JERUSALEM – The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Sunday that when it comes to backing Israel, she and President George W. Bush are united.
Pelosi is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation marking Israel's 60th anniversary. She said the Jewish state was the one issue where American political rivals saw eye to eye. Pelosi is a Democrat, while Bush is a Republican.
"We're not on the opposite sides as far as Israel is concerned," she said. "There are no divisions between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to support for the state of Israel."
But Pelosi did find a point to argue with the president.
Last week, in a speech to the Israeli parliament, Bush spoke out against those who wished to appease terrorists. Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful, took offense, accusing Bush of "a false political attack" against him.
Bush did not mention Obama by name in the speech.
Pelosi, visiting Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, backed Obama and tried to assure jittery Israelis that, if elected, he would be a loyal friend.
"Barack Obama is a strong supporter of Israel, and any insinuation on the part of the Republicans that he is not is beneath the dignity of the office of the President of the United States," she said.
Pelosi's four-day visit includes meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres and other leaders. She is scheduled to give a speech to Israel's parliament on Monday.
Her 13-member delegation includes House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam.
Pelosi, who arrived from Baghdad, said she supported withdrawing American troops from Iraq by next year.
"We must turn our attention to the real source of terrorism, and that is in Afghanistan and not necessarily in Iraq," she said.
She also said she supported tough measures against Iran, whose president has threatened to destroy Israel, but said she hoped military means were not necessary.
"I don't know what would be gained by a military strike other than to strengthen the president of Iran and increase the price of oil, but I think we shouldn't take anything off the table," she said. "Sanctions have to really be used, not threatened, not refined, but strongly impressed upon to make sure they understand fully what the cost is to them as they continue in this ridiculous course of action."