CORNELIUS – U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger flew to Israel Aug. 9 on a weeklong fact-finding trip as part of his duties as chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. He represents North Carolina's 9th district in Washington D.C. 

Accompanied by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Pittenger will attend private meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Conversations with the country’s top Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders are also on the itinerary. 

Jamie Bowers, Pittenger’s communications director, said the trip is meant to “introduce Pittenger to the key players in the Middle East and make him more effective in his new role.” He’s chaired the task force since March.

The congressman will also visit Golan Heights, a basaltic plateau southwest of Syria that Israel seized from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967. 

Pittenger is particularly interested in his meetings with Israeli security officials who have extensive expertise in combating terrorism.

“Terrorism and unconventional threats like chemical weapons and cyber attacks are now the greatest threat to America’s national security,” Pittenger said. “By learning from Israel’s anti-terror experience and meeting with leaders from both sides of the conflict, I’ll be better prepared to create legislation to protect Americans from these threats.”

A meeting at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 will give the public an opportunity to hear about the trip and ask Pittenger questions.

“He wants to make sure he’s spending as much time as possible on the public’s questions as opposed to his own statements,” Bowers said.