Congressman Bruce Braley has just returned from a trip to the Middle East where he met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders who’ve agreed to resume peace talks.
“The thing that was most encouraging is everyone we spoke to from the (Israeli) prime minister to Shimon Perez to the chief negotiator for the Palestinian authority — all spoke glowingly about the role of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in bringing them back to the table and convincing them that there was a path forward,” Braley says.
Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, was one of 37 members of congress to make the trip.
“Even though the trip that we made certainly reinforced the substantial obstacles to getting an agreement, the most important thing was that the parties seemed optimistic about a two-state solution with the full engagement of the United States and its secretary of state,” Braley says.
The latest round of chaos in nearby Egypt happened as Braley and the rest of the members of congress were making their way back to the states.
“Because of the timing of our trip and the renewal of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, every factor that was influencing those conversation was something we were fully aware of, but the most recent breakdown in Egypt was evolving as we were leaving and it’s only on the way back that we really became aware of the full extent of what was happening there.”
Braley says despite the many years of failing on the path to peace, he found encouraging signs and a sense among those participating in the peace talks that continuing to do nothing was no longer an option. ”
It’s like everything else that we do,” Braley says.
“It’s one thing to talk about policy that is being impacted by events in other parts in the world. It’s another thing to be on the ground, hear with your own ears and see with your own eyes see some of the unique and extraordinary challenges the state of Israel faces, that the surrounding complications in Egypt and Syria and Iran are having.”
The trip started Sunday, August 4 and the group returned Tuesday, August 13. The American Israel Education Foundation made the arrangements for the group and covered the cost of the travel.