President Shimon Peres visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday. During the visit, Peres met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Eric Cantor, and the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Peres also met with prominent members of Congress, including Stanley Heuer, Joe McCarthy, Howard Berman, and Kay Granger.
At the beginning of the meeting, Boehner noted that “the United States and Israel have shared values, and as a result of these shared values we’ve had a very, very long relationship. It was our pleasure to have the President here today and have a real opportunity to discuss the challenges that face all of us.”
Minority Leader Pelosi echoed Boehner’s sentiments and added that “no matter who is in power in the United States, we speak with one voice in our support for Israel, no matter who is in power in Israel.”
“I want to thank you from the depth of my heart for giving me an opportunity to come to this great institution and to thank the leaders and the members of the House for a bipartisan support,” said Peres. “Your friendship and your support are the most meaningful experiences we have had in our struggle to exist as a democratic country that looks for peace.”
Peres added that “the awakening of the Arab world is a great opportunity for all of us to do whatever we can that the young generation who wants to introduce freedom and dignity in their lives will be successful.”
During his meeting with the members of Congress, Peres reiterated Israel’s commitment to implementing the two-state solution, saying that “Israel wants peace with its neighbors but the Iranian issue threatens the Middle East.”
The President stressed the importance of continued economic sanctions against Iran, which funds murderous terrorist organizations, affects the stability in the region, and is developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction. “We cannot ignore the words of Ahmadinejad who seeks to wipe Israel off the map and we must do everything so that Iran does not get a nuclear bomb,” said Peres.
Peres also addressed the Syrian issue and told the members of Congress that “Syria is strengthening its ties with Iran and is preventing from its citizens freedom, equality and democracy. Israel wants peace with Syria but we cannot return to the negotiating table when Assad continues to support terrorism, allows missile and weapons smuggling routes in his country and acts as an all-purpose Iranian satellite.”
Following his meeting with Congress, Peres met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and with Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Mitch McConnell, Richard Durbin and Richard Lugar. Peres thanked the Senate for the continued commitment by the U.S. to Israel’s security.
The meetings come a day after Peres met in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama. The two discussed issues such as the impasse with the Palestinian Authority and the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power.
During his meeting with Obama, Peres also asked his American counterpart to free Jonathan Pollard and to help bring kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit back home.