Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer calls for new leadership and elections in Israel because Netanyahu is an ‘obstacle to peace’

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Written By Maya Cantina

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Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, the highest ranking Jewish official in the U.S., has called for new leadership and elections in Israel in a stunning rebuke of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The Senate Majority leader says Netanyahu has ‘lost his way’ and has now become an ‘obstacle to peace’ five months after the October 7 Hamas attacks and the start of the war in Gaza.

In an extraordinary 45-minute speech on the Senate floor, the longtime defender of Israel said Netanyahu has put himself in a coalition of ‘far-right extremists’ and is more interested in his own political survival than a solution.

The White House said Schumer had informed it of his comments in advance and it ‘respected his right’ to make them. It expressed ‘no approval or disapproval’.

Republicans slammed Schumer’s stance as ‘grotesque’ and Israel said it was ‘unhelpful’ while it was ‘at war against a genocidal terror organization.’

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has called for elections and new leadership in Israel because Benjamin Netanyahu is an ‘obstacle to peace’ in some of the most scathing U.S. criticism since the October 7 Hamas attack

A displaced Palestinian man carries containers amid the rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Hamad area, west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on March 14, 2024

A displaced Palestinian man carries containers amid the rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Hamad area, west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on March 14, 2024

 Schumer said: “As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders, and we should let the chips fall where they may.

‘But the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice. There needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel after Oct. 7.

“In my opinion, that is best accomplished by holding an election.’

The Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, quickly came to Netanyahu’s defense in remarks just after Schumer. 

‘It is grotesque. and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of the democratically elected leader of Israel. This is unprecedented.’ McConnell said.

Schumer’s harsh criticism follows moves from President Joe Biden and Democrats to ramp up the pressure on Netanyahu to protect Palestinian civilians as he carries on his offensive.

The Biden administration has also called for a temporary ceasefire to get aid to Palestinians and to allow the release of hostages captured by Hamas. 

Netanyahu has vowed to carry on fighting until Hamas has been destroyed.

But Democrats have started to question his motives, sparking Schumer to deliver some of the most scathing criticism to date. 

Schumer added: ‘He (Netanyahu) has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.

‘As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7.

‘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 is pictured with Netanyahu in 2017. He said in his speech: 'As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7'

Schumer is pictured with Netanyahu in 2017. He said in his speech: ‘As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7’

Displaced Palestinians walk through a street  filled with rubble in Hamad area, west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

Displaced Palestinians walk through a street  filled with rubble in Hamad area, west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip 

Smoke billows form the northern part of the Gaza Strip as a result of an Israeli airstrike

Smoke billows form the northern part of the Gaza Strip as a result of an Israeli airstrike

Schumer said the only solution is ‘a demilitarized Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity and dignity.’

Netanyahu has rejected the idea of two-state solution because he believes it will allow a Hamas to maintain its presence and threaten the future of Israel.

Schumer’s comments sparked an immediate reaction from Republicans who called his speech ‘inappropriate and offensive’.

‘The last thing Israel needs is the “foreign election interference” that Democrats so often decry here,’ Republican Senator Tom Cotton said.

Relatives of the Al Atrash family mourn over their covered bodies in Al Aqsa hospital, following an Israeli air strike in Deir Al Balah

Relatives of the Al Atrash family mourn over their covered bodies in Al Aqsa hospital, following an Israeli air strike in Deir Al Balah

U.S. President Joe Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, speaks to the press after the Democratic weekly luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 6, 2024

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, speaks to the press after the Democratic weekly luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 6, 2024

‘Besides, the main elections that worry Chuck Schumer aren’t Israel’s but our elections, because the rampant anti-Semitism that the Democratic Party has allowed to fester in its ranks is massively unpopular with the pro-Israel American public’. 

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said he would let Schumer ‘speak to his comments’ when asked about the speech.

‘We’re gonna stay focused on making sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself while doing everything that they can to avoid civilian casualties, Kirby added.

‘We’re still focused, laser focused, on trying to get a temporary ceasefire in place so that we can get the hostages out and get more aid and that’s where our head is right now.’

Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas following the terrorist group's October 7 atrocity in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas following the terrorist group’s October 7 atrocity in Israel 

Schumer and other leading Democrats, including Biden, face intense criticism from within their party, over Washington’s unconditional support for Israel, given the impact on Palestinian civilians of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

The war erupted after Hamas killed 1,200 people in an October 7 terrorist attack on Israel and took 253 hostages back to Gaza.

Schumer also criticized Palestinians who support Hamas, and said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas should also step aside.

“For there to be any hope of peace in the future, Abbas must step down and be replaced by a new generation of Palestinian leaders who will work towards attaining peace with a Jewish State,” Schumer said.

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