Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Israel allies in Congress losing confidence in Netanyahu in Hamas war

By 37ci3 Jan 20, 2024


WASHINGTON – Israel supporters of both parties on Capitol Hill are sounding the alarm about a loss of confidence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its management The war against Hamas.

while progressive legislators there is has been consistently critical Netanyahu and Israel counter attack it is significant that pro-Israel lawmakers who serve on key national security panels in the Gaza Strip, which has destroyed buildings and killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, are now quietly voicing their frustrations with Netanyahu’s leadership.

Three of the lawmakers who spoke to NBC News said they even questioned whether the 74-year-old prime minister had a strategy to end the bloody war in Gaza, saying the unpopular Netanyahu may be deliberately trying to prolong it. stay in power.

“It’s really hard to defend Bibi or justify his political strategy in all of this,” said one House Republican, who deals with national security issues and requested anonymity to discuss sensitive issues. “On a personal level, I think that it is to his political advantage to remain in conflict with Hezbollah or in Gaza. “Any kind of ceasefire or peace agreement or reconstruction effort or going off the ramp is politically damaging for him and I think that affects what he’s doing.”

The Republican added: “There is real distrust, there are real questions about his ability to lead, and I think he is very, very unpopular. I think you are He sees it in the Cabinet of Ministers. You see it in his coalition. You see it in the military, across the country. I think that’s front and center for a lot of politicians in the United States in terms of national security.

A House Democrat who serves on the national security committee agreed with that assessment, calling Netanyahu a “disaster” and saying he was deeply concerned that the military campaign could become an “endless war” with more civilian casualties.

“It seems that the Israeli government has given the IDF an impossible mission to destroy Hamas. And if this is the mission they expect the IDF to carry out, it will be an endless war,” said the Democratic lawmaker. “And in the meantime, countless, countless people will be innocently killed and the devastation will be unacceptable.”

Calling himself a “strong friend” of Israel, the Democrat said, “Everyone has been a strong friend of Israel, but Netanyahu is a disaster.” “And the worst part of it is that many of us fear that Netanyahu could potentially get involved because he knows he’s out of a job when the conflict ends. And so it doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the current situation is good for such a brave politician. But it’s terrible for everyone.”

In a statement to NBC News, the prime minister’s office rejected the lawmakers’ comments that Netanyahu may be deliberately dragging out the war for political purposes.

“The allegation that Prime Minister Netanyahu is prolonging the war unnecessarily is complete nonsense. The IDF chief of staff said it would be a long war that would take “many months”. “While significant progress has been made, more needs to be done to achieve the goals set by Israel’s Cabinet – the destruction of Hamas, the return of Israeli hostages, and the permanent demilitarization of Gaza,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to achieving this total victory, and the people of Israel show great unity in continuing the war effort until this victory is achieved.”

Assembly frustration

The growing anger against Netanyahu on Capitol Hill reflects that Growing frustration with the Biden administration With the leader of one of the US’s closest foreign allies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Middle East last week and urged Israeli and Arab leaders to agree on ways forward on Gaza after the war ends. But Netanyahu rejected this offer.

A White House official said Biden and Netanyahu, who have known each other for decades, spoke by phone on Friday to discuss Israel’s operations in Gaza, efforts to increase the flow of flour and other humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the release of hostages. It was the first time since Dec. 23 that the leaders have not been in contact since the Oct. 7 terror attack by Hamas on Israel. The pre-Christmas call ended in a disagreement over Israel’s refusal to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue it has withheld from the Palestinian Authority since the war began, US officials said.

A second House Democrat who also serves on the national security committee said, “I am extremely disappointed and dismayed by the lack of change in strategy despite the very high and unacceptable rate of civilian casualties, which serves neither Israel’s interests nor America’s interests.” “The current strategy of military approach only in large-scale bombing will make the problem worse, not better.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., who recently led a bipartisan delegation of senators to the Middle East, said they are urging Israeli officials to send more humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or risk opening another front. in a three month war.

On January 19, 2024, smoke rises over residential areas after Israeli attacks on Gaza's Khan Yunis.
Smoke rises over residential areas after Israel’s attack on Gaza’s Khan Younis area on Friday.Anatolia via Abed Rahim Khatib/Getty Images

“Our support for Israel remains strong. But we have to have a partner in the Israeli government who understands that if they don’t think differently about this conflict in Gaza, they could lose a generation of American support,” Warner said during a speech this week. MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

Asked whether regional peace can only happen in a post-Netanyahu world, Warner said: “There are some outsiders in Mr. Netanyahu’s Cabinet who are fanning the flames of passion against the Palestinians with some of their comments, like saying, ‘Let’s do it.’ try to move all Palestinians out of Gaza”. It’s just the completely inappropriate comments of some ministers in his government.”

Warner’s colleague in the lower house, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, declined to comment for this article. Another House GOP lawmaker said he still supports Netanyahu and the war effort, but believes the embattled prime minister cannot continue his job after the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry oversaw military operations that have killed an estimated 24,000 civilians. A survey by this month Israel Democracy Institute showed that only 15% of Israelis want Netanyahu to remain in power after the Gaza war.

‘He does what he’s supposed to do’

During the attack on Israel on October 7, Hamas terrorists killed about 1200 people. sexual violence and took about 240 hostages, of whom 134 have not yet been released. Congress this week 100 days have been celebrated Since the candlelight attack on the steps of the Capitol.

“I don’t think Netanyahu can survive this,” said the GOP lawmaker, who has spent time in Israel but does not sit on the national security panel. “What he has to do is going to be wild. There will be so many deaths and so many innocent people who will die to get Hamas and destroy them as completely as they can. I think that people in our modern times do not understand the horrors of war.

“Netanyahu will be scapegoated for doing what he had to do,” the GOP lawmaker added.

The frustrations with Netanyahu come as a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators work furiously to reach a deal on an emergency national security package that includes tougher immigration policies and military aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

But on Thursday, Netanyahu inflamed tensions repeats his protest He argues that the creation of a Palestinian state after the war conflicts with the need for Israel’s security. The US supports a two-state solution.

“With or without settlements, the state of Israel must have security control over the entire territory,” Netanyahu said. “It contradicts the idea of ​​sovereignty. I also say this to the United States: in Israel, the prime minister should be able to say “no” even to our best friends – this is how I rule.”

Asked by reporters on Friday whether he could convince Netanyahu to support a two-state solution, President Joe Biden simply answered, “Yes.”

The president floated the idea of ​​a Palestinian state with no military or military restrictions.

Bibi is standing next to him

While Netanyahu has bled support among some Israel supporters on the Hill, other longtime allies in both parties say they stand by the man they affectionately call “Bibi.”

“I think he’s fine. They think it’s a war and you should give people at war a free hand to do what they have to do, so I don’t see support for Israel diminishing on the Republican side,” said Rep. Tom Cole. R-Okla., who serves on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

Former Majority Leader, D-Md., who has known Netanyahu for two decades. often goes to Israel, said that the prime minister was “wrong” in his speech against the Palestinian state. But Hoyer said Supports Netanyahu and his fight to protect Israel.

“I support Bibi Netanyahu. Do I support Israel and its goal of ending the desire to destroy Israel and kill Jews since 1948? The answer to that is absolutely yes,” Hoyer told NBC News.

But Hoyer added that the special US-Israel relationship is not about personalities. “Basically Netanyahu’s time has come and gone,” he said. A change of leaders “will happen.” When this is over, and I hope it’s not too late, it will happen.”



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By 37ci3

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