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Schumer Urges New Leadership in Israel, Calling Netanyahu an Obstacle to Peace

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, on Thursday delivered a pointed speech on the Senate floor excoriating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East and calling for new leadership in Israel, five months into the war.

Many Democratic lawmakers have condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership and his right-wing governing coalition, and President Biden has even criticized the Israeli military’s offensive in Gaza as “over the top.” But Mr. Schumer’s speech amounted to the sharpest critique yet from a senior American elected official — effectively urging Israelis to replace Mr. Netanyahu.

“I believe in his heart, his highest priority is the security of Israel,” said Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States. “However, I also believe Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel.”

He added: “He 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.”

Mr. Schumer’s speech was the latest reflection of the growing dissatisfaction among Democrats, particularly progressives, with Israel’s conduct of the war and its toll on Palestinian civilians, which has created a strategic and political dilemma for Mr. Biden. Republicans have tried to capitalize on that dynamic, hugging Mr. Netanyahu closer as Democrats repudiate him.

The majority leader’s remarks came a day after Senate Republicans invited Mr. Netanyahu to speak as their special guest at a party retreat in Washington. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, invited Mr. Netanyahu to address Republicans virtually, but he could not appear because of a last-minute scheduling conflict. Ambassador Michael Herzog, Israel’s envoy to the United States, spoke in his place.

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