As many as nine Democratic presidential candidates announced that they will not attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington tomorrow.
The decision comes after MoveOn, a progressive advocacy movement asked Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year’s conference. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said the group posted a poll on Twitter “showing that 74 percent of them [its members] want candidates to skip the annual AIPAC conference”.
The candidates are Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former US representative Beto O’Rourke, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Senator Kamala Harris of California as well as former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, who is also considering running independently for president.
The paper quoted an AIPAC official as saying that the Democratic presidential candidates’ decision will have little impact because the committee only allows US presidential candidates to address the conference during the election year.
AIPAC is the largest US lobby for Israel with an estimated 18,000 participants in this year’s conference.
This year’s most prominent speakers include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival in this year’s elections, Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) party leader, Benny Gantz; US Vice President Mike Pence; and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Polls in the United States have in recent years shown a clear decline in Democrats’ support for Israel especially among the young.
A poll conducted by the Gallup Institute in early March found that Americans’ support for Israel has reached its lowest level in a decade while support for the Palestinians has reached the highest level in two decades.