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Meehan emphasized that the window for negotiations is limited. “If progress isn’t made, there may be a time when more sanctions are, in fact, necessary,” she said.
According to an administration official briefed on the talk, “there was no direct ask” in the meeting — meaning, no overt request to suspend Jewish lobbying for increased sanctions. But the official noted that the Obama administration’s wish to put off new sanctions on Iran was clear to all.
“They know how to send the message in a sophisticated way. It’s not the 2009 administration, it is 2013,” the official said, alluding to the Obama administration’s early days, when communication with the Jewish community was bumpy.
Following the meeting, which included representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, the ADL and the American Jewish Committee, both sides issued statements that avoided the question of further sanctions. The Presidents Conference, in its statement, described the meeting as a “constructive and open exchange.”
But shortly after this, a leak published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, and later a public statement by the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, made clear that the groups left the White House with different positions. In an about-face on the ADL’s previous policy, Foxman expressed his willingness to allow a two-month moratorium on new legislation. The ADL leader declined to be interviewed for this article.
AIPAC responded with an unusual public statement, issued on a Saturday, when most Jewish groups refrain from activity. In it, AIPAC President Michael Kassen emphasized that the lobby “continues to support congressional action to adopt legislation to further strengthen sanctions.”
“There will absolutely be no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts,” the statement vowed.