AIPAC affiliate takes US lawmakers to Israel to ‘reaffirm support’ for Tel Aviv
Story Code : 809265
The group, led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday and is scheduled to meet with senior Israeli officials during the one-week trip, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah and opposition leader Benny Gantz.
The lawmakers will also meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical US ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” Hoyer stated.
“Seeing the region firsthand and meeting with key Israeli and Palestinian leaders gives Members insights into a region that is vital both to our own national interests and to global security,” he added.
The group would also meet with entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, and activists.
A tour of borders with Lebanon and Syria and visiting an Iron Dome missile system is also on the agenda for the group.
Israel has long touted the multi-billion missile system as an effective shield against missiles coming from the Gaza Strip. However, the technology has proven futile against Palestinian missiles, a fact that was best displayed during the recent flare-up between the Israeli military and the Hamas resistance movement.
During the conflict Hamas overwhelmed the air defense system by firing hundreds of missiles in the space of two days, forcing Tel Aviv to ask Egypt to broker a ceasefire.
The American delegation will also visit the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem al-Quds.
The trip is organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a nonprofit organization affiliated with the AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel lobby in the US.
A delegation of Republican House members, headed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, was due to land in Israel on Friday.
The trip comes amid tensions in the US over remarks by Muslim Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who have both criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian homes. Omar has also spoken in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli regime.
The remarks have prompted strong criticism against Omar, with some American and Israeli politicians calling for an entry ban against her to the occupied territories.
Various American officials have been travelling to the region over the past weeks, trying to convince Palestinian officials to get onboard with Washington’s so-called deal of the century plan, which seeks to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by offering basic economic incentives to Palestinians in exchange for their right to statehood.