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Bernie Sanders on Friday announced he would not attend the AIPAC annual conference in Washington DC next week, this while both Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton and Republican leading candidate Donald Trump have confirmed their appearances. In fact, a contingency of leftwing Jewish protesters have been trying to convince AIPAC to rescind its invitation to Trump — and at least some of them are probably Sanders supporters.

In a letter Sanders sent to AIPAC President Robert Cohen, he expressed his regret that he could not attend the conference, but assured him that “issues impacting Israel and the Middle East are of the utmost importance to me, to our country and to the world.”

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Sanders excused himself by saying he was busy campaigning out west and his schedule made it impossible for him to attend. “Since AIPAC has chosen not to permit candidates to address the conference remotely,” Sanders explained, “the best that I can do is to send you a copy of the remarks that I would have given if I was able to attend.”

Earlier this month, Sanders said the US should seek a “level playing field” in its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace issue. Speaking right after the Michigan Democratic primary, Sanders promised to bring together both “Israel and the Arab communities” in the pursuit of peace. “All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides together, so that hopefully we can have a level playing field, the United States treating everybody in that region equally,” Sanders said.

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