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Schumer calls for new elections in Israel, warns Netanyahu has lost his way


(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stayed largely silent as others in his party have been critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of Hamas’ attack in Israel Oct. 7.

But on Thursday, in a formal address on the Senate floor, Schumer delivered a scathing speech, calling for a new election in Israel. Schumer was highly critical of Netanyahu, saying he is an “obstacle to peace” and that he has “lost his way” as Israel bombards Gaza amid a growing humanitarian crisis there.

Schumer made a point of saying not only is he the majority leader in the Senate but also the highest ranking elected Jewish official in the U.S.

“I have known Prime Minister Netanyahu for a long time. While we have vehemently disagreed on many occasions, I will always respect his extraordinary bravery for Israel on the battlefield as a younger man. I believe in his heart his highest priority is the security of Israel,” he said. “However, I also believe Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel,” he said.

“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,” he said.

“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, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government,” he said.

“I also believe a majority of the Israeli public will recognize the need for change, and I believe that holding a new election once the war starts to wind down would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the post-war future,” he added.

He also called for a two-state solution.

“The only real and sustainable solution to this decades-old conflict is a negotiated two-state solution — a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity, dignity, and mutual recognition,” he said.

Schumer also called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to 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. Otherwise, the West Bank will continue to suffer, and Hamas — or some similarly extreme organization — will continue to maintain a foothold in Gaza,” he said.

After Schumer wrapped his remarks, two of his Democratic Senate colleagues embraced Schumer with hugs and handshakes as he walked off the floor.

Another one of his colleagues, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii tweeted: “This is a gutsy, historic speech from Leader Schumer. I know he didn’t arrive at this conclusion casually or painlessly.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking after Schumer, in a fairly remarkable rebuke, said calls for the election of a new leader in Israel are “grotesque” and “unprecedented.”

“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,” McConnell said on the Senate floor moments later. “This is unprecedented. We should not treat fellow democracies this way at all.”

While he did not reference Schumer by name or refer directly to his remarks, it was clearly a response to Schumer’s speech.

McConnell said Israel’s unity government deserves “the deference befitting a sovereign democratic country.”

“Things that upset left-wing activists are not the prime ministers policies they are Israel’s policies. Make no mistake, the Democratic party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem, it has an anti Israel problem,” McConnell said.

He said calling for new elections is an affront to Israel’s democracy.

“Only Israel’s citizens should have a say in who runs their government,” McConnell continued. “This is the very definition of democracy and sovereignty. Either we respect their decisions or we disrespect their democracy.”

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