Schumer calls for new elections in Israel, saying Netanyahu is an obstacle to peace

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US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has called for Israel to hold elections to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as cracks appear in a once stable and friendly alliance.

On Thursday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the first Jewish majority leader in the Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish official in the US government, criticized the Netanyahu government and called for new elections in a speech on the Senate floor on the Israel-Hamas war.

“Mr. Netanyahu had lost his way,” Shumer said.

Leaders in Washington have avoided directly criticizing Netanyahu’s approach to the conflict in Gaza. It is a sharp escalation in US criticism of Netanyahu’s government. Sen. Schumer, who has backed Israel throughout his 25 years in the Senate, warned those casualties in Gaza risked turning Israel into a “pariah”.

“Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” Schumer said.

Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, Sen. Schumer, a long-time supporter of Israel, harshly criticized the Israeli leader, who he said had come to allow “his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.” Israel, Sen. Schumer said, must make “course corrections” and take steps to better protect civilians in Gaza.

The high-level warning comes as an increasing number of Democrats have pushed back against Israel and as President Joe Biden has stepped up public pressure on Netanyahu’s government, arguing that he needs to pay more attention to the civilian death toll in Gaza amid the Israeli bombardment. This month, the U.S. began airdrops of badly needed humanitarian aid and announced it would establish a temporary pier to get more assistance into Gaza via sea.

More than 1,200 people died in Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7th, and an estimated 30,000 people in Gaza have died, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

“Five months into this conflict, it is clear that Israelis need to take stock of the situation and ask, must we change course?” 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.”

Schumer, who was wearing a yellow ribbon pin on the Senate floor to honor hostages being held in Gaza, is a longtime staunch defender of Israel and its right to exist. He spoke about the plight of his Jewish ancestors in Europe and the “grave threats” Israel faces as it’s “surrounded by vicious enemies.”

Schumer expressed support for a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, as President Joe Biden has been pushing for, saying it “would allow for the return of hostages and humanitarian relief for suffering Palestinians.” He said he’s against a permanent cease-fire because it would only allow Hamas to “regroup and launch further attacks on Israeli civilians.”

“There can never be a two-state solution if Hamas has any significant power,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced Schumer for his remarks, saying on the Senate floor afterward 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.”

Opinion polls show most Israelis support the war, but one survey released in January suggested just 15% of voters wanted Netanyahu to remain in office once the conflict ends.

Meanwhile, the US revealed sanctions against three more settlers and for the first time against two Israeli settlement outposts it accused of undermining stability in the occupied West Bank.

There were nearly 500 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians between October 7th and January 31st, according to UN figures.

The vast majority of the international community considers the settlements and outposts illegal under international law, though Israel and the US dispute this interpretation.

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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