US House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was slated to arrive in Israel on Monday at the head of a delegation of 41 other Democratic lawmakers. The trip – meant primarily to introduce freshman legislators to the Jewish state – is organized by a charity affiliated with the pro-Israel AIPAC lobbying group. “I am pleased to join so many House Democrats in traveling to Israel to reaffirm our support for a critical US ally and to continue learning about the opportunities and the challenges facing Israel and the Middle East,” Hoyer said in a statement prior to his departure. According to Hoyer, the lawmakers will meet in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well as Benny Gantz – head of the centrist Blue and White list, which garnered the same amount of seats as the ruling Likud party in April’s elections – in addition to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The visit comes amid a seemingly growing division within the Democratic Party on how to chart the future course of US-Israel ties, with leftist congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), in particular, leading the charge to downgrade the bilateral relationship. A Republican delegation of similar size, headed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Friday.
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