Bibi & Barack Meetings Set
The White House confirmed a March 3 meeting between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be in town to address the Annual AIPAC Policy Conference. Iran will be at the top of the prime minister's agenda but the President will also want to focus on the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and bitter personal attacks on Secretary of State John Kerry by some leading Israeli political figures.
A major difference between the two sides in the negotiations is Palestinian rejection of Netanyahu's insistence that they recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Obama has come down emphatically and repeatedly on Israel's side on this issue.
Netanyahu will also be meeting Members of Congress before heading off to Silicon Valley to see hi-tech leaders, promote tourism and speak to Jewish community groups.
AIPAC's Plan B For Iran
Facing a humiliating defeat in its campaign to scuttle the Iran nuclear talks, AIPAC is shifting to Plan B: make sure whatever comes out of those talks won’t survive.
The decision to drop its campaign to force a Senate vote on new sanctions legislation opposed by the White House was prompted if not directed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to a key sponsor. The prime minister didn’t want to come to Washington next month to address the annual AIPAC Policy Conference and not be invited to an Oval Office meeting. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), a prime backer of the now-shelved bill, reluctantly backed down after “consultations on both sides of the ocean,” an apparent reference to his friend the prime minister.
The White House invitation was announced on Wednesday. Netanyahu's last White House visit was in September 2013.
AIPAC should provide a clearer picture of Plan B and its next moves when some 14,000 activists are expected to gather at the Washington Convention Center for the three-day Policy Conference. On the final day, they'll get a stem-winder of a sendoff from Netanyahu before heading to Capitol Hill for their annual lobbying day. You can count on the top three issues being Iran, Iran and Iran.
Read the rest of the story in my Washington Watch column.