Speaker Ryan Meets Netanyahu, Visits Knesset

House Speaker Paul Ryan – on his first trip abroad since assuming the House speakership in October – met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in Jerusalem on Monday.

The meeting with Netanyahu was conducted with minimal fanfare. There were no opening statements ahead of the meeting or a readout following the meeting. The Prime Minister’s office distributed to the media a photo of Netanyahu and the congressional delegation headed by Ryan with the following two sentences: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 4 April 2016), met with a bipartisan US Congressional delegation led by House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan. The delegation expressed strong support for Israel.”

Former Speaker John Boehner got a much warmer welcome when he visited Israel last year. But Netanyahu’s reluctance to be viewed as interfering in the U.S. presidential race, particularly since Ryan is being discussed as a possible consensus nominee in a contested convention, presumably produced the low-profile meeting.

Accompanying Ryan were Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mike Turner (R-OH), Greg Meeks (D-NY), Ron Kind (D-WI), Kristi Noem (R-SD), and Will Hurd (R-TX).

Ryan also visited the Knesset as a guest of Speaker Edelstein. ”I wanted to come to Israel first in order to emphasize just how committed the United States is to Israel and how important is our strong friendship,” Ryan told reporters. “Especially against the shared security threats of ISIS and Iran, this friendship is even more important than in the past. I and my fellow members of Congress are working and fighting against every appearance of BDS or any boycott on Israel. We will work shoulder to shoulder with you against all threats. This is the reason I am here, and this is the point I want to emphasize.”

In an interview with Times of Israel, the speaker said, “I would not as an Israeli be worried about the future of our relationship. I think it’s going to strengthen.”

In the interview, Ryan also insisted that he would not eventually emerge as the Republican presidential nominee. “I decided not to run for president,” he said. “I think you should run, if you’re going to be president. I think you should start in Iowa and run to the tape.”

Ryan reiterated his opposition to being nominated as a consensus candidate in an interview on the “Hugh Hewitt Radio Show” on Monday morning. “I say ‘get my name out of that.’ I’m not for this conversation,” he said. “I think you need to run for president if you’re going to be president, and I’m not running for president. So period, end of story.”

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