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Chuck Schumer Alamy Stock Photo
Blow to Netanyahu

US' highest-ranking elected Jewish American calls for elections in Israel

US Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said there “needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel”.

THE LEADER OF the US Senate has called for Israel to hold new elections, the most significant criticism yet by a senior American official of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza.

Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish American in the US’ history, made the remarks amid increased pressure from President Joe Biden over the growing death toll in Gaza.

“There needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel after October 7,” said Schumer, the head of the Senate’s Democratic majority.

“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,” he said, without suggesting a timeline for a vote.

Schumer said Netanyahu was one of four “major obstacles” to a two-state solution and peace, alongside Hamas and its Palestinian supporters, radical right-wing Israelis and the Palestinian Authority’s leader Mahmoud Abbas.

He accused the Israeli leader of surrounding himself with right-wing extremists and being “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows”.

“Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” Schumer told colleagues on the Senate floor. He warned that if Netanyahu’s coalition continued to pursue “dangerous and inflammatory” policies after the war, the United States would look at playing “a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.”

“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,” Schumer said.

“Nobody expects Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the things that must be done to break the cycle of violence, preserve Israel’s credibility on the world stage, and work towards a two-state solution.” 

Since 7 October, Israel has killed at least 31,341 people, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The United Nations is warning of the threat of famine as other countries and organisations struggle to get aid into Gaza.

Mediators failed to reach a truce between Israel and Hamas militants for the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started on Monday, and Hamas authorities have since reported more than 40 air strikes across Gaza.

Daily aid airdrops by multiple nations have been taking place but the air and sea missions are not seen as adequate, and the UN has reported difficulty in accessing northern Gaza with aid.

© AFP 2024