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Sen. Chuck Schumer calls for new elections in Israel, in criticism of PM Netanyahu

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On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for new elections in Israel to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticizing Netanyahu’s leadership.  Schumer, D-N.Y., the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S. ever, said in remarks on the Senate floor that “the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7.”  He charged that Netanyahu has “lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel” and trying to hold his Israeli conservative coalition together during its war against Hamas and is on the verge of losing the sympathy of the world: “the world has changed, radically, since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

Schumer said that Netanyahu has aligned himself with “far-right extremists” like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who he said are “pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.” Schumer called for the country to make a “course correction” and it cannot survive “if it becomes a pariah” of the world: “five months into the conflict, it is clear that Israelis need to take stock of the situation and ask, must we change course? At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel.”

The tone is a change from Schumer’s past remarks, where Schumer defended Israel as the past victims of anti-Semitic activities around the world as well as the right to defend itself and secure its future. Schumer called on Israel to embrace a two-state solution, saying without it that Israel could find itself in a constant state of war:  “[The United States] should not be forced into a position of unequivocally supporting the actions of an Israeli government that includes bigots who reject the idea of a Palestinian state.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced Schumer for his remarks, saying after his remarks on the Senate floor that it is “grotesque and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of a democratically elected leader of Israel.” Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson added that“this is not only highly inappropriate, it’s just plain wrong for an American leader to play such a divisive role in Israeli politics while our closest ally in the region is in an existential battle for its very survival.”

In response to Schumer, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the White House is focused on ensuring Israel has the weapons it needs to defend itself “while doing everything that they can to avoid civilian casualties:  Said Kirby: “we’re still focused — laser-focused — on trying to get a temporary ceasefire in place so we can get the hostages out and get more aid into Gaza.”

Editorial credit: Bumble Dee / Shutterstock.com

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