In what settlers hold is a historic first and a sign of the settlement movement’s growing acceptance among US Jewry, AIPAC has invited a representative of the YESHA Council to speak at its annual foreign policy forum in Washington DC later this month.
The bi-partisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee is flying YESHA Council foreign envoy and Efrat Council head Oded Revivi to Washington to participate in a side panel at the conference called “Catch 67: The Left, The Right, and the Legacy of the 6-Day War.”
AIPAC downplayed Revivi’s invitation, explaining that “at every policy conference, we have scores of speakers from across the political spectrum – including those with diverse views on settlements – and this year is no different.”
Revivi told The Jerusalem Post he believed this was the first time that AIPAC, which often flies politicians, policy experts and social activists from Israel to its Washington conference, had formally invited a representative of the YESHA Council to speak.
The YESHA council is the political arm of the settlement movement and represents the more than 400,000 Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria.
Revivi is the one of the more well-known international faces of the council.
“AIPAC has finally realized that they cannot ignore half-a-million people living in Judea and Samaria, who are becoming more and more attractive to the audience of AIPAC,” Revivi said.
He has already spoken twice at the highly influential Saban Forum.
Over the last years the YESHA Council has worked hard to make inroads in Washington, a move that has been helped by the Trump Administration’s more tolerant attitude toward West Bank settlements.
Last year both the YESHA Council and Revivi were in Washington at the time of the conference. They held or spoke at side events near AIPAC, but were not formally part of the conference.
Over the last years YESHA has hosted many US delegations in Judea and Samaria, including AIPAC led congressional trips, as well as delegations from JStreet and American Friends of Peace Now, Revivi said.
“We’re trying to address as many delegations as possible regardless of who they are, through the understanding that we cannot just preach to the choir,” Revivi said.
He believes that the success of some of the AIPAC delegations that visited Judea and Samaria helped sway the US group to bring him to Washington.
It has been almost 52 years since the Six-Day War in 1967, Revivi said. Endless negotiations have led nowhere, but in the meantime, half-a-million Jews are living with Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, working in the same factories and shopping in the same supermarkets, he said, adding that people want to know about that reality.