Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) has completed a week-long congressional visit to Israel to learn more about the special relationship between the United States and Israel, that country's security situation, and the Middle East peace process.
"America shares a special partnership with Israel," said Hartzler upon her return. "It is America's greatest ally in the Middle East and the only democracy in the region. We share the same values regarding individual rights and liberties."
"We visited with and discussed security issues with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces," continued Hartzler. "Our visit gave us a perspective of the challenge Israel faces as it tries to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks. We journeyed to Israel's border with southern Lebanon, where more than 40,000 rockets controlled by Hezbollah are pointed at Israel. We also toured the Golan Heights where we could look into Syria, another threat to Israel. While we were there, the terrorist group Hamas was launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel."
"It is clear that national security is Israel's top priority and is extremely important to the United States," added Hartzler. "Peace and security issues were first and foremost on our minds as we later met with Palestinian leaders on the West Bank. We learned more about the ongoing difficulties in negotiating a final peace agreement. America benefits from a strong democracy in Israel and through the promotion of democratic ideals and principles throughout the region. It is imperative that we stand by Israel -- an unwavering friend and partner in peace."
The visit was arranged by the American Israel Educational Foundation. No tax dollars were used to pay for the trip.