Friday, September 11, 2009

Israel lobbyists to host 29 more US lawmakers

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Some 29 Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives will visit Israel next Thursday, according to a forwarded statement on Monday.

"The group of Democratic legislators will be in Israel for one week on a trip led by Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader," said a statement sent by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

"The trip is fully sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a supporting organization of AIPAC, America's only pro-Israel lobby," added the statement, which was sent from AIPAC's Jerusalem office.

It was not immediately clear if the Democratic lawmakers would visit any West Bank settlements during their visit, which comes exactly one week after an event organized at the illegal Alfei Menashe settlement for their Republican counterparts.

The trip last Thursday seemed instrumental in shaping minority whip Eric Cantor's view that settlements were not among the most pressing of issues. "I do not know what is driving the focus on settlements," the House's sole Jewish Republican said at the time.

US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has taken a hard line against the colonies, calling them illegitimate during his June address to the Muslim world in Cairo. Since then tensions have grown between Israel and its American ally, particularly over settlements in East Jerusalem.

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