- Typically, a high-level administration official represents the U.S. at AIPAC
- With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu set to make an in-person appearance - just before his country's elections - the White House may stay away
- The White House is avoiding Netanyahu during his visit to Washington as to not appear to be inappropriately endorsing his reelection campaign
The White House confirmed on Monday that President Barack Obama doesn't plan to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference next week, held annually in Washington, D.C., and that no cabinet-level U.S. official is currently scheduled to make an appearance.
The 'largest gathering of America's pro-Israel community,' according to the confab's organizations, AIPAC draws a crowd of roughly 14,000 attendees, many of whom are of Jewish heritage.
The last time Obama showed up at the conference was in 2012 as he stared down reelection. Typically, a high-level administration official represents the U.S. at the mass gathering.
But this year, supporters of Israel, a close ally of the U.S., may not receive that courtesy from the administration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to make an in-person appearance.
President Barack Obama doesn't plan to attend AIPAC's policy conference next week, his spokesman confirmed today, and admitted the White House hasn't decided whether to send a cabinet-level official at all
The president and his administration may snub the largest annual gathering of pro-Israel Americans in order to avoid Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center right, who is pictured here on Monday with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, center left. Netanyahu is up for reelection in a few weeks, and Obama is actively keep his distance until then
The president is refusing to meet with Netanyahu during his visit so that he does not appear to be endorsing the Israeli leader less than two weeks before his country heads to the polls.
Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, two previous representatives sent by the administration, have scheduled foreign travel for next week.
Biden will be in Uruguay and Guatemala, the White House has said. Kerry will also be out of the country, the State Department said last week, but wouldn't say where he will go or why.
That will keep Biden away from Washington when Netanyahu addresses Congress, as well - the original purpose of his travel to the U.S.
House Speaker John Boehner secretly invited the Israeli PM to appear before Congress this month.
After announcing the overture, Boehner, a Republican, obliged however to a request from Netanyahu to move the rare, joint session of the upper and lower chambers of the legislative branch to March 3 so that he could attend AIPAC's policy conference.
It also had the effect of putting the speech closer to Israel's election day.
The change of plans has put the White House in the awkward position of having to decide whether it will snub the conference in order to avoid an encounter with Netanyahu.
'We are still in discussions with AIPAC about what sort of administration representation they'll have at the meeting,' White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told Daily Mail Online on Monday, adding that 1600 Pennsylvania is 'still evaluating the invitation.'
The Associated Press first reported that the White House may skip this year's confab on Friday after an AIPAC official told the news agency that the administration had not yet responded to its invitation.
The administration may dispatch Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the event, though, AP said. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has also been suggested to head the administration's delegation.