Throng of US Congressman to Visit Holy Land in Next Few Weeks

08.08.11 – 11:52| Palestine News Network

Over the next three weeks during the US Congress’s summer recess, 81 congressman, some 20 percent of the US House of Representatives, will visit Israel. A group of 26 Democrats plan to arrive on Monday.

ImageTwo Republican delegations, totaling 55 members, will then follow the Democratic one.

Freshman congressman will make up most of the number, with half of the freshman Republicans voted into office in 2010, 47 members, departing for Israel.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) will lead one of the Republican groups while House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) will head the Democratic delegation.

The congressmen will visit both Israel and the West Bank, and plan to meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Hoyer said in a statement that he looked forward to “returning to Israel to continue learning firsthand about the evolving security situation in the Middle East, the deep challenges facing Israel, and the role the US can play in the region during this time of uncertainty.”

“I’m pleased members of Congress have this opportunity to study American interests in the Middle East and gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved in increasing stability in the region,” said Hoyer.

Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Ohio’s Betty Sutton, and Pennsylvania’s Mark Critz will be among those on the delegation arriving Monday.

Meanwhile, The Israel Project, a pro-Israel marketing organization, plans to bring a group of 18 Washington-based ambassadors from Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America to Israel for a week starting Monday.

Among the countries represented on the trip are Albania, Barbados, Belize, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Macedonia, St. Lucia and Uganda.

Officials in Jerusalem have mentioned some of these countries as likely candidates to either vote against, or at least abstain, when the vote on Palestinian statehood comes before the UN in September.

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