- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2001

When the conflict on the ground in Israel intensifies, so does the legislative offensive for Israels lobby in Washington.
Since the outbreak of the intifada nearly eight months ago, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has steadily pushed Congress to reassess its relationship with the Palestinian Authority and defend the Jewish states increasingly tough stance in the low-intensity war.
A quick glance at AIPACs legislative agenda since the start of the intifada, or uprising, reveals a pattern of advocating gloves-off legislation, according to more than 50 pages of original documentation obtained by UPI.
Since Sept. 28, the group has advocated the renewal of secondary sanctions against foreign companies that do business with Iran and Libya, granting the president the authority to deny Palestinian Authority members U.S. visas, and even the cutoff of U.S. military training for Lebanon.
A set of talking points for lobbyists handed out Monday at AIPACs executive committee meeting defends Israels use of American-made F-16 fighter jets on Friday as a preferable option to Israel Defense Forces "initiating comparable actions on the ground in Palestinian areas."
It goes on to warn, "While F-16s are not likely to be used routinely, this first employment of the fighters certainly may not be the last if Palestinian terror attacks continue."
Israel used the F-16s in response to a suicide bombing in Netanya that killed five Israelis and injured hundreds more.
The Israeli strike was viewed as so serious in the region that the Arab League issued a call for its 22 members to cut off all political contacts with Israel until violence decreased.
While Cairo and Amman, Jordan, quickly reassured Israel it would continue its efforts to forge a political settlement to the conflict, the use of the fighter has placed Israels lobby in a tough position.
AIPAC has the unenviable task of convincing a Republican Congress to pick sides in the intifada after years of lobbying in favor of the Oslo Peace Accords, the tattered blueprint for a final solution to the conflict.
The problem is that the Republican administration, in particular the State Department, has taken a decidedly neutral stance in the simmering war between Ramallah and Jerusalem.


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