(AP, Politico). Top US Republican Eric Cantor has assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the party, which romped in last week's elections, cherishes the allies' "special relationship," the lawmaker's office said Thursday.
Number-two House Republican Eric Cantor and Netanyahu also discussed Iran and the embattled Middle East peace process during an hour-long meeting late Wednesday in New York, the congressman's spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement.
Last night, Netanyahu met in New York for over an hour with incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who is set to become the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress in history. The meeting took place at New York’s Regency Hotel, and included no other American lawmakers besides Cantor. Also attending on the Israeli side were Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, and Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor Uzi Arad.
Israeli sources characterized a one-on-one meeting between an Israeli prime minister and a lone American lawmaker as unusual, and Cantor's office did not think that Cantor and the Prime Minister had held a one-on-one meeting before.
"Eric has a longstanding friendship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and appreciated the opportunity to catch up last evening," Cantor's office said in a readout of the meeting it provided. Their discussion "covered a range of topics that included Iran, the United Nations, and the recent U.S. election which saw the Republicans win the majority in the House."
On Iran, "Eric made clear that he believes that it is time for the administration to fully and aggressively implement the Iran Sanctions Act passed by Congress earlier this year," it said. "Unless the Administration continues to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian regime, the progress made by the sanctions already implemented will unravel. Now is not the time to ease off the pressure."
Cantor also "reiterated his belief that compromise between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties." He urged the Obama administration to "make it absolutely clear that the U.S. will veto any effort by the Palestinians" to seek recognition of their state by going to the United Nations."
Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm.
"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."