PM Benjamin Netanyahu addresses AIPAC conference in Washington, Mar. 6, 2018. (MFA) (MFA)
Netanyahu AIPAC

The pro-Israel advocacy group corrected reports claiming it had sanctioned public criticism by elected officials of Israel’s annexation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC has pushed back after a media report last week said the organization told U.S.lawmakers that “it won’t push back if they criticize annexation.”

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu working to hit a July 1 deadline to start imposing Israeli sovereignty on settlements in Judea and Samaria, there is a lot of tension and misinformation as people try to fill in the missing blanks,

With the report carried by the JTA implying that AIPAC was giving a “greenlight” to members of Congress to criticize Israel, the lobby group issued a statement emphatically denying that was the case.

“AIPAC does not encourage members of Congress to criticize the government of Israel,” lobby spokesperson Adam Harris told JTA. “Our role is to strengthen the relationship between the two allies.”

There is, of course, a lot of controversy surrounding the settlements issue. However, at the same time there is consensus by not just the left-wing and right-wing, but also by the Palestinians, that some of the large settlement blocks may be annexed in a first stage.

The Israeli left-wing, such as former Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin and former Peace Now director Mossi Raz, support Israel annexing settlement blocs like Gush Etzion. Even former President Jimmy Carter, widely perceived as being hostile to any Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria, visited Gush Etzion years ago and said that “this particular settlement area is not one that I envision ever being abandoned or changed over into Palestinian territory.”

It could very well be that AIPAC is trying to agree with American leaders like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who both recently said the annexation decision is for Israel to make and that America will deal with it accordingly.

“I have said in the past that this is a decision that Israel will make. I want to understand what the new government thinks about it,” Pompeo said last month when he visited Israel. “In the end this is an Israeli decision. However, we will certainly discuss together how best to implement the peace vision that the prime minister agreed to.”

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