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Netanyahu to address US Jewish groups on Iran deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will next week redouble efforts to scupper the international nuclear deal with Iran, making a personal appeal to Jewish groups across the United States.

Netanyahu, a strident opponent of the agreement, will make a web address Tuesday that will be available on computers, on mobile phones and in synagogues across America, according to organisers representing more than 100 Jewish groups.

The Israeli premier is also expected to take questions, in an address hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations and the Jewish Federations of North America.

“The issues involved with the Iran nuclear agreement are complex and of great consequence to the North American Jewish population,” said Stephen Greenberg, chairman of the Presidents’ Conference.

“We welcome this unique opportunity to present the prime minister, who has helped bring these vital issues to public attention.”

Netanyahu’s intervention comes amid a fierce battle with President Barack Obama over the agreement.

Netanyahu says the deal, which would curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for international sanctions relief, is a “stunning, historic mistake.”

He has infuriated the White House by actively opposing what Obama sees as a way to avoid a military conflagration with Iran and a signature foreign policy achievement of his presidency.

Obama has deployed chief lieutenants to make the diplomatic, military and technical case for the deal, ahead of a crunch vote in Congress.

The White House hopes to garner enough votes to prevent the Republican controlled legislative branch from voting against the agreement.

A “no” vote would not automatically kill the deal, but it would force Obama to issue a veto and rally enough Democratic votes to uphold it.

That has prompted a ferocious battle for public opinion, including within the Jewish community.

Key Democrats such New York Senator Charles Schumer have yet to voice their opinion on the deal in public.

Schumer’s public agnosticism reflects the deep divisions the deal has caused with America’s politically attuned Jewish community.

Groups like right-leaning AIPAC and left-leaning J-Street have engaged in a multi-million-dollar public relations faceoff.

Meanwhile federations, individual organizations, Rabbis and Rabbinical assemblies are being pressed to take a stance.

Obama has tasked Secretary of State John Kerry with talking to the same groups organizing Netanyahu’s address, which incidently comes on the president’s 54th birthday.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has traveled to Israel to speak to Netanyahu in person.

But with weeks to go before the congressional vote, lobbying efforts look set to intensify further.

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