Peace will only emerge when the Palestinians and the Arab world go through a “cultural mind-shift” and accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, US House Majority leader Eric Cantor said on Wednesday.

“Until that point comes, I don’t think that there will be much progress,” the Virginia Republican added during a Jerusalem press conference.

Cantor is here leading a group of 28 Republican congressmen, most of them freshmen, on a one-week tour sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

AEIF brought a delegation of 36 Democratic congressman to the country last week.

Cantor, asked to respond to Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on Tuesday that the US views all settlements as illegitimate, said that the “discussion of territory, lines, towns and settlements is predicated upon the Palestinians first agreeing” that Israel has the legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state.

Cantor, the only Jewish Republican congressman and the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress ever, said the delegation has spent “several days now looking at the biblical ties to the land that the Jewish people have here, and the Judeo-Christian tradition that is born here in this region and in this land.”

The seven-term congressman is the first cousin of Sheryl Wultz, the mother of 16-year-old Floridian Daniel Wultz who was killed in 2006 in the shwarma restaurant terrorist attack in Tel Aviv while on a family vacation.

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu risked “alienating” Cantor for buckling to Chinese pressure and barring a senior intelligence office from testifying in a case Wultz’s parents brought – at the government of Israel’s behest – against the Bank of China for allegedly funneling money from Iran to Islamic terrorists in a money-laundering scheme.

Cantor declined to answer questions on the matter at the press conference, saying he has not been involved in the details of the case.

Asked what he thought about Netanyahu’s decision to release 26 Palestinian terrorists on Tuesday evening, Cantor replied that the prime minister “made a very tough call,” and that he did not know of many other governments that “would be even expected to release terrorists with blood on their hands.”

The reception the released terrorists received in Ramallah underlined the need for a “mind shift” on the part of the Palestinians, Cantor said.

“If there is a celebration of violence, reverence pointed toward terrorists, that is not something that can fit squarely with the notion of a lasting peace,” he said.

Among other congressmen on the trip was House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

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