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Moskowitz addresses concerns about new Israeli government after HFAC appointment

The freshman congressman from Florida was appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week

Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images

Representative-elect Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) gives an interview in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill Nov. 29, 2022.

As he prepares to take a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — an assignment announced yesterday — freshman Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) told Jewish Insider he’s still taking a “wait-and-see” approach to the new Israeli government.

“As we fight for democracy here, I think we have to fight for democracy there,” Moskowitz said. “But,” he concluded, “it’s still early. Let’s not judge them by what they say, let’s judge them by what they do. So let’s see what happens.”

Moskowitz enters office and the committee as a successor to former Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and has pledged to carry on Deutch’s legacy as a vocal supporter of Israel, with the support of many in his district’s sizable Jewish and pro-Israel community.

“I think the Israeli government should think about this — the things that are said about [Israel] at the U.N., which are untrue, and that [they] are singled out because of antisemitism and because of anti-Israel [sentiment],” Moskowitz said warning that Israel should not take actions that might “give those things credibility.”

He said that “that’s some of my concern” about some of the changes being proposed by the new Israeli government.

The comments place him among a growing list of pro-Israel Democrats who have addressed the proposed policies by the new Israeli government.

In recent days, two senior Jewish Democrats, Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) have both cautioned that planned changes to the Israeli judiciary  — which would gut its ability to act as a check on the Knesset and thereby, critics argue, threaten Israeli democracy — could undermine support for Israel in the U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) have expressed concerns privately to Israeli officials about far-right members of the new government, according to Axios.

Moskowitz called for Congress to work to “do everything we can” to help expand the Abraham Accords — particularly working to add additional countries, like Saudi Arabia, to the agreement. He lamented that no new agreements had been signed since 2020.

“This administration was slow to embrace the Abraham Accords and still doesn’t really do what I’d like to see, which is really trying to build on it — not just hold what we have, but build,” Moskowitz said. “I think Congress should be doing whatever we can to support the administration to build on that.”

He said the Accords will help strengthen Israel — “which also alleviates our military obligations” — and “isolate Iran without an Iran deal.”

Moskowitz declined to say if he thought the administration had misstepped in alienating Saudi Arabia last year in a dispute over oil pricing, but said that the U.S. needs to work with Saudi Arabia and others in the region on strategic military areas, while also pushing for changes in areas like “social policy and values.” 

The Florida freshman said Ukraine is also a top priority, pushing back on Republican colleagues who have called to cut off aid to the war-torn nation fending off a Russian invasion. He warned that pulling aid would lead to the fall of Ukraine and the collapse of NATO, as well as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

“We’ve got to get the American people… [to] understand why it’s so important to us,” he said. “I’m extremely worried about how actually volatile that situation is. I obviously will start to get information when I get on the committee that I don’t currently know. And I’m actually worried about what that information is going to look like.”

The Republican majority has also announced plans to probe the U.S.’s pullout from Afghanistan. Moskowitz said that it’s “fair” to probe why the pullout didn’t go according to plan, to determine “what were the lessons learned? And what did we underestimate? And why did we underestimate it and how do you fix that? How do you make sure that doesn’t happen again?”

“We don’t have to politicize it,” he continued, adding that the Trump administration had also made missteps in its relationship with the Taliban.

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