Democratic lawmakers said they weren’t invited to the dedication ceremony of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, and warned the Trump administration against a “dangerous effort to politicize the US-Israel relationship.”
A May 28 letter from members of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was first reported by the Jewish Insider politics website.
The six committee members said in the letter that no Democratic members of Congress were invited by the White House to the ceremony earlier this month.
In an interview with Axios last week, Friedman gave the impression that Democrats did not come because they wanted to avoid the event.
“We believe it is essential that you, as an American diplomat, have the full set of facts so that your interactions with your Israeli host government don’t leave them with a mistaken impression,” the letter said. “We would deeply regret if the government of Israel was left with the mistaken impression that Democratic lawmakers chose not to attend the event.”
The letter was signed by Jewish Reps. Eliot Engel, Ted Deutch, Brad Sherman, and Brad Schneider, as well as Albio Sires and Tom Suozzi.
The letter asked Friedman to provide the House committee with any communications he received or sent regarding the participation of American dignitaries in the embassy events.
In his Axios interview, Friedman said he “was very concerned that no Democrats showed up.”
“This was not our intent. We would have been delighted to host as many Democratic congressmen and senators as would have come,” he said. “The invitation was open to all, or I should actually say we made it clear that everybody was welcome. We didn’t specifically invite anyone. The Republican congressmen and senators who came did not come on the basis of a specific invitation. They reached out and they came. I would have been more than happy to host Democratic leaders and I hope they come in the future. From my perspective, American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I am going to do everything I can to support visits from legislators — blue or red.”
The Democratic lawmakers noted that on previous occasions of importance to the US and Israel, the White House organized bipartisan delegations to take part.
“This episode raises serious concerns about how information is being relayed to our ambassadors,” they wrote. “We worry that this may be part of a dangerous effort to politicize the US-Israel relationship, which has long enjoyed strong bipartisan support.”