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Netanyahu blasts Schumer’s ‘totally inappropriate’ speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s “totally inappropriate” speech in which the New York pol called for new elections in Israel after the war winds down.
Last Thursday, Schumer (D-NY), the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the US, blasted Netanyahu and his cabinet as an impediment to long-term peace in the region during a speech on the Senate floor.
“I think what he said is totally inappropriate. It’s inappropriate for him to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there,” Netanyahu said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
“That’s something that [the] Israeli public does on its own. We’re not a banana republic.”
5 Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a growing divide in the US over its policies toward Israel. CNN
Schumer, 73, had long been a stalwart defender of Israel, but on Thursday, he echoed the sentiments of a growing chorus of progressives who say the US ally hasn’t done enough to protect civilians in the densely populated Gaza Strip.
“As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it’s become clear to me that the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7,” Schumer declared.
The top Senate Democrat declined to endorse a specific successor and underscored that the “United States cannot dictate the outcome of an election, nor should we try.”
“That is for the Israeli public to decide. A public that I believe understands better than anybody that Israel cannot hope to succeed as a pariah, opposed by the rest of the world,” Schumer said at the time.
His remarks came against the backdrop of progressive infighting over the Israel-Hamas war. Disgruntled progressives have cast protest votes against President Biden in Michigan and other primaries to show their anger.
5 Chuck Schumer publicly suggested Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet are an obstacle to peace in the region. NurPhoto via Getty Images
Netanyahu told CNN he believes that the bulk of the Israeli public is on his side.
“The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government — it’s not a fringe government,” Netanyahu added. “If Senator Schumer opposes these policies, he’s not opposing me, he is opposing the people of Israel.”
Polling shows that support for Netanyahu in January was 15%, though a December Gallup poll said 40% approve of the job he’s doing.
A poll in released last week suggested a coalition of anti-Netanyahu parties would gain a majority in the Knesset if a new election was held.
Biden, 81, who has previously described Israel’s response to Hamas’ bloody surprise attack on Oct. 7, 2023, as “over the top,” praised Schumer’s remarks as a “good speech.”
US support for Israel had long been a bipartisan issue, but that has begun to fray over recent months amid Democratic unease with Israel’s right-leaning government and the growing Palestinian death toll.
Since the war erupted last October, well over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.
About 1,160 people were killed in the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in southern Israel.
5 Some protesters expressed gratitude to Chuck Schumer for his controversial speech last week. Getty Images
The Biden administration has been very wary about the prospect of Israel moving into Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip where roughly 1.4 million Palestinians are estimated to have taken refuge.
Biden, himself, has described the prospect of an Israel invasion into Rafah as a “red line” if the Jewish State doesn’t have a sufficient plan in place for civilians.
Netanyahu has vowed to move into Rafah nonetheless.
Israel’s longest serving leader was also noncommittal about holding an election after the war wraps up.
At the moment, Israel is operating through a wartime cabinet that was formed after the bloody Hamas attack last October. Netanyahu had barely returned to power at the end of 2022 after aligning himself with a coalition of right-wing parties.
5 Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing international pressure to rein in civilian casualties in the Israel-Hamas war. REUTERS
“We’ll see when we win the war. And until we win the war, I think Israelis understand that if we were to have elections now before the war is won, resoundingly won, we would have at least six months of national paralysis,” Netanyahu said.
When pressed further by host Dana Bash about holding an election after the war, he said: “I think that’s something for the Israeli public to decide.”
“I think it’s ridiculous to talk about it. It’s like after 9/11, you’re in the midst of fighting the war against al-Qaeda. And then Israel would say you know, what we need now is … new elections in the US.”
(Israel ‘s government works on a parliamentary system in which new elections can be called by the party leader, or in the event that the coalition of parties running the government falls apart.)
Netanyahu also underscored Israel’s efforts to ensure Palestinians get desperately needed aid as the war rages on.
“We’ve created alternative routes — supply routes — we’ve allowed the dropping of support from the air humanitarian aid,” he said.
“The problem is that once they’re getting it, they’re looted by Hamas or looted by gangs.”
5 Palestinian girls walk on a sand dune toward a tent dedicated to Qoran reading. AFP via Getty Images
When asked if Israel has a fundamental “responsibility” to ensure starving children in the Gaza Strip get food and that he’s doing everything in his power to ensure they do, Netanyahu was emphatic.
“Categorically? Yes,” he replied. “It’s an effort that we’re engaged in all the time. I think that Hamas is working on the opposite effort.”
“I find that both the cynical and wrong — just factually wrong to try to place the blame on Israel, which is doing everything it can to minimize civilian casualties, and to get to the humanitarian aid.”
The Post reached out to Schumer’s office for comment. Negotiations for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are expected to resume Sunday.

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