Tags: Barack Obama | Exclusive Interviews | Israel | Middle East | MidPoint | Lee Zeldin | Israel

Rep. Zeldin: Despite Quarrel, Israel Still 'Our Greatest Ally'

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 01:30 PM

Benjamin Netanyahu's late comeback on Tuesday in his re-election contest should make it easier for Israel and the United States to hit reset and "focus on the substance over the politics" in their strained but critical relationship, says freshman Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York.

The mutual loathing between Netanyahu, one of Israel's longest-serving prime ministers, and President Barack Obama "isn't going to disappear today," the co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

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But Zeldin, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, argued that Israel remains "our greatest ally in the world," that threats to Israel are threats to America, and that Netanyahu is somebody the Obama administration can work with, despite rancor over the Palestinian conflict and nuclear talks with Iran.

"The prime minister is strong on national security," said the Army reservist and Iraq war veteran. "It's important to note that Israel has never asked the United States to fight their fights for them: we don't send troops to Israel to defend their nation, and they have a defense force that fights those battles on the ground for themselves.

"When the prime minister is advocating for the U.S. not to enter into a bad deal with Iran, he isn't just advocating on behalf of his own country,"said Zeldin.

"The points that he makes in outlining what a bad deal looks like are points that should be of just as much concern to the United States: ensuring that Iran doesn't pursue uranium enrichment; that they must dismantle their centrifuge; that we aren't making permanent concessions on our side in exchange for temporary concessions on theirs," said Zeldin.

On these and other issues of shared concern, Netanyahu "often makes a lot of sense," he said.

Zeldin also discussed his first bill in Congress, introduced on Tuesday: H.R. 1187, which would lift the dollar-amount ceiling on home loan guarantees from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Co-sponsored with Democratic Reps. Mark Takano and Zoe Lofgren of California, the bill is meant to help veterans in regions where the costs of living and housing are highest.

"We want to lift that cap altogether, being that the default rate [for veterans] is only about 1 percent, which is much lower than the national average," said Zeldin. "It's a bill to fight for veterans, especially those who live in the higher-cost parts of the United States."

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Benjamin Netanyahu's late comeback on Tuesday in his re-election contest should make it easier for Israel and the United States to hit reset and "focus on the substance over the politics" in their strained but critical relationship, says freshman Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York.
Lee Zeldin, Israel, US, Benjamin Netanyahu
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2015-30-18
Wednesday, 18 Mar 2015 01:30 PM
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