Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, met with Israeli officials at the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
Per President Donald Trump’s orders in December 2017, the embassy was moved from Tel Aviv Monday to Jerusalem after its formal recognition as the nation’s capital by the United States.
Knight and the other members of the 10-person House Armed Services Committee Congressional Delegation met with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss specific provisions of the next fiscal year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The act provides assistance to the Israeli Defense Force through early-warning and missile-defense programs like the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Patriot systems. It also counters increasing pressure from nearby aggressors.
The delegation also met with Israeli military officials to receive briefings on new developments and security challenges.
The delegations from both countries, which Knight said share “a great friendship,” discussed the Iranian deal and their position on the Iranian regime.
“The fact that President Trump said he was not going to keep the U.S. in a poor deal is a good thing,” Knight said. “It gets us into a position where Israel knows where we stand, and they know we stand against the Iranian regime. Nothing about the Iranian people, but the regime is hell-bent on taking over the Middle east. And I think that is very apparent. I think that we’ve got to be as good a friend as we’ve always been to Israel and know we stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
Knight said he believed the move, which breaks tradition from over 50 years of placement in Tel Aviv, marks the beginning of a movement of embassies to Jerusalem.
Knight also responded to controversy over the U.S. pastors who delivered the opening prayer and closing benediction for the opening ceremony.
Dallas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress and San Antonio televangelist John Hagee have been under fire for past comments made that Jewish people are going to hell, and that Hitler was part of God’s plan to return Jews to Israel. Both prayed at the ceremony for the Israeli nation and have voiced support for the Jerusalem move.
Knight expressed disapproval of the administration’s pick.
“I’m not happy with the pastor that said something against the Mormon religion or against Jews,” he said. “I think that that is absolutely horrible. I did not pick those pastors and I certainly wouldn’t have picked anyone that had disparaging comments about those two religions.
“That being said, I think that the ceremony was a beautiful ceremony,” he added. “The Prime Minister went up and did a phenomenal speech what this meant to the Jewish people and our connection and our friendship. It was an honor to be a part of this delegation and show support for our Israeli friends.”