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Schumer says he’s leading a bipartisan group of senators to Israel to show ‘unwavering’ US support

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is headed to Israel this weekend to discuss what resources the United States can provide for its war against Hamas.

Schumer, D-N.Y., is leading a bipartisan group of senators to the country “to show the United States’ unwavering support for Israel,” his office said. Schumer is the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S.

The visit comes as Congress is considering how much money and equipment to send to Israel and as two other high-ranking officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretry Lloyd Austin, have visited in recent days.

Schumer’s office said he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and senior opposition figure Benny Gantz, who is part of a newly formed wartime cabinet in Israel. His office has not released the names of the senators who will be traveling with him.

The majority leader just this week returned from a trip to China, where he pressured officials to condemn the brutal attack on Israel by Hamas.

The U.S. officials are talking to Israeli officials about what kind of aid is needed to defend against attacks from Hamas and is seeking to avoid an expanded Middle East conflict.

The Israeli military directed some 1 million civilians to evacuate northern Gaza “for their own safety and protection,” ahead of a feared Israeli ground offensive. Gaza’s Hamas rulers responded by calling on Palestinians to “remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm” against Israel.

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Schumer’s visit comes as the Senate is set to return to Washington on Tuesday and debate how much money and equipment to send to Israel and whether to tie an aid package with money for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion.