April 12, 2024
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Rep. Josh Gottheimer Joins Two Congressional Missions to Israel in Two Weeks

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Dist. 5) has returned to Israel for the second time in two weeks on congressional missions showcasing the strong bipartisan support for Israel as it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

On the first mission Gottheimer was one of 11 House Democrats, including Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, who participated in Yom Hazikaron ceremonies to honor those lost in Israel’s wars. The mission also featured a visit to Yad Vashem and a wreath-laying ceremony to honor Holocaust victims.

Among the other area congressional representatives on the trip were Rep. Yvette Clarke from New York’s 9th District in Brooklyn and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York’s 5th District in Queens.

“We wanted to show our strong support for the special relationship,” said Gottheimer in a phone interview with The Jewish Link. “Israel is America’s most important ally in the Middle East.”

Gottheimer was also invited by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to return on a bipartisan mission during which McCarthy addressed the Knesset on May 1, stressing the strong bipartisan support for Israel while sharply criticizing Iran.

Gottheimer serves as co-chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, which has 58 members equally divided between Republicans and Democrats who seek cooperation on key policy issues.

On the Democratic mission Gottheimer participated in high-level meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and United States Ambassador Thomas Nides.

Gottheimer said that during that mission the group discussed economic, intelligence and security issues of mutual concern, including threats from Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, as well as the future of the Palestinian Authority and its aging leader Mahmoud Abbas and the economic crisis in neighboring Lebanon that is threatening to destabilize its government and military. Russia, Syria and China and the proposed changes to Israel’s judicial system, which triggered large protest demonstrations throughout Israel, were also on the agenda.

“Given its geographic proximity, Russia and the situation in Ukraine were topics that were discussed at length,” said Gottheimer. “We talked about overall security with Gaza and the Palestinian Authority and what it will look like tomorrow. Abbas isn’t getting any younger.”

He said the widening scope of the Abraham Accords between Israel and its Arab neighbors was also a topic between the two sides, in particular the possibility of Saudi Arabia establishing relations with Israel.

Gottheimer is a co-sponsor of a resolution encouraging the expansion and strengthening of the Accords to encourage other nations to normalize relations with Israel and ensure there are tangible security and economic benefits for all participating countries and their residents. The legislation was overwhelmingly passed by the House on April 25.

The group of Democrats also met with key officials and stakeholders at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the Knesset to discuss strengthening the bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship.

The delegation also took part in a roundtable discussion with Palestinian civil society technology and entrepreneurship leaders and met with the U.S. Embassy Marine Detachment in Jerusalem.

“Israel and the U.S. have a special relationship and regardless of any policies or politics we won’t allow any detractors to drive a wedge between the two countries,” noted Gottheimer.

By Debra Rubin

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