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Trump, Clinton to Address 2016 AIPAC Conference

(Arutz Sheva) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference later this month, The Hill reported. AIPAC announced Trump’s participation at the conference, to take place March 20-22. Other speakers at the event will include Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has attended the conference every year in recent years, will speak this year via satellite.

Several lawmakers in addition to Ryan will speak, noted The Hill, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

Trump has come under fire as recently as last Thursday night, at the latest GOP debate, from his rival Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who has since dropped out of the race, for his position of neutrality on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump was asked if he would remain neutral even after an American West Point graduate was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jaffa this week, and replied he had to remain neutral to broker a peace deal. “I think if we’re ever going to negotiate a peace settlement … I think it would be more helpful as a negotiator, if I go in and say I’m pro-Israel, but at least have the other side know I’m somewhat neutral to them so that we can maybe get a deal done,” Trump said.

In a previous debate in Houston, Texas, Rubio accused Trump of showing an “anti-Israel” stance with the neutrality. Rubio argued that a deal given the current “makeup of the Palestinians is not possible,” and vowed to be “on Israel’s side every single day.” He went on to say a “deal with terrorism” is “not a real estate deal.”

Clinton, for her part, has said Trump “missed the mark,” with the neutrality comments, but she likewise slammed Cruz for not being “neutral” enough, claiming she would defend Israel – at the same time as she vowed to force through a two-state solution dividing the Jewish state.

‘Plan B’: Boehner Endorses Paul Ryan for President

(Breitbart) Former Speaker of the House John Boehner has endorsed current Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for president, in the event that no Republican candidate achieves a majority on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Politico reported that Boehner, speaking at a conference in Boca Raton, Florida, said: “If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.”

CNBC reported that Ryan had not ruled out accepting such a nomination.

Ryan was Mitt Romney’s choice for running mate in 2012. The pro-life fiscal conservative had led the charge to reform entitlements, and pointed out deep flaws in Obamacare during the intense debates of 2009-10.

In the aftermath of that 2012 loss, Ryan turned his attention to the task of governing rather than opposing, convinced that Republicans shared responsibility with Democrats and the president. He showed an openness to compromise on immigration and on budget issues that resulted in the erosion of some conservative support. When Boehner resigned as speaker in 2015, however, Ryan remained the only candidate capable of pulling the fractious House majority together.

Twice, Ryan has declined the opportunity to run for president on his own. But for Republicans frustrated with Trump’s success, and unwilling to accept Cruz as an alternative, Ryan is a possible Plan B.

His favorability among Republicans has dropped significantly, from two-thirds to less than half, since he became Speaker, owing partly to his inclusion in the party “establishment,” and partly to his approval of budgets that raised spending and included funding for controversial programs.

Boehner has offered a “Plan B” before, in the context of debate in late 2012 over the “fiscal cliff” as the Bush tax cuts expired. His caucus rejected the plan.

Rubio Suspends Presidential Campaign

(Arutz Sheva) Minutes after losing the primary in his home state to Donald Trump, Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday night suspended his presidential campaign. “After tonight it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio said, according to the Politico website.

With 84 percent of the votes in Florida having been counted, CNN reported that Trump overwhelmingly won the Sunshine State with 45.5 percent, and Rubio only won 27.2. Ted Cruz followed with 17 percent of the vote. In his statement announcing he was dropping out, Rubio delivered a rebuke to Trump’s heated rhetoric, saying he was proud that he did not run his own campaign by preying on Americans’ anxieties. “America’s in the middle of a real political storm,” Rubio said, according to Politico.

Rubio was reportedly advised by his associates to drop out even before the Florida vote in order to avoid embarrassment in his home state, but he chose to continue the campaign.

Obama Nominates Jewish Judge Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

(Ynetnews) US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he is nominating federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, challenging Republicans to reject a long-time jurist and former prosecutor known as a consensus builder on what is often dubbed the nation’s second-highest court.

Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. He would replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.

White House officials said Obama believes Garland has a record of bipartisan support and was best poised to serve on the court immediately. Garland was confirmed to the DC Circuit in 1997 with backing from a majority in both parties, including seven current Republican senators.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democratic leader, called Garland’s selection, “a bipartisan choice,” adding: “If the Republicans can’t support him, who can they support?”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who spoke to Obama Wednesday morning, said in brief remarks on the Senate floor that Republicans must act on the president’s choice. “He’s doing his job this morning, they should do theirs,” said the Nevada Democrat.

If confirmed, Garland would be expected to align with the more liberal members, but he is not viewed as down-the-line liberal. Particularly on criminal defense and national security cases, he’s earned a reputation as centrist, and one of the few Democratic-appointed judges Republicans might have fast-tracked to confirmation – under other circumstances.

In the current climate, Garland remains a tough sell. Republicans control the Senate, which must confirm any nominee, and GOP leaders want to leave the choice to the next president, denying Obama a chance to alter the ideological balance of the court before he leaves office next January. Republicans contend that a confirmation fight in an election year would be too politicized.

Deputy FM Reveals Secret Ties Between Israel and Indonesia

( Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed during a Knesset debate over the recent denial of Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi entry to Ramallah that Israel has unofficial secret ties with Indonesia.

According to Hotovely, Israel has had “continuous contact” with Indonesia, the Jerusalem Post reported. Marsudi was denied entry into Ramallah on Sunday to inaugurate Indonesia’s consulate.

Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim country, does not have any formal diplomatic relations with Israel. However, Indonesia recognized Palestinian statehood in 1988 and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Indonesia’s capital Jakarta last week, where he attended an Organization of Islamic States summit on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Hotovely said that while the two countries do not have formal relations, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General in the Asia-Pacific Division Mark Sofer recently visited Jakarta, where he reached an understanding with Indonesian officials that Marsudi would also meet with senior Israeli officials during his visit.

She added that that is normal protocol for all foreign dignitaries to visit both Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“It was the Foreign Minister of Indonesia’s decision to violate that understanding, and she understood that, by her action of skipping Jerusalem, she is going against the rules Israel set for official visits to the PA and Israel,” Hotovely stated.

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