Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday met with a delegation of 36 U.S. Congress members who are visiting Israel. Leading the delegation is Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer (D), currently the House minority whip.
Netanyahu held a round-table discussion with the Congresspeople, presenting Israel's case on a number of regional and security issues.
Netanyahu also discussed Iran with the group, saying that the U.S. needed to more forcefully press Iran to stop its nuclear development program. “Iran's president said that pressure will not help to dissuade him from developing nuclear weapons. But we see that over the past two decades, the only thing that has helped has been pressure.”
As a result, the best thing the U.S. could do to stop Iran from moving forward with its nuclear program was to increase the pressure on Tehran, he said. “I have said it before, and I will say it again, because it's important that it be understood. If the pressure on Iran is lifted, it will go ahead with developing nuclear weapons.”
The group plans to be spending a week touring Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the surrounding region. The trip is one of two organized for Congressional members this summer by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), an educational group dedicated to presenting Israel's side of the Middle East conflict affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Most of those visiting are newly elected members of the House of Representatives.
Altogether some 62 Congressional representatives will be visiting Israel throughout August under the auspices of the AIEF.