U.S. taxpayers’ dollars make Israel’s defense mechanism stronger and provide the aid that comes into the Palestinian territories, so it’s time to use a “heavier hand” to tell both sides to stand down from their current conflict, Sen. Chris Murphy said Monday.
“Neither side is going to be protecting their citizens in the long run by continuing this escalation,” the Connecticut Democrat said on MSBNC’s “Morning Joe,” speaking after 28 Senate Democrats Sunday signed a statement calling for the Israeli military and Hamas to reach a ceasefire agreement.
The continued escalation of the Israel-Gaza crisis and the violence connected to it does not serve either side and as more civilians are being killed, the grievance will grow, said Murphy.
“It doesn’t, in my mind, protect Israel in the long run if they continue to barrage Gaza with rockets, and Hamas is not going to get any closer to the negotiating table by lobbing thousands of rockets into Israel,” said Murphy. “Right now, we need to focus on a cease-fire.”
The Democrats’ statement comes among divisions in the party concerning Israel’s actions. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., led the statement, which was signed by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., insists Israel is entitled to its defensive military, reports The Hill.
Their call came after the Biden administration blocked the governments of China, Norway, and Tunisia from releasing a statement from the U.N. Security Council that called for an end to the violence between the two countries.
Meanwhile, progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have claimed the United States is complicit in the escalated actions. Murphy said Monday that he and Sen. Todd Young, R-Pa., have issued the first bipartisan call for a cease-fire.
“Listen, the United States is an important security partner for the Israelis,” said Murphy. “We are an important humanitarian partner with the Palestinians. We have leverage on both sides and I would hope that we would be pushing very strongly over the next 24 hours for a cease-fire.”
He further conceded that it is “very difficult” to get both sides to sit down at the negotiating table, considering the issues with governments on both sides on the border.
“On both sides of the ledger, you don’t have leadership that is able to deliver, right?” said Murphy. “You don’t have an Israeli government right now. Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition has been dependent for years on pushing the country further and further from a path to a Palestinian state. Similarly, the Palestinians are split. The reason that Hamas decided to launch these unprovoked rockets into Israel was to try to gain leverage over its rival, Fatah, the more moderate side of the Palestinian infrastructure.”
In addition, Egypt and Jordan are “probably weaker” and less able to bring together both sides than they have been in the past, said Murphy.
The New York Times’ Tom Friedman and others have observed that the only ones winning from the conflict are Netanyahu and Hamas, and Murphy agreed that political considerations “make peace harder.”
“Hamas has, you know, convinced so many Palestinians that they are the protectors of the holy sites in and around Jerusalem,” said Murphy. “That’s a disaster for Palestinians. Similarly, Benjamin Netanyahu for years has been taking steps to make a Palestinian state virtually impossible, and that’s bad for both Israelis and Palestinians in the long run.”
Murphy added that there is a limit to how much the United States can do, but said that “this is a moment where the United States can engage, and we should.”