On the hill

Murphy urges new Israeli government to be ‘more evenhanded’ with U.S.

The Connecticut senator wants the new coalition to ‘prioritize fixing’ the U.S.-Israel relationship

Photo: Paul Morigi

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who leads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee overseeing Middle East issues, is hopeful that the new Israeli government — a patchwork quilt of ideologically diverse parties — will take a different approach to U.S. politics than former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he told Jewish Insider on Tuesday.

“My hope is that they are going to prioritize fixing relations with the United States and being a bit more evenhanded about how they deal with the U.S. political system,” Murphy told JI.

Over his 12-year tenure, Netanyahu had shored up significant support from Republican legislators, while developing an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the Obama administration and some Washington Democrats critical of his policies.

“It’s obviously a very unique coalition… It’s obviously a very fragmented coalition,” Murphy added. “I think, for me, I want to wait and see what their priorities are and what their agenda is. I hope that there is a real opportunity to work with the coalition.”

Murphy’s comments appear to echo remarks from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday in which Lapid called Netanyahu’s approach toward American political partisanship “careless and dangerous.”

Murphy has been outspoken against some Israeli government policies in recent years. During last month’s conflict between Israel and Gaza, he issued an early call for a cease-fire. Last year, he led a Senate effort to raise concerns about potential unilateral annexation of the West Bank.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who also led the effort to oppose unilateral annexation, told JI Tuesday that “the jury’s still out” on whether the new Israeli government will pursue different policies from the Netanyau government.
Murphy has also been a vocal supporter of a number of policies opposed by the Netanyahu government, including a U.S. reentry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the easing of sanctions on Iran. Murphy also faced criticism in 2020 for meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered daily in a must-read newsletter.