The Obama White House is sending National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy convention, it was announced Thursday.
The announcement followed by just two days an attempt by Rice to delegitimize the upcoming address by Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at next week’s special joint session of Congress.
Rice told a news briefing on Tuesday that the prime minister’s acceptance of the Speaker’s invitation to address Congress on March 3 is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between Israel and the United States.
“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship,” Rice said.
House Speaker John Boehner, who extended the invitation personally a number of months ago, disagreed and in a briefing on Thursday with news media said bluntly, “What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran. That’s destructive.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu will also appear at the annual gathering, which begins Sunday, along with other top-line leaders.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest commented as he released the announcement that the choice of administration representatives to the convention was “consistent with the kind of administration participation we’ve seen in previous AIPAC conferences.
“If it is perceived by some as an effort to demonstrate bipartisan support for the relations of the United States and Israel, that would be great. That’s the kind of investment that has characterized this administration’s management of this relationship.
“Unfortunately,” he said in what appeared to be another clear attempt to add more fuel to the flames, “that’s not how everyone has invested in this relationship the past couple of weeks.”
More than 16,000 activists are expected to attend the event – the largest number in the history of the organization – along with two thirds of the members of the House of Representatives and more than half of the Senate, at some point during the proceedings.
Among those scheduled to speak are House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).