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Chuck Schumer Urges New Election in Israel, Says Netanyahu Has “Lost His Way”

The Senator is the first Jewish American to be the chamber’s Majority Leader.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). U.S. Senate
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). U.S. Senate

The Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer, called for the replacement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a floor speech on Thursday. His comments drew swift repudiation by elected officials in Israel and by Republican leadership.

Saying that Netanyahu has “lost his way” and leads a coalition that “no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7,” the New York Democrat directed distinct criticism at “far-right extremists” in Jerusalem’s current government. Schumer specifically recognized Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for admonishment.

Schumer also chastised the Prime Minister’s conduct in the current war in Gaza accusing Netanyahu of being “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows,” and warning that “Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.” Military officials in Israel have long maintained that they take proactive measures to avoid injury to non-combatants and place no restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to the embattled coastal enclave.

The Senator further cautioned that if the governing coalition in the Knesset remains, then "the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.”

Immediately after his presentation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell commented on the remarks by declaring that the U.S. “ought to refrain from weighing in” on internal Israeli political matters, and that “either we respect their decisions, or we disrespect their democracy.” Similar sentiments were shared by House Speaker Mike Johnson who called the ultimatum “inappropriate.”

Social media was inundated by condemnation from other elected Republicans in Washington.

One of Netanyahu's main political rivals, Benny Gantz, responded to Schumer's demands in a post on X, saying that he "erred in his remarks."

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Biden appointee, Michael Herzog, joined the criticism with a statement on X describing the comments as “counterproductive to our common goals.”

The Ambassador to Israel under former President Donald Trump, David Friedman, was less diplomatic in his conviction, expressing that he was "disgusted by this speech," and accused the Leader of pushing "for regime change in the middle of a war."

Not all of the fallout was negative, as Knesset Opposition Leader Yair Lapid called the address "proof" that Netanyahu is losing U.S. support and suggested that he is doing it "on purpose."

The Senator's comments come at a time when the Democratic party is experiencing challenges to the traditional bipartisan support that Israel has often garnered since its founding. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 56% of Democrats were less likely to support a candidate who backed aid to the Jewish state.

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