CONGRESSIONAL TOUR TO ISRAEL
USIEA hosted a Congressional delegation of five senior members from the U.S. House of Representatives. The members spent a week touring the region and met key leaders and experts across the country. After two years of postponed trips due to Covid-19, USIEA celebrated our most successful and impactful tour to date. A milestone - this year’s delegation marked USIEA’s sixth Congressional tour to Israel in ten years.
Members were joined by several of their spouses and two senior Congressional staffers. The delegation was led by USIEA’s Founder & Executive Director Heather Johnston. Heather has pioneered Congressional education on Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) for over a decade. The group was also led by Dr. Phil Roe, retired Representative from Tennessee’s 1st district. Dr. Roe attended USIEA’s 2019 Congressional Tour as the then-Ranking Member of the prestigious Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Upon retiring from Congress in 2021, he joined USIEA’s Board of Directors and now serves as Chairman of the Board.
On the left: Rep. Mike Bost & Tracy Bost
On the right: USIEA Founder & Executive Director Heather Johnston
LEADERS & EXPERTS
One of USIEA’s chief roles is to connect members of Congress with experts across all industries and government. The number of tour participants is intentionally limited to maintain an atmosphere that strengthens relationships and allows unique interaction with Israel’s top leaders.
Members met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a longtime friend of USIEA in his previous roles as Minister of Education and Defense. PM Bennett personally addressed the members’ questions in this closed door meeting. Topics ranged from Israel’s commitment to deter Iran regardless of the United States’ policy toward the JCPOA, building alliances with neighboring Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt, and working with the Palestinians to build a sustainable future based on mutual prosperity.
The delegation also met with General Benny Gantz, Israel’s Minister of Defense. General Gantz briefed the members on primary security issues including Israel's role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the recent rise in domestic terrorism and how to work with the Palestinians toward peaceful co-existence, and reducing dependency on China.
On the left: Delegation meets with Minister of Defense Gantz
On the right: Members meet with carice witte, Executive Director at Signal
On the left: Members meet with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
On the right: Members meet with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
The U.S. is the indispensable ally.
The U.S. is the guardian of freedom.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses USIEA Delegation
In addition, members met with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Col. Rotem Zisser of Israel Missile Defense Organization, and leaders in research and development at Ariel University.
PROACTIVE, PRAGMATIC, PIONEERING
USIEA’s tours take an innovative yet pragmatic approach to building solutions for peace and reinforcing the U.S.-Israel collaboration.
To this point, a primary focus for education has been integrated business between Palestinians and Israelis as a grassroots peace movement. USIEA took the delegation to Hebron to meet with top Palestinian business leaders in the home of Sheikh Ashraf Jabari of the Judea Samaria Chamber of Commerce. The conversation centered on joint business with Israelis as the future for Palestinian prosperity in an economy that is crippled by the corruption of their own government.
In 2019, USIEA brought Sheikh Jabari to the Hill to brief Congress on integrated business. This visit contributed in part to the passage of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) which now appropriates funds toward building economic partnerships between Palestinians and Israelis. The delegation spoke with business leaders on this historical and monumental shift in policy.
The members committed to ensure full transparency and oversight of the disbursement of these funds. For the first time in decades, there is an existing framework to build peace through people-to-people partnerships.
On the left: Delegation meets with Sheikh Ashraf Jabari
On the right: Rep. Dunn with Sheikh Ashraf Jabari
USIEA also took the delegation to Biondvax Pharmaceuticals to hear from CEO Dr. Amir Reichman. Dr. Reichman discussed the opportunity the U.S. has to nearshore life sciences and pharmaceutical supply chains out of China to Israel and other Abraham Accord countries.
He highlighted how this will secure U.S. supply chains with proven allies, allow the U.S. to retain intellectual property in the research and development phase, reduce overall dependency on China, and build upon the Abraham Accords as a critical element of U.S. foreign policy. The members committed, among other things, to work with Israel’s Minister of Health to seek paths forward for the U.S. to collaborate with Israel in this area.
In conjunction with the educational efforts of USIEA, members of Congress have identified the following Lanes of Action to support the U.S.-Israel relationship:
1. Promote Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and co-existence through economic partnership by working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to support businesses jointly owned, jointly managed, and/or jointly employing both Palestinians and Israelis.
2. Nearshore parts of the U.S. Life Sciences supply chain – specifically pharma, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Artificial Intelligence fuelled medical equipment – to Israel and other Abraham Accords countries, namely the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. This will: reduce dependence on China, secure and diversify U.S. supply chains, and strengthen the Abraham Accords as a critical element of U.S. foreign policy.
3. Increase congressional awareness of Iranian nuclear capability and weapon delivery, and their existential threat to U.S. allies – Israel and other Abraham Accords partners.
4. Support bilateral U.S.-Israel defense collaboration by employing proven cutting edge Israeli military technology and experience, especially in missile defense, to strengthen U.S. armed forces.
5. Increase congressional awareness and support of critical scientific research – especially in artificial intelligence and life sciences – being performed at Ariel University in collaboration with U.S. universities.
BUILDING THE FUTURE
Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the tour, USIEA is pleased to announce plans to facilitate another Congressional delegation to Israel in February 2023. USIEA invites you to stay connected with us to receive more updates.