Orthodox Union members lunch with U.S. senators
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Orthodox Union members lunch with U.S. senators

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Members of the Orthodox Union met with a dozen senators on Capitol Hill during the OU’s annual leadership mission to Washington.

Among the lawmakers the nearly 100 participants heard from at a Capitol Hill luncheon Wednesday were Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced a resolution June 9 to reaffirm U.S. policy toward Israel.

"It’s important to make an affirmative statement that under no circumstances Israel can or will return to the ’67 borders," Lieberman said.

Lieberman added that "this is a very challenging time in Israel’s history," but implored OU members not to "let the momentary challenges get you down."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of two Democrats co-sponsoring the resolution along with 26 Republicans, told OU members that the measure needs more bipartisan support.

"We’re going to get more Democrats on that resolution," Wyden said, calling the resolution "the right thing to do."

With Hamas as part of the Palestinian Authority government, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the foreign aid issue must be resolved.

"Cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority has to be on the table," Graham said.

Several senators mentioned the possible Palestinian bid for statehood this fall in the United Nations.

"We will take action if the Palestinians move forward with unilateral statehood," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Other senators who spoke included Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Pryor (R-Ark.) and David Vitter (R-La.).

OU leaders also had what one participant described as "frank exchanges" with top White House officials, including Denis McDonough, the deputy national security adviser.

They discussed education funding with Jack Lew, the Orthodox Jewish director of the Office of Management and Budget, and had meetings with David Kamin, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, and Jon Carson, the director of the Office of Public Engagement.