Congressional visits to Israel during July 4th week
Sen. Lindsey Graham says one-state solution is dangerous while Rep. Ted Deutch says he won’t ‘endorse or reject’ Bahrain conference
Two senators and nine congressmen visited Israel this week, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and touring the country.
On Monday, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) met with Netanyahu. According to the prime minister’s office, the meeting included a discussion on Iran and Syria, and the importance of bipartisanship in the U.S.
The meeting came a day after Graham participated in a controversial ceremony in Jerusalem alongside U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, former Jerusalem mayor and Likud MK Nir Barkat as well as Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu. Graham was present when Friedman used a sledgehammer to break open a recently excavated tunnel underneath the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
On Tuesday, Graham gave a press conference in Jerusalem where he said he believes a two-state solution is the ideal outcome in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I will not invest a dime in a one state solution,” he said. “It is folly. It is dangerous… the goal is to find an acceptable two-state solution.”
Before his meeting with Graham and Van Hollen, Netanyahu met with the nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation led by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).
Alongside Deutch were Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico), Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Darren Soto (D-FL).
Both Deutch and Bilirakis addressed the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Monday, and stressed the need for bipartisanship.
“We are all here, Democrats and Republicans, and we believe that the historic U.S.-Israel relationship is important, it’s vital, and we strive to make it even stronger,” said Deutch. He said that the majority of Americans in both parties support Israel, and “our support is not a hollow gesture of goodwill. The US is stronger and safer when Israel is stronger and safer.”
Without naming any specific congressmen, Deutch referenced “the voices of a small minority” in Congress who he said will not prevent the support of Israel. Turning to the recent U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain, Deutch said he was not going to “endorse or reject the administration’s efforts to find a resolution that works for all parties,” but declared that he still believes in direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinians to reach a two-state solution.
Graham, Deutch and the other congressmen attended the U.S. embassy’s Independence Day Party on Tuesday evening, held for the first time in Jerusalem.