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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference’

PA official: Netanyahu ‘Wasting Time’ with Jewish State Demand

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesperson said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “wasting time” with his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and was undermining the current peace negotiations.

“The intention of Netanyahu’s continued demand to recognize Israel as the Jewish state is to waste time and avoid reaching a true, just and viable peace agreement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas’ spokesperson, according to reports.

In a speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Tuesday, Netanyahu emphasized his oft-repeated demand that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state in any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

“President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state, and in doing so, you would be telling your people, the Palestinians, that while we might have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute,” Netanyahu said in the speech. “No excuses, no delays, it’s time.”

Netanyahu at AIPAC: No Peace without Recognition of Israel as Jewish

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to work for a “durable peace” with the Palestinians in the coming weeks and reiterated his refusal to accept a deal with Iran that included any uranium enrichment capacity.

Netanyahu, in his speech Tuesday morning to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference, embraced an optimistic vision of peace with the Palestinians as the key to broader regional stability.

“I’m prepared to make a historic peace with our Palestinian neighbors,” Netanyahu said.

“Peace would be good for us, peace would be good for the Palestinians, but peace would open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and leading countries in the Arab world,” he said. “Peace with the Palestinians would turn our relations with them and with many Arab countries into open and thriving relationships.”

Netanyahu repeated a number of his demands of a peace agreement, including Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a long-term Israeli military presence on the Jordan-Judea and Samaria border, but he suggested that a deal could come soon.

“As we work in the coming days, in the coming weeks, to forge a durable peace, I hope that the Palestinian leadership will stand with Israel and the United States on the right side of the moral divide, the side of peace, reconciliation and hope,” he said.

He paused, waiting for the AIPAC supporters to applaud this vision, and when they did not, he explicitly solicited their applause.

“You can clap — you want to encourage them to do that!” he said.

Netanyahu’s message came a day after meetings he held with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Obama, before meeting Netanyahu, had told Bloomberg News that he would impress upon him the need to embrace the framework agreement Kerry hopes to unveil soon, and in Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech, he appeared to do so.

The two leaders also discussed the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers, and in this area, Netanyahu did not appear to budge from his insistence than any deal include a total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear capability, including an end to enrichment.

“The leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium,” he said. “That would be a grave error.”

Obama and officials in his administration have indicated that leaving Iran with a limited enrichment capability is the likeliest outcome of the talks.

Netanyahu said that Israel could not accept such a status.

“We will never be brought to the brink of extinction again,” he said. ”As prime minister of Israel, I will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state of Israel.”

Netanyahu also repeated his call for enhanced sanctions on Iran, something that Obama has rejected, saying they could scuttle the talks.

“You know how you get that agreement with Iran?” Netanyahu said. “Not by relieving pressure, but by adding pressure!”

A focus of Netanyahu’s speech was the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel, which he described as anti-Semitic.

“Those who wear the BDS label should be treated as we treat any anti-Semite and bigot — they should be exposed and condemned,” he said. “The boycotters should be boycotted!”

Kerry to AIPAC: I Will Always Oppose Boycotts of Israel

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told AIPAC’s annual policy conference that he would always oppose boycotts targeting Israel.

“I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel,” Kerry said Monday evening at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, drawing a standing ovation. “That will never change.”

Last month, Israeli leaders had complained about Kerry’s remark at an international conference in Munich that Israel faced increasing isolation and boycott calls in the absence of peace. He later explained that he was not advocating boycotts but warning of the likelihood of their increased popularity.

In his AIPAC address, Kerry — who is set soon to unveil a peace agreement framework for Israelis and Palestinians — pushed back against arguments that Israel ceding territory to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement would lead to violence.

“There is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or Gaza where nothing is resolved and a phased withdrawal which is negotiated,” he said.

He described security mechanisms proposed by U.S. Gen. John Allen along the West Bank and Jordan border that would be part of any agreement.

“We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza,” he said to applause.

Kerry also pledged that the United States would not make a deal with Iran that allows it to develop nuclear weapons.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Kerry said

He defended nuclear talks now underway between Iran and the major powers. Kerry said that President Obama was committed to diplomacy because a military option presented so many dangers.

“Those who say strike and hit need to check what might happen after we do that,” he said. “Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program goes away for good instead of going underground and becoming more dangerous.”

AIPAC Conference Opens with Appeal for Bipartisanship

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC opened its annual conference with an appeal for bipartisanship.

“Bipartisanship is essential,” Michael Kassen, the board chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said Sunday in his opening statement to the conference, which drew a record 14,000 activists.

“We must affirm bipartisanship in our own ranks if we want support for Israel to be championed by Democrats and Republicans alike, he said. “AIPAC’s political diversity is critical to our continued success.”

The conference opening Sunday follows a period of tension between the lobby and the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress over AIPAC’s backing for new Iran sanctions, which Obama opposes as a detriment to nuclear talks now underway between Iran and the major powers.

AIPAC last month retreated from pressing for an immediate Senate vote on the sanctions, not wanting to undercut its influence with Democrats. The group is still backing the sanctions bill but is not pressing for a vote until the measure has enough endorsers to bust a promised Obama veto.

A number of conservatives and Republicans have since urged the group to resume its pressure for a Senate vote, even if it would land AIPAC in a partisan battle. Advocates of renewing pressure for a sanctions vote say the stakes with Iran are too high to consider Democratic sensibilities.

Kassen’s remarks seemed directly aimed at those who would advocate for an immediate vote.

In addition to seeking additional endorsers for the sanctions bill, AIPAC delegates who will meet Tuesday with lawmakers will press for the passage of an enhanced U.S.-Israel security relationship bill. AIPAC activists backed the same bill at the last conference a year ago, but it has only made limited headway.

The delegates also will seek signatories on a bipartisan Senate letter to Obama outlining the “core principles” that must come out of the talks with Iran. Chief among them is preventing Iran from “having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb.” A similar letter may also come out of the U.S. House of Representatives in time for the Tuesday lobbying blitz.

The “path” wording allows for a degree of flexibility between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outspoken advocacy for ending Iran’s uranium enrichment capability and the Obama administration’s warnings that Iran likely will have some limited civilian enrichment capability.

Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, told delegates they would encounter a degree of resistance to their Iran-related advocacy on Capitol Hill.

“When you’re up on the Hill, no matter what reception you receive, no matter how forcefully your member of Congress may express reservations,” he said, “be gracious and be respectful and make clear that the conversation cannot end here, that you will come back.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/aipac-conference-opens-with-appeal-for-bipartisanship/2014/03/02/

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