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Chaffetz visiting Mideast programs

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is in the Middle East this week visiting several foreign aid programs funded by the United States.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he's learned that in some areas, the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together successfully.

Specifically, Chaffetz said, he talked with officials who are training and equipping security officers for the Palestinian Authority with U.S. funds.

"They've trained about 1,500 officers so far, want to train up to 5,000. We're spending several hundred million dollars, and it's working," he said.

Chaffetz visited an area in Israel close to the Gaza Strip. "Those people have been hit with more than 5,000 rockets" fired by Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization which took over the strip several years ago.

"There is a great influence by Iran of Hamas," he said. "We as a nation are at some point going to have to deal with that Iranian influence."

Chaffetz said while some in Congress are vacationing during the August break, "I'm here." It may be hot and in the desert, "but it is certainly no Lake Powell."

— Bob Bernick Jr.