Chuck Schumer, Top Democrat, Calls for New Israel Election Amid Growing Rift


 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has made a bold call for Israel to hold elections to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as fractures become apparent in the once-solid and amicable alliance between the two nations.

In a significant departure from previous stances, Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S. government, openly criticized Mr. Netanyahu on Thursday, asserting that the Israeli leader had veered off course.

While leaders in Washington have typically avoided direct condemnation of Mr. Netanyahu's approach to the Gaza conflict, Mr. Schumer's remarks mark a sharp escalation in U.S. criticism of Israel's government.

Addressing the Senate, Mr. Schumer, a long-time supporter of Israel, did not mince words in his critique of Mr. Netanyahu. He accused the Israeli leader of prioritizing his political survival over Israel's best interests and urged for "course corrections" to better protect civilians in Gaza.

In response to Mr. Schumer's remarks, Israel's leaders swiftly rebuked the senator, with Mr. Netanyahu's Likud party asserting that Israel is not a "banana republic" and defending the prime minister's policies as enjoying broad support.

Israel's ambassador in Washington, Michael Herzog, also criticized Schumer's comments, deeming them "unhelpful" and "counterproductive" to comment on Israel's domestic political landscape.

Mr. Schumer's statement follows a series of pointed critiques from the White House regarding Israel's handling of the Gaza conflict. While the U.S. remains Israel's staunchest ally and primary military aid provider, concerns have mounted within the Biden administration and among some members of the Democratic Party regarding Israel's conduct during the conflict.

President Biden, facing political pressures in an election year, has become increasingly vocal in calling for Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza with "no excuses." However, the White House sought to distance itself from Mr. Schumer's comments, emphasizing its focus on working with Israel on defense matters.

The rift between the two governments has become more apparent in recent weeks, with President Biden cautioning Israel against expanding its invasion into Gaza and describing Israel's response as "over the top" during his State of the Union address.

Despite the mounting tensions, the U.S. revealed sanctions against three additional settlers and, for the first time, two Israeli settlement outposts accused of undermining stability in the occupied West Bank.

The international community largely considers settlements and outposts in the West Bank illegal under international law, though Israel and the U.S. dispute this interpretation.

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