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Obama to Address AIPAC, Rally Jewish Voters

Obama is scheduled to address AIPAC, amid heightened tensions, in an effort to garner Jewish support in upcoming elections.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/22/2012, 12:47 PM

Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu and Obama
Flash 90

President Barack Obama is expected to address the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu already has announced he will address the pro-Israel lobby.

The policy conference comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries, due to Washington’s concern that Israel may stage a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"The president welcomes this opportunity to speak about the strength of the special bonds between Israel and the United States," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

While president Obama continues to advocate for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, many Israeli officials believe an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is imperative and warn that Iran is advancing to the “point of no return,” at which an Israeli attack would no longer be feasible.

The policy conference also comes amid a crucial point in the election year as President Obama has been warding off attacks from his Republican adversaries with regard to his handling of Iran. 

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are the president's “greatest failing” and that Obama “did not do what was necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly.”

Up and coming challenger, Rick Santorum, has accused the President of acting “naively and cavalierly,” while contender Newt Gingrich has said that he supports Israel’s right to undertake “an operation designed to dramatically slow down or disrupt the Iranian nuclear system.”

Republicans have also criticized the Obama administration for cutting funds to the joint US-Israel missile defense program that would  “leave Israel vulnerable” at a time when the country faces threats on numerous fronts, as the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) stated.

Obama is expected to use the opportunity to speak to AIPAC in order to profess - before the country’s largest pro-Israel lobby - his commitment to Israel’s security, in an attempt to garner Jewish support in the upcoming elections.

The president is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House the following day. Netanyahu will be visiting the Canadian Prime Minister, a staunch friend of Israel, first.