Biden to address AIPAC conference

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Vice President Joe Biden will address next week’s AIPAC policy conference.

Biden will speak to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on the morning of March 4, officials in the White House and with AIPAC told JTA.

His speech comes ahead of President Obama’s visit to Israel later in the month, and at a time of renewed concerns about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not attend the conference but will deliver a video message.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s outgoing defense minister, will address the conference in person, as will leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress.

Legislation to be advanced by AIPAC during the conference includes bills planned for introduction in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives that would designate Israel a “major strategic ally,” a new designation not conferred on any country. The tag would recognize Israel’s role in keeping the Middle East stable and in combating terrorism around the globe. Another bill would guarantee U.S. backing for Israel should Israel act against Iran.

AIPAC expects 13,000 activists, including 2,000 students, to attend the conference.

The three-day conference will end March 5 with a lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill.

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