Chuck Schumer's call for new Israeli elections sparks controversy

Chuck Schumer's call for new Israeli elections sparks controversy


18 March, 2024

A speech by senior Jewish-American Democrat Chuck Schumer, in which he blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the continued war in Gaza and called for new elections in Israel, has sparked strong reactions from across the political spectrum.

Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader in US Congress and the highest-ranking elected Jewish-American official, said yesterday that Israel must make "significant course corrections" to achieve lasting peace with the Palestinians. Schumer said it would be a "grave mistake" for Israel to reject a two-state solution and urged mediators to do everything possible to secure a ceasefire, free hostages, and get aid into Gaza.

He also criticised Palestinians who support Hamas, as well as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and advocated for new elections in Israel. Schumer also warned that the US would be required to "play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy" if Netanyahu remains in power after the conflict.

While many on the left praised Schumer for speaking up against the leader of an allied country that they see as exploiting US support, many on the right have pushed back against him for suggesting leadership change in another country. "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," AIPAC wrote on X.

Republican House Majority Speaker Mike Johnson said: "It is highly inappropriate and simply wrong for Senator Schumer to be calling for new elections in Israel." In Israel, Netanyahu's Likud Party issued a statement denouncing Schumer's speech, calling on him to "refrain from undermining the Israeli government." While former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he "strongly opposes external political intervention in Israel's internal affairs".