(POLITICO 44).House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who is leading a congressional delegation on a week-long trip to Israel, broke with U.S. policy on Thursday and said the Jewish state should be allowed to build in disputed East Jerusalem.
Just two days after the State Department blasted Israel’s recent authorization of additional housing construction in the eastern section of the holy city, Hoyer told POLITICO in an interview that he sees the area as a Jewish neighborhood that must be expanded to accommodate growth.
“I view Jerusalem differently than I do other settlements, Essentially, this is a Jewish neighborhood. It may be in East Jerusalem, but it’s a Jewish neighborhood and it’s expanding.”
“This is not something that ought to undermine the much, much larger objective of reaching a peaceful resolution between the Palestinians and Israelis".
As the Hoyer winds down this visit — he and the rest of the delegation have met with many officials from both sides, including Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas since arriving Monday — he told POLITICO he sees the summer excursions to Israel as “very, very important to inform members to make better policy decisions.”
“Israel is the one example in this region of a free and open democracy that shares the values of the United States,” Hoyer said. “It is important that members of Congress in such a volatile part of the world have a better and fuller understanding of the issues.”