WASHINGTON—As Prime Minister Netanyahu formalized his fourth coalition government last week, five Members of Congress and 15 American Jewish leaders traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territory on a weeklong mission led by the J Street Education Fund (JSEF).
Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Peter Welch (D-VT) joined the J Street delegation, which met with Israeli, Palestinian and American officials, experts and activists–including Israeli lawmakers from seven political parties. The trip explored the urgency of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the political and security opportunities and challenges on the road ahead.
“Every J Street mission to the Middle East has coincided with major developments in the region, and this visit was no exception,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “It was extremely important to have been in Israel as the new government was taking shape, and to examine the critical issues and clear choices confronting Israel’s leadership in the coming months.”
J Street’s sixth Congressional delegation included visits to the town of Sderot on the Gaza border, the Palestinian and Israeli areas of Hebron, the new Palestinian city of Rawabi and the bilingual Hand-in-Hand School, which was the victim of an arson attack by Jewish extremists in 2014.
Participants also had a chance to meet with tech start-up CEOs in the technology hub of Tel Aviv, tour historical sites in the Old City of Jerusalem and pay respects at the Holocaust Museum of Yad Vashem. In all, twenty-eight Members of Congress have visited the Middle East with JSEF since the group’s first delegation in 2010.
JSEF is a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to inform policymaking and public discussion about the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to raise the visibility of mainstream pro-Israel, pro-peace voices within the American Jewish community, and to promote open, dynamic, and spirited conversation about how to best advance the interests and future of a Jewish, democratic Israel.