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Dovish pro-Israel members of the American Jewish community are planning to set up a pro-Israel alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby (AIPAC), the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported yesterday.

Among the figures behind the initiative are billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has not been involved with Israeli issues until now, philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Mel Levine, a former Democratic congressman and now high-powered West Coast lawyer.

Meretz chairman MK Yossi Beilin yesterday commended the establishment of the new lobby. Beilin told Haaretz that the lobby would not compete with AIPAC but portray another facet of American Jewry.

"It's important for both the administration and congress to know that AIPAC is a right- wing organization that represents only part of the Jewish community in the United States," Beilin said.

Soros' decision to take part in forming the lobby came as a surprise, as he has been considered anti-Zionist. After meeting the lobby's other founders, Soros said he would take part in its founding ceremony on October 26 in New York.

The founders have been discussing ways to persuade the Bush administration to increase its involvement in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The initiative for the lobby is spearheaded by Dr. David Elcott, executive director of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), an advocacy think tank founded to counter AIPAC's objection to the Oslo Accords.