AIPAC tells US lawmakers it won’t push back if they criticize annexation

Leading pro-Israel lobby privately telling officials it’s okay to condemn planned controversial West Bank move as long as they don’t push to limit US aid to Jewish state

11 June 2020

WASHINGtON (JTA) — The leading pro-Israel lobby in the United States is telling lawmakers that they are free to criticize Israel’s looming annexation plans — just as long as the criticism stops there.

Two sources — a congressional aide and a donor — say the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is delivering that guidance in Zoom meetings and phone calls with lawmakers. The message is unusual because the group assiduously discourages public criticism of Israel.

But these are unusual times: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set a July 1 deadline to annex parts of the West Bank, over the criticism of people at home and abroad who say the move would set back any efforts to bring peace to the region.

With anxiety pervading the US Jewish community ahead of that deadline, AIPAC faces a thorny question: Does it support Israel’s leadership at all costs, or does it draw a line on actions it believes endangers the Jewish state’s future?