Mar 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer: Netanyahu could prevent elections in Israel until 2026

Chuck Schumer, wearing a blue suit, striped shirt and red tie looks above his glasses off camera.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a weekly press conference in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on March 12. Photo: Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could prevent elections in Israel until 2026.

Why it matters: The highest-ranking Jewish lawmaker has continued to call for accountability of Netanyahu as he leads the offensive against Hamas in Gaza, where more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed.

  • "I worry under his leadership, Israel would become such a pariah in the world and even in the United States, because I look at the numbers and they're rapidly decreasing," Schumer told the New York Times.
  • "I had to speak out before it erodes."

Catch up quick: In a Senate speech on Thursday, Schumer called on Israel to hold elections for a new government to handle the threat of Hamas.

  • He received a divided reaction.
  • Netanyahu refused to commit to holding new elections when the war winds down and said Schumer's comments were "totally inappropriate."

The latest: In a meeting with American Jewish organization executives on Tuesday, Schumer defended his call for an election and the stance that Netanyahu is a danger to Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

  • Polls published Friday in Israel found that the majority of Israelis want early elections and that Netanyahu would lose if they were held at this point.

Between the lines: Schumer only shared the content of his speech with a small circle of staff members and his wife, per the NYT.

  • He alerted the White House the day before — just to ensure it wouldn't interfere with negotiations.
  • President Biden backed Schumer's remarks, but told Netanyahu privately on Monday that he is not trying to undermine him politically.

Zoom out: For the first time in months, Israel and Hamas are negotiating deals to release hostages and prisoners and for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.

Go deeper: Schumer calls for Israel elections and slams Netanyahu

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