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Middle east

Netanyahu to speak to pro-Israel conference in US


Text by Philip CROWTHER

Latest update : 2014-03-05

America’s powerful pro-Israel lobby will hear on Tuesday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to speak to the annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington.

The organisation’s aim is to ensure bi-partisan support in Congress for the protection of the state of Israel from attack. "Two-thirds of the congress will be here, and if two-thirds of the congress are in the building, it's almost like having the State of the Union Address," AIPAC member Michael Kalmowicz told France 24.

AIPAC is by far the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US, with about 100,000 members and a $3 million lobbying budget, but other, more liberal voices include J Street, which focuses on a diplomatic solution.

Its vice-president, Alan Elsner, told FRANCE 24, "Seventy-five per cent of American Jews supported Barack Obama in 2008; almost as many in 2012. Yet when we look at the views of the community as they are expressed by the traditional organisations on Israel, that progressive voice was not being heard, it was not even being expressed.

“Our mission is to advocate and to mobilise and to organise for a two-state solution."
In talks at the White House on Monday, US President Barack Obama warned Netanyahu that Israel needed to make some tough decisions in order to find peace with the Palestinians.

Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in seven months of direct peace talks which are due to expire at the end of April, and Obama warned that decision time was at hand.

He warned that the deadline was "coming near, and some tough decisions are going to have to be made".

But Netanyahu resisted, saying "Israel has been doing its part, I regret to say the Palestinians haven't".

He claimed Israel had "uprooted entire settlements" and released hundreds of Palestinian "terrorists."

Netanyahu said the highest priority for Israel and the United States was not the peace process but preventing Iran from obtaining a military nuclear capacity.

The "greatest challenge, undoubtably, is preventing Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons," he said.

The way to do that was to prevent Iran from enriching uranium and for it to ensuring it fully dismantled its military nuclear installations, he argued.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-03-03


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