Eric Cantor with PM Netanyahu 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
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.
brought a delegation of 36 Democratic congressman to the country last
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
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
Cantor declined to answer questions on the matter
at the press conference, saying he has not been involved in the details of the
Asked what he thought about Netanyahu’s decision to release 26
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
The reception the released terrorists received in Ramallah
underlined the need for a “mind shift” on the part of the Palestinians, Cantor
“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).