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Top US Republican and Democratic politicians visit Israel, meet with Netanyahu and other officials

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Republican U.S. Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Feb. 23, 2023 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Several groups of American politicians visited Israel this past week and met with top Israeli government officials.

Topics discussed included the recent uproar over proposed judicial reforms, the threat of Iran and Iranian-backed terrorism throughout the world, and strengthening bipartisan ties between the U.S. and Israel, according to statements released by participants.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led a group of Republican senators to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and others. Among the senators who participated in the delegation were Pete Ricketts, Markwayne Mullin, Jodi Ernst, Ted Budd, Thom Tillis and Katie Britt.

While not a part of the McConnell-led delegation, Republican Senator Tom Cotton also met with Netanyahu this week, and posted pictures of himself praying at the Western Wall.

Cotton’s meeting came shortly after his trip to Saudi Arabia, where he said he discussed the “nearly eighty years of partnership” between the United States and Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Jim Risch, a Republican senator from Idaho, also spent several days in Israel. 

Another major U.S. political figure in Israel this past week was Mike Pompeo, who served as CIA director and secretary of state during the Trump administration. Pompeo recently said he is “praying” about a potential presidential run in 2024.

During their time in Israel, McConnell, Cotton, Risch and Pompeo all attended and spoke at the Hartog Forum in Tel Aviv. The conference, hosted by the Tikvah Fund, a Jewish, politically conservative think tank, focused on issues concerning national security.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Hartog National Security Conference, with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Feb. 21, 2023. (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Warning of the Iranian threat, Netanyahu said during his speech that military strength was needed to stop Iran from its pursuit of nuclear weapons: “The only thing that has credibly stopped rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons is a credible military threat or a credible military action.”

Not only Republican politicians visited Israel this past week.

A delegation of Democratic senators had several high-level meetings in Israel, including with Netanyahu and Herzog. The Democratic delegation was headed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and included senators Peter Welch, Gary Peters, Maria Cantwell, Amy Kobuchar, Catherine Cortez Masto, Jack Reed and Ron Wyden.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with delegation of Democratic U.S. Senators led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Feb. 24, 2023 (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Herzog told Schumer and the delegation that the most significant issue in Israel was the threat of the current Iranian regime: “You are going to see here, of course, the internal and the external issues that are on our agenda, Iran being the number one. Unfortunately, a major threat to the region.”

In addition to the Democratic senators, a 15-person delegation of Democratic members of the House of Representatives arrived in Israel on Monday. The Democratic congressional delegation was organized by J Street, a left-wing Jewish non-profit organization.

A bipartisan congressional delegation also visited Israel this past week, which was sponsored by the U.S.-Israel Education Association. After the bipartisan group met with Netanyahu, his office released a statement noting “the importance of the bipartisan relationship between Israel and the U.S.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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