Hoyer Says Netanyahu Congress Speech Did No Lasting Harm

YERUSHALAYIM -
Then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md. at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington in 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s contentious address to a joint session of Congress in 2014, has left no permanents scars on relations with the Democratic party, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer said on Tuesday.

Hoyer, who is leading a delegation of 18 Democrats in Yerushalayim, said that “all of us together support Israel and there is no residual impact [from Netanyahu’s speech], whether you were pleased or not pleased,” he told a press conference at the King David Hotel.

“Most visits are done in a bipartisan fashion, and this was not done in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats were not happy about that, and we said that,” Hoyer added.

At the time, the Obama White House and many Democrats were incensed that the prime minister would arrange for a speech to Congress without first consulting the president, as is usually done.

Hoyer deflected a question suggesting an erosion of bipartisan support for Israel, in which the reporter cited Democratic opposition to the nomination of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, pointing instead to unanimous Democratic support for additional sanctions on Iran.

A Republican delegation is also currently in Israel, led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The parallel visits are no accident; on the contrary, they were planned as a show of unity.

“We have made a point to make sure we have an overlapping time here in Israel together, Republicans and Democrats. Because this is not a partisan issue. This is a bipartisan issue,” McCarthy said, at a joint meeting of the two delegations, numbering about 50 in all.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met the Democrats on Monday, and was scheduled to greet the Republicans on Wednesday.

Both groups were sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with AIPAC.