Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni / IMoD
The Congressional delegation and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. July 7, 2021

An official 11-member bipartisan delegation of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Congressman Gregory Meeks, is in Israel for meetings with the country’s leadership to “express solidarity with Israel and to learn firsthand about Israeli reality and regional and geopolitical issues in the Middle East.”

This is the delegation’s first bipartisan visit abroad since the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Speaking at the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Meeks stated that “we’re not here because of politics, we’re here because of values. We share the same values, and that is an unbreakable bond.”

“When I look at the most diverse administration in the history of Israel, we are living in historic times…The friendship and bond with Israel is forever,” he declared.

The delegation met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday in Jerusalem as Meeks said that the composition of the Congressional delegation, comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, “symbolizes the bipartisan support of Israel.”

Lapid emphasized that the “bipartisan support of the United States is an essential element of the national security of the State of Israel, and I thank the members of the delegation for the bipartisan support for Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls.”

The special relationship between the US and Israel is based on “a shared worldview and values. Israel has no more important ally than the United States, and the United States has no better friend than Israel.”

The delegation also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano Shata and MK Yael Ron.

They discussed the challenges of maintaining pressure on Iran while the Biden administration negotiates a nuclear agreement with Tehran, defending Israel’s south, and the return of the Israeli citizens held captive by Hamas.

They also spoke of opportunities such as expanding regional peace.

They also touched on critical areas of defense cooperation and Gantz stressed Israel’s appreciation for the US government’s ongoing commitment to Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

“This meeting reaffirmed the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States – one based on shared values and a dedication to bettering our mutual future,” the Ministry of Defense stated.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.