Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came away from meeting with Israeli leaders struck by their unanimous opposition across political lines to the U.S. negotiations with Iran.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas addresses a crowd during a rally at the Western Republican Leadership Conference Friday, April 25, 2014, in Sandy, Utah. Cruz, headlined the final day of the two-day conference in Utah where Republican party leaders from western states are meeting. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
“I met with roughly a dozen senior officials in Israel across political parties and across political views, and every single leader with whom I met, number one viewed the prospect of Iran gaining nuclear weapons capability as the gravest national security threat facing Israel and facing the United States,” Cruz said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
“Number two, every single leader across the political spectrum viewed the current deal being negotiated in Geneva, as in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, a very, very bad deal and a historic mistake,” Cruz added.
While in Israel Tuesday, Cruz met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogi” Ya’alon, opposition leader Bogie Herzog, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz and Israeli Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser.
It was the first leg of Cruz’s international trip. The rest was in Eastern Europe where he met with government and religious leaders in Ukraine Wednesday, including recent President-elect Petro Poroshenko. He was set to fly to Poland Wednesday night before going to Estonia on Thursday. The swing through international hot spots could bolster the conservative freshman senator's expected 2016 presidential campaign.
The Obama administration is working with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to prevent the Islamic republic from getting nuclear weapons capabilities. But critics of the deal fear easing of sanctions on Iran could pose risks.
Cruz supports a bill sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to establish triggers for re-imposing sanctions on Iran. He blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for blocking the bipartisan bill. The Obama administration opposes the sanctions based on concerns it will harm the negotiations.
“With respect to Iran, I believe we are repeating the same mistakes of the Clinton administration in 1990s with respect to North Korea,” Cruz said. “In the 1990s, we relaxed our sanctions against North Korea response to vague and worthless promises just like those in Geneva now. As a consequence, billions of dollars flowed to North Korea and North Korea used those funds to develop nuclear weapons.”
In addition to meeting with Poroshenko Wednesday, he also met with Jewish and Catholic leaders in Ukraine, and talked about the “awakening of the Russian bear,” regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military aggression toward the country.
The next legs of his trip were to Poland and Estonia, which he said are “on the frontlines of being next.”
“A great many of our allies in Eastern Europe are watching what’s happening in Ukraine, this renewed aggression and feeling considerable unease that they may well be next,” Cruz said.