Biden Embraces Schumer’s ‘Good Speech’ Castigating Netanyahu

President Biden on Friday praised Senator Chuck Schumer’s call on Israel to hold new elections to replace the prime minister, calling it “a good speech” without endorsing specifics in it.

Mr. Biden said that Mr. Schumer, a Democrat from New York and the Senate majority leader, had informed his White House staff in advance of the speech in which he excoriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged Israelis to call elections to replace him.

“I’m not going to elaborate on the speech,” Mr. Biden said in response to a reporter’s question as he hosted the visiting Irish prime minister at The White House. “He made a good speech, and I think he expressed a serious concern shared not only by him but by many Americans.”

In his speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Mr. Schumer went further than any senior American official has in castigating Mr. Netanyahu for the conduct of the war against Hamas. The Israeli offensive in Gaza has killed more than 30,000 civilians and members of Hamas since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel killed 1,200 people.

Mr. Schumer said that Mr. Netanyahu had “lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel” and “has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.” He went on to say that he believed “a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel.”

The senator’s speech touched off a furor in Israel, especially coming from Mr. Schumer, a longstanding Jewish supporter of the Jewish state.

Although the president did not repeat any of the specific assertions or recommendations made by the senator, his general embrace of it will inevitably be seen by many as a further rebuke of Mr. Netanyahu and may exacerbate the friction that has already been growing between the two leaders.

Critics in the United States and Israel have complained that Mr. Schumer’s statements were an inappropriate foreign intervention into an ally’s internal democratic politics, one that was particularly egregious coming in a time of war when Israel is fighting against an enemy bent on its destruction.

Mr. Biden offered his thoughts during a meeting in the Oval Office with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland, who himself has been a vocal critic of Israel’s handling of the war. Mr. Varadkar followed through on his promise to raise the matter with Mr. Biden during the annual White House get-together to mark St. Patrick’s Day.

“I want to keep talking about the situation in Gaza as well,” Mr. Varadkar told Mr. Biden. “You know my view that we need to have a cease-fire as soon as possible to get food and medicine in, to get hostages out. And we need to talk about how we can make that happen and move toward a two-state solution, which I think is the only way we’ll have lasting peace and security.”

Biden nodded. “I agree,” he said softly.

Source link