(Page 2 of 2)
Washington — Iran and the upcoming Monday meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which is expected to focus on the two leader’s differences regarding future negotiations with the Islamic Republic, were on the minds of many at the J Street conference, drawing at times more interest than the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, the main issue on J Street;s agenda.
Israeli Labor Party leader Yechimovich, speaking to a packed plenary hall, used the podium to call on Netanyahu to be neither “naïve nor paranoid” when it comes to chances of reaching a diplomatic solution for the Iranian nuclear crisis.
In another first for J Street, the group showcased its improved relations with the government of Israel not only by having the opening night speech on Saturday delivered by cabinet member Tzipi Livni, but also by enlisting a leading Likud MK, Tzachi Hanegbi, to attend the conference.
According to Ben Ami, any friction that existed with the Netanyahu government in J Street’s early days has long disappeared. “We are so far past that,” he said.
Hanegbi, asked whether he felt out of place as a sole Likud member at a left-of-center conference, joked that he’s “used to arguing with leftist for 30 years.” The lawmaker, once known as a hardliner, expressed guarded support for a two-state solution and tried to minimize the importance of members of his own party who spoke out publicly against such a solution and in favor of abandoning the Oslo Accord.
On Monday, J Street will host Vice President Biden, the highest level administration official ever to take part in the dovish lobby’s conference. Biden will be coming to the event straight from his meeting with Netanyahu at the White House. Netanyahu himself, though invited, will not stop by.