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The Democratic leader of the US Senate criticizes Netanyahu

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The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, describes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “obstacle to peace”.

  • Sophie-Hélène Lebeuf

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The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in very harsh terms, presenting him as one of the greatest “obstacles to peace” in the Middle East.

In a speech to the Senate on Thursday, he pointed the finger at both Hamas and Palestinians who support the Islamist movement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, radical right-wing Israelis as well as the former Minister Netanyahu, which he named as the four main obstacles to peace in the region.

Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the American political hierarchy – and a staunch ally of Israel – said Prime Minister Netanyahu had lost his way, leaving his survival politics come before Israel's best interests.

After five months of war in the Gaza Strip following the x27;Hamas attack on Israeli territory on October 7, Mr. Netanyahu's government no longer meets Israel's needs, he said.

As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders […]. But the important thing is that Israelis have a choice. We need a new debate on the future of Israel […]. In my opinion, the best way to achieve this is to organize elections, he said.

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[Benyamin Netanyahu] has been too willing to tolerate the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, bringing support for Israel around the world to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.

A quote from Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senate Majority Leader

Mr. Schumer also called for the resignation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he called a bad leader.

The leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, responded to his Democratic counterpart's speech by criticizing an unprecedented outing.

It is grotesque and hypocritical that people who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy are calling for the removal of Israel's democratically elected leader, he said. launched.

The Democratic Party does not have an anti-Bibi problem, he added, referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu's nickname. He has an anti-Israeli problem.

Mr. Schumer's speech offered a stark contrast to the attitude of the Republican Party. On Wednesday, Republican senators invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at a meeting of their party, but he was unable to take part due to a scheduling conflict.

This was the second time Mr. Schumer spoke on the Senate floor about the war that broke out five months ago. Last November, he denounced the rise in anti-Semitism after the Israeli military offensive.

According to an Associated Press-NORC poll released last month, 50 percent of Americans believe the Israeli response went too far.

The spokesperson White House National Security Director John Kirby said Schumer had informed the White House in advance of the speech but it neither approved nor disapproved the speech. speech, nor had she modified it in any way.

Asked about holding elections after the war, he replied that it is a decision that is up to the Israelis.

The State Department has also insisted on the independence of the various branches of government.

These are statements made by Senator Schumer, not by the Biden administration, said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, assuring that the Democratic leader was not speaking out. had not relayed comments made privately by members of the Biden administration.

Look, there are a number of things we would like to see Israel do differently, he conceded, however. I have said it many times on this platform and we have said it very clearly in direct conversations with the Prime Minister [Netanyahu].

President Joe Biden has on more than one occasion publicly expressed his frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing, among other things, an excessive response last month.

He recently said he believes Mr. Netanyahu is doing more harm than good to Israel, warning that the country risks losing the support of the international community. However, he did not go so far as to demand the departure of the Israeli prime minister.

Unsurprisingly, the democratic leader of the Senate was called to order by Israeli politicians.

We expect the world's largest democracy to respect Israeli democracy, responded Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right politician who last year denied the x27;existence of Palestinians as individuals and as a people.

Mr. Netanyahu's party, Likud, for its part said it expected that Senator Schumer respects the elected government of Israel and does not weaken it.

Contrary to Schumer's remarks, the Israeli public supports a total victory over Hamas, rejects any international dictate to establish a terrorist Palestinian state and opposes the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, he said. this training in a press release.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's popularity has plummeted in recent months. A poll in Israel earlier this year found that only 15 percent of voters wanted Benjamin Netanyahu to stay in office after the war, even though a majority favored war.

In Israel, some accuse him of wanting to continue the war in the Gaza Strip for as long as possible in order to stay in power.

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Several Democratic voters denounce the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and want President Joe Biden to demand an immediate ceasefire.

Several elected Democrats, mostly from the left wing of the party, criticized the intensity of the Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip after the Hamas attack on October 7, but no Democrat high-level leader had so far delivered such scathing criticism as that of Senator Schumer.

This week, eight Democratic senators, of which Mr. Schumer is not a member, indicated that they would oppose American aid to Israel if this country did not authorize the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

As Palestinian civilian casualties have increased in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, President Biden has seen his support erode among Muslim Americans or of Arab origin as well as within the progressive wing of his formation. This situation sends alarm signals for the presidential election in November.

This protest movement regarding President Biden's role in the crisis in Gaza was expressed, for example, during the Democratic primary in Michigan, during which more than 100,000 voters voted uncommitted, the equivalent of a blank vote.

The Listen to Michigan group encouraged this protest vote against Mr. Biden to deliver a powerful and unequivocal message that financing and supporting the war in Gaza is at odds with the values ​​of the Democratic Party. He calls, among other things, for an immediate ceasefire.

The director of this campaign, Layla Elabed, also coldly welcomed the increase tone of the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Senator Schumer is beginning to change his attitude, but far too slowly and with little substance on what actions Mr. Biden can take now to end the scandalous number of civilian deaths in Gaza, she responded, cited by the New York Times.

The war was started on October 7 by an unprecedented attack in the south of Israel by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza. The attack left around 1,200 people dead, most of them civilians.

The militants also took around 250 hostages, dozens of whom were freed during a week-long truce in November. Israel estimates that around 130 captives remain in Gaza, 32 of whom are presumed dead. There have now been more than 30,000 deaths in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas health ministry. #x27;UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), more children have been killed in the Gaza Strip in four months of war than in four years of conflict worldwide.

With information from New York Times, Washington Post and Reuters

  • Sophie-Hélène LebeufFollow

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