(CNN) – Sen. Marco Rubio told Israeli leaders Wednesday he was glad President Barack Obama would be visiting the Jewish state this spring, and waded into the politically sensitive subject of Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel.
Ahead of his meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Rubio said of the city, "Of course the capital of your country but the spiritual capital of million around the world."
American policy has long been intentionally vague on the status of Jerusalem. A U.S. law passed in 1995 designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and stipulates the American embassy should move to the city from Tel Aviv. The past three presidents, however, have signed waivers suspending the law, citing security and diplomatic concerns.
Israelis consider Jerusalem the capital of their country, but Palestinians also claim rights to the city as the capital of a future independent state. The status of the city is designated for final negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Rubio stressed the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and said both Democrats and Republicans were united in supporting the country.
"At a time when few things unite Democrats and Republicans in Washington, I'm pleased that Israel is one of them and excited about the fact that the president will visit here in March and it will be a very productive visit," Rubio said.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rubio also hailed the relationship between the United States and Israel.
"You live in a challenging neighborhood, but the Israeli-American relationship is one of the most important ones we have, and certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way," the Florida Republican told Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem. "And that's why I'm pleased the president is coming here in March."
Netanyahu told Rubio that he appreciated "the tremendous support of the American people, bipartisan support for our security and our quest for peace."
"It's a daunting task, both security and the quest for peace, but we know we have your support and we appreciate it. I look forward to talking with you about our challenges," Netanyahu continued.
The prime minster's office posted a video with the brief exchange between the two politicians on its official YouTube page.
Rubio is midway through a trip through the region that started in Jordan. In addition to meeting with Netanyahu, Rubio was also slated to sit down with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In Jordan, he will meet with King Abdullah.
Rubio serves on both the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees and said before his trip that he planned to speak with the Israeli leaders about the peace process with Palestinians and Egypt.
"America's friendship with Israel is a truly special one, and we must continue to do all we can to support this beacon of democracy, religious freedom and free enterprise in the heart of an unstable region," Rubio said in a statement on Saturday announcing his trip. "As Iran continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we must continue to apply pressure through every possible means in order to prevent a nuclear Iran."
In Jordan, he is "interested in learning more firsthand about the impact the Syrian civil war and how the humanitarian crisis that has resulted is impacting Jordan and the region."
Rubio said his wife Jeanette would accompany him on the trip but not at taxpayer expense. He has previously visited Israel.
CNN's Michael Schwartz in Jerusalem and Kevin Liptak in Washington contributed to this report.
Hey Rubio- vacationing on the taxpayer's dime again? Guess what? NO ONE CARES what you think about the U.S. and Israel. You're only a junior Senator from Florida.
Rubio, do you know what you just said? Republicans will eat you up alive when you get back.
Meh. He's still a greenhorn.
Rubio is "pleased"? He sounds like he's referring to a child or a pet puppy. Has anyone informed Mr. Rubio that you're supposed to leave domestic politics at the shore's edge? I think speaking about the president in condescending tones like that breaks that rule of thumb. Don't you?
So The Rube is touring the mideast. How nice for him.
What a waste of OUR tax dollars.
Rubio, good that you went there BUT that doesn't guarantee you to become the President. Remember Sarah Palin and Romney went there. Where are they now?????
Well, if Rubio's pleased ... no doubt I'm pleased Rubio is pleased.
Good grief. What a bumbling, condescending fool this man Rubio is.
What rs said!
Why is that US "officially" gives away $3 Billions to Israel and WE (not them) feel the need to kiss their rear? People in other countries are shaking their heads wondering why is the Elephant so scare of the Mickey Mouse? Enough is enough.
Yeah, he might have said that, but look at that face. Getting those foreign affairs chops, heh? I guess next will be Paul and Santorum.
So GLAD that Marco Rubio " IS PLEASED" with our President, Im sure he was waiting for his approval... Was this article necessary?
Umm... so who really cares what you think aboout this. You have no gravitas in the Forign Policy area.
Rubio looks like a fish out of water! He is in over his head and the republicans are probably deliberately setting him up for failure so he can be ridiculed in the court of people opinions so they can say well we supported Rubio, but he blew it! Rubio WILL NOT be the republican nominee in 2016, it is just not going to happen, bet you $10,000!
Country Above Parties asked:
Why is that US "officially" gives away $3 Billions to Israel and WE (not them) feel the need to kiss their rear?
Good question. The first time I asked that question, when I was in first grade, a bunch of kids wearing funnly looking, little round hats ganged up and totally beat me up because they thought my question was offensive.
What business does a Senator have overseas? I thought their job and focus was to represent their state's interest domestically. Florida doesn't have bilateral relations with Israel, does it? (Add your own funny comment regarding the number of old Jewish people living in Florida!)
good for you anchor baby. have a drink of water and go get your shine box
If the republicans were truly worried about government spending, they would quit funding their 2016 campaign trips with taxpayer money. These members of congress have no business taking these "boondoggles" to build an image for a run at the White House 4 years from now. A total waste of our tax dollars!
"I'm pleased the president is coming here in March."
How wonderfully and baselessly condescending. Trojan Token needs to learn respect for the office of POTUS that he so covets.
when you only have one friend in the middle east you have to keep paying them.or they will find a new friend
Reading the responses on this article....same old names (apparently nothing better to do) but worse than that, what a bunch of "whiners". Pat each other on the back in your little close minded club! Two minutes is long enough to waste reading your foolish blather.
Rubio looks like a fish out of water! He is in over his head and the republicans are probably deliberately setting him up for failure ... ... ...
He is allowing himself to be set up. BTW, the look in his eye. There's a name for it. It's the Poland Spring Stare Down. He can see somebody in the corner just chugging' away. Gulurp, gulurp!
Attention Repubs.: Marco Rubio is not the next Ronald Reagan. P.S.- Neither was George W. Bush, though they both had a reckless Foreign Policy & ran up the Fed. Deficit.
water boy, chris christie will eat u up.
Another example of the media focusing on certain politicians due to speculations about their potentially running for POTUS. We just had an election for president and already the focus is on who may or may not be running for the next one?
So, who died and made Rubio the spokesman for America?????????? Get home Rubio-– there is work to be done here in the US..in case you forgot