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A group of GOP senators are in Israel this week, touring the damage caused by the recent bloody conflict with Hamas and affirming US support for the Jewish state.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, all of whom serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, touched down in Israel on Sunday afternoon before Cruz and Hagerty had dinner with members of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a right-wing think tank.
Speaking to the Washington Free Beacon before leaving DC, Cruz explained that he organized the trip “to hear and see firsthand what our Israeli allies need to defend themselves, and to show the international community that we stand unequivocally with Israel.”
Hagerty said he planned to speak with Israeli political leaders about what steps the US could take to strengthen the Abraham Accords, the Trump-era agreement normalizing relations between Israel and two Gulf countries, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
President Biden has pledged to build on the work of his predecessor, President Donald Trump, repeatedly praising the diplomatic achievements that brought together the three countries.
The Tennessee senator said he also wanted to “see firsthand what more the US can do to strengthen our vital alliance with Israel at a time when terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah and terror-sponsoring regimes in Iran and Syria are making the Middle East more dangerous.”
Graham, meanwhile, appeared alongside embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning to tout how their countries’ alliance helps to combat Iranian aggression.
“To every American, what happens with Iran matters not only to America but to the world. The worst possible outcome for the world is to allow the Iranian regime to acquire nuclear capability because our Arab friends will not tolerate that,” Graham explained. “They feel more threatened by Iran than they do Israel.”
“So my hope is to find an alternative to the JCPOA that will allow for nuclear power but not create a nuclear arms race through enrichment, and that’s the existential threat to the state of Israel and the world, writ large,” he continued, referencing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, brokered under President Barack Obama and abandoned by Trump.
Biden is working to rejoin the agreement.
Israel came under attack by a barrage of rockets launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip earlier this month, sending residents fleeing for shelter as air raid sirens blared across Israel’s cities.
Hamas claimed the attacks came in response to a clash between Israeli police and Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque at the close of Ramadan.
Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, took Gaza in the 2007 Palestinian civil war against the less-radical leadership of the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted many of the rockets, with the streaks of interceptor missiles lighting up the sky.
The spasm of violence has produced some of the worst fighting between Israel and the terror group since their 2014 war.
A cease-fire was brokered just before the end of last weekend, and was holding as of one week later Monday.
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