Republican Whip Eric Cantor
Republican Whip Eric CantorIsrale news photo

Republican House of Representatives Whip Eric Cantor (Virginia) said Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama should be focusing on the Iranian threat instead of trying to impose a freeze on building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem.

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“I do not know what is driving the focus on settlements, but one of the messages we are delivering is that “priorities should be focused on the existential threat that Iran” poses to Israel as well as to the United States," he said. "Eastern Jerusalem should not take precedence. I do not support engaging with a terrorist regime [Iran], and the U.S. must do all it can to encourage allies around the world to join us to put pressure on Iran” through sanctions.

The GOP whip said he has "concerns about the White House’s raising questions to impose requirements on Israel. I cannot understand how anyone can call on our allies to implement its laws.”

Speaking shortly after a visit to the Jewish community of Alfei Menashe in Samaria, Congressman Cantor added that his meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday left him with doubts about Arab sincerity in reaching an agreement with Israel.

“I had reservations before, and I do not see any demonstration today” of the PA’s recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Rep. Cantor said that in an hour-long talk with Fayyad, the PA leader spoke mainly of his own achievements in introducing economic and financial reforms in the Ramallah-based PA.

“He did not answer with too much clarity” when he was asked about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, the Congressman said. He added that Fayyad simply said that the issue is something that could be put on the negotiating table in the future.

Rep. Cantor, who is leading a 25-man GOP Congressional delegation, also stated that accepting the 2002 Saudi Arabia Peace Plan demand that Israel absorb millions of foreign Arabs claiming ancestry in Israel is “akin to calling for the destruction of Israel.”

Rep. Cantor also is chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. After Mahmoud Abbas was elected to head the PA following the death of Yasser Arafat, the congressman noted that Abbas's campaign featured an “anti-Israel message [that] routinely pandered to the Palestinian terrorists who attack Israeli civilians…. His political education was one rooted in Arafat’s leadership of violence and terrorism. Mahmoud Abbas’s own words and actions expose an individual who openly consorts with terrorists and those who seek the death of innocent Israeli civilians.”

The Republican Congressmen’s trip is fully sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a supporting organization of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The same group is sponsoring a visit later this month by 35 Democratic Congress members, headed by House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.