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Biden says Schumer's concerns on Israel shared by many Americans

By Jarrett Renshaw and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Friday that U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer echoed the concerns of many Americans when he called for new elections in Israel and harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace.

"He made a good speech," Biden said in the White House's Oval Office, when asked by reporters about remarks by Schumer, the Senate majority leader, on the chamber's floor on Thursday.

"He expressed a serious concern, shared not only by him but by many Americans," Biden said, adding that Schumer notified him and his staff in advance about the speech.

Schumer, a longtime supporter of Israel and the highest-ranking Jewish U.S. elected official, told the Senate on Thursday that Netanyahu's government "no longer fits the needs of Israel" five months into a war that began with attacks on Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

The speech reflected growing frustration in Washington with Netanyahu, his management of the war, failure to do more to protect Palestinian civilians and perceived obstruction of aid deliveries in Gaza. International criticism of the U.S. for supporting Israel has mounted due to the death toll and starvation crisis in the coastal enclave.

Schumer also criticized Palestinians who support Hamas, and said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas should also step aside.

Schumer said it would be a "grave mistake" for Israel to reject a two-state solution and urged negotiators in the Israel-Gaza conflict to do everything possible to secure a ceasefire, free hostages and get aid into Gaza.

Schumer raised the possibility of Washington using its leverage if Israel does not change course. Still, he did not go as far as suggesting the step that some Democrats advocate: introducing legislation to make easing the humanitarian crisis a condition for the U.S. provision of weapons to Israel.

Hamas' Oct 7 attack on Israel killed 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military assault on Gaza since has displaced nearly its 2.3 million population, caused a starvation crisis, flattened most of the enclave, and killed over 31,000, according to the Gaza health ministry.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; writing by Kanishka Singh; editing by Rami Ayyub)