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Netanyahu to address AIPAC as Iran speculation intensifies

JTA

February 5, 2012 | 11:54 am

srael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a special session marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem Jan. 24. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

srael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a special session marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem Jan. 24. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will address the AIPAC policy conference as speculation grows about how the United States and Israel will tackle Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Netanyahu’s formal Twitter feed announced his decision on Sunday to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, from March 4-6.

“PM #Netanyahu to visit the #US next month and give speech at annual conference of #AIPAC,” the tweet said,

Such visits usually include meetings with the president, but there was no notice yet from either Netanyahu’s office or the White House that a meeting with President Obama would be scheduled.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of increased U.S.-led pressure on Iran to make transparent its nuclear program and speculation that Israel may strike Iran this year.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have run major articles in recent weeks saying that Israel could strike as early as April and that its refusal to give the United States advance warning is increasing tensions between the governments.

The AIPAC conference coincidentally is timed just as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is set to convene its board in Vienna for its semi-annual meeting.

U.S. officials have asked their Israeli counterparts to wait out the IAEA board meeting, suggesting that the IAEA report on Iran to be released then will likely be tough enough to spur an intensified international effort to isolate the country.

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