakers from the U.S. Congress, the Knesset, the Parliament of Canada, and legislatures across Europe. With over 160 legislators from 25 countries, TFI fosters the transatlantic bond with Israel by engaging legislators to create synergies across the Atlantic, to advance mutual interests, and to address common threats.