Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after returning from leading a bipartisan Congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Middle East, the first CODEL to represent the U.S. abroad this Congress:

“As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and leader of this CODEL, I made certain our first delegation abroad was bipartisan, demonstrating that politics must never interfere in the diplomacy and national security of the United States.

“In Israel we were able to form promising relationships with the new leaders of Israel’s governing coalition, helping emphasize the importance of bipartisanship in the US-Israel relationship. We analyzed Israel’s security needs and had honest and transparent discussions about steps that can be taken to improve lives in Israel, and in the West Bank and Gaza. We discussed the importance of maintaining an emphasis on the conditions necessary to achieve a two-state solution which we believe is in the best interests of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian people. In a speech at the United States Embassy in Jerusalem I had the opportunity to stand with Prime Minister Bennett and reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two countries. 

“As the first Congressional delegation to meet Palestinian leadership in several years we had a dialog about important policy changes the Palestinian Authority must make – including eliminating their ‘pay for slay’ policies. We also listened to their concerns, as well as those of young people in Ramallah, and the Palestinian business community, to better understand their challenges and find mechanisms to help provide hope for peace and a better future. I was also able to address leaders of Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem, and talk about my experiences in America’s civil rights movement, and the peaceful advocacy we undertake to this day to improve the lives and freedoms of African Americans in the United States.

“Our visit to Doha provided an opportunity to discuss regional issues at the senior-most levels of the Qatari government and military.  We discussed the joint threat of Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile development and regional terrorism which are mutual threats to both our countries. We also had the opportunity to discuss economic issues and the process to stand up the 2022 World Cup which will undoubtably capture the entire world’s attention. As an important American partner, Qatar hosts a key airbase for the United States that provides crucial regional capabilities used to defend American interests, and our delegation had the opportunity to meet with our service members on that base.

“As I noted before our departure, the global COVID-19 pandemic remains a major concern for our delegation. We took extensive precautions to verify proper vaccinations, provide regular testing, and make certain that our travel would in no way jeopardize the health of our delegation or our hosts.”