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Biden says Schumer gave 'good speech' on Israel amid GOP blowback 

President Biden offered support Friday for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after the senator called for new elections in Israel and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war with Hamas.

Biden told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the prime minister of Ireland that Schumer gave senior White House staff a heads up about the remarks before delivering his dramatic speech on the Senate floor.

“I’m not going to elaborate on the speech. He made a good speech, and I think he expressed serious concern shared not only by him, but by many Americans,” Biden said.

Asked if the president wants to see new elections in Israel, White House spokesperson John Kirby said that would be “up to the Israeli people to decide.”

“For our part, we’re going to keep supporting Israel in their fight against Hamas. We’re going to keep urging them to reduce civilian casualties. And we’re going to keep working to get a temporary cease-fire in place,” Kirby said.

Schumer on Thursday argued Netanyahu had “lost his way,” pointing to the political and legal battles he has faced recently while also allowing that the off-and-on prime minister’s “highest priority is the security of Israel.”

“As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after Oct. 7,” Schumer said, referring to Hamas’s attack. “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.”

Schumer’s remarks elicited backlash from Republicans in particular, some of whom argued it was inappropriate for the senator to call for elections and changes in leadership in another democratic government.

“It is grotesque and hypocritical for Americans who hyperventilate about interference in our own democracy to call for the removal of a democratically elected leader of Israel,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), calling Schumer’s remarks “unprecedented.” 

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called Schumer’s plea for new elections “highly inappropriate” and “wrong.”

Benny Gantz, a leading rival of Netanyahu who serves in his wartime Cabinet, called Schumer’s remarks a “mistake.” Gantz is a top contender to replace Netanyahu and met with Schumer in Washington only last week.

Biden has similarly sought to balance his own frustrations with Netanyahu with his administration’s support for Israel in its fight against Hamas. The president has repeatedly asserted Israel has a right to defend itself after Hamas’s terrorist attacks last October, while simultaneously urging Israel to do more to protect civilians and allow aid into Gaza.

In an interview last weekend with MSNBC, Biden said he thought Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping.”

“What’s happening is he has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas,” Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. “But he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.”

Updated at 3:23 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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