JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned a delegation of visiting US Democratic lawmakers Tuesday that Iran poses the greatest threat to stability in the Middle East.
The delegation, headed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is on a five-day tour to Israel and Jordan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Welcomes Delegation of Democrats, Photo, GPO, Kobi Gideon
Lieberman explained that many nations in the region, along with Israel, are the target of Iran's military ambitions.
"Iran is endangering the Gulf States and launching missiles at them – as happened the day before yesterday; undermines the stability of Yemen in its military support for the Houthis, is trying to topple the regime in Bahrain, stands behind the dictator mass murderer in Damascus, supports the Hezbollah terror organization and arms it, and tries to undermine the elections in Iraq," Lieberman said.
Iran has worked for years to project its military threat to Israel and is now nearing Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon through proxies such as the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
A number of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have also spoken out frequently and forcefully against the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the nuclear deal with Iran, negotiated by the Obama administration and supported by most Democrats in Congress. Iran's regime has repeatedly vowed in different ways to destroy Israel.
During the Tuesday meeting, Israel's top defense leader also thanked Congress for its decades-long support of Israel and for approving this year the highest budget allocation ever, more than $700 million, for the Israeli anti-missile defense system.
Part of the timing for the Democrats' visit is the upcoming celebrations of Israel's 70th anniversary as a modern nation. Pelosi's office issued a statement saying in part, "There is no greater accomplishment in the 20th century than the establishment of the State of Israel."
The overall purpose of the visit, according to the lawmakers, revolves around "global and regional security and cooperation."
One goal of the Jordan part of the visit is to determine the "refugee and humanitarian challenges" in the seven-year-old Syrian conflict. Hundreds have been killed or wounded in fighting in recent weeks, spearheaded by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Russia.
The visit was also timed during the two-week Congressional recess for the Easter and Passover holidays. The Pelosi delegation includes the minority leader's fellow Californians Adam Schiff and Jimmy Panetta, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Hines of Connecticut, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Jamie Raskin of Maryland.