From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jul. 30, 2009, by Herb Keinon:
If you thought this week saw a big influx of visiting US government officials - and indeed it did, with visits from US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser Jim Jones and NSC Middle East adviser Dennis Ross - then hold your socks.
Over the next two weeks, some 60 US congressmen, nearly 15 percent of the 435-member House of Representatives, will be gracing our shores, most of them freshman representatives, all of them on trips sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The first group, the Republican delegation - arriving Monday for a week - will be headed by Eric Cantor of Virginia, the sole Jewish Republican in the House. Besides that distinction, Cantor is also the minority whip, which makes him the No. 2 Republican in the House, behind Minority Leader John Boehner.
A week later, the Democratic delegation will come to town, headed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
Cantor, 46, is a name that appeared on the US national radar screen about this time last year, when he was part of Republican presidential candidate John McCain's "Veep Sweepstakes," one of the names being considered as a possible running mate. ...his name is regularly floated as a possible GOP candidate in the 2012 presidential race.
During their week-long stay here, Cantor and his delegation will be meeting the country's top leadership, including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and opposition head Tzipi Livni. They will also be going to Ramallah to talk to top Palestinian Authority officials, including Prime Minister Salaam Fayad.
Before leaving the US, Cantor spoke by phone Wednesday with The Jerusalem Post about settlements, President Barack Obama, American Jews, Iran, Syria and the current status of Israel-US ties.
Follow this link for excerpts from that conversation....