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Obama and Israel

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Obama and Netanyahu to Meet During Annual AIPAC Policy Conference

March 2nd 2012

Obama and Netanyau

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual Policy Conference, being held in Washington D.C., promises to be the largest Policy Conference in AIPAC history, with more than 13,000 people participating and thousands heading to Capitol Hill on the final day of the March 4-6 conference to lobby Congress in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

According to organizers, this year’s conference comes as the global threat posed by Iran is at an all-time high. Diplomatic efforts by the United Nations, and the United States and its allies, to effectively halt a feared Iranian nuclear weaponization program Iran have been frustrated, leading to increased fears of Iranian hegemony.

According to AIPAC, “Tehran’s terrorist proxies have heightened their efforts to strike against U.S. and Israeli targets worldwide—from Washington D.C. to Thailand. And Iran’s leaders call for Israel to be wiped off the map as they pursue nuclear weapons that would pose an intolerable threat to the Jewish state.”

Headlining the conference will be President Barack Obama, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres. Also speaking are Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Congressional politicos Senator Mitch McConnell (R) and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D). Given that it is the presidential campaign season, Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will also be on hand.

On the final day of the conference, thousands of AIPAC delegates will participate in approximately 500 meetings with members of the House and Senate in order to demonstrate their support for  security assistance for Israel and increasingly stringent sanctions on Iran designed to thwart its pursuit of nuclear weapons. AIPAC activists will also be encouraging their representatives to support strengthening the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.

In a side conversation, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet on March 4 to discuss the status of the U.S./Israel alliance.  It is expected that they will discuss red-lines that Iran must not cross in its nuclear program, which the Islamic Republic claims has only peaceful aimd. Speculation mounts that Israel may even act militarily on its own in coming months. Speaking to The Atlantic magazine, President Obama appeared to seek a lessening of tensions before the meeting with the Israeli premier.  President Obama said he would give Prime Minister Netanyahu assurances that the United States "has Israel's back" and that "I don't bluff" when it comes to Iran.

The American chief executive repeated U.S. claims that "all options are on the table" but averred that U.S. military actions are also in the cards to stem Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “It includes a military component. And I think people understand that," President Obama said when asked about U.S. intentions. Prime Minister Netanyahu will visit Canada first, before flying to Washington D.C. on March 4.

Other notable conference speakers include,  U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Brad Sherman (D-CA).

Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com

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