Speaking at a press conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, U.S. House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny H. Hoyer said his party fully supports Israel.
This despite three Democrats voting last week against the Taylor Force Act, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee bill to withdraw American funding to Palestinians unless they stop paying terrorists and their families.
Hoyer was in Israel as part of a congressional delegation of 33 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Congressional delegations are usually comprised of one party or the other, but this overlapping visit was made as an illustration that American support for Israel is bipartisan.
“Some of us are Democrats and some of us are Republicans. But we’re not here as Republicans and Democrats. We’re here as Americans who support Israel’s security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people,” Hoyer said.
Responding to a question from the media about the Democrats who voted against the Taylor Force Act, Hoyer said that no Democrat had opposed the passing of last month’s new law which imposes financial sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.
In regards to Iran, Hoyer said there were no hard feelings following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to congress about former U.S. President Barack Obama’s deal with the Iranians. Many Democrats at the time were dismayed by Netanyahu’s address, which they felt was a slap in the face for Obama and a demonstration of specific alignment with the Republicans.
“Most visits are done in a bipartisan fashion, and this was not done in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats were not happy about that, and we said that,” Hoyer said. “All of us together support Israel and there is no residual impact [from Netanyahu’s speech], whether you were pleased or not pleased.”
The Republican and Democrat delegation members had separate meetings with Netanyahu, but toured Israel and the Palestinian territories as a group.
“We’re here because the United States and Israel are partners for peace and partners for security,” Hoyer said.