NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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More than 1,200 AIPAC members from across the United States, including 200 students, attended AIPAC National Summit in South Florida.
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AIPAC National Summit attendees interact with each other in between breakout sessions. During the two-day conference, delegates heard from top lawmakers and opinion leaders.

AIPAC Holds National Summit in South Florida

More than 1,200 AIPAC members from across the United States, including 200 students, gathered in South Florida on October 24-25, for the 2010 AIPAC National Summit on Foreign Policy and Politics. The National Summit, which was open to AIPAC Capitol Club members and above, featured American and international leaders, members of Congress, political analysts and Middle East experts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Summit live via satellite. “The people of Israel will never give up on peace,” Netanyahu said. “We know what peace with the Palestinians would mean for our future and for our children’s future.”

Netanyahu continued, “We know that it would lay a solid foundation for a broader peace with the entire Arab world. We know it would unleash unlimited possibilities for all the peoples in the region. That is why, despite the obstacles and the setbacks, my government will continue to pursue peace. With a willingness on the Palestinian side to forge an historic compromise and with the indispensable support of the United States, I believe that peace can be achieved.”

The next morning, the former president of Spain and founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative, José María Aznar, spoke to Summit delegates. His new organization is comprised of world leaders working to ensure that Israel’s legitimacy is no longer questioned.

Aznar explained that his group would take a pro-active approach. “We don’t wish to become a kind of rapid-response corps that must intervene every time a crisis afflicts Israel.” he said. “We’re not firefighters.” (Watch a video of Aznar’s full speech in this edition of Near East Report.)

The National Summit welcomed members of Congress and honored them for their support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. In attendance were Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) and Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ron Klein (D-FL), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Adam Putnam (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

Since the Summit was held just days before the 2010 midterm elections, conference delegates also heard from all three Florida candidates for the U.S. Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist (I), Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) and Marco Rubio (R). (Earlier this month, Rubio won the election.)

The Summit concluded with a political panel featuring CNN’s Paul Begala, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, Republican pollster Glen Bolger and Democratic pollster Mark Penn.

Next year’s AIPAC National Summit on Foreign Policy and Politics will be held October 30-31, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is only available to AIPAC members who contribute a minimum of $3,600 annually. Register today to reserve your spot at the 2011 AIPAC National Summit.
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