The lobbying efforts of Jewish groups in the United States Congress are causing a general uneasiness in the White House, specifically with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, an official in the Obama administration reportedly said Thursday.
The unnamed official, quoted by Israel Radio, said that “Jewish activity” in Congress, which was perceived by Kerry and Obama to be backed by the Israeli government, was unsettling the two American leaders.
Obama and Kerry, the official continued, were also disappointed by several US Jewish groups’ repeated criticism of the government.
In recent weeks, pro-Israel lobbying groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Zionist Organization of America have been applying heavy pressure on members of Congress to support a bill which would impose a new round of sanctions on Iran.
The sanctions bill is strongly opposed by the Obama administration, which fears that the piece of legislation would dampen the possibility of achieving a sustainable diplomatic solution for the Iranian nuclear issue.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), has so far garnered support from 59 Senators, 16 of which hail from the Democratic party.
The bill is currently eight Senators short of the votes needed in order to assure that the president cannot veto the legislation.
“Our top priority is stopping Iran’s nuclear program, and consequently we are very engaged in building support for the Menendez-Kirk bill which now has the bi-partisan co-sponsorship of 59 senators,” AIPAC’s spokesman, Marshall Wittman, wrote in an email to JTA.
“AIPAC’s relationship with the White House has never been kissy-kissy,” Morris Amitay, a former AIPAC executive director told JTA.
“And if you look at where Congress is today on Israel issues, the peace process, Iran, AIPAC is doing a terrific job.”