WASHINGTON – Four members of Congress and eleven American Jewish leaders traveled to Israel and the West Bank on a five-day mission last week, led by the J Street Education Fund (JSEF).
Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Keith Ellison (D-MI) and Robin Kelly (D-IL) joined the J Street delegation. In meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and American officials, they explored the challenges and opportunities facing both sides as well as the US role in the peace process.
“Given the recent changes in Israel’s coalition and the ongoing violence in the region, it is vital for policymakers and communal leaders to see firsthand what is occurring on the ground,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “As we look towards a new administration, this mission was an opportunity for Members of Congress and Jewish leaders to reflect on their role in moving the sides closer to a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the conflict.”
J Street’s seventh Congressional delegation explored the diverse spectrum of opinion on Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East. The mission included trips to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Israeli towns on the Gaza border and Tel-Aviv. They had the opportunity to meet with Members of Knesset, Palestinian political leaders, human rights and business leaders, security experts and American officials.
The delegation also had the opportunity to visit the planned-Palestinian city of Rawabi, explore historical sites in Jerusalem's old city and pay their respects at the Holocaust Museum of Yad Vashem.
In all, thirty-two members of Congress have visited the Middle East with JSEF since the group’s first delegation in 2009.