Yachimovich, Hanegbi to address J Street conference

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli opposition leader Shelley Yachimovich will address J Street’s annual conference.

J Street officials this week confirmed attendance at next month’s Washington conference by Yachimovich, who heads the Labor Party, as well as Tzahi Hanegbi, a stalwart of the governing Likud.

Yachimovich would be the highest ranking Israeli figure to address one of J Street’s annual conferences, although the group has met with senior Israeli officials on Israel trips. Last year, Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, headlined its conference.

J Street, which backs an aggressive U.S. peace-broker posture and opposes settlement expansion, has had a fraught relationship with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led Israel since 2009.

A focus of the conference will be Israel’s peace talks with the Palestinians, recently resumed after a hiatus of nearly three years.

Other lawmakers from leftist and central Israeli parties are slated to appear at the conference.

It is not known yet whether one of Netanyahu’s Cabinet ministers will attend or which Obama administration officials will address the J Street forum.

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