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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘American Israel Public Affairs Committee’

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!”

Harriet Sherwood Completely Mischaracterizes Iran Sanctions Bill

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

A March 2nd Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Dan Roberts (Binyamin Netanyahu visit will test strains in US-Israel relationship) included the following claim regarding efforts in the US Senate to pass a new Iran sanctions bill:

…the failure of an Aipac-supported effort to pass legislation blocking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security.

This is a complete mischaracterization of a bill (S.1881 – Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013) which, by all accounts, is designed to put more pressure on Iran so that they’ll comply with any nuclear agreement that is reached with the six world powers.

The bill (sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, along with 58 co-sponsors) has been accurately described by multiple media sources:

Washington Post

The measure introduced Thursday, if approved, would impose harsh new sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry while also threatening U.S. allies and partners with financial restrictions unless they sharply curtail trade with Iran. The sanctions would go into effect if Iran violated the terms of the temporary accord reached last month or if it failed to reach a permanent agreement with world powers in a timely manner.

New York Times

A bipartisan group of senators, defying the White House, introduced a bill on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran if it failed to conclude a nuclear agreement, or stick to the terms of its interim deal, with the United States and other major powers.

The bill would seek to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero and penalize its engineering, mining and construction industries. But the sanctions would not take effect before the six-month term of the interim deal expires, and they could be deferred for up to another six months, at Mr. Obama’s request, if the talks looked promising.

ABC News:

A bipartisan group of 26 senators introduced new legislation today proposing potential sanctions against Iran if the country fails to uphold the P5+1 agreement made last month or if it fails to reach a final agreement to terminate its nuclear weapons program.

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., which calls for additional reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and creates more penalties for parts of the Iranian economy, including engineering, mining and construction.

The bill also provides the administration with up to one year from implementation of the agreement to try to reach a diplomatic solution that would completely end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Business Insider

The legislation proposes sanctions in the event that Iran breaches the terms of the interim agreement reached last month in Geneva — or if world powers fail to come to a comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Politico:

The sanctions legislation would impose conditional economic penalties on Iran if the country fails to follow through on an interim deal or pulls out of ongoing global negotiations to permanently curtail its nuclear ambitions in return for some sanctions relief.

CNN

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that would authorize new economic sanctions on Iran if it breaches an interim agreement to limit its nuclear program or fails to strike a final accord terminating those ambitions.

Clearly, the bill would increase sanctions against Iran only in the event negotiations with the six world powers (P5+1) fail to produce an agreement, or if Iran fails to abide by an agreement.  So, the claim made by Sherwood and Roberts that the bill would “block Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran” is untrue.

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.”

AIPAC to Congress: Iran Must Dismantle Nuclear Program

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee urged Congress to outline terms for a final nuclear accord with Iran that would include dismantling its nuclear program.

“We urge Congress to outline for Iran the acceptable terms of a final accord,” said an Op-Ed in the New York Times on Saturday signed by AIPAC President Michael Kassen and Lee Rosenberg, the chairman of its board.

“This must include, at a minimum, the dismantling of its nuclear program, so that Iran has neither a uranium nor a plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon,” it said.

This was part of the message, the writers said, that thousands of AIPAC activists would take to Capitol Hill next week during the annual AIPAC policy conference.

Obama administration officials have said that a total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program is an unrealistic expectation of the talks now underway between Iran and the major powers aimed at finding a formula to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

In Jerusalem to brief Israeli leaders after the latest round of Iran talks, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said she would not count out an Iranian enrichment capacity as an end result.

“The objective here is to ensure that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon and that its program is exclusively peaceful,” she told Israeli reporters on Saturday.

“Whether, in fact, Iran will have a domestic enrichment program is part of the negotiations,” Sherman said. “In the Joint Plan of Action, it was envisioned that it was possible, that Iran might have a small, discreet enrichment program.”

The Joint Plan of Action is the interim sanctions-for-nuclear rollback deal that allowed the current talks to take place. The talks, launched last month, are for six months, but may be renewed for another six months.

The AIPAC Op-Ed notably did not embrace any specific legislation and noted that while the lobby still backed new sanctions that had been proposed in the Senate, it also backed delaying a vote for now.

President Obama had threatened to veto new sanctions legislation, saying it could scuttle the talks.

The Op-Ed urged Congress to assert its foreign policy prerogative, even over the opposition of the president, and press the case for a tougher line with Iran during the talks, including enhanced sanctions.

“Historically, presidents have resisted congressional involvement that would affect or constrain their diplomatic efforts,” the Op-Ed said. “At this moment, we must not allow Iran to dictate the appropriate role of Congress.”

Part of the message activists will deliver to Congress would be that lawmakers should assert a more robust oversight of the Iran-major powers talks, it said.

AIPAC Lobbying to Address Iran, Peace Process

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The agenda for thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists who will meet with lawmakers next month includes Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israeli-Palestinian talks.

“From March 2-4, more than ten thousand AIPAC activists will be in Washington for our annual policy conference,” according to an email the group sent this week to lawmakers.

The activists’ visit to Capitol Hill is traditionally the final event of the annual conference.

“As the culmination of the conference, the activists will meet with their Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship including aid to Israel, Iran’s nuclear quest, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” it said. “The meetings are an excellent opportunity for members to see familiar faces from their districts and states as well as to meet and greet new constituents—all of whom share a deep concern about the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address the conference.

The lobbying comes as tensions continue to simmer between the Obama and Netanyahu governments over U.S. plans to unveil a framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, which likely includes elements that will rankle Israel’s government, as well as over sanctions-for-nuclear-rollbacks talks between the major world powers and Iran that Netanyahu says are emboldening Iran.

AIPAC expects 14,000 activists this year. Its lobbying on the last day of the conference usually is attached to a legislative initiative, such as a bill, a resolution or a letter.

The email did not name any such initiative, but AIPAC generally does not unveil these until the eve of the conference.

White House Briefs Students on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Obama administration officials briefed Jewish and Arab-American student leaders on the peace process.

Among the participants in Thursday’s three-hour White House briefing were students affiliated with Hillel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

“As part of our ongoing efforts of working with key stakeholders throughout the process of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, yesterday a group of U.S. officials met with a diverse group of youth leaders who are involved in various ways with the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” an administration official told JTA on Friday. “This meeting was an opportunity to update the leaders on the status of the negotiations as well as to solicit their views and have them contribute their thoughts to the policy process.”

Shaina Lowe, the U.S. outreach director for OneVoice, a group that promotes grassroots peace activism among Israelis and Palestinians, attended.

“It was an opportunity for her to discuss One Voice’s parallel campaigns underway in Israel and Palestine to mobilize a political center on each side to support the negotiations and the ultimate goal of a two state solution,” said a spokesman for the group.

Additionally, there was a representative of the Peres Center in Israel.

Officials who attended the off the record briefing say briefers included Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, and Ilan Goldenberg and Laura Blumenfeld, advisers to Martin Indyk, the top U.S. Middle East negotiator.

They said that the meeting appeared to be part of a broader effort by the administration to prepare public opinion for Secretary of State John Kerry’s planned unveiling of a framework peace agreement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/white-house-briefs-students-on-israeli-palestinian-peace-efforts/2014/02/09/

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