Longest-serving Jewish member of Congress says he’s backing Iran deal

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The longest-serving Jewish member of Congress, who is also an Israel backer, said he will support the Iran nuclear deal.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., announced his support in a statement Tuesday explaining his decision.

Levin, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1983, called on Congress to “act to bolster the security of our ally Israel,” including increasing funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system and accelerating the co-development by the U.S. and Israel of the Arrow-3 and David’s Sling missile defense systems.

“I along with my brother and late sister when we were in our teens experienced with our parents great personal joy when President Truman announced U.S. recognition of Israel. It was something that we could take hold of amidst the unfolding horrors of the years before,” Levin said in the statement. “Israel’s security has and always will be of critical importance to me and our country. I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the Agreement is the best way to achieve that.”

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Levin’s statement came as the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to question three Obama administration officials about the agreement reached this month between Iran and six world powers led by the United States.

Congress has two months to consider whether to reject the deal to roll back sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. Israel’s government says the deal does not go far enough and leaves Iran a nuclear threshold state.

On Monday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State John Kerry would visit the Middle East, including Egypt and Qatar, to discuss the deal but would not visit Israel.

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