Retired General Benny Gantz, who is heading the "Blue and White" party in the Israeli election and who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main political opponent, confirmed today that he will speak at the AIPAC annual conference in Washington on March 25th.
Why it matters: Netanyahu is also scheduled to speak at the conference on March 26th. The fact the two main contenders will speak there is going to turn the AIPAC conference into the main battleground of the Israeli elections for at least three days - two weeks before election day.
The backstory: Netanyahu confirmed his attendance a long time ago. His speech at AIPAC was planned as one of the main points of the election campaign, together with a meeting with President Trump.
- Once Gantz formed his new party and became a credible political opponent to Netanyahu and started leading in the polls, he was invited by AIPAC.
- Gantz hesitated if he should go or not to a conference which is usually Netanyahu's home turf.
- Gantz's aides negotiated with AIPAC the terms of his participation and conformed he will speak at the conference only after they were assured by AIPAC that they will get the same format and terms as Netanyahu.
What they're saying: Gantz issued a statement today and said he will make clear in his AIPAC speech that after he wins the elections "Israel will once again receive [bipartisan] support in America and the fight Netanyahu is waging against the U.S. Jewish community will end."