Israel

Pro-Israel lawmakers in both U.S. parties are losing confidence in Netanyahu

Author: Scott Wong and Andrea Mitchell Source: NBC News
January 20, 2024 at 13:15
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.Evan Vucci / AP file
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.Evan Vucci / AP file

“It’s really hard to defend Bibi or to justify his political strategy in all of this,” said one House Republican. “There’s real distrust, there’s real questions about his ability to lead."

WASHINGTON — Pro-Israel hawks in both parties on Capitol Hill are sounding the alarm that they are losing confidence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his handling of the war against Hamas.

While progressive lawmakers have consistently been critical of Netanyahu and Israel’s counterassault in the Gaza Strip that has leveled buildings and killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, it’s significant that pro-Israel lawmakers who serve on key national security panels are now voicing frustration about Netanyahu’s leadership, albeit quietly.

Three of the lawmakers who spoke to NBC News said they are even questioning whether the 74-year-old prime minister has a strategy to end the bloody war in Gaza and have suggested that the unpopular Netanyahu may be deliberately trying to prolong it in order to remain in power.

“It’s really hard to defend Bibi or to justify his political strategy in all of this,” said one House Republican who deals with national security issues and requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. “From a personal level, I think it’s to his political benefit to stay engaged in conflict, whether that’s with Hezbollah or whether that’s in Gaza. Any type of cease-fire or peace agreement, rebuilding effort or off-ramp is detrimental for him politically, and I think that factors in on what he’s doing.”

The Republican added: “There’s real distrust, there’s real questions about his ability to lead, and I think he’s very, very unpopular. I think you’re seeing that within his Cabinet. You’re seeing that within his coalition. You’re seeing that within the military, within the country. And I think that is front and center for a lot of policymakers here in the U.S. from a national security standpoint.”

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