World Bulletin / News Desk
The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) once again finds itself in a very public standoff with the White House.
Its top priority, a Senate bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, has stalled after stiff resistance from US President Obama, and in what amounts to a tacit retreat, AIPAC has stopped pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for the bill.
Officials at the group insist it never called for an immediate vote and say the legislation may yet pass if Obama’s effort to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran fails or if Iran reneges on its interim deal with the West.
The president has raised questions about the effectiveness of AIPAC's tactics and even its role as the unchallenged voice of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
“Some of us see the object as being to target Iran,” said Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “We’re not out there to target the president; we’re out there to target Iran.”
With neither side spoiling for a fight or ready to back down, Mr. Foxman said, the sanctions campaign is stalled.
Lawmakers confirm that the political climate on Capitol Hill has changed since the bill’s sponsors and AIPAC made their push in December.
But AIPAC's headaches go beyond Iran. In September, it threw an army of lobbyists behind an effort to win a congressional mandate for Mr. Obama’s threatened military strike on Syria. Facing certain failure in Congress, the president pulled the plug on the effort.
None of this will prevent Aipac from drawing 14,000 supporters and a who’s who of speakers from the White House and Congress when it holds its annual meeting here next month. But this year’s meeting could be more complicated than the one in 2012, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel turned out to demand that Obama threaten Iran with a military strike if it produced a nuclear weapon. The president, who also spoke, promised to keep all options on the table, including military action.
AIPAC officials said that their fund-raising is at record levels and that the March meeting will be the largest in its history. The group has helped secure $3.1 billion in American aid for Israel for the fiscal year and largely framed the public debate over Iran’s nuclear program.
Founded in 1951, a few years after the state of Israel was established, Aipac says its mission is to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship,” regardless of the governments in either country.
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2014, 12:02