‘He Made a Good Speech’: Biden Defends Schumer’s Criticism of Israeli Government

The president’s comments came a day after the Senate majority leader called on Israel to hold new elections.

WASHINGTON— President Joe Biden defended the comments made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who called for a change in government in Israel five months into the war in Gaza.

“Senator Schumer contacted my staff, my senior staffer, [to say] that he was going to make that speech. And I’m not going to elaborate on the speech,” President Biden told reporters on March 15.

“He made a good speech, and I think he expressed a serious concern shared not only by him but by many Americans,” he added.

President Biden made these comments during his bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office.

Speaking on the Senate floor on March 14, Mr. Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, called on Israel to hold new elections.

He said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “lost his way” and was one of several “major obstacles” to peace in the region.

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“I believe in his heart his highest priority is the security of Israel. 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,” Mr. Schumer said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s political coalition “no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7,” Mr. Schumer wrote in a social media post with a clip from his floor speech.

Specifically, Mr. Schumer condemned Mr. Netanyahu’s alliance with the far right of Israeli politics and said that his conduct in the war in Gaza is pushing international support for Israel to “historic lows.”

“Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,” Mr. Schumer said.

House Republicans, who were on their annual retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, were quick to condemn and reject these calls.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called the demand that Mr. Netanyahu step down “highly inappropriate.”

“We want to speak very clearly and concisely to say that this is not only highly inappropriate, it’s just plain wrong for an American leader to play such a divisive role in Israeli politics while our closest ally in the region is in an existential battle for its very survival,” Mr. Johnson said during a March 14 press conference.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking after Mr. Schumer, said calls for a change in government in Israel are “grotesque” and “unprecedented.”

“It is grotesque and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about foreign interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of a democratically elected leader of Israel,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “This is unprecedented. We should not treat fellow democracies this way at all.”

He didn’t mention Mr. Schumer by name or address his comments directly, but it was clear that he was responding to the Senate majority leader’s speech.

“Make no mistake, the Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-Bibi problem; it has an anti-Israel problem,” Mr. McConnell added.

Mr. Schumer’s remarks came as some Democrats demand a cease-fire in the ongoing Gaza conflict and seek to cut U.S. military aid to Israel.

The issue has divided Democrats, with many in the party, especially younger voters, calling for a cease-fire and describing Israeli military actions in the region as a “genocide.”

The war has raged in the region since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

During their bilateral meeting, President Biden and Mr. Varadkar pledged to work on securing a cease-fire in the Middle East.

The Irish leader is invited to the annual St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

“May the hinge of our friendship never go rusty,” President Biden said, quoting an Irish saying to open the meeting. He added, “I don’t think we are going to let it go rusty.”

The Irish prime minister also addressed the situation in Gaza, saying: “My view is that we need a cease-fire as soon as possible to get food and medicine in, to get the hostages out. We need to talk about how we can make that happen and move towards a two-state solution.”

President Biden approved with a nod, adding, “I agree.”

Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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