Senior US Democratic senator Schumer urges elections in Israel, saying Netanyahu unfit to serve

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor on March 14, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor on March 14, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urges Israel to hold snap elections, arguing that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “no longer fit” to serve as premier, as gaps between the US and Israel continue to grow over the latter’s prosecution of its war in Gaza against Hamas.

“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,” says Schumer.

Netanyahu has “lost his way, putting himself in coalition with far-right extremists like [Finance Minister] Bezalel Smotrich and [National Security Minister] Itamar Ben-Gvir.”

“Extremist Palestinians and extremist Israelis seek the same goal: from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, they aim to push the other from the land,” Schumer adds.

“If Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition remains in power after the war begins to wind down, and continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing US standards for assistance, 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,” Schumer says in a speech on the Senate floor.

Schumer is a longtime pro-Israel stalwart in the Democratic Party, though he has become more critical of Jerusalem’s policies as the country has moved rightward and as he has risen to the leadership of a party that has moved to the left.

He is the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in US history.

“As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders, and we should let the chips fall where they may. But the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice. There needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel after October 7,” Schumer says.

“In my opinion, that is best accomplished by holding an election,” he says.

“Nobody expects Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the things that must be done to break the cycle of violence, to preserve his credibility on the world stage, to work to a two-state solution,” he continued. “Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.”

Schumer also calls for the ouster of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, lumping him together with Netanyahu, the premier’s extremist allies and Hamas as obstacles to peace.

“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.”

“I also feel very keenly my responsibility as Shomer Yisroel — a guardian of the People of Israel,” he says.

Schumer says that if Israel tightens its control over Gaza and the West Bank and creates a “de facto single state,” then there should be no reasonable expectation that Hamas and their allies will lay down arms. It could mean constant war.

Most Popular