Congressman Cohen Meets With Top Israeli Officials

August 16, 2007
Press Release

Washington, DC -- Today a U.S. Congressional Delegation in Israel, including Congressman John Tanner (TN-08) and Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), met with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

The Delegation also met with the parents of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Israeli army reservists abducted near the Lebanese border last year by Hezbelloh.

In a telephone call back to his Washington office, Congressman Cohen stated, “Despite what we often hear and fear in the U.S., the Israelis have hope for a long-term two-state resolution with Palestine.  Efforts are being made toward lasting peace. Of course, the violent coup by Hamas in the Gaza strip in June has heightened the fear of Gaza becoming a home and training ground for terrorists, with the threats all too real for the Middle East and around the world.  The security border constructed by Israel to decrease suicide bombings is having a positive effect.” 

Cohen continued, “As our Delegation looked over the Golan Heights in Syria this morning and over to where the battles were in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War, it is clear that the U.S. must be diligent in the Middle East.  The dangers that terrorists pose here on a daily basis, as well as the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, are ever present.”

The Delegation’s busy itinerary has been educational for members of Congress, from first year freshmen to more established members.  The opportunities to speak directly to high-ranking officials whose decisions impact Middle East and world politics have been appreciated by the Delegation. 

Congressman John Tanner stated, “We have had great opportunities to talk with leaders and experts on how to achieve peace in this region and how it impacts us in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world," said Tanner, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and chairs the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the legislative branch of the NATO alliance.”

The Congressional Delegation’s trip coincides with the signing of the U.S. and Israel memorandum of understanding which will provide a defense aid package of $30 billion to Jerusalem over the next decade, an increase from the $24 billion provided by the U.S. over the past ten years.  Congressional approval of the aid deal is pending.

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Marilyn Dillihay, press secretary to Congressman Cohen, (202) 225-3265

Susan Sowell, executive assistant to Congressman Cohen, (901) 544-4131