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US Congressional Delegation Visits Egypt - 2002-05-28

A U.S. congressional delegation came to Egypt as part of a four-nation tour of the Middle East to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The congressmen met Tuesday with Egypt's President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told VOA the greatest stumbling block to reaching a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians is "the unwillingness of both sides to give an inch when it comes to the issue of land."

"Every meter is precious and so when you're talking about dividing meters and nobody will agree there's an absolute right or wrong, and this is on the land that isn't in Jerusalem, then you get to the land in Jerusalem and its every centimeter. But it's doable. It's going to take people of good will coming back to the table and do that last step, those last few meters and centimeters," Mr. Issa said.

Arab leaders frequently say Jewish-American supporters of Israel have an undue influence on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Mr. Issa said any influence that American Jews have can be attributed to the fact that they are "actively engaged in American politics." But he said that more Americans, not just American Jews, are becoming interested in events in the Middle East.

The congressmen's tour of the Middle East included a stop in Jordan for consultations with King Abdullah. Thursday they travel to Lebanon followed by a stop in Syria before heading back to the U.S..