Hastings Makes 18th Trip to Israel and Attends 17th Annual OSCE PA Winter Meeting
Also Visits Naples, Italy and Amman, Jordan
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), released the following statement after participating in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) 17th Annual Winter Meeting in Vienna, Austria and multiple bi-lateral and multi-lateral meetings in regards to national security and defense policy in Italy, Jordan, and Israel:
“I was privileged to once again represent the United States and the U.S. Congress at this year’s OSCE PA Annual Winter Meeting. The OSCE’s 57 member states play a key role in facilitating inter-parliamentary dialogues that promote democracy. Throughout the last week, I participated in a number of important meetings addressing human rights, international security, and the importance of democratic institutions,” said Hastings.
Hastings, a President Emeritus of the OSCE PA, serves as Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission). The agency is an independent organization of the U.S. government comprised of representatives from both the legislative and executive branches. The Commission monitors compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advances international security through the promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental, and military cooperation.
In Italy, the delegation met with Vice Admiral Christopher W. Grady, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, where they received briefings on Russian military operations in the region. While in Jordan, meetings were held with His Majesty King Abdullah II, where they discussed U.S.-Jordanian bilateral relations, regional topics of Russia, Iran, counterterrorism, the Middle East peace process, the Syrian Civil War, and the Syrian Refugee crisis. The delegation also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells, along with other U.S. government officials and key Jordanian leaders.
This was Hastings eighteenth trip to Israel as a Member of Congress. The delegation met with Israeli Defense Minister and Yisrael Beitenu Party Leader Avigdor Lieberman to discuss Israel’s foreign policy priorities and U.S.-Israel bilateral relations. Meetings were also held with Israeli Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office and Kulanu Member of the Knesset Michael Oren, in order to review the ongoing security and political challenges facing Israel and to reaffirm the enduring strength of the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship. Furthermore, a meeting was held with the Political Director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alon Ushpiz to discuss challenges and opportunities for Israeli foreign policy. Lastly, the delegation met with the Consul General Donald A. Blome and U.S Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority Lt. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, as well as the Chargé d’Affaires Leslie Tsou and other U.S. government officials.
“Given current events taking place in the region, I was pleased to have this important opportunity to meet with senior Israeli leaders on a wide range of issues concerning political developments in Israel, regional security in the Middle East, the peace process, and the U.S.-Israeli bilateral relationship. The relationship between America and Israel is paramount. Our countries work together in so many areas, from security to renewable energy, high-tech, medical research, and academic exchanges. I am deeply appreciative to the Israeli government for our substantive conversations on how to continue strengthening our relationship with Israel in the years to come.
“In addition, I was pleased to engage in a number of high-level meetings with representatives of the government of Jordan, one of the United States’ closest partners for peace in the region. As regional security threats loom, it is more important than ever that we continue this valued partnership,” further noted Hastings.
Hastings was part of a Congressional delegation led by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). Also joining this bipartisan and bicameral delegation were Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), Congressman Trent Kelly, and Congressman Steve King (R-IA) (Austria portion only). Over 200 parliamentarians gathered in Vienna for the OSCE PA Winter Meeting, which featured a special debate on “Promoting Human Rights in Times of Crisis.”
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.