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Highest Ranking US Jewish Lawmaker Calls for Removal of Israel's Democratically Elected Leader

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he believes Israel needs to hold new elections in the wake of October 7. It's the harshest criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Israel's war with Hamas began. 

Schumer (D-NY) says he wants Israel to change course if it wants a safe and prosperous future. 

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interest of Israel...The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7," the Senate Majority Leader said.

He claims Netanyahu has put himself in a coalition with far-right extremists, and as a result, has been too willing to tolerate the toll of the war on civilians in Gaza. "Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah," the New York Democrat said.

The top Republican in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), immediately rebuked Schumer's remarks, calling it "foreign interference" to suggest the removal of a democratically elected leader. 

"The Jewish State of Israel deserves an ally that acts like one...Israel is not a colony of America, whose leaders serve at the pleasure of the party in power in Washington. Only Israel's citizens should have a say in who runs their government," McConnell said.

Schumer's comments came as part of a larger speech about how to move forward after the war.

"The only real and sustainable solution to this decades-old conflict is a negotiated two-state solution, a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity, dignity, and mutual recognition," he argued.  

Schumer said this can never happen unless four key obstacles are removed. 

"Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways, radical right-wing Israelis in government and society, President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu. These are the four obstacles to peace, and if we fail to overcome them, then Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza will be trapped in the same violent state of affairs they've experienced the last 75 years," Schumer declared. 

McConnell, however, pushed back against those claims as well. 

"The primary obstacles to peace in Israel's region are genocidal terrorists like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who slaughter innocent people, and corrupt leaders of the Palestinian Authority, who have repeatedly rejected peace deals from multiple Israeli governments," the Senate Minority Leader said. 

Still, some Democrats on the Hill are urging the Biden administration to withhold military aid to Israel, accusing the Jewish state of blocking humanitarian assistance in Gaza. 

The U.S. and other countries have been air-dropping food into northern Gaza in recent weeks in an attempt to help alleviate the crisis there, but aid groups say it's not as effective as bringing food in by truck.  

In an interview with CBN News, Sen. Chris Coons said the U.S. has two core concerns right now, support for Israel and protection of Palestinian civilians. 

"I support Israel's right of self-defense, its obligation to defend itself against Hamas and to go into Rafah and to clean out the remaining Hamas military elements. But they cannot do that without first allowing innocent civilians a chance to pass through checkpoints and to relocate to the center or north of Gaza," said Sen. Coons. 

Netanyahu has already vowed to help Gaza refugees by creating safe routes for "the civilian population to get out of harm's way."

Despite U.S. opposition, Israel does seem to be moving forward with a military campaign in Rafah. The IDF says it is creating "humanitarian islands" with safe zones in the middle of Gaza where displaced Palestinians can go for refuge. 

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT