US House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer 311 (R).
(photo credit: Yuri Gripas / Reuters)
The current economic crisis in the US will have no impact on US financial
assistance to Israel, US Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said Wednesday.
Hoyer, the second-highest ranked Democrat in the House of
Representatives, is leading a delegation of 26 US Democratic congressmen on a
tour of Israel and the Palestinian Authority sponsored by the American Israel
Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Hoyer said he wanted to “make it clear”
that the financial challenges confronting the US will not “have any adverse
effect on America’s determination to meet its promise to Israel in the form of
aid for its qualitative [military] superiority, or for its economic
Hoyer said he did not believe America’s financial challenges
would have “any adverse effect on the economic relationship, or assistance, that
we give to Israel.”
Hoyer said this assessment was bipartisan, and that a
similar message will be brought to Israel next week when House Majority Leader
Eric Cantor (RVirginia) will head up two Republican delegations, numbering 55
congressmen, to the country.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a
meeting he had with the delegation Wednesday, thanked Hoyer and the congressmen
for US security assistance and for supporting earlier this year – in a tough
economic climate in Washington – the allocation of $200 million for the Iron
Dome anti missile system.
Netanyahu also said that if an agreement was
reached with the Palestinians, it would entail a significant investment in
Israel’s security infrastructure, something that will necessitate additional
allocations from Congress.
Hoyer and the delegation are slated to meet PA
President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday in
At the press conference, Hoyer said he will urge Abbas “that
consistent with the understandings between the parties historically, the only
way to seek progress is through bilateral negotiations between the two
Asked whether Congress would cut off aid to the PA if it goes
through with its bid for statehood recognition at the UN, despite strong US
objections, Hoyer – saying he did not want to prejudge the issue – did say “it
will not enhance the Congress’s view of going forward with financing.”
hope that the PA changes its mind, and decides not to pursue what I believe to
be a not productive path,” he said.
Hoyer pointed out that in July the
House of Representatives passed a resolution by a vote of 407-6 stating that
“the only way to seek a viable long standing peace will be through mutual
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Hoyer said that
resolution urged the PA “not to seek unilateral recognition from the
That congressional resolution, Hoyer added, made clear that the
House “believes that seeking unilateral recognition will be contrary to the Camp
David accords, it will be contrary to the understandings the Israelis and the
Palestinians have had for a long time now: that peace was achievable, and
stability, through negotiations between the two parties, not by either party
seeking outside confirmation of its own position.
“Clearly both parties
will have to agree to a resolution, it will not be imposed either by the United
Nations, or by the United States, or by the Quartet.”
Hoyer said that
Netanyahu brought up in their discussion President Barack Obama’s call for a
return to negotiations to be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed
swaps, and said that Netanyahu believed that consistent with discussions he had
with the president on this matter, that “they were in agreement,
“The fact of the matter is that I think it was the
observation of the prime minister that President Obama has spoken a number of
times about that issue, and that after discussions he thinks they are pretty
much in agreement about what will be done in the future.
“I think it’s
clear that the president did not mean the 1967 borders [will be the final
borders], he made it clear that this was subject to additional modifications,
and I think the prime minister believed that to be the case as well.”
government source, meanwhile, said that during Netanyahu’s meeting with the
congressmen, the prime minister said he was opposed to returning to the 1967
lines, and that any agreement would have to take into account both Israel’s
security needs and the changes on the ground that have taken place since
Netanyahu also said that it needed to be clear to the Palestinians
that when a final line was agreed upon, that would end all claims, and there
would be a need to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.