Paris redux: Will Israeli leaders attend AIPAC parley close to elections?

If PM's challengers – Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni or Yair Lapid – decide to attend event, Netanyahu might not rule out a short trip to counter-balance their speaking at the widely-covered conference.

January 15, 2015 05:35
1 minute read.
netanyahu aipac

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 2014 AIPAC annual conference. (photo credit: REUTERS)

It is not clear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting in Washington on March 1-3, just two weeks before the election.

Although Israeli prime ministers traditionally attend the massive pro-Israel event, coupling their appearance at the conference with a meeting with the US president, the timing of this year’s parley so close to the election makes Netanyahu’s appearance unlikely.

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Unlikely, but not impossible.

Although the two weeks before the election is a critical period in the campaign, if Netanyahu’s challengers – Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni or Yair Lapid – do decide to attend the event, Netanyahu might not rule out a short trip to counter-balance their speaking at the conference, something that would be widely covered in Israel.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office vigorously denied reports that Netanyahu, keen on not being upstaged politically, decided to go to Paris for Sunday’s massive march against terrorism and for freedom of speech only after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett decided to attend.

The AIPAC event’s organizers are going on the assumption that none of the marquee Israeli political names will attend so close to the election, but have made clear they would be welcome if they decided to come. Formal invitations are not generally extended to Israel’s top-tier ministers and politicians, who are welcome if they desire to make the trip.

It is also unclear whether President Reuven Rivlin will attend the conference that former president Shimon Peres attended on a number of occasions, being given a lifetime achievement award in 2012. If Rivlin did attend, it would be his first trip to the US since taking over as president in July.

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