By Krystle Marcellus
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will be part of a 37-member congressional delegation that will spend next week in Israel.
The week-long visit will include high-level meetings, briefings, and discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The trip is sponsored by the nonprofit American Israel Education Foundation, a charity that's affiliated with the pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the tip will include a tour of Israel's northern and southern borders and visits to Kibbutz Kfar Aza on the border with the Gaza Strip, an Iron Dome battery at the Hatzor Base, and Bethlehem. She leaves Sunday.
"The strength and importance of America's relationship to Israel is fundamental to our strategy in the Middle East," Hanabusa said in written visit, "and I believe it is incumbent on every member of Congress to take the time to gain a thorough understanding of the genuine issues and realities on the ground there. I am pleased to have this opportunity to travel with my colleagues and get a first-hand look at a region that is so central to our nation's international strategy.
"I also believe it is critical that we have a chance to put a human face on issues that we so often consider in Congress. For all the talk of strategic alliances and international relations, I am looking forward to meeting the people of Israel and learning how these discussions and interactions affect their lives, and other lives in the region. I welcome the chance to gain further insights that will help me make better, more informed decisions about the world we live in."
The congressional trip comes as Israel and Palestine are resuming peace negotiations for the first time in three years. It coincides with the start of the House's summer recess.