Netanyahu hits Schumer over ‘totally inappropriate’ criticism, dodges questions on holding election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday, labeling his floor speech criticizing Netanyahu’s government as “totally inappropriate.”

Schumer, the most senior Jewish politician in the country and an ardent supporter of Israel, called for new elections in Israel in an address on Thursday. Schumer said Netanyahu has “lost his way,” adding that the prime minister has been “too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows.”

“It is totally inappropriate,” Netanyahu told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” about Schumer’s criticism. “It’s inappropriate to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something the Israeli public does on its own.”

“We’re not a banana republic,” he continued. “I think the only government that we should be working on to bring down now is the terrorist tyranny in Gaza.”

Schumer’s criticism is the latest example of rising pressure from Democrats against Netanyahu’s government, as the Biden administration continues to push Israel to slow its military operation in Gaza and allow more humanitarian aid into the region.

Netanyahu rejected Schumer’s claims, saying that his policies and government are popular among most Israelis.

“The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government. It’s not a fringe government,” he said. “It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Sen. Schumer opposes these policies, he is not opposing me. He is opposing the people of Israel.”

The prime minister also dodged Schumer’s specific request for new elections. Netanyahu said holding elections is for the Israeli people to decide, and twice avoided answering a yes-or-no on the topic.

“If we were to have elections now, before the war is won, resoundingly won, we would have at least six months of national paralysis, which means we would lose the war,” Netanyahu said.

“That’s something for the Israeli people to decide,” the prime minister said when Bash asked a second time. “I think it’s ridiculous to talk about it.”

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