Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann underscored the United States’ devotion to Israel today, calling it America’s “steadyfast ally” and a “beacon of democracy.” Fleischmann spoke to reporters on a conference call from Israel, where 81 members of Congress are traveling during the August recess.
Fleischmann called from Tiberias, in northern Israel, far from the recent violence near the Egyptian border, where Palestinian gunmen were blamed for killing at least seven and wounding 40 more.
Fleischmann says that tragedy reflects the need for peace in the region.
“Israel continues to search for peace offers, and has made offers of a two-state solution. Unfortunately those negotiations have apparently ceased with the Palestinians, and it looks like unfortunately the Palestinians are going to go to the United Nations.”
Next month the Palestinian Authority is expected to ask for U.N. recognition as an independent state – a move Fleischmann describes as “wrong and an impediment to the process.”
The freshman Republican has been criticized by some for visiting Israel while the American economy is roiling. But Fleischmann defended the trip, which is funded by a group with ties to a pro-Israel lobby. He says it isn’t costing taxpayers, is informing him on foreign policy, and that while there he’s trying to recruit new business.
Fleischmann says he’s not ready to endorse a specific candidate for the Republican nomination for president, saying while the field is deep and diverse, he’s still listening and learning.
Raw audio follows from Fleischmann on Israel-Palestine peace negoations: