Schumer calls for new government, ‘course corrections’ by Israel

March 15, 2024

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is calling for new elections in Israel—describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as an “obstacle to peace” amid his country’s ongoing war in Gaza, reports Politico.

Schumer—the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history—urged Israel to “do better,” citing the estimated tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties caused by the Netanyahu government’s military offensive aimed at neutralizing the terrorist group Hamas.

He said that Israel “must make some significant course corrections” as the conflict nears the half-year mark.

“The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7,” Schumer said in floor remarks. “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 if the Netanyahu government remains in power the U.S. would need to play “a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course” and that President Joe Biden’s Administration should ensure U.S. assistance to Israel is “aligned with our broader goal of achieving long-term peace and stability in the region.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quick to blast Schumer’s “unprecedented” criticism of Netanyahu.

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,” the Kentucky Republican said on the floor after Schumer spoke. “Make no mistake: The Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem. It has an anti-Israel problem.”

He wasn’t alone. Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog criticized Schumer’s remarks in a post on X: “It is unhelpful, all the more so as Israel is at war against the genocidal terror organization Hamas, to comment on the domestic political scene of a democratic ally. It is counterproductive to our common goals.”

Schumer’s remarks amount to a forceful rebuke from a staunch ally of Israel. They follow a tougher tack toward Netanyahu from Biden in recent days, although progressives have demanded even stronger U.S. action against the prime minister.

Schumer, whom opposed the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, identified four obstacles to peace in the region: Hamas, “radical right-wing Israelis in government and society,” Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas—whom he called upon to step aside as well.

“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.

Schumer, who visited the region shortly after the October 7 terrorist attacks, said the United States must forcefully pursue a two-state solution and let that goal drive diplomatic positioning.

“We 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,” Schumer said.

“I’m anguished that the Israeli war campaign has killed so many innocent Palestinians. I know that my fellow Jewish Americans feel the same anguish when they see the images of dead and starving children—and destroyed homes,” Schumer said.

“We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them,” he added.

Research contact: @politico