WASHINGTON (JTA) — The new GOP majority will "serve as a check" on the Obama administration, Republican leader Eric Cantor told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu met Wednesday night with Cantor (R-Va.), the putative U.S. House of Representatives majority leader whose party swept midterm elections last week for the House. Their meeting was first reported on the Politico website.
Such meetings with opposition leaders are unusual, and Cantor’s office cast it as a get-together between two men with a longstanding relationship.
Nonetheless, Cantor’s statement was critical of the Obama administration, siding with Netanyahu in a number of areas where the prime minister and President Obama have differences.
The statement called on Obama to "fully and aggressively implement" Iran sanctions and to "make it absolutely clear that the U.S. will veto any effort by the Palestinians" to declare a state unilaterally. Cantor told Netanyahu, the statement added, that "the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one-party rule in Washington."
Although Obama has not used the full sanctions package, he has implemented Iran sanctions to a greater extent than any of his predecessors.
Cantor was deputy Republican whip from 2003 to 2007, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and the Bush administration considerably softened proposed Iran sanctions packages.
Obama also has made it clear that he opposes unilateral moves in the peace talks, although he has not explicitly threatened to veto Palestinian statehood should it come under consideration by the U.N. Security Council.
Netanyahu also met Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said that an announcement this week of more than 1,000 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem is "counterproductive."
"I’m very pleased to be here and to have this opportunity to discuss with him how we’re going to move forward in the process," Clinton said prior to the meeting.
Netanyahu also met with Vice President Joe Biden during his U.S. visit, and with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), whom he has known since the early 1980s.