Jan 28, 2022

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“For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say: ‘Peace be within thee.’  For the sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.” (Psalms 122:8-9)

Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) joined Tony Perkins and other Congressmen in meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Photo: Wiki Commons, Gage Skidmore)

Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) joined Tony Perkins and other Congressmen in meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Photo: Wiki Commons, Gage Skidmore)

Seven members of US congress visited Israel recently, led by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.  The Congress members, all known for their strong Evangelical Christian ties, spent nine days touring religious sites around the country and meeting with top political leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself.  Most of the trip was spent in the Judea and Samaria region.

The trip  was sponsored by the U.S. Israel Education Association with grants from several Christian and Jewish organizations, and included Congress members Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Perkins told The Christian Post that the most significant aspect of the trip was meeting with Israeli officials to share their concerns regarding the nuclear agreement reached recently with Iran.  He said Israeli officials were more candid than they had ever been.

“Mr. Netanyahu, who was delayed in joining our group because he had been on the phone with President Obama, called the agreement a ‘historic mistake’ and we agree. The Israeli government does not feel Western solutions are the right solutions for Middle Eastern Solutions,” Perkins said, in reference to lifting sanctions on Iran.

The US delegation and Israeli officials agreed that the sanctions have been working.  They believe only economic sanctions have kept Iran in line until now, as well as being the only reason Iran was willing to negotiate with the US in the first place.

“These sanctions have worked,” Perkins said. “But if reducing sanctions does not work – in other words if Iran does not keep their word – then we could see military action from Israel if they believe their national security is in danger.”  PM Netanyahu has said Israel will not be bound by the six-month agreement between the US and Iran.  He was also critical of President Obama for keeping the details of the negotiations secret for so long, even from America’s closest allies.

Perkins also pointed to critics who claim the agreement is merely a stop-gap solution to enable the weakened Obama administration to delay dealing with the issue until after the next election in 2016.

Another issue addressed by the delegation was religious persecution, with delegates meeting Christian evangelical leaders in Israel.

Bishop Naim Khoury leads the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem, which is under Palestinian control.  His church has been targeted for repeated attacks, including bombings and shootings.  The Palestinian Authority has also revoked the church’s recognition, meaning it is no longer able to issue birth certificates or perform weddings or funerals that will be legally recognized.

Despite all this, Khoury still believes Israel and Jews are God’s chosen people and they have a right to their own settlements.  He and his followers strongly oppose “Palestinian liberation theology,” a political-religious ideology that promotes violence against Israel, denying the religious nature of Jewish nationalist claims.

Perkins, however, expressed his optimism in the face of this difficult situation. “Psalm 122 does not have an expiration date.  Bishop Khoury strongly believes that the promise for peace and prosperity contained in this Psalm for Israel is still possible and he’s working toward that objective.”