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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘American Israel Public Affairs Committee’

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.

In-Your-Face-Obama Bill Upgrading Israel Status Above Entire World

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

My favorite Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 27), along with Rep Ted Deutch (D-Fla. 21), who are the top two members on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East subcommittee, have introduced a bill on Wednesday naming Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States, a title enjoyed by no one else on the planet, and encouraging enhanced cooperation on water, energy, homeland security, and missile development.

The bill also waives visa requirements for Israelis who visit the U.S., adding Israel to the list of countries whose citizens can visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, provided they registered electronically before boarding a flight.

Some other provisions: the bill expands authority for forward-deployed U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel, providing important military equipment for either to use in a crisis. It also encourages the president to transfer essential military equipment to Israel to meet current and projected strategic threats.

Daisy Cutters, Bunker Busters, come to poppa…

The committee approved it unanimously.

“I’m pleased that this bipartisan bill to strengthen the U.S. bond with Israel passed unanimously today out of the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Congressperson Ileana said in a statement. “During this volatile time across the Middle East, this bill signals that the U.S. Congress continues to support the people of Israel and reaffirms our commitment to seek new paths to improve our bilateral relationship.”

According to an AP story from last year, the administration and some lawmakers are concerned the legislation doesn’t do enough to eliminate Israeli discrimination against Palestinians and Arab-Americans seeking to enter its borders. They also say Israel still fails to meet other legal requirements for the program.

So this has to be an in-your-face to both the White House and the State Dept. In the middle of their arm-twisting campaign to degrade Israeli security, heaping on the threats should Israel decline the offer to capitulate, our sweetheart from the Florida 27th declares:

“This important legislation, with 351 current cosponsors, declares that Israel is a major strategic partner, ensures that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge, and reaffirms our support to enhance Israel’s military systems to that it can defend herself.”

Now it’s up to the leaders of the House to let the measure go for a vote, which should actually happen, what with the 351 sponsors. We’ll see what happens in the Senate afterwards, will Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even let the measure that has been pushed by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) last year—The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 (S. 462)—come to a full Senate vote.

Currently, the Senate bill has 45 sponsors.

Last May, when Boxer and Blunt proposed the Senate version, the organization U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation and other anti-Israel groups were working overtime to block the bill. Their main argument was that Section nine of S.462 would include Israel in the Visa Waiver Program without requiring Israel to extend reciprocal privileges to U.S. citizens.

The bill allows Israel to deny entrance to U.S. citizens for national security reasons.

“Israel has a history of discriminating against Palestinian-, Arab-, and Muslim-Americans travelers and denying them entry,” the CEO complained. Naturally, they would like to see free access for American jihadists into Israel, but it might not happen.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca) rejected the anti-Israel allegations: “Israel does not discriminate against Arab-Americans. There has been this effort by anti-Israel extremists to accuse Israel of that. We have a no-fly list, they have a no-enter list, and those associated with Islamic extremism tend to find their name on both.”

Sherman added: “My hope is that in conference this bill will be amended to help Israel achieve full participation in the visa waiver program…When they want to see Mickey Mouse, they should see the real one.”

Yes, that’s what we need, more Israelis in Los Angeles…

AIPAC Rejects Report of Differences with Wasserman Schultz

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said an article describing differences between the group and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was “inaccurate.”

“I wanted to forward a statement issued by AIPAC National Board Member Ike Fisher after The Huffington Post released an inaccurate article regarding AIPAC and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” said an alert sent to AIPAC activists on Friday by Mark Kleinman, AIPAC’s Southeastern director.

The alert does not say what was inaccurate about the article, which described differences with Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) over Iran sanctions policy, but adds a comment by Fisher, a South Florida resident.

“Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has a strong record of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the statement quotes Fisher as saying. “She is a good friend of Israel and a close friend of AIPAC, and we look forward to our continued work together for many years to come.”

A query to AIPAC was unanswered. Sources close to Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, confirmed that there had been an exchange of communications between AIPAC and the congresswoman leading up to the latest statement.

The Jan. 15 Huffington Post story said Wasserman Schultz, a preeminent congressional supporter of Israel, spoke against legislation calling for new Iran sanctions at a meeting of White House staff and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

AIPAC advocates new sanctions under consideration in the Senate, saying they will strengthen the U.S. hand in talks underway between the major powers and Iran aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The White House opposes the new sanctions, saying they could scuttle the talks.

The House overwhelmingly approved similar legislation last summer, before Iran agreed to join the talks; Wasserman Schultz backed that legislation.

The Washington Free Beacon, an online conservative news site, first reported differences between AIPAC and Wasserman Schultz.

The Free Beacon reported on Jan. 14 that an AIPAC official had written to Florida Jewish leaders urging them to confront Wasserman Schultz about an earlier Free Beacon report that said Wasserman Schultz was instrumental in keeping House Democrats from backing a House resolution urging the Senate to advance that resolution.

‘No Pause’ in AIPAC Iran Sanctions Campaign

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said there would be “no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts” to seek new sanctions on Iran.

The statement late Saturday came after days of reports that top pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, had agreed in a meeting with senior White House staffers to suspend for 80 days lobbying for increased sanctions on Iran.

“AIPAC continues to support congressional action to adopt legislation to further strengthen sanctions and there will absolutely be no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts,” said the statement by AIPAC President Michael Kassen.

Obama administration officials have said that passing intensified sanctions would be counterproductive while renewed negotiations are underway with Iran aimed at making its nuclear program more transparent and ensuring that Iran is not working to make a bomb.

Top officials have met with senators in recent days to ask them not to advance intensified sanctions passed over the summer by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional proponents of the sanctions, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said that sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table and should be upheld to extract meaningful concessions.

That outlook was echoed in the statement by AIPAC’s Kassen.

“AIPAC supports diplomatic efforts to achieve an end to Iran’s nuclear program,” Kassen said.

“Diplomatic talks have been made possible because of the strong sanctions passed by Congress and implemented by the administration,” he said. “Until Iran suspends its enrichment program, additional sanctions are vital for diplomacy to succeed.

White House Asks Pro-Israel Groups to Tone Down Iran Sanctions Talk

Friday, November 1st, 2013

The U.S. government is asking pro-Israel activists to reduce their public support for more sanctions on Iran just prior to another round of discussions on the issue between Iranian and world leaders. White House officials met with Jewish organizations including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, a pro-Israel official who attended the briefing said that the Obama administration does not “want the new [sanctions] to come out now.”

Additionally, the lobby group J Street said Tuesday that “moving forward with new sanctions now could severely undermine prospects for a diplomatic solution.” The statement “could have been written by the White House itself,” a source familiar with the meeting told the Washington Free Beacon .

Democrats in Congress have also drafted a bill designed to establish a panel to “review, assess, and make recommendations” regarding the prospect of increasing sanctions on Iran.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/white-house-asks-pro-israel-groups-to-tone-down-iran-sanctions-talk/2013/11/01/

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