Cantor Told Netanyahu That GOP ‘Will Serve As A Check’ On Obama

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November 12, 2010 1:26 p.m.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), likely the next House Majority Leader and the only Jewish Republican in the House, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Wednesday, the night before Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Politico reports.

The meeting, which Israeli sources considered “unusual, if not unheard of,” according to Politico, took place at the Regency Hotel and lasted over an hour. No other U.S. lawmakers were present, while Netanyahu was joined by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, and National Security Advisor Uzi Arad.

In a statement about the meeting acquired by Politico and Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Cantor’s office said that:

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

Kampeas argued that he “can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president” — an argument which Cantor’s office disputed. “The claim you make below simply isn’t in there [in the office’s statement],” Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring wrote to Kampeas.

According to Cantor’s office’s statement, he and Netanyahu also discussed sanctions on Iran — Cantor believes the Administration needs to “ratchet up the pressure” on the country. The Congressman also “reiterated his belief that compromise between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

Netanyahu also met separately with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kampeas notes.

Responding to reports of the Cantor-Netanyahu meeting, the State Department said the “pursuit of Middle East peace is rooted in the national interest and not in partisan politics.” The Department is “confident that the vast majority of members of Congress from both parties support what we are doing,” spokesperson P.J. Crowley told The Huffington Post.

Here’s Cantor’s office’s full statement, via Kampeas:

Eric has a long standing friendship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and appreciated the opportunity to catch up last evening. The discussion lasted over an hour and covered a range of topics that included Iran, the United Nations, and the recent U.S. election which saw the Republicans win the majority in the House.

On Iran:

Eric made clear that he believes that it is time for the administration to fully and aggressively implement the Iran Sanctions Act passed by Congress earlier this year. Further delay is not an option, and unless the Administration continues to ratchet up the pressure on the Iranian regime, the progress made by the sanctions already implemented will unravel. Now is not the time to ease off the pressure.On the UN:

Eric reiterated his belief that compromise between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. A unilaterally declared Palestinian state will only create more distrust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and move the process further away from peace. He believes that unilateral action by the Palestinians at the United Nations is a diversion and should be considered a nonstarter by all serious parties. The Administration should make it absolutely clear that the U.S. will veto any effort by the Palestinians to act in such a manner. If the Palestinians truly want to achieve a peace agreement they must return to the negotiating table and deal directly with Israel.

On the U.S. Election:

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

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