Sa vedem daca le merge.
AIPAC set to push Iran legislation at major conference
Some 6,500 American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists attending the organization's annual conference will be hitting Capitol Hill next week to stress the importance of the US-Israel relationship and push legislation imposing sanctions on Iran.
But the conference, which begins on Sunday, comes as the Obama administration is staking out different ground from Israel on Iran and the peace process - a divergence some Jewish activists critical of AIPAC have seized on. The climate poses challenges as AIPAC tries to push its lobbying agenda.
The White House on Wednesday rebuffed Israeli calls for the US to put a time limit on its engagement with Iran and to act speedily as Teheran makes progress mastering nuclear capabilities. National Security Council spokesman
Mike Hammer said "it's not appropriate at this time to be trying to establish timetables but rather seeing how the engagement can move forward"
and that "we are in a process that we expect will take some time."
And when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to an interview published in The Washington Post Thursday, National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones thinks the US should propose its own ideas - a proposition many Israelis are uncomfortable with. Jones is quoted as saying, "If we want to get momentum, we have to be involved directly."
At the same time, the progressive J Street lobby is opposing the Iran legislation AIPAC is championing, coming out strongly in favor of the Obama administration's approach of engagement on Israel and Iran and calling on its supporters to contact members of Congress to make that point.
The new Iran sanctions bills would increase the president's ability to punish international companies that help Iran obtain refined petroleum. It was introduced Tuesday in the Senate by sponsors Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), John Kyl (R-Arizona) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), with similar companion legislation submitted by the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman (D-California) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), late Thursday.
"AIPAC strongly supports congressional measures to create the leverage we need for constructive diplomatic engagement to have a chance to work. If
Iran doesn't act rapidly to suspend its enrichment and other illicit nuclear work, the US and our allies must be prepared to induce Iranian compliance by targeting Iran's economic and structural vulnerabilities," said AIPAC spokesman Josh Block. "This bill gives President Obama the tools to do just that."
But the legislation, while having significant bipartisan support that bodes well for its eventual passage, is being held up from the get-go by Berman himself, who noted in a press release that "I have no intention of moving this bill though the legislative process in the near future."