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by J.J. Goldberg

The Capitol Hill debate over authorizing new sanctions on Iran is getting pretty nasty. Administration officials are warning, anonymously so far, that passage of the Robert Menendez-Mark Kirk bill to stiffen the West’s negotiating terms and compel new sanctions will kill the diplomatic effort and make war more likely.

Ynet’s Yitzhak Ben-Horin reports that Joe Biden and John Kerry were on Capitol Hill warning that passage of the bill would be interpreted in Europe as a show of bad faith on Washington’s part and would shatter the existing sanctions regime that Obama managed to stitch together over the past five years.

The bill has been co-sponsored by a total of 26 senators, including 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Ten other senators came out against the bill Thursday night, writing in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid that “new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail.” These aren’t just any 10 Democrats, though—they’re all committee chairs (the Senate has 20 standing committees in all). They asked Reid in effect to help them block the bill, specifically requesting that they “be consulted prior to any proposed unanimous consent or other agreement” to move the sanctions forward. By being warned of unanimous consent, they can be sure to show up and oppose it, which kicks off the long, tedious process of normal Senate rules.

Jewish organizations have come out overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, which will probably go a long way toward deterring a reprise of those 2003-era canards that the Jewish lobby was pushing America toward war. Here are the national Jewish organizations that have come out in favor as of tonight (Thursday 12/19) besides AJC: Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, Emergency Committee for Israel, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Republican Jewish Coalition, World Jewish Congress. No stampede there…more.