PM Netanyahu met with a bipartisan US Congress delegation.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Amid concerns that Israel is increasingly becoming a partisan political issue in the US, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the second day in a row on Tuesday with a bipartisan congressional delegation and stressed that support for a strong Israel-US relationship crosses party lines.
“The support and the alliance with the United States is a foundation of our national security,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting in Jerusalem with the delegation, made up primarily of members of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“It’s a bipartisan position,” he added. “It’s also bipartisan here. I think there’s complete unanimity about the importance of the relationship with the United States.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the head of the committee, led the delegation, which arrived in Israel from a visit to Iraq.
McCaul also stressed the bipartisan nature of the relationship, saying on behalf of the delegation, “We don’t stand as Democrat, Republican; We stand as Americans in support of Israel, our strongest ally and friend in the region – a democracy, a true beacon of hope in the region.”
The other members of the delegation were Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Vern Buchanan (R-Florida), Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts), John Katko (R-New York), William Hurd (R-Texas), Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia), and Kathleen Rice (D-New York).
Another bipartisan delegation, which included Karen Bass, a California Democrat who skipped Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March, met Tuesday with President Reuven Rivlin. This delegation met Netanyahu the day before.
Rivlin discussed with the six-member group Israel’s latest political crisis, voicing his expectation that if Netanyahu succeeded in forming a coalition government, the prime minister would find a way to expand it at a later stage, indicating that the problem was one that would be overcome.
“In Israel, we say the situation is hopeless but not serious,” Rivlin quipped.
Regarding the US-Israel ties, Rivlin said, “We look on the United States as our friend despite differences of opinion between us and the US administration and Congress because we have to accept that there can be differences among friends.”
The head of the delegation, Alcee Hastings (D-Florida), told Rivlin he was delighted to be in Israel with a bipartisan delegation that proved the strength of the relationship between the US and Israel despite disagreements on policy.
Emphasizing the bond between the countries, Hastings said: “You are our strongest ally,” and assured Rivlin that Israel would always have America’s bipartisan support.