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Boehner in Jerusalem: U.S.-Israel bonds strong even with political spats

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The bonds between Israel and the United States are strong despite the occasional political dust-up, House Speaker John Boehner said in Jerusalem.

The two nations “cooperate on many different levels,” Boehner (R-Ohio) told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of their meeting on Wednesday afternoon. “And while we may have political disagreements from time to time, the bonds between our two nations are strong and they’re going to continue to be strong.”

Boehner is leading a delegation of congressional Republicans to the Middle East this week. The delegation also visited Iraq and Jordan.

Members of the delegation include Reps. John Kline of Minnesota, Devin Nunes of California, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

“Regardless of where in the Middle East we’ve been, the message has been the same: You can’t continue to turn your eye away from the threats that face all of us,” he said.

Netanyahu thanked Boehner and his colleagues from both parties “for the warm welcome you gave me in the U.S. Capitol,” referring to Netanyahu’s address last month to a joint meeting of Congress. The controversial speech, in which Netanyahu attacked the Obama administration for brokering a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear program, was arranged by Boehner without the knowledge of President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu praised “the historic and enduring bond that unites our two nations, our two democracies” and reiterated that  “the people of Israel know that we have no better friend in the world than the United States of America. And the American people should know that they have no better friend in the world than the State of Israel.”

Neither leader mentioned the negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, on a framework agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program between Iran and world powers.

Also Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin of Israel met in Jerusalem with a bipartisan congressional delegation headed by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.

“We have worked, and continue to work, on the joint cooperation with Israel on the important issue of missile defense, including U.S. support for Iron Dome,” said Turner, who  noted to Rivlin that it was his 10th visit to Israel and said the Middle East has “changed greatly” since the first time he was there, in the mid-1990s.

“It has been very inspiring to see both the accomplishments and advancements that Israel has made, and how they have been applied to what is an increasing threat around the world,” he said.

Rivlin in welcoming the delegation noted the Lausanne talks.

“There is yet to be a clear picture of what is happening there, and reports are contradicting,” he said, “but we are of course greatly concerned by the possibility that Iran would achieve nuclear capabilities.”

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