Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio met today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres during the course of a trip to the Middle East that includes stops in Israel and Jordan.
At his meeting with Netanyahu, Rubio poked fun at his recent "water bottle-gate" incident, in which he took a sorely needed but inartful swig of water during his televised response to President Obama's State of the Union address. In a photo released by Rubio's Senate office, the two men are shown, grinning broadly, holding aloft bottles of water as bystanders in the room look on.
Apart from the self-effacing humor, according to a release from Rubio's press office, the senator and the Israeli leaders discussed the "political landscape changes in the Middle East, Israel's relations with its neighbors, peace negotiations with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear threat, and further strengthening the U.S.-Israeli strategic relationship."
Rubio, who sits on the both the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, also made headlines on the trip by declaring that Jerusalem is "of course" the capital of Israel, according to the Associated Press.
The status of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as the capital of a prospective Palestinian state, is one of many issues that have tripped up negotiators working to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The U.S. embassy in Israel is located in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem.
The trip to Israel is Rubio's second: he previously visited the Jewish state in 2010 after his Senate victory. He departed for the region last Saturday and is expected to return on Friday.