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March 3, 2013 2:20 pm

Thousands of Israel Supporters Descend on Washington for AIPAC Conference

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President Obama greets AIPAC supporters following his speech to the group in 2012. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

AIPAC’s 2013 Policy Conference kicked off Sunday in Washington, D.C. with an expected attendance of some 13,000 people. Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren spoke in the morning, as did former diplomats Dennis Ross and Elliot Abrams. During his speech Oren touched on several paradigmatic topics such as the two-state solution and Iran.

“We hope Abbas won’t follow through with reconciliation with Hamas,” Oren said, asserting that such a move  on the part of Palestinian Authority  President Mahmoud Abbas would compromise the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s role in the peace process Oren said that he has taken “consistent risks for peace,” including his speech at Bar Ilan College in 2009 where he recognized the principle of “two states for two nations,” and his commitment to freeze settlement building.

Oren also insisted that the US shares with Israel “the desire to reanimate the peace process,” but then corrected himself, saying that it is not a peace “process,” that  Israel wants, but peace.

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“We don’t want to start negotiations tomorrow. We want to start them today, right now, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, here in DC,” he said.

On Iran, Oren said unequivocally that “diplomacy hasn’t worked and sanctions haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program.”

Later in the day Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to speak and on Monday US Vice President Joe Biden is as well.

Check back with The Algemeiner as we cover the events live from Washington, DC.

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