Florida Senator Marco Rubio and several other Republican lawmakers visited the Middle East over the weekend, to look at America’s role in combating the threat of Hezbollah and Islamic State.
Rubio along with other members of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and James Lankford of Oklahoma, visited Lebanon and Jordan before a brief, low-key stop in Israel.
On Saturday the lawmakers were in Lebanon, where they met Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In an official statement on his website Rubio said that he stressed the importance of combating the Hezbollah terror group.
“Prime Minister Al-Hariri and I discussed ways to address Hezbollah’s threat to regional stability, and the necessity of helping to build the capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces to confront terrorist threats,” he said.
On Sunday morning the group visited Jordan, and spoke of the common threat of Islamic State and the importance of Jordan’s cooperation with Israel.
“Jordan is one of our closest allies in the region, and we cooperate with them militarily in combating ISIS as well as dealing with the refugee crisis stemming from Syria’s civil war,” Rubio posted on Facebook. “Jordan’s strategic partnership with Israel is a key part of promoting greater stability in the region.”
The trip ended with a brief visit to Israel, praise for which Rubio posted on Facebook.
“From the moment one sets foot in Israel, the evidence of freedom, progress and tolerance are evident everywhere, as Israel continues to be an oasis of democracy and free enterprise in a tumultuous region plagued with difficult security, foreign policy and economic challenges,” he wrote.
The delegation met with US embassy and consulate staff and Rubio said they discussed “the military and intelligence cooperation between our two nations, our robust economic ties, and the ongoing threats our ally faces from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and other hostile actors in the region.”
Rubio and Lankford visited the City of David archeological site outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
Rubio wrote of the important religious meaning of the visit, his third to the country.
“As a Christian, visiting the Holy Land where Christianity began is an awe-inspiring experience,” he wrote. “It is also a reminder of Israel’s embrace of religious freedom while remaining steadfast to its founders’ promise to forever be a Jewish state.”
He praised what the country has achieved and pledged continued US support for Israel.
“Israel remains a shining example of what free people can accomplish anywhere in the world, and the impact that unwavering American support and smartly targeted US international assistance can have in advancing our interests and values abroad,” he posted on Facebook.