Schumer criticizes Netanyahu leadership amid war on Hamas, calls for Israel to hold elections

Schumer's comments are the harshest that have been publicly levied against Netanyahu by a top-level U.S. official.
Chuck Schumer, Israel flags, Nov. 14, 2023, Washington, D.C.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday criticized Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of his country's war on Hamas and called for Israel to hold elections, an apparent signal that he thinks new leadership is needed.

"Nobody expects Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the things that must be done to break the cycle of violence, preserve Israel's credibility on the world stage," Schumer, the country's high-ranking elected Jewish lawmaker, said in a roughly 40-minute speech on the Senate floor.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, also said elections are the "only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel," according to the news outlet Axios.

Israel has been operating under an emergency unity government, a coalition that includes members of Netanyahu's opposition, since shortly after the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel and resulted in the kidnappings of about 250 others.

The country has also had a smaller war cabinet since that time. Both emergency governmental bodies make decisions related to the war. 

Israel, almost immediately in response to the Hamas attack, declared war on the Palestinian-affiliated militant group Hamas, which rules adjacent Gaza. 

Netanyahu, as the war continues, has come under increase criticism about Israel allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

Schumer also expressed support for a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization.

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