Kinderhook, NY - Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) today released the following statement after his return from a House delegation fact-finding trip to Israel. No tax dollars are used for this trip which was approved by the House Ethics Committee.
“This morning I returned from a seven-day fact-finding trip to Israel. Our bipartisan delegation of House members met with senior Israeli defense and economic officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition, we met with experts on military and foreign policy issues, as well as the opposition leader in the Israeli Knesset. We also had an opportunity to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah. All discussions were off the record and, as such, I am not at liberty to discuss the substance of points made during our respective meetings. However, these discussions were both cordial and frank as members of Congress, including me, had an opportunity to ask questions on various policy positions and their perspective as to the position of the US government.
“The delegation also met with Israeli entrepreneurs involved in their nation’s thriving high-tech industrial sector as well as with young Israelis serving in the military. Military service is mandatory for young men and women with limited exceptions. I was struck by how the opportunities presented by national service have better prepared young people for responsible positions in the private and non-profit sectors. It does raise a question in my mind as to whether similar opportunities could be more broadly offered to young people in the United States.
“The trip also afforded me an opportunity to visit strategic areas such as the Golan Heights. The disintegration of the Syrian nation-state has reinforced my belief that it is critical that Israel maintain control of this important region. Given Iranian and Hezbollah influence in significant parts of Syria it is all the more important that forces hostile to Israel never again have control of the Golan Heights’ strategic high ground. Our delegation also discussed the West Bank settlement issue and as a result have a greater understanding of how settlements impact prospects for peace in the region.
“We all desire peace in the Middle East. Recent political developments in the region cast doubt on the ability of the Palestinian Authority to enter into any sustainable peace treaty with Israel, especially given the malign influence of Iran and its proxies in the region. It is critical that the United States maintain its long-standing political, military and economic ties to Israel, the only democracy in the region. In Congress, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen our relationship with Israel, especially in areas such as missile defense, technology and agriculture.”