J Street on Tuesday lent its support for the recent framework nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran, saying it was “historic” and praising US President Barack Obama for averting a “disastrous war.”
The left-wing Israel advocacy group put out a joint statement with the Arab American Institute and the National Iranian American Council saying the deal could reduce tensions across the conflict-ridden Middle East.
“We congratulate President Obama, Secretary [John] Kerry, and the US negotiating team for successfully reaching an historic agreement that provides a framework for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and averts a disastrous war,” the statement said, while conceding that “there is much work to be done to address our remaining concerns regarding Iran’s objectionable policies.”
The framework deal, which is to be followed up by a detailed, signed agreement by June, has been sharply criticized by Republicans and Israeli officials, foremost among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the deal doesn’t go far enough in reducing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the key material used to produce nuclear weapons.
“As Arab Americans, Jewish Americans, and Iranian Americans, we are especially cognizant of what this agreement may mean for the Middle East,” J Street continued. “This deal may provide an important first step toward deescalating regional tensions and pave the way for resolving the many conflicts that still persist.”
In an apparent hint to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, J Street said the Iran deal should serve as an example to others.
“The lesson that we all must learn from these successful negotiations is that diplomacy works,” the statement said. “This deal demonstrates that no disagreement should be so deeply entrenched that it cannot be resolved through the give-and-take of serious diplomacy.”
J Street’s applause came amid reports that Obama administration officials have held briefings with a number of groups to discuss the contours of the deal in recent days, seemingly to rally support for the agreement in the face of opposition in Congress, Israel, and the US public.
The framework agreement reached last Thursday by US-led negotiators with Iran aims to cut significantly into Tehran’s bomb-making technology while giving Iran relief from international sanctions. The commitments, if implemented, would substantially pare down Iranian nuclear assets for a decade and restrict others for an additional five years. Iran would also be subject to intrusive international inspections.
AP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.