Bibi at Aipac 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Canada and the US
late Thursday night for a visit that – unlike previous trips to Washington and
meetings with US President Barack Obama that focused on the Palestinians – is
expected this time to center on Iran.
Government sources said Netanyahu
is spending considerable time working on his speech to the annual AIPAC policy
conference Monday evening. The sources said this speech will not just be one of
platitudes, but rather a “policy speech” that will “break new ground.” Netanyahu
and his top advisors have been working on the speech for a number of days.
Outside of the brief statements he and Obama are expected to give to the press
after their meeting Monday morning – a statement the two sides are working on –
the AIPAC speech that evening will be Netanyahu’s only public comments in
Netanyahu is expected to address both Iran’s nuclear march,
and the stymied diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s speech to AIPAC was short on policy, because the next day he spoke
at a special joint session of Congress
and wanted to save policy pronouncements
for that speech.
Netanyahu is scheduled to land in Ottawa early Friday
morning and hold a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has
turned Canada into one of Israel’s staunchest supporters and closest friends in
This will be Netanyahu’s second visit to Ottawa since taking
office. The last visit was in May 2010, but was cut short by the Mavi Marmara
Netanyahu is not scheduled to leave for Washington from Ottawa
until Sunday afternoon, listening to Obama’s speech to AIPAC Sunday morning
before travelling to the US. President Shimon Peres is scheduled to address the
parley just before Obama.
According to a report in the Wall Street
, Obama is considering using his AIPAC speech to more clearly define US
policy on military action against Iran before his meeting with Netanyahu the
The report said Obama’s staff was considering the possibility
of outlining the “red lines” that Washington believes Iran should not be allowed
Other administration officials, however, believe that if Obama
does want to set out those red lines publicly, he was likely to do so in private
with the prime minister.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave Washington
Tuesday afternoon, in order to make it back to Israel Wednesday before the start
of Purim that evening.
This will be Netanyahu’s first visit to the US
without his trusted chief-of-staff Natan Eshel, forced out of office last week
for misconduct toward a female subordinate.
director over the last six months, Yoaz Hendel, will also not be joining the
trip, since he resigned last week as a result of the Eshel affair
. He will be
replaced on the visit by Lior Dan, whom Netanyahu picked to replace Hendel. Dan
served as one of Netanyahu’s spokesmen over the last six months, and has
travelled with the prime minister in the past.