House Members Dispute Abdullah’s Assertion Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ‘Core’ Regional Issue

WASHINGTON – At Wednesday’s press conference with President Donald Trump, Jordan’s King Abdullah asserted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “essentially the core conflict in our region.” The Jordanian monarch has repeated this claim numerous times including in a 2014 CBS News interview where he argued that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian tensions were fueling extremism across the region.

However, with this week’s chemical attacks during the ongoing Syrian war in addition to the spread of violence in Iraq, several Members of Congress questioned King Abdullah’s statement.

“I have a hard time seeing that. When you talk about some Islamic terrorists like ISIS, they could care less,” Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) told Jewish Insider. “They want to wipe Israel off, of course, just because the Palestinians worked it out with the Israelis doesn’t mean that ISIS is going to give up and go home.”

On the opposite side of the aisle, Rep. James McNerney (D-CA) also seemed skeptical that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the Middle East’s “core” issue. The California lawmaker told Jewish Insider, “Obviously there are bigger issues too: the Shia and the Sunni divide and the de-stabilization of the area by ISIS. Ranking it as the top issue, no. Clearly, in my opinion it is not.”

McNerney’s Democratic colleague, however, agreed with King Abdullah. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) noted that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “core and fundamental” while adding that resolving the decades-long dispute is “essential for peace in the Middle East.”

Despite Gutierrez’s strong convictions, his views on King Abdullah’s statement appeared to be in the minority of the House. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told Jewish Insider,  “Iran has sort of taken over the rest of the region… The Palestinian issue needs to be resolved for sure but I don’t think it is the most volatile right now.”

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