Two days after Israel's ambassador to the US declined an invitation to attend the dovish J Street's inaugural national conference, opposition leader Tzipi Livni sent a letter to the head of the organization on Wednesday, congratulating him on the event but saying that "unfortunately, my schedule does not allow me to take part in this event."
At the same time, she wrote that Kadima would be well represented at the conference by senior members of the party - a reference to MKs Meir Sheetrit and Shlomo Molla, as well as former MK Haim Ramon, who are scheduled to attend.
"I would like to congratulate you on your inaugural national conference," Livni wrote to the group's executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, distancing herself from the cold shoulder the group has received from the government.
One senior Jewish organizational leader, explaining the government's distance from the group, said that on some issues, such as Iran sanctions, J Street had positioned itself to the left of the Obama administration.
"I believe most American Jews support Israel and want to see it thrive as a Jewish and democratic state," Livni wrote. "Like you, I believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by realizing the vision of two nation-states, living side by side in peace and security, is in the best interest of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians and the region as a whole."
Livni said "the discussion within the pro-Israel community of what best advances Israel's cause should be inclusive and broad enough to encompass a variety of views, provided it is conducted in a respectful and legitimate manner."
Along the way, Livni said, "we may not agree on everything, but I do believe that we must ensure that what unites us as Jews who are committed to Israel's future as a secure, Jewish and democratic state is far greater than what separates us."
The tone of Livni's letter stood in contrast to the statement issued by the embassy in Washington earlier this week announcing that Ambassador Michael Oren would not take part in the conference.
"In response to the question about J Street's invitation to participate in its conference, the Embassy of Israel has been privately communicating its concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel," the embassy said. "Accordingly, the embassy will send an observer to the conference and will follow its proceedings with interest."
US National Security Adviser James Jones will be the keynote speaker at the conference, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday.â€¢
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