Middle East latest: Former IDF commander tells Israelis to overthrow government – after top US leader says Netanyahu must go | World News


A call by US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer for fresh elections in Israel has prompted a torrent of reactions.

His criticism of the Israeli prime minister on the floor of the Senate was perhaps the most scathing of any American politician of his ranking since the war began.

While it does not represent White House policy – the Biden administration has distanced itself, saying Congress is an independent body – the comments have prompted heavy criticism from Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party.

What did Chuck Schumer say?

Mr Schumer spoke for 30 minutes on what he called the four obstacles to peace: Hamas and any Palestinians who support it; radical right-wing Israelis; Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas; and Benjamin Netanyahu.

He first called for Mr Abbas to step down for his evasion of elections, failure to empower future leadership, and his embrace of antisemitism.

But it was Mr Schumer’s criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu that has drawn the most attention.

“As the first Jewish majority leader of the US Senate and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official ever, I also feel very keenly my responsibility as… a guardian of the people of Israel,” he began.

“To achieve that lasting peace that we so long for, Israel must make some significant course corrections.”

Netanyahu ‘stifling’ Israeli people

“The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after 7 October. The world has changed — radically — since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

‘Too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza’

“Netanyahu lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel. He has put himself in coalition with far-right extremists… and as a result has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.”

The day after

“He has shown zero interest in doing the courageous and visionary work required to pave the way for peace even before this present conflict,” he said.

Mr Schumer said the Israeli prime minister’s rejection of Palestinian statehood was a “grave mistake” for the region and the world, and that a “single state controlled by Israel… guarantees certain war forever”.

“The only just solution to this predicament is one in which each people can flourish in their own state, side by side.”

Call for elections

“As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own
leaders, and we should let the chips fall where they may.

the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice. There
needs to be a fresh debate about the future of Israel after 7 October. In my opinion, that is best accomplished by holding an

Suggestion US should use leverage with Israel to bring peace 

Sky News US correspondent Mark Stone said one section of the speech may be considered key – in which Mr Schumer suggested the US may opt to make at least parts of its support for Israel conditional upon the country’s government changing its approach to Gaza.

“If Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition remains in power after the war begins to wind down, and continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing US standards for assistance, then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course.”

He added: “If extremists continue to unduly influence Israeli policy, then the administration should use tools at its disposal to make sure our support for Israel is aligned with our broader goal of achieving long-term peace and stability in the region.”

The comments follow suggestions from some commentators who argue that Israel’s reliance on US support is such that Washington would likely have the leverage to force the country to end the offensive in Gaza if it chose to.

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