Schumer leads bipartisan group of senators to Israel while Gaza invasion looms

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and a bipartisan group of senators met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv early Sunday, a statement from Herzog’s office said, just over a week after Hamas launched a multipronged attack on the country.  

Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Bill Cassidy, R-La., joined Schumer, along with his Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., joined him at the meeting, the statement said. It added that the they had “emphasized the cross-party support for the State of Israel.”

Schumer, 72, the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history and the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate, is leading the group of lawmakers “to show the United States’ unwavering support for Israel,” a spokesperson from his office said ahead of the trip.

Before he traveled to Israel, he tweeted that he “sat down for Shabbat dinner with my family.”

As well as Herzog, the Democratic leader is slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, a chief political rival and centrist opposition leader. The two politicians have formed a unity wartime government since the attack that killed at least 1,300 people in Israel.

The senator’s spokesperson said Friday that he intends to “discuss what resources the United States can provide to support Israel on all fronts.”

At a news conference in New York City on Friday, Schumer said that the purpose of the trip is threefold: to send a clear message that the U.S. stands with Israel, to meet with Israeli leaders and discuss the resources and support the nation’s needs, and to show that support for Israel is bipartisan.

“We’re gonna get Israel everything it needs — Iron Dome, all the other needs, both military and humanitarian. And we’re going to do everything we can and I’m going to urge everyone, everyone in the American government to bring back the hostages, particularly our American hostages,” he said.

Earlier this month, Schumer cut short a congressional delegation trip he led to Asia to return to the U.S. to address the crisis in the Middle East. During the trip, the majority leader got in touch with Israeli officials, including Herzog, from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Several members of Congress happened to be in Israel when the attack took place, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y. They have both returned to the U.S. safely.

A congressional delegation also visited Israel last week. It included Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Donald Norcross, D-N.J. They met with senior Israeli government officials during the trip.

Schumer has been briefed by leaders at the State and Defense departments and he has also been involved in efforts to facilitate travel for Americans who want to leave Israel. He said on Friday that he had called the heads of every American-based airline “to get them to resume their regular flights” from Israel.

Congress, meanwhile, is awaiting a supplemental funding request from the White House that is expected to include additional aid to Israel.

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