After Pro-Israel Conference, Gaps Remain Between Netanyahu and Obama

My wrap-up of reporting on the AIPAC conference and implications for war with Iran. Again, I ask, is this really something Mighty AIPAC needed to be afraid of? Oringinally appeared at Inter Press Service News

WASHINGTON, Mar 7, 2012 (IPS) – More than 10,000 U.S. citizens descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday under the direction of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading voice of the powerful Israel lobby here, to urge their congressional representatives to take a more

Mitt Romney addressed AIPAC's policy conference via satellite feed

aggressive stance towards Iran.

Their swarming of Congressional offices marked the final act of their annual three-day conference, which this year featured speeches by President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, three of the four leading Republican contenders for the White House this fall, and the top leaders of both parties in Congress.

The dominant theme of the conference was Iran’s presumed effort to develop nuclear weapons and what to do about it. The tone was heavily tilted toward actual or an increased threat of military action. This stands in stark contrast to Tuesday’s announcement that the U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany had agreed to resume talks with Iran in hopes of reaching a diplomatic resolution on the Iranian nuclear programme.

President Obama’s speech, at the conference’s opening plenary and ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu the following day, reaffirmed his administration’s policy of applying “crippling” economic sanctions on Iran and leaving the military option as a last resort.

For his part, Netanyahu, who has recently been increasingly vocal about the need for stronger action regarding Iran, tried to strike a balance between avoiding a confrontational tone with Obama similar to the one he took during his controversial trip to Washington for last year’s AIPAC conference, and holding fast to his position that sanctions and diplomacy are not succeeding in their aim to deter Iran from its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

One key area of disagreement between Netanyahu and Obama is where the critical “red line” would be drawn with Iran. Would it be at the point where Iran was about to actually acquire a nuclear weapon, or merely at it gaining the technical capability to do so, a point many analysts believe Iran has already reached.  Continue reading

Ahead Of AIPAC Conference, Israeli Pressure On US For Red Lines On Iran Picks Up Steam

This article originally appeared at LobeLog, a blog well worth following if you want up to date and incisive analysis of US foreign policy on the Mideast. 

With the annual policy convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) coming up in just a few days, many observers are expecting this to be the time when Israel pushes its hardest on the United States to take a more aggressive stance in its ongoing confrontation with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program.

With four days to go, it seems that the Israeli push is picking up steam.

Ha’aretz reports today that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to “publicly harden his line against Iran” before he meets with US President Barack Obama on March 5. This is an important piece of timing, as Obama will be speaking at the AIPAC conference on the 4th, the day before Netanyahu meets with him.

To an extent, then, Netanyahu is already making it clear to the AIPAC audience what they should be looking for in the President’s speech, as well as communicating a warning to Obama about what Netanyahu expects from him.

This is only one piece of the gathering pressure. Obama will be walking into something of a lion’s den at AIPAC, much more so than last year, when the President spent weeks after the conference dealing with the political fallout from wide, and often intentional, misinterpretations of his speech and his testy scenes with the Israeli Prime Minister. Continue reading

The Withering Away of the State(s)

In my latest piece for Souciant, I get a chance to really develop the view that the two-state solution has been killed, and what frustrated two-staters like myself, and maybe many of you, need to do to develop a new vision of a workable solution that addresses Palestinian freedom as well as the national and individual rights of all Israelis and Palestinians.