- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2021

Senate Republicans told President Biden on Thursday to withhold any sanctions relief from Iran as administration officials plot the next steps in nuclear talks amid street violence and the heavy exchange of airstrikes between Israelis and Hamas militants in Gaza.

GOP members of the Senate Banking Committee said Iran is backing the Palestinian group so they’re afraid of an ill-timed error.

“Over the past couple days, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, who are funded by Iran, have launched a series of rocket attacks into Israel,” the senators wrote. “This is troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. In light of these recent attacks by Hamas against Israel, the United States should take all steps necessary to hold Tehran accountable and under no circumstances, provide sanctions relief to Iran.”

The White House said Mr. Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The president also said the U.S. seeks “a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm,” according to a readout of the call.

Led by Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida, the GOP group said Iran looms in the background and is hard to ignore, as the Biden administration surveys what’s left of the nuclear deal the Obama administration and western allies struck with Tehran before former President Trump withdrew.

The senators said the U.S. should end the talks to ensure a unified message to Iran amid the unfolding violence.

“While the United States and countries around the world condemned these rocket attacks, Iran resoundingly supports this aggression,” they wrote. “Shortly after the attacks began, and as they continued, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that Palestinians should unite to ‘use the tools of their disposal’ to attack Israel, which he recently called not a nation, but a ‘terrorist garrison.’”

“We call on you to immediately end negotiations with Iran,” they said, “and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided.”

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