Schumer calls on Israel to hold new election amid war

The United States' highest-ranking Jewish official said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a "major obstacle to peace."
Posted at 11:20 AM, Mar 14, 2024

In remarks from the Senate floor, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called on Israel to hold a new election, expressing his opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Schumer is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history. He called Netanyahu a "major obstacle to peace." He also said that Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate them, radical right-wing Israelis in government and society, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were also "major obstacles to peace."

Unlike the U.S., which has scheduled four-year terms for presidents, Israel has a parliamentary form of government. While Israel can go up to four years without a new election, elections tend to happen more frequently. 

The country has held five parliamentary elections since early 2019. Netanyahu's Likud Party has won the last three elections. 

Schumer's comments come five months into an ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Israel has continued its offensive against Hamas, which has forced most residents of Gaza to flee from their homes. 

Despite international calls for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. has rejected motions in the United Nations as it continues to back Israeli forces.

"Five months into this conflict, it is clear that Israelis need to take stock of the situation and ask: must we change course?" Schumer said. "At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel, at a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of their government."

Deforestation of Gaza for food, fuel due to lack of humanitarian aid
Satellite images of Gaza deforestation

Deforestation of Gaza for food, fuel due to lack of humanitarian aid

The IDF has cleared thousands of acres of trees throughout the Gaza Strip, something that's readily apparent in satellite imagery.


Schumer also criticized Netanyahu for rejecting efforts for Palestinian statehood. 

"As the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in our government, and a staunch defender of Israel, I rise today to say unequivocally: This is a grave mistake. For Israel. For Palestinians. For the region and the world," Schumer said. 

The Biden administration has also suggested that there are a growing number of disagreements between the U.S. president and Netanyahu. Those differences are largely surrounding the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as the U.S. begins to ramp up aid to citizens there. 

"[President Biden] has had Israel's back. He has backed up those words with deeds all the way through, and not just in terms of providing for Israel’s security against Hamas and Hezbollah, but a broader constellation of steps in terms of military deterrence to keep this war from spinning out in ways that Israel could not handle," said national security adviser Jake Sullivan. "He also is going to speak out when he has concerns about the level of protection for innocent civilians in Gaza, the level and access to humanitarian assistance for innocent civilians in Gaza, and he's going to make his views known."