Schumer Considered Calling on Netanyahu to Step Down

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.19 - 2024 10:24 PM CET

Photo: Ron Adar / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Ron Adar / Shutterstock.com
According to US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, he came very close to asking Netanyahu to step down.

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US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer disclosed his internal conflict over publicly urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

Schumer, in a recent interview with The New York Times, shared his contemplations about making a bold statement against Netanyahu in a speech, advocating for early elections in Israel as a means to usher in new leadership. However, Schumer ultimately refrained, fearing it might be perceived as an undue intrusion into Israeli affairs.

The decision came amid a backdrop of heightened tensions, with Schumer wary of being perceived as dictating Israel's political course, especially "in the middle of a war." Despite his reservations, accusations of meddling in Israeli politics emerged from both Netanyahu and Schumer's Republican adversaries.

Schumer's restraint was not out of a lack of concern but stemmed from a desire to critique policy over personality. He identified Netanyahu as "the fount of the problems" but chose to focus on broader issues obstructing peace in the region, including Hamas, the Israeli far-right, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he mentioned in his Senate floor speech.

Reflecting on the potential political fallout from his speech, Schumer emphasized the importance of integrity over political gain, stating, "I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I didn’t do it." He articulated a nuanced stance, asserting that one can maintain a strong bond with Israel while vehemently opposing Netanyahu's policies.

Highlighting the urgency of his message, Schumer expressed concern over Israel's standing on the global stage and its relationship with the United States under Netanyahu's prolonged tenure, which could potentially extend until 2026 without intervention.

"I worry under his leadership, Israel would become such a pariah in the world and even in the United States," Schumer remarked, pointing to declining support for Israel among Americans.

The Senate Majority Leader also touched on the existential threat to Israel's future without unwavering US support, a point he felt compelled to make publicly.

Schumer's meticulous preparation for the speech, involving two months and ten drafts, underscores the gravity he placed on his message. He also noted coordination with the White House to ensure his remarks did not disrupt ongoing negotiations for hostage releases in Gaza.

Schumer's reflections offer a glimpse into the complex interplay of personal conviction, political considerations, and international diplomacy shaping US-Israel relations.

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