‘Termites’ congressman toured West Bank with pro-Palestinian group

Rep. Hank Johnson speaking during a news conference in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Hank Johnson speaking at a news conference in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who apologized last month after likening Israel’s settlement activity to “termites,” toured the West Bank this year with a pro-Palestinian group.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Wednesday that Johnson took part in a May tour of the West Bank and Jerusalem hosted by Miftah, which supports “an independent, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state.”

The trip, which included Johnson’s wife, DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, and several other congressional Democrats, was also underwritten by the American Global Institute, which promotes overseas travel for lawmakers.

Such trips are commonplace; the Journal Constitution report came as part of the newspaper’s investigation into the travel of the state’s congressional delegation. Three U.S. House Republicans from the state — Buddy Carter, Barry Loudermilk and Rick Allen — toured Israel and the West Bank a year ago on the biennial trip hosted by the American Israel Educational Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Johnson, addressing pro-Palestinian groups on the sidelines of last month’s Democratic National Convention, had said settlements were “almost like termites [that] can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.”

After clarifying that he meant only to say that settlement activity is slowly undermining a two-state solution, Johnson apologized, and in recent days has reached out to Atlanta Jewish leaders.

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