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article imageNetanyahu speech to U.S. Congress will be divisive

By Ken Hanly     Feb 27, 2015 in Politics
Washington - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the U.S. next week and address the US Congress. The visit was organized by the Republican controlled Congress in spite of objections from the White House.
Netanyahu has made it clear the purpose of his visit is to lobby against US diplomacy with Iran. Netanyahu claims he will do anything to stop the diplomatic process. Eytan Gilboa, an expert in US-Israel relations from Bar-Ilhan University, said that Netanyahu's actions have broken the "untouchable, bipartisan nature of the alliance".
The breach between Israel and the Obama administration is so severe that many thought that the White House would boycott the upcoming American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC conference: Describing itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby",[3] AIPAC has more than 100,000 members,[4] seventeen regional offices, and "a vast pool of donors."[5] It has been called "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel,"[6] and one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States.[5]
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting next week, US-Israeli relations are at what many are warning is a long-time low.
The Obama Administration is open with its criticism of Netanyahu, but will not be boycotting the AIPAC conference as previously speculated. Rather, they’re sending National Security Adviser Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. The choice of speakers suggests tensions could continue to rise, with Rice openly condemning Netanyahu this week for being “destructive” to US relations by making ties into a partisan issue. She addresses the issue on the appended video.However, AIPAC itself has been quite critical of Netanyahu's decision to accept an invitation to speak to Congress without the blessing of the White House. A report claims: The news struck AIPAC heads like a thunderbolt. They had not been briefed about it before or after. They didn’t know about it, and they didn’t believe such a thing could happen to them. “This is AIPAC’s Day of Atonement,” one of the heads of the organization told me in a private conversation after the invitation was publicized. “This is the lowest point we have ever reached.”
Given that AIPAC itself is critical of Netanyahu's visit, the group may actually applaud any criticism of Netanyahu that Rice makes. Netanyahu probably thinks that his visit will help him in elections slated in Israel. Earlier attempts to portray Iran as on the verge of having the capacity to produce nuclear weapons have been shown to be erroneous by the release of classified reports from Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.
Netanyahu is slated to address a joint session of Congress on March 3. Some Democrats plan to boycott the speech. Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during his visit.
More about AIPAC, Benjamin netanyahu, US Israel relations
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