WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, spoke with Haaretz’s Ben Samuels to discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the need to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, and the Democratic party’s consistent support for a two state solution.

On the U.S.-Israel relationship, Murphy said: “Israel is a partner and ally without comparison. The United States has been at its best when we have been both a strong friend of Israel and a table-setter for talks between Israel and the Palestinians."

He argued that as an honest broker, the U.S. can both “buttress Israel's security while ensuring the Palestinian people aren't going hungry."

On his CODEL to Israel, Murphy called for the reopening of the Jerusalem consulate. He told Haaretz: “One of the reasons it’s really important for the United States to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem to the Palestinians is that – notwithstanding the current government’s reluctance to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians – it puts the United States in a place where we can continue to talk to both sides, and keep lines of communication open.”

He continued: "Frankly, had the [Biden] administration opened the consulate at the beginning of the year, as the president made clear was his priority, we could have potentially avoided a lot of the controversy that exists right now inside Israel."

On the Netanyahu government, Murphy said: “On Israel, I try to make clear where I am: I’m a believer in the security of Israel, but I think the Netanyahu government often got it badly wrong. I can never speak for the people of Israel, but I worry that a lot of the decisions the Netanyahu government made are bad for Israel’s security in the long run.”

Murphy poked holes in the narrative that the Democratic party is divided on Israel. "It’s absurd that the story in Washington isn’t the movement of the Republican Party on Israel, versus the Democratic Party. It’s the Republican Party that is moving away from its historic support for two states; the Democratic Party has remained solid in our support for a Palestinian state. To the extent there is increased criticism of Israel, it’s because our position has remained the same; the position of the Israeli government has changed."

Murphy led the first CODEL to Israel and the West Bank last month after President Biden met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in June. With U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), he  met with Prime Minister Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas to discuss the priorities of the new government and the path forward to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians can live safely and securely and equally enjoy freedom, prosperity and democracy. The senators also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and young Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and engaged with USAID partners who are implementing programs on the ground. 

Click here to read the full Haaretz story.