MKs throng to US to lobby for, against upcoming conference

Dozens of MKs travel across the Atlantic to promote their party's agendas for the upcoming summit.

paz pines 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
paz pines 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Knesset committee rooms may have been half-full this week, but conferences across the US were packed with Israel lawmakers attempting to advance - or discredit - the upcoming Annapolis summit. Dozens of MKs have traveled across the Atlantic in recent weeks to promote their party's agendas for the upcoming summit. In Nashville, MKs from the Kadima, Labor, Likud, Israel Beiteinu and NU-NRP parties attended the annual General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities (GA), while smaller contingencies of MKs held meetings in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles with leading members of the Jewish communities. While coalition MKs promoted an optimistic stance toward the summit, lawmakers from left-wing and right-wing parties encouraged leaders to boycott the peace talks. "Many people in the United States are interested in discussing Annapolis," said MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), who will visit Nashville, Los Angeles and San Francisco this week to discuss the summit. "I have been conveying the message that Annapolis is the beginning of a process. The summit will establish a framework that [will] set the plan in motion, but I do not think it will enter into specifics." Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines, who recently returned from the GA, said he had been promoting an entirely different agenda. "I discussed Annapolis with people and told them that it was very important that the conference take place," he said, "but that it must touch on real issues, on real details, in order to be effective." Paz- Pines said he was asked many questions about Annapolis, but could not provide Jewish leaders with a clear picture of what they could expect from the summit. "I had the impression that people were supportive of the summit but weary," he said. "At this point so much is still up in the air; it is very difficult to tell where it will all go." On Wednesday, MKs Amira Dotan (Kadima), Collette Avital (Labor) and Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) will meet with Palestinian leaders in New York to discuss expectations ahead of the summit. "We are going there to listen and to lay the groundwork for future cooperation," said Dotan. MKs from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee recently returned from a trip where they met with top US defense officials. Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, who led the delegation, said lawmakers expressed concern for how Israel would handle possible security risks before and after the summit. In recent weeks, Israeli security officials have issued warnings that Palestinian terrorist organizations may increase efforts to launch an attack in an effort to derail the summit.