By JEN THOMAS
JERUSALEM — The Obama administration’s policy on Israel is misguided, puts too much emphasis on the issue of settlements and ignores the bigger threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, a U.S. delegation of Republican congressmen visiting Israel said Thursday.
Led by minority whip Eric Cantor from Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, the delegation of 25 Republicans say their weeklong mission to Israel is designed to show solidarity with the Jewish state and promote Mideast peace. A group of Democratic congressmen are expected to visit next week.
Cantor said that instead of focusing on issues such as Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, Obama should concentrate on “the primary issue of import ... and that is the existential threat that Iran poses not only to the state of Israel but to the United States.”
The congressman said he is “concerned about what the White House has been signaling of late.”
Israel believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons that could one day be used against the Jewish state. Iran says its nuclear program is meant only for energy production.
Cantor and others supported Israel’s handling of the eviction of two Arab families from a house in east Jerusalem earlier this week, a move criticized by the European Union and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t think we, in America, would want another country telling us how to implement and execute our laws,” Cantor said.
The Obama administration is pressuring Israel to freeze all settlement activity on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold peace talks with Israel until such a freeze is implemented.
The congressmen have been meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders and their tour has included visits to West Bank settlements.