Mass. Rep. Seth Moulton lays out views on Israel-Hamas War
By Alison Kuznitz | State House News Service
Bracing for a chaotic week in Washington with another government shutdown looming, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton turned his focus Monday to global conflicts that he said directly affect the country’s national security, including a path forward for the Israel-Hamas War.
The conflict, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian civilians since the terrorist group invaded southern Israel last month, “probably” would not have erupted had embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — whom Moulton described as a “total disaster” — not been in office, Moulton said.
Moulton, D-6th District, reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist and denounced terrorism, as he also mapped out his thoughts for expanded humanitarian relief to Palestinians and the release of about 250 Israeli hostages in Gaza.
He also rejected the mounting calls for a ceasefire as Netanyahu and Israeli forces look to root out Hamas, whose militants killed about 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7.
“A ceasefire is something the Israelis will never agree to, but even if they did, Hamas will use it to their advantage to regroup and resupply, which misses the whole point,” Moulton said during a New England Council event at the Hampshire House.
“Fundamentally, I think what’s needed is something much more specific, which is a civilian evacuation, both of the hostages through negotiation and innocent Palestinians through a surge of aid. In addition to providing safe borders and safe harbor for fleeing civilians, humanitarian aid must be a continuous and integral part of Israel’s military operation,” he said.
Moulton, an ex-Marine who served four tours in Iraq, and sits on the House Armed Services Committee, implored Israel to articulate its “end game” for the war as he lamented the deaths of Palestinian and Israeli children.
Asked during the event’s Q&A if Netanyahu should be removed from his position, Moulton said, “I’m not part of Israel’s democracy to determine who its leaders should be, but I think that, I mean, anybody with two cents know that Netanyahu is a total disaster and we probably wouldn’t even be in this conflict if he hadn’t been there.”
Pivoting to Washington’s political landscape after he recapped other conflicts like the war in Ukraine, Moulton drew laughter as he quipped, “The good news is we have a high-functioning Congress to sort it all out.”
While U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson over the weekend unveiled a two-step plan for avoiding a government shutdown that could start Saturday, Moulton criticized the Louisiana Republican’s lack of experience that he said has stymied Congress from passing spending bills.
“We were last in Washington Thursday, late morning, where he pulled the bill about two minutes before it was to be voted on because he realized he didn’t have the votes,” Moulton said of a transportation appropriations bill. “So I expect that chaos to continue this week. His proposal, for what he called a laddered continuing resolution where different agencies get shut down at different points, is essentially replacing one government shutdown with 12. I’m not sure that’s a wise approach for someone who can’t even seem to handle one.”
While Democrats plan to stay engaged in negotiations with Republicans, Moulton signaled the longer-term solution is for Democrats to regain control of the House.
“It’s very frustrating for those of us who want to work across the aisle, for those of us with strong bipartisan records, as I’m proud to say that I have,” Moulton said, as he invoked “one side” that refuses to negotiate.
The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war and being led by an “indicted criminal,” Moulton added. But Democrats are at risk of losing the 2024 presidential election, he said.
Recent polling showed former President Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden in battleground states.
“If you look at the polls, I mean Democrats have no excuse for not cleaning up,” he said. “And so if you’re a Democrat here today, I have to tell you, we got to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘What the hell are we doing wrong that we can’t absolutely clean up across the board?’ ”
Moulton added: “We might very well lose the presidential election if the current polls are to be believed, and I don’t see any reason not to, so we got some real problems.”
Biden’s approval rating fell to 39 percent in a poll released last week, marking its lowest measure since April, according to Reuters. A separate poll last month pegged Biden’s overall approval rating at 37 percent, and his rating among Democrats was 75 percent, which Gallup said was “the worst reading of his presidency from his own party.”
Moulton said he recently enlisted a former advertising executive to write a paper on what Democrats need to be doing differently, including touting Biden’s legislative successes. Without divulging details, Moulton said he had “some very specific ideas” about what Democrats are doing wrong and how to change that.
“The president is just not out there selling as much as I think he should, and you know that is what it is, but it’s a problem for us. It’s even more remarkable when you consider how productive this president has been in passing legislation when you consider the chaos that we’re dealing with in the House now,” Moulton said. “He’s had a remarkably steep uphill climb to get anything passed.”