Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), called on Israel and the Palestinians to defuse the ongoing violence, days after returning from a trip to the Middle East.
“The Israeli and Palestinian leaders must embark on a de-escalation path,” Murphy told reporters on Monday, addressing the rise in violence in Jerusalem, which has included scuffles between Palestinians and the Israeli police, protests and attacks rocket from Gaza.
“This constant increase in violence may serve political interests, but it could lead to chaos which will end up killing many people,” Murphy continued. “Hamas must stop the rocket attacks, but Israel must stop the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes,” he added, referring to the potential eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in the Sheikh neighborhood. Jarrah in East Jerusalem.
The Connecticut senator said he believed the Biden administration was determined to seek peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but said the United States waited to engage strongly on the issue until then. that the ongoing coalition negotiations in Israel and the Palestinian elections, which have been postponed indefinitely, have been settled.
âBut we’re grappling with the here and now,â Murphy said. âOur goal today must be to convince both sides to take action towards de-escalation. A tit-for-tat, one side responding to escalation on the other with more escalation, is not the way to go here. And we need to get this message across to both sides. “
During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Secretary of State Tony Blinken was more pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the region under the Biden administration, saying: â[a two-state solution] seems further away than ever, at least since Oslo âand indicated that the current US priority is not a comprehensive peace agreement.
Murphy also recently signed a yet unpublished letter from Democratic senators to President Joe Biden asking him to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, DC, and the US consulate in East Jerusalem.
Murphy, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, also referred to his trip to Qatar, Oman and Jordan and other recent regional developments, including nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Murphy, a strong supporter of the reintegration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, said he had returned from the trip “more convinced than before … that it is important for us to come back. in the agreement. “
The Connecticut senator reiterated his previous support for the removal of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions as part of a re-entry into the 2015 accord.
“Some in Washington may cause a problem with the Iranians wanting the lifting of Trump’s sanctions that did not exist before the signing of the JCPOA,” he said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable for the Iranians to ask, for example, the Biden administration to look at the personal sanctions against the Supreme Leader, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or the sanctions on the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps]. “
These sanctions, added Murphy, âhave done nothing for the United States. Iran’s behavior has not improved … Iran’s behavior has worsened.
Murphy also told reporters he believed the upcoming Iranian elections, slated for next month, were increasingly becoming an obstacle to the JCPOA’s re-entry negotiations.
âMy advice to the Biden team has been to be flexible and noble, but consistent,â he said. “What we need to do is go back to the original terms of the deal.”
Murphy presented the JCPOA as a pillar of peace across the region, including between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have held talks facilitated by Iraq.
“As encouraging as it is that the Iranians and the Saudis are talking, it is hard to imagine that these talks would bear fruit if the United States continued to be engaged in Trump’s maximum pressure campaign,” Murphy said, adding: “I think that” It would be a mistake to believe that the JCPOA and the future of Yemen are disconnected. “
The Connecticut senator said Gulf countries also generally support a return to the nuclear deal to facilitate intra-regional negotiations.
“We have heard quite regularly from the Gulf countries that they would welcome a return to the agreement with Iran because they deem it necessary to continue these first talks on a new regional security architecture,” said Murphy.
American allies in the region have expressed concerns in recent weeks on Washington’s current approach to re-enter the JCPOA.