AIPAC-endorsed Democrat calls for Israeli leadership change

Rep. Mike Levin — one of California’s few vulnerable Democratic House members — called for a change in Israeli leadership on Thursday.

“It appears to me that new leaders are needed,” Levin said to a small group of reporters, adding that he thinks the current leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are not “ultimately leading to a more peaceful outcome” in the region.

Levin is endorsed by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel group that has launched campaigns across the country to unseat elected officials calling for a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. Levin is also the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s only listed vulnerable “frontliner” from California.

AIPAC declined to comment on Levin’s remarks.

The moderate Democrat represents a district in San Diego and Orange counties. He won election to a third term in 2022 with 52.6 percent of the vote. In 2024, he will face Republican Matt Gunderson, who has previously attacked Levin for not wholeheartedly backing Israel. And the National Republican Congressional Committee has blasted Levin on the issue.

Levin’s comments come after Iran launched a missile attack on Israel over the weekend — and as he faces pressure from protesters in his district to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire.

Back in March, Levin called for a temporary cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to get into Gaza, which he called “imperative” alongside providing military funds to Israel to defend itself against Hamas. He has supported a cease-fire in conjunction with the release of Israeli hostages.

“We need a leader in Israel who is committed to a two-state solution,” Levin said on Thursday. “On the other side, Hamas cannot stay in power.”

More Democrats have started to drift from their previous steadfast backing of Israel. Most notably, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer faced backlash after criticizing Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza and calling for new elections to replace the prime minister.

But Levin separated himself from Schumer’s remarks, which he said could “discourage” current Israeli leaders’ ability to call for a fair election. “It needs to be the decision of the Israeli people,” he said.

Harry Byrne

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