After Meeting Trump in D.C., Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC: Follow Haaretz's Live Updates and Analyses

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President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, March 5, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, March 5, 2018, in WashingtonCredit: Evan Vucci/AP

Netanyahu meets with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a series of meetings on Capitol Hill Tuesday after his AIPAC Convention address. He met with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and the minority leader, Sen. Charles Schumer. Later he delivered a briefing to members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and met with House of Representatives Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan in addition to members of the House leadership: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. Cathy Anne McMoriss Rodgers, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. James Clyburn.

Netanyahu discussed Iran’s aggression in the region and its efforts to establish a military foothold in Syria, noting that Israel is determined to prevent this. The Iranian nuclear agreement must be fixed, he added, or canceled. (Noa Landau)

Netanyahu meets with lawmakers on Capitol HillCredit: Netanyahu meets with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

Analysis | At AIPAC, Netanyahu is 'business as usual' while corruption cases loom

WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strode onto the AIPAC stage as if he owned it, smiling widely, head held high - as if he didn’t have a care in the world, let alone multiple police investigations and a growing list of former confidants who have turned state’s evidence against him.

Everything about his performance in front of more than 10,000 AIPAC activists (on the last day of the conference— many who hadn’t known Netanyahu would give his speech that day had already scheduled their lobbying sessions on Capitol Hill) sent what seemed a carefully calibrated and fine-tuned series of messages for the Israeli audience back home.

Read Allison Kaplan Sommer's full analysis here

Analysis: Netanyahu bids AIPAC farewell with his 'Terminator' speech

Few politicians have ever spent as much time and resources studying and perfecting the art of speechmaking as Benjamin Netanyahu. Thirty-four years ago, his team at the Israeli representation to the United Nations was largely devoted to researching and writing the ambassador’s speech, trawling the Arab media for damning quotes he could use, and producing videos and props for his beloved visual aids. (Anshel Pfeffer)

Read the full story here.

FULL TEXT: Benjamin Netanyahu addresses 2018 AIPAC confab

Good morning, AIPAC!

It’s always good to be here, but as I told President Trump yesterday, it’s especially great to be in America’s capitol now that he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thank you, President Trump, for that historic decision. Thank you for announcing another decision: to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this independence day.

Read Netanyahu's full speech here.

Benjamin Netanyahu's full AIPAC speech

Netanyahu at AIPAC: Trump and I are committed to peace, but Abbas must stop paying terrorists

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently addressing more than 18,000 attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a day after holding talks with U.S. President Donald Trump on Iran and the Middle East.

Netanyahu, who was greeted alongside his wife Sara with standing ovations, saluted Trump on his stance on Iran, repeatedly saying "we must stop Iran, and we will stop Iran" to thunderous ovations from the crowd. The prime minister said that "darkness is descending on our region," adding that "Iran is building an aggressive empire." He noted that Trump has made it clear that he, too, will never accept a nuclear Iran.

"If the flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away and restore sanctions," he said. "Israel will be right there by America's side, and so will other countries in the region."

Read the full story here.

Netanyahu at AIPAC, March 6, 2018

Robert Menendez says his legal troubles are result of opposing Iran deal

Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, spoke on Tuesday before the annual AIPAC conference and hinted that his legal troubles over the last two years, including a trial he stood before a federal court and ended in mistrial, were partially a result of his position on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Menendez was one of few Democrats who opposed the nuclear deal, and he has made such an allegation a number of times in recent years, tying the accusations against him to his vote on the deal.

"I stood before a goliath and found my personal David," he told the crowd, adding that had he known "what would happen" as a result of his "support for Israel," he would have done the exact same thing.

Menendez is considered one of the Democrats most closely aligned with AIPAC. He was one of only two Democratic Senators to vote in favor of David Friedman's appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

Menendez added that he is not going to change his positions on Israel, despite the feeling that "the winds are changing" - a subtle reference to the changing attitudes towards Israel within the Democratic party.

Menendez criticized the Trump administration for not taking a tougher line towards Russia, including in the Syrian arena, saying that "it is about time" for Trump to make that it clear that Russia isn't a partner of the U.S. there.

Steve Scalise: My bond with Netanyahu is strong, just like U.S.-Israeli ties

Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana who was shot and injured in a terror attack last year, told the AIPAC conference on Tuesday about a phone call he received from Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu after the incident, stating that it was a touching gesture for him.

"Why did he call, when I'm a member of Congress and he's the Prime Minister? Because that's the nature of our relationship," he said, using the event as an example of the strength of the Israeli-American bond. Scalise said it is important to keep bi-partisan support for Israel and "show the world we can unite on this thing," meaning support for Israel.

Marco Rubio: I'm 'deeply concerned' about Israel issue on U.S. campuses

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said he is "deeply concerned" about "what's happening in many American college campuses" with regards to Israel, and warned that supporters of Israel in the United States need to be active on the issue.

He said that Israel's current support in Congress reflects efforts "of the last twenty-thirty years," and that Israel's supporters need to think twenty-thirty years ahead and be aware of the challenges Israel will be facing.

He also spoke about Iran's presence in Syria and Iraq, saying that "we need to do more work on that. Their ultimate goal is domination of the region. We need to tie those things together, they are all related."

Sen. Chris Coons: I saw 'worst security threat I can recall' during Israel visit

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who recently returned from a visit to Israel, said that what he saw during the visit was "the worst security threat" he can recall. Speaking before the AIPAC conference on Tuesday, Coons warned of Iran's growing aggression in the Middle East, and praised AIPAC for keeping bi-partisan support of Israel at this time.

"There are so few things that bring us together these days - we need to show the world that we can keep our bi-partisan support for Israel," he stated. Coons also spoke about meeting Jordan's King Abdullah, describing the "economic concerns" he heard about from the King. "He represents a moderate version of Islam, we can and do more to support Jordan," he said.

David Friedman attacks left: 'Blasphemous' to suggest Israel against peace

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told AIPAC that they run an "incredible conference" and that he's happy to be among supporters of Israel from different faiths, denominations and parties. "What an honor to address you, to share this podium with such distinguished friends of Israel," he said, mentioning both the Republican and Democratic politicians set to appear before the conference today.

He noted that this is the first time he is speaking before AIPAC since becoming ambassador to Israel, and that he is "so proud of what our administration had achieved in the last year with regards to Israel."

Friedman described the previous year as "a year of firsts," mentioning that it included the first time the White House hosted an event for Israel's Independence Day, and the first-ever visit by a sitting American president to the Western Wall.

Read full story here

After Trump meeting, Netanyahu to address AIPAC, hold talks with U.S. lawmakers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday, a day after holding talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu will address AIPAC in the afternoon before holding talks with U.S. congressmen and senators. Also speaking at AIPAC today is U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Freidman. Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, will also give a speech at the pro-Israel lobby, as well Marco Rubio, a former Republic presidential hopeful and a Florida senator. Read full story

Opinion | Why young Jews and Democrats are waving goodbye to AIPAC

The festival that is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference began on Sunday in a slightly desperate fashion.

Despite AIPAC’s recent wins around moving the Jerusalem embassy and waves of anti-BDS legislation on the federal, state, and local level, AIPAC President Mort Fridman opened the conference not with a victory cry but with a besieged appeal to the Left: "To my friends in the progressive community, I want you to know we are partners in this project...There are very real forces trying to pull you out of this hall and out of this movement and we cannot let that happen - we will not let that happen!"

Read Emily Mayer's full opinion piece

Nikki Haley wows pro-Israel lobby AIPAC: 'For me, she’s the next president'

Last year, newly minted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, wowed the crowd and was dubbed the new rock star of American Jewry.

At this year’s conference, like fans at a concert of one of their favorite bands, the 18,000 AIPAC activists were already fired up and ready to hear her greatest hits. And sure enough, a relaxed and confident Haley took the stage, leaping up for the first of what would be twelve standing ovations over the course of her 20-minute speech, in which she repeatedly praised Israel and bashed the United Nations – and painted herself as a feisty champion of the Jewish state.

If the AIPAC conference had been the GOP Iowa presidential caucuses, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence would be facing a formidable challenge if he aspired to succeed U.S. President Donald Trump. Haley would have beaten him hands down. She left both Pence and the speaker between them, Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer, in the dust. Schumer’s Yiddishisms and Pence’s Midwestern pious sincerity (marred by an embarrassing gaffe confusing “pro-life and “pro-Israel”) were no match for Haley’s southern charm.

Read the full story

Netanyahu came to Washington for a few of his favorite things. Then reality struck

It took a little while, but in the end the winds of reality finally knocked on the doors of the White House. For the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump’s “ultimate peace deal” burst into our lives, even the dealmaker from Washington sounded very skeptical about its chances.

“The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly. If they don’t, you don’t have peace,” he said, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat alongside him, grinning with visible pleasure. But the words thrown out into the room, like “peace,” “Palestinians” and “Iran,” concealed the real purpose of the event: Netanyahu had come to Washington to receive the gift-wrapped embassy in Jerusalem from his American friend and to convey that it was business as usual. (Noa Landau)

Read the full story here.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2018.Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP

Mike Pence: We'll support Israel if it's attacked by Iran

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in his address to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington late on Monday that the United States will support Israel if it is attacked by Iran.

"Dangerous provocations will not go unchecked by Israel, America, or our allies," Pence said, adding that, "Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately.” (Amir Tibon)

Read the full story here.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, March 5, 2018.Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

Chuck Schumer: Palestinians not interested in a peace deal

Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), gave a speech which repeated many of the common arguments made by Israel's government on why peace has not been achieved with the Palestinians. He blamed the Palestinians for turning down peace offers in the past and said that they are not interested in an agreement.

Schumer also called on Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act, which will lead to a sharp cut in American aid to the Palestinians, as retaliation for the Palestinian Authority's payments to convicted terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons, and their families. Schumer is considered one of the closest Democratic Senators to AIPAC, and was one of only five Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

Schumer also called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement "anti-Semitic" and promised to promote legislation against it. (Amir Tibon)

At AIPAC, Nikki Haley says she hopes to attend opening of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in May

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the crowd at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington late on Monday that she hopes to attend the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in May.

"Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel," Haley said, adding that "this was not created by the location of an embassy. America did not make Jerusalem Israel's capital. What President Trump did, to his great credit, was recognize a reality that American presidents had denied for too long." (Amir Tibon)

Read the full story here.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, March 5, 2018.Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

Netanyahu: Trump and I talked 'Iran, Iran, Iran,' we discussed Palestinians for 15 minutes

Following Prime Minister Netanyahu's meeting in Washington on Monday with U.S. President Donald Trump, the premier reportedly said that he is trying to resolve the tension in his government so it can complete its term.

When Netanyahu left for Washington over the weekend, his coalition was deadlocked over demands by his ultra-Orthodox coalition partner, United Torah Judaism, to pass a law before the 2019 state budget goes through, which would exempt Haredi yeshiva students from the draft. (Noa Landau)

Read the full story here.

AIPAC’s ‘Freedom of the Press’ Panel Is Closed to Media

WASHINGTON – The irony was impossible to ignore.

At the AIPAC Policy Conference on Sunday, attendees filed into a room to hear a panel discussion billed as discussing “Free Speech and Freedom of the Press in Israel.” But right over the session sign hung another, informing people that “this session is off the record and closed to the press.”

Read the full story here

The Free Speech and Freedom of the Press in Israel "breakout session' at AIPAC, March 4, 2018.Credit: Allison Kaplan Sommer

Trump Meets Netanyahu: 'If Palestinians Don't Return to Table, There Won't Be Peace'

WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday for their fifth meeting in the last year.

The president and his wife Melania greeted Netanyahu and his wife Sara outside the White House before the two leaders delivered joint remarks on the planned U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.

Trump said that he believes the Palestinians intend to return to the negotiating table, "and if they don't, there will be no peace."

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald and Melania Trump at the White House, March 5, 2018Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

WATCH LIVE: Netanyahu Meets Trump at the White House

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday for their fifth meeting in the last year. The two leaders are expected to speak to members of the media before their meeting in the White House.

Netanyahu and Trump are expected to discuss the U.S. ultimatum to the European powers on the Iran nuclear deal. In January, Trump announced that if the United States and the European countries failed to reach agreement on amending the deal, Washington would walk away from it.


5 issues set to dominate the Trump-Netanyahu meeting on Monday

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet for the fifth time in a year at the White House on Monday. Read on to find out what are the four key topics on their agenda and the elephant in the room they may look to discuss off-the-record...

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in preparation for his meeting with Donald Trump on March 5th, 2018.

What’s It Like Being a Left-winger at AIPAC? Not as Rare as It Used to Be

WASHINGTON – At first, the crowded ballroom didn’t look that different from the many spin-off receptions on the first evening of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference. The hors d’oeuvres were passed, the wine and cocktails flowed freely at the Renaissance Hotel. But the nature of the conversations in the crowd and the remarks at the podium pointed to the fact that this wasn’t a typical AIPAC event.

For the fourth year in a row, young staffers at the pro-Israel lobby had put together a “Peace Builders” reception, with the stated aim of “celebrating champions of coexistence and honoring the work of peace builders from Israel and the West Bank.”

Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommers writes from AIPAC about the progressive U.S. Jews who are determined to make their voices heard within the conservative lobby group, even if it means being surrounded by people cheering on VP Mike Pence.

Read the full story here

Opinion | Billy Graham Was Tarred by His Compliance With Nixon. Will Trump's Jews End Up the Same?

By pure coincidence, the funeral services for Rev. Billy Graham took place just two days before the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee began in Washington. There is a lesson in the accidental proximity of these two events, however, about the risks of insinuating oneself with the wrong kind of president.

The largely laudatory obituaries for Rev. Graham, who died Feb. 21 at age 99, refused to avert their eyes from his most prominent moral and political failure. It concerned his relationship with President Richard Nixon and it represents a cautionary tale to the Donald Trump fan base in AIPAC and the American rabbinate.

In an op-ed for Haaretz, Samuel G. Freedman writes that Billy Graham's legacy, tarnished by his eager complicity with a bigoted, criminal president, should be a cautionary tale for AIPAC— which legitimized Trump's candidacy— and for the prominent rabbis who've insinuated themselves with the current administration.

Read the full story here

Analysis | Netanyahu and Trump Are About to Lose All Use for Each Other

If somewhere in the White House archives there’s a list of all the visits of foreign leaders over the years, it’s a sure bet that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accumulated more than any of his international colleagues.

Twelve years in power, at least one visit a year – often more. He’s almost certainly also the only world leader to have been nearly banned from the White House, as then-Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Gates recommended to his boss, Brent Scowcroft, after objecting to the “glibness and criticisms of U.S. policy – not to mention [the] arrogance and outlandish ambition” of then-Deputy Foreign Minister Netanyahu in 1990.

Haaretz's Anshel Pfeffer explains why Monday’s meeting in Washington between Netanyahu and Trump is the beginning of the end of the romance between the Israeli prime minister and the U.S. president

Read the full analysis

Tell-all plea deal of Netanyahu’s Rasputin casts shadow on Trump meet

Nir Hefetz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "spin doctor" and confidant, signed a deal with the police to turn state's evidence in the bribery case involving the Bezeq telecom giant and the Walla news site.

Netanyahu, currently in the U.S. for AIPAC and a meeting with Trump, recived the news at the Blair House, where he is a guest of the White House.

Hefetz is suspected of receiving bribes and obstructing justice as part of what is called Case 4000. Hefetz is the third Netanyahu confidant to turn against the prime minister in the ongoing corruption cases.

Haaretz's Chemi Shalev says the move could force Netanyahu to search for a Hail Mary" from Trump.

Netanyahu's ace in the hole could be Trump, who could help focus the electorate on Netanyahu’s glorious achievements in cementing U.S.-Israeli relations in the post-Obama era – especially in Jerusalem – rather than on the prime minister’s questionable ethics or distorted sense of right and wrong. If the U.S. president delivers, rest assured that the time will come when he will expect Netanyahu to return the favor. Read full analysis

Republican senator Tom Cotton addresses AIPAC, calls for new legislation against Iran

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) was the first Republican senator to address the annual AIPAC conference on Monday. Cotton expressed support for Israel's positions on Iran and warned of the Islamic Republic's attempts to develop nuclear capability. He said that "the Trump administration sees Iran for what it is," and warned that Iran was "as serious a threat as North Korea." Cotton added that he doesn't believe it was possible to re-negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

He called to enact new legislation against Iran, and said that the U.S. and Israel need to work together against Iran's regional aggression.

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), first senator to address AIPAC, calls Israel a 'beacon of democracy'

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke before the AIPAC conference on Monday and praised Israel for being "a beacon of democracy in a tough region." Klobuchar was the first Senator to speak before this year's conference. She emphasized the importance of bipartisan support for Israel and said that Iran's recent drone attack on Israel was "a wake-up call" for Washington. She also said it was important to tackle anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world.

Isaac Herzog opens second day of AIPAC with speech on Israel-Diaspora relations

Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition, opened the second day of AIPAC's annual conference with a speech in which he emphasized the importance of Israel's relationship with the U.S. Jewish community. Herzog denounced the Netanyahu government for mishandling the relationship, and said that "It’s not only about what American Jews can do for Israel, but also what can Israel do for Jews in the diaspora around the world.”

Before his speech, the main screen of the conference featured a tribute to Herzog's late father, former President Chaim Herzog, including videos from his speeches at previous AIPAC conferences.

Netanyahu and Trump to meet later today

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday for what will be their fifth meeting in the last year.

The two leaders are expected to speak to members of the media before their meeting in the White House.

>> Five issues set to dominate the Trump-Netanyahu meeting <<

Netanyahu and Trump are expected to discuss the U.S. ultimatum to the European powers on the Iran nuclear deal.

The prime minister will thank Trump for his decision to accelerate the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and invite the president to attend the opening of the new embassy.

U.S. officials are expected to bring up with Netanyahu the “peace deal” that the Trump administration still hopes to put forth.

Read the full story

Settler leader blasts AIPAC for its support of two-state solution

Yossi Dagan, one of the leaders of Israel's settler movement, criticized the pro-Israel Jewish lobby AIPAC for its support of a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The letter by Dagan, who heads the Samaria Regional Council, comes hours after AIPAC's Executive Director Howard Kohr expressed support for "two states for two people, one Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian, with its own flag and its own future."

"I am astounded as to why such a great, meaningful organization as AIPAC, whose raison d'etre is pro-Israel advocacy in the United States, would present the positions of the State of Israel (and of the U.S.) so inaccurately before senior government officials, senators and congressmen, and the general pro-Israel public," Dagan wrote in the letter. Read full story

Labor head: Israel must separate from Palestinians

Avi Gabbay, head of Israel's Labor Party, said at the AIPAC's conference Sunday night that Israel must separate itself from the Palestinians.

Speaking at the annual conference for the first time since entering politics, Gabbay said Israel must create a de-militarized Palestinian state, adding that Israel will "never compromise on its security" and won't allow Iran to acquire nuclear capabilities.

Gabbay also addressed the Western Wall crisis, saying the site "belongs to all the Jewish people equally." Israel, he said, eeds to support its brothers and sisters of all Jewish denominations - Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.

Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman check in with Netanyahu

Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman checked in with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Blair House, a White House official told Haaretz. They discussed the administration's ongoing peace efforts and related matters in advance of President Trump's meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow.

Guatemalan President announces embassy will move to Jerusalem in May

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales announced on Sunday that his country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem two days after the United States does so in May. Speaking before the annual AIPAC conference, President Jimmy Morales said that "President Trump led the way," and that his "courageous decision" to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital encouraged other countries "to do what is right." He added that he is "sure many other countries will follow in our steps."

Another main speaker who appeared before the conference on Sunday night was Avi Gabbay, the head of the Labor Party, who spoke at AIPAC's conference for the first time since entering politics. Gabbay said that Israel needed to separate itself from the Palestinians by creating a de-militarized Palestinian state. He added that Israel will "never compromise on its security" and won't allow Iran to acquire nuclear capabilities.

Read full story

Israel's justice minister: Don't let Israeli left bring down government

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke to a crowd of thousands at the annual AIPAC policy conference on Sunday. Discussing politics back home, she said "The draft dispute is a fake crisis. It would be irresponsible for this "crisis" to lead to elections and overthrowing the right-wing government. We have to work with coalition partners to arrive at a compromise we can all agree with."

"The current government is good and does important thing for security, the economy, legally and in education. There is no reason to give the left the pleasure of bringing down the right-wing government," she added.

Shaked, the only woman of Netanyahu's cabinet, spoke about the security situation at Israel's northern border and made it clear that Israel won't allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria nor Hezbollah to use precise weapons.

The minister praised President Trump for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and for Ambassador Nikki Haley's support at the U.N. Shaked will participate Monday in an event with the Jewish community of New Jersey. (Jonathan Lis)

Ignore the smiles: Trump-Netanyahu get-together is a collision of bad karmas

The summit between Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu will be portrayed by their PR people as an expression of the stellar relations between Israel and the United States which, the White House is likely to say, have never been better. But it could also be described as a hubbub between two primo suspects, a rendezvous of the politically besieged, a cosmic collision of two bad karmas. (Chemi Shalev)

Read the full story here.

At AIPAC, Iron Dome makes celebrity appearance

A celebrity emerged at the AIPAC Policy Conference opening day Sunday, even before big names like Vice President Mike Pence or Ambassador Nikki Haley made their appearance - attracting curious crowds who snapped photos and vied for selfies.

An Iron Dome system at the AIPAC annual policy conference on Sunday, March 4 2018.Credit: Allison Kaplan Sommer

The star attraction was a full size state-of-the-art Iron Dome system, the tool for intercepting short-range rockets and artillery shells that was jointly developed by Israel and the U.S.

This particular system had been flown to the United States in a military plane from Israel, hauled into the Washington Convention Center and set up in the “AIPAC Village” exhibition center ahead of the conference. A representative of Raytheon said that it had actually been on U.S. soil since August, and been tested by the U.S. military before going on tour to other locations in the U.S. to be studied – including the Pentagon. At the conference, the system is flanked by a sign explaining that “more than 1500 projectiles fired from Gaza have been intercepted” by the system, “saving countless lives.”

“I’m surprised they brought it over,” said one AIPAC attendee while admiring the massive structure, and taking a picture. “You’d think that Israel needs every one of them they can get right now.” A nearby Israeli official reassured him: “Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty.”

Netanyahu to meet Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell after AIPAC speech

After addressing AIPAC Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with various U.S. politicians, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Netanyahu will also hold talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican House leader Steve Scalise and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside AIPAC

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied outside of the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on March 4, its first day. The gathering will continue through Tuesday, March 6.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the streets of Washington, D.C. outside the annual AIPAC conference on Sunday, March 4 2018.Credit: Haaretz
Pro-Palestinian protesters outside the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. on March 4 2018.Credit: Allison Kaplan-Sommer
Pro-Palestinian protesters outside the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. on March 4 2018.Credit: Allison Kaplan-Sommerr
Pro-Palestinian protesters outside the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. on March 4 2018.Credit: Allison Kaplan-Sommer

Netanyahu thanks Guatemala's president for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales Sunday for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and expressing willingness to move the Guatemalan embassy to the city.

"Thank you for everything you do, for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We hope that in the near future you will transfer your embassy to Jerusalem," Netanyahu told Morales at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C.

Prior to the meeting, various news outlets had reported that Morales would announce a date for the embassy move. Israel's ambassador to Guatemala said in December that the country will move its embassy, but only after the United States does so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in Washington, D.C., March 4, 2018.Credit: חיים צח / לע"מ

Netanyahus arrive in Washington to letter from first lady

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara were given flowers and a letter from First Lady Melania Trump upon their arrival at the Blair House, a presidential guest house in Washington DC.

She wrote: "We hope that you enjoy your stay in Blair House. We look forward to seeing you soon. Warm regards, Melania Trump."

Israeli envoy Ron Dermer speaks of Trump's Jerusalem declaration

Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer spoke Sunday at AIPAC, hailing U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 announcement in which he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a "historic" decision that the Jewish people will remember "forever." He even compared it to King Cyrus' decree allowing Jews to return to the land of Israel as told in the Bible.

The envoy also discussed Iran's dangerous armament and the effect it could have not just on Israel but on Europe and the rest of the world. "If Iran is going to continue its ballistic missile program we need to put crippling sanctions on it," Dermer said.

With Netanyahu in D.C., government in crisis as talk of snap elections grows

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins his U.S. visit, he has also been trying to smooth out mounting tensions among his coalition partners. On Sunday, concerns grew that the Knesset will be dissolved and new elections called over a proposed draft bill. The contentious bill in question would shield ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from the mandatory draft into the Israeli military, and has inspired sore disagreements between government officials that have even transcended into threats over the budget.

Read the full story

Palestinians: Netanyahu pressuring Trump to present peace plan we could never accept

The Palestinian Authority believes the White House will present its peace plan in the coming weeks, after pressure by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A senior Palestinian official who recently met with Western diplomats told Haaretz that information obtained by the Palestinians indicates that Israel is pressuring the Trump administration to publish its plan quickly. Based on what Palestinians have been able to learn about the plan so far, he added, the PA will reject it out of hand, enabling both Netanyahu and the U.S. administration to paint the Palestinians as peace rejectionists.

Full story here

AIPAC's cheering crowds can’t disguise its cop-out on settlements | Opinion

The AIPAC Policy Conference begins this Sunday, and for many on the left, including the American Jewish left, AIPAC is now the enemy.

It has embraced President Trump, in all his awfulness; adopted the policies of the reviled Benjamin Netanyahu; turned its back on the Democratic Party; and shown itself to be indifferent to the concerns of young Americans, and young Jewish Americans, who are distressed about Israel’s policies and direction.

But this is a misreading of reality, even if some of these concerns are legitimate. I have always been, and remain, an admirer of AIPAC. We need a professionally-run, big-tent, pro-Israel lobby in Washington, and AIPAC has done an impressive job of serving that function.

Read full opinion here

Forget indictments. There's only one reason AIPAC will stop standing by Bibi and Trump | Opinion

With the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington only a couple of weeks away, there may be some in Israel who think the corruption charges that threaten to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will cast a shadow over the proceedings.

Any expectation that this will cause the throng that arrives in the capital to distance themselves from him are almost certainly mistaken.

Pro-Israel activists may worry about how Netanyahu’s legal woes will shape the Jewish state’s politics in the future but, for the moment, they’ll be sticking by him for the same reasons most are still firmly in the camp of President Donald Trump: They see no viable alternatives and they don’t trust his enemies.

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Illustrative photo: Backdrop at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, March 2, 2015Credit: Bloomberg

Perfect storm bogs down Kushner as Netanyahu heads to Washington

On Monday, Jared Kushner will participate in an important meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which will focus on the peace plan he has been working to craft for the last year.

Yet instead of devoting all of his attention to that meeting, Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has been forced to deal with a "perfect storm" of negative media stories.

The pile-on began on Tuesday when Politico reported that Kushner has lost his access to "top secret" intelligence, as a result of a new policy implemented by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

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An Israeli premier hounded by corruption probes spoke at AIPAC before. It didn't get him very far

June 2008 wasn’t an easy month for Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His public approval rating was tanking, the media was uncovering new details about his corruption cases on a daily basis, and everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Israel’s attorney general moved to indict him for bribery.

Yet on June 4, Olmert received a standing ovation from thousands of people gathered at a conference center in Washington. It was probably the only place left on Earth where he could receive such a warm welcome: The annual policy conference of AIPAC, the strongest pro-Israel lobby group in the United States.

Olmert spoke for more than 30 minutes – touching on many issues that could just as easily have been included in a speech written today.

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AIPAC is coming up - here's what Israel-watchers need to look out for

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference is happening today, running Sunday through Tuesday.

AIPAC’s byword is bipartisanship and, as we reported this week, that’s a hard sell in the increasingly polarized Trump era. Still, AIPAC remains the preeminent pro-Israel lobby and its conferences have been a reliable weathervane of where U.S. Middle East policy is headed for the next six months. Here’s what to look out for.

The downfall of Crown Prince Kushner | Op-ed by Dan Shapiro

Not since the November 1, 1973 meeting between Prime Minister Golda Meir, under fire for the failures that led to the Yom Kippur War, and President Richard Nixon, already deep into the Watergate scandal, have American and Israeli leaders met at a time of such internal political turmoil in both countries.

As thousands of advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship gather in Washington for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference this week, the fraught situation in both governments raises the question of how to manage the U.S.-Israel relationship through choppy waters and bumpy roads.

There is no denying that President Trump is very friendly toward Israel. But more than good feelings are necessary to make the relationship as productive as it can be. Serious, professional work by well-organized governments makes a difference, too.

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Ahead of AIPAC, Trump meeting, Netanyahu says: Israel not heading to early elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for Washington early Sunday, where he will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House Monday. The two leaders are expected to discuss the U.S. ultimatum with European powers on the Iran nuclear deal.

Before takeoff, Netanyahu, who is mired in corruption investigations, was asked if Israel was heading to an early election due to infighting in his government over the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox into the army: "No reason for [early elections] to take place, and with good will there's no need for us to go to elections.

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