Will the White House Boycott a High-Profile Pro-Israel Event?

There is speculation as to whether the White House is boycotting this year’s AIPAC conference and, if so, the implications of this decision.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) with US President Barack Obama at the White House in October 2014. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO)

PM Benjamin Netanyahu (L) with US President Obama at the White House in October 2014. (Photo: Avi Ohayon/Flash90)

News sources are reporting that US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry will not be attending this year’s annual AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference. Senior US officials have traditionally attended and addressed the event.

Analysts say that the Obama Administration made the decision not to attend in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a special Congress session on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat scheduled for next month – a speech vigorously opposed by the White House. Another reason seems to be AIPAC’s support for the Israeli leader on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat. AIPAC had joined Netanyahu in encouraging US lawmakers to sign a Congressional bill imposing further sanctions on Iran, to which Obama is strongly opposed. Indeed, he has threatened to veto any new sanctions.

Netanyahu will attend the AIPAC conference, which takes place March 1-3.

The media has been abuzz with reports on what seems to be the latest breach in the Washington-Jerusalem ties. However, an AIPAC official told the Jerusalem Post: “It is not unusual for neither the president, nor vice president nor secretary of state to attend – presidents usually only attend as candidates. During the [George W.] Bush years, for instance, the [White House] chief of staff and national security adviser spoke.”

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“We often do not hear who the administration representative will be until right before the conference,” the official added.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Kerry will be out of town during the week of the AIPAC event. Biden also claimed that he will also be abroad at the time.

The White House has not stated that it was boycotting the conference and may send a lower-level official to address the event.

Arutz 7 quotes an Israeli official involved in the conference who on Saturday night denied that the White House was snubbing the AIPAC event, saying, “News of boycotts against the conference are being heard mainly in Israel and so far we are not aware of any sanction.”

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News