Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, will headline the annual J Street conference at a time of US-Israel tensions over the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group’s signature issue, the two-state solution.
J Street announces McDonough as its speaker three days before the start of the conference, which is expected to attract a record 3,000 activists, including 1,000 students.
McDonough’s appearance for the group, which is strongly critical of the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu, comes at a low point in ties between the Obama and Netanyahu governments.
Obama administration officials have sharply criticized aspects of Netanyahu’s campaign for reelection, including his repudiation of a two-state solution and his appeal to voters on election day Tuesday to head to the polls to counter the “droves of Arab voters.”
Additionally, Obama and Netanyahu have clashed over Obama’s strategy to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu opposes talks underway between Iran and the major powers, which Netanyahu says will leave Iran a nuclear threshold state.
The two-state solution will feature prominently at the conference, which will include lawmakers in the new Knesset who represent parties backing an outcome that features an Israeli and Palestinian state existing alongside one another.