President Reuven Rivlin with a delegation of Republican legislators in Jerusalem. (Mark Neyman/GPO) (Mark Neyman/GPO)
Rivlin Congressmen

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and US Republican Congressmen stressed the close bonds and strategic alliance shared by the two nations at a meeting in Jerusalem. 

President Reuven Rivlin hosted at his residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday a delegation of 37 Republican Congressmen, led by the House Majority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Both parties stressed the close bonds and strategic partnership shared by the US and Israel.

“We stand together in a partnership, established on the strong foundations of common values and a shared vision, deeply rooted in democracy, the values of liberalism, and human rights for each and every citizen,” Rivlin stated. “These are not just slogans. The shared values of democracy and equality play a vital part in daily life. For us in Israel we strive, each and every day, to achieve our goal of a state – where the historic traditions and values of the Jewish people, and the individual rights of each and every citizen of this land, are protected and safeguarded.”

The delegation was arranged by the American International Education Foundation (AIEF), which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIEF brings delegations of Democrats and Republicans to Israel every two years. This time, the focus of the visit was the nuclear accord recently signed between the Islamic Republic and the US-led P5+1 powers.

“Along with Israelis on all sides of the political spectrum, I am deeply concerned about the recent nuclear deal signed with Iran,” the Israeli head of state told the representatives. “The current Iranian regime acts with a dangerous combination of aggressiveness, fundamentalism and state sponsored terrorism, threatening – even without nuclear weapons – freedom and democracy in this region and around the world.  We fear that this agreement is a first step in the legitimization of Iran’s policies and strategies and only acts to further destabilize a chaotic region.”

Rivlin Congressmen

President Reuven Rivlin and the delegation of US Republican representatives. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Despite the looming dangers and differences of opinion between Washington and Jerusalem on the Iran deal, Israel knows that it does not stand alone, Rivlin said.

“This deal alone does not leave Israel defenseless.  As a strong, democratic country in the region, Israel can and will do all that is necessary to defend itself. In this crucial time, we know that Israel does not stand alone. Our allies – and specifically the US – are a strategic cornerstone for us. The US–Israel relationship has known ups and downs. We must not be alarmed by disagreements when they arise,” Rivlin continued.

Congress is slated to vote on the Iran deal next month, and the White House is waging a battle to win votes. “Whatever Congress decides, it will be your decision as representatives of the American people. We, as your allies and partners, must make sure that whatever the result of this vote, our strategic alliance stands and grows even stronger,” Rivlin underscored.

McCarthy introduced the delegation and thanked the president for his warm welcome. “The uniqueness of the bond between us is because of our shared values of freedom, democracy, liberty, human rights, and protecting the voice of those with whom we may disagree. The relationship between our countries is strong and firm, and nobody should doubt that,” declared the House Majority Leader.

Rivlin met the previous week with a delegation of Democratic Congressmen headed by House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel