Tuesday, November 30, 2021

(JNS) Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Congress members this week in Shlomi, a town in northern Israel near the Lebanese border.

The meeting occurred at the newly unveiled Rafael Defense Systems’ factory in the area.

The American delegation was led by U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It also included Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.); and Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)

“We discussed the region’s most pressing challenges, starting with Iran and its destabilizing influence. We also reiterated the unwavering bond between the U.S. and Israel,” tweeted Gantz.

Earlier this month Gantz spoke with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, concerning Iran’s nuclear program and the threat it poses, where the two “agreed to meet soon to deepen our discussion on strategic issues and military cooperation,” according to Gantz.

Meanwhile, another congressional delegation organized by J Street met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid earlier in the week.

The delegation was composed of Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.) Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Melania Stansbury (D-N.M.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). The meeting came after the liberal Israel lobby group had been shunned for years by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a tweet, Lapid thanked “them for supporting the replenishment of the Iron Dome missile-defense system, and we discussed the importance of continuing to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

According to J Street, the trip emphasizes “balance and providing equal time to Israeli and Palestinian voices, the delegation will meet with ministers in the Israeli government, Members of Knesset, and representatives of the IDF, as well as with leaders of the Palestinian Authority, and with a wide range of Israeli and Palestinian civil society leaders, issue experts and activists.”

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