WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, this week returned from Greece after leading a congressional delegation of U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to Lebanon, Israel, and the West Bank to discuss regional security and democracy in the region. Murphy and Ossoff then continued to Tunisia and Greece.
The delegation’s visit to Israel came after the formation of a new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in June, and was the first to travel to the country after President Biden met with Bennett at the White House. The delegation was also the first to travel to Tunisia since the beginning of the political crisis there began in July.
“Over the last week, we spoke with key Mediterranean leaders in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Tunisia and Greece. This is a critical part of the world with complex and often interconnected challenges, and at a moment of both crisis and opportunity, the United States needs to be present and engaged diplomatically. While abroad, we were especially proud to represent our constituents with ties to the region. Their personal connections to this part of the globe make the United States’ engagement in the region all the more important. In addition to official meetings, we met with civil society actors and experts in each country. We are grateful for our hosts and the embassy staff in each country for their support during the trip and their work to promote American interests abroad,” said the delegation.
In Lebanon, the senators met with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun to discuss the urgent need to form a government security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon, and U.S. humanitarian assistance. The delegation also visited a bakery in Karantina, rebuilt with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Following the formation of a new Israeli government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the senators met with Prime Minister Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas to discuss the priorities of the new government and the path forward to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians can live safely and securely and equally enjoy freedom, prosperity and democracy. The senators also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and young Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. The senators also engaged with USAID partners who are implementing programs on the ground.
In Tunisia, Murphy and Ossoff met with Tunisian President Kais Saied, representatives of Tunisian civil society organizations and members of parliament to express their support for the Tunisian people’s goal of a democratic government. Last month, Murphy released a statement on President Saied’s extension of the country’s state of emergency.
Murphy and Ossoff concluded the CODEL in Greece where they met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and young Greek leaders to reaffirm the U.S.-Greece relationship.