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Ernst-led Bipartisan CODEL Returns from Middle East

Reaffirmed Support for Israel in Face of Iran-Backed Hamas’s Attacks

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), co-chair of the Abraham Accords Caucus, led a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Israel to build upon her work to support peace in the region and deter Iranian aggression from threatening Americans and our partners and allies. Following the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel by Iran-backed Hamas, Ernst met with Israeli leaders – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and American citizens in Israel.

Ernst was joined by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (R-Iowa), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).



The world has witnessed the horrors of an emboldened Iran unleashing its terror proxies in the Middle East, taking American lives, and wreaking havoc on one of our strongest allies. As the co-chair of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, I was proud to bring bipartisan support to Israel in the face of aggression,” said Ernst. “Being in the region, I am reminded of the reason we must continue the progress of the Accords and why it is critical to affirm our commitments to our allies and partners, especially Israel. Iran cannot face the strength of our nations when we are working hand-in-hand to accomplish our security goals and to protect American lives.”

“Hamas perpetrated a horrific bloodthirsty assault upon the nation of Israel. The savagery, depravity, and inhumanity by Hamas towards the Israeli people during their attack demonstrated their terrorist intent to kill Jews, kill the Jewish Society, and kill any attempts towards peace,” said Panetta.  “Although the purpose of our trip was to talk about the potential for peace agreements in the Middle East, the attack prompted us to shift our focus to the war. That’s why it was important for our delegation to put boots on the ground in Israel so that we could hear directly from Israelis about the heinous assault upon their people as well as their heroic determination to ensure that it never happens again to their nation. Moreover, the visit allowed us to express that as members of the United States Congress, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel so that they can go toe-to-toe with the terrorists to eradicate Hamas, protect the Jewish society, and promote our humanity.”

“Thank you, Senator Ernst, for leading the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Delegation to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and spearheading our productive high-level diplomatic meetings. It was harrowing to be in the Middle East during the heinous attacks on Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East, but also we sent a reassuring message of support for Israel. I remain committed to the ongoing normalization efforts with Israel and I will continue to find ways for our countries to work together and bolster our strategic alliance. It was also encouraging to meet with our committed military, especially Iowans, stationed in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain,” said Miller-Meeks.

“We landed in one Middle East – but only days later departed a very different one. The deadly rampage of terror perpetrated by Hamas marks a dark day and a definite turning point for the region, which now is called upon to rise to the moment. Our briefings on the ground captured the seriousness with which America and its allies must approach the difficult days ahead and ensure that we call terror by its name. As America stands with Israel, we pledge also to support what our friend must do to safeguard its nation and secure the Israeli homeland. I am encouraged that the leaders we met remain engaged and focused on not only this shocking act of terror, but also the continual threat that Iran poses now and in the future. The Congress has a decisive role to play and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this delegation, on both sides of the aisle, and in both the House and the Senate,” said Issa.

“It was important for myself and my colleagues to travel to Israel to show the strength of the U.S.- Israel relationship and our unwavering bipartisan, bicameral unity for Israel and the Jewish people. Israel is our closest and most important ally in the Middle East, and they need our support now more than ever. We held productive meetings with Israeli officials and reiterated the commitment of Congress and the American people with Israel. Our relationship with Israel is key to global security and democracy in the Middle East and around the world, and we will continue to stand firmly with Israel. Having served in leadership on the House Armed Services Committee for a decade, I have taken more than a half dozen working trips to Israel to strengthen the ties between our two governments and armed forces. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Biden Administration to ensure that Israel has the military and humanitarian aid and assistance it needs to defend and protect its people from these terrorists,” said Norcross.

“The hopeful prospects for a wider Middle East peace that my congressional colleagues and I sought were indeed echoed back on this momentous trip, even after the brutal savagery we all witnessed that Hamas unleashed on Israel,” saidWasserman Schultz. “Speaking with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Jordan, before and after that vicious war was unleashed, we know that normalizing relations with Israel, our strongest democratic ally in this region, remains a priority for the Biden Administration and regional leaders. This was a goal of our mission, and I am confident it will succeed. After engaging with Israel’s leadership, affected families, and security forces right after this barbaric attack, we see how far the forces opposed to a lasting peace will go to prevent it. This was the most Jews killed in a single day since the Holocaust and Israelis told us this felt like their version of America’s 9/11 attack. I have been to Israel many times, but this journey was unlike any other. The ferocity of the violence was shocking, and the stories from victims’ family members were gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all those still searching for loved ones and may the memory of all those who were lost, be a blessing. Yet all the loss we witnessed only hardens my commitment to stand by Israel as it works to rid Gaza of Hamas’ terrorist network and provide safety and security to its citizens. Congress remains united, on a bipartisan basis, to ensure the Jewish and Democratic state has what she needs during this critical time, and I stand with President Biden in offering my unwavering support for the State of Israel and its people. As a Jew and a Zionist, I firmly stand in support of Israel. This bipartisan, bicameral journey amid such a tragic, historic moment, only hardens my resolve and commitment to its future survival, and a broader Middle East peace around her. Am Yisroel Chai!”     

Details from their CODEL include:

In the United Arab Emirates, Senator Ernst discussed the importance of the U.S.-Emirati partnership with the Chief of Defense Issa Al Mazrouei and met with President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss how we can work together to strengthen the strategic relationship between our countries.



In Saudi Arabia, Senator Ernst hosted a business roundtable on innovation and infrastructure development. She also greeted troops at Prince Sultan Air Base and toured the F16 and F35 squadrons. Ernst also met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



In Bahrain, Senator Ernst met with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and his cabinet, as well as the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command to discuss the war in Israel, Iranian malign activity in the Gulf, and Naval efforts to counter Iranian sanctions evasion. She also saw cutting-edge technology at Task Force 59, which is the Navy’s Robotics and Artificial Intelligence operation that brings together over a dozen international partners to witness the detection and deterrence of Iran’s illicit maritime actions.



In Jordan, Senator Ernst met with Ambassador Yael Lempert and King Abdullah II. They discussed efforts to support Israel and deter Iran and its proxies.



In Israel, Senator Ernst met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Advisor Ron Dermer, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, as well as both Israeli and American civilians, following Hamas’s attacks. During her visit, she reaffirmed the United States’ support for our ally Israel.




As co-chair of the Abraham Accords Caucus, Ernst led the DEFEND Act to strengthen the work of the Accords by combatting attacks from Iranian-backed extremists through air and missile defense capabilities, which was passed into law. This year, she led the bipartisan MARITIME Act to unite Middle East partners against Iranian maritime threats, which wasincluded as a provision in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

In April, Ernst and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a bipartisan push demanding President Biden enforce much-needed sanctions on Iranian oil and gas shipments. She followed up with a bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Biden demanding a response to Iranian threats against Americans and American companies that prevented the transfer of seized oil from the Suez Rajan tanker off the coast of Texas for months. Following her advocacy, the illicit oil began being transferred.