Jewish Republicans: Senate leader Chuck Schumer 'knifed the Jewish state in the back'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claims the prime minister is an obstacle to peace, calls for Israel to hold new elections; in response the Minority leader says Democrats don't have a Bibi problem but an Israel problem

Itamar Eichner, Reuters, Tzippy Shmilovitz, New York|
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Thursday for new elections in Israel, harshly criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace. In response, the Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement that "As Israel continues to righteously fight to defend itself from barbaric terrorists, the most powerful Democrat in Congress knifed the Jewish state in the back."
Democrat Schumer, long a supporter of Israel and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official, told the Senate that Netanyahu's government "no longer fits the needs of Israel" five months into a war that began with attacks on Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.
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"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 Oct. 7," Schumer said. "In my opinion, that is best accomplished by holding an election," he said.
"Senator Schumer crossed a red line," the Jewish Republicans also stated. "It is outrageous and unacceptable to meddle in Israel's domestic politics by demanding that a democratic ally hold elections on our timetable, particularly when the Jewish state is fighting for its very survival."
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפגישה עם מנהיג רוב בסנאט האמריקאי, צ'אק שומר
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפגישה עם מנהיג רוב בסנאט האמריקאי, צ'אק שומר
Chuck Schumer with Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: GPO)
Schumer also criticized Palestinians who support Hamas and said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas should also step aside. "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 toward attaining peace with a Jewish State," Schumer said.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Schumer informed the White House in advance of his intention to give the speech and the content of his speech.
“We know Leader Schumer feels strongly about this,” Kirby told reporters in a briefing to White House reporters and that the White House “let him speak to his comments.”
“We’re going to stay focused on making sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself,” Kirby added.
The majority leader's speech prompted an immediate and harsh response from across the aisle. Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said Israel deserves an ally that acts like one and the people of Israel at home and in captivity deserve American support. "Israel's unity government and security cabinet deserve the deference befitting a sovereign democratic country," he said. He said the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly rejected peace deals from multiple Israeli governments. "Foreign observers who cannot keep these clear distinctions ought to refrain from weighing in," McConnell said.
"It is grotesque and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of a democratically elected leader of Israel," he said. "Make no mistake – the Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem. It has an anti-Israel problem."
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(Photo: AFP)
Netanyahu's ruling Likud party also came out forcefully against Schumer's words. "Israel is not a banana republic," the Likud said in a statement. "It is an independent, proud democracy that elected Prime Minister Netanyahu who leads a determined policy supported by a vast majority of the people. Contrary to Schumer's comments, the Israeli public supports total victory over Hamas, rejects any international dictate to establish a Palestinian terror state and opposes the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza." The party's statement added that Schumer is expected to respect the elected government in Israel and not undermine it.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog said a post on X: "Israel is a sovereign democracy. 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 alley. It is counterproductive to our common goals."
AIPAC also put out a statement on X. "Israel is an independent democracy that decides for itself when elections are held and chooses its own leaders. America must continue to stand with our ally Israel and ensure it has the time and resources it needs to win this war. Hamas bears sole responsibility for this conflict. The hope for a brighter future for the Middle East begins with Israel’s decisive defeat of Hamas," the pro-Israel lobby said in their post.
U.S. President Joe Biden has been increasingly critical of Netanyahu.
In an interview on CNBC on Saturday, Biden said Netanyahu was "hurting Israel more than helping Israel."
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