Day Two Report from AIPAC conference: Obama meets with Netanyahu, Kerry tries to reassure activists, but McCain steals the show.

Obama and Netanyahu during a meeting at the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2014. Photo by AFP

Obama and Netanyahu during a meeting at the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2014. Photo by AFP

Sec. Kerry was the keynote speaker on Day Two of the AIPAC conference in D.C.

Sec. Kerry was the keynote speaker on Day Two of the AIPAC conference in D.C.

(Washington, D.C.) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be the keynote speaker at 10am eastern at the closing session of the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference.

The speech comes after a long and intense day of meetings on Monday between President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Mr. Netanyahu.

Coverage of the White House meetings:

More analysis over the next few days.

Short version for now: in his speech to AIPAC, Kerry did his best to reassure pro-Israel activists that the President really is a friend and faithful ally to the Jewish state, but Senator John McCain stole the show earlier in the day, winning multiple, rousing, standing ovations from the largely Democrat audience by excoriating President Obama’s “feckless foreign policy.”

I’ll be live Tweeting from the conference, which is set to begin at 9:30am eastern. You can follow by going to: @JoelCRosenberg.

Here are the Tweets I sent out on Monday tracking the latest developments at the conference, and in the crisis in Ukraine:

Monday morning with Sen. McCain:

  • British Official Calls Crimea Biggest Crisis in Europe This Century (NYT)
  • Report from AIPAC conference: “Bombshell” interview by Obama may create new strains in US-Israel relationship.
  • Let’s pray that The Lord gives great wisdom to @IsraeliPM Netanyahu as he meets with the President today. (I Chronicles 12:32)
  • Despite snow storm, @aipac conf underway w/interview w/head of Israel Chamber of Commerce on US-Israel business ties.
  • Dr. Dee Dee Coleman, a  Christian leader & @aipac board member, gets standing O making passionate defense of Israel
  • McCain says Russian occupation of Crimea is “the result of a feckless foreign policy” in which people don’t believe what the President says.
  • McCain tells @aipac situation is “crying out out for American leadership but it’s MIA.” Says “no military option” but many economic options.
  • McCain sharply criticizes Obama administration’s policy towards Iran. Says he doesn’t believe diplomatic talks will succeed. @aipac
  • McCain excoriates Obama policy towards Syria. Praises @aipac for supporting military action against Assad. blasts Obama flipflop on red line
  • McCain tells @aipac it’s time to pass a bipartisan bill with even tougher sanctions on Iran before the diplomatic talks are concluded.
  • Standing ovations and roars of approval at #AIPAC14 for McCain’s call Senate legislation of further sanctions (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz)
  • Fascinating session on Israeli innovation. Right now, blind woman showing how she uses Israeli product to read, shop
  • I’m attending panel on civil war & destruction of Damascus at the @aipac conf. One speaker calls situation “abomination of the 1st order.”
  • There are 30million Kurds in Mideast (northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey & Iran), largest ethnic group in the world w/out a country
  • Russia And China ‘In Agreement’ Over Ukraine (Sky News)
  • Britain’s Cameron to address Knesset March 12 (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas threatens a turn to ‘international organizations’, preparing to walk away from peace talks in April. (Ynet)
  • Amb. Itamar Rabinovich, fmr Israeli Amb to US & fmr chief negotiator w/Syria now sharing his perspective on crisis in Syria @Aipac breakout.

Monday afternoon panel on Syrian crisis

  • Amb. Rabinovich warns “Jordan could collapse under the weight of Syrian refugees.” One million Syrians in Jordan now, having fled civil war.
  • Amb. Rabinovich: “ticking time bomb” facing Israel from Iran which backs Assad & sold 50,000+ missiles to Hezbollah aimed at Israel. @AIPAC
  • Amb. Rabinovich says Syrian “no longer a military foe” — army denuded, chemical weapons “hopefully” being removed. Still a terror threat.
  • Amb Rabinovich says President George W Bush met w/PM Sharon at WH, said “let’s take out Assad.” Sharon said no, “Assad is the devil we know”
  • Amb Rabinovich says Assad is “devil” but there is a risk in removing him — what if al Qaeda or other jihadist groups take over & seize WMD?
  • Amb Rabinovich: Israel has red lines. One is Jerusalem will not allow Syrian missiles to be transferred to Hezbollah. Hit 5 convoys. @AIPAC
  • Amb Fred Hof, fmr special rep at State Dept on Syria, says “I don’t know” how US & the world stands by & does nothing after Assad used WMD
  • Amb Rabinovich cites Colin Powell rule, “you break it, you own it,” in saying why Obama didn’t act in Syria after Assad used WMD. @aipac
  • Amb Fred Hof says many foreign officials meet w/him trying to discern the real value of a mutual defense pact w/the US. Can US be trusted?
  • After session I asked Rabinovich to clarify: does he believe Assad should be removed? He said yes. Risk of jihadists? Dealw/that then @aipac
  • Tonight is enormous reception w/Members of Congress. But w/storm how many will show? 3 Congressmen texted me they cant get to DC #aipac2014
  • PM Netanyahu arrived at the White House (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • President Vladimir V. Putin has yet to publicly address the conflict unfolding in Ukraine (NYT)
  • President Obama and PM Netanyahu speaking to reporters now in Oval Office.
  • The bell tolls for @AIPAC, the late, great pro-Israel lobbying group (Tablet magazine)
  • Tablet magazine publishes interesting article on @aipac. Says despite 14,000 attendees, group’s impact waning. True?
  • @JoelCRosenberg A common misperception.Syrian refugees are certainly straining resources and exceed 1 M but Jordan remains stable & strong. (Dana Zureikat Daoud, Jordanian Embassy)
  • .@DanaZkat @JoelCRosenberg Jordan (and Lebanon) aren’t made of elastic bands; at some point they will break – then, it will be too late. (Robert Satloff, Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • @robsatloff Every country has a breaking pt.Jordan’s strength lies in its inclusiveness & engagement w its pple & neighbors @JoelCRosenberg (Dana Zureikat Daoud, Jordanian Embassy)
  • You don’t need tanks, you need banks. They are all addicted to Putin’s cash. He thinks he can buy the West and so far he has been correct. (Gary Kasparov)
  • .@JeffreyGoldberg: “Obama was blunter about Israel’s future than I’ve ever heard him.” (Bloomberg)

Monday afternoon panel on “What To Watch For: Iran In 2014”

  • @aipac panel session about to begin on “What To Watch For: Iran In 2014” w/Rep. Ilena @RosLehtinen, Valerie Lincy & Aish Jain.
  • Rep. Ilena @RosLehtinen (R-FL) is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East & North Africa.
  • @RosLehtinen bill to create US-Israel Strategic Partnership — 1st of its kind– has 352 co-sponsors & will be voted on tomorrow. #aipac2014
  • @RosLehtinen tells @Aipac that experts @ recent hearing indicate Iran has enough enriched uranium for 4 nuclear bombs
  • @RosLehtinen tells @aipac panel that interim nuclear deal w/Iran is top secret. She has seen & read it. But the American people have not.
  • Rep @RosLehtinen says interim nuke deal with Iran is “weak, lopsided & dangerous deal.” Adds: “if it’s so good, make it public.” #aipac2014
  • @RosLehtinen says Iran has installed centrifuges 15 times faster than old versions. Says Iran could dash to Bomb in just weeks. #aipac2014
  • @RosLehtinen says “Iran is playing us for time.” Believes we will get another interim deal & never get to final deal. #aipac2014
  • @RosLehtinen says our Iran nuclear policy has “failed.” Calls for more sanctions to increase pressure on Iran. #aipac2014
  • @RosLehtinen urges public to push President & Congress to pass more sanctions soon, not ease off. biggest gift to Iran us time. #aipac2014
  • Nuclear policy expert Valerie Lincy says Iran has enough enriched uranium for 6 to 7 nuclear bombs. Has 18,000 centrifuges. #aipac2014
  • Nuclear expert Valerie Lincy: uranium Iran has enriched would run nuclear reactor for only 3 months, but could build 6-7 bombs. #aipac2014
  • Based on current production rates, it would take Iran 10 yrs to produce enough enriched uranium for 1 year, says Valerie Lincy. #aipac2014
  • Interim nuclear deal does not require Iran to dismantle a single one of its 18,000 centrifuges, notes nuke expert Valerie Lincy. #aipac2014
  • Ash Jain, Mideast policy expert, says Iran has spent $40 billion on its nuclear program & about $130 billion in lost trade & economic growth
  • Ash Jain says either 1) Iran ready to give up pursuit of Bomb if it gets right deal. 2) Iran wants Bomb & needs to avoid US or Israel strike
  • Ash Jain says Obama admin basing its policy on assumption #1, that Iran genuinely wants to give up pursuit if Bomb if it gets good deal.
  • But Ash Jain says evidence favors scenario #2, that Iran is using negotiations to buy time until it can be fully ready to build the Bomb.
  • Russia’s U.N. envoy: Ousted Ukrainian Pres. asked Russia to send troops to “establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability.” (CNN)

Monday late afternoon general session with Schumer & Kerry:

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer tells @aipac anti-Semitism rising in Europe that is driving more and more European Jews to emigrate to Israel. #aipac2014
  • Schumer notes his bill would impose more sanctions on Iran if talks w/Iran do not bear fruit in six months. #aipac2014
  • Schumer says he does not support the reduction in sanctions on Iran (done by the administration) until Tehran gives up enrichment program.
  • Schumer: if negotiations don’t work then the US “must be prepared to use all — all — means” to stop Iran from getting The Bomb. #aipac2014
  • Schumer says those who are boycotting & delegitimizing Israel without applying same approach to Syria, Iran etc are practicing anti-Semitism
  • Ukraine claims 16,000 Russian troops have been deployed in the flashpoint peninsula of Crimea since last week. #fnpolitics (Bret Baier, Fox News)
  • Congressional leaders Eric Cantor & Steny Hoyer describe bipartisan letter they sent to President to be tough on Iran
  • Secretary of State John Kerry about address 14,000 pro-Israel activists at #aipac2014 conference. What will he say? How will he be received?
  • Secretary Kerry: “Israel has strived since Isaiah’s time to be a light unto the nations.”
  • Kerry receives standing O upon arrival.
  • Secretary Kerry affirms Israel’s “right to defend itself by itself.”
  • Secretary Kerry says he can sum up President’s policy in 10 words: “We will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.” #AIPAC2014
  • Secretary Kerry: “This is not about trusting Iran. This is about testing Iran.” Adds: “If Iran fails this test, the US will not fail Israel”
  • .@JohnKerry: You don’t have to be a math genious to know that Israel is safer when Iran has zero 20% enriched uranium (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • .@JohnKerry: The US will only sign an agreement that makes sure Iran can not obtain a nuclear weapon and expands breakout time (Haaretz)
  • @JohnKerry says he is shuttling to Israel again & again for the peace process to fulfill King David’s dream “to seek peace and pursue it.”
  • @JohnKerry speaking very highly of Netanyahu. Says he has spent hours & hours & days & days with “Bibi” and they have become “good friends.”
  • @JohnKerry now speaking highly of Mahmoud Abbas, says he’s a “partner for peace.” Dismisses naysayers that doubt Abbas’ sincerity #aipac2014
  • .@JohnKerry: I believe Abbas understands the costs of failure (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • .@JohnKerry: President Abbas wants to be a partner for peace but he has a point of view about what is fair (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • “Prime Minister Netanyahu has demonstrated his courage and his commitment in the pursuit of peace with security.” –@JohnKerry (AIPAC)
  • @JohnKerry: We are at point in history that requires US, as Israel’s closest friend, do everything we can to help end this conflict. #AIPAC (State Dept)
  • @JohnKerry says Gen. John Allen is helping Israel & Palestinians develop solid security plan for the Jordan Valley. Never been done before.
  • .@JohnKerry: We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • .@JohnKerry: Israel needs peace to create more prosperity (Barak Ravid, Haaretz)
  • @JohnKerry says peace must guarantee Israel as the “Jewish homeland.” #aipac2014
  • @JohnKerry now speaking highly of Saudi-backed #ArabPeaceInitiative that will lead to peace w/20 Arab countries & total of 57 Muslim nations
  • @JohnKerry: “We know what the end game looks like.” Security guarantees. Mutual recognition. End to all claims. Jerusalem as City of Peace.
  • “We must also stand together and with a single voice reject arbitrary and unwarranted boycotts of Israel.” –@JohnKerry (AIPAC)
  • Secretary @JohnKerry ends address w/story of 1st trip to Masada. Goal seems to be sound reasonable & a true friend.
  • Sec @JohnKerry gets standing O as he leaves. But not nearly passionate, thunderous response for @SenJohnMcCain earlier today. #aipac2014
  • Day 2 main sessions are over. Tonight reception with Congressional leaders. Finale tomorrow with keynote by @IsraeliPM Netanyahu. #aipac2014


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