During their visit at the Oz veGaon Preserve, in Gush Etzion, two members of the US House of Representatives expressed their commitment to the United States' link with Israel and the position that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

After representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Scott Tipton (CO-R) were detained for questioning during their visit to the Temple Mount, the pair also visited the Oz veGaon Preserve in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem.

Congressmen McKinley and Tipton came to Oz veGaon with Ruthie Lieberman from yes!Israel and were welcomed by the heads of the Sovereignty Movement founded by Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, and members of the organization together with residents of Gush Etsion. The two congressmen and their wives planted two olive trees.

US Congressman David and May McKinley plant tree at Oz VeGaon
US Congressman David and May McKinley plant tree at Oz VeGaonElad Pessach
US Congressman Scott Tipton and Jean Tipton plant tree at Oz VeGaon
US Congressman Scott Tipton and Jean Tipton plant tree at Oz VeGaonElad Pessach

In her words of welcome Katsover offered thanks and appreciation to the visitors for the friendship that the American administration is bestowing on Israel and for the decision to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem. However, she added that in light of reports about a peace plan being concocted in the White House it is important that the two men pass on to US President Donald Trump the message that true peace will not exist as long as it involves dividing the Land.

“Dividing the Land is simply inconceivable. Only Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria will bring true peace and justice”, said Katsover, adding: “This is the Land of the Jewish people, who were exiled from it. We have returned to our homeland, to our history. This is ethical and this is just. There are Arabs who immigrated to this place. They will be able to live alongside us as guests. The only sovereign of this Land is the Jewish people. Anyone who reads the Bible knows this and those who read the Qur’an as well”.

Jean Tipton offering olive branch at Oz VeGaon
Jean Tipton offering olive branch at Oz VeGaonצילום: Elad Pessach

Member of Congress David McKinley, in his speech, expressed the uplifting sense he experienced from visiting this part of the Land and his emotion in planting a tree in this earth. “We have to believe in the future. What I want to work for is working with you, hand in hand, with the American government hand in hand, with Israel, so that you have the freedom and the prosperity that you can ever dream of having and we want to have your back and you have ours”.

McKinley continued, noting “This is my third visit in Israel. I think of it as close to my heart - we need to be working together, so that we can come back. Maybe we can stand under that tree and celebrate a unified area - without any intrusion and fear that people have across this country in their land being taken”.

Congressman Scott Tipton said: “It’s a privilege for me to be able join you here today - the symbolism of being able to plant a tree is lost to many on many of us; the roots and fruit that will yield, the two young girls who just stepped out and were standing here - it is going to be the nation they will inherit”.

Tipton also related to their detention and investigation at the Temple Mount, saying “We had yesterday on the Temple Mount an experience which not many Americans and certainly …In terms of what Jews, the right owners of the Land, have experienced for an extended period of time and so the commitment that we will make to you is we will do our part in US Congress to be able to stand for that sovereignty, to be able to stand for those rights of Jewish community in Israel as in your prayer and also in prayer of the Christian faith. The L-rd is G-d. The L-rd is One. Israel is One. G-d bless you."

The two congressmen were detained by Temple Mount Police after they lifted an olive branch from the ground, an act which angered the Waqf who demanded for them to be removed from the site. Police present at the place did not identify the two men as members of American Congress and removed them from the site.

Sovereignty Movement heads meet with Congressmen
Sovereignty Movement heads meet with CongressmenElad Pessach

Sovereignty Movement heads Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar summarized the visit with satisfaction, noting that this is not the first visit of Congress members to the Oz veGaon Preserve specifically, and to Gush Etzion in general, and this testifies to the positive spirit that continues to prevail from the American administration.

Katsover and Matar believe the message that dividing the Land will not bring about true peace is being internalized among White House decision makers and these people will pass on clear messages in this spirit to the American President and to his diplomatic team.

The two lawmakers also met with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Sunday during a visit to the Samaria town of Rehelim.

Welcoming congressmen
Welcoming congressmenElad Pessach