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Concerns over China, Iran Prompt U.S. Lawmakers to Strengthen Israel Ties

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JERUSALEM, Israel – As Iran’s nuclear potential reaches new levels and China increases its influence in the Middle East, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel grows even more vital. That is a major reason many U.S. lawmakers visit America's number one ally in the region.

In one recent trip, organized by the U.S. Israel Education Association (USIEA), four congressional representatives met with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the topic of a nuclear Iran was on the agenda.  

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Representative Juan Vargas (D)-California, told CBN News, "For me, I was the first Democrat that was against the JCPOA (Iran nuclear agreement). I thought it was a terrible deal, and it still concerns me. We're losing track of what the Iranians are doing, and it was good to talk to the prime minister on Iran to know they haven't lost track.

That’s why they’re seeking to get the U.S. back on track regarding Iran when they return home.

“Have resolution out of Congress that says Iran can in no way be allowed you a, a nuclear weapon," Rep. Randy Weber (R)-Texas, proposed. "And if they were to get even close because of the way that they're doing their nuclear, working on the nuclear fuel right now, that the United States stands ready, willing, and able to come to Israel's aid at a moment's notice and to protect them against any untoward military action by the Iranians.”

Another agenda item included preventing China from dominating the global pharmaceutical market.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R)-Tennessee, told CBN News, “You know, I've been a pharmacist for almost 37 years, and I understand how critical it is to have another source of what we call APIs, and that's active pharmaceutical ingredients. You know, it's no mistake that China cornered the market several years ago, and they control over 90% of the world's active pharmaceutical ingredients.  And that ought to worry people.”

Harshbarger believes a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) field office in Israel would be a good step. 

“I asked the prime minister, I said, why should we put it in Israel? And he said it’d be the perfect place," Harshbarger explained. "You have all the biomedical, you know, advances in research and development, right here in Israel. You know, the AI, the things that are going on in Israel, I don't know that the world really knows about it and it'd be the perfect spot.”

Although the headlines have been full of stories about terror attacks and other violence in biblical Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), one pleasant surprise for the U.S. lawmakers came in seeing Israelis and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria cooperating on a professional level

Representative Rick Allen, (R)-Georgia, said, “I'm from the business world. And the cooperation between the (Palestinian) people and the Jewish people there is remarkable in developing industry. And we went to the industrial part there at Ariel, and you know, those are things I love to see."

Allen further specified what impressed him. "Economic growth and also providing jobs for people. The opportunity, providing hope. They own their own homes.  And they're raising their children, educating their children, and hoping their children will have a better life.”

The main priority, however, remains keeping the bond strong between Israel and the United States. 

Weber said, “The overarching issue of course, here, is the American-Israeli relationship so that the United States has Israel's back, and quite frankly, Israel has the United States' back, too. That's probably the most important overarching issue.” 

USIEA Chief of Staff Joan Leslie McGill believes the lawmakers on this most recent trip added to their perspective on the situation in Israel. "The members on this trip went home very excited and very encouraged about how they can practically move the needle forward on the US-Israel relationship," McGill told CBN News.

"They got to travel through the West Bank, which is something that is very unique to our trips with USIEA, and they got to meet with people on the ground, Israelis and Palestinians, business leaders, government leaders; they get to cross the gamut and really get that firsthand experience with people here in (Israel)."

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