Palestinian denial that Israel is a Jewish state, and not settlement construction, is one of the critical issues that must be addressed in order to achieve a two-state solution, visiting Democratic Congressman Alan Lowenthal said in Jerusalem on Saturday night.
He spoke at a special town meeting at the Inbal Hotel that marked the end of the week-long trip he made along with four Republican congressmen. The five legislators met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minster Moshe Ya’alon and toured Hebron and the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
“I believe in what Prime Minister Netanyahu told us the other day when we sat with him, whether it is the distortions and lies about the Temple Mount or the settlements, this [Palestinian] hatred [of Israel] goes far beyond that,” Lowenthal said.
“The historical denial about the right of Jewish people to have their own homeland” and the Palestinian “refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, that is a critical issue that needs to be addressed.”
That is one of the essential messages about this trip to Israel the California congressman said he plans to take home with him.
Rep. Mark Meadows (NC) said he also had questions about the land for peace concept.
“It’s not clear to me that the giving away of property, whether in the Sinai or Gaza, has brought peace. In many ways, it has made [the situation] more difficult,” he said.
Soldiers patrolling the streets “has become very normal for you,” Meadows said, but it is “very abnormal for us,” indicating that the purpose of the visit was to see the level of danger lived with by Israelis.
Meadows added that he believed the IDF had shown great restrains in dealing with the current wave of terrorism.
All the legislators spoke of the danger social media poses in inflaming emotions with regard to the conflict and passing on false information.
But Meadows said concern over those issues must be balanced with respect for free speech.
People who support Israel, he said, have a responsibility to do a better job on Twitter and Facebook. There are ways that modern technology helps make people more aware of the dangers facing the country, he said recalling how during the 2014 Gaza war he sat with former Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and that during their conversation, his phone went off 42 times from a Red Alert app alert notifying him of incoming missiles.
All the legislators pledged to talk about the dangers Israel faces when they return home in an attempt to dispel the false narratives that are being spread about events in the last few weeks.
Other representatives on the panel, which was moderated by Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde, were, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Raul Labrador of Idaho.
Their trip was sponsored by the non-profit organizations Yes Israel and Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.