Netanyahu to address US Jewish gathering in DC
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Netanyahu to address US Jewish gathering in DC

PM will speak to Federations’ General Assembly day after his first meet with Obama in a year; last DC visit ended in spat over his Iran speech to Congress

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses US Jews on the Iran nuclear deal in a live webcast, Tuesday, August 4, 2015 (screen capture)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses US Jews on the Iran nuclear deal in a live webcast, Tuesday, August 4, 2015 (screen capture)

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the largest annual gathering of North American Jewry when he comes to Washington DC in early November, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) announced Friday afternoon.

“Heading into this year’s General Assembly, we believe that there’s never been a more important time to come together as one united, Jewish community. Just as when he addressed Federations across the country this summer, we were honored when the Prime Minister accepted our invitation to speak from the plenary stage,” said JFNA Spokesperson Rebecca Dinar. “We are looking forward to hearing his message about the importance of maintaining and building upon strong relations between our two countries.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to address the JFNA’s General Assembly on November 10, a day after he is to meet with President Barack Obama for their first White House conference in about a year.

Netanyahu frequently addresses major Jewish and pro-Israel forums when he visits the US. In March, shortly before his controversial speech before both houses of Congress, the prime minister delivered a speech before attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in which he emphasized his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by members of Congress prior to addressing a joint session on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, March 03, 2015. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by members of Congress prior to addressing a joint session on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, March 03, 2015. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

That visit represented a nadir in relations between Jerusalem and Washington; the White House declined to host Netanyahu during his trip to the US capital. Administration officials were infuriated by what they saw as Netanyahu’s meddling in US affairs — and perceived insult to the executive branch — when his speech before Congress, in which he spoke out against the nuclear agreement with Iran, was not coordinated with the White House.

Since the agreement was concluded in mid-July, Netanyahu has worked to maintain communications channels with the American Jewish community. In an effort to mobilize opposition to the deal at the grassroots level, and apply pressure on members of Congress to reject the deal, Netanyahu in early August held a live webcast to North American Jewry, an event that was co-sponsored by the JFNA as well as the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Throughout the debate over the nuclear talks in Iran, Netanyahu sought to galvanize the world – and particularly the US Jewish community – in support of a skeptical stance toward the talks and Iranian intentions.

The failure of a resolution of disapproval of the Iran agreement to come before the Senate for a final vote last week was seen by many as a defeat for Netanyahu’s anti-deal advocacy in Washington, despite the fact that a majority of members of Congress did go on record as opposing the agreement.

The deal’s opponents – Netanyahu prominent among them – are now engaged in trying to advocate for toughening up the US stance toward Iran and its proxies, even as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action goes into effect.

Administrations officials have indicated that in the coming months, ties between the US and Israel will be strengthened through a renewal of talks about security aid to Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with US president Barack Obama, at the White House, Washington DC on October 01, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with US president Barack Obama, at the White House, Washington DC on October 01, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

The White House said earlier this week that during their November meeting, Netanyahu and Obama will discuss a number of regional security issues, including the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities – as well as relations with the Palestinians.

Speaking earlier Friday on a conference call organized by the Israel Policy Forum, former Obama administration official Dr. Gary Samore emphasized that the US “would like to have a discussion with Israel on our common strategy to contain Iranian influence in the region.”

Samore, who served for four years as Obama’s White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, said that the US and Israeli militaries were resuming discussions about security assistance. This reinforcement of security ties, he said, was also highlighted by the scheduled October meeting between US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

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