Dr Mike Evans

Bipartisan group of US lawmakers visits Israel

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with a bipartisan group of US senators and congressmen on Tuesday that addressed a variety of issues of mutual interest between the allied nations.

The delegation included Senators Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and representatives Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) and Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey).

One important area of discussion included the potential reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. “The issue of the consulate came up in each of our meetings,” said Coons, stressing that “it is important for the United States to continue to have an open dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.”

The US closed the consulate after moving the embassy to Jerusalem in 2018. The move under former president Donald Trump offered a strong showing of support to the city as Israel’s capital. The Trump administration also served as an important part of the development of the Abraham Accords, a historic normalization agreement between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with other nations later joining.

The Biden administration, however, has emphasized US interest in further dialogue with the Palestinian Authority. The move could be seen as strengthening support for a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, the group of American lawmakers continued to express bipartisan support for the Jewish state. “Enhancing the bipartisan — and it must be bipartisan — support for the US-Israel relationship is of paramount importance, because Israel is a beacon of democracy around the world, it’s a strategic ally, it’s an important economic partner,” Rosen said.

The legislators also stressed the need to continue to oppose growing antisemitism in the US and worldwide. “We have to be sure that whether it’s in the halls of Congress, or whether it’s in our communities, we have to educate, illuminate, and begin to talk about these issues and bring people together,” Rosen said.

The lawmakers also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz before leaving Israel. Important concerns remain for both nations related to Iran, though no public comments were made regarding Iran policy at their meeting.