U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, quarterbacked a Congressional delegation, along with Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), to Israel. The delegation met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein to discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership, regional stability, threats from Iran, Syria and Egypt, as well as the ongoing peace negotiations.
“It was a great privilege and honor to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres to discuss threats facing both of our nations as well as identifying new ways to strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“We must continue to work together to prevent Iran from achieving full nuclear breakout capacity because the Iranian regime continues to be an existential threat to the democratic Jewish State of Israel. In addition, the Iran-Syria nexus must be
dismantled in order keep Israel safe and secure regional stability to prevent the Middle East from becoming more violent due to extremism,” she said.
The delegation, which consisted of city, county and state officials from eight different states, also met with the Israeli Cyber Bureau and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, received an aerial tour of the country from members of the Israel Defense Forces and visited an Iron Dome missile battery site to analyze and discuss the defensive capabilities of Israel to safeguard her citizens from Hamas short range rockets.
The group also met with Ambassador-designate Ron Dermer, human rights advocate Natan Sharansky, U.S. diplomats, and U.S. foreign service personnel. Ros-Lehtinen and Frelinghuysen also visited the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, which services both Palestinians and Israelis with state of the art medical care.
Ros-Lehtinen said that it was crucial to dialogue with entities in the Israeli government that are serving on the front lines every day.
“Visiting Iron Dome, speaking with IDF personnel and meeting with Israeli security officials reaffirms that we must continue to work closely with our ally — the people of Israel — to improve and protect our national security interests and to prevent the majority of air strikes coming from extremists in Gaza from hurting innocent civilians,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
”When Israel is strong, America is strong and that is why it is important for the U.S. to help Israel sustain its qualitative military edge. The position of the United States should be to counter all threats by strengthening our cooperation efforts with strong allies to protect our national security interests in the region.”