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Romney Visits Israel to Affirm U.S. Support

Highlights Hamas’ use of human shields in Gaza and argues for continued U.S. involvement in protecting democracies around the world

TEL AVIV—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined a bipartisan delegation of senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), on an official visit to Israel this weekend following the unconscionable terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The delegation met with top Israeli government officials and spent time with families of American-Israeli hostages held by Hamas. At a press conference, Romney highlighted how Hamas uses innocent Palestinian civilians to shield themselves from the Israeli military response in Gaza and argued for continued involvement from the United States in countering authoritarian and terrorist regimeslike Iran, Russia, and China—who threaten democracies around the world. Joining Romney and Schumer on the trip were Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

Above: Romney and his colleagues meeting with Israeli officials, including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu (top left), President Isaac Herzog (top and bottom right) and emergency war cabinet member Benny Gantz (bottom left).

Above: Romney and Schumer meeting with families of American-Israeli victims of the Hamas attacks.

A transcript of Senator Romney’s remarks from the press conference can be found below. Video can be found here.

This has been a heartbreaking, heart-wrenching experience for me, for my colleagues, for you, and for the world. To see the people of Israel subjected to such brutality, such a heinous act by individuals whose purpose is unimaginable. My heart breaks not just for our friends and allies, but for people who I love and hold dear.

Now, there are two things I’d like to mention, because I agree with what my colleagues have just said, and I’m not going to say the same thing. But I want to add just to two points. Number one, you’re going to see pictures, as you could imagine and probably already have, of Palestinian civilians that are going to be injured and killed by virtue of the conflict which is ongoing. I hope you recognize that those individuals are being killed because of Hamas, not because of Israel. In many respects, most directly, Hamas is holding their own population—the Palestinian population—as human shields. They’re using Palestinians to protect their own lives—Hamas’ lives. And therefore, when Israel takes action to try and go after Hamas and to take out its leadership, there will be individuals who are civilians and innocent that will be killed, and they will parade that as if this is some horror being perpetrated by Israel.

Do not forget the lives that you’re going to see lost on TV over the coming long period of time, potentially—Israeli lives and Palestinian lives—are all the result of Hamas.

And number two, and this is a point I think for my friends in the United States in particular—there is a growing sentiment in my country of isolationism, which is, you know, let’s not worry about what’s going on in the rest of the world. Let everybody else worry about those things.

This is a bipartisan group that has a different point of view, which is that we want to stand with our allies and with our friends. But I would note with regards to those that have isolationist tendencies that there’s a war being waged, a war being waged against free countries, against democracies, against freedom, and it’s being waged by Hamas and Russia and China, Iran. There are nations—Iran, Russia, China—that want to overthrow democracies generally and subvert the cause of freedom.

Backing away and saying, hey, we’re not going to worry about it, is not going to end their effort. That war would only continue and spread further and ultimately involve more and more of humanity.

So, we’re involved in the world because it’s in America’s interest. It’s in Israel’s interest. It’s in all of our allies’ interest. It’s in the world’s interest. This is obviously a period of great sadness and meeting today with the families of hostages has been something I will never forget. I can only imagine the horror in their lives.

My heart reaches to them. My prayers join with yours to see those hostages return to their loved ones.