Citing COVID concerns, IAEA postpones two congressional trips to Israel
WASHINGTON – Two congressional trips sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation for August are rescheduled due to COVID-19, AIPAC said in a statement Tuesday.
A House Republican Freshman trip and a bipartisan trip for members of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees scheduled to take place next month have been postponed to 2022. The House Republican Freshman trip is now scheduled to take place in February, the same month as the trip. Democratic freshman.
“The IAEA has decided to postpone two Congressional trips to Israel scheduled for August to a later date,” said Marshall Wittmann, spokesperson for AIPAC. “Given Israel’s growing concern about the Delta variant and the likelihood of further travel restrictions, we decided that it was not possible to offer members of Congress a comprehensive and informative program in the midst of current challenges, “he said in a press release. He went on to say that “enthusiasm for travel to Israel remains high among these members of Congress, and we look forward to them visiting Israel with the IAEF.”
AIEF is the AIPAC affiliate charity, which funds educational seminars in Israel for members of Congress and other influential politicians.
The organization “also provides grants to support certain educational programs, including research on the Middle East, teaching materials and lectures, as well as leadership programs for university students.”
“We were hoping now that we had greater certainty, clarity and the definitive answers needed to determine whether we can safely hold a political conference in Washington, DC in 2022,” wrote AIPAC President Betsy Korn, to AIPAC members.
“The health and safety of our conference delegates is our top priority every year,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, there are still too many unanswered questions to move forward responsibly, and so we have made the decision to cancel the AIPAC 2022 political conference.”
This will be the second year in a row that the pro-Israel group has canceled its annual political conference. Last May, when the United States was in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic, the organization announced it would cancel the 2021 conference, traditionally held in March. According to the AIPAC source familiar with the discussion, the decision was made because it was “impractical to plan the event a few months in advance as the Delta variant is spreading.”