newsU.S.-Israel Relations

Israeli, US politicos inaugurate Parliamentary Friendship Group

The bipartisan group sends a message to the world that the relationship between the two countries "transcends parties and administrations,” said Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana.

U.S. Congressman David Kustoff addresses the opening of the new friendship group.
U.S. Congressman David Kustoff addresses the opening of the new friendship group.

Israeli and American political leaders gathered in the Knesset library on Wednesday to inaugurate the House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group, the newest body aimed at deepening ties between the two countries.

“The bipartisan nature of the friendship group shows that support for the U.S. relationship with Israel is strong, and it sends a message to the world that the relationship transcends parties and administrations,” said Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana (Likud), who set up the group with former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in May 2023 during the latter’s visit to the Jewish state.

Ohana called the new group “groundbreaking and unprecedented … a historic milestone in the history of our relationship and peoples,” while praising the support members of the U.S. Congress have shown to Israel.

Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), who chairs the U.S. team, said in his address to the group, “My message for you is that the United States strongly supports you. Prays for you, and will never abandon Israel.”

The Jewish congressman, one of two on the Republican side, related that when he campaigned for Congress, he found huge support for Israel among his constituents. Wondering about the reason for the support, since his constituency is predominantly Christian, he queried his friend Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas.

“He told me because we are a people of the Book, and the Bible says those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those that curse Israel will be cursed,” said Kustoff.

Israel and the United States are “united by an unbreakable bond” originating in common values such as democracy and freedom, he added. Kustoff also discussed the resilience he had witnessed while visiting the sites of the Oct. 7 massacres, such as at Kfar Aza, where Hamas terrorists murdered over 50 innocent civilians.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew reiterated the Biden administration’s support for Israel. “Israel should know—and does know—that the United States will always be a close ally. The U.S. commitment to Israel’s defense is ironclad, and that will never change,” he said.

Lew applauded the friendship group, underscoring it as the newest pillar in the relationship, where “military, diplomatic and intelligence partnership is deep.”

The two Israeli chairs of the friendship group, Knesset member Idan Roll (Yesh Atid) and Boaz Bismuth (Likud), shared their thoughts on the new group.

“This represents more than just friendship,” Roll said. “It unites people across the political spectrum, demonstrating our commitment to shared values.”

Bismuth said that the relationship between the two countries is “natural,” remarking that Israel and the United States “are two lamps in the darkness. We provide light to the world.”

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