Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer rejects Netanyahu address to Senate Democrats

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu attends the funeral for First Sergeant Major Gal Meir Eisenkot (aged 25) in the Herzliya cemetery on December 8, 2023 in Herzliya, Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu attends the funeral for First Sergeant Major Gal Meir Eisenkot (aged 25) in the Herzliya cemetery on December 8, 2023 in Herzliya, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked to address Senate Democrats at their caucus lunch on Wednesday but was turned away by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Schumer last week called for elections in Israel and levied harsh criticism on Netanyahu, a major move from the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S. government.

  • Two sources familiar with the discussions told Axios that Schumer rejected Netanyahu's request to address Democrats via video. The Israeli prime minister spoke to Senate Republicans at their lunch on Wednesday.
  • Punchbowl News first reported Schumer's rejection of Netanyahu's request.

The intrigue: A spokesperson for Schumer told Axios that the request was declined because he "does not think these discussions should happen in a partisan manner."

The big picture: Democrats have been increasingly critical of Netanyahu and the Israeli government for its war against Hamas and the treatment of Palestinian civilians.

  • Schumer's call for elections in Israel last week was met with intense criticism from Republicans and Israeli officials, but Democrats largely stood behind the majority leader.
  • The tensions have risen between President Biden and Netanyahu. The president told Netanyahu this week that he was not trying to push him out of power.

Go deeper: Netanyahu slated to talk at Senate GOP lunch Wednesday

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